Author: William Brett Hawkins
With the college football season fast approaching, both fans and players cannot wait to fill stadiums around the nation in anticipation of earning their way to the BCS National Championship game on January 7th in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Every year there seems to be at least ten different schools that could potentially raise the AFCA Waterford Crystal trophy high in the air in victory for their respected college. However, there are some early preseason favorites for this years’ title.
The preseason number one in most every poll is the Trojans of the University of Southern California. USC and their outstanding coaching staff led by Pete Carrol continued their quest of becoming a college football dynasty by once again having the best recruiting class of the 2007 off-season. Along with the return of star quarterback John David Booty, the Trojans have 15 other starters returning from the 2006-20007 team. This unbelievably talented team along with a schedule which does not pose very many threats away from The Coliseum seems like a formula for success. The Trojans biggest challenges will come on the road at Nebraska in week three and against their arch rival Bruins of UCLA on the final game of the Trojans regular season.
However, the same cannot be said for the defending National Champion Florida Gators. With only two starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, the young and extremely talented offense led by 2nd year quarterback Tim Tebow must be at the top of their game week in and week out. The Gators also have the test of playing in the always fast and athletic South Eastern Conference. The boys in The Swamp will have to withstand a schedule plagued by familiar foes such as Tennessee, Auburn, and the dangerous Tigers of LSU. All factors considered, Urban Myer’s team may be a year away from returning to the top of the college football world.
Another team to keep a close eye on is the Longhorns of the University of Texas. With the return of Heisman caliber quarterback Colt McCoy and an experienced core of receivers, Texas fans should be ready for a game breaking play at any moment. The one weakness the Longhorns may experience comes with a young inexperienced offensive line. However, if they are able to protect McCoy and open some holes for their talented running back Jamaal Charles, The Longhorns may find themselves stampeding into New Orleans.
Which brings me to the beloved South Carolina Gamecocks. With expectations higher than ever for Coach Spurrier’s team, the boys are taking aim at the prestigious SEC Title. The Gamecocks are returning six players on offense including 5th-year senior quarterback Blake Mitchell, and running backs Cory Boyd and Mike Davis who combined for over 2,200 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. And maybe even more importantly, the team is returning 10 starters on defense. All this combined could lead the University of South Carolina to their first conference title since they won the ACC in 1969.
As for individual efforts, the nation is loaded with potential Heisman Trophy winners. Heading the list for many people is University of Arkansas running back, Darren McFadden. McFadden was the 2006-2007 runner-up for the Heisman trophy and is guaranteed to get a lot of attention as he lines up as a slot receiver, quarterback, and running back for the Razorbacks this season.
Another explosive running back being mentioned among early contenders is West Virginia’s Steve Slaton. Last season Slaton contributed for over 2,100 all- purpose yards and scored 16 touchdowns all with an injured wrist for most of the season. With the speed and explosiveness to turn any run into a score, a healthy Steve Slaton may prove too much for defenses to stop.
And let us not forget about the phenomenon that is Colt Brennan. The University of Hawaii quarterback may not be a recognizable name for many people, but his numbers can speak for themselves. Last year alone Brennan led the nation in both scoring and passing efficiency. While completing more than 72% of his passes, Brennan threw for 5,549 yards and a NCAA division 1-A record 58 touchdown passes. Although you may not see him on television at home, Colt Brennan will be among the top of the ballots at this years Heisman Trophy Award presentation.
The 2007-2008 college football season will undoubtedly be filled with memorable games, plays, and moments. Upon the start of the season in early September, millions of fans around the nation will gather in stadiums, bars, and households dressed and painted in school spirit. There is no tradition or passion quite like that of college football. And for one lucky team, college, and fan base the blood, sweat, and tears will culminate in the raising of a single trophy in a single moment that will last in their hearts forever.