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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 3 Alabama

Nick Saban Getty Images

2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-1 in SEC (T-1st in SEC West)
2013 postseason: Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma (45-31 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 7/No. 8
Head coach: Nick Saban (165-57 overall; 78-16 in seven years at Alabama)
Offensive coordinator: Lane Kiffin (first season)
2013 offensive rankings: 25th rushing offense (205.6 ypg); 49th passing offense (248.5 ypg); 33rd total offense (454.1 ypg); 17th scoring offense (38.2 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: Eight
Defensive coordinator: Kirby Smart (seventh season)
2013 defensive rankings: 7th rushing defense (106.2 ypg); 11th passing defense (180.3 ypg); 5th total defense (286.5 ypg); fourth scoring defense (13.9 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: Four
Location: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Stadium: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821; Grass)
Last conference title: 2012

THE GOOD
Replacing a three-year starter at quarterback?  Pffft, no problem for a Tide squad that boasts two Top-Five SEC running backs in T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry… and the SEC’s best wide receiver-tight end combination in Amari Cooper and O.J. Howard… and at least three returning starters along the offensive line… and a defense that, despite the return of  just four starters, is littered with four- and five-star recruits throughout the depth chart and will, again, be one of the most stout in the conference… and, hands-down, the best coach in college football in Nick Saban.  In other words, and as they have been for the past few years, the Tide will enter a season as one of the handful of favorites to end the year No. 1.

THE BAD
I wouldn’t necessarily call this “bad,” but still.  Yes, Saban reloads his defense with four- and five-star talent, but the Tide still must replace a whopping seven starters from last year’s Top-10 squad on that side of the ball.  Not only that, three of those starters, all along the defensive line, have had their issues throughout the offseason and on into camp: two with suspensions, one with injury.  There are also experience issues in the secondary, with three starters needing replaced.  Fortunately for what will be a youthful Tide defense, their first three opponents (West Virginia, FAU, Southern Miss) won a total of 11 games last season, with all three finishing 78th or worse in scoring offense nationally.  In other words, the defense will have plenty of time to sort themselves out and gel before facing their first real test in Tuscaloosa against… four-win Florida, which finished T-112th in scoring.  The first real test against a team with more than a Pop Warner offense comes, after a bye, against Ole Miss Oct. 4.  Plenty of time, but still some concern over the inexperience.

THE UNKNOWN
We may have pffft’d replacing AJ McCarron, but it’s easily the biggest unknown heading into the 2014 season.  With less than week left before the start of the regular season, Saban, first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and the rest of the staff have not yet, at least publicly, settled on Jacob Coker, the Florida State transfer viewed as the presumptive front-runner, or Blake Sims, McCarron’s backup last season, as the starting quarterback.  Most believe that Coker will ultimately prevail, but there’s a possibility the Tide could go a game or two — or three of four — giving each an opportunity to grab the bull by the horns.  Saban said earlier this year that “consistency in performance” would be the key in settling on a starter; throughout the first three weeks or so of summer camp, neither Coker nor Sims has shown the type of consistency Saban has craved during his time in Tuscaloosa.  Back in July, Saban downplayed the Tide’s chances at a College Football Playoff title because of the inexperience at the position — Coker has attempted 41 passes in his career, Sims 39.  Saban’s downplaying comes with an asterisk, however, as the last two times he had a first-time full-time starter at the position — AJ McCarron in 2011, Greg McElroy in 2009 — the Tide won a BCS title.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: Nov. 29 vs. Auburn
It took less than a half a second to work my way through the Tide’s 12 games and settle on this one.  Certainly, the Nov. 8 road trip will be rife with implications both conference-wise and nationally, but this one… this one’s easily the “It” game for both sides this year.  The annual Iron Bowl grudge/hate match would get consideration year-in and year-out regardless of the most recent one played.  After last year?  This one comes in head, shoulders and half a torso above the other 11 games for the Tide.  Of course, the “last year” I referenced was the most memorable play of the 2013 season, “The Kick-Six” at Jordan-Hare that stunned the Tide and propelled the Tigers into the SEC championship game and, ultimately, the BCS title game.  While the coach and his team would never express it publicly, revenge will certainly be on their collective minds as the Tigers make their trek to Tuscaloosa in late November.  This year’s version may not match the drama of last year’s, but it’s still compelling, must-see TV — and could very well determine which team comes out of the SEC West and claims that division’s spot in the SEC championship game, with a spot in the College Football Playoff (likely) riding on all of it.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: running back T.J. Yeldon
After rushing for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, this bruising back has it all: speed, power, change of direction and surprisingly soft hands (20-183) for a man his size.  He is everything Nick Saban wants in a running back.  What he doesn’t have?  Sole ownership of the Tide’s running game load, the kind of ownership that would allow him to put up eye-catching numbers, because of the presence of Derrick Henry.  The reality is Henry is too good of a back and too much of a weapon to not utilize, which means Yeldon could still be one of the most Heisman-worthy players in the country and not have the stats to show it.  Such is life on Saban’s Five-Star Island.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Boykin not sharp, but No. 2 TCU gets by Gophers

Trevone Boykin, Matt Leidner

All that matters is getting a win, and it rarely matters how you get it. No. 2 TCU (1-0) opened the season on the road Thursday night, but they did so with quarterback Trevone Boykin having some off moments that helped allow Minnesota (0-1) to hang around. Fortunately, TCU’s defense was up to the task, holding their Big Ten hosts to fewer than 300 yards of offense until late in the game in a 23-17 win.

It was not the cleanest effort from TCU, with a pair of turnovers, Boykin’s pass completion percentage leaving room for improvement, and eight penalties. One thing to take from this game is TCU head coach Gary Patterson now knows what he needs to work on. Still, TCU went on the road and shut down a team some feel is capable of making things interesting in the Big Ten West Division this season. The Gophers have plenty of time this season to help boost TCU’s body of work in the long run, and Jerry Kill has now seen how much work he still needs to do.

Boykin completed 26 of 42 pass attempts for 246 yards and a touchdown. He also added 86 rushing yards and a touchdown to help make his night look a little more productive. His lone touchdown pass came in the first quarter on an 11-yard pass to Josh Doctson, putting TCU up 10-0 after one quarter of play. Minnesota was left playing catch-up the rest fo the night and never cut the lead down to fewer than seven points. Boykin ran 19 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to put the Horned Frogs up 17-3.

Minnesota’s offensive leaders had little to show. Mitch Leidner completed 16 of 30 attempts for 158 yards. Rodney Smith led the ground game with 88 yards and a touchdown.

Next week Minnesota will head to Fort Collins, Colorado to take on Colorado State. The Rams are coming off one of the more successful seasons in program history but could have a much different look this season. Jim McElwain left the program to coach Florida, which opened a spot for former Georgia assistant Mike Bobo to take the helm. Colorado State lost a number of key players. Minnesota’s secondary should be tested by Rams receiver Rashard Higgins, who accumulated 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns last fall. Colorado State opens the season at home against Savannah State, so they should be 1-0 when the Gophers come to town.

TCU will return home to open the home schedule next week against Stephen F. Austin. things should be pretty easy going for the Horned Frogs next week and thew week after at home against SMU. TCU opens Big 12 play later this month on the road against Texas Tech.

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Baylor suspends starters DE Oakman and DB Stewart

Kansas v Baylor Getty Images

On the eve of a season opener, the Big 12 champion Baylor Bears have one last piece of negative news to sort through. Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman and defensive back Orion Stewart have each been suspended for the season opener against SMU.

Both have been suspended for a violation of team rules, and each will be eligible to return to the team in Week 2. Oakman and Stewart are both starters for Baylor’s defense, but the Bears should manage to get by their first game of the year even without them.

Not that losing a guy who recorded 11 sacks last season is insignificant, but Baylor’s offense should put up big numbers against a team that has a total rebuild underway with a new head coach. SMU was blanked by Baylor last season, 45-0. Even with a new quarterback, Baylor’s offense should be tough for the Mustangs to slow down Friday night.

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Utah pours salt on Harbaugh’s Michigan debut, 24-17

Travis Wilson

The long-term future looks to be in good shape for as long as Jim Harbaugh sticks around Ann Arbor. The short-term future, on the other hand, suggests there could be some tough roads ahead. The Harbaugh era at Michigan got off to a losing start Thursday night in Salt Lake City. Utah’s (1-0) defense held firm in the fourth quarter with Justin Thomas picking off a pass from Michigan (0-1) quarterback Jake Rudock and returning it for a 55-yard touchdown and later stuffing the Wolverines on a fourth and short with 5:13 to play. For a second straight season, Utah flexed its muscle against Michigan, winning this year by a final score of 24-17.

Kyle Whittingham had his Utes ready to play typical Utah football, which is to say Utah played well on defense, forced some turnovers and managed to avoid having Travis Wilson implode. Utah’s quarterback was picked off once, but he completed 24 of his 33 pass attempts as Utah kept to mostly safe plays to wear down Michigan’s defense. That meant putting the ball on the ground with Devontae Booker leading the rushing attack and Wilson taking off as well. Each had a rushing touchdown in the victory.

While Michigan will fly home with a loss, there were some bright spots worth noting. Tight end Jake Butt proved to be a reliable target for Rudock as the two connected eight times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Amara Darboh also had a good game with seven catches for 91 yards. Jabrill Peppers had a good evening, making some key plays in the second half. He also had a kick return for 36 yards. And it was encouraging to see Rudock put together some plays late in the game to at least give Michigan a chance, if they had just recovered an onside kick.

This game alone should not go far in assessing the overall strength of the Pac-12 or the Big Ten against any other conference. Those arguments will continue to play out in games to come. However, the Big Ten could have benefitted from Michigan winning this one to carry over momentum gained from last year’s postseason. Now, the Pac-12 claims another notable victory to its profile. These types of wins can end up playing a deciding factor when it comes time to weighing playoff teams against one another, even if it does not involve Utah or Michigan. So point for the Pac-12 (and Pac-12 South), and no points for the Big Ten.

Michigan will welcome Harbaugh home in Ann arbor next weekend as the Wolverines once again play a Pac-12 opponent. This time it will be Oregon State, with former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen making his way back to Big Ten territory almost as quickly as he left it. Michigan will have some time to work out some kinks, but BYU will offer another stiff defensive test at the end of the month before Harbaugh’s Wolverines jump into Big Ten play.

Utah will stay home next week to play Utah State. The Aggies were in a real tough battle with FCS Southern Utah, losing 9-5 at the conclusion of the Utah-Michigan game), with Chuckie Keeton having an ineffective night. Maybe Utah State wasn’t showing much to refrain from giving Utah much film? Or maybe this game will be a tad easier than initially expected for the Utes.

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Arizona’s Scooby Wright III leaves game with apparent knee injury

Scooby Wright III

Arizona has opened up a 21-10 lead on UTSA in the season opener in Tucson, and Anu Solomon is having a nice season debut with a pair of touchdown throws, but all eyes have shifted on one of Arizona’s top defensive players instead. Scooby Wright III, one fo the top defensive players in the nation, has left the game with an apparent left knee injury.

Early reports say Wright will be out for the remainder of the game, and given the photo share din the Twitter message below, it is easy to see why. Wright was on the bench with ice wrapped around his left knee, and he does not look too happy about it.

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Harbaugh Era at Michigan begins with Rudock at QB; Utah leads 10-3

Jim Harbaugh

The headline here should just about sum up the national reaction to this game. Michigan entered the game with all of the hype, much of it justified with Jim Harbaugh returning to his alma mater, and the continued question of which quarterback would get the start (Iowa transfer Jake Rudock got the call). Once you get past all of the Michigan fluff, you discover Utah had the upper hand. That’s how the first half played out at least.

Utah opened the game by marching down the field in 10 plays on Michigan’s defense, but the Utes could only settle for a field goal after pushing into the red zone. Andy Phillips booted a 30-yard field goal to give the Utes the first points of the night. Then stepped Rudock out on to the field to lead the Michigan offense for the first time. Despite what looked to be a promising drive, that ended after 10 plays when Rudock was picked off by Cory Butler-Byrd at the Utah 14-yard line. Michigan would later add a field goal after the teams exchanged a few punts, tying the game at 3-3 in the second quarter.

Utah regained the lead on the ensuing possession, working its way 75 yards for a Devontae Booker touchdown run from the one-yard line. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson mixed in some runs and passes on the drive to help keep things moving. Utah missed an opportunity to build the lead when a late first half field goal attempt by Phillips from 48 yards out was no good.

That’s where we stand now after one half of play. Neither team has thrived on third downs, and Michigan has been the team with the turnover issues (Rudock has been picked off twice). Utah’s defense has been difficult to find room to run on, with Michigan being held to an average of 1.9 yards per rushing attempt. Utah has done only marginally better, averaging 2.2 yards per rushing attempt.

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Gamecocks cash in on UNC’s red zone blunders for Belk Kickoff victory

Skai Moore

Few things seemed to be going well for South Carolina in the Belk Kickoff, but early in the fourth quarter Shon Carson ripped off a 48-yard run down the right sideline to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the young season, 17-13. The defense took care of things from there, with Skai Moore picking off a pass in the end zone as the Tar Heels went for a touchdown on fourth down. The interception essentially shut the door on the Tar Heels in Charlotte, as South Carolina’s offense was able to work the clock for the final three minutes and change.

UNC outgained South Carolina, 439-395, but it was the Gamecocks offense that ended up wearing down the Tar Heels. South Carolina held on to the football for roughly 35 minutes, which in part was because UNC attempted to go up-tempo at times. But it was the turnovers that did UNC in. North Carolina lost the football three times, and South Carolina never lost the football.

Faced with the chance to serve a knockout blow with the ball inside the red zone, South Carolina was stuffed short on third down. Rather than take what should have been an easy three points to build an seven-point lead, Spurrier opted to try to push forward for one yard to pick up a first down at the UNC 11-yard line.

Nope. UNC’s defense came up with the stop to give the Tar Heel offense a chance to seize the momentum. And seize it they did. Well, until they got inside the red zone that is. For the second time of the game, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams was picked off in the end zone. Both passes were read and picked off by Moore. Leaving points on the board was the big crutch for the Tar Heels in this game. Three times UNC was picked off in the red zone, and another red zone trip ended with just three points.

Neither team was particularly sharp, which is to be expected in the first game of the season. Neither was too disciplined either. UNC was called for six penalties, and South Carolina was flagged eight times.

North Carolina opens up its home schedule next weekend against North Carolina A&T, an FCS program. UNC actually plays two FCS opponents this season. Delaware visits Chapel Hill on September 26. Wake Forest was already booked.

South Carolina will jump right into SEC East play next week at home in Columbia. The Gamecocks welcome Kentucky to Williams-Brice Stadium on September 12. The Wildcats scored a 45-38 victory over Spurrier’s team last season in Lexington, so chalk this one up as a revenge game for the Gamecocks.

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UNC takes 13-10 lead into halftime of Belk Kickoff

Marquise Williams

North Carolina has had one red zone opportunity end with an interception, another with a sack leading to a longer field goal. Regardless of a couple of missed opportunities inside the South Carolina 20-yard line, the Tar Heels find themselves leading 13-10 after the second first half of FBS college football this season (UCF and FIU beat the Belk Kickoff to the punch; UCF leading FIU 14-3).

It looked as though North Carolina was going to have a big night if the first two offensive possessions of the ballgame were any indication. The Tar Heel defense, with Gene Chizik at the helm as defensive coordinator, forced a three-and-out on the Gamecocks’ opening possession and then the offense went to work by driving right inside the red zone. Looking for six, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams threw a poor pass over the middle that was picked off by Skai Moore in the end zone.

How did Williams respond? By completing his next pass attempt for a 40-yard gain following a South Carolina punt. The long pass to Bug Howard set the pace for an up-tempo drive, which continued with a 23-yard strike to Quinshad Davis and concluded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Howard, who broke away from a defender to make his way to the end zone. Howard’s touchdown was the first touchdown of the FBS season.

South Carolina had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays to even the score at 7-7. Connor Mitch completed three of his four pass attempts and finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pharaoh Cooper. Cooper would later walk off the field to receive medical treatment for minor cramping. Mitch would also leave the game late in the first half for cramping issues. Perry Orth took over and moved the Gamecocks into range for a long field goal try at the end of the half, but the 50+ try fell shy of the bar.

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Mike Riley announces which five Huskers are suspended

Michael Rose-Ivey

It was not all that long ago Nebraska head coach Mike Riley confirmed a report stating five players will miss the season opener against BYU due to suspensions. He did not name the specific players at the time, but now he has.

Linebacker Michael Rose Ivey, defensive back Jonathan Rose, offensive lineman Robby Painter, tight end Cethan Carter and defensive end Joe Keels will all sit out of the season opener for violations of team rules. Rose Ivey was listed on Nebraska’s depth chart this week as a starter. That will obviously no longer be the case.

All five players will be suspended for the season opener but it appears all will be eligible to return in Week 2. Nebraska opens the 2015 season at home against BYU on Saturday afternoon. Nebraska’s home schedule continues in Week 2 against South Alabama.

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Report: Jim Harbaugh’s summer camp tour cost $211,948

Jim Harbaugh

The Jim Harbaugh effect has already shown its worth in ticket sales in Ann arbor as the season is about to get underway, but Harbaugh is also racking up quite a bill in Michigan’s athletics office as well. Harbaugh’s summer camp tour around the nation — you remember, the one coaches in the ACC and SEC disliked — cost Michigan $211,948. Worth every penny? Probably.

According to a report from MLive.com, the sum of the bill exceeded the total recruiting budgets of as many as 40 different FBS programs during the 2012-13 athletic year. The large bulk of the costs came from airfare, which racked up over $198,000 to fly Harbaugh and members of the staff around the country. Keep in mind these coaches are not simply getting tickets on the most convenient Southwest Airlines flight. They’re flying a plane owned by Michigan. That costs some big money. The coaches also spent over $4,000 on food and nearly $10,000 on lodging. Again, these guys are not staying in a Motel 6 or picking up something from the McDonald’s drive-thru. This stuff adds up quickly.

In the big picture, Michigan can afford to spend so much money on a summer camp tour, and it almost has to spend the extra bucks if the intent is to give Harbaugh and his staff every opportunity to regain a recruiting footing to catch up with programs like Ohio State. According to the latest team rankings from Rivals, Michigan has the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, with nine four-star players in the 23-members Class of 2016.

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Vandy adds in-state FCS opponent to 2016, 2018 schedule

A new season may be upon us, but scheduling news has no sign of stopping. Vanderbilt has added a pair of non-conference games against an in-state FCS program for 2016 and 2018.

Vanderbilt will host Tennessee State on October 22, 2016 and again on September 29, 2018. The additions of Tennessee State to the schedule brings Vanderbilt one game closer to completing the 2016 non-conference schedule.

The SEC will start requiring all conference members to have at least one game scheduled against another power conference opponent in 2016, and Vanderbilt has that covered with a game at Georgia Tech. Tennessee State joins Middle Tennessee on Vanderbilt’s non-conference schedule in 2018, leaving two spots to fill that season. One of those two vacant spots will have to be played against another power conference opponent.

The last time Vanderbilt faced Tennessee State was in 2006, with Vandy picking up a decisive 38-9 win.

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Report: Multiple Rutgers players arrested for assault

Deontay Greenberry, Nadir Barnwell

Well, I suppose now we know what all the commotion was about at Rutgers practice today.

Of the four Rutgers students and two former students charged today with assaulting a group of individuals, five are Rutgers football players and another is a former player. The assault left one student with a broken jaw and the attack was reportedly unprovoked. A total of nine defendants were arrested today, and one more is still to be arrested. Five players confirmed to have been charged are defensive backs Ruhann Peele, Nadir Barnwell, Dre Boggs and Delon Stephenson and fullback Razohnn Gross. Barnwell is the player linked to the separate ongoing university investigation of head coach Kyle Flood, who was allegedly contacting a professor about Barnwell’s eligibility status. Boggs and Stephenson were projected starters for Rutgers this weekend. All five of the current players have been suspended from the program while the legal process develops.

The former player arrested was Tejay Johnson, who was charged with robbery, criminal restraint, theft, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Johnson’s career was cut short due to injury in 2014 prior to Big Ten media days.

According to a report from NJ.com, the arrests come as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department. The investigation commenced in the spring following a reported home invasion in New Brunswick. Per the report, three men wearing masks forced their way into the home and left with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana as five students were held at gunpoint.

At this point there has been no statement from Rutgers regarding this latest news, although this post will be updated as soon as there is a statement to share.

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Kyle Flood says he is coaching Rutgers on Saturday

Kyle Flood

It was a bit of a bizarre scene at Rutgers football practice Thursday morning. Police showed up, as did athletics director Julie Herman. Given the recent headlines involving head football coach Kyle Flood, you could be forgiven for expecting something bad to go down. That was not the case, however, as Flood announced to the media he was still planning on coaching the Scarlet Knights on Saturday against Norfolk State in the season opener.

“I will be coaching the game on Saturday,” Rutgers football coach said with conviction after Thursday’s practice. “It’s always great to have the support of your administration. I think when the players come out to practice and they see that your athletic director is here, I think that speaks to it.”

It is not every day the AD at Rutgers makes her way to football practice, and her reason for attending was unconfirmed publicly. Herman declined to field questions from the members of the media on hand for Rutgers practice.

Flood is being investigated by the university for alleged direct contact of a professor regarding the eligibility of one of his players. According to a report published on Wednesday, the Flood allegedly disobeyed a direct order from the academic support staff with regard to the eligibility. Flood expressed anger in that information being relayed to the media. If guilty of violating university protocol the punishment to Flood could range from as little as a reprimand to as extreme as the termination of his contract.

If nothing else, Flood feels confident he is not going anywhere and facing a similar fate as ex-Illinois head coach Tim Beckman.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): No sooner than hitting the publish button on this post, news breaks multiple Rutgers players have been arrested for an alleged assault. That would likely explain the police presence.

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Cardale Jones doing fine after release from hospital

Cardale Jones

Any time a player is rushed to a hospital it is cause for concern. Fortunately for Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, there is no need to be too worried about his health. After being rushed to a hospital late Wednesday night for treatment of severe headaches, Jones has been released and is back with the team.

“Cardale Jones was examined last night at the OSU Wexner Medical Center,” a statement from Ohio State’s athletics department said Thursday morning. “He was released from the center following the examination and he is doing fine today.”

Headaches are always a cause for some alarm, especially with the increased awareness of concussions and concussion symptoms in football. Head trauma treatment has improved in great strides over the years, but detecting possible concussions can still be tricky. From the information released so far though, a concussion does not appear to be a concern for Jones, who led the Buckeyes on an improbable postseason run last season to win the Big Ten and national championships.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has not confirmed publicly who his starting quarterback will be Monday night when the Buckeyes open the 2015 season on the road at Virginia Tech. Jones and J.T. Barrett are the last two options standing after Braxton Miller switched positions this offseason.

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CFT 2015 Preseason Preview Repository

books in library room AP

As you may have noticed, we’re getting very, very close to the start of yet another college football season, one that’s set to be one of the most wide-open and eventful as any in the last handful of decades. As you may have also noticed throughout the month, two of us — myself and Kevin — are the midst of offering up, and actually finishing up, myriad preview material for said college football season.

With the FBS season opener at hand just a few hours from now, and as a service to you, our dear and loyal readers, we’ve created this page for all of y’all’s convenience, with all of our previews linked out from this one handy, dandy spot.

Enjoy, come back often and, most importantly, click away like your life depended on it.  Or drink beer and watch actual football instead of just reading about it.  One of the two.

Aug. 17 — Six-Pack of Storylines
Aug. 18 — Top 25
Aug. 19 — Impact Freshmen
Aug. 20 — Key Transfers
Aug. 21 — Heisman Watch List
Aug. 24 — Coaching Hot Seat
Aug. 25 — 10-Pack of Top Games
Aug. 26 — Playoff Predictions
Aug. 26 — Playoff Darkhorses

CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

Aug. 27 — ACC
Aug. 28 — Big 12
Aug. 31 — Big Ten
Sept. 1 — Pac-12
Sept. 2 — SEC

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Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut is an awfully hot ticket

USC v Utah Getty Images

The eyes of college football will train toward Salt Lake City tonight, but if you want to get a last-minute ticket to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan coaching debut against Utah, you’ll have to pay up.

Granted, there are only 39 tickets left on StubHub.com as of this sentence being written, but the cheapest way to get into Rice-Eccles Stadium is to pay $245 for a standing room ticket. That makes it one of opening weekend’s priciest tickets, coming in at No. 2 in the week’s top five (with the cheapest ticket listed):

Notre Dame-Texas: $264
Utah-Michigan: $245
Virginia Tech-Ohio State: $170
Western Michigan-Michigan State: $125
Louisville-Auburn: $92 (Georgia Dome)

(Worth noting, if you buy a last-minute ticket to Notre Dame-Texas, good luck finding a reasonably-priced hotel in the South Bend/Michiana area).

The Utah-Michigan game is the only one on this list that doesn’t feature a ranked team. Everybody must be pretty psyched to see Harbaugh pair some khakis with a maize and blue shirt/sweater.

Looking for value? Head to Texas and get in the door for what could be a sparsely-attended neutral site game between Alabama and Wisconsin for $60 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That only about 40,000 tickets have been sold for that game makes it even more disappointing we’ll never get a shot of Nick Saban standing on the sidelines while Camp Randall jumps around.

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