NWADG College Football


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42 NWA Democrat-Gazette College Football Preview Sunday, August 27, 2017 National College FAQ Primer By Bob Holt WHICH PLAYER IS THE FAVORITE TO WIN THE HEISMAN TROPHY? Louisville junior quarterback Lamar Jack- son won it last season and is back to lead Coach Bobby Petrino's offense, so he might seem to be the obvious choice. But the odds are against Jackson winning the Heisman again. For one thing, there's only been one repeat winner in the 81 times the Heisman has been awarded. That was Ohio State run- ning back Archie Griffin in 1974 and 1975. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, like Jack- son, won the Heisman as a sophomore in 2007 (even though Arkansas fans know Darren McFadden should have won it that year, and in 2006 for that matter). But Tebow didn't win the Heisman again despite playing two more seasons. He was third in the voting in 2008 and fifth in 2009. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Florida State quarterback Jameis Win- ston won the Heisman in 2012 and 2013, respectively, as redshirt freshmen, but as sophomores finished fifth and sixth before entering the NFL Draft. Another factor figuring to hurt Jackson's repeat chances is that he doesn't have the momentum going into this season you'd expect from a Heisman Trophy winner. Jackson built up a big lead in the Heisman race last season with crazy numbers when he passed for 3,543 yards and 30 touch- downs and rushed for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns, but Louisville lost its final three games 36-10 at Houston, 41-38 to Kentucky and 29-9 to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. So Jackson probably has to put up even bigger numbers — and have the Cardinals finish strong — to have a shot. Jackson still has to be a considered among the top candidates. Others in the mix figure to be Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold, LSU running back Derrius Guice, Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, Washington quarterback Jake Browning, UCLA quar- terback Josh Rosen, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Alabama quarter- back Jalen Hurts, Georgia running back Nick Chubb and Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough. The winner also could be someone not appearing on the watch lists considering Jackson wasn't among the favorites going into last season. WHICH FOUR TEAMS ARE GOING TO BE IN THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF? Alabama is the only team to play in the first three playoffs, and the Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in most preseason polls, so you have to put Coach Nick Saban's team in there. Assuming the selection committee goes with four of the Power 5 conference cham- pions — and that's not a given as Penn State learned last season — then the teams most likely to join Alabama based on preseason polls are Florida State from the ACC, Ohio State from the Big Ten and Southern California from the Pac 12. But there's no guarantee any of those four teams will make the playoffs. They still have to earn their way in. According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, other teams with at least a 33-1 shot to make the playoffs are Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State, Auburn, Washington, Georgia, LSU, defending national champion Clemson, Florida, Louisville and Wisconsin. WHICH TEAM IS A GOOD SLEEPER PICK TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS? Sports Illustrated put Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph on the cover of its college football issue and picked the Cowboys to make the playoffs along with Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. Of course, now Oklahoma State has to overcome the infamous Sports Illustrated cover jinx. IS ARKANSAS AD JEFF LONG STILL ON THE PLAYOFF COMMITTEE? Yes, Long is on the committee for the fourth year, though he hasn't been the chairman since 2015. Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt took over as chairman last year and will serve in that capacity again. Joining Long and Hocutt on the selection committee: m Frank Beamer, former Virginia Tech coach m Bobby Johnson, former Vanderbilt coach m Tyrone Willingham, former coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Washington m Ohio State AD Gene Smith m Clemson AD Dan Radakovich m Oregon AD Rob Mullens m Jeff Bower, former Southern Mississippi coach m Herb Deromedi, former Central Michi- gan AD m Chris Howard, Robert Morris University president m Tom Jernstedt, former NCAA executive m Steve Wieberg, former sports reporter Beamer and Long are both speaking at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club this season. Beamer will speak in Fayetteville on Aug. 30, and Long on Sept. 6. Long also will speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Sept. 11. IS NICK SABAN FINALLY GOING TO LOSE TO ONE OF HIS FORMER ASSISTANT COACHES? Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher, who was Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU, will have a shot to become the first of his former assistant coaches to beat him when the Seminoles open the season against Al- abama on Sept. 2 in Atlanta. Saban is 10-0 against his former assistants in 10 seasons at Alabama, including 3-0 against both Derek Dooley and Jim McEl- wain, and 2-0 against Mark Dantonio and Will Muschamp. DO WE HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN PAR- TYING ON NEW YEAR'S EVE OR WATCH- ING THE PLAYOFF SEMIFINAL GAMES LIKE THE LAST TWO YEARS? For a change, no. The semifinal games this season will be on New Year's Day in the Rose and Sugar Bowls. WHO ARE SOME OF THE BIGGER-NAME COACHING FACES IN NEW PLACES THIS SEASON? Tom Herman probably was the hottest name in coaching last season, and he moved from Houston to Texas. After P.J. Fleck led Western Michigan to a 13-1 record and a Cotton Bowl berth, he landed the Minnesota job. Willie Taggart moved to Oregon from South Florida, and Lane Kiffin got his fourth head coaching job — after stops with the Oak- land Raiders, Tennessee and Southern California — at Florida Atlantic. Charlie Strong, the Batesville native who was fired at Texas, replaced Taggart at South Florida. Butch Davis, a Springdale native and for- mer Arkansas defensive lineman who was the head coach at Miami and North Caro- lina as well as with the Cleveland Browns, is back in the game at Florida International. Matt Rhule, who won big at Temple, de- cided to see if he can clean up the mess at Baylor, and Randy Edsall is back for his second tour at Connecticut. Jeff Tedford, who led Cal to some big sea- sons, is the new coach at Fresno State. WHICH COACHES ARE ON THE HOT SEAT? According to Athlon's the list includes Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and UCLA's Jim Mora, whose teams open the season against each other on Sept. 2 in the Rose Bowl. Maybe the loser gets fired the next day? Others on Athlon's hot seat list include Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury — that should make Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bret Bielema happy given his verbal sparring with the Red Raiders' coach a couple of years ago — along with Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez and Arizona State's Todd Graham. Athlon's put Bielema on its "getting warm- er" seat along with Tennessee's Butch Jones, Nebraska's Mike Riley, North Caro- lina State's Dave Doeren and Boston Col- lege's Steve Addazio. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO …? These former SEC quarterbacks are eligi- ble to play for their new teams this season: m Kyle Allen (Texas A&M) at Houston m Blake Barnett (Alabama) at Arizona State m David Cornwell (Alabama) at Nevada m Will Grier (Florida) at West Virginia m Brandon Harris (LSU) at North Carolina m Kyler Murray (Texas A&M) at Oklahoma AP/TIMOTHY D. EASLEY Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has to be considered among top candidates for this year's Heisman Trophy.

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