20 Burning College Football Questions

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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We don’t know much about the 2019 season. If anyone does know something for sure, they’d make a lot of money. Part of the beauty that is the offseason is that the uncertainty and unknown regarding the game are at their highest. With that uncertainty comes questions, and we have plenty heading into this year. Today, we take a look at the 20 most pressing questions college football must answer.

Biggest Questions

Is Nebraska actually good?

Why do we need college football to be here? Besides that we all need it, we also need to see who’s a legitimate team. Nebraska’s been getting a considerable amount of hype heading into the season, but we don’t know how legit they will be. Scott Frost’s offense is led by Heisman Hopeful Adrian Martinez, who produced over 3,200 yards and 25 total touchdowns as a freshman. Though they started the year 0-6 (point differential of -90), they finished strong by going 4-2 (+77). They lost five games last year by one score, leading many to believe they’re poised to bounce back. Scott Frost’s shown he can produce an elite team, but this is a completely different level of difficulty.

Who’s the biggest surprise this year?

The early favorite is Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers have competition within their own division. Minnesota’s building something special under P.J. Fleck, and the Golden Gophers could easily be the big surprise this year. They played Ohio State close and upset Wisconsin, but they also had losses to Illinois and the Cornhuskers. Florida upsetting Georgia for the East crown would be a surprise as well. Dan Mullen’s influence on the program is evident and the Gators are ready to challenge for the SEC crown. USC could go either way at this point in the Pac-12, and so could Cal. At this point, anyone that’s not a top two team in the Power 5 conferences would be a surprise at this point. Anyone not named Alabama or Clemson winning the SEC or ACC would also be a surprise.

Can anyone beat Bama or Clemson?

Clemson’s dominating the ACC, so it seems unlikely that anyone else wins the conference. Teams like Miami and Syracuse are picked to contend, but topping the alpha dog won’t be easy. The Tigers won the last four ACC titles, and the gap to reach them continues to grow. Beating Alabama appears more likely, but still not easy. Georgia’s the only team to win the SEC (in 2017) besides Alabama since 2014, but the Bulldogs ultimately lost to the Tide in the national championship. There’s more competition in the SEC, but no one besides Georgia seems to be closing to besting Nick Saban’s team quite yet. Georgia, LSU, and Florida have a shot this year, though.

Group of 5 Questions

Can UCF win out again?

Whether you like the Knights or not, you can’t deny their dominance. UCF won 25 straight games before losing to LSU in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl last year, but they’re not done yet. They faced plenty of adversity last year, including two tight games against Memphis, but came out on top for the second consecutive year. Josh Heupel’s program returns as the favorite again, and will be loaded even without their best player. While McKenzie Milton recovers from his horrific injury, Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush takes over. He’ll enjoy the luxuries that the Knights offense has to offer, and it comes down to the defensive improvement. This will be the toughest AAC the Knights will face, and Stanford and Pitt also appear in nonconference play.

Which G5 team gets the NY6 bid?

It seems foolish to think to pick against UCF after all they’ve done, but they also face a tough road. Memphis and Cincinnati will challenge the Knights, and Houston has a playoff-worthy schedule. Boise State’s reloading this year and is the team to beat in the Mountain West. Fresno State, San Diego State, and Utah State will challenge them, and Hawaii would be fun to watch in an NY6. The MAC will be competitive, but that might hurt their chances for the NY6 bid. Conference USA and Sun Belt have fun teams in their conferences, but rely on other teams to lose in other G5 conferences. Regardless of who wins the bid, they’ll be fun to watch.

Will a G5 team ever make the playoff?

Houston’s schedule puts them in position to make it, but they must win every game (even that may not be enough). In the short term with the four team playoff, it’s almost impossible for a Group of 5 team to make the playoff. UCF won every game in their past two regular seasons and didn’t sniff the playoff mostly due to their poor strength of schedule. If they playoff ever expanded to six or eight teams, there’s a chance. Maybe one of the bigger questions is if the playoff will expand, and those questions won’t be answered anytime soon.

What happened to FAU?

Not one of the most burning questions, but one that’s important in the G5. Lane Kiffin came to Boca Raton and his team exploded. The Owls won 11 games in his first season, and #CometotheFAU was popular. Just one year later, his team finished 5-7. Did the hype die that quickly? We all knew that Kiffin would draw attention to the school, but now the question becomes if he can consistently win .

Unknown Questions

What happens if the Pac-12 doesn’t make the playoff?

They certainly won’t implode, but the postseason seems to give this conference troubles. Oregon’s run in 2014 ended with a blowout loss to Ohio State in the national championship. Washington’s offense disappeared in the 2016 playoff, and we haven’t seen the conference in the playoff since. Oregon, Washington, and Utah enter the season as the favorites to win the conference, but will that result in the playoff? Even that might not be enough.

Does Graham Harrell bring USC’s offense back?

Clay Helton had his man in Kliff Kingsbury. That is until the Arizona Cardinals offered him their head coaching position. Helton moved on the Harrell, who’s played a huge role in the North Texas offensive explosion. Harrell knows offense, and the Trojans (and Helton) needed a jolt of energy on that side of the ball. Luckily for Harrell, he won’t have to do it all himself. JT Daneils is a promising sophomore quarterback, and throws to a group of talented receivers. The Trojans need to be relevant in the Pac-12, and that starts with offense.

Can Chip Kelly work his magic again?

Everyone assumes that UCLA will turn into Southern Oregon and win a ton of games because of their coach. Kelly brought the Ducks to new heights in his tenure before departing for the NFL. Now he’s back in college football with the Bruins, and they’ve already shown signs of improvement. His program is still a few years away from being elite, but the first year gave fans hope.

How do we know if Texas is truly ‘back’?

This question gets kind of old, but that’s what happens when you lose to Maryland two years in a row. After beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, quarterback Sam Ehlinger declared that the Longhorns were back. They’ll face LSU in Week 2, and most likely have to beat Oklahoma twice. If they can do that and win the Big 12, we can put this question to rest.

Will Jim Harbaugh finally beat the Buckeyes?

It’s not a secret that Harbaugh and Michigan have struggled against their rivals, but this year could be different. The Wolverines are picked by experts to win the Big Ten, which pretty much means they beat Ohio State this year. Last year’s matchup was an embarrassment, giving this team the proverbial chip on their shoulder. Even with change in Columbus, it won’t be an easy win.

Can Ohio State keep winning without Urban Meyer?

Urban Meyer stepped away from college football, giving way to the Ryan Day era. With all of the talent returning this year, it would be stunning to see the Buckeyes struggle. Day managed to get Justin Fields to transfer from Georgia, giving Ohio State a formidable threat at quarterback, while the defense will be one of the best in the conference. Even without Meyer, this program continues its winning ways.

Is Urban Meyer really done coaching?

This becomes the obvious question when talking about the Buckeyes. Meyer’s stated multiple times that he’s done coaching, but that won’t stop the rumors from circulating. USC and Meyer have already been linked together given the uncertainty of Clay Helton’s future, but Meyer continued to deny any rumors. It’s tough to see him calling it quits this early in his career, especially when we’ve already seen this once before.

Which transfer quarterback will succeed the most?

Simply based on school, Jalen Hurts enters the year as the favorite. He works with Lincoln Riley, who’s produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners. It’s tough to see anyone challenge Hurts. Justin Fields is still young, Kelly Bryant isn’t nearly as talented, ad there are too many other unknowns elsewhere. They also don’t have the talent that Hurts gets to work with this year.

Postseason Questions

Will Jalen Hurts make it three straight Heisman’s for Oklahoma?

It’s a tall order to ask, but not impossible. Hurts’ skillset fits within Riley’s scheme, and he’s the most poised quarterback in college football. He must work with four new offensive lineman, but the skill positions are stacked once again. With guys like Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, and a handful of elite running backs challenging him, it’s tough to predict another Heisman win for the Sooners.

Do we let another undefeated Notre Dame team in the playoff again?

We saw what happened the last two times the Irish played for a national championship. It didn’t end well either time. Notre Dame’s gotten our hopes up twice this decade and face planted at the most crucial times. With all of the talent returning, they’re poised for another run. The debate about whether they should get in or not will rage even more than it did last year. It’s a tough sell as of right now.

How many teams have a legitimate chance of winning the national championship?

It’s easy to say two with how Clemson and Alabama have been playing. However, college football is weird, and strange things happen during the season. LSU, Georgia and Florida all believe they can win it all this year. Ohio State and Michigan make strong cases too. Oklahoma and Texas could win from the Big 12, while the Pac 12 and the rest of the ACC don’t appear to have anyone that can win it all. So, right now, nine teams. If things get weird, a lot more.

Why do we need the CFP committee to produce a Top 25?

Seriously, why? There isn’t a single reason why a committee who picks the four playoff teams needs to release a Top 25. Let’s stop doing that and just pick four teams at the end. The committee is literally called the College Football Playoff Committee. Not the “rank 25 teams starting at Week 9” committee.

When will the NCAA allow players to transfer freely?

Some questions should have obvious answers, but this one doesn’t. We’ve still yet to hear a good explanation for why guys like Tate Martell can transfer freely, but Luke Ford and James Hudson cannot. Martell literally didn’t want to compete with Justin Fields. Ford wanted to be closer to his ailing family member, and Hudson struggled with depression. One of those things clearly isn’t legitimate while the other two should count.

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