Game changers: Top 5 college football teams provide unique differences among them

09/04/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

The first weekend in September means it's time to kickoff the 2015 season. Let's take a look at the pre season Top 5 teams in college football.
1) Ohio State The defending national champions rightfully top the list. After a championship season, most schools are lucky to have their starting quarterback return. The Buckeyes return 3 QB's. Braxton Miller, who was supposed to be the starter last season but was injured prior to it, has moved to H-Back this season. But both Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett are back under center and head coach Urban Meyer has said he plans to use both guys. Besides the stable of quarterbacks the Buckeyes bring back 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line. The same offensive line that allowed Ezekiel Elliott to rush for almost 1,900 yards and 18 touchdowns. Star defensive end Joey Bosa will lead the charge for the Ohio State defense, but is suspended for the season opener. That season opener is against Virginia Tech on Labor Day, the same Hokies that upset the Buckeyes in last years season opener.
2) TCU The Horned Frogs return 10 starters from an offense that averaged 46.5 points per game, which was second highest in the nation. They'll be led by Heisman Trophy candidate Trevone Boykin, who passed for 3,900 yards and 33 touchdowns, and rushed for 707 yards and 8 more scores. Leading rusher Aaron Green is back (922 yard & 9 TD's in '15) as well as leading receiver Josh Doctson (1,018 yards receiving & 11 TD's). The one thing that might slow down TCU is that only 5 starters are back on defense. But that shouldn't matter if the offense lives up to it's high scoring expectations. The Horned Frogs open the season against Minnesota on the Thursday before Labor Day.

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3) Alabama Facing what may be the most difficult schedule in college football and returning only 4 starters on offense, you'd think the Crimson Tide would be further down in the pre season rankings. But Nick Saban is one of the best coaches in the game when he has new faces on offense, as he has won two national championships with first year starting quarterbacks. He'll have a new QB under center this season as well, but who will it be? Saban has yet to decide between Jake Coker, Cooper Batemen and Alec Morris. The Tide does return RB Derrick Henry, who led the team last season with 990 yards and 11 TD's. Alabama wastes no time in taking on top competition either as they open the season on Sunday night in Arlington, Texas against #20 Wisconsin.
4) Baylor There will be a new man under center for the Bears, who last season had the highest scoring offense in college football, averaging 48.2 points per game. Bryce Petty is gone, but Seth Russell is expected to step right in at the helm. He'll have plenty of help though. WR's K.D. Cannon (1,030 yards receiving & 8 TD's in '15) and Corey Coleman (1,119 yards & 11 TD's) will be back as targets for Russell. Overall, Baylor returns 18 starters, the most in the Big 12 conference. They'll need that experience on defense, which was the Bears Achilles heel last season. Baylor ranked 107th in the country in passing defense, and gave up 40+ points 4 times. The Bears open the season the first Saturday of September at SMU.
5) Michigan State 17 starters return for the Spartans from a team that ranked #10 in the country offense and 8th overall in defense last season. The offense will be led by quarterback Connor Cook, who passed for 3,214 yards and 24 TD's in 2014. Defensive end Shilque Calhoun will anchor the other side of the ball. This is the highest pre season ranking Michigan State has had since 1967. The Spartans open the season on the road Friday night against Western Michigan.

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