NCAA Football Preview 2014

The 2014 NCAA football schedule is set to kickoff on Saturday, August 30 with 128 teams battling it out to become the nation’s best. With the preseason just winding down we now have a clearer picture of the top 10-ranked teams heading into the season.

Let’s take a closer look of the top 10 teams heading into the new campaign with our 2014 NCAA Football Preview:

#1 – Florida State Seminoles – ACC Atlantic

  • Last Season’s record:14-0,
  • vs ACC Atlantic: 6-0
  • vs Top 25: 5-0
  • Florida State Seminoles 2014 Schedule
      1. Aug. 30-Oklahoma St @Arlington, TX
      2. Sep. 6 -The Citadel
      3. Sep. 20-Clemson
      4. Sep. 27-at NC State
      5. Oct. 4-Wake Forest
      6. Oct. 11-at Syracuse
      7. Oct. 18-Notre Dame
      8. Oct. 30 at Louisville
      9. Nov. 8-Virginia
      10. Nov. 15-at Miami
      11. Nov. 22-Boston College
      12. Nov. 29-Florida
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Jacobbi McDaniel-DT, Christian Jones-SLB, Dan Hicks-SLB, Telvin Smith-WLB, Terrence Brooks-SS, Lamarcus Joyner-CB, and Timmy Jernigan-DT
    • Offense: Chad Abram-FB, Kenny Shaw-WR, Bryan Stork-C, Kelvin Benjamin-WR, Devonta Freeman-RB, James Wilder-RB, and Jacob Coker-QB
  • Our Take
    • Florida was second overall in offense last year with an average of 52.1 points per game and proved to be the nation’s top-defensive squad with just 12.1 points against. Their offense looks to be just as powerful again in 2014 with the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at quarterback, running back Karlos Williams, receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary. The offensive line features key returning seniors and the team’s going to be a handful for anybody whether they decide to run with the ball or pass it. The defensive backfield is just as strong as ever and the squad is one of the deepest in the country. If there is a question mark about the team it could be at linebacker since both Telvin Smith and Christian Jones have moved on and they could be short at experience there.

#2 – Alabama Crimson Tide – SEC West

  • Last Season’s Record: Alabama Crimson Tide 11-2
  • vs SEC West: 5-1
  • vs Top 25: 3-2
  • Alabama Crimson Tide 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30 – vs. West Virginia @Atlanta, GA
    2. Sep. 6 – Florida Atlantic
    3. Sep. 13 – Southern Miss
    4. Sep. 20 – Florida
    5. Oct. 4 – at Ole Miss
    6. Oct. 11 – at Arkansas
    7. Oct. 18 – Texas A&M
    8. Oct. 25 – at Tennessee
    9. Nov. 8 – at Louisiana State
    10. Nov. 15 – Mississippi State
    11. Nov. 22 – Western Carolina
    12. Nov. 29 – Auburn
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Ed Stinson-DE, C.J. Mosley-WLB, Deion Belue-CB, Cody Mandell-P, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix-FS, Adrian Hubbard-LB, Jeoffrey Pagan-DE, and Vinnie Sunseri-SS
    • Offense: AJ McCarron-QB, Kevin Norwood-WR, Kenny Bell-WR, Anthony Steen-OG, Cade Foster-K, and Cyrus Kouandjio-OT
  • Our Take
    • Alabama ranked 18th overall in points in 2013 with 38.2 a game on average and came in with the fourth-best defense at 13.9 points against. Running backs T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyon Drake make up one of the top backfields in the league. The rushing game should be exceptional again this year and the pound-n-ground attack will keep Alabama in the title race all season long. When it comes to receivers, the squad boasts some of the best talent in the country in Christian Jones, Amari Cooper and DeAndrew White. The team has lost three-year starter AJ McCarron at quarterback and there were about half a dozen candidates to take over his job during the preseason with Blake Sims and Jakob Coker emerging as the top two. Alabama will also be looking for a reliable kicker and punter this season.

#3 – Oregon Ducks – Pac 12-North

  • Last Season’s Record: 11-2
  • vs Pac 12 North: 4-1
  • vs Top 25: 2-1
  • Oregon Ducks 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30-South Dakota
    2. Sep. 6-Michigan State
    3. Sep. 13-Wyoming
    4. Sep. 20-at Washington State
    5. Oct. 2-Arizona
    6. Oct. 11-at UCLA
    7. Oct. 18-Washington
    8. Oct. 24-at California
    9. Nov. 1-Stanford
    10. Nov. 8-at Utah
    11. Nov. 22-Colorado
    12. Nov. 29-at Oregon State
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Wade Keliikipi-DT, Taylor Hart-DT, Boseko Lokombo-SLB, Brian Jackson-SS, Avery Patterson-FS, and Terrance Mitchell-CB
    • Offense: Josh Huff-WR, Daryle Hawkins-WR, Mana Greig-OG, Colt Lyerla-TE, Alejandro Maldonado-K/P, and De’Anthony Thomas-RB/WR
  • Our Take
    • Oregon owned the fourth-best offense in the league last season with 45.5 points per contest on average and ranked 13th in defense with 20.5 points against. Overall, the offense ranks among the best in college football and nine fulltime starters will be returning in 2014. Quarterback Marcus Mariota should be a legitimate candidate for the Heisman trophy and he’ll be playing with an experienced offensive line. We could possibly see the Ducks field their best-ever offense this year. But while the offensive should dominate, the defense may struggle against top opponents such as Stanford and good pound and ground squads.

#4) Oklahoma Sooners – Big 12

  • Last Season’s Record: 11-2
  • vs Top 25: 4-1
  • Oklahoma Sooners 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30 – Louisiana Tech
    2. Sep. 13 – Tennessee
    3. Sep. 20 – at Tulsa
    4. Sep. 27 – at West Virginia
    5. Oct. 4 – at TCU
    6. Oct. 11 – vs. Texas @Dallas, TX
    7. Oct. 18 – Kansas State
    8. Nov. 1 – at Iowa State
    9. Nov. 8 – Baylor
    10. Nov. 15 – at Texas Tech
    11. Nov. 22 – Kansas
    12. Dec. 6 – Oklahoma State
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Corey Nelson-OLB, Aaron Colvin-CB, and Gabe Lynn-FS
    • Offense: Trey Millard-FB/TE, Brennan Clay-RB, Roy Finch-RB, Damien Williams-RB, Jalen Saunders-WR, Lacoltan Bester-WR, Jaz Reynolds-WR, Gabe Ikard-C, and Bronson Irwin-OG
  • Our Take
    • Oklahoma scored an average of 32.8 points per game last year ranking them 41st in the nation and their 22.1 points against was 22nd-best. The team has had some fine offensive linemen over the years and that trend should continue in 2014. All-American center Gabe Ikard has gone though and his presence will be missed. Still, the squad has a lot of experience and talent especially with the team’s defensive front seven all coming back for one more season. The Sooners need good seasons from tight end Blake Bell and quarterback Trevor Knight if they hope to challenge for the national championship. Running backs Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams have all departed and the receivers aren’t the most experienced bunch.

#5 – Ohio State Buckeyes – Big Ten East

  • Last Season’s Record: 12-2
  • vs Big Ten West: 5-0
  • vs Top 25: 2-2
  • Ohio State Buckeyes 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30 – at Navy @Baltimore, MD
    2. Sep. 6 – Virginia Tech
    3. Sep. 13 – Kent State
    4. Sep. 27 – Cincinnati
    5. Oct. 4 – at Maryland
    6. Oct. 18 – Rutgers
    7. Oct. 25 – at Penn State
    8. Nov. 1 – Illinois
    9. Nov. 8 – at Michigan State
    10. Nov. 15 – at Minnesota
    11. Nov. 22 – Indiana
    12. Nov. 29 – Michigan
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Corey “Pitt” Brown-S, Christian Bryant-S, C.J. Barnett-S, Bradley Roby-CB, and Ryan Shazier-WLB
    • Offense: Kenny Guiton-QB, Carlos Hyde-RB, Jordan Hall-RB, Corey Brown-HB, Chris Fields-WR, Jack Mewhort-OT, Andrew Norwell-OG, Corey Linsley-C, Marcus Hall-OG, and Drew Basil-K
  • Our Take
    • The Buckeyes scored 45.5 points a game on average in 2012 which ranked them third in the league and they placed 28th-best in defense at 22.6 points against. Quarterback Braxton Miller showed excellent rushing skills and footwork last year and is a major talent. His passing may be somewhat suspect, but he’s still a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The linebackers and defensive line are experienced and quite talented and stronger than last year. On the flip side, the Buckeyes offensive line of last year will have a new look with so many players departing and will lack in experience. The secondary has also struggled somewhat and the departure of cornerback Bradley Roby will hurt.

#6 – Auburn Tigers – SEC West

  • Last Season’s Record: 12-2
  • vs SEC West: 5-1
  • vs Top 25: 5-2
  • Auburn Tigers 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30-Arkansas
    2. Sep. 6-San Jose State
    3. Sep. 18-at Kansas State
    4. Sep. 27-Louisiana Tech
    5. Oct. 4-Louisiana State
    6. Oct. 11-at Mississippi State
    7. Oct. 25-South Carolina
    8. Nov. 1 at Ole Miss
    9. Nov. 8-Texas A&M
    10. Nov. 15-at Georgia
    11. Nov. 22-Samford
    12. Nov. 29-at Alabama
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Dee Ford-DE, Craig Sanders-DE, Nosa Eguae-DT, Jake Holland-MLB, Chris Davis-CB, Ryan White-CB, Ryan Smith-BS, and Steven Clark-P
    • Offense: Jay Prosch-HB, Cody Parkey-K, Greg Robinson-OT, and Tre Mason-RB
  • Our Take
    • Auburn’s 39.5 points a game average last year was good for 13th in the league while their 24.7 points against ranked them at 48th best. However, they were the best in the land when it came to rushing at 328.3 yards a game. But two of their top players, offensive tackle Greg Robinson and running back Tre Mason have left. Head coach Gus Malzahn has a good system though and it results in success on the ground with quarterback Nick Marshall doing his part. The offensive line is top-notch with center Reese Dismukes leading the way. The Tigers sometimes struggle when it comes to shutting down their opponents’ passing attacks and they’ll need to improve in this area. They also need a dependable kicker and punter.

#7 – UCLA Bruins – Pac 12 South

  • Last Season’s Record: 10-3
  • vs Pac 12 South: 4-1
  • vs Top 25: 2-3
  • UCLA Bruins 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30-at Virginia
    2. Sep. 6-Memphis
    3. Sep. 13-Texas @Arlington, TX
    4. Sep. 25-at Arizona State
    5. Oct. 4-Utah
    6. Oct. 11-Oregon
    7. Oct. 18-at California
    8. Oct. 25-at Colorado
    9. Nov. 1-Arizona
    10. Nov. 8-at Washington
    11. Nov. 22-Southern California
    12. Nov. 29-Stanford
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Seali’i Epenesa-DT, Cassius Marsh-DE, Keenan Graham-DE, Jordan Zumwalt-ILB, Anthony Barr-OLB, and Brandon Sermons-CB
    • Offense: Shaquelle Evans-WR, Darius Bell-WR, and Xavier Su’a-Filo-OG
  • Our Take
    • The Bruins scored 36.9 points per game on average last year to rank 21st while the defense came in at 35th with 23.2 points against. Quarterback Brett Hundley is the key to UCLA’s attack as he led the team in passing and rushing last season. The team should compete for the Pac 12 title this year if he can keep it up. Meanwhile the pass defense has been average, but a lot of veterans are returning so it should improve. The Bruins have struggled when trying to shut down the run and there’s definitely room for improvement there with some newcomers in the defensive line. The loss of All-American linebacker Anthony Barr will be felt and the team needs to be better when protecting Hundley to allow him more time with the ball.

#8 – Michigan State Spartans – Big Ten East

  • Last Season’s Record: 13-1
  • vs Big Ten East: 5-0
  • vs Top 25: 3-1
  • Michigan State 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30 – Jacksonville State
    2. Sep. 13 – at Oregon
    3. Sep. 20 – Wyoming
    4. Sep. 27 – Eastern Michigan
    5. Oct. 4 – Nebraska
    6. Oct. 11 – at Purdue
    7. Oct. 18 – at Indiana
    8. Oct. 25 – Michigan
    9. Nov. 8 – Ohio State
    10. Nov. 15 – at Maryland
    11. Nov. 22 – Rutgers
    12. Nov. 29 – at Penn State
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Tyler Hoover-DT, Micajah Reynolds-NT, Denzel Drone-DE, Max Bullough-MLB, Denicos Allen-SLB, Darqueze Dennard-CB, and Isaiah Lewis-SS
    • Offense: Andrew Maxwell-QB, Bennie Fowler-WR, Blake Treadwell-OG, Dan France-OG, and Fou Fonoti-OT
  • Our Take
    • The Spartans scored an average of 29.4 points a game in 2013 to rank 65th and excelled defensively by allowing just 13.2 against to rank third in the nation. The team needs a bit more spark offensively and should be better with most of their receivers and top rushers coming back. Quarterback Connor Cook is improving all the time while defensive ends Marcus Rush and Shilique Calhoun will cause problems for opposing offenses. The offensive line needs a bit of a rebuild but it’s a bit thin on experience. The defense may not be as solid as last year, but it should be pretty close. The front seven is definitely capable of handling Big Ten rushing attacks and the Spartans should enjoy another fine season.

#9 – South Carolina Gamecocks – SEC East

  • Last Season’s Record: 11-2
  • vs SEC East: 4-2
  • vs Top 25: 3-1
  • South Carolina Gamecocks 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 28 – Texas A&M
    2. Sep. 6 – East Carolina
    3. Sep. 13 – Georgia
    4. Sep. 20 – at Vanderbilt
    5. Sep. 27 – Missouri
    6. Oct. 4 – at Kentucky
    7. Oct. 18 – Furman
    8. Oct. 25 – at Auburn
    9. Nov. 1 – Tennessee
    10. Nov. 15 – at Florida
    11. Nov. 22 – South Alabama
    12. Nov. 29 – at Clemson
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Chaz Sutton-DE, Jimmy Legree-CB, Kelcy Quarles-DT, Jadeveon Clowney-DE, and Victor Hampton-CB
    • Offense: Connor Shaw-QB, Ronald Patrick-OG, and Bruce Ellington-WR
  • Our Take
    • South Carolina racked up 34.1 points per game on average in 2013 to rank 33rd while their 20.3 points against was good for 12th best. All of the team’s top receivers are returning except for Bruce Ellington, so hopefully the aerial attack will improve this campaign. Tailback Mike Davis is the team’s top rusher and he’ll be depended on to have another god season. The defense should be just as strong as 2013 and the Gamecocks are deep at linebacker. Senior Dylan Thompson is set to take over at quarterback with Connor Shaw leaving. Thompson has been mediocre in the past and needs to step up his game to hold onto the job. There are a few holes to fill with several players departing such as cornerback Victor Hampton, but talented newcomers should take care of that.

#10 – Baylor Bears – Big 12

  • Last Season’s Record: 11-2
  • vs Top 25: 2-2
  • Baylor Bears 2014 Schedule
    1. Aug. 30 – SMU
    2. Sep. 6 – Northwestern State
    3. Sep. 13 – at Buffalo
    4. Sep. 27 – at Iowa State
    5. Oct. 4 – at Texas
    6. Oct. 11 – TCU
    7. Oct. 18 – at West Virginia
    8. Nov. 1 – Kansas
    9. Nov. 8 – at Oklahoma
    10. Nov. 22 – Oklahoma State
    11. Nov. 29 – vs. Texas Tech @Arlington, TX
    12. Dec. 6 – Kansas State
  • Major Departures
    • Defense: Terrance Lloyd-DE, Chris McAllister-DE, Brody Trahan-MLB, Eddie Lackey-WLB, Demetri Goodson-CB, Joe Williams-CB, K.J. Morton-CB, Ahmad Dixon-DS, and Sam Holl-NB
    • Offense: Glasco Martin-RB, Tevin Reese-WR, Jordan Najvar-TE, Cyril Richardson-OG, Stefan Huber-C, Kelvin Palmer-OT, Aaron Jones-K, and Lache Seastrunk-RB
  • Our Take
    •  Baylor was tops in the country when it came to points scored last year with an average of 52.4 per game. Their defense ranked 36 with 23.5 points allowed. Head coach Art Briles has turned his hurry-up offense into the nation’s best over the last year. As a bonus, quarterback Bryce Petty will be back for his senior year. In addition, top receiver Antwan Goodley is also back and both could be contenders for the Heisman trophy. If the defense has a weak link it could be the blockers up front as just two of the starters are returning. Cyril Richardson, an All-American guard, has left and he’ll be tough to replace. The secondary played well last year, but will feature several newcomers in 2014.