It has been seven months since any meaningful college football games have been played, but that all changes on Saturday night with some opening “Week 0” games. There is a pretty good one too, as Florida and Miami will face off in Orlando for the first time since 2013. Arizona will also travel to Honolulu to face Hawaii in the other Week 0 game, which takes place five days before other FBS teams begin their schedules. With that in mind, we’ll preview certain aspects of the 2019 college football season.
Top Transfer QB’s Not Named Hurts, Fields, or Martell
Alright, so one of those three didn’t win the starting job anyway, but there are still plenty of faces in new places in 2019. Some of the bigger names include:
1) Kelly Bryant, Missouri
Bryant helped take Clemson to the CFP semifinals in 2017, but transferred to Missouri after being benched for Trevor Lawrence last season. After having Drew Lock at the helm for the past few years, coach Barry Odom should love having Bryant leading the team; he completes around 66% of his passes and has the ability to make plays with his legs as well.
2) Jacob Eason, Washington
Another quarterback who transferred after losing the starting job, although his was due to a knee injury. Eason will look to build on some of the success that Jake Browning had with the Huskies. In his full year at Georgia, he threw for 2,430 yards and 16 TD, although the team only had an 8-5 record. At 6’6″ 227, Eason has good size to go with his powerful arm, and should take a big leap forward in 2019.
3) Shane Buechele, SMU
It was just two years ago that Buechele was splitting time with Sam Ehlinger for Texas, but after Ehlinger took control of the starting job last season, Buechele left Austin and headed to Dallas and the SMU Mustangs. He’ll have a great weapon in all-conference receiver James Proche (both of them were recently named team captains as well). Although not officially named the starter yet, Buechele is expected to win the job and should add some punch to the Mustangs offense.
Others: Hunter Johnson, Northwestern; Austin Kendall, West Virginia; Brandon Peters, Illinois; McLane Carter, Rutgers; Josh Jackson, Maryland
Three Power Five Dark Horse Heisman Candidates
1) Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona
A preseason Heisman candidate just one year ago after recording over 3,000 total yards and 26 TD in 2017, Tate suffered through an injury-riddled 2018 campaign. Although, he did post more passing yards and touchdowns than he did in 2017. If he can make as many electrifying plays as he did in his sophomore season, Tate should be able to make a legitimate Heisman run. Another year with Kevin Sumlin and Noel Mazzone should help too.
2) Leviska Shenault Jr, WR, Colorado
Despite missing three games last season, Shenault still caught 86 balls for over 1,000 yards with 6 TD. In addition, he even added five rushing scores as well. Colorado is just three years removed from a trip to the Pac-12 conference championship game, and Steven Montez is entering his third year as the starter. If Shenault can stay healthy for all 12 games, and the Buffs make another championship run, he could find his way to New York.
3) Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
As a true freshman in 2018, Moore caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and scored 14 TD to go with some thrilling work returning kicks. Purdue has been seen as a dark horse pick to win the Big 10 West, and Moore is a huge reason why. He’ll be considered if he can post similar numbers in Jeff Brohm’s offense.
Three Group of Five Heisman Candidates
1) Mason Fine, QB, North Texas
The Mean Green have already started a #6forHeisman campaign on Twitter, and with good reason. The 5’11” QB had a QBR of 149.4 last year, throwing for 3,793 yards (highest among returning QBs), 27 TD and 5 INT. He also gets his leading receiver Rico Bussey Jr back, as well as top rusher DeAndre Torrey. The back-to-back C-USA Offensive Player of the Year is also the active FBS passing yards leader. To garner serious Heisman consideration, Fine will likely need to guide North Texas to a win over the next QB on this list…
2) D’Eriq King, QB, Houston
One of the most exciting players to watch across the country, King accounted for 50 TD in 2018, and that was with him missing the final two and a half games of the season. He’s got a chance to impress too, with Oklahoma, Washington State, and UCF on the schedule. With Dana Holgorsen returning to Houston as head coach, and a bunch of solid talent around him, King should be able to put up similar numbers in 2019.
3) Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Love passed for over 3,500 yards and scored 39 touchdowns with only six interceptions for Utah State last season, and he’ll have a great chance to showcase his skills against LSU in Baton Rouge on October 5th. Although the Aggies only return two offensive starters from last years 11-win campaign, keeping Love at the helm should keep them in the mix for a Mountain West crown.
Heisman Voting Prediction
1) Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
2) Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
3) Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
4) Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
5) Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Conference Champion Predictions
American: Houston over UCF
ACC: Clemson over Miami
Big 12: Oklahoma over Iowa State
Big 10: Ohio State over Iowa
C-USA: North Texas over Marshall
MAC: Ohio over Western Michigan
Mountain West: Utah State over Fresno State
Pac-12: Washington over Utah
SEC: Georgia over Alabama
Sun Belt: Appalachian State over Arkansas State
Preseason CFP Top 6 Prediction
Peach Bowl Semifinal: (1) Alabama vs (4) Washington
Fiesta Bowl Semifinal: (2) Clemson vs (3) Oklahoma
CFP National Championship: (2) Clemson over (1) Alabama
Predictable for sure, but as of right now, all signs seem to point to the fifth consecutive matchup between Clemson and Alabama. Even though the semifinal games should be closer than they were last season, the Tide and the Tigers should still come out on top. Alabama gets the nod as the #1 seed due to their strength of schedule, but Clemson comes out on top in round five. Oklahoma remains the only team from the Big 12 to make the CFP.
Best Games of Week 0/Week 1
Miami vs (8) Florida (in Orlando)
Georgia Tech at (1) Clemson
(14) Utah at BYU
Colorado State vs Colorado (in Denver)
Oklahoma State at Oregon State
(22) Syracuse at Liberty
Boise State vs Florida State (in Jacksonville)
(11) Oregon at (16) Auburn
Houston at (4) Oklahoma
(9) Notre Dame at Louisville
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