College Football Preview
Four of the five college football preview magazines to hit newsstands have picked Florida State to repeat as national champions.
Phil Steele, Athlon Sports, Lindy's and USA Today have all tabbed the Seminoles as No. 1 while Sporting News anointed Oklahoma as the favorite.
Florida State topped Auburn 34-31 in last year's BCS National Championship Game, ending the SEC's seven-year stronghold on the coveted crystal trophy.
This year marks the start of a new era in Division I football as the top four teams will compete in a playoff system. Semifinal games will be played at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl with the Championship Game set for Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Alabama is the No. 2 pick by three of the five publications. Besides being picked No. 1 by Sporting News, Oklahoma is projected as low as No. 7 by USA Today. Ohio State and Oregon round out the consensus top five.
LSU is ranked No. 11 by Lindy's, USA Today and Sporting News, No. 15 by Phil Steele and No. 19 by Athlon.
Fifteen starters (6 offense, 7 defense, 2 specialists) return from last year's 10-3 outfit, but the Tigers have several key holes to fill on offense following the departure of quarterback Zach Mettenberger, leading rushing Jeremy Hill and the two top receivers from last season, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
Lindy's predicts LSU to finish third in the SEC West behind Alabama and Auburn while projecting South Carolina, Georgia and Florida 1-2-3 in the SEC East.
With quarterback Terrance Broadway back at the controls, Louisiana-Lafayette is the prohibitive favorite in the Sun Belt Conference.
Welcoming back 17 starters (6 offense, 9 defense, 2 specialists) from last year's 6-6 squad, ULM is expected to be in the mix for the Sun Belt title.
Seeking to improve upon last year's 4-8 mark, Louisiana Tech is expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the Conference-USA West.
Coming off of a surprising 7-6 season, Tulane makes the move from C-USA to the Atlantic Athletic Conference. Sporting News has picked the Green Wave to finish sixth in the 11-team league.
Seeking to become only the second player in history to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner, Florida State sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston enters the season as the frontrunner for college football's most prestigious individual award. Winston is expected to be pushed by quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Braxton Miller of Ohio State and Bryce Petty of Baylor and running backs Todd Gurley of Georgia and T.J. Yeldon of Alabama.
Sporting News placed two teams in its FCS preseason poll as Southeastern Louisiana is No. 3 and McNeese State No. 9.
SN projects SLU to win the Southland with McNeese at No. 2, Northwestern State at No. 6 and Nicholls State at No. 8.
SN's predicted order of finish in the SWAC West has Prairie View A&M at No. 1, followed by Southern, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Texas Southern and Grambling.