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NCAA football kicks off the season

Caleb T.
September 30, 2011
Filed under Sports

The college football season gets underway the first weekend of September. Many fans are hoping to have just as an exciting season as last year. The state of Alabama looks to bring in their third straight national champion while the SEC wants to repeat for a sixth time. The front runners to win the SEC this year are Alabama, LSU and South Carolina. Alabama ranks second in the preseason AP poll with Oklahoma taking over the top spot. The Sooners return All-Big 12 quarterback Landry Jones plus his go to target in Ryan Broyles. Oregon returns a good amount of players from last year’s runner up team including All-American running back LaMichael James and All-Pac 10 selection Darron Thomas. Quarterback Andrew Luck returns to a Stanford team that lost their head coach to the NFL. Boise State also returns several starters including quarterback Kellen Moore. With all these players returning and with several talented newcomers, the Heisman race and national title looks to be up for grabs in 2011.

Auburn looks to be in for a downfall in the upcoming season after losing several key players from their national championship team. Those gone include Nick Fairley, Kodi Burns, Josh Bynes, Darvin Adams, and Cam Newton. The biggest problem will be replacing playmaker and leader Cam Newton at quarterback. Junior Barrett Trotter was named as the starter for the season opener against Utah State. The offense will look to running backs Ontario McCalebb and Michael Dyer to lead them back to the success of 2010. The defense is lead by senior Neiko Thorpe at safety with Pelham alum Jake Holland leading a strong linebacker crew.

Auburn is number 24 in the preseason coaches’ poll but faces a rough schedule in order to stay in the top 25. They open SEC play with a home game against Mississippi State before traveling to Clemson for a non conference showdown. The Tigers have to face 4 AP top 25 teams in Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU and Georgia on the road. In between their Arkansas and LSU road trips, preseason #22 Florida comes into Jordan-Hare Stadium. Even after all that, Auburn brings in rival and preseason #2 Alabama in the season finale.

Alabama comes into the season ranked number two in the AP poll. Last year the Tide dropped three games. In all three of those games, the Tide were criticized for not playing a full game, including their final regular season game against rival Auburn, which they led 24-0 before dropping the game 28-27. Trent Richardson leads an offense that returns 6 other starters, but lost its starting quarterback and lead receiver. AJ McCarron comes back as the lead candidate to take over at the quarterback role. Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks lead the receiving core that adds Ohio State transfer Duron Carter. The Tide’s defense will be one of the best in the nation this year. They return 10 starters that include safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester. The front line is led by Damion Square while the linebacker core consists of two All American candidates in Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower.

                Alabama faces a very difficult road schedule. They face an early test at Penn State in College Station. This could make or break the season for the Tide and new quarterback AJ McCarron. This will be McCarron’s first big start against a solid Big Ten team with a good pass defense. Alabama gets #15 Arkansas at home this year as their SEC opener. The Tide faces their first conference road test in the Swamp against a solid Florida team. The last time Alabama played in Gainesville, the Gators put on a show, winning 28-13. The Tide drew their toughest SEC task at home against LSU in what could essentially be an SEC West championship. The Tide’s finale is against rival Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium.