Thursday morning was one of the many signs that College Football Season is fast approaching as the annual USA Today Coaches Poll, a list of the 2012 College Football Top 25 Rankings as voted by the coaches was released. Here is a look at the biggest question marks for those teams that may mean the difference between a national championship and December bowl game.
1. LSU Tigers- Zach Mettenberger: If he is really as good as he’s being built up to be, why did he spend all of last year behind not one, but two sub-par quarterbacks?
2. Alabama Crimson Tide- Secondary. If junior college transfers Travell Dixon and Deon Belue don’t pan out, will Alabama’s title hopes be washed away in the Tide?
3. Southern California Trojans- Depth. Most teams use the phrase of “next one up,” but when the inevitable injuries come this season, does SC have the “next one up?”
4. Oklahoma Sooners- Heart. After facing the adversity of having their title hopes dashed against Baylor, the Sooners quit against Oklahoma State. How are they going to respond to the first sign of adversity this year?
5. Oregon Ducks- Quarterback. Marcus Mariota looks to be the heavy favorite to take the reigns under center, but how will the first year starter handle the pressure of running Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense against the Pac 12’s elite?
6, Georgia Bulldogs- Complacency. Georgia is a good team with a weak schedule and they know it. Can the Bulldogs stay focused throughout the entire season and earn a second consecutive birth in the SEC Title Game?
7. Florida State Seminoles- Distractions. Every team has them, but the Seminoles seem to have just a few more with the recent dismissal of Greg Reid. Will Jimbo Fisher’s twitter ban be enough to limit the distractions in 2012?
8. Michigan Wolverines- Starting strong. It will be important for Michigan to assemble a solid performance in this contest win or lose to keep their momentum. How will the Wolverines start their season against Alabama?
9. South Carolina Gamecocks- Marcus Lattimore. The junior running back impressed as a freshman before his sophomore campaign was cut short by injury. Can he return to being the running back he used to be?
10. Arkansas Razerbacks- Wide Receivers. Forget the Bobby Petrino saga, how will Arkansas overcome the loss of their top 3 wide receivers from last year: Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, and Joe Adams?
11. West Virginia Mountaineers- The adjustment to Big 12. Lets face it, the Big East isn’t the toughest conference, but it still would lay out a few stumbling blocks for the Mountaineers. How will West Virginia respond to a conference schedule that will boast a few more stumbling blocks?
12. Wisconsin Badgers- Luck. Last year Brett Bielema struck gold with Russell Wilson’s transfer and ability to contribute right away. Will Bielema have that same luck this year with another transfer quarterback, Danny O’Brien?
13. Michigan State Spartans- Replacing Kirk Cousins. Trying to replace your starting quarterback is tough enough as it is, but the job gets even more difficult when you talk about replacing a 3 year team captain. Can Andrew Maxwell fill those shoes?
14. Clemson Tigers- The hangover. Last time the Tigers had a successful season (9-5 in 2009), they fell apart in the following year (6-7 in 2010). After last year’s 10-4 finish can Dabo Swinney prevent another let down?
15. Texas Longhorns- Quarterback. Mack Brown has won over 140 games at Texas, but after two down years by the program’s standards, if Case McCoy/David Ash don’t elevate their play questions could arise in regards to Brown’s job security. Will one of those QBs bring Texas back to their glory days, saving their head coach’s job?
16. Nebraska Cornhuskers- Passing game. Bo Pelini has averaged over 9 wins a season at Nebraska, restoring the Cornhuskers dominant rushing attack. After finishing near the bottom of the passing rankings in the past 3 seasons, can Pelini find a passing game to take Nebraska to the next level?
17. TCU Horned Frogs- Momentum. The Horned Frogs are the only team in the country to win at least 11 games in the last six seasons. But will TCU be able to able to keep that momentum on their side as they enter the Big 12 Conference?
18. Stanford Cardinal- Expectations. Andrew Luck helped turn around the Stanford program, leading the Cardinal to not one, but two BCS Bowl appearances. However Luck has left, which makes you wonder: does the Cardinal have any more luck left in the tank to handle the new found expectations in Palo Alto?
19. Oklahoma State Cowboys- Talent. Seriously. After the departures of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon who fills the shoes of the departed standouts?
20. Virginia Tech Hokies- Logan Thomas. I am tired of hearing the comparison’s to Cam Newton and first round draft projections after he played mediocre football against terrible teams. Will 2012 be the year he lives up to the hype?
21. Kansas State Wildcats- Magic. I don’t care what his final win-loss total is, Bill Snyder will go down as one of the best coaches in my book. His commitment to building and maintaining a competitive program in Manhattan has been remarkable. But after last year’s 10-3 season, how much magic to Bill Snyder have left?
22. Boise State Broncos- Cupcakes. As in how will Boise handle yet another cupcake schedule? I’ve never been impressed with their “big wins” against over-ranked opponents. If they’re able to have a perfect season in the Big East in 2013, I might show them a little more love. But not much.
23. Florida Gators- Brent Pease. Its been no secret that the Gator offense has struggled A.T. (After Tebow) and Pease has been brought in to right a Florida offense that finished 105th last season. Will Muschamp has the defense playing at a level that ranks them among the best in the country; can Pease do the same with the offense?
24. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- Schedule. Its no secret that Notre Dame does itself no favors with its schedule and this year is no different with the added bonus of a trip to Norman, Oklahoma on this year’s slate. Will the Fighting Irish finally be able to withstand that gruesome schedule?
25. Auburn Tigers- Coordinators. How quickly can the Tigers transition from the spread offense to Scot Loeffler’s pro style offense and how quickly can the defense pick up Brian VanGorder‘s NFL defense?