2017 Storylines- NCAA Football

1. Life after Deshaun Watson– I’ll say this the best and only way that I can: The Clemson Tigers don’t win a national championship or even compete for two of them without Deshaun Watson, plain and simple. Between him and Tajh Boyd, Clemson has been extremely fortunate to have a standout, yet consistent quarterback play over the past several years. This year, the “life after Watson ” chapter is set to begin and replacing him, of course, will be a major priority. Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson, Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel will all get their shot, but Bryant enters spring as the number one quarterback on the depth chart. A team doesn’t necessarily need an experienced quarterback to get to the national title game, but having a talented guy under center can truly make all the difference.

2. Tuscaloosa, Alabama– Nick Saban has been the coach of the University of Alabama for officially a decade now and each year that the Crimson Tide has reached the national championship, they’ve come out on top. Last season in the repeat showdown with Clemson, they fell short and that was the first time the school had lost in a title game under Saban. An angry Nick Saban isn’t the best for any other team in the country and I expect his team to play with a serious chip on their shoulders and look to redeem themselves after losing in heartbreaking fashion. Can Jalen Hurts take that next step as an all-around quarterback? Teams have officially had an entire off-season to study him and know that he is a run first and pass second quarterback. You have to be able to develop in other ways as a football player. A lot was lost on defense and I truly felt the unit last season was the best defensive group coach has had since taking the job but he always finds a way to replace what he lost.

3. Penn State Gets Ready To Defend Title– With a straight face, you can really sit here and tell me that you had the Penn State Nittany Lions winning the Big Ten East when Michigan and Ohio State were the perennial favorites all season long? Toward the end of the season last year, there weren’t many teams playing better football than Penn State and after their shocking win over Ohio State in Happy Valley last October, that propelled them to close the season out on a winning streak. Saquon Barkley enters the season as the best running back in the country and the team’s first potential Heisman candidate since Larry Johnson back in 2002. Ohio State is heavily favored to win the Big Ten East once again. Can Penn State shock the world once again and establish themselves as a top team in the nation?

4. Going, Going, Back, Back, to Cali, Cali– If the USC Trojans pick up where they left off in 2016, we are in for a show. In the words of Terrell Owens, get your popcorn ready. Sam Darnold is a stone-cold assassin and running back Ronald Jones II is the real deal. Despite losing star receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, this team still has plenty of talent across the board to win football games. The perception surrounding them is extremely high right now. We just need to see if they can live up to the expectations.

5. Restarting at the big house– Jim Harbaugh has been known to ask who’s got it better than us and the response is nobody! Now, they’ve lost just about e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y from last year. Defensive coordinator Don Brown is the best returning starter on either side of the football and that’s definitely saying a lot. New names will have to step it up and one of the guys I’m really looking forward to seeing is defensive end, Rashan Gary. He’s a 6’5, 293-pound defensive end that will make life miserable for many people in the offensive backfield. Since taking the job in Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh has done a solid job recruiting and has landed top five like recruiting classes.