With a new college football season set to kick-off on Saturday night in Orlando, here’s your season preview of who to know, what to expect and what games you simply can’t miss in 2019.
TWENTY PLAYERS TO KNOW
Ian Book (Notre Dame) QB: Love or loathe Notre Dame, Book will figure to be a crucial player in the 2019 season. The Fighting Irish expect to make a return trip to the College Football Playoff.
Raekwon Davis (Alabama) DL: 6’ 7”, 315 pounds and surrounded by a litany of other future pro-level pieces on Alabama’s defense, the only thing holding Davis back might be himself.
Grant Delpit (LSU) S: Delpit was calmly overshadowed by the wealth of talent in LSU’s secondary last year. Yet, he still grabbed 5 INT’s and 5 sacks. The best individual defensive player in the country? Maybe, just maybe.
J.K. Dobbins (Ohio State) RB: Lining Dobbins up alongside a versatile talent like Justin Fields gives the Buckeyes a speedy backfield, who should be able to cut apart defenses on their own.
A.J. Epenesa (Iowa) DE: Iowa always finds a way to make their voice heard in the Big Ten and it’s because of lesser-know talents like Epenesa. His 10.5 sacks last season led the Hawkeyes.
Travis Etienne (Clemson) RB: The rushing threat of Etienne is what keeps Clemson’s offense dynamic and balanced. The 5’ 10” back ranked in the Top 5 in rushing yards and TD’s in 2018.
Justin Fields (Ohio State) QB: A Georgia transfer, Fields was a highly-coveted recruit who was recently named the starter for the Buckeyes. Can he lead Ohio State to the top of the Big Ten?
Mason Fine (North Texas) QB: Your big-numbers, lower-level quarterback can be found at North Texas, where Fine has thrown for 9,417 yards and 64 TD’s in three seasons for the Mean Green.
Paddy Fisher (Northwestern) LB: Fisher is just your typical 6’ 4”, 240-pound Big Ten linebacker who’s tallied 227 tackles in two seasons with the Wildcats. He’s basically Luke Kuechly 2.0.
Jake Fromm (Georgia) QB: For Georgia’s playoff hopes to come to fruition, Fromm will undoubtedly be the key piece. He could have the country’s best offensive line in front of him.
Bryce Hall (Virginia) CB: Hall will probably see less action heading his way as he emerges as a likely top cornerback prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. Virginia being contenders in the ACC will only help his cause.
Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma) QB: The Alabama transfer has officially been handed the reigns at Oklahoma and will be ready to lead the Sooners to a Big 12 title in Lincoln Riley’s prolific system.
Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) WR: Juedy totaled 68 catches for 1,315 yards and 14 TD’s in 2018. As the top option in the Crimson Tide’s offense, expect those numbers to be attainable once again.
Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) QB: Lawrence won the Tigers a National Championship as a true freshman after claiming the starting job mid-season. He’s in for a stellar sophomore campaign.
Rondale Moore (Purdue) WR: Another sophomore ready to take center stage, Moore will be a household name by the end of 2019, after grabbing 114 balls for 1,258 yards and 12 TD’s in 2018.
Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado) WR: You had me at Laviska. In all seriousness, Shenault is one of the country’s most exciting play-makers, who gets overlooked by his team’s lack of success.
Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) QB: Stats, awards, accolades. All of it is for naught at Alabama if there isn’t a national title ring being placed on your finger at the end. That’s Tua’s goal in 2019.
Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) RB: Taylor tallied 2,194 yards on the ground last season in a ground-heavy Wisconsin offense. His 7.2 yards per carry average is simply mind-numbing.
Andrew Thomas (Georgia) OT: While he needs to still improve his consistency, we had to show the lineman some love. He’s one of college football’s elite blockers at 6’ 5”, 320 pounds.
Chase Young (Ohio State) DL: A mainstay in opposing team’s backfields, Young is a strong, disruptive talent who cannot be tamed. He posted 14.5 tackles-for-loss and 10 sacks last season.
TEN CAN’T MISS GAMES
Florida v. Miami-FL (8/24): What game could really be more important than the season opener? It’ll only add to the fun of late August football that these two rivals are getting back together on the field, both in crucial building campaigns for the programs, for the first time since 2013.
Clemson v. Texas A&M (9/7): The top-ranked Tigers first massive test will come quickly, as in Week Two, they’ll welcome a Top 15 ranked Aggies program to Memorial Stadium. After a 5-4 start, Texas A&M closed out the 2018 season with four straight victories by a combined 76 points.
Syracuse v. Clemson (9/14): The Orange knocked off Clemson when the Tigers were the #2 team in the country back in 2017 and came up four points short in a near-road upset last season. It’ll only help Syracuse that they’re hosting Clemson one week after that tough Texas A&M game.
Georgia v. Notre Dame (9/21): Two preseason Top 10 squads that need to fill some key holes on both sides of the ball, Georgia and Notre Dame still both believe the College Football Playoff is in their future. This early season match-up may go a long way in deciding their fates.
Texas v. Oklahoma (10/12): Like Georgia-Notre Dame, Texas-Oklahoma will be a meeting of teams ranked in the Top 10. The only difference here being, these two programs hate every ounce of each-other, all the way down to their unique color schemes. Burnt Orange or Crimson & Cream?
Texas A&M v. Alabama (10/12): Can you just imagine how Kyle Field will be rocking when Alabama visits College Station in October? Even if the Aggies season doesn’t live up the preseason hype, you know Jimbo Fisher will have something up his sleeve for the Crimson Tide.
Oregon v. Washington (10/19): The fate of the Pac-12 North will likely rest on the outcome of this contest (unless Washington State or Stanford play spoiler). The Huskies have a more manageable overall slate for a perfect year, but they will travel to Stanford and BYU, as well as hosting USC.
Auburn v. Alabama (11/30): Well, this one should be fun. We know it’s the final game of the SEC regular season for these two sides and what more than a trip to the conference title game, rivalry bragging rights and a shot at the College Football Playoff could be hanging in the balance?
Michigan v. Ohio State (11/30): It’s almost hard to fathom the idea that the Wolverines have knocked off their rival just once since 2003. New Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day will not want to be the coach who changes the tide for a Top 5 Ohio State group, especially in Ann Arbor.
Army v. Navy (12/14): After Navy dominated the meetings from 2002 to 2015, Army has rattled off three straight victories to turn the tide in college football’s best rivalry. Navy may lead the all-time series 60-52-7, but only one contest has been decided by more than single digits since 2010.
ACC: Clemson v. Miami-FL (Clemson)
Big 12: Oklahoma v. TCU (Oklahoma)
Big Ten: Ohio State v. Wisconsin (Wisconsin)
Pac-12: Washington v. Utah (Washington)
SEC: Alabama v. Georgia (Alabama)
CFP (1-4): Clemson v. Georgia (Clemson)
CFP (2-3): Alabama v. Oklahoma (Alabama)
National Championship: Alabama v. Clemson (Alabama)