20 storylines to follow for the 2023 college football season (2023)

It is time for another season of college football. The 2023 season is quite remarkable for a lot of reasons. Most notably, it will be the final season before some historic programs leave their long-time conference homes for richer pastures, and it is the final season of the College Football Playoff as we know it. The former point has already created a domino effect that has touched the upcoming season as a Power 5 league undergoes a major change, and the latter point will set up interesting discussions once again about who the final four teams will be.

That isn't all. There are new coaches in interesting places, power programs looking to climb back into championship contention, and some hot seats at some major schools. Is 2023 the end of an era, or is it just set to explode into a new one? With coaches and players understanding NIL and the transfer portal more and more, it has created a pivot in how business is done in college football. Not only are their old faces in new places but the expectations to win now are higher than they've ever been. Building a program is done faster than ever.

Georgia, who has been built into the elite program of the moment, could make history with another title run. Of course, there is a long line of teams ready to knock them off and ascend to the thrown. And as Georgia tries to win a title for the third straight year, could we have another outsider push through and make a title push in the same time frame?

Here are 20 storylines to follow for the 2023 college football season.

1 of 20

Can Georgia three-peat?

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia has won back-to-back national championships and is among the favorites to win it yet again. Can the Bulldogs actually do it? We haven't had a three-peat in college football since Army did so from 1944 to 1946. In other major sports, UCLA won eight straight NCAA tournaments from 1967 to 1973, UConn's women won four straight titles from 2013 to 2016, the Shaq/Kobe Lakers won the NBA title from 2000 to 2002, the Yankees won three straight World Series from 1998 to 2000, the Packers won three straight NFL titles from 1965 to 1967, and the NHL's Islanders won four straight in the early 1980s. It is rarely done, especially in this day and age.

Nick Saban hasn't done it at Alabama, which would make a Georgia three-peat a monumental achievement -- not only just doing it but doing so during Saban's tenure and as a member of Saban's conference. It is easier said than done, as Georgia lost yet another batch of great players to the NFL, including quarterback Stetson Bennett IV. As we always say, they "don't rebuild but reload", every champion says that and no one can get that third title. Will Kirby Smart be able to pull it off?

2 of 20

Coach Prime in Colorado

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Last year's coaching cycle was one of the most dynamic ever, but this season may have produced a more interesting coaching storyline: Deion Sanders in Colorado.

Coach Prime famously put Jackson State on the map (their games were shown on national television) and Colorado hopes that rubs off on their struggling program. The Buffaloes went 1-11 last season (their fourth double-digit loss season in 12 years) and Coach Prime came in and cleared house. He famously told the holdover players that they may as well just transfer because he has their replacements coming. The buzz around the program has been electric, with fan engagement at 1990s-era levels and Colorado is suddenly an attractive option in the Big 12 expansion talks.

What matters is on the field. Sanders indeed replaced the Buffs talent by bringing his best players from Jackson State (including his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders and receiver Travis Hunter) as well as transfers from all over. Will that translate to wins or are you just getting the circus? Jackson State became elite quickly, so there are lots of smiles in Boulder.

3 of 20

Second year head coaches on the hot seat

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As I mentioned, the 2021-2022 coaching cycle was filled with some of the biggest programs in the sport making head coaching changes. Some sparkled (Sonny Dykes to TCU) while others are still a work in progress. And by work in progress, I mean there are some seats ready to get pretty toasty if success doesn't come really soon.

Brent Venables' first year as a head coach didn't go very well as the Sooners sunk to a 3-6 Big 12 record and were beaten 49-0 by Texas in the Red River Rivalry. That is never acceptable and especially not when you are coming off the offensive success of the Lincoln Riley era.

Mario Cristobal's hiring at Miami came with a celebration that the Hurricanes program was going to fast-track back to the elites of college football. All of a sudden NIL money starts flowing and a new stadium is being proposed and Miami feels they are on their way back, baby! Except the on-field product looked as unbalanced as ever. Their five wins were against Bethune-Cookman, Southern Miss and three of the ACC's bottom feeders: Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech (and they needed four OTs to beat UVa). Rival Florida State beat them, 45-3, and Clemson popped them, 40-10. The 'Canes are far from being in the top tier of the ACC.

Up the coast at Florida, Billy Napier presided over the first back-to-back losing seasons in Gainsville since the late 1970s. Another poor performance and there will be many who feel this job is too big for him. Virginia's Tony Elliott (like Venables, a former Clemson coordinator) had a forgettable season that was marred by a shooting that killed three Cavaliers players. These big programs expect a return on their investment right now and don't have the stomach for a long-term rebuild.

4 of 20

Change is a-coming, especially for the Pac-12

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the most storied rivals in college football are taking their show elsewhere after this season, signaling arguably the biggest conference realignment change in college sports history. After the season, Texas and Oklahoma take their programs out of the Big 12 and into the SEC, forming arguably the most powerful conference in history. At the same time, UCLA and USC move on from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, marking not only shift in conference allegiance but creates one of the most interesting Power 5 geographic scenarios: the Big Ten stretches from New Jersey to California with a land gap between Lincoln, Nebraska to Los Angeles.

But it wasn't over.

In late July, Colorado announced they were leaving for the Big 12. Then came August 4th, one of the most remarkable days in college athletics, when panic and chaos reigned. The morning began with Arizona deciding whether to accept an invitation to the Big 12 or the stick it out with the Pac-12. After a conference meeting that morning, everything fell apart.

-Arizona announced they were leaving for the Pac-12

-The Big 12 also was courting Arizona State and Utah

-Oregon and Washington quickly reached a deal to bolt for the Big Ten

-Arizona State and Utah decided to a apply for and accept an invite from the Big 12

All that happened in one day, marking a new day in college sports. For the sake of this coming season, it puts a sad and gloomy cloud over the 2023 Pac-12 season, which could be the final one for a proud conference that has existed in some form since 1915. Eight schools will leave after this season with four (Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State) left behind to either pick up the scraps or find someone to let them into their league (Mountain West?), likely decimating their athletic departments' budgets and putting their programs in jeopardy. The entire season will be awkward for the league, with the conference championship game being the end to a great college football conference.

It will be a weird season with three four-team groups fighting it out. The Big Ten group (Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington), Big 12 group (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) and the schools left behind (Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington State).

5 of 20

End of Bedlam

20 storylines to follow for the 2023 college football season (5)


One part of the collateral damage done by conference realignment is losing various rivalries. The Big 12 knows all about that, as they've watched Nebraska-Oklahoma and Texas-Texas A&M break apart and Colorado-Nebraska disappears completely from the league. Next year we will see the same thing happen to Oklahoma-Oklahoma State as the Sooners take their talents to the SEC in 2024. The two first met on a football field in 1904 and they've met every year since 1910, through world wars and the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, that stops after this season; an amazing 114-year streak ends due to the reality of college sports in 2023.

The last game of the Bedlam Series happens in Stillwater on November 4th and you can bet anything that Boone Pickens Stadium will be rocking that evening in what should be one of the premiere nights of the season.

6 of 20

New look Big 12

20 storylines to follow for the 2023 college football season (6)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 will be sort of in Frankenstein mode this year as we have an overlap of schools leaving after the season sharing the league with four new teams coming in. BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF join the Big 12 this season, becoming new members of a Power 5 league. Cincinnati was once a member of the Big East before that conference blew up a decade ago, while Houston was once part of the mighty Southwestern Conference before it blew up in 1995. UCF didn't become an FBS school until 1996 and has bounce around the Group of 5 (MAC, Conference USA, AAC) while BYU was a longtime member of the WAC and MWC before seeking independence in 2011. All bring their own identity into the Big 12 and all have had recent measures of success, led by Cincinnati reaching the College Football Playoff in 2021. According to most preseason picks, none of these new programs will likely challenge for the Big 12 title, of course that didn't matter last season.

TCU, who hadn't settled on a quarterback at this time a year ago, reached the national championship game. Kansas State wasn't picked high in preseason polls yet won the Big 12 title. Kansas' program is waking up, Oklahoma State is always competitive, Texas Tech is a program on the rise, while Texas and Oklahoma look to make their mark on the way out the door. This is an exciting time for a league that was on the ropes once Texas and Oklahoma announced they were departing for the SEC. The Big 12 has rebounded nicely and is now on the hunt for more schools to add.

The Big 12 expansion created a domino effect that touched the AAC (who added Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA to replace Cincinnati, Houston and UCF) and Conference USA (who adds Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston to replace the schools leaving for the AAC).

7 of 20

Caleb Williams repeating as a Heisman Trophy winner

20 storylines to follow for the 2023 college football season (7)

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley knows how to coach up Heisman winners. He coached Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray to Heisman wins at Oklahoma (both would go on to be No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks) and Caleb Williams to a Heisman in his first year at USC. Mayfield and Murray didn't get a chance to repeat their Heisman season but Williams will. Williams threw for over 4,500 yards last season and totaled 52 touchdowns. His 42 passing TDs to just five interceptions was jaw-dropping. Archie Griffin remains the only player to win back-to-back Heisman Trophies, but Williams will enter 2023 as the favorite to do it.

That's not to say he's a shoo-in. LSU's Jayden Daniels, Texas' Quinn Ewers, Oregon's Bo Nix, North Carolina's Drake Maye, Florida State's Jordan Travis, Washington's Michael Penix Jr., and Clemson's Cade Klubnik are also among the favorites to bring home the Heisman.

8 of 20

Jim Harbaugh vs Ryan Day

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Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is so interesting because it has these streaks that make no sense whatsoever. For instance, Jim Harbaugh lost his first five meetings against Ohio State (with a couple that weren't even close), but has now won two straight over the Buckeyes (both handily). Harbaugh was under fire for never being able to beat the Buckeyes and now Ryan Day -- who is 42-6 at Ohio State -- is getting heat for not being able to beat Michigan.

This is a pivotal year for the rivalry as it will be the last season the Big Ten uses a divisional format. That means there is a chance that we see these two play back-to-back weeks with the second game for the conference championship. Both teams also will be in the College Football Playoff chase with that regular-season finale being a huge chip on their resume when the selections are announced. Last season, both teams made the Final Four though neither advanced to the title game. Could we get that in 2023-2024 at SoFi Stadium?

First thing's first: Ohio State at Michigan. November 25th.

9 of 20

Is Alabama ready to storm back?

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Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Here is how crazy college football is: a team goes 11-2 with the two losses coming on the final play of the game, yet everyone brushes them off as if they're not able to continue winning championships. That's life for Nick Saban and Alabama right now. The Tide's two losses were on a 40-yard field goal as time expired at Tennessee and on a converted two-point conversion in overtime at LSU. The same team blew out Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl for their 11th win of the season.

Alabama has been to six of the last eight College Football Playoffs, winning six national championships over the last 14 seasons. The fact that people are writing Alabama off because they haven't won a title in two whole years just shows you how dominant this program has been over the last 15 years.

Sure, the 2023 Tide have to replace guys like Bryce Young and Will Anderson, but this is what they've always had to do. Look at all the Alabama players on Sundays and you'll see just how great Saban is at reloading his roster. With the uncertainty at quarterback, look for Saban to go back to the physical defense and running attack to bully opponents. The schedule is always daunting, but gives Bama a perfect opportunity to stack up resume points on their quest to win another championship. The midseason stretch of at Texas A&M, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU will be demanding, but champions step up to the challenge.

10 of 20

And what about Clemson?

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From 2015 to 2021, Clemson and Alabama ruled college football. The two schools met in the College Football Playoff four times in that span with three meetings coming in the national championship game. In a five-year span, Clemson played in four College Football Playoff national championship games. They haven't been there since Joe Burrow and LSU blew the doors off them after the 2019 season and they haven't made the playoff since Ohio State smoked them in the semifinals the following season. That coincides with Trevor Lawrence leaving the Tigers for the NFL. Clemson struggled under his replacement, DJ Uiagalelei, who has now left the program and transferred to Oregon State.

Cade Klubnik took over at the end of last season and looked solid against North Carolina in the ACC championship game but looked a bit shaky in a loss to Tennessee in the Orange Bowl. Clemson went outside their family to hire new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley away from TCU, so look for Dabo Swinney to feature a more pass-friendly attack going forward. Like Alabama, the fact that Clemson could go 11-3, win the ACC championship and play in the Orange Bowl is considered a failure says a lot about where this program stands. Clemson can get back there if Klubnik makes the necessary leap.

11 of 20

Will there be another College Football Playoff crasher?

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The first seven years of the College Football Playoff pushed the narrative that the same schools always got a shot at the brass ring. Some combination of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State or Oklahoma typically ran the show with just enough space for "smaller" programs like Notre Dame, Georgia or LSU to find their way in occasionally. That has changed the last two seasons as we've now crowned a new dynasty in Georgia but the College Football Playoff isn't the elitist club it once was.

In 2021, Cincinnati became the first Group of 5 school to reach the playoff, though they would get rolled by Alabama. Last year, TCU defied the odds and earned a bit into the playoff and won their way into the title game (though they got stomped by Georgia). Is this a trend that could keep going? Could it be a Pac-12 team like Washington or Utah? Will Kansas State defend its Big 12 title and make a playoff run? Could Tulane build on their win over USC in the Cotton Bowl and force their way into the final four? TCU came from nowhere to reach the championship game so maybe there is a school out there that can make a similar run.

12 of 20

The Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino Show in College Station

20 storylines to follow for the 2023 college football season (12)

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that 2022 was a huge disappointment for Texas A&M and the fan base is restless about Jimbo FIsher. Is he the right man for the job after paying him a fortune to leave Florida State. When the university makes you fire assistants, then you know things are tense. Fisher moved on Darrell Dickey and hired former Arkansas and Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino to call the offense which should make for quite a show all season long. Fisher took a risk hiring the controversial Petrino, and the hope is that his offensive genius unlocks the Aggies offensive potential. The worry is that two big personalities like Fisher and Petrino will start to bump heads. It will be a sideline to watch, that's for sure, as A&M attempts to climb back to the top of the SEC West.

13 of 20

Quinn Ewers and Arch Manning battle in Austin

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Aaron E. Martinez / USA TODAY NETWORK

Right now, all signs point to incumbent Quinn Ewers being the starter for the Texas Longhorns this season after having an uneven first season in Austin. The former top quarterback prospect showed signs of his potential but dealt with injuries throughout the season. Ewers completed just 58% of his passes for 2,177 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions last season, but enters this season in the hunt in the Heisman race. If he falters, this year's top quarterback prospect is ready to check-in. Arch Manning, nephew of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, was one of the most sought-after prospects out of high school, breaking his uncles' school records.

While it seems Ewers is the man now, there's no assurance that it will stay that way for the entire season. An injury or bad play could open the door enough for Manning to bust through and cinch the spot as his own. Everyone is dying to see the next generation of Mannings, but Ewers has the talent to make us wait slightly longer.

14 of 20

Quarterback changes at the top of the rankings

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Of the four teams that reached the College Football Playoff last season, only Michigan returns their starting quarterback. Alabama will be replacing Bryce Young, a former Heisman winner and top overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, with either his backup, Jalen Milroe, 2022 five-star prospect Ty Simpson or Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner. Georgia will need to find a replacement for two-time champion Stetson Bennett IV and will look time longtime backup Carson Beck, who has waited four years for this opportunity. Ohio State faces a tough decision between Kyle McCord and redshirt freshman Devin Brown. National runner-up TCU will go back to Chandler Morris as their starting quarterback once again. Remember that Morris was injured in the Horned Frogs' opener against Colorado and Max Duggan came in to finish the game. The rest is history.

Tennessee looks to take the next step into SEC contender status this year with Joe Milton taking over for Hendon Hooker. For the second year in a row, Florida will be replacing their starting quarterback but this year there isn't a definite candidate. Graham Mertz was disappointing at Wisconsin and looks to resurrect his career as a Gator. If he can't do it, maybe Jack Miller III -- who left Ohio State after losing out to CJ Stroud in 2021 -- can be the guy.

Notre Dame will replace Buchner with Wake Forest standout Sam Hartman. Penn State will tab sensational freshman Drew Allar as Sean Clifford's heir apparent. There are a lot of quarterback changes at the top of the rankings and how well (and quickly) those changes work out could determine our 2023 national champion.

15 of 20

Stay up and enjoy the Pac-12

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As I mentioned, the Pac-12 is going through some stuff. Eight of the twelve schools are leaving after the season, their work on their new television deals proved fruitless, and the fallout of those deals shaped the conference's future ... or ended it completely. Those are important stories off the field, but on the field the Pac-12 will be a fantastic league to watch this season, even if it is the final one.

USC's first season under Lincoln Riley nearly got them into their first College Football Playoff and did win the school their first Heisman trophy since the Trojans last great era of the mid-2000s. Washington brings back last year's passing yards leader, Michael Penix Jr., and a belief the Huskies can get back to the playoffs. Penix joins Oregon quarterback Bo Nix as passers who could keep Caleb Williams from repeating as a Heisman winner. Clemson transfer DJ Uiagalelei joins Oregon State (remember that they were a 10-win team last year?) to get their passing offense going to supplement the rushing attack of Damien Martinez.

Defending two-time league champ Utah will still be the physical force they've been under Kyle Whittingham and returns Cameron Rising, who is coming off an ACL injury he suffered in the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, Washington State, UCLA and Arizona hope to keep building on the improvement each team made last year.

Oh, and then there is Coach Prime taking over Colorado and becoming one of the most interesting stories to watch this season. Colorado is one of three bottom-tier Pac-12 programs breaking in a new head coach, as Arizona State and Stanford also attempt to begin new eras on the right note.

The Pac-12 should be very competitive in the standings as well as on the national stage. With this likely being the conference's final hurrah, stay up and enjoy the Pac-12 after dark one last time.

16 of 20

Florida State attempts to take back the ACC

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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

While it seems like Clemson has ran the ACC forever (and they have for a decade) it was Florida State who won the final BCS championship and who represented the ACC in the first College Football Playoff. Times have been tough in Tallahassee since Jameis Winston and Jimbo Fisher were lording over the league, but the Seminoles may finally be ready to make their move to take back the ACC.

Florida State's glorious history includes winning nine straight ACC championships in their first nine seasons in the conference (and 11 of 12). Over the last 17 years, the Noles have won just three ACC rings and all came during the aforementioned Winston/EJ Manuel era of 2012-2014. In the last six seasons, Florida State has more than seven wins just once, had four losing seasons (their first since 1976) and had their 36-year bowl streak come to an end in 2018.

Head coach Mike Norvell entered his third season in Tallahassee last season on the hottest of seats. The seat cooled off quite a bit with a 10-3 showing which included a 45-3 win over rival Miami, a 45-38 win over Florida and a thrilling one-point win over LSU in Week 1. The season culminated in a Cheez-It Bowl win over Oklahoma which sets up many expectations for the 2023 campaign. Florida State returns talented quarterback Jordan Travis as well as his top receiver, Johnny Wilson, and a great running attack. Norvell dipped into the transfer portal to fortify his defense and round out a team whose only losses last year were consecutive during October and to ranked opponents.

The good news for Florida State is that the ACC is done with divisions so Florida State doesn't have to deal with Clemson shutting the Noles out of reaching the ACC title game anymore. They will have to hold off North Carolina, NC State and Louisville (and still deal with Clemson) if they want to win the league, but at least that is a serious and reachable goal for a program that used to take those things for granted.

17 of 20

SEC could get really wild this year

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John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Many people grew tired of Alabama's excellence and wanted some new blood ruling the SEC (and the national scene). Georgia has done that, but now some are over the Dawgs bullying their way to back-to-back championships. We need something new. Something fresh.

While Bama and Georgia will once against be among the favorites to with the SEC and play for another national championship, the league is poised to really derail those plans and really make the SEC up for grabs this year. As mentioned earlier, Alabama and Georgia will once again have to replace a lot of talent lost to the NFL ... including each of their starting quarterbacks.

Tennessee took a huge step forward under Josh Heupel last season, beating Alabama in one of 2022's best games and reaching the top spot in the rankings. Losses to eventual champion Georgia and South Carolina (when Hendon Hooker tore his ACL) kept them from reaching the College Football Playoff, but a win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl has Vols fans excited for a run at the SEC East this season.

South Carolina came on strong at the end of last season, thrashing Tennessee and edging out Clemson while making Spencer Rattler look like he may reach his lofty potential coming out of high school. LSU actually won the SEC West last year and heading into their regular-season finale against Texas A&M (which they lost) with a real shot at reaching the playoff. The Tigers may have the SEC's top quarterback in Jayden Daniels and program stability under Brian Kelly. There's also Auburn, who welcome Hugh Freeze back to the SEC and QB Peyton Thorne from Michigan State. Lane Kiffin passed on the Auburn job (I guess) and brings back a tough Ole Miss squad that features running back Quinshon Judkins and an interesting QB battle between incumbent Jasxon Dart and Oklahoma State transfer Spencer Sanders. Plus Kiffin's comments during SEC media days spread like wildfire and was a grenade thrown across the conference.

Florida is still transitioning in Year 2 of the Billy Napier era. Jimbo Fisher is under a lot of heat to rebound from Texas A&M's hugely disappointing season and get back to the top of the SEC. Arkansas is always dangerous with KJ Jefferson at quarterback. Who knows how Mississippi State will be after the sudden passing of head coach Mike Leach last December?

The SEC should be a weekly blast and arguably the most competitive in quite a long time.

18 of 20

Wisconsin may not look as Wisconsin-y this year

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Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Wisconsin has arguably been the third-best program in the Big Ten in the 21st century (and maybe the second-best until Michigan's recent rise to power) but the Badgers haven't been able to jump the final hurdles to become a national championship contender. After an ugly 7-6 season, the Badgers hired Cincinnati's Luke Fickell to get the program back into the national conversation.

Fickell famously led the Bearcats to the 2021-2022 College Football Playoff, becoming the first Group of 5 school to reach the sport's final four. Fickell is known for his hard-nosed, physical and athletic defenses ... which will please Wisconsin fans ... but he also hired Phil Longo away from North Carolina to run their offense. Longo's Tar Heel offenses were dynamic and pass-happy -- setting school records with Sam Howell and Drake Maye -- but also able to dominate in the running attack, most notably with Michael Carter and JaVonte Williams in 2021. While the new offense may be a bit of a culture shock in Madison, it is what they were trying to capture when they recruited Graham Mertz several years ago, but that didn't work out. SMU transfer Tanner Mordecai certainly can deliver that, as the super senior threw for over 7,100 yards and 72 touchdowns over the last two seasons for the Mustangs.

While the East division is much, much stronger, the West is wide open and the Badgers have the talent and ability to make a run to the Big Ten championship game. Fickell will have Wisconsin ready to play.

The Big Ten West has had a lot of turnover. Not only did Fickell take over at Wisconsin, but Nebraska hired Matt Rhule to try to finally get them back to respectability; Purdue hired Ryan Walters to replace Jeff Brohm, who left for Louisville; and Northwestern named David Braum interim head coach after Pat Fitzgerald was dismissed.

19 of 20

Rule changes

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Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the rule changes to college football this season won't be jarring, they will make a difference in the games you watch this fall. For instance, college football will no longer stop the clock after every first down of the game. They will only do so in the final two minutes of each half. This is a change you won't really notice as the game goes along (sort of like when the NFL restarts the clock after a player goes out of bounds) but it will cut some of the fat off of the time it takes to complete a game. This doesn't affect the pace of play, though it may ultimately cut about six to ten plays from a game. Still, it will help cut down on the real-time games take to finish.

Two other rules sort of go with this saving time philosophy. You can no longer call consecutive time-outs in a single dead ball period. Pretty straightforward. Also, penalties that happen at the end of the first or third quarter will just be enforced at the beginning of the next quarter (second or fourth, respectively). Until now, the teams would play an untimed down.

Again, there isn't much you'd notice while watching a game, aside from how long it takes you to do so.

20 of 20

Northwestern hazing scandal

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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern's hazing scandal will bleed into the 2023 season and likely beyond. It has already claimed head coach Pat Fitzgerald, a legend as a player and their head coach for 17 years, and it could take down other football coaches who are still on staff (interim head coach David Braun was hired this past January and isn't involved in the allegations). There have been lawsuits filed, including one against ACC's commissioner Jim Phillips, who was Northwestern's athletic director from 2008 to 2021, and current Northwestern president, Michael Schill. The scandal also covers other sports at the university and could empower students from other schools to step forward if hazing happened anywhere else.

This is the unfortunate ugly side of sports and unacceptable anywhere, especially when dealing with collegiate athletics. The fallout has already begun and will likely expand further on and off the field.

Now, remember back in 2015 when Northwestern football student-athletes petitioned to form a union that was shot down? That may suddenly come up again. As you well know, college athletics is in a far different place in 2023 than they were in 2015 in regards to NIL and the transfer portal and the way this scandal has been handled could resurrect attempts to unionize again. The NCAA has basically been hands-off in regard to NIL in an attempt to lure Congress to take the reigns and form some sort of legislation around it. Doing so could invite some very touchy subjects for college sports as we re-enter the discussion of it athletes can become paid employees of the university.

First thing is first and that's justice for the players who were abused within the Northwestern program and rooting out that culture and those who created and fostered it.

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