The college football season is here. Penn State kicks off Saturday, against Appalachian State in Beaver Stadium (here are games, players and issues to watch). In Philadelphia, Temple faces Villanova on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field (games, players and issues to watch over the course of the Owls' season can be found here).
What do you need to know about the 2018 season? Here are some observations:
Clemson and Alabama have battled for three consecutive seasons in the College Football Playoff, playing each other for the national championship at the end of 2015 and 2016 (a 1-1 split) and in the semifinals last season, with the Crimson Tide going on to win it all. This time, the Tigers appear to be the ones who will walk out into the New Orleans night with the championship trophy. They have a dominant defense and as long as quarterback Kelly Bryant can play steady ball, they should be all right.
That's a tough one to answer. Each of the Power 5 leagues received plenty of respect from voters who cast ballots in the Associated Press pre-season poll. The SEC and the Big Ten each had five representative in the Top 25 while the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 got four each. Maybe the most amazing stat came from the Big Ten, which had its five teams ranked between No. 4 and No. 14. That's enough science for us to say the Big Ten is the best, even if the SEC has a deadly 1-2 punch in No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia, and Oklahoma and Washington could be real darkhorses in the three-month race for a CFP berth.
There was much speculation surrounding Clemson that coach Dabo Swinney would select true freshman Trevor Lawrence, considered by many as the top high school quarterback in the country last year, as his starter before deciding on Bryant. Rookie signal callers seem to be the trend as the season is about to kick off. J.T. Daniels was named as the guy to replace Sam Darnold at Southern California. Three Big Ten teams also will go with youth and inexperience, and that includes Minnesota, which has tabbed walk-on Zack Annexstad. Artur Sitkowski at Rutgers and Adrian Martinez at Nebraska round out the kids' list.
Edwards, the former Eagles cornerback, went from being a popular NFL analyst on ESPN to taking his first collegiate head coaching job at Arizona State, a hire that was criticized in many circles. Since then, Edwards. 64, has settled into his job without fanfare although much attention will be directed on his debut Saturday against Texas-San Antonio. Edwards said he has just been – and will continue to be – himself. "I sold myself for nine years on television," he told the Arizona Republic. "I don't need to sell myself. I'm not into that. I'm just me. I am who I am. I can't change. I don't promote Herm Edwards. I've never done that."
The Mountaineers have one of the nation's most potent passing attacks engineered by the duo of fifth-year senior quarterback Will Grier and senior wide receiver David Sills V. Grier passed for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns last season despite missing two games with a finger injury, and completed 12 passes of 50 yards or longer. Sills, of Wilmington, caught 18 touchdown passes last season and averaged 16.3 yards on 60 receptions. WVU averaged 309.3 passing yards per game last season.
The four College Football Playoff selections: Clemson, Alabama, Wisconsin, Georgia
The national champion: Clemson
Big Ten championship game: Wisconsin over Ohio State
Penn State record: 9-3
RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State; QB Jake Fromm, Georgia; QB Will Grier, West Virginia; RB Bryce Love, Stanford; QB Trace McSorley, Penn State; QB Jarrett Stidham, Auburn; QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama; QB Khalil Tate, Arizona; RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Chip Kelly – TV to UCLA; Kevin Sumlin – Texas A&M to Arizona; Jimbo Fisher – Florida State to Texas A&M; Joe Moorhead – Penn State to Mississippi State; Dan Mullen – Mississippi State to Florida; Scott Frost – Central Florida to Nebraska; Willie Taggert – Oregon to Florida State; Herman Edwards – TV to Arizona State; Chad Morris – Southern Methodist to Arkansas
QB Shea Patterson – Mississippi to Michigan; QB Wilton Speights – Michigan to UCLA; QB Brady White – Arizona State to Memphis; RB Jonathan Hillman – Boston College to Rutgers; DB Derrek Thomas – Temple to Baylor
LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
RB James Cook, Georgia
CB Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama
RB Keaontay Ingram, Texas
TE Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
Saturday: Michigan at Notre Dame; Auburn vs. Washington at Atlanta
Sunday: LSU vs. Miami at Arlington, Texas
Monday: Virginia Tech at Florida State
Sept. 8: Clemson at Texas A&M; Southern California at Stanford
Sept. 15: LSU at Auburn; Ohio State vs. TCU at Arlington, Texas.
Sept. 29: Ohio State at Penn State
K Matt Ammendola, R-Jr., Oklahoma State, North Penn HS
QB Alex Hornibrook, Jr., Wisconsin, Malvern Prep
OL Hayden Mahoney, R-Jr., Miami (Fla.), Malvern Prep
OL Cesar Ruiz, So, Michigan, Camden HS
OL Jon Runyan, Sr., Michigan, St. Joseph's Prep
QB Kyle Shurmur, Sr., Vanderbilt, La Salle HS
RB D'Andre Swift, So., Georgia, St. Joseph's Prep
RB Jonathan Taylor, So., Wisconsin, Salem HS
WR Olamide Zaccheaus, Sr., Virginia, St. Joseph's Prep