NCAA Football News
While the 2015 college football season opens with one overwhelming favorite, last year showed there is always room for surprises.
Ohio State was a controversial final addition to the four-team playoff before shocking both Alabama and Oregon en route to a national championship. The Buckeyes now rightfully head into the upcoming season as the preseason No. 1 team in the country and clear favorite to bring home another title.
That said, other squads such as TCU and Alabama have received plenty of attention, while a few more have the ability to pull off some surprises during the year. Here is a full look at the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll with a breakdown of programs that the panel might have overlooked.
No. 15 Ole Miss
Things went south in a hurry for Ole Miss last season. The squad flew up the polls after a 7-0 start, but four losses in the final six games were not quite as encouraging. That said, the wins over Alabama and Mississippi State were no fluke.
As NFL.com noted, the Rebels have one of the most talented teams in football next year:
Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche are among the best in the nation at their positions, while wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is incredibly exciting to watch when healthy. The defense led the nation last season in points allowed per game, and the offense is full of promise.
Sure, the team will have to replace quarterback Bo Wallace, but his mistakes often held the team back as much as he helped out in recent years. Any of Ryan Buchanan, DeVante Kincade or Chad Kelly could step in and produce almost as well under center.
If everything comes together well, Ole Miss has what it takes to compete in the loaded SEC West.
No. 19 Oklahoma
It's not an uncommon tale for a college team to have quarterback questions before Week 1. Doubters feel the lack of certainty at the position makes Oklahoma a major question mark for the upcoming year.
On the other hand, head coach Bob Stoops has some quality options no matter who ends up starting. Incumbent Trevor Knight has had his problems, but ESPN.com's Jake Trotter noted the similarities between him and last year's Big 12 breakout star, Trevone Boykin.
Meanwhile, Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield has earned plenty of praise since joining the team.
"What he’s done is just worked hard,” Stoops said, per Brady Vardeman of the Oklahoma Daily. “He sat out the whole season and ran the scout team. You know, couldn’t have been more enthusiastic and excited every day. He looked at it as a great opportunity to get better."
With this level of competition between Knight, Mayfield and Cody Thomas, the Sooners should be in good shape.
Of course, Oklahoma is in great shape offensively regardless of who is under center. Samaje Perine rushed for 1,713 yards with 21 touchdowns last season and should be one of the top running backs in the nation next season. Add in receiver Sterling Shepard, and this is an attack that will be tough to stop.
Even with TCU and Baylor returning a lot of talent, the Sooners certainly have a chance to contend for a Big 12 title.
No. 22 Arizona
While Arizona isn't considered a football powerhouse, this ranking is way too low for a team that won the Pac-12 South, reached the Fiesta Bowl and returns most of its key players from last season.
The team has offensive playmakers in quarterback Anu Solomon, running back Nick Wilson and receiver Cayleb Jones, all of whom could put up huge numbers in 2015. Still, the biggest star on the team is linebacker Scooby Wright, a dominant defender who had an FBS-leading 29 tackles for loss last season.
ESPN recently put Wright in a tie for second on a list of the best players in college football.
Athlon Sports also quoted an opposing coach discussing the linebacker's impact on the defense:
The tough thing about playing their defense is you can’t really scheme for Scooby Wright. Your guys know where he’s coming from and what he’s trying to do, but his motor is just off the charts, and he’s going to get five or six opportunities to make a game-changing play just off effort. He’s a special dude.
This group earned 10 wins during the regular season last year and should only be better in 2015.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com
The Texas Longhorns commenced fall camp on Friday, providing an early look at who's rising and falling in the push toward the regular season.
Thus far, everything's going pretty much as expected. Tyrone Swoopes has been dominating first-team reps at quarterback, distancing himself from the competition as a passer.
The real competition here won't begin until Jerrod Heard's running comes into play.
Elsewhere, the freshmen are really making their move, especially at receiver and in the defensive backfield. But the biggest surprise has been an old, frustrating name who is once again teasing us with his dynamic ability.
Stock Up: CB Kris Boyd
The freshman defensive backs are sure to make a lot of noise this fall, and Kris Boyd is leading the way so far.
At 6'0", Boyd isn't quite the ideal specimen that Holton Hill (6'2") is. But with HornsDigest.com's Chip Brown reporting that Texas' top DB recruit hasn't been on the field, Boyd has been taking full advantage of the opportunity, using his physicality to win some tough matchups early in camp.
Per the San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger, Boyd has yet to take first-team reps away from Bryson Echols and Antwuan Davis, but it's coming. Boyd was one of the best athletes in the 2015 recruiting class, and it'll be fun to watch him fight Hill for early playing time.
Stock Down: WR Dorian Leonard and WR Lorenzo Joe
Per 247Sports' Jeff Howe, drops have been a major problem for the receivers early in camp, and these two have committed their fair share of offenses. Leonard had an especially tough day on Sunday, and 247Sports' Chris Hummer has Joe running with the third team.
After the springs these two had, their early struggles are extremely disappointing.
Emerging from this fray has been John Burt. The true freshman has really settled in since Friday, displaying reliable hands and an ability to stretch the field. Unless one of the veterans responds, he's going to grab John Harris' old role on the outside.
Stock Up: WR Daje Johnson
Don't get your hopes up just yet, but we may have a Daje Johnson sighting in fall camp.
Just when you thought you were out on Johnson, he pulls you back in. 247Sports' Howe called the enigmatic senior "the most consistent" receiver he's seen, while Hummer has been impressed by his hands and route running.
This is a pleasant surprise from one of Texas' most maddening players. There's no doubt he's a special talent with blazing speed—ESPN.com indicates he ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash—but his numbers have dipped in each of the past two years due to some off-field issues.
On the field, he's struggled with everything he's been praised for thus far in camp.
If Johnson can figure it out, he'll be one of the best weapons the Longhorns have. We'll have to see what he looks like once we get closer to the season, but he looks like a stud through three great days of practice.
Stock Down: OL Terrell Cuney
Terrell Cuney put his status with the team in serious jeopardy, with 247Sports' Hummer reporting on Wednesday that he was arrested for shoplifting. For now, his mistake has simply opened the door for a younger talent.
More than anything else, Cuney's arrest is significant because of depth problems. Camrhon Hughes has officially left the program, making it five offensive linemen who have left the program in the past year.
Because the Horns simply need bodies, Cuney will more than likely remain with the team. But he'll be guaranteed nothing, especially with true freshman Patrick Vahe making an impression early on in camp.
Vahe's a better prospect with a possible NFL future, but the Longhorns can't afford to lose any more linemen.
Stock Up: TE DeAndre McNeal
The hype continues to build for freshman DeAndre McNeal, who's working toward becoming a multipurpose tight end for the Longhorns.
Initially a receiver, McNeal has officially made the move to tight end. It's hardly a surprise given the freshman's thick, 236-pound frame and ability to make moves in space. As Strong told reporters on Friday, the transition made a lot of sense:
The thing you like about DeAndre is that he came in as a receiver, gained some weight, and came to us and said he doesn't mind moving to another position. He's one of those guys we can move around and put in the tight end position, but he has enough speed where he can go vertical and get open.
The exciting thing about McNeal is his versatility. He can box out for a catch underneath, get upfield for a deep ball and even run the ball between the tackles if called upon. He's a total matchup nightmare, and he can line up virtually anywhere.
Per 247Sports' Hummer, the newly minted tight end is now working overtime to become a better blocker.
If Texas thinks he can hold his own in that department, he's going to see a ton of work as a unique weapon for Shawn Watson's offense.
Stock Down: LB Tim Cole and LB Dalton Santos
Through three days of camp, the starters in the middle of Texas' defense have been Malik Jefferson, Peter Jinkens and Edwin Freeman, with the first two holding it down in 3-3-5 sets. Jefferson's manning the middle, and 247Sports' Howe reports that Jinkens looks as good as he's ever seen.
Meanwhile, both Cole and Santos are working back from injuries.
Santos already can't match Jefferson's athleticism and is far too slow for an outside job, so his time off the field will really set him back. On the other hand, Cole always seems to get chances that never amount to anything.
Both players will be part of the rotation, but the coaches seem to trust Jefferson and Freeman after strong springs. This is only our first example of freshmen beating out the upperclassmen.
Stock Up: DE Derick Roberson
247Sports' Howe reports that Roberson is now in "outstanding" shape at almost 240 pounds. That's translated to some splashy plays from the redshirt freshman, namely a ridiculous interception of Heard and a one-on-one drill in which he simply tossed 296-pound Alex Anderson out of his way (per Horns Digest's William Wilkerson).
The team is probably a year away from having Roberson as a regular contributor, but the potential is obvious. He can really explode into the backfield, and he's working on the physical strength to play both end positions:
Anyone who was worried that Roberson wouldn't live up to his potential can now sleep easy.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy of TexasSports.com.
Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com