Much of the same

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

It's the big question going into the season. In fact, it's been the lead question going into every year for almost a decade now. Will the SEC's reign in college football finally end?

After taking a good long look at what all the major conferences have to offer, I have to say no. I think an SEC team will win the national crown for an eighth straight year.

The odds are certainly in their favor. Half of the teams in the AP top 12 are from the SEC. The only other conferences close to that are the Pac 12 and the ACC--each having two teams in the mix.

When it comes to the BCS Championship Game, there are quite a few teams I have my eye on.

I really think South Carolina has be drastically overrated due to the dominance of Jadeveon Clowney. I just don't see them having the firepower to compete for a national title.

Connor Shaw has been inconsistent at quarterback, they have no feature back and their receiving core is very average. Defensively, Clowney will be back but many of the guys that made the Camecocks' unit so good last year won't be.

Georgia is a team that I think can be a serious national championship contender.

They should have one of the best offenses in the nation with Aaron Murray at quarterback, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall at running backs and Malcolm Mitchell at receiver.

However, it's their defense that scares me. They lost almost their entire unit to the NFL draft and even when those ultra-talented players were still in Athens last year, they still gave up 20 points a game.

Their schedule isn't going to help. Right out of the gates, they have to play at Clemson and then host South Carolina. And down the line, they have to clash with LSU and Florida.

I hate to sound watered down and generic, but Alabama is the safest bet to make it to the title game.

Their offense should put up big numbers with A.J. McCarron back at quarterback. They lose Eddie Lacy, but they have a guy in T.J. Yeldon that ran for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman.

They bring back their top two receivers. That includes Amari Cooper--a guy that had 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns in his first year in Tuscaloosa.

They did lose three exceptional offensive linemen in Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker, but I have a feeling they're just going to reload as usual.

The same will probably go for a defense that lost Jessie Williams, Dee Milliner and Robert Lester. They still return one of the best linebackers in the nation in C.J. Mosley.

The main reason it's hard to count out the Tide is because of their schedule. The only roadblocks look to be a roadtrip to College Station and a home test against LSU.

Personally, I think they'll roll against Texas A&M. They have two weeks to prepare for the game, and I think they'll be plenty motivated after the Aggies went into Tuscaloosa and beat them last year.

Even if they trip up against LSU, they have shown the last two years that they can still win the national championship with a loss.

As far as their opponent in Pasadena, I'm not jumping on the Stanford bandwagon like everyone else. They've been the trendy pick this preseason, but I just don't see it.

They lost a 1,500-yard back in Stepfan Taylor and their two top tight ends in an offense that is heavy-prediated on tight end production.

Defensively, their front seven will be great, but their secondary is very average.

However, I do think they'll beat Oregon at home on Nov. 7--which will keep the high-powered Ducks out of the national title game.

That leaves Ohio State and Louisville. I love the Cards. Their offense should be awesome with arguably the best quarterback in the nation in Teddy Bridgewater leading the charge.

Their top two receivers return, and they now have former Auburn back Michael Dyer--a guy that was the MVP of the 2011 BCS Championship Game.

I will be absolutely shocked if Louisville doesn't go undefeated, but that's the problem. Their schedule is so soft that even if they don't lose, they'll be shut out of the title game.

That's why I think Ohio State will be there. They went undefeated last year, and I expect them to do the same this season.

Their schedule is soft as cotton with their only true tests being road games at Northwestern and archrival Michigan.

The defense that struggled so mightily last season should be better this year, and Braxton Miller and the offense should put up huge numbers.

So, if it is Ohio State and Alabama in the title game, I have to go with Alabama. I just don't think the Buckeyes have the depth, versatility on offense or speed in their front seven to beat the Tide.

I really wanted to pick against Alabama. Winning three straight national titles has never been done in this modern era.

However, when you look at the great players they have coming back, their depth, their balance, the question marks surrounding other teams and their favorable schedule, it's hard to pick against them.