LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The first full Saturday of the 2019 college football season is now just 60 days away, and we’ve got some stuff to talk about.
The fresh air of the Scott Satterfield era begins in Louisville, Kentucky comes back from an unforgettable 10-win season and Indiana fans are wondering if their Hoosiers will ever take that big leap forward.
Below is a bookmark-worthy, 30,000-foot-look ahead to the 2019 season, with team schedules, light overviews, games to watch, an early Top 10 and much more. Enjoy!
UofL Preview (By Kent Taylor | Follow on Twitter)
Scott Satterfield’s biggest job is developing a winning mindset and attitude among a group that went 2-10 in 2018, losing its last nine games.
He and his staff also need to find a quarterback. Puma Pass and Malik Cunningham showed flashes last season, but will either fit into the offense the Cards want to run? Pass’ performance in spring workouts were good enough to make him the clear favorite to take the first-team reps when fall camp opens.
New offensive coordinator Dwayne Ledford has similar issues with his line. A much-maligned group over the last few seasons, there figures to be competition across the board.
Defensively, the Cards were historically bad in 2018. Confidence will come from demonstrated performance and with Notre Dame up first on the schedule on Sept. 2, that could take some time.
The goal should be simple: Get to a bowl game, something UofL fans have taken for granted in the last couple of decades.
UK Preview (By Kendrick Haskins | Follow on Twitter)
After a season UK fans will never forget, 2019 is filled with both potential and question marks. The Cats will have to replace the school’s all-time leading rusher in Benny Snell, as well as arguably UK's best-ever pass rusher in Josh Allen. Many of Allen's teammates from a stout defensive unit have moved on as well.
On offense, expect Lynn Bowden’s role to increase in 2019. The receiver/kick returner was the Cats’ leading receiver in 2018, and without a doubt, the team’s home-run hitter along with Snell. With the departures of Snell and tight end CJ Conrad, Bowden likely be the sequel to Randall Cobb. With his explosiveness and versatility, you can line him up in a variety of positions and challenge SEC defenses.
Defensively, with Allen playing on Sundays, look for Kash Daniel to have a monster senior year. He was the team’s third-leading tackler in 2018, and is a born leader. The secondary will be very young with the losses of Jordan Jones and Chris Westry. Linebacker Deandre Square had a great Citrus Bowl, racking up six tackles in UK's defeat of Penn State, and sophomore Davonte Robinson had a solid sophomore year in the secondary, and will be called upon to make plays.
Another year in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran’s scheme should make quarterback Terry Wilson a more confident signalcaller. Running backs Kavosiey Smoke and Asim Rose will be tabbed to make up for Snell’s production. If Daniel and Square can continue their progression, and Wilson can become more comfortable with the offense, the Cats could be in the thick of the SEC East race again.
Games To Watch (By John P. Wise | Follow on Twitter)
There is usually a longer list of exciting September games to choose from, but thanks to high-profile teams wanting to protect their perfect records, it looks like we're trending back toward Cupcake City.
Anyway, the Week 1 neutral-site offerings seem decent on paper: Auburn vs. Oregon (at Orlando) and Florida vs. Miami (Dallas). Neither game will feature a team expected to make a serious run at the playoff (calm down, Gator fans), but Oregon’s Justin Herbert is the sport’s top quarterback that you still haven’t seen, and it’s always fun to watch Florida rivals duke it out.
Week 2′s top tilts include LSU at Texas and Texas A&M at Clemson. These games could be thrillers, but both LSU and Texas could go 6-6 and Clemson could put up 70 on its guests. Now that Clemson is no longer Clemsoning, LSUing and Texasing could be the new thing. We’re not really making a strong argument for these Week 2 games, are we?
Notre Dame and Michigan renew their rivalry in Week 8, which is weird timing, but we’re more intrigued by the Irish making their return visit to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 4. Remember when Georgia took over Notre Dame Stadium in 2017? Both teams will be CFP contenders again this year and everyone in America will be rooting for Georgia to put the Irish out of that conversation before we even reach October.
Early Top 10 (By John P. Wise)
3-10: It doesn’t matter.
2. Alabama: It’s been nine thousand years since ‘Bama wasn’t preseason No. 1, but that’s just fine with Nick Saban, whose Tide will reload as it always does and cruise to a sixth straight berth in the College Football Playoff.
1. Clemson: Speaking of re-loading, there’s only one team in college football that can do it as good as Alabama does, and it just happens to boast quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a loaded stable of skill players.
Heisman Short List (By John P. Wise)
5. Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue: This might not be the year for Purdue’s first Heisman winner, but nobody expected Moore to burst on the scene the way he did as a true freshman last year. Moore led the country with 103 catches and finished fourth in the nation with 2,048 yards, earning the prestigious Hornung Award as the sport’s most versatile player.
4. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon: Armed with Sunday measurables, Herbert’s supporting cast from 2018 returns largely intact. He could have been the first quarterback taken in this spring’s NFL Draft, but his decision to return to Eugene means he’ll be on every preseason watch list, and a season-opener in prime time against Auburn will help his case, too.
3. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Stop us if you’ve heard this before -- Wisconsin has a star at the running back position. Taylor has surpassed 4,000 rushing yards in his first two years as a Badger, to go along with 29 touchdowns. If he can protect the football better in 2019, and if Wisconsin can be a national contender, Taylor will at least earn an invitation to the ceremony.
2. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: When it comes to picking the top two teams or the top two Heisman contenders, it’s pretty much six of one, half a dozen of the other, no? For those who weren’t familiar with him before he shredded Alabama in the title game, he’ll be a true sophomore next year.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: Nagging injuries cost him the award last year, so if he can stay healthy, the junior lefty who finished second last year could win it in 2019.
QBs On The Move (By John P. Wise)
Thanks to the NCAA’s transfer portal that makes the term “student-athlete” even more laughable than it used to be, there are some high-profile quarterbacks leaving or joining -- or both -- some of the sport’s top programs. Here are 10 to keep an eye on this year:
+ Kelly Bryant, Clemson to Missouri
+ Shane Buechele, Texas to SMU
+ Justin Fields, Georgia to Ohio State
+ Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin to Florida State
+ Jalen Hurts, Alabama to Oklahoma
+ Tate Martell, Ohio State to Miami
+ Ty Storey, Arkansas to Western Kentucky
+ Jordan Travis, Louisville to Florida State
+ Jack Tuttle, Utah to Indiana
+ Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame to UCF
Stop Clowning On Notre Dame
Everybody loves to hate on Notre Dame. I’m not an ND-hater, but I don’t love the program, either. While I think the Irish should join a conference in lieu of special treatment for postseason consideration, I often disagree with folks who blast Notre Dame for playing a weak schedule. More often than not, the Irish do play some pretty good teams. This year’s schedule includes road games at Georgia, Michigan and Stanford, as well as home dates with USC and Virginia Tech. And since we all know many of these home-and-home, made-for-TV tilts are often inked five or 10 years in advance, give the Irish credit for adding dates with Ohio State, Wisconsin and Texas A&M, not to mention the ACC rotation that will include games against Florida State, Clemson and Miami (Fla.) in the coming years.
Best Weekend For Your Bros Trip To Vegas
If you’re the kind of fan who likes to rally the squad and get that cheap flight out to McCarran every fall, the weekend of Oct. 12 might be a good bet. Check out the Week 7 schedule, and after a long day of cashing winning tickets, be sure to treat yourself to a steak at Herbs And Rye:
+ Michigan State at Wisconsin: Always a good Big 10 slugfest that usually ends up being a tight one. So maybe don’t wager on it.
+ Oklahoma at Texas: The Red River Shootout is always a fun one to watch, especially if you’ve got a C-note on the Sooners and you hate Texas like everyone else does.
+ Penn State at Iowa: There will no doubt be a prop bet on whether one team will finish this game with five points.
+ Alabama at Texas A&M: Nobody cares about Jimbo Fisher or the Aggies, but upsets always make the 12-hour sports book sesh more enjoyable.
+ USC at Notre Dame: This rivalry is probably losing some of its shine, but there’s heavy action on this game every year.
+ Florida at LSU: Two top-10 rivals could be unbeaten, playing under the lights at Death Valley.
We Need Answers (By John P. Wise)
+ Is college football getting boring? It’s Clemson and Alabama every year. Sometimes there’s a Georgia or an Ohio State or an Oklahoma. But will someone else break through? Will a G5 ever get invited to the party? Will the playoff expand?
+ What is the over/under on how many times Texas will be “back” in 2019?
+ How will Ryan Day step into the head coaching role at Ohio State? And by that, we mean when will Urban Meyer be named USC’s next coach? Sorry, Clay Helton.
+ Have we ever found out why Les Miles really took the Kansas job?
+ Will the Big 12 ever play defense again?
+ Will the Pac 12 ever win a championship again?