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College football 2013: The answers you've been waiting for

USC's quarterback quandary, the NCAA's verdict on Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy race — let's take a look at these issues.

August 28, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • Quarterback Johnny Manziel will miss the first half of Texas A&M's season opener against Rice by the NCAA following allegations that he accepted money for autographs.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel will miss the first half of Texas A&M's… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )

To honor, or dishonor, the 16th and final season of the Bowl Championship Series, here are 16 questions and answers as college football opens 2013:

1. How soon does USC Coach Lane Kiffin need to decide on a quarterback?

Answer: Sept. 21. Penn & Teller could rotate for the first three games — against Hawaii, Washington State and Boston College — but USC needs to nail down Max Wittek or Cody Kessler by the time it hosts Utah State. That's the nightmare scenario USC fans might not see coming — a reincarnation of the long-ago Freedom Bowl loss to Fresno State.

Utah State was a touchdown from being undefeated last season. The Aggies lost by two points at Wisconsin and three at Brigham Young. How exciting is third-year starter Chuckie Keeton? Let's just say there wouldn't be a quarterback competition if Keeton played for USC.

2. Does UCLA need to mount a Heisman campaign for quarterback Brett Hundley?

No. Heisman campaigns are for Stillwater, Okla., and Starkville, Miss., and other places you wouldn't want your car to break down. My desk is full of bobbleheads and key chains and door-stop gimmicks from so-called "Heisman candidates." The best was Washington State's sending out a leaf to voters to drum up support for Ryan Leaf, who didn't win.

UCLA's ZIP Code doesn't require a campaign. Hundley just needs to put up big numbers on a team that wins 10 or 11 games.

3. Will Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel play Saturday against Rice?

The answer is yes, but only for one half. He is benched for the first 30 minutes of the season as part of his punishment for putting the college football world through hell. The NCAA couldn't prove Manziel took money for autographs — as had been alleged by brokers to ESPN — so Johnny Football appears free to pursue his sophomore season. We may never know what really happened, but at least we get to see a great football player play.

4. Will Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk win a Heisman?

Yes, according to his biggest fan: him.

5. What will be the three biggest upsets of opening weekend?

A Rutgers player arriving in Fresno saying, "Man, so many tall buildings." Nicholls State's scoring a point on Oregon. A DirecTV customer's finding Nevada at UCLA on his television.

6. What are three games people think could be upsets but likely won't be?

Texas Christian over Louisiana State, California over Northwestern, Western Kentucky over Kentucky.

7. Is it true TCU Coach Gary Patterson is not allowing players to speak with reporters who cover opposing schools?

Yep, that could cause unwanted billboard material. Example: Someone from TCU criticized Coach Les Miles of LSU, this week's opponent, for allowing the players to vote troubled running back Jeremy Hill back on the squad. "That doesn't teach life lessons," the person said.

Who would say something that dumb? Gary Patterson.

8. Can you name this season's conference winners four months in advance?

Sure: Pac-12, Stanford; Big Ten, Ohio State; Southeastern, Alabama; Atlantic Coast, Clemson; Big 12, Texas; Mountain West, Boise State; American Athletic, Louisville; Mid-American, Northern Illinois; Sun Belt, Louisiana Lafayette; Conference USA, Tulsa.

9. Will the SEC put two teams into this season's BCS title game?

Possibly, so long as Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are still employed by CBS.

10. Best guess on this year's Heisman race?

Finalists: Marqise Lee, USC; Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina; Aaron Murray, Georgia; Manziel; Braxton Miller, Ohio State.

Winner: Miller.

11. Which teams will play in the major bowls?

BCS: Alabama vs. Stanford. (Tide and trees; sounds like a landscape painting.)

Rose: Oregon vs. Ohio State. (Eugene billing it "Revenge for Terrelle Pryor!")

Fiesta: Texas vs. Boise State. (If Boise wins, could Chris Petersen replace Mack Brown?)

Sugar: Georgia vs. Louisville. (Louisville yawns at prospect of beating another SEC team in New Orleans.)

Orange: Clemson vs. Northwestern. (Last team with the ball wins.)

12. When is that announcement coming on the NCAA vs. Miami?

What's the hurry, Miami's season doesn't start until … Friday! It's been 10 weeks since the Committee on Infractions heard Miami's case, and the school has already self-imposed two years of bowl bans as it braced for the worst. Coach Al Golden would rather talk about bird feeders than this hovering cloud. My thought is the NCAA is still trying to see if it can somehow tie USC to the case.

13. Who will be the most exciting first-year starter this year?

My cookies are on "Famous Jameis" Winston, Florida State's new quarterback.

14. What's the best name in college football?

There's no name funnier than Alabama cornerback Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

15. Can Notre Dame get back to the BCS title game if quarterback Tommy Rees cuts down on his turnovers?

Yes, and Chris Christie could win Mr. Universe if he cuts down on his meat dishes.

16. What is this year's "sleeper" team?

The Miami Hurricanes — unless the NCAA puts them to sleep.

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