This is a crap shoot at this point, but I am tired of writing about baseball. USC looks like the cream of the crop because of Caleb Williams and some great skill players. The guessing comes in with teams like Ohio State, Alabama, and Georgia who all have new quarterbacks.
Oklahoma will once more count on quarterback Dillon Gabriel (25 TDs, 6 INTs in 2022), along with receiving threats like Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops (8 rec TDs combined), in addition to transfer wideout Andrel Anthony and tight end Austin Stogner. Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk both ran over 100 yards rushing in their bowl game appearance, and back Marcus Major — who scored four times — will both return for another go.
Joe Milton showed immense promise last season in limited action, throwing ten touchdowns without an interception – including an impressive three-touchdown, 68 per cent passing performance in the Orange Bowl victory over Clemson. As such, Milton should remain the clear favorite to keep the job in 2023, although five-star Nico Iamaleava might pose some competition.
Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt may no longer be leading Tennessee’s prolific attack, but Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small, who combined for 23 TD runs last season, return as top rushers. Meanwhile, Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton appear poised to serve as two critical targets in the passing game as an alternative to Hyatt and Tillman.
Losing wideout Kayshon Boutte could erode LSU’s receiver production this fall. Still, most of what powered their success last season remain intact – from quarterback Jayden Daniels leading in rushing to top wideout Malik Nabers becoming LSU’s only thousand-yard receiver.
Aaron Anderson, an Alabama transfer and former LSU commit, joins true freshmen Shelton Sampson and Jalen Brown at receiver, and all five starting offensive linemen return. LSU boasts one of college football’s most potent running capacities with Noah Cain, who recorded ten touchdowns last season, returning.
Quarterback remains up for debate following Stetson Bennett’s departure, leaving two-time College Football Playoff champions without an experienced signal caller at quarterback. Carson Beck may emerge as a strong candidate after an impressive spring performance, and all other positions feature ample talent around him.
Georgia returns its top scorers from last season – tight end Brock Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey each scored seven times last fall and added two crucial transfer additions such as Missouri’s Dominic Lovett and Mississippi State receiver RaRa Thomas who combined for ten touchdowns last fall – two figures who will help Kirby Smart mount one of his most dynamic offenses at UGA yet.
Many have lamented Alabama’s offensive personnel losses, such as quarterback Bryce Young and running back Jahmyr Gibbs; however, Alabama still possesses what could become its key playmakers: quarterback Jalen Milroe is set to compete with Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner and former 5-star Ty Simpson; wide receivers Jermaine Burton and Ja’Corey Brooks as well as running back Jase McClellan for starting roles.
Burton and Brooks lead Alabama’s returnee scorers with 15 touchdowns combined from last season. McClellan tied Gibbs for team rushing touchdowns with seven and should now get an opportunity to show he can lead an offense on his own. Milroe has flashed dual-threat ability but still needs to win this season’s quarterback competition.
Bo Nix was an extraordinary contributor for Oregon last fall, amassing 3,500 yards through his passing game and 29 touchdowns while also running for 510 yards and 14 scores on the ground – leading his team to an 8-game midseason win streak that could have extended even further had two of its losses not come within 7 points of one another.
Nix, Bucky Irving, and Noah Whittington will return as key components of Oregon’s ground game in 2023, which earned PFF recognition. Irving ran for over 1,000 yards and seven all-purpose touchdowns; Whittington ran for 779 yards and five scores.
Not having top wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba on the field didn’t cut too severely into the Buckeyes’ production last season, but the loss of quarterback C.J. Stroud could have a more significant effect when 2023 kicks off. It’s down to Kyle McCord or Devin Brown to succeed Stroud, and whoever does, likely McCord, should have plenty of help cutting into opposing secondary units.
Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are two of college football’s premier wide receivers, both exceeding 1,100 yards and combining for 24 touchdown catches last fall, while Julian Fleming is hoping to get back to form after some injuries and tight end Cade Stover returns after a 406-yard, 5 TD campaign.
Running back is also a strength for Ohio State with the return of Miyan Williams, who led the team with 825 yards and 14 TDs, and TreVeyon Henderson, slowed by injury in ’22 but still a potent mix of power and speed. Dallan Hayden is another critical piece after he ran for five touchdowns a year ago with 553 yards rushing.
The two-time Big Ten Champions may have lost Ronnie Bell and Luke Schoonmaker from their ranks, but two of their four most productive wide receivers — Roman Wilson (4 touchdowns scored) and Cornelius Johnson (6 scores scored; both averaged over 15 yards per catch) remain.
Michigan returns the majority of their outstanding rushing production: presumptive Heisman hopeful Blake Corum (1,463 yards, 18 touchdowns) and Donovan Edwards (991 yds, seven touchdowns) return to balance things out. At the same time, dual-threat quarterback J.J. McCarthy builds upon his legacy after passing for 22 touchdowns and five interceptions last season.
One of the biggest stories this offseason was Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix’s return. Last season he led college football with 4,354 passing yards and scored 29 touchdowns — an essential component in Washington’s remarkable turnaround.
He’ll notably have an extremely talented receiving corps back, rivalling any in the country. Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze each returned with 2,243 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season.
Caleb Williams is at the core of USC’s explosive attack, leading with ten rushing touchdowns while amassing over 4,500 yards passing and 42 touchdowns as the Heisman Trophy winner in 2022. His return directly places USC into College Football Playoff contention alongside several key skill pieces around him.
That includes transfer wide receiver Dorian Singer, the Pac-12’s most dynamic target with over 1,100 yards and six touchdowns last fall. Austin Jones and Raleek Brown should serve as USC’s primary rushers with assistance from transfer MarShawn Lloyd who ran 573 yards and nine touchdowns at South Carolina last season.
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