Randy Smith: Things You Need To Know For This Fall

Thursday, July 11, 2019 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
A little more than six weeks and we kick off the 2019 college football season. That's all. The pre-season magazines are all out, The sports talk shows have been talking college football for quite a while, building to a crescendo of excitement as we cheer for our favorite teams and pull against everyone else. I decided to list some things that every college football fan should know. Some will be accurate, while others may prove to be the total opposite. That's what makes the game so enjoyable.

Defending national champ Clemson should be the number one team in the country and not Alabama, though the Crimson Tide is the top choice in every poll you see.
According to Athlons pre-season book, Alabama has five of the nation's best 50 football players. Clemson has the same number but the Tigers have all five listed among the best 23 players in the land. That's impressive. Clemson suffered heavy losses in the defensive line, but Coach Dabo Swinney has more than enough talent stocked up to be tremendously successful again this season.

Alabama signed another Tagovailoa as Tua's younger brother Taulia will be a true freshman this fall. Coach Nick Saban is hoping to get the younger brother ready to take over the reins in 2020 as Tua will likely be the NFL's top draft choice next April.

By the way, Tua is the odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season, with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne nipping at his heels. I personally felt that Tua should have won it last year. If I were still on the Heisman voting committee I would have voted for him.

The Tennessee Volunteers should be a lot better this fall. Based upon returning talent, a very good recruiting season and several new assistant coaches the Vols should be heading back to a bowl game with at least seven wins. The fact that Tennessee's non-conference schedule is lighter than usual should allow them to win 7-8 games.

With all the new head coaches coming into the SEC over the past couple of seasons, there is only one sitting on a hot seat and that's Auburn's Gus Malzahn. If he finds a solid quarterback to replace the graduating Jarrett Stidham, his job security will improve and Auburn may even challenge in the SEC West.

There could be two surprise teams in the SEC this fall, one in each division. In the West, I predict LSU to be Alabama's biggest roadblock, though Texas A&M could also surprise a few folks as well. In the East, Tennessee could actually surprise a lot of people as could Missouri.

The window for the Georgia Bulldogs to win their first national title since 1980 is as wide open as it can possibly be. But with the reputation of the Bulldog fans to start complaining about head coaches, that window could begin to close rapidly. Kirby Smart has done a wonderful job in Athens so far, making the playoffs two of the last three years, but if the 'Dawgs don't win one in the next 2-3 years, things could become nasty once again.

This is most definitely the year of the quarterback in the SEC. Alabama has the nation's best in Tua, while Georgia's Jake Fromm and Texas A&M's Kellen Mond are right behind them. Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano is listed by Athlons as the 33rd best in the country, and eighth best in the SEC. With the addition of offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and a much improved offensive line, his stock could rise quickly.

Even though the Chattanooga Mocs schedule is one of the toughest in the country among FCS teams, the Mocs should fare pretty well with new head coach Rusty Wright. The Mocs open on Thursday, Aug. 29, with Eastern Illinois at Finley Stadium. The Mocs face Jacksonville State, Tennessee and James Madison in their next three games. They could be 1-3 and still be a very good football team.

More on college football later, including SEC divisional predictions and a preview of the four teams I pick to make the FBS college football playoffs.       

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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