With the 2019 season about to begin, naturally, there are plenty of interesting college football storylines to keep an eye on. The intrigue has been building.
Such college football storylines start with whether a certain team from South Carolina can repeat as national champion. How about a bevy of familiar quarterbacks at different schools or some old coaches in new places?
For now, let’s look at five of the more interesting college football storylines entering the 2019 season.
It’s the Tigers’ time again
To some fans, Clemson’s run to the national title in 2018 was a bit surprising. Especially the way it dismantled Alabama in the title game.
However, Clemson was a dominant force from October on, with 2019 Heisman Trophy front-runner Trevor Lawrence at the helm and a defense that was more than paced by one of the more devastating defensive lines of all time. Clemson’s 15-0 finish puts that team in the conversation for the greatest ever.
The Tigers’ quest to repeat is one of the more obvious college football storylines in 2019. Lawrence (3,280 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes, four interceptions) and running back Travis Etienne (1,658 rushing yards, 24 rushing TDs) return to lead the offense. On defense, defensive end Xavier Thomas is the new stud up front and linebacker Isaiah Simmons is also back.
Don’t expect the Tigers to be challenged in the ACC, and one would think it’s on a destined course for another title-game matchup with Alabama.
Speaking of the Crimson Tide
It’s a case of unfinished business for Alabama, and obviously one of the biggest college football storylines. Of course, whether the Tide even gets the chance for another shot at the national championship depends on the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
He was the Heisman front-runner for most of the season in 2018, but wasn’t healthy enough to lead Alabama to a second straight national title. He’s apparently good to go at the moment, which is obviously good news for the Tide and their fans.
As usual, Alabama is stacked (WR Jerry Jeudy, DE Raekwon Davis and LD Dylan Moses). However, it’s SEC road schedule is kind of intense with trips to Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Auburn.
Thanks to the emergence of the transfer portal, college football essentially has its own version of free agency. There will be a lot of familiar names playing at different schools in 2019.
That’s especially true at the quarterback position. Kelly Bryant went from Clemson to Missouri. Justin Fields left Georgia for Ohio State and Jalen Hurts gets to close out his career at Oklahoma after the love wore thin at Alabama.
There’s also Washington’s Jacob Eason (Washington), Maryland’s Josh Jackson (Virginia Tech) and Shane Buechele (Texas) now at SMU, to name a few more.
Whether one thinks that type of big-time movement is good for the integrity of the game is a different story. What fans of college football should agree on is that this adds plenty of excitement to the season.
Old school coaching carousel
Every year there are significant coaching changes in college football. However, this season sees the return of two of the game’s greats as college football storylines.
Les Miles is trying to make Kansas football relevant and Mack Brown returns for a second stint as North Carolina coach. That’s 386 coaching victories and two national championships between the two. Though, each would be happy with a winning season in 2019.
Other notable coaching hires include Manny Diaz finally getting the chance to lead the Miami program. Former Alabama assistant Mike Locksley is now at Maryland. Ryan Day takes over the reins at Ohio State and former West Virginia boss Dana Holgorsen will try to start anew at Houston.
Sense of urgency for Harbaugh, Michigan
It’s Year five of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching tenure at his alma mater.
The 38-14 record is good, the fact the Wolverines have yet to earn a place in the Big Ten championship game or a spot in the College Football Playoff, and perhaps most important, still can’t beat Ohio State, is the bad news.
The Wolverines looked on pace to accomplish all three in 2018, but were blown out 62-39 to the Buckeyes and 41-15 to Florida in the Peach Bowl. Thus, the hot seat might be a little hotter for Harbaugh,
And, he knows it.
That’s why he brought in former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis to be his offensive coordinator with the hopes of adding life to the offense. Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State all come to Ann Arbor, so there’s a chance the Wolverines will have something significant to celebrate come December.