The college football season kicks off on Thursday night and when it does fans across the country will have a lot to keep their eyes on.
First, most college football experts and fans will be waiting to see how Penn State plays this season. With new head coach Bill O’Brien, the Nittany Lions begin the first of their four year post season ban. While some players left the team, the majority stayed and this will be Penn State’s first full season after the Jerry Sandusky scandal as well.
Another storyline to watch this season is how LSU performs without star cornerback and punt returner Tyrone Mathieu. Last year the Tigers made it all the way to the BCS National Championship before losing to Alabama, with Mathieu being a major contributor. In fact, Mathieu’s on field performance was so strong last season that he was fifth in Heisman voting.
However, this summer the 20-year-old Mathieu was forced to check into rehab for a substance abuse problem. Mathieu is still currently receiving treatment at the Right Step recovery center, and his adoptive father recently told ESPN that he will not be back this season to play for LSU.
Along with those two storylines there are some big matchups to look forward to on this season’s schedule. On Saturday Alabama takes on Michigan at the Cowboys Classic in Arlington Texas in what could be an early season upset for the defending champion Crimson Tide. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who can not only throw the ball but hurt opponents by running the ball, helped lead the Wolverines to a Sugar Bowl victory last season.
On September 15, USC travels to Stanford looking to beat the Cardinals, who have defeated the Trojans the last three times they played. Of course this season Stamford will have to take on USC without the help of quarterback Andrew Luck, who was selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the top pick in this year’s NFL draft. Leading the charge for USC will be quarterback Matt Barkley, who many have on Heisman watch this season.
On October 13, the Red River Rivalry continues when Oklahoma travels to take on Texas. The Longhorns will be looking to bounce back from last year’s embarrassing 55-17 loss. Meanwhile, the Sooners will be looking to take their third victory in a row in the Red River Rivalry.
On November 3, Alabama travels to face SEC West rival LSU in a rematch of last year’s BCS National Championship game. In a regular season meeting last year the Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide in overtime 9-6 in a defensive showdown. Alabama got revenge on LSU in the championship game routing them 21-0.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a history of close games at Tiger Stadium. In two career matchups as Alabama’s head coach Saban defeated LSU 27-21 in overtime in 2008 and then lost to the Tigers 24-21 in 2010.
With all of these marquee matchups and storylines to watch this season of college football should have fans interested from the first snap in August to the last snap in January.