Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

John Rowe's College Football Crystal Ball

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

John Rowe's College Football Crystal Ball

Article excerpt

Fame is fleeting in college football. So as Ohio State celebrates its national championship, let's peek ahead to next season.

Here's a look at what teams will challenge the Buckeyes to be No. 1 and what players could succeed Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota as the Heisman Trophy winner:

The favorites

Ohio State: Urban Meyer wasn't anticipating a national championship run until the 2015 season. With more than half of his impact players in Monday night's game being freshmen and sophomores, his only concern in the off-season is how his wealth of riches at quarterback sorts out. If Cardale Jones leaves for the NFL and Braxton Miller transfers (Florida State or LSU?), J.T. Barrett, who played so well until he was injured, inherits the job.

TCU: The Horned Frogs, who lost only to Baylor and routed Mississippi in the Peach Bowl, will be motivated after they weren't selected for the national playoffs. They have plenty of offensive firepower, led by Heisman-caliber quarterback Trevone Boykin. If coach Gary Patterson finds replacements for his key defensive losses, TCU must be reckoned with.

Sleepers

USC: If quarterback Cody Kessler returns for his senior year after throwing 39 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, the Trojans are the favorite to win the Pac 12 South title. Provided USC can compensate for the loss of several defensive leaders, the sky could be the limit in Steve Sarkisian's second season.

Michigan State: The Spartans are breathing easier after quarterback Connor Cook decided he wasn't ready for the NFL. Replacing defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who has become Pittsburgh's coach, won't be easy, but Michigan State has the second best talent in the Big Ten behind Ohio State.

Wait and see

Oregon: Little-used Jeff Lockie is the heir apparent to Mariota. The Ducks, as they proved against Ohio State, need more defensive help. …

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