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Two of Alabama's captains -- center Barrett Jones and safety Robert Lester -- are preseason all-stars. Each is a fifth-year senior who was part of the Tide's stellar 2008 signing class that has produced seven (Marcel Dareus, Mark Barron, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and Terrence Cody) first- or second-round NFL draft picks.
Saturday: vs. Michigan in Dallas, 8 (ABC)
How good has LSU's defensive recruiting been? Last year, end Barkevious Mingo was not a starter at the beginning of the season; this year he's projected to be a top-five NFL pick. Tackle Michael Brockers was the No. 14 overall pick last April; he'll be replaced by Anthony Johnson, who may be better.
Saturday: vs. North Texas, 7 (ESPNU)
Buckle-up, Buffalo. As 38-point favorites, the Bulldogs will likely use a lot of players Saturday. That said, Georgia's third-stringers would likely start for the Bulls.
Saturday: vs. Buffalo, 12:21 (WDSI)
No player was hurt more by offseason departures than Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson. He lost three receivers to the NFL, a three-year starter at tight end and arguably one of the game's top five play-callers -- and bottom-three decision makers -- when coach Bobby Petrino was forced out for his scandalous affair.
Saturday: vs. Jacksonville State, 7
5. South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore returns to an offense that is longing for playmakers. The overpowering running back has more than 2,000 career rushing yards and ran for 818 last year despite missing six games with a knee injury.
Thursday: at Vanderbilt, 7 (ESPN)
The Tigers may have the youngest offensive line in the country. Auburn has four true or redshirted freshmen -- starters Greg Robinson and Avery Young and backups Patrick Miller and Shon Coleman -- atop the two deep at tackle, and Tunde Fariyike will make his first career start at center for the suspended Reese Dismukes. All of this in front of Kiehl Frazier, who will be making his first career start at quarterback against Clemson. Maybe they should wear name tags.
Saturday: vs. Clemson in Atlanta, 7 (ESPN)
What once seemed to forever be a position of certainty, the Gators need quarterback help. The two-man tango of Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett will never be confused with the litany of studs from Shane Matthews to Danny Wuerffel to Rex Grossman to Chris Leak to a few years ago when the top three names on the depth chart were Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and John Brantley.
Saturday: vs. Bowling Green, 3:30 (ESPN)
8. Texas A&M
Want a name to remember for the Aggies this fall? Meet receiver Ryan Swope, who had 89 catches for 1,207 yards and figures to exceed those numbers in the break-neck paced offense run by new coach Kevin Sumlin.
Postponed Thursday to Oct. 13: at Louisiana Tech in Shreveport
There is simply no way to overstate Friday's opener for the Vols, especially since Da'Rick Rogers was dismissed. Without Rogers, UT's most decorated player, a loss could be emotionally crippling. That said, a win could be just as unifying.
Friday: vs. N.C. State in Atlanta, 7:30 (ESPNU)
The Tigers make their SEC debut this weekend, and believe it or not they have the best quarterback you don't know a lot about. James Franklin -- no, the other one -- has wheels and an accurate arm. He also benefits from having Gary Pinkel calling the plays and super-freshman Dorial Green-Beckham at receiver.
Saturday: vs. SE Louisiana, 7
11. Mississippi State
Defensively the Bulldogs are talented, especially in the back four. Corner Johnthan Banks is as good as his first name is funky.
Saturday: vs. Jackson State, 7 (FSS)
The offseason has been filled with talks of big hopes and a new-found confidence. A lot of that is the spirirt of second-year coach James Franklin and the speed of running back Zac Stacy, who had 1,299 yards from scrimmage last year.
Thursday: vs. South Carolina, 7 (ESPN)
13. Ole Miss
New Rebels coach Hugh Freeze -- who interviewed at UTC four years ago -- is 42 years old and was coaching football and girls' hoops at a Memphis high school eight years ago. Still, his enthusiasm and his mantra -- "Win the Day" -- has sparked some hope in Oxford. It has not cleared the quarterback question, though. Junior college transfer Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti. Freeze told reports he'll ride the hot hand -- "Sort of make it, take it," he said. Who says he's not ready to coach girls' basketball again?
Saturday: vs. Central Arkansas, 7
Well, Joker Phillips enters his swan song with a touch less fanfare than Chipper Jones. Cheer up, Cats fan, it's six weeks and two days from this morning until Midnight Madness on Friday, Oct. 12, in Rupp Arena.
Sunday: at Louisville, 3:30 (ESPN)
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...