Behind The Scoreboard

Football talk year-round

There’s an old saying in the NFL “that football never sleeps.” Those are true words, even on the collegiate level, too.

And with that being said, we are three months away from the 2017 college football season opener.

So, which conference will be the strongest in the new campaign? As of now, it’s a battle between the SEC versus ACC.

The SEC has a long, rich history of owning the college football landscape and proudly stakes its claim as the top conference in the country.

Nick Saban’s dynasty, the Alabama Crimson Tide, has definitely played a major role. And other programs, like LSU, Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Mississippi State, have all tasted their fair share of success over the last 20 years, too.

But recently, we have noticed the power has begun to shift a little. Florida State helped put the ACC on the map with the 2013 national championship win. Clemson has been an annual contender since coach Dabo Swinney took over, and finally claimed the ultimate prize last season.

Louisville, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Miami have been moving in the right direction as well and could break through sooner rather than later.

The case for SEC is that it finished the 2016 outing with five teams ranked in the Top 25 of the college football rankings. Alabama raced to the top of the group – advancing to the title game once again.

But, there’s a feeling now that the Crimson Tide could take a minor step back this season. The team had so many key losses on defense. But don’t fret – Saban almost always silences the doubters and finds ways to produce a championship team. Alabama may not dominate the FBS as we have seen in the past, but the Tide still stands a chance as a top-five program.

It’s likely Auburn can still be a serious SEC contender. The team held the 14th spot from last year’s final rankings. The Tigers have two capable quarterbacks, Sean White and Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham. But it’s the raw outside weapons that present a reason for concern. Hopefully, new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey (Arizona State) can help change that. Star running back Kamryn Pettway will return after a thrilling 2016. Pettway rushed for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns. That should help relieve some of the pressure in the passing game.

No debate here, two programs, Florida State and Clemson, have been the top class of the ACC for the last five seasons or so. They are the reason why the conference is now regarded as one of the best in the FBS.

Yes, Swinney has his work cut out for him after coming off the memorable national title run. Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams and a few other talented players that were responsible for the Tigers’ recent success have moved on to greater endeavors.  Clemson is loaded with young talent and could reach the CFP once again.

Florida State enters the new season with big expectations. Jimbo Fisher and crew have been stocked with talent over the last few seasons, but some bad breaks had altered their plans. With Deondre Francois entering his second season and defensive player Derwin James, everything is in place for FSU. Could the Seminoles be the number one squad entering 2017? We will have to wait and see if Florida can turn the hype into wins on the field.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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