Preview 2012- The 40 Key Questions No. 31-40
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Posted Aug 10, 2012

The biggest questions and answers you need before the season starts.

Preview 2012

Key Questions - No. 31 to 40

By Richard Cirminiello & Pete Fiutak

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The 40 Key Questions of 2012 

No. 1 to 10 | No. 11 to 20 | No. 21 to 30

Key Questions 2011 | 2010

Can anyone stop the SEC from winning a seventh straight National Championship? What will Urban Meyer's first season at Ohio State look like? Is Zach Mettenberger the missing piece of the puzzle in Bator Rouge? Can Lane Kiffin deliver a national championship? As always, there is no shortage of riveting questions, storylines, and sub plots on the minds of college football fans as the 2012 season rapidly approaches.
All August long, CFN and will get you ready for the season with these great features. But that's not all. Check CFN's 2012 preview page for even more coverage.
Aug. 1: Top coaches on the hot seat
Aug. 3: Meet the new coaches
Aug. 6: Teams that might surprise us
Aug. 8: Teams that might disappoint us
Aug. 10: Teams that could ruin your season
Aug. 13: Biggest unanswered questions
Aug. 15: Great programs heading nowhere
Aug. 17: Unknown programs on the rise
Aug. 20: Top Heisman Trophy candidates
Aug. 22: Best games of the regular season
Aug. 24: Toughest stadiums to play in
Aug. 27: Teams most likely to play in BCS
Aug. 29: Title game match-ups we'd love

The following 40 head-scratchers will define the upcoming campaign and be fodder for spirited debates right up until the opening kickoff at the end of the month … and possibly well beyond.

40. Can Skip Holtz get South Florida back on track?

Rich: At this time last year, the Bulls were an up-and-comer on the college football scene. And then it skidded to a 5-7 finish. Holtz has a senior quarterback, B.J. Daniels, and will never again have a clearer path to a BCS bowl game than he does in 2012.

Fiu: Absolutely. USF has the right schedule and the right mix to rise up above the Big East fray to get to the BCS. The defense should be dominant while the O should be fantastic with eight starters returning. If B.j. Daniels is steady, the Bulls will turn the corner.

39. Which true freshmen won't play like rookies?

Rich: At least 500 true freshmen will avoid a redshirt year, but only a select few will be true instant impact players. QB Wes Lunt (Oklahoma State), RB T.J. Yeldon (Alabama), RB Keith Marshall (Georgia), WR Trey Metoyer (Oklahoma), WR Deontay Greenberry (Houston), WR Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri), WR Stefon Diggs (Maryland), OL John Theus (Georgia), DT Ellis McCarthy (UCLA), DL Arik Armstead (Oregon), CB Tracy Howard (Miami) are just a few of the teens who'll push for serious playing time.

Fiu: Oklahoma's Troy Metoyer and Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham are going to take the college football world by storm. Metoyer has been dominant since first setting foot on campus and should be another Ryan Broyles, only with more NFL upside, as Landry Jones' top target. I was just at Missouri at the first practice. Green-Beckham is an Andre Johnson clone with a No. 1 pro body and the look of a true superstar.

Expect freshman Dorial Green-Beckham to play huge for Missouri this season. (Erin Hartigan/Scout)

38. Will TCU look like it belongs in the Big 12?

Rich: There's no doubt that the Horned Frogs have Big 12 chops, but they sure haven't helped with the transition this offseason. Three TCU players, including all-star LB Tanner Brock, got booted from the team on drug-related charges, RB Ed Wesley entered the NFL's supplemental draft and QB Casey Pachall recently admitted he failed a drug test in February.

Fiu: Absolutely, but it won't matter. the Big 12 is so loaded from one to nine - sorry, Kansas - that it wouldn't be shocking if Iowa State finished in the top three or No. 9, or if West Virginia won the league or ended up among the bottom four. TCU will look like it belongs and will be a tough out week after week, but that still might mean a bottom half finish.

37. Which is the most anticipated non-conference game of the year?

Rich: The 2012 season will get off to a wicked start, with the Sept. 1 clash of powerhouse programs between Alabama and Michigan in Arlington, Tex. Notre Dame versus half of its schedule, especially a rare date with Oklahoma on Oct. 27, ought to be very interesting. And the late November rivalry games, such as Florida at Florida State and South Carolina at Clemson, are always steeped in passion and tradition.

Fiu: Considering I don't think Michigan has a prayer of beating Alabama, I'm going with the game that isn't all that anticipated but will matter in a huge way as the season goes on: Boise State at Michigan State. The Broncos might have lost Kellen Moore, but they won a Fiesta Bowl with Jared Zabransky and Ryan Dinwiddie led the way to huge things; they'll get good quarterback production. The D has to replace a ton of talent, but it's going  to be more athletic and even faster. If they can pull off the road upset it'll be smooth sailing until the regular-season ender at Nevada. If the Spartans can win and look good doing it, look out. MSU is my key sleeper to keep an eye on.

36. How about among the conference games?

Here we go, by conference, so start circling the calendars:
Rich: ACC: Clemson at Florida State (Sept. 22) and Virginia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 20).

Big 12: Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 13), Oklahoma at West Virginia (Nov. 17) and West Virginia at Texas (Oct. 6).

Big Ten: Ohio State at Michigan State (Sept. 29), Ohio State at Wisconsin (Nov. 17), Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 24), Michigan State at Wisconsin (Oct. 27) and Michigan State at Michigan (Oct. 20).

Pac-12: USC at Stanford (Sept. 15), USC at Washington (Oct. 13), Oregon at USC (Nov. 3), Washington at Oregon (Oct. 6) and Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 17).

SEC: LSU at Florida (Oct. 6), South Carolina at Florida (Oct. 20), Florida vs. Georgia (Oct. 27), Georgia at South Carolina (Oct. 6), Georgia at Auburn (Nov. 10), South Carolina at LSU (Oct. 13), Arkansas at South Carolina (Nov. 10), Alabama at Arkansas (Sept. 15), Alabama at LSU (Nov. 3), Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 24), Arkansas at Auburn (Oct. 6), LSU at Arkansas (Nov. 23) and LSU at Auburn (Sept. 22)

Fiu: Alabama vs. LSU on November 3rd. That's the national championship and it might turn out to be the only game this year that actually matters. A close second will be Oregon at USC on November 3rd. Third is Michigan State at Michigan on October 20th for the Legends title.

35. Is Louisville ready for the next step?

Rich: The Cardinals earned a tie for the Big East title in 2011 in just the second season for head coach Charlie Strong, but it wasn't enough to qualify for the league's automatic bid to the Orange Bowl. This season, the once-green Cardinals are a year older, and a lot closer to a coveted BCS bowl berth, especially now that West Virginia has departed.

Fiu: Louisville might be the trendy hot team from the Big East, but it's going to be a fight to get to the BCS with road games at Pitt and Rutgers. However, with four home games in five dates over the second half of the season, the slate is set up nicely. Flip a coin between the Cardinals, Rutgers and USF for the title, but that UofL defense will be phenomenal and Teddy Bridgewater will be one of college football's biggest stars going into 2013.

34. How much weight can Kansas State's Collin Klein's shoulders withstand?

Rich: He's not the best quarterback in the country. However, he might be the most valuable. Klein is a game-changer as a runner, the kind of clutch athlete who'll put a team on his back if needed. If No. 7 is in the huddle, the Wildcats are never out of a game.
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Fiu: He had better be ready for all of it. Arkansas spent a month preparing to stop him in the Cotton Bowl and the KSU offense didn't go anywhere. He appears to have stepped up his passing game this offseason, but his game will be mostly revolving around running the ball and working the attack like Bill Snyder likes it. He's not the best quarterback in college football, but there might not be a more valuable player going into this season. If he goes down, Kansas State might finish ninth in the Big 12.

33. How close is Andrew Maxwell from being ready to lead the Michigan State offense?
Rich: Why is Maxwell so important in East Lansing? Because if the Spartans can survive the post-Kirk Cousins era behind center, there's enough talent elsewhere to win a Big Ten championship. The D is littered with stars, and RB Le'Veon Bell is poised to become a household name.

Fiu: He'll be more than fine, but the bigger question mark will be the receiving corps that has to replace everyone of note. Fortunately for MSU the defense will be the best in the Big Ten and the running game will be dominant, so the pressure won't be there for Maxwell to carry the offense. All he has to do is keep the interceptions to a minimum and hit a few key third down throws. He can do that.

32. Will Missouri and Texas A&M regret leaving the Big 12 for the SEC?

Rich: There were myriad reasons why the Tigers and Aggies changed conference homes, but competing in SEC football was a primary one. While the Big 12 was certainly talented, the new digs is a different weight class. And don't forget that neither Mizzou nor A&M was dominating its old league, combining for exactly one conference crown since the Big 12 was formed in 1996.
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Fiu: No, because it's not like either one was going to win the Big 12 title. I don't think either one has a shot of winning the SEC championship, but at least the numbers make it easier to try to win a seven-team division rather than a ten-team round-robin league. The key will be their respective offenses. The SEC attacks will be better this season, but both Mizzou and A&M have the high-octane ability to beat anyone in the conference on the right day.

31. Who'll be this year's most dominant defensive player?

Rich: While the Heisman will likely go to either a quarterback or a running back for the 15th straight year, there are plenty of ace defenders worthy of being called the game's most outstanding player. Among the candidates will be Purdue DT Kawann Short, NC State CB David Amerson, Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o, LSU DE Sam Montgomery and South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.

Fiu: While they won't put up phenomenal stats for a defensive tackle like Ndamakong Suh came up with during his time at Nebraska, the two most dominant defensive players in college football will be two tackles who'll make lots and lots of money in in the near future. If Utah's Star Lotulelei isn't the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, someone will be ecstatic to take him somewhere in the top five. Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins is an NFL prototype who'll come up with a special season as the anchor and star of a terrific Buckeye defensive front.

The 40 Key Questions of 2012 

No. 1 to 10 | No. 11 to 20 | No. 21 to 30