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100 reasons to be excited for 2015 college football season (Nos. 25-1)

The college football season is less than 100 days away. To celebrate, here are 100 reasons to get excited.

Our long national nightmare is nearly over. Tuesday marked 100 days until the 2015 college football season kicks off. In just 97 more revolutions of the Earth, 16 games will kick off the FBS season, beginning a glorious stretch through January of nearly constant football.

To celebrate the impending season,’s college football staff has assembled 100 reasons to get excited. Click on the following links for reasons 100-76, 75-51 and 50-26, and read below for the top 25 reasons.

25. Missouri’s overlooked quest for a third straight SEC East title

The SEC East gets plenty of talk despite being the clearly inferior division of its conference. Nick Chubb is a serious Heisman candidate. Jim McElwain could revive Florida’s anemic offense. Tennessee’s talented youth seems ready to lift the Volunteers into contention. And then, there’s Missouri, in relative anonymity once again, quietly preparing to pursue its third consecutive division crown. The Tigers’ schedule is generous, Russell Hansbrough can pace the offense on the ground, and while Maty Mauk didn’t thrive last season, he’s one of the few returning quarterbacks in the SEC. Don’t make the mistake of sleeping on Missouri again. — Colin Becht

24. Will Muschamp’s attempts to fix Auburn's defense

After ACL tear, Auburn's Carl Lawson set to make up for lost time in 2015

One of the biggest hires of the off-season might be enough to get Auburn into playoff contention. Muschamp’s arrival as the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator was a godsend for a defense that ranked ninth or worse in the SEC in every major defensive category last season. Now that unit brings back six starters in addition to defensive end Carl Lawson, who missed 2014 with a torn ACL. If Muschamp can build a defense like anything he had at Florida, the SEC West had better watch out. — Zac Ellis

23. Actually picking “One True Champion” in the Big 12

The task of living up to its slogan and selecting “One True Champion” proved too difficult for the Big 12 last season despite Baylor’s head-to-head win over TCU. It was a decision, or rather indecision, that proved hilarious to everyone outside of Waco and Fort Worth and one that may have cost the conference a spot in the inaugural playoff. Thankfully the Big 12 fixed its readily apparent flaw this off-season and will now use sensible tiebreaking rules (though here’s hoping this tiny loophole comes into play).

22. Alabama’s quarterback competition

The Crimson Tide went into spring practice without a starting quarterback. They also ended spring practice without a starter. How that situation unfolds this fall could determine Alabama’s season. Nick Saban’s roster returns just two starters from an offense that finished second in the SEC in scoring (36.9 points per game) last year. Can heralded Florida State transfer Jake Coker finally take the reins, or will Saban look to a freshman like David Cornwell to navigate the SEC West? — ZE

21. The random bowl game that inevitably turns out to be awesome

Maybe it’s a crazy comeback and a heartbreaking loss (we’re looking at you, Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl) or perhaps a sudden descent into a brawl (enjoy those suspensions, BYU players). When you’re questioning why there are so many bowl games, just remember these four words: LaQuan McGowan, tight end. — Lindsay Schnell

20. Frank Beamer’s last ride?

In his 28 seasons as Virginia Tech’s head coach, Beamer has led the Hokies to 231 wins, 22 consecutive bowls, seven conference titles and an appearance in the national championship game. Yet as Virginia Tech has dipped in recent years—it has not won more than eight games since 2011—some have wondered whether the program may consider moving on from its iconic coach. With 16 starters returning, including defensive standouts Kendall Fuller and Dadi Nicolas, the Hokies are primed to compete for the top spot in the ACC Coastal. Will Beamer be around in 2016 if Virginia Tech falls short of expectations? — Chris Johnson

Putting with Steve Spurrier: South Carolina's coach talks about 2015

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19. Steve Spurrier’s last ride?

South Carolina’s 7-6 record last season was its worst since 2009. The program needed a 24-21 win over Miami in the Independence Bowl to avoid Spurrier’s first losing season as a head coach. A turnaround may not come quickly, either; the Gamecocks are breaking in a new starting quarterback and working to fix a terrible defense. Can the 70-year-old Spurrier stomach another rebuilding job? — ZE

18. How ridiculously competitive the Pac-12 South will be

USC is already being talked about as a potential playoff participant, UCLA has ruled Southern California lately (both the territory and the cross-town rival), Arizona State has proven it can compete each season, Utah seems to have returned to its pre-Pac-12 caliber of play and defending division champ Arizona brings back plenty of production. Good luck picking a division winner. — LS

17. High-profile nonconference games

The focus will (deservedly) be on Oregon's Week 2 trip to visit Michigan State, but a potential playoff-altering upset looms a week earlier. TCU is a national title favorite with a Heisman candidate quarterback in Trevone Boykin, but its first game of the season is a road visit to a progressively improving Minnesota team. The Horned Frogs should be put on notice. Other notable nonconference options include Chris Petersen's return to Boise (Washington at Boise State), Charlie Strong’s visit to his old employers (Texas at Notre Dame), and Alabama and Wisconsin battling at JerryWorld. — Gabriel Baumgaertner

16. Charlie Strong’s second act

Charlie Strong ready for next step in rebirth at Texas; Punt, Pass & Pork

The Texas coach laid a clear foundation for the type of program he intends to run last year, even if the groundwork of that foundation was sometimes costly to short-term success. By the end of the season, the positive signs of those early steps were beginning to take hold, at least on defense, where the Longhorns ranked sixth in yards allowed per play. But the offense needs serious retooling after hitting rock bottom in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl. The defense faces key questions too, like who will replace Malcom Brown, Jordan Hicks and Quandre Diggs? Strong has his work cut out for him, and Texas fans aren’t likely to be patient for a lengthy rebuild. — CB

15. Baylor’s attempts to maintain consistency under center

Baylor has ranked no worse than fourth in points per game every season since 2011. One common thread during that span? Great quarterback play. From Robert Griffin III to Nick Florence to Bryce Petty, the Bears have plugged in new signal callers without losing a step on offense. Whether Baylor’s passers have thrived because of the system in which they operate or their individual talent, it would be unwise to expect much of a drop-off at the position this fall. Enter Seth Russell. — CJ

14. Les Miles talking

This is one of the few items that is a reason to get excited for every college football season. Let's hope Miles ascribes his usually fawning praises to running back Leonard Fournette, the New Orleans-bred bulldozer who could be a Heisman candidate this season. — GB


13. Rivalry Week

It's unfair to boil it down to just one rivalry game, but the college football world anticipates Jim Harbaugh vs. Urban Meyer. If that’s not enough, enjoy any of UCLA-USC, Clemson-South Carolina or the Iron Bowl at some point in the day. Don't you get giddy even looking at the listings? — GB

12. Nick Chubb picking up where Todd Gurley left off

Georgia lost a first-round pick from last year’s roster in running back Todd Gurley, and yet the best running back in the country might still reside in Athens. Chubb stepped in admirably for Gurley during last season’s injury and suspension and reeled off 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those numbers should balloon this fall with Chubb as the Bulldogs’ full-time back. He might even run all the way to the Heisman ceremony in New York. — ZE

11. Vernon Adams (maybe) takes on the FBS

Overlooked and undercovered coming out of high school, Adams put up staggering numbers at FCS-level Eastern Washington, passing for 10,548 yards and accounting for 121 total touchdowns in 37 games. He’s deadly in and out of the pocket, lauded for his ability to escape and extend plays. Adams ahs already proven he can hang in the Pac-12 with a win over Oregon State and a close loss at Washington. Now he just has to prove he can win the Ducks’ starting job over Jeff Lockie. — LS

10. Trevone Boykin and TCU taking the next step

Boykin threw for 3,901 yards and accumulated 41 total touchdowns last year for a 12-win team that was eminently playoff-worthy. Now he’s back at TCU as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner, and the offense he ran lost just one starter from 2014. No wonder hope floats stratospherically high with the Horned Frogs, especially when the biggest threat to a Big 12 title, Baylor, has to come through Fort Worth in the regular season finale. At issue is a defense down six starters from 2015, but defensive ends like James McFarland and Terrell Lathan (a combined 22 tackles for loss last year) can ease some worried minds. — Brian Hamilton

9. Cardale Jones on Twitter

Before he was thrust into the national spotlight last season, Jones was best known for an ill-advised tweet expressing his feelings about classes and football. Since leading the Buckeyes to the national championship in January, however, the attention Jones has drawn for his social media presence has shifted markedly towards the positive. That’s not to say he hasn’t riled some Twitter users. Joakim Noah fans and Akron supporters probably took issue with Jones’s antics this spring. — CJ

8. Jim Harbaugh on Twitter

Surrounded by hype, Jim Harbaugh motivated by reality at Michigan

While Michigan fans cheered Harbaugh’s arrival in Ann Arbor, the rest of the world applauded his return to social media. Since taking over the Wolverines, Harbaugh has used Twitter to make a Deflategate joke, plug Cracker Barrel, troll coaches concerned with satellite camps and defend “American Sniper.” He also congratulated his friend Judge Judy on a contract extension. More Harbaugh on Twitter is a great thing for college football. — ZE

7. Florida State’s life after Jameis Winston

His name is Everett Golson. The Seminoles had a quarterback competition in spring camp, but barring a meltdown the job now belongs to the high-profile Notre Dame transfer. Top receiving targets Nick O'Leary and Rashad Greene are gone, but the 'Noles have rarely struggled to rebuild their receiving unit. Golson's top targets should include Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane. In short, they'll be fine. — GB

6. Championship Saturday

If we’re being honest, the first weekend in December of 2014 was a raging anticlimax. Florida State again teetered on the brink against Georgia Tech, but Big Ten and SEC title games were obliterations and the Big 12 finales were a bit ho-hum. So let’s assume 2015 has to be better. We now know from Ohio State embarrassing Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship that these last games can hold a tremendous amount of sway with the playoff selection committee. That’s another reason for fans of the teams playing on Championship Saturday to wring several layers of skin off their hands. As if they needed any more reasons. — BH

5. Rivals battling for recruits

While many fans will be locked into the matchups on tap each Saturday, coaches will be waging some of their most important battles off the field. Some programs have already secured commitments from 10 or more players in the class of 2016, while others have gotten off to slower starts. Either way, the race to the finish promises to be suspenseful, as programs add or lose key prospects in the lead up to National Signing Day. — CJ

4. #Pac12AfterDark

Last year offered us Cal beating Washington State 60-59 (the Cougars missed a game-winning 19-yard field goal), Arizona knocking off the Bears on a Hail Mary and Arizona State beating USC a similar desperate heave. It seemed that as much of the rest of the country went to bed, the Pac-12 turned into a couple of pre-teens playing Madden or an old-fashioned game of NFL Blitz where both players chose "Da Bomb" on every play. The Pac-12's own website devoted an article to the “best moments of #Pac12AfterDark.” If you don't already know, then my suggestion is to grab an energy drink late Saturday night and witness. If you're lucky, one team might score 36 points in the fourth quarter. — GB

3. Freaking out over playoff rankings

O.K., I think we can all admit to getting a little carried away with the weekly rankings last season. But we learned our lesson. Whomever the selection committee has in its first top four, or really every top four before the final rankings, just doesn’t matter that much. Remember when Auburn and Ole Miss were top four? Exactly. We’re going to stay relaxed this year and not accuse Jeff Long of a vendetta against our teams. Toooooootally calm…

2. College Gameday

You know the drill by now: Sleep-deprived college students wielding extravagant signs, entertaining guests to pick the day’s best games and the likelihood that Lee Corso will rouse or infuriate the live crowd depending on which mascot head he slips on are all part of the fun. A new source of intrigue this year comes as Rece Davis replaces Chris Fowler as host. — CJ

1. Year 2 of the playoff

It’s not new anymore, but the College Football Playoff is still the most exciting thing in the sport. It has become our new lens through which we evaluate every result and is the source of endless speculation. Plus, now that it has existed for a year, we know a little more about how the playoff and its rankings work. For example, we know one early loss doesn’t necessarily eliminate anyone and that being undefeated doesn’t automatically make one team better than another with a loss. Those bits of wisdom are still not going to stop us from overreacting to results this year, but that’s a big part of the fun anyway. — CB