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Dr. Saturday

The inaugural preseason Doc 25

If you read Dr. Saturday religiously, which you should, you know that we're absolutely against preseason polls. Not going to go into the whole thing, but let's just say we'd like to see teams judged on what they do on the field this year rather than last year's results and a depth chart.

That's why we've come up with a new feature called the Doc 25. It's a list of 25 teams — in no particular order — that is based on interest, not on skill or even results. Not all of the best teams made this list - heck, there are some teams that won three games on here - but each of these teams have an interesting storyline that makes it intriguing to watch as the college football season begins.

Nick Saban's team is always interesting because its defense and ability to recruit. But with so many players missing from a year ago and a tough schedule, can it repeat and add to Saban's ever-growing legend?
Penn State
The fans are rallying around Penn State despite NCAA sanctions that have stripped the program of postseason opportunities and its best offensive players. Bill O'Brien has proven himself to be a great motivator, but can he keep the season from going south on the field?
Fresh off NCAA sanctions that kept the school out of the postseason for two years, the Trojans somehow maintained their roster and recruiting to be a national championship favorite. But how will it handle the pressure considering most of these players have never been through it before?
Many people don't think Missouri is good enough to play in the SEC, but the Tigers' wide-open style is unique to the conference and could provide a slight edge. If the Tigers beat Georgia on Sept. 8, they could quickly become the favorite to win the SEC East.
West Virginia
Welcome back to the Big 12 Dana Holgorsen, it's missed you. The Mountaineers' offense should fit in nicely in the Big 12 and since Holgorsen helped build the offense for a couple of the other programs in the conference, he might have the advantage on defense, too. Can you say Big 12 champ?
The faces on the field are familiar and the return of running back Knile Davis is a big boost to the offense, but can this team be an SEC and national championship contender without Bobby Petrino calling the shots?
Charlie Weis is back in the college game, but his "decided schematic advantage" is a thing of the past. Weis spent at least a couple practices teaching his team how to celebrate after a win, will it actually get to put that hard work into action more than three times this season?
The Horned Frogs were supposed to be celebrating their foray into major college football and instead spent the offseason clearing the program of drug dealers and drug abusers — except one, quarterback Casey Pachall.
Florida State
OK Florida State, you've suckered us all back in to believing that you're going to live up to expectations. But with such a weak schedule, even one slip up will ruin the Seminoles season.
Who is this team pretending to be Texas the past couple years? After nine consecutive double-digit win seasons, the Longhorns are 13-12 in the past two years. Is Mack Brown losing his touch? Well, if he is, he might be out of work after this year.
Colorado State
Jim McElwain was hired because he has two national titles and coached a Heisman Trophy winner and a Heisman finalists as the offensive coordinator at Alabama. But we're about to find out how much of that was his coaching and how much was recruiting, talent and Nick Saban.
San Diego State
San Diego State could be college football's most innovative team if it decides to follow through on coach Rocky Long's idea of not punting once his team crosses the 50-yard line. Fourth-and-20 from the 48, Rocky? Yeah, I think you can totally make it.
Brady Hoke took over Big Blue Nation and immediately erased any memory of Rich Rodriguez. But was last year a fluke? We'll know a lot after the first game against Alabama and whether quarterback Denard Robinson is really a Heisman contender.
A lot of people like LSU, but when Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off the team, AP voters were allowed to redo their ballots, which put USC in the top spot. The Tigers are more than just one guy and even if they are just one guy, they hope that guy is quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
Ohio State
Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes won't have a chance to play in the postseason this year, but they could still be the best team in the Big Ten. Think USC circa 2011 and then think how strong the Buckeyes will be in 2013.
Andrew Luck was this team. No shame in admitting that. Now, in the post-Luck era, the Cardinal has to reinvent itself and prove that it's more than just a three-year wonder.
Looking for this year's potential BCS buster? If the Bobcats, who won 10 games a year ago, can beat Penn State in the opener — and that's a very real possibility — then there's nothing but smooth sailing to an undefeated season. The only question is whether their schedule is strong enough to crawl into the top 12 of the BCS standings?
Boise State
This is Boise State's last season as a member on the nonautomatic qualifiers and it probably wants to go out with a bang. But can the Broncos do that without Kellen Moore and Doug Martin? We'll find out exactly what the Broncos are about against Michigan State in the season opener, but it could easily be a dreaded rebuilding year.
Washington State
Mike Leach is back and college football is a better place because of it. But how rusty will he be after being away from the game for so long? His air raid-style offense should be an interesting change of pace for the Pac-12 (ala Oregon) and could get the Cougars their first winning season since 2003.
The uniforms are usually what make the Ducks interesting every year (oh, and those running backs), but this season it's also the debut of redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota. He beat out the favorite Brian Bennett and now all eyes are on him to bring the Ducks back to the Rose Bowl. No pressure.
There were few more disappointing teams a year ago than Nebraska. It came into its first year of the Big Ten as the favorite to win it all and lost to Northwestern (no offense Wildcats) among others. Is this the year they put it all together? Not if Michigan and Michigan State have anything to say about it.
Remember when Oklahoma was preseason No. 1? Those were the days. But what will we get out of Bob Stoops' mixed bag of Sooners this year? Is Landry Jones the Heisman contender we all thought he was or will Blake Bell have to come in and bowl over the offense? Is receiver Justin Brown the savior from Penn State? This team has an under-the-radar chance of slipping into the national title game if it goes undefeated, which will be no small feat.
A lot of people wanted coach Derek Dooley fired after the season-ending loss to Kentucky. He wasn't and that makes him hot seat candidate No. 1 entering this season. It doesn't help that he dismissed his top receiver a week before the season started, either. I think a lot of people will be surprised if Dooley is still wearing orange pants in 2013.
If the Badgers can stop its Heisman Trophy contenders from getting jumped, it might have a chance to have a pretty special season. While running back Montee Ball is a key cog, it will be interesting to see if Maryland quarterback transfer Danny O'Brien can rebound from a pretty terrible 2011 with the Terrapins.
Texas A&M
Texas A&M wanted out of Texas' shadow and now they finally have it. Now what? Can new coach Kevin Sumlin take the offense that made him successful at Houston and make the Aggies an SEC powerhouse? Probably not this year. In fact, it might be a trainwreck and we all know it's hard to take your eyes off a trainwreck.

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