Why you should root for pretty much every college football team in 2016 by SB Nation CFB blogs

Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The ACC (and ACC friend Notre Dame)

Boston College

"Dawg, we won zero ACC games last year in football or basketball. If that doesn't garner us some sympathy points, I don't know what will. Maybe the fact that fans and players are traveling 2,986 miles in search of the school's first ACC football win in two years in a couple of weeks?

"Also, whether you think he's a good coach or not, Addazio is certainly an interesting personality. A good season this year ensures his wacky Vine antics and catchphrases stick around in the ACC for a few more years."

-BC Interruption


"Deshaun Watson. The best player in college football has one more year in Death Valley, and he's aiming for a national title. Oh, and he returns with pretty much the entire offense, plus gaining a first-round WR in Mike Williams. Plus our coach is named Dabo. And he's asked everyone to bring their own guts. Should be pretty fun."

-Brian_Goodison, Shakin’ The Southland


"People should pull for Duke football this year because this program has risen from being a laughingstock to being a very competitive team.

"But that’s not the only reason. It’s also because Coach David Cutcliffe has built his program on character, and that’s not just rhetoric. When you have a coach who can truly mold men, it’s worthy of admiration.

"Can they keep it going? We think so. It won’t be Alabama or anything, but Duke is annually competitive now, and that’s a near miracle."

-JD King, Duke Basketball Report

Florida State

"Say what you will about the internet presence of the Noles; the football team is flat-out exciting. Dalvin Cook is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. Derwin James is as terrifying of a defensive player as you’ll see this year. Our quarterback’s name is Francois, which is sure to bring international support as well as entertaining pronunciation attempts domestically. Jimbo Fisher regrew his freaking hair. What could be more inspirational than that?

"FSU plays an entertaining schedule right from the jump, so hop on the bandwagon and talk about the Noles with us. We won’t even require you to have a Twitter handle.

-DK from VA, Tomahawk Nation

Georgia Tech

"A former underdog-made-champion, fallen from grace. Georgia Tech won an Orange Bowl and then missed a bowl altogether, all in an 11-month span. 2016 is the Yellow Jackets' shot at redemption, and who doesn't love a good redemption story?"

-From The Rumble Seat


"Three quarterbacks in the history of college football have thrown and rushed for more than 200 yards in a bowl game: Vince Young, Johnny Manziel and Lamar Jackson. Jackson is the only one of that trio to do it as a true freshman.

"There will be plenty of star power in college football in 2016, but Jackson is the star you haven't seen enough of. You'll have two great opportunities in the first month to change that, as Louisville hosts Florida State on Sept. 17 and travels to Clemson on Oct. 1."

-Mike Rutherford, Card Chronicle


"The Hurricanes have a new lease on life, and, dare I say it, hope for the first time in a while. Miami brought in alum and veteran Mark Richt to lead the U back to prominence. Returning a potential top-five draft pick at QB (Brad Kaaya), a very good WR (Stacy Coley) and a bunch of talented guys on both sides, Miami has a new direction, and a new hope.

"This is going to be a fun team to root for, or root against if you're a hater (it's okay, we welcome the haters). The U Part 3 starts in September."

-Cameron J. Underwood, State of the U

N.C. State

"The main reason, aside from your well-established appreciation for finely tuned mediocrity, is Jaylen Samuels. Samuels is not really a tight end or wide receiver or fullback or running back, but he can approximate them all pretty well.

"That makes him one of the more unique players in the country, and last year he scored 16 touchdowns on 121 touches. With his role likely to increase, NC State should produce consistent entertainment as it stumbles through a rigorous schedule."

-Steven Muma, Backing The Pack

North Carolina

"The Tar Heels were written off after dropping their season opener to South Carolina in 2015 before rolling through the ACC to an 11-win season. UNC was only a botched offsides call away from giving Clemson all it could handle in the ACC Championship. Carolina is a program on the rise under Larry Fedora and Gene Chizik, looking to prove last year wasn't a fluke.

"Senior Ryan Switzer will go for the NCAA record for punts returned for touchdowns, and Elijah Hood will look to cement himself as one of the nation's best running backs. Things are looking up in Chapel Hill, so jump on the bandwagon now."

-Tanya Bondurant, Tar Heel Blog

Notre Dame

"We should never pretend college football fans should or would ever cheer for Notre Dame. It would seem ridiculous to believe so — at least publicly.

"Deep down in the subconscious of fans’ minds, they secretly want the Irish to win. (Way, way down). After all, there is no better team to hate, and if Notre Dame is winning, there is no sweeter night than when your team beats Notre Dame. We hate you too."

-Joshua Vowles, One Foot Down


"The sexy answer is that college football fans should root for the team because of star running back James Conner, who returns after an MCL injury and a bout with cancer.

"While that's true, there's more to this Pitt team. The Panthers return the ACC's Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year (Qadree Ollison and Jordan Whitehead, respectively), a stacked offensive line, and starting quarterback Nathan Peterman. Incoming freshmen, such as top recruit Damar Hamlin, will help improve a questionable defense. With a manageable schedule, Pitt seems poised to contend for a division title."

-Cardiac Hill


"Look, we get that you're not excited by the idea of Syracuse football. But let me introduce you to Dino Babers, whose offenses become world-beaters within two years of any place he's taken over as head coach. Get on the bandwagon now."

-Sean Keeley, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician


"Virginia has had a rough recent history, making only three bowl games over the past 11 years. But those plucky Cavaliers have brought in some outside help by hiring Bronco Mendenhall. During that same period, Mendenhall never missed a bowl game at BYU.

"This isn't just the same old "guys in ties, girls in pearls’ Virginia team of your grandpa's days. Virginia was picked last in the ACC's Coastal (again), so you should like this team because rooting for anyone else in the ACC might result in a tougher opponent in your bowl game."

-Brian J. Leung, Streaking The Lawn

Virginia Tech

"Why not root for a new era? It's been 30 years since there was a new coach in Blacksburg, and Justin Fuente looks to take the program to new heights. This team has so many intriguing story lines. A QB battle, an attacking defense that is so much fun to watch, and the Battle at Bristol.

"Once you add in the fact that we aren't Miami, there's no better team to root for."

-Gobbler Country

Wake Forest

"Wake Forest is in year three of the Dave Clawson Era, and Clawson has a rich history of building programs. The roster consists of many young and talented players at all positions (especially receiver) who have the chance to elevate this program back to its first bowl since 2011. The players have bought in, believe Wake can be a better program, and are trying to build a legacy at the school."

-Robert Reinhard, Blogger So Dear

The Big 12


"Many will root against Baylor, given recent awful events.

"Our hope is that what remains — after firing the head coach, athletic director and president/chancellor — is a team people can root for. If people feel nothing can make up for what has happened, I’m not here to change their minds in 100 words."

-Kendall Kaut, Our Daily Bears

Iowa State

"Iowa State has reached nine wins twice (1906, 2000) since the team's conception in 1892 and has a record of 3-9 all-time in bowl games (!!). Yet, despite over a century of mediocre-at-best results, ISU ranked 34th in average attendance per game (56,519) in 2015. Cyclone fans are loyal, patient and love to party.

"If new head coach Matt Campbell can be the guy to finally turn around a program with a rich tradition of losing, or even help ISU win a natty, Ames will 100 percent burn to the ground during the celebration. Grab a beer and join us!"

-Kevin Fitzpatrick, Wide Right & Natty Lite


"Fans should root for Kansas because everyone loves to root for an underdog, and you can't be any more of an underdog than the Jayhawks.

"Every week could have a brand new set of storylines, as basically every spot is up for grabs (three different players could be the starting QB). It's no fun kicking someone while they're down, so even people who hate Kansas should hope they turn it around, to maximize their enjoyment later."

-misterbrain, Rock Chalk Talk

Kansas State

"Look, you love Bill Snyder, unless you're Bo Pelini. Everyone does. And he's not getting any younger. He needs to win the big one finally.

"Furthermore, as any SEC fan will tell you, Kansas State is the only Big 12 school that actually plays football properly. In fact, they're going to try to win this year without even having any wide receivers on the roster. (Not really, but it will seem like it.)

"So root for K-State, and you too can learn to love crushing disappointment."

-Jon Morse, Bring on the Cats


"Root for Oklahoma because we play well in championship games.

"Root for Oklahoma because we've always had a reputation for running a clean program.

"Root for Oklahoma because everybody loves "Boomer Sooner," especially fans of our opponents.

"Root for Oklahoma because we are members of a prestigious conference that will stand the test of time.

"Root for Oklahoma because our average fan is well educated.

"Root for Oklahoma because you'll never have to watch our games on Fox Sports 1.

"Root for Oklahoma because you'll never have to worry about prematurely going gray or developing a habit of throwing your phone."

-Crimson & Cream Machine

Oklahoma State

"Oklahoma State returns the most experience in the Big 12 and has an All-America-caliber quarterback in Mason Rudolph. The Cowboys return WR James Washington, whom you could argue is the preseason front-runner for the Biletnikoff Award. The prodigal son has returned for the running game ... Barry J. Sanders will lead the Cowboys rushing attack. Also, OSU recently got some sweet new Nike uniforms.

"Great offense, highlight plays and flashy uniforms: what's not to like? If high-flying offense and questionable defense is your cup of tea, then Oklahoma State is the team you should be rooting for."

-Cade Webb, Cowboys Ride For Free


"In football, fun is watching 250-pound running backs run over defenders before running away from them. Texas has two of those. It's a passing attack that isn't afraid of throwing deep balls to an elite sprinter or an elite hurdler. Texas has both. Fun is hard-hitting linebackers and physical defensive backs. Plenty of those, too.

"This year, the ‘Horns may experience the pitfalls of youth, but head coach Charlie Strong's team will be entertaining, because what’s more exciting than seeing talented players grow before your very eyes? That’s the 2016 Longhorns."

-Wescott Eberts, Burnt Orange Nation

Texas Tech

"No team is less predictable than the Red Raiders. Led by prolific junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a struggling defense, every game will be a mystery novel. No one knows what will happen, and that's the maddening beauty of this football team."

- Viva The Matadors


"Due to the losses of Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson, it seems like people are overlooking TCU. That's alright with Gary Patterson, who prefers the underdog role. He's arguably the best defensive coach in the country, and he's equally capable of putting a chip on his team's shoulder. If you like teams who play as if they have something to prove, you should pull for TCU."

-Jamie Plunkett, Frogs O War

West Virginia

"If you're into fast-paced, hard-hitting football, look no further than West Virginia. The Mountaineers are returning nearly their entire offense, featuring what is possibly the strongest group of wide receivers in the Big 12, a senior quarterback with a chip on his shoulder, and a veteran offensive line anchored by who may be the nation's best center.

"Head coach Dana Holgorsen, noted Red Bull enthusiast, may be coaching for his job this season and arguably needs to with at least nine games, so that's also a fun storyline to follow."

-Michael Miller, The Smoking Musket

The Big Ten


"The Fighting Illini finally appear to be trending towards relevancy. After an abundance of mediocrity and scandal under Tim Beckman/Bill Cubit, the program captured headlines in March with the hire of former NFL coach Lovie Smith.

"The first season should feature a dominant defensive line led by potential first-round pick Dawuane Smoot. On offense, senior QB and NFL-hopeful Wes Lunt is poised to assert himself as one of the top passers in the Big Ten.

"Can Lovie lay the foundations during his first year in Champaign?"

-Jim Vainisi, The Champaign Room


"Do you enjoy lots of points, uppers, and emotional torment? Cool, here, try our very dumb and hilariously fun football team.

"Indiana football -- also known as CHAOS TEAM - competes only in a bizzaro sports world where things like S&P+ numbers, rankings, and football-playing ability don't matter. Indiana nearly beat Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State in 2015. Also blew a 25-point second half lead to Rutgers.

"2016 will be more of the same. Defense is still more theoretical concept than tangible thing. Offensive line is actually really good. Non-zero chance two quarterbacks will be on the field at the same time before the end of Week 2.

"The kick was good."

-Kyle Robbins, Crimson Quarry


"Remember how much everyone hated an undefeated Iowa last season? Jump on the bandwagon now and root for everyone to lose their minds and harbor hate towards Colin Cowherd for a second consecutive year.

"You should follow Iowa because they have the most electrifying defensive player in the country in Desmond King, the only player to ever win the Thorpe Award and return the following season. If he can house a few punts and kicks while still giving quarterbacks nightmares, he'll be a legitimate Heisman contender.

"And most importantly, Iowa is not Ohio State or Michigan or Penn State, so there's still a championship-caliber Big Ten team you can root for on Saturday without having to go to confession on Sunday."

-Benjamin Ross & GospelofMax, Black Heart Gold Pants


"Look, Maryland isn’t taking out Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State anytime soon. But things are actually looking kinda good in College Park. Sure, the Terps will be somewhere between "still pretty bad" and "not thaaat bad" in 2016, but there are reasons to think the program is turning around. DJ Durkin and his coaching staff bring an energy that Randy Edsall didn’t, the 2017 recruiting class looks promising, and the school is building a world-class training facility. Now’s the time to get in on the ground floor."

-Ryan Connors, Testudo Times


"You might as well watch every Michigan game, because the world is going to be discussing whatever Jim Harbaugh does afterwards.

"And during those games, you'll not only get to hear announcers try every Jake Butt pun imaginable, you'll see Jabrill Peppers play at least a dozen positions, a defensive line that is completely capable of dismantling QBs (including consensus No. 1 2016 recruit Rashan Gary), and Harbaugh turning a QB you've never heard of into the next elite NFL thrower. We don't even know who that QB is yet!"

-LGHail, Maize ‘n Brew

Michigan State

"Why should you root for Michigan State? Simple. We are the only team in the conference with a history of winning in the last half decade that is still (somehow) considered an underdog. With a defense that is healthy and incredibly dangerous and the deepest backfield in the country, Coach Mark Dantonio will have his guys ready.

"Home games against Ohio State and Michigan have MSU eyeing a return to the B1G Championship and the College Football Playoff. This is the year to yell #GoGreen."

-Dom Garrett, The Only Colors


"Why should you root for the Golden Gophers? Well, besides having the best mascot in all of college football, the Gophers are a team flying under the radar. Now is your chance to jump on the bandwagon before they take advantage of a much easier schedule en route to being the surprise team in the Big Ten West. Playing Rutgers and Maryland instead of the East’s powerhouses could very easily lead to a nine-win season."

-The Daily Gopher


"Fans should cheer for Nebraska because we're everything that's good about college football. We follow all the rules, graduation rates are high, and we don’t pay players under the table like those teams in the South.

"Mostly you should root for the Huskers because if we have another losing season, the state will be set on fire and everyone will leave and move to other states. Do you want a million or so Nebraska fans in your state telling you how to run things? Probably not, even though we could do a better job than you."

-Jon Johnston, Corn Nation


"Because Northwestern has The Franchise. In all seriousness, Anthony Walker is incredibly fun to watch in the middle, and running back Justin Jackson has a tendency to make defenders look silly. Also, when Pat Fitzgerald is happy, he blesses us all with some of the best celebration GIFs out there.

"Plus, you know, Northwestern is the smallest Big Ten school, only private school, etc. etc. etc. The team also won all five of its single-possession games last year. The Cardiac 'Cats are back."

-Zach Pereles, Inside NU

Ohio State

"Thanks to Harbaugh’s histrionics this offseason, Ohio State sits in unfamiliar territory this year. They might just be the most fun team in the Big Ten. They return the best QB in the conference (J.T. Barrett), the best linebacker (Raekwon McMillan) and a slew of talented young players to replace Ohio State's heavy losses to the NFL Draft. If you want a team that's young and exciting and could make Harbaugh explode in rage, you should root for Ohio State."

-Matt Brown, Land-Grant Holy Land

Penn State

"After two years of a young team with little depth (and a meh OC), 2016 is James Franklin's first chance to make a splash in the Big Ten East. PSU is being counted out of the running, picked fourth; and the underdog role is one the Lions should relish a lot.

"There's a ton of talent at all of the skill position groups (especially running back, with the freakish Saquon Barkley) and the line finally looks to improve. With new OC Joe Moorhead, this could finally be an exciting team to watch that makes some noise. Plus, the starting set of linebackers, all returning starters, is as good as any in the country, and with a talented defensive backfield, the back seven should cover up any reloading issues on the defensive line.

"The schedule sets up nicely -- most of the tough games are at home -- for an unexpected run into November (if early games at Pitt and Michigan don't get them). 2016 should be a fun year for Blue and White."

-Cari Greene, Black Shoe Diaries


"Why should you root for Purdue? Because we need some good news. We're handcuffed with a lame duck AD, a bad coach, and an administration that refuses to invest in football. We need something good before basketball season starts.

"At least we have a good volleyball team."

-Travis Miller, Hammer & Rails


"Rutgers will be, if not anything else, interesting to watch. With new head coach Chris Ash’s implementation of the spread offense, Rutgers should be much more creative and fun. Ash helped rebuild Ohio State's defense into an elite unit, so seeing what touches he adds with Rutgers will be something to watch for. Janarion Grant is arguably the most explosive kick returner in the country. This team is the ultimate underdog, looking to take a big step forward this season and will surprise."

-Aaron Breitman, On The Banks


"The Badgers arguably face the toughest schedule they've had in recent memory, facing LSU, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa. The Badgers play well as underdogs, however, and they return standouts Corey Clement and Vince Biegel.

"Paul Chryst's squad will give each opponent a tough match-up, and could pull off some upsets that would disrupt the Big Ten races. We all love a little chaos, right?"

-Jake Kocorowski, Bucky’s 5th Quarter

The entire Big Ten

"The Big Ten is the conference to watch this season. Newness abounds in terms of coaches, quarterbacks, and expectations not reached last season.

"How will Ohio State fare without Cardale Jones and Zeke Elliott? Penn State without Christian Hackenberg? MSU without Connor Cook? Michigan without Jake Rudock?

How will the new coaches of Rutgers, Illinois and Maryland shake things up? Will Purdue continue to flounder, or will a new bottom dweller take its place? Will Harbaugh’s brain explode on the field?"

-Off Tackle Empire

The Pac-12


"Arizona remains the only team from the old Pac-10 to have never made the Rose Bowl. With a starting backfield of Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson heading into its third year together and a revitalized defense under Marcel Yates, the 2016 Wildcats can become the school's most revered team by taking UA fans to the Holy Land of Pasadena for more than just a UCLA road game."

-Jason Bartel, Arizona Desert Swarm

Arizona State

"This might not be Todd Graham's most talented team, but Arizona State is going to be just as fun to watch as it has been. A quarterback battle that has lasted all offseason could carry over into the regular season, and as per usual, the defense will be blitzing like crazy on every down.

"In a conference that's filled with excitement, no team better epitomizes the wild, drunken nature of #Pac12AfterDark than the Sun Devils. The scores will be high, the games will last late into the night, and defense might be optional. If that sounds like fun to you, root for Arizona State."

-Connor Pelton, House of Sparky


"Fans should root for Cal if they want to embrace the truly ridiculous character of college football. Cal games have tons of points, beautiful sunsets over the rim of Memorial Stadium, fun endings (Missed PAT! Missed 19-yard FG! Hail Mary!) and a lack of serious consequences. Cal isn’t going to the Rose Bowl, so you can kick back, throw off expectations, and just enjoy the game with your friends and family, with a cold drink in hand."

-Cardiac Golden Bears, California Golden Blogs


"You want a lovable underdog? Look no further. CU hasn’t been to a bowl since 2007, and in 2012 was the worst team in all of FBS. The Buffaloes have improved every season under Mike MacIntyre, but the breakthrough hasn’t come yet, and if it doesn’t happen this year, he might be out of a job. Their senior quarterback is coming back from a career-threatening injury, defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt once conducted an interview while sitting in the middle of a creek, and Folsom Field is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country.

"Most importantly, Ralphie V deserves to run at a bowl game before she retires."

-Ted Chalfen, Ralphie Report


"Last year, the Ducks had 37 first place votes in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. This year, they have just one. But you won't see anyone in Eugene losing sleep over it.

"Backed by another talented FCS transfer at quarterback in Dakota Prukop, a Heisman candidate in Royce Freeman, and a new coordinator to clean up last year's defensive nightmare in Brady Hoke, the Ducks are looking to silence critics and reclaim their throne in the conference. They have the pieces to the winning puzzle. Now they just need to put them together."

-Addicted to Quack

Oregon State

"Gary Andersen’s rebuild enters its second year. And the Beavers’ offense will be much improved with Utah State transfer Darell Garretson taking over at QB. Oregon State’s offense features some incredibly versatile weapons, including Victor Bolden, Jordan Villamin and Seth Collins.

"Don’t miss one of the longest-running rivalries in sports when the Beavers take on the Ducks, and let’s be honest, it’s always more fun to root for the underdog!"

-Marcus Russell, Building the Dam


"When you think Stanford, you might think Christian McCaffrey racking up yards in every facet. You might think 22 straight Directors’ Cups. You might think smashmouth football.

"You're right, but you're missing just how complete a team David Shaw has put on the field since taking over. In the past five years, Stanford has lost exactly three games by more than a single score. Will they play for the National Championship this year? Who knows. Will they compete every single Saturday? You bet."

-Tim Eckert-Fong, Rule of Tree


"On one hand, it would be easy to say nothing, but "Josh Rosen." The sophomore QB will be one of the best college QBs in the nation.

"But that would be selling the defense short. The secondary is loaded, as is the entire defense. The switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 should shore up the running game, and the entire defense enters camp healthy, which was a big problem last season."

-Joe Piechowski, Bruins Nation


"Within the past decade, USC has suffered many hardships and been an afterthought in the wake of the SEC’s dominance and the rise of Pac-12 juggernaut Oregon. With the most electrifying players in all of the FBS — Adoree’ Jackson and wide receiver standout Juju Smith-Schuster — the Trojans will be the most exciting team to watch, and this is the season when they will start to reclaim their throne and end the reign of the dreaded SEC."

-Richard Mejia, Conquest Chronicles


"Utah has been the proverbial dark horse in the Pac-12 for the past couple of seasons. Isn't it time for the Utes to be considered a full-blown contender? Isn't it time for a team other than USC, Oregon or Stanford to win the Pac-12? Stacked with an elite defense and a stout running game, Utah has the key ingredients to to disrupt the Conference of Champions."

-Shane Roberts, Block U


"This year's team, regarded by many as a potential conference champion, returns seven starters to a defense that limited opponents to fewer than 19 points per game and allowed just 11 receiving touchdowns, fewest in the conference since Pete Carroll's Trojans gave up six in 2008.

"On offense, true sophomores Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin are already regarded as one of the Pac-12’s best quarterback/tailback combos. Receiver John Ross III comes back from sitting out last year due to injury without looking like he’s lost a step on his reported 4.25-second 40-yard-dash speed."

-Ryan Priest, UW Dawg Pound

Washington State

"Name one thing more fun than Mike Leach throwing the ball 60 times a game and winning. Can't do it. Dark horse Heisman candidate Luke Falk leads what should be an explosive passing attack, and Gabe Marks is the best receiver you've probably never heard of.

"On the defensive side, second-year coordinator Alex Grinch will again flummox opponents with his unique mix of blitzes and coverages that led to the rapid improvement of the unit a year ago.

"The Cougs might not win the Pac-12 North, but they’ll be in the middle of the chaos, and you like chaos, right?"

-Jeff Nusser, CougCenter

The entire Pac-12

"After watching all that narrative-friendly football with expectations and defense and confused quarterbacks, why not flip the script and enjoy the other side? Nothing is more fun than closing out your night with good coaching, touchdowns, long plays, and general mayhem. There were very few rules in the Old West, and there seem to be even fewer in college football's best coast. Buckle up for Pac-12 After Dark, one last shot of adrenaline in your Saturday pigskin rituals."

-Pacific Takes



"You should root for Alabama because:

  • When we beat you with a starting lineup featuring the five-star recruits from your home state, we don't intentionally run up the score.
  • Although we drive ratings up considerably just by being in the games, we do not demand a larger share of TV revenue.
  • Your favorite NFL team will be populated by Bama players.
  • We are not Auburn or Tennessee.
  • You prefer to root for a winner.

"Roll Tide."

-Josh Chatham, Roll Bama Roll


"Bret Bielema is bringing his brand of High-T BERTball back to Fayetteville with new sets of linemen, fullbacks, tight ends, and running backs (also a new quarterback, but that's of lesser interest).

"The Razorbacks get Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Ole Miss all in Fayetteville, so the Hogs could be set up to make some noise in the Ozarks. Plus, Arkansas isn’t giving in to the stale neutral-site non-conference trend (yet). We’re going to Ft. Worth to play TCU. It’s going to be fun. Climb up The Hill with us and call the Hogs."

-Doc Harper, Arkansas Fight


"If Gus Malzahn's offense is clicking, it's a whole lot of fun to watch. There will be points. There will be crazy plays. Hopefully there might even be a little defense.

"Plus, want to see Alabama fans miserable? Then cheer for Auburn to do well. Nothing makes the Tide more annoyed than a successful Auburn."

-Walt Austin, College & Magnolia


"Look, you still have residual hate for Florida from the Tim Tebow years. That's okay. But you got all those jokes off while the Gators were suffering through every quarterback since, and it's really okay to let Florida be a rising power again. Jim McElwain's assembled the parts for a competent offense, and Florida will be salty again on defense. That's worth cheering for -- if only so you can eventually hate the Gators again."

-Andy Hutchins, Alligator Army


"Georgia put together an unending streak of respectability under Mark Richt, a nice man who sold his lake house to give the money to charity, adopted orphans, and never won a national championship. How boring is that?

"Now the Dawgs have hired Kirby Smart, a relentless recruiter and defensive coordinator who studied at the knee of Sith Lord Saban. We're going full finger guns to the world, people. It will be entertaining. Georgia is either going to win it all soon or fail to a spectacular, Ray Goff-era degree. We want you to come along for the ride."

-Macon Dawg, Dawg Sports


"Year 4 of the Mark Stoops era has the potential to go in a lot of different directions. With returning offensive stars Boom Williams and Dorian Baker in addition to an upgraded offensive coordinator, Eddie Gran, Drew Barker should be able to handle being the starting QB. I expect this offense to look significantly better than the one-year disaster that was Shannon Dawson.

"But the defense is replacing essentially all of its front seven from last year. Doing that in the SEC can prove fatal when you've got Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisville on the schedule. Expect these Cats to win at least five games for a third straight season, but getting that mythical sixth win will prove just as challenging as it was the previous two tries. "

-Jason Marcum, A Sea of Blue


"Quite frankly, Les Miles alone ought to be more than enough to make LSU worthy of your cheers.

"But there’s the breathtaking force of Leonard Fournette’s running, the frenetic play-making of safety Jamal Adams, or the knowledge that the 2016 Tigers are the last, best hope for the fever dream of every non-Alabama fan in the SEC: a season without the Crimson Tide winning the conference. We are all that stand between college football and the soulless inevitability of Saban hoisting yet another trophy. We are the resistance."

-Billy Gomilla, And The Valley Shook

Mississippi State

"Mississippi State is the perfect underdog story, and everybody loves underdogs, right? People on the outside love to belittle State and Starkville, but our team annually exceeds expectations, and our town is more charming than you’d realize.

"You’ll be hard-pressed to find a fanbase that has the same blend of eccentricity and passion. Our coach is a goofball who wears Yeezys with Jimmy Buffett socks to press conferences. And we might lose our hearing early on because of our cowbells, but it’s worth it. We’re fun-loving. We’re loyal. There’s no reason you shouldn’t root for us."

-Ethan Lee, For Whom The Cowbell Tolls


"What team is more American than Missouri? The fan base is pretty much divided in half by any conceivable issue, there are cultural tensions beneath the surface, and the Tigers have been hilariously inconsistent of late, winning 11 games or more twice in four years and going 5-7 twice as well. You want a truly American experience, with all the positives and negatives? You only have one choice.

"Also: Have you SEEN Charles Harris? He's the most likable football player in the country. He's reason enough to don some black and gold."

-Bill C., Rock M Nation

Ole Miss

"In spite of disproportionate scrutiny from media and opposing fans, Ole Miss is, in fact, going to field a football team during an ongoing NCAA investigation into the program's recruiting. The gall and audacity of this program to continue existing as such should be an inspiration and rallying point for those who are opposed to the NCAA's arbitrary, capricious, and mostly unnecessary governance structure.

"That, and Chad Kelly is the best quarterback in college football outside of Deshaun Watson. Watching him is pretty fun."

-The Ghost of Jay Cutler, Red Cup Rebellion

South Carolina

"It's a new vibe here in Columbia. The HBC is gone, but Will Muschamp has arrived. After some initial questions about the hire, he has rejuvenated the fan base and brought excitement back to the Garnet and Black.

"Why should you cheer for South Carolina? Well, after going a combined 42-11 from 2010-2013, the Gamecocks fell out of the national spotlight. But we're the underdogs again. And everybody loves an underdog."

-Feeling Cocky, Garnet & Black Attack


"Do you hate Alabama? Because there is no one they would enjoy losing to less than us, no matter what your friends from Auburn say.

"Do you miss Peyton Manning already and would like to see even more of him on your television? Do you like quarterbacks who grow up to be astronauts, like Josh Dobbs? Would you enjoy the mayhem a defensive line of future top-10 pick Derek Barnett, 2015 top overall recruit Kahlil McKenzie, and 2016 top junior college signee Jonathan Kongbo can create? Do you like fight songs about moonshine? Then welcome, friend. Go Big Orange."

-Will Shelton, Rocky Top Talk

Texas A&M

"The offense will be a capable (if patchworked) machine in year 1 under OC Noel Mazzone. But John Chavis' defense in year 2 with a bevy of weapons and a dynamic trio of safeties should be a great cause of optimism among Aggie fans."

-Good Bull Hunting


"Because Revenge of the Nerds was a hit movie that spawned three sequels. More importantly, Vanderbilt isn't Tennessee, and I get the feeling most of us are going to get pretty sick of the Vols this fall."

-Christian D’Andrea, Anchor of Gold

The entire SEC

"Why should you be invested in the SEC? The best running back in the country lies here, as Fournette is poised for a huge junior season. Nick Chubb and Jalen Hurd are also around, and Alabama will likely trot out a star.

"Speaking of the Tide, they're the defending national champions. Reuben Foster and Jonathan Allen headline a loaded defense, as the Tide will look to go back-to-back.

"Will Tennessee live up to the hype? There are high expectations in Knoxville. Can the Vols make it back to Atlanta?

"In 2016, the SEC will still have plenty of teams and players worthy of recognition and investment."

-Christopher Novak, Team Speed Kills

A bunch of underdogs!

Appalachian State

"Appalachian State is a rising FBS power that won 11 games in 2015 and is just getting better. The Mountaineers play in the scenic High Country of Northwest North Carolina and have a tradition of winning. Jump on the bandwagon while there's still room."

-Underdog Dynasty

Boise State

"Every year a new team is ‘the next Boise State,’ but Boise State never really stopped being Boise State (even if the Big 12 disagrees). Boise State dispatched one-time ‘next Boise State’ NIU, 55-7, to close out 2015 and has Mountain West Freshman of the Year Brett Rypien returning to anchor the high-powered offense.

"There are rumblings of a Playoff berth this year, but they'll need to win them all ... and they'll have to overtake fellow G5 member Houston, which as you know is the ‘next Boise State’. All should make for a fun third year of the Bryan Harsin era."

-One Broncos Nation Under God


"Get in on the ground floor of the Bearcats, future Big 12 members (we hope). Root for a team that throws way too much, is coached by Tommy Tuberville and wears red and black, scientifically proven to be the best color combination in recorded history. Hmm, now it just sounds like I’m describing 2012 Texas Tech.

"In any case, UC piles up yards, scores a ton and goes to postseason games (nine in the last 10 years), so you know you’ll always have plans during bowl season."

-Phil Neuffer, Down the Drive

Georgia Southern

"We win a lot and we run the option, which means our games last 90 minutes. We won six national titles in the FCS and capped it off by beating the Florida Gators in the Swamp. All we’ve done in FBS is crush the Sun Belt in year one and crush our first bowl game in year two.

"Not only that, our snap count is ‘rate, hike’ and we practice on the banks of Beautiful Eagle Creek in Statesboro, GA, the gnat capital of America. And folks, you just can’t beat that."

-Haisten Willis, Underdog Dynasty

The Mid-American Conference

"Fans should root for the MAC because everyone loves the little guy. The Little Conference that Could, home of directional Michigans, PJ Fleck’s rowboat, and the beacon of excitement and energy: Frank Solich.

"Throw your support behind the MAC, where the only things more epic than the offensive explosions are the tailgates. Plus, it’s mid-week awesomeness, and what else are you going to do? Spend time with your family? Accomplish something? Yeah … right. So root for the MAC, a drinking conference with a football problem."

-Alan Rucker, Hustle Belt


"No other program has a message as powerful as the Herd. When the words ‘We Are Marshall’ ring out, it doesn't just mean who the team is today, but it serves as a reminder of where they came from. Marshall fans are loyal to the Green and White and honoring the 75. No matter where one might be in the nation, those three words represent who Marshall is and always will be."

-James Collier, Underdog Dynasty

The Mountain West Conference

"The Mountain West had a down year in 2015, but this fall will be different. San Diego State, our defending champions, is a sleeper pick to go undefeated with its killer defense and star running back Donnel Pumphrey.

"Boise State’s Brett Rypien is the Group of 5’s best quarterback.

"Air Force’s vaunted secondary and New Mexico’s running game make them dangerous every week.

"Colorado State could be auditioning for the Big 12, and, don’t forget, Hawaii satisfies everyone’s East Coast late-night football fix!

"No matter what you want, our conference’ll provide it."

-MWC Connection


"Fans should cheer for Temple because the Owls will only continue to get better under head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule and his staff have the Owls playing fantastic football led by a strong defense. On offense, running back Jahad Thomas will be a player to watch as many fans around the country, do not know about him yet.

"Years ago, Temple's program was left for dead, but now they are one of the best teams in the AAC. The Cherry and White will continue to fight every game, and that's why you should root for them."

-Jovan Alford, Underdog Dynasty


"UCF's savvy hire of Scott Frost as head coach means that the Knights will be operating a fast offense as part of an effort (along with great new uniforms) to turn UCF into ‘Oregon East.’ It ought to be an interesting season, especially as a still-young team."

-Chas Short, Underdog Dynasty


"Fans should cheer for UConn because who doesn't like a good redemption story? Paul Pasqualoni's woefully uninspiring tenure occurred at the worst possible time, and as a result, UConn football ended up left for dead in the AAC despite a solid run in the Big East (RIP).

"Luckily, the Huskies' handsome and well-coiffed head coach Bob Diaco has the program moving in the right direction, with what could be a breakout season in 2016. They also beat Houston in 2015, something which No. 9 Florida State, No. 20 Temple, No. 16 Navy, No. 25 Memphis, Louisville and Cincinnati were unable to do, so show some respect to a program that is also undefeated against Notre Dame."

-Aman Kidwai, The UConn Blog


"USF should see video game numbers multiple times this season. Led by running back Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers, there are skill position players all over the field who can make explosive plays. The Bulls went 5-0 against the American East Division last year, with an average margin of victory of 22 points ... and they brought basically everyone back, and added guys like NC State transfer Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who should be a game-changer.

"They'll likely get Houston in a conference championship, plus they have a home date with FSU on September 24th, and if they can find a way to win it, and run out the rest of the schedule ... they'd have a good case for the Playoff. And the National Championship is in their home stadium.

"Hey, let us dream a little."

-Collin Sherwin, The Daily Stampede


"Two words: Aaron Jones. The versatile junior already ranks top-10 on UTEP's all-time rushing list, and all eyes will be on the Miners star. Brent Pease will dictate Jones' touches, and there's hope that Pease can also revive the career of former Fresno State gunslinger Zack Greenlee. Aaron's twin brother Alvin is also the Miners top defensive player, and it's not crazy to think both can haul in all-conference honors. The Jones brothers are worth the price of admission and worth three hours of football watching fun on Saturdays."

-Miner Rush


"Fans should root for UTSA because the city of San Antonio and the entire region of South Texas desperately needs a high-caliber football team to call its own. UTSA is the southernmost FBS program outside of Florida and serves a part of Texas that is absolutely starved for football. Supporting the Dallas Cowboys from five hours away just isn't adequate. A strong UTSA football program will create new college football fans and lead South Texas kids to dream up visions of playing college football. That's a win for everyone."

-Jared Kalmus, Underdog Dynasty

Note: you should also root for all underdogs not mentioned in this particular list.