Oklahoma was supposed to be rebuilding in 2013, but the campaign instead turned out to be a resurgence after an 11-2 finish. The Sooners upset then-No. 3 Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and carry a lot of momentum into the offseason. Most importantly, rising sophomore Trevor Knight gained a lot of confidence during bowl practices and the bowl game, throwing for 348 yards with four touchdowns against the Tide. OU loses center Gabe Ikard, receiver Jalen Saunders and tailbacks Brennan Clay and Damien Williams, but incoming freshmen Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine might be able to help the running game right away. Nine starters are expected back from OU's much-improved defense; safety Gabe Lynn and cornerback Aaron Colvin are the only starters leaving.
Are the Bruins ready to unseat Oregon and Stanford as the elite team in the Pac-12? The Bruins might be pretty close to doing it, especially after rising junior quarterback Brett Hundley passed up a chance to become a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft and returned to UCLA for one more season. Nine starters are expected back on offense; the Bruins lose junior left tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo and receiver Shaq Evans. UCLA started five freshmen and sophomores on defense last season, and seven starters might return, including two-way star Myles Jack. The Bruins will have to replace All-America linebacker Anthony Barr and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, along with tackle Seali'i Epenesa and end Cassius Marsh.
After the Bulldogs suffered myriad injuries and limped through an 8-5 campaign in 2013, they might be poised to become one of the country's most improved teams this coming season. Bulldogs coach Mark Richt pulled off a major coup by luring Pruitt to Athens. Pruitt replaces former UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who left for Louisville, and inherits a defense that might bring back 10 starters. The Bulldogs will have to replace three starting offensive linemen and record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray. But rising senior Hutson Mason played pretty well in the last two games of 2013, after Murray suffered a season-ending knee injury. UGA's offense might be even more explosive after getting back injured receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley and tailback Keith Marshall. Rising junior tailback Todd Gurley also is coming back after running for 989 yards with 10 touchdowns, while playing much of this past season with a high ankle sprain.