Can LSU coach Les Miles work his magic again? The Tigers lost 11 underclassmen to the NFL draft before this past season but still finished 10-3, their fourth consecutive season with at least 10 wins. Now, six LSU underclassmen are leaving early for the pros, including receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, guard Trai Turner, tailback Jeremy Hill and defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. Ouch. But the Tigers have recruited exceptionally well under Miles and the incoming class will be no different. Rising seniors Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee will step in at tailback, and the Tigers might get immediate help from Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in the ESPN 300, who has verbally committed to them. Rising sophomore Anthony Jennings will also take over at quarterback, replacing departing senior Zach Mettenberger.
After a disappointing end to the 2013 season, losing to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game and Clemson 40-35 in the Discover Orange Bowl, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer made some not-so-subtle changes to his coaching staff. He poached Chris Ash from Arkansas' staff to serve as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach and hired longtime Penn State assistant/recruiting coordinator Larry Johnson Sr. to coach the defensive line. OSU allowed 34 points or more in four of its last five games this past season. The Buckeyes will bring back seven starters on defense, but they lost junior cornerback Bradley Roby and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier to the NFL draft. Also, rising junior end Noah Spence, the team's best pass rusher, will miss the first two games of the 2014 season while serving a Big Ten suspension for using a banned substance. Five starters are coming back on offense, including quarterback Braxton Miller. But OSU will have to replace four starting offensive linemen and tailback Carlos Hyde.
If Wisconsin can somehow defeat LSU in its 2014 opener in Houston, it might have a chance to go unbeaten. The Badgers don't play Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State during the regular season and their most difficult tests are probably a home game against Nebraska and road trip at Iowa. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen will have to rebuild his defense, with each of the starting down linemen and three of four linebackers departing. Tailback Melvin Gordon, who ran for 1,609 yards with 12 touchdowns this past season, is coming back for his junior season, along with quarterback Joel Stave. But the Badgers will miss receiver Jared Abbrederis, who caught 78 passes for 1,081 yards with seven touchdowns in 2013.