If you look at Oklahoma's schedule, three games stand out as possible road blocks on the way to New Orleans: at No. 5 Florida State (Sept. 17), No. 9 Texas A&M (Nov. 5), and at No. 8 Oklahoma State (Dec. 3).

A rematch with the Seminoles would be the first big hurdle to clear and would be the first of four teams ranked in the preseason that the Sooners will face this season.

With the loss of Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 Conference no longer has a championship game. That means one less chance to lose a game before bowl season.


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Underdog

This one is just for the sentimentalists in the audience.

Everyone roots for the underdog. Yes, it's great that the SEC has shown its dominance in college football but as the streak continues, more and more fans will want to see someone else step forward and topple the Big Dog.

mmurschel@tribune.com.

Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/collegegridiron365.



Five games to watch



Boise State vs. Georgia (Sept. 3 at Georgia Dome): This matchup features a great battle of quarterbacks with possible Heisman Trophy aspirations: Kellen Moore and Aaron Murray. Moore was a finalist last season and could be one this year while Murray could be one in the near future.

Oregon vs. LSU (Sept. 3 at Cowboys Stadium): The Ducks' explosive offense returns with Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James back for another season. LSU returns seven starters from a defensive squad that ranked in the top 25 last season.

Oklahoma at Florida State (Sept. 17 at Doak Campbell Stadium): This third week matchup against what could be a top-ranked Sooners team will determine just how for real the Seminoles really are. A victory by FSU could be the springboard for a great season and set the table for a spot in the BCS.

LSU at Alabama (Nov. 5 at Bryant-Denny Stadium): Both teams will have early season challenges, however if both make it to this point unscathed, it could be a great battle between two top ten teams. The winner could gain control of the SEC West and set up another shot at a BCS National Championship.

Oregon at Stanford (Nov. 12 at Stanford Stadium): After last season's 52-31 Oregon victory in Eugene, what can these two programs do for an encore? This one will feature two of the finalist for last year's Heisman Trophy with Stanford QB Andrew Luck and Oregon RB LaMichael James. The winner of this one should grab control of the Pac-12's new North Division as well as a spot in a BCS bowl game.



Five Heisman Trophy candidates



Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Luck was one of, if not, the best quarterback in the country last season. He threw for 3,338 yards and 32 touchdowns to lead the Cardinal to one of its best seasons ever, a 12-1 record and an impressive win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

LaMichael James, RB, Oregon: One of the most explosive players last season, his jaw-dropping runs made him a You Tube regular. James rushed for 1,731 yards, leading the nation in rushing yards per game (144.25) and was second with touchdowns (21). He helped lead his team to the BCS National Championship against Auburn.

Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: His 182.63 efficiency rating was tops in the nation just ahead of Auburn's Cam Newton and the aforementioned Luck. Moore threw for a career-high 3,845 yards and 35 touchdowns to lead Boise State to a 12-1 season.

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: The sophomore exploded onto the nation scene last season with his jaw-dropping runs and incredible throws. He ranked second in country in total offense – 328.62 yards per game – combining for 4,272 yards. He passed for 2,570 yards while rushing for another 1,702 yards.

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Lattimore could be the fresh new face in this year's Heisman crowd. The South Carolina native rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Gamecocks despite being banged-up for part of the season.