By Zach Gilliland
Right now is a silent period for college football. Some people still follow recruiting year-round, including on ESPN's recruiting page, but others may have shut down their college football minds for a little while. It's a great time to consider next season and look at the college football odds for the coming year.
For those of you still looking ahead to 2014, here is an early look at five teams to watch.
The Buckeyes bring back one of the most athletic players in football in Braxton Miller. They lose running back Carlos Hyde, but getting Miller back for one more year was huge for Ohio State.
Urban Meyer has established good recruiting in his time at Columbus, and I think next year it will start to show. Young players like Joey Bosa and Vonn Bell are now sophomores and will look to have big seasons in their second years.
The defense has other playmakers also such as Noah Spence and Ryan Shazier. With a schedule based around mediocre Big Ten teams, Ohio State should not see many challenges. Their toughest game is at Michigan State, but other than that Virginia Tech and Michigan are the only two that stand out.
Oregon has been one of the best teams of this decade, but that haven't won a national championship during this successful period.
Every year we fall in love with this team in the preseason, only to have our hopes fall short. Oregon loses to teams they are supposed to beat sometimes. This past year it was Arizona.
I think next year Oregon has a very good shot at redemption.
Marcus Mariota will be one of the best players in the game next season and likely contend for the Heisman.
Oregon's offense, led by Mariota, should be very fun to watch next year. If their defense also plays good, the Ducks will be near unstoppable in 2014.
Alabama loses two very important pieces to their recent success in A.J. McCarron and C.J. Mosley. Rebuilding isn't a term applicable for the Crimson Tide though, it's more of reloading. With top recruits on their roster, it's just a matter of who is next in line.
The offense still has play makers like T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper. Derrick Henry, who had a good Sugar Bowl, will look to establish himself as the second back.
The offense is now going to be coached by Lane Kiffin, so that should interesting to watch. If Kiffin can get these players to buy into his system, it could be another good year for the Crimson Tide.
Having rivals fill the third and second spot on this list is very exciting. Next year's Iron Bowl game could be just as good as this year's game, maybe better.
Auburn will certainly be among the best in the nation next year. Even though they lose running back Tre Mason, Gus Malzahn's system should bring out the best in whichever back takes his place.
Nick Marshall will be back to lead the offense, and the defense looks good as well. Young players like Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson will look to have big sophomore seasons.
The national champs will be the favorite to win it all next season, and for good reason.
The Seminoles bring back Heisman winner Jameis Winston, along with a good defense. They lose Timmy Jerningan, Telvin Smith, and LaMarcus Joyner, but get guys like Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards back for another year.
This is a well-coached squad by Jimbo Fisher, and he has done an excellent job in recruiting as well. Losing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who took the position with Georgia, should be something to watch. I don't think that will be a problem though.
Last season their defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops, took the head coaching job at Kentucky and the Seminoles still had an elite defense.
I don't see anyone getting in Florida State's way next season, and I think they will find themselves playing for another national championship.
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