Five story lines

1 Keep rolling

Ho-hum, Alabama is the preseason favorite to win the national title for a third consecutive season. Seriously, will Nick Saban ever get bored and return to the NFL? AJ McCarron and T.J. Yeldon(pictured to the right) give Tide scary 1-2 punch on offense.

2 This time it counts

Ohio State went 12-0 in Urban Meyer's first season, but the Buckeyes weren't eligible for postseason play because of NCAA sanctions. That's not the case this season and the Buckeyes, behind Braxton Miller and an easy schedule, should be in the BCS title race.

3 Smart and talented

Stanford has survived the loss of Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart and coach Jim Harbaugh in recent years to remain an elite program. The Cardinal plays a physical style under coach David Shaw, who probably will draw attention from NFL teams very soon.

4 Real or fluke?

Notre Dame surprised everyone by advancing to the BCS title game last season. The Fighting Irish proved to be out of their league against Alabama, but they want to show that 2012 wasn't a one-hit wonder. The team suffered a major loss when quarterback Everett Golson was suspended for the season because of academic reasons.

5 Crash the party

Keep an eye on Louisville. The Cardinals defeated Florida in the Sugar Bowl last January, return QB Teddy Bridgewater and have a soft schedule. Coach Charlie Strong turned down a job offer at Tennessee last winter to stay and keep building his program.