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Biggest August storyline for each Top 25 team

Can Jalen Hurts keep Alabama's offense rolling? Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

August is approaching, and even the Top 25 teams have some lingering issues.

Is there a QB controversy at Alabama? Can FSU fix its offensive line? Will Clemson survive its brutal opening schedule?

Here's a look at the top storylines heading into August.


1. Ohio State

Everyone at Ohio State, including coach Urban Meyer, believes new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will have an instant impact on the Buckeyes' offense. If Wilson can create a juggernaut to match what the defense is able to do, Ohio State could be on its way to another playoff appearance. By starting the season at Indiana, Wilson's former employer, it's a guarantee that he'll remain a popular topic of conversation throughout the month. -- Dan Murphy


2. Florida State

The biggest questions at Florida State surround its offensive line and running game, two critical components heading into the season opener against Alabama. Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick appear ready to shoulder the load Dalvin Cook once carried, but the offensive line must make significant progress this fall to be sure quarterback Deondre Francois is standing upright and delivering the way many expect. -- Andrea Adelson


3. Alabama

Coach Nick Saban has come out strongly against the idea that Jalen Hurts is somehow fighting for his job as Alabama's starting quarterback, but that doesn't mean the rising sophomore doesn't need to develop. Hurts was exposed as a pocket passer last season and must expand his ability to move the ball downfield. -- Alex Scarborough


4. USC

Lofty preseason expectations are, in fact, the expectation at USC, but in the past five years only once -- last year -- have the Trojans finished higher in the final Associated Press poll than where they started the season. Managing the hype will be something new for coach Clay Helton, who has now twice shown he has what it takes to course-correct after early-season turmoil -- the firing of Steve Sarkisian in 2015 and a 1-3 start in 2016. -- Kyle Bonagura


5. Penn State

It has been five years since the Jerry Sandusky scandal rocked central Pennsylvania. After last season's Rose Bowl run the mood has changed around the Nittany Lions, and it appears everyone on campus will be pushing hard to officially put that stretch behind them as they head into a promising 2017 season. -- Murphy


6. Oklahoma State

It's impossible to take your eyes off the Cowboys' offense, with the returning firepower of quarterback Mason Rudolph, running back Justice Hill and wideout James Washington. But if Mike Gundy's team is to realize its potential as a championship contender on the Big 12 and national level, the defense must hold up its end of the deal. That starts in August as Oklahoma State replaces key defenders at each level. Notably, can a solid secondary featuring Ramon Richards, Tre Flowers and Clemson grad transfer Adrian Baker develop into an elite group? -- Mitch Sherman


7. Clemson

The Tigers have a brutal stretch to open the season, with a September schedule that features Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech. This time, the questions surround the offense, with key playmakers Deshaun Watson, Jordan Leggett, Mike Williams and Wayne Gallman gone, not to mention center Jay Guillermo. Finding new leaders and playmakers must be a top priority to get back to the College Football Playoff. -- Adelson


8. Oklahoma

How exactly will Oklahoma be different under first-year head coach Lincoln Riley? The differences likely won't be significant, considering Riley coached under Bob Stoops for two years. Still, without Stoops running the show for the first time in 18 years, there's sure to be a different feel in Norman this preseason. -- Jake Trotter


9. Washington

The Huskies' Pac-12 championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff came largely thanks to owning one of the best defensive backfields in the country. Three of the players who made up that secondary were off the NFL draft board after just 43 selections. Training camp will be especially important for Jordan Miller and Byron Murphy, who are expected to slide into the vacated starting roles at cornerback. -- Bonagura


10. Auburn

Set aside whether quarterback Jarrett Stidham is the real deal for a moment -- we won't learn that until September -- and instead turn your attention to the defense. Kevin Steele is back as coordinator, but he'll be without star pass-rusher Carl Lawson and interior lineman Montravius Adams. If former No. 1 recruit Byron Cowart can fulfill his potential after changing positions from defensive end to defensive tackle, it would go a long way. -- Scarborough


11. Wisconsin

The Badgers are breaking in their third defensive coordinator in three years. But with a face as familiar as it is fresh in Jim Leonhard, Wisconsin has a sense of some continuity and a great deal of trust that it will remain the toughest defense and the top contender in the Big Ten West. -- Murphy


12. LSU

Quarterback Danny Etling didn't exactly light the world on fire after transferring in from Purdue. But after a change at head coach and coordinator, and undergoing back surgery, things could be looking up. How Etling bounces back from surgery and soaks up Matt Canada's offense could determine the fate of LSU's season. -- Scarborough


13. Georgia

Like a lot of teams in the SEC, the Bulldogs' playoff hopes are likely to hinge on a young, second-year starting quarterback's development. Quarterback Jacob Eason flashed a cannon for an arm and a penchant for big plays as a true freshman, but consistency was an issue. If he can find that (and a couple of playmakers at receiver), Georgia's offense could be dangerous. -- Scarborough


14. Michigan

Are Jim Harbaugh's recruits ready to take over? Three years into his homecoming, Harbaugh's team has a ton of openings on the depth chart and many of them will be filled by young, talented players. An opening game against Florida on a big stage will test how game-ready they are immediately. -- Murphy


15. Miami

The Hurricanes were the preseason choice to win the ACC Coastal Division, so how does a relatively young team handle those expectations in Year 2 under Mark Richt? Miami still has questions to answer at quarterback and in the secondary, and depth must be shored up across the board. -- Adelson


16. Stanford

What's up with Keller Chryst? The Cardinal's starting quarterback went down with a knee injury in the bowl victory against North Carolina and it's unclear what his status will be entering training camp. If Chryst is unable to go in the season opener against Rice on Aug. 26, the player he replaced, Ryan Burns, will be expected to start. -- Bonagura


17. Louisville

Coach Bobby Petrino and quarterback Lamar Jackson have spent the past six months talking about all the ways the Heisman Trophy winner will be even better this season. Fall camp is the perfect time to see just how much Jackson has grasped of the concepts he was asked to master, and then tailor the offense around his new-and-improved look. -- Adelson


18. Kansas State

Coach Bill Snyder is the story of the season, August included. Is this 26th season in charge of the Wildcats his last? Snyder, 77, battled throat cancer this offseason, powering through to miss little time in spring practice. All eyes will remain on the coach as practice opens. His stamina is legendary. Snyder pushes himself, even at this age, like few coaches. He has a team this fall that looks set to contend. Up next: How will the Wildcats respond to all their coach has endured? -- Sherman


19. USF

Expectations are high for the Bulls to take the Group of 5 spot in the New Year's Six bowl games, but new coach Charlie Strong hasn't even coached a game yet and players are still studying new offensive and defensive schemes. The talent is there to run the table, but August must be used for players to gain knowledge and comfort with everything they have learned, especially since they open the season Aug. 26 at San Jose State. -- Adelson


20. West Virginia

He shined in the spring and appears ready for the spotlight after clearing the final hurdle in his eligibility quest as a transfer from Florida, so what does quarterback Will Grier have left to prove? A lot, actually, especially if the Mountaineers plan to make another run at 10 wins. Teaming with new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, Grier possesses the arm to take WVU to the next level offensively. His continued development and work with Spavital figures to dwarf all other storylines. -- Sherman


21. Florida

Malik Zaire, come on down. The former Notre Dame QB didn't transfer in time to make spring practice, but now he's the favorite to start for the Gators. The only thing standing in his way: three QBs who aren't ready to hand over the job without a fight (Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask and Luke Del Rio). -- Scarborough


22. Virginia Tech

Quarterback Jerod Evans decided to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft, putting both himself and the Hokies in a bind. Evans went undrafted, and now the Hokies must replace their three best, most productive players on offense with tight end Bucky Hodges and receiver Isaiah Ford also gone. Virginia Tech should be strong defensively again, so it's up to the offense to get itself sorted out in hurry, especially with the opener against West Virginia set to be a major test. -- Adelson


23. Texas

After fading down the stretch last year as a true freshman, QB Shane Buechele has enjoyed an impressive offseason, starring in Texas' spring game, then at the Manning Passing Academy. But can Buechele carry over the momentum into the fall? QB play has been Texas' downfall in recent years. If Buechele can thrive in his sophomore campaign, the Tom Herman rebuild might arrive ahead of schedule. -- Trotter


24. Boise State

Few teams in the country have to replace a running back and receiver combination as prolific as Boise State's outgoing duo of Jeremy McNichols (1,709 yards rushing) and Thomas Sperbeck (80 catches, 1,272 yards). Finding a way to account for their departures is one of the Broncos' chief concerns heading into the season. -- Bonagura


25. Washington State

Since the AP poll was hatched in 1936, Washington State has appeared in the preseason poll on two occasions: 1952 (No. 15) and 2002 (No. 11). There is a good chance that total reaches three, which means the Cougars are headed into one of their most anticipated seasons in school history. -- Bonagura