2014 football preview: The wait is over

By Bill Bigelow / The Bulletin

Crazy, is it not, how we get so worked up about the start of football season? Save for maybe Christmas, is anything so eagerly anticipated each year by such a broad range of Americans?

Here in Central Oregon, allegiances in the college game seem pretty evenly split between Beavers and Ducks — though interest in college football here goes well beyond each fall’s paths to the Civil War. That said, we at The Bulletin recognize that many of our readers are devoted followers of Oregon and Oregon State football; if you don’t believe it, drive over Santiam Pass on any game day in Eugene or Corvallis and check out all the car flags flapping in green and yellow or black and orange.

If you are among the many who have been clamoring for a college football playoff, this is the season you have been waiting for. If the experts are correct, the four-team scheme implemented this year just might include Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks.

Like the rest of the country, we here on Oregon’s High Desert are pretty fond of our pro football too. Regional favorites include the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks of Seattle and their archrivals to the south, the San Francisco 49ers. (Yes, I hear you out there Bronco and Raider fans.) In these parts, it can be hard to say for sure just who our NFL favorites are — walk into a local sports bar on any autumn Sunday and you will see a wide array of jerseys and caps being proudly worn by enthusiastic supporters.

In this special football preview section, you will find plenty of material to whet your appetite for the season ahead, college and pro. (The Bulletin’s preview of the Central Oregon high school football season, by prep sports coordinator Grant Lucas, is featured in today’s sports section.) Our college football beat writers, Mark Morical and Zack Hall, weigh in on the prospects for Oregon and Oregon State, respectively. They will follow the Ducks and Beavers starting with this Saturday’s season openers, and their trails will meet on Nov. 29 in Corvallis — where who knows what will be at stake for either team in the 118th Civil War.

Also on the college front, see inside for a look at the new playoff system, how it will work and who will be selecting the fortunate four teams that will play in the inaugural College Football Playoff. And you also will find an interesting take on how conference realignment has reshaped the landscape of college football over the past 10 years — accompanied by a telling illustration by Bulletin sports design ace Peter Petrangelo.

Of course, we also have a complete list of Football Bowl Subdivision schedules, from Air Force to Wyoming and all 126 teams in between.

In our look ahead at the NFL and the road to Super Bowl XLIX (that’s 49), set for Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz., we offer a team-by-team look at each of the league’s eight divisions, including schedules for every team.

The NFL regular season kicks off next Thursday night with the Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers.

The wait is over. Are you ready for some football?

— Reporter: 541-383-0359; bbigelow@bendbulletin.com.

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