Football is back! Top 12 story lines for new season

KSAT Sports Blogger RJ Marquez breaks down the 2014 story lines for the Cowboys, Texans and area colleges

SAN ANTONIO – There's an old saying around the Lone Star state that goes: There are four seasons in a year...winter, spring, summer and FOOTBALL!  

Yes my friends, football season is finally upon us and now we can finally go from wishing football was here to watching the action on the gridiron.

Let's take look at some of the top college and NFL story lines for the new season. Naturally, because this is KSAT, we'll countdown from 12 to 1.

12. The 12th Man grows by 20,000

Texas A&M is making themselves feel right at home in the SEC. In an effort to keep up with the conference arms race, the Aggies added 20,000 seats to Kyle Field to expand capacity to over 102,000.

That makes Kyle the largest capacity in the SEC and in Texas, plus one-ups the Horns. (That's really what many Aggie fans care about, right?)

The $450 million renovation included some new, futuristic locker rooms that reportedly resemble a Vegas nightclub. This really is the expansion that Johnny Football built.

11. Jadeveon Clowney's projected sack total

If you're the Texans and you are going to pass up Johnny Football or even Blake Bortles for anyone, it's this guy.

Houston drafted Clowney with the first pick in the draft and paired him with J.J. Watt to create one of most formidable pass rush combos in the league. 10 to 11 sacks for Clowney is not out of the question with Watt on the other end.

Terrorizing QBs and double-digit sacks for Clowney will make Houston forget all about that Manziel guy.

10. The Big 12 title race

Oklahoma and Baylor are predicted to battle for conference supremacy, but five other teams can make it interesting.  

Kansas State and Texas are a tier below the top two teams while Texas Tech and TCU will be sleepers.

Still, the Big 12's best bet to get a team into college football's Final Four lies with the Sooners and Bears, and the two clash in Norman on Nov. 8.

Here's a few other things to watch in the Big 12:  

The Red River Rivalry game, which possibly is the best atmosphere in college football, will be played on Oct. 11 at the Cotton Bowl. (Thank the Lord that Jerry hasn't taken this one!)

Baylor's shiny new stadium or the "House RG III Built" debuts this season. How cool is this stadium? It was built on a river. Yes, the Brazos River.  

San Antonio native Trevor Knight starts for the fourth ranked Sooners. Has SA ever had a QB win a national title? I must check with Greg Simmons.

9. Tony Romo's 9th season as Cowboys starting QB

It's hard to believe No. 9 is about to begin his ninth season leading the Cowboys offense. That's nearly a full decade on the Romo-roller coaster.

Tony Romo continues to rack up several franchise records, but the number that stands out is 1, as in 1 career playoff win.

The criticism Romo gets isn't always fair and the Cowboys defense is rather bad, but at the end of the day, it still falls on No. 9.

Coming off surgery, who knows what we will get from this year's Romo-roller coaster ride, but it will be entertaining.

8. Cowboys, Texans projected win totals

Let's start with the Texans whose projected win total is 7.5. They open with four winnable games before playing at Dallas on Oct. 5.

The toughest teams they play based on last year's records are Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, I would be shocked if they don't squeeze out seven wins.

Now the Cowboys who are projected to go...wait for it...8-8! This is some terrible joke right?

Vegas may actually be a little kind to the Boys who have a brutal schedule. Dallas gets San Fran right out the gate, then St. Louis, New Orleans, Seattle, Arizona, Chicago and Indy along the way. That's not to mention their NFC East games.

A .500 record for the 4th straight season should actually make Cowboys fans jump through the Jerryworld roof.

7. Texas' projected win total

We'll find out soon how long the honeymoon lasts for Charlie Strong as the Horns gear up for a rough schedule.

They face three preseason Top 10 teams (UCLA, Oklahoma, Baylor) and travel to K-State, Tech and Oklahoma State.

ESPN projects Texas to win seven games this season. There was only one season (2010) Mack Brown had less than eight wins as UT's head coach. I like Charlie Strong to lead this program, but he has his work cut out for him early.

6. Texas A&M's projected finish in SEC West

The preseason media poll picked the Aggies to finish 6th, not in the league, but in the division.

So yeah, that may be a bit off after watching the whooping A&M gave South Carolina in the opener.

Still, the division is brutal and the Aggies have to play at Alabama, Auburn and Miss. State, but that Kenny Hill guy looked pretty good Thursday and there is life after Johnny Football.

5. Five SA-area schools get some love

I'm a proud Texas State grad so you know I'm gonna show some love to the little guys.

The San Antonio area has five, yes five, universities that play collegiate football so there is no excuse for the community to not support them.    

Big things are expected from UTSA and Texas State who are full D-1 members now and eligible for bowl games.

Both schools will get great exposure this season with the Roadrunners playing five games on national TV and the Bobcats getting three games on national TV and two more on ESPN3.

UIW gets two games on ESPN3 and officially moves to the Southland Conference where they will face much tougher competition. Trinity and TLU are conference foes who will battle for the SCAC league title.   

I've linked the schedule for each school. Make it out and support, and I'm not biased or anything, but Go Bobcats!

4. Jason Garrett on the hot seat

No NFL head coach opens the season with a hotter seat than Jason Garrett.

This will be Garrett's fourth full season as the Cowboys head man and after three straight 8-8 seasons and no playoff wins, Ol' Jerry isn't committing to anything long term.

Garrett is the odds on favorite to be the first coach fired this year and the season hasn't even started.

Of course, we could say he's always been on the hot seat and Jones hasn't given up on him yet. So there's that.

Maybe he makes the turnaround and leads the Cowboys back to the promise land. Either way, Jones has said it's a make or break season for Garrett. No pressure whatsoever.

3. The soon to be Texas trio?

I don't know how serious Oakland is about moving to San Antonio, but I am hoping the Raiders have such a terrible season, their fans get sick of them and request they leave.

Jerry Jones and Bob McNair would fight this thing tooth and nail, but other NFL owners have to ask themselves, why not San Antonio?

Texas' economy is one of the best in the country, several companies have relocated to South Texas and the area continues to grow.

Getting an NFL franchise is a major, major deal and San Antonio should do whatever it can to get the Raiders. If Los Angeles comes calling, then so be it, but until then, keep hope alive and #Raidersterribleseason. (Not a real hashtag by the way.)

2. Texas Longhorns tradition

Texas is the country's second most winningnest program in NCAA history, but it's a win now society and the pressure is on the Horns to get back to the college football elite.

The UT brass claim they hired Charlie Strong because of his commitment to the tradition of the football program as well as the development of the student-athletes.

That's nice and all, but some of the commitments Strong needs are those of the 4- and 5-star recruits headed to College Station.  

Strong has already instilled a no nonsense approach to the program but this is an interesting time in the state as A&M has proved it can survive and flourish in the SEC. Your move Bevo.

1. Cowboys playoffs wins since 1996

Yeah, were gonna go back there. One playoff win for the Cowboys since 1996. It's a staggering stat when you look back at Dallas' dominance from the 70s to early 90s.

Jerry Jones is an amazing business man, but not even the $3.2 billion the Cowboys are worth can buy enough wins. The Cowboys remain America's Team, but Jones' off-field success hasn't translated on the field.    

The one constant for the Cowboys remains Jerry. Even when he makes a smart move to pass on Manziel or let go of DeMarcus Ware, he follows it up with a bold prediction to season ticket holders that the Cowboys will make the playoffs.

This is classic Jerry Jones and this is why the Cowboys are must watch TV for better or worse. Happy Football Season everybody.

About the Author:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.