10 things to watch as college football season kicks off

The 85-foot poster of Spurrier on Williams-Brice Stadium.

Are you ready for some college football featuring a new four-team playoff, a King Kong-size poster of Steve Spurrier, the return of Tim Tebow and a Clemson team with more talent on defense than offense? The opening weekend of a new college football season gets off to an early start with the Texas A&M-South Carolina game in Columbia in the national spotlight among 14 Thursday night matchups.

Here are 10 things to look for as another college football season kicks off:

1. SEC East jostling.

South Carolina has had three 11-2 seasons in a row without reaching the SEC championship game. This could be the year - the No. 9-ranked Gamecocks are the consensus SEC East favorite. But watch out for Georgia and Florida.

2. SEC Network debut.

Texas A&M vs. South Carolina game (6 p.m.) is the network's first live football telecast. Brent Musburger will handle the play-by-play. Tebow, the popular former Heisman Trophy winner, serves as a pre-game analyst.

3. Rematch in Athens.

Clemson beat Georgia, 38-35, at Death Valley in the 2013 season opener. The No. 12 Bulldogs are a 7½-point favorite over the No. 16 Tigers on Saturday (5:30 p.m., ESPN).

4. New QBs.

South Carolina's Connor Shaw and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, the best-ever quarterbacks at their respective schools, are gone. Seniors Dylan Thompson (Gamecocks) and Cole Stoudt (Tigers) take over.

5. More new QBs.

Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Missouri, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Louisville are among other teams in the SEC or ACC with new starting quarterbacks.

6. Florida State, again.

Clemson's path to an ACC championship runs through Tallahassee, where the Tigers must face defending national champion Florida State and reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston on Sept. 20.

7. College Football Playoff.

Under the new playoff system, four teams get in picked by a 13-member selection committee, including Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

8. Citadel's new coach.

Mike Houston makes his Citadel debut Saturday against Coastal Carolina, which multi-millionaire head coach Joe Moglia is turning into a powerhouse.

9. Charleston Southern lights.

The Buccaneers play their first home night game Thursday night against Point University (formerly Atlanta Christian).

10. Big Man on Campus.

South Carolina attached an 85-foot poster of Spurrier to the Bluff Road side of Williams-Brice Stadium as part of a $200,000 decoration project. Spurrier says he hopes no one eggs the thing.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.