Tag:Iowa
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 12:42 pm
 

LaMichael James headlines Doak Walker watch list

Posted by Chip Patterson

Keeping the watch lists coming here at the Eye on College Football, with the PwC SMU Athletic Forum announcing the initial list for the prestigious Doak Walker Award. The award, which was first given to Washington's Greg Lewis in 1990, celebrates the nation's top running back.

Oregon running back LaMichael James won the award last season, and he is back on the watch list for 2011. In the award's history, only two players have won in back-to-back years: Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Darren McFadden (2006-2007).

Here is the rest of the watch list, which will continue accepting nominations through October



Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 11:02 am
 

Outland Trophy Watch List released

Posted by Chip Patterson

Check the time, we got another watch for you. 

The Football Writers Association of America also released its 2011 Outland Trophy Watch list on Friday.

The trophy is awarded annually to the best interior lineman in college football. Only tackles, guards and centers from both sides of the ball (defensive tackles are included) are eligible for the award. Of the 65 players currently on the watch list, 16 of them are defensive tackles.

The Outland Trophy dates back to 1946 and is one of the oldest annual awards in college football.

This award honors the often-thankless positions that fight in the trenches and establish the line every Saturday. Last year's winner was Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

Who do you have pegged as a favorite in 2011? Let us know in the comment section below.

2011 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (65)
Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State, OT Ryan Miller, Colorado, G
Jeff Allen, Illinois, OT David Molk, Michigan, C
Don Barclay, West Virginia, OT Al Netter, Northwestern, OT
Chris Barker, Nevada, G Lucas Nix, Pittsburgh, OT
Kelvin Beachum, SMU, OT Xavier Nixon, Florida, OT
Tony Bergstrom, Utah, OT Trevor Olson, Northern Illinois, OT
Mike Brewster, Ohio State, C Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, OT
James Brown, Troy, OT Moe Petrus, Connecticut, C
Jared Crick, Nebraska, DT Ken Plue, Purdue, G
Andrew Datko, Florida State, OT Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT
David DeCastro, Stanford, G Nate Potter, Boise State, OT
Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech, OT Tydreke Powell, North Carolina, DT
Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech, G Kheeston Randall, Texas, DT
Joel Foreman, Michigan State, G Riley Reiff, Iowa, OT
Marcus Forston, Miami, DT Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
Dalton Freeman, Clemson, C Matt Reynolds, BYU, OT
Garth Gerhart, Arizona State, C Mitchell Schwartz, California, OT
Cordy Glenn, Georgia, OT Kawann Short, Purdue, DT
Ben Habern, Oklahoma, C Bradley Sowell, Ole Miss, OT
Braden Hansen, BYU, G Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT
Logan Harrell, Fresno State, DT Alameda Ta'amu, Washington, DT
Dan Hoch, Missouri, OT Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State, G
Khaled Holmes, USC, C Chris Thompson, Houston, C
Jaye Howard, Florida, DT Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech, G
Malik Jackson, Tennessee, DT William Vlachos, Alabama, C
Chris Jacobson, Pittsburgh, G Larry Warford, Kentucky, G
T.J. Johnson, South Carolina, C Brandon Washington, Miami, G
Barrett Jones, Alabama, G Rokevious Watkins, South Carolina, OT
Ben Jones, Georgia, C Billy Winn, Boise State, DT
Matt Kalil, USC, OT Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati, DT
Jonathan Martin, Stanford, OT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
Mike Martin, Michigan, DT Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, G
Zack Martin, Notre Dame, OT  
By conference: Big Ten 13, SEC 11, Pac-12 9, ACC 7, Big 12 7, Big East 6, Conference USA 3, Independents 3, Mountain West 2, WAC 2, MAC 1, Sun Belt 1.
Tackles, guards and centers are eligible for consideration
Candidates may be added or removed during the season

Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 10:53 am
 

Bronko Nagurski Watch List released

Posted by Chip Patterson

The "Watch" Watch continues on as the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have released the first watch list for the 2011 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

The award is given annually to the nation's best defensive player, as selected by FWAA All-America Committee members. Players can be added or deleted from the watch list at any time throughout the season, a player not on the list can work his way on by being name Defensive Player of the Week by the FWAA.

Check out the full watch list below. Any snubs? Who's your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.

2011 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (87)
Ray-Ray Armstrong, Miami, S Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, S
Mark Barron, Alabama, S Mike Martin, Michigan, DT
Jake Bequette, Arkansas, DE Chris Marve, Vanderbilt, LB
Brandon Boykin, Georgia, CB Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy, DE
Nigel Bradham, Florida State, LB Michael Mauti, Penn State, LB
Tanner Brock, TCU, LB T.J. McDonald, USC, S
Arthur Brown, Kansas State, LB Chase Minnifield, Virginia, CB
Zach Brown, North Carolina, LB Charles Mitchell, Mississippi State, S
Vince Browne, Northwestern, DE Roosevelt Nix, Kent State, DE
Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, LB Donte Paige-Moss, North Carolina, DE
Miles Burris, San Diego State, LB Dontari Poe, Memphis, DT
Tank Carder, TCU, LB Tydreke Powell, North Carolina, DT
Morris Claiborne, LSU, CB Shaun Prater, Iowa, CB
Quinton Coples, North Carolina, DE Kheeston Randall, Texas, DT
Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State, DE Kendall Reyes, Connecticut, DT
Jared Crick, Nebraska, DT Xavier Rhodes, Florida State, CB
Vinny Curry, Marshall, DE Adrian Robinson, Temple, DE
Lavonte David, Nebraska, LB Josh Robinson, UCF, CB
Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska, CB Keenan Robinson, Texas, LB
Tony Dye, UCLA, S J.K. Schaffer, Cincinnati, LB
Marcus Forston, Miami, DT Kawann Short, Purdue, DT
Jerry Franklin, Arkansas, LB Mychal Sisson, Colorado State, LB
Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, CB Shayne Skov, Stanford, LB
Zaviar Gooden, Missouri, LB Harrison Smith, Notre Dame, S
Logan Harrell, Fresno State, DT Akeem Spence, Illinois, DT
Cliff Harris, Oregon, CB Sean Spence, Miami, LB
Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, CB Alameda Ta'amu, Washington, DT
Dont'a Hightower, Alabama, LB Keith Tandy, West Virginia, CB
Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech, CB Kenny Tate, Maryland, S/LB
Jaye Howard, Florida, DT Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech, LB
Delano Howell, Stanford, S Devin Taylor, South Carolina, DE
Bruce Irvin, West Virginia, DE Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
Malik Jackson, Tennessee, DT Taylor Thompson, SMU, DE
Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, DE Danny Trevathan, Kentucky, LB
James-Michael Johnson, Nevada, LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, LB
Coryell Judie, Texas A&M, CB Prentiss Waggner, Tennessee, S
Mychal Kendricks, California, LB Bobby Wagner, Utah State, LB
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, CB Brian Wagner, Akron, LB
Jake Knott, Iowa State, LB Korey Williams, Southern Miss, LB
Luke Kuechly, Boston College, LB Nathan Williams, Ohio State, DE
Robert Lester, Alabama, S Billy Winn, Boise State, DT
Travis Lewis, Oklahoma, LB Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati, DT
Brandon Lindsey, Pittsburgh, DE Jerel Worthy, Michigan State, DT
Brad Madison, Missouri, DE  
By conference: SEC 19, ACC 14, Big Ten 10, Big 12 9, Pac-12 9, Big East 6, Conference USA 5, Mountain West 5, Independents 3, MAC 3, WAC 3, Sun Belt 1.
Players may be added or deleted from the list before or during the season
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Don't forget what's lost in Nebraska switch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



There's no doubting that these are exciting times for Nebraska football. Today's the day they officially join the Big Ten, the day they officially (as our own Dennis Dodd writes) start new rivalries with the likes of Ohio State, Penn State and -- most substantially -- their Great Plains brethren at Iowa. Today's the day they start drawing checks from the Big Ten Network money machine. It's the day that will, in short, define the future of their football program.

But amidst all that excitement, it's also a day which ought to be an occasion to remember the Huskers' past. Because in making the move to the Big Ten, Nebraska is cutting ties with years, decades, even centuries of their gridiron tradition.

Start with the rivalries. Nebraska vs. Kansas was only the longest uninterrupted series in the nation, having been played every year since 1906. The Huskers' and Jayhawks' started their annual grudge match so long ago, Oklahoma didn't even exist--and we're not talking about the Sooners, we're talking about the state.

But even that's not the oldest Nebraska rivalry that will end this season. The Huskers and the Missouri Tigers first met all the way back in 1892 and went on to play each other 102 more times, making it the third-oldest football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

Because of Nebraska's dominance over both foes -- the Huskers defeated Kansas 36 straight times between 1969 and 2004, and Mizzou 24 straight times from 1979 through 2002 -- neither rivalry ever quite ascended to "classic" status, despite each's longetivity. But that doesn't mean each didn't give us classic moments, like this one you knew was coming:



And even if those series didn't carry as much weight on the gridiron as some others, the same can't be said for the Huskers' showdowns with Oklahoma. The move from the old Big 8 into the Big 12 had already (shortsightedly) brought a halt to the teams' annual meeting after 70-plus years of uninterrupted battles, but the rivalry that gave us the "Game of the Century" still survived as part of the Big 12 scheduling rotation and in the occasional Big 12 championship game. Now? The two schools might meet again in 2020 and 2021, if we're lucky.

Go beyond just rivalries and scheduling, though, and the conference switch also represents a complete cultural realignment for Husker football. Since the very beginning, Nebraska football has associated itself first-and-foremost with other heartland schools; their first conference affiliation came in the Missouri Valley Conference with Iowa-based schools like Drake and Grinnell. When they moved to the Big 8, they did so alongside not just the Jayhawks, Tigers and Sooners but schools like Kansas State and Iowa State as well.

From their location to their "Cornhuskers" nickname to the undying, overwhelming support of the Big Red faithful to their regional and national dominance, Nebraska wasn't just an important part of Great Plains college football; in many ways, the Huskers were Great Plains football.

That's not going away entirely, of course. And the annual matchup with Iowa promises to be a particularly important game from a regional standpoint. But with a schedule dominated by trips to Midwestern-to-the-bone locations like Minneapolis and Chicago, in a conference long identified first-and-foremost with the Rust Belt pillars at Michigan and Ohio State, there's no way Nebraska's identification as the heartland football program won't erode. Those days are done.

That's not to say Nebraska should have turned the Big Ten down, of course. Money talks. Academics talks. The Big 12's Texas obsession most definitely talks. From the Nebraska perspective, there's no way to spin the jump to a more stable, more lucrative conference as anything other than progress.

But progress almost always comes with a price, whether it's Colorado ditching its decades of old Big 8 rivalries to head west, Boise State's leap to the Mountain West finally finishing off the WAC as a meaningful football conference for good, TCU and Utah going their separate ways just when things between them were getting good, or all that Nebraska is giving up in their move to the Big Ten.

Today deserves to be a celebration for the Huskers' future, and for the future of all the teams and conferences who have been officially realigned today. But this is college football, the sport where tradition and history and all those things that are not money matter more than any other. There should be time enough, even today, to mourn the things the great realignment of 2010 has lost us.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:39 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:11 am
 

Tyler Gabbert chooses Louisville

Posted by Chip Patterson

Since joining Louisville, Cardinals coach Charlie Strong has been aggressive on the recruiting trail when it comes to quarterbacks. First the second-year coach snagged highly-touted recruit Teddy Bridgewater from Miami before signing day, and on Thursday, he unofficially welcomed Missouri transfer Tyler Gabbert to the program.



Gabbert, the younger brother of the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, spent his freshman year with his brother at Missouri, but after losing the quarterback battle to James Franklin in spring practice, Gabbert opted to transfer in May.

Both Tyler and his older brother Blaine originally committed to Nebraska before changing their decision to Missouri. Former Cornhuskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson (who recruited both brothers heavily while at Nebraska) is now the quarterbacks coach on Strong's staff. Gabbert's arrival gives Louisville a full stable of quarterbacks for 2012. While junior Will Stein will be the starting quarterback entering fall camp, Bridgewater has made it clear he will be ready whenever his name is called. Once Gabbert joins the duo next fall, Strong will have three different quarterbacks competing for snaps in 2012.

While some might argue that the position is too crowded, I can guarantee you a surplus of talent is not something that Louisville fans will be complaining about.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:20 pm
 

Hot Seat Ratings: Happy marriages or honeymoons?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Dennis Dodd posted his annual list of Hot Seat Ratings today, so if you haven't perused them all, do so at once. At once, I say! Right now, let's focus on some of the untouchables, the 32 coaches who scored a 0.0-0.5 rating. Suffice it to say none of them are getting fired this year (or even next) without a major, unforeseeable catastrophe befalling the program. But past that, what coaches are truly untouchable, and who's just still on a honeymoon? Here's a look at 15 of those coaches, five for each category in the schools' alphabetical order, listed with Dodd's hot seat ratings.

THE HONEYMOONERS

Gene Chizik, Auburn, 0.0: Hear me out. Chizik is absolutely a 0.0 on Dodd's scale this year, and he would be even if the NCAA somehow finds a way to make Auburn vacate the 2010 BCS Championship (though that seems extremely unlikely at this juncture). But Auburn is expected to struggle this year, and while it's easy now to say that the title has earned Chizik a five-year grace period, what happens if Gus Malzahn gets a high-major head coaching offer and Kiehl Frazier doesn't pan out? If Auburn struggles through two straight .500 seasons and Malzahn takes off, that 0.0 turns into a 2.0 pretty soon.
Will Muschamp, Florida, 0.5: Muschamp is one of the most dynamic and promising new head coaches in the last decade or so, but the fact remains that he's a 39-year-old, first-year head coach at a "win right now" program. Oh, and John Brantley is still his quarterback. If Muschamp can't get his Gators back above the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC East pecking order, his seat's going to ignite in a hurry.
Chip Kelly, Oregon, 0.0: The other coach coming off a 2010 BCS Championship berth also has two things working against him: a track record of only two seasons as head coach, and the possibility of major NCAA violations. For Kelly, the worry is more the latter than the former, and depending on where this business with Willie Lyles and Lache Seastrunk's recruitment ends up, Kelly could find himself in way more hot water than a 22-4 coach has any right to be. That's all "ifs" right now though, so for now, the honeymoon is still on.
Doug Marrone, Syracuse, 0.5: Marrone enters his third year with the Orange after guiding the once-proud program to a 36-34 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State last year -- Syracuse's first bowl win since 2001. He's got a solid core of skill players back, but the overall talent level at Syracuse is still low enough that a moderate rash of injuries could be enough to plunge Syracuse back to the level of 3-5 wins in 2011, and that's a good way to snap fans back into remembering that the Pinstripe Bowl is just... the Pinstripe Bowl. Marrone's still got a lot of work to do.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington, 0.5: Like Marrone, Sarkisian has performed the rather remarkable feat of turning around a program that had been mired in sub-mediocrity for the majority of the '00s. But like Marrone, the program's talent level isn't BCS-caliber yet, and unlike Marrone, Sark has to contend with losing a first-round draft pick senior quarterback, Jake Locker. Further, Washington's road schedule is brutal this year; the Huskies'll probably have to win at least two home games between California, Arizona, and Oregon just to get back to .500.

HAPPILY MARRIED

Jimbo Fisher, Florida State, 0.5: That Bobby Bowden transition wasn't so bad after all, was it? That's because Fisher guided FSU to 10 wins in his very first year... unlike the last six years of the Bowden era. Seminole fans are going to start raising expectations to the levels of the mid-'90s, so four losses and an ACC Championship loss aren't going to cut it forever, but Fisher's recruiting well enough to restore FSU to glory quickly.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 0.5: How comfortably ensconced at Iowa is Ferentz? He's been coaching at Iowa for 12 years, and in seven of them, Iowa has suffered at least five losses. Ferentz runs a clean coaching staff, but there have been a couple isolated stretches of off-field embarrassments for the Hawkeyes -- and the rhabdo case certainly didn't help matters. But he's well-loved in Iowa City all the same, and the fact that he has turned down offers from Michigan and several NFL teams is not lost on Iowa fans or administrators. Moreover, his teams haven't been bad since his first two years on campus, and he's producing a double-digit win season once per three years; if he keeps that pace up, he'll be at Iowa for as long as he wants.
Charlie Strong, Louisville, 0.5: Strong has only been at Louisville for one season, but he's already got a winning season under his belt (unlike the disastrous reign of his predecessor, Steve Kragthorpe), and he's recruiting well enough (in particular, QB signee Teddy Bridgewater) to keep Louisville winning in perpetuity. If Strong leaves, it's because a powerhouse came calling; he's legit, and everybody at Louisville knows it. If he delivers a BCS win, you can move him into the last category here.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 0.5: Dantonio has been more successful at Michigan State than Nick Saban was. Mark Dantonio is therefore a better coach than Nick Saban. QED. If Dantonio can avoid any more health scares and start routinely challenging for Big Ten (sigh) Legends division championships, he's set for life in East Lansing. Easier said than done with Nebraska coming to town and Michigan likely to rebound from the recent swoon, though.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 0.5: Bo Pelini has done a fine job in his first three years as Nebraska head coach, and on first glance, it appears the young coach is the perfect candidate to lead the Huskers into the Big Ten. There's been an odd sense of impermanence from Pelini's stay at Nebraska though; it's unclear whether it comes from his tempermental sideline behavior (and his brother's) or his itinerant career thus far -- this fourth season as Huskers head coach makes this the longest coaching job Pelini has ever held. Whatever it is, he seems to lack the stable, staid nature of his longer-tenured fellow coaches. That's not insignificant; if a coach can make his fans and boosters believe he's got everything under control when things go south for a year or two, his seat can stay nice and cool for longer. Pelini is respected, but he's not quite there yet.

YOU'LL HAVE TO PRY THEM FROM OUR COLD DEAD HANDS

Nick Saban, Alabama, 0.0: Saban delivered a national championship to Tuscaloosa in his second year there, and his Crimson Tide have finished with three straight AP Top 10 finishes. He's the highest-paid coach in college football for a reason: he earns it.
Chris Peterson, Boise State, 0.5: Peterson basically ruined the WAC for everybody else, going 61-5 as Boise's head man. Sure, you can wonder where he'd be without Kellen Moore, but Peterson did beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with Jared Zabransky behind center. Now that Utah and TCU are both running off to BCS conferences, expect Boise to dominate the Mountain West for as long as Peterson's there.
Chris Ault, Nevada, 0.0: If this scale could go into negative numbers, Ault would be at least a -10. He's a College Football Hall of Famer who has overseen Nevada's rise from Division II to the upper echelon of the FBS mid-majors. Ault is a true Nevada lifer: he played QB for the Wolfpack in the '60s, and he's on his 26th year as a head coach with the program (his 39th overall in some facet with the Nevada athletic department). He is never, ever, ever getting fired. 
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 0.0: Fitzgerald just signed a contract extension that has 10 years on it, but is a de facto lifetime contract. He'll probably be in Evanston for at least the next 20 years. Seems crazy to say something like that about Northwestern football, doesn't it? But here it is and here we are.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 0.0: The Hokies owe as much to Beamer as just about any program and current coach in the country (other than the aforementioned Nevada and Ault or Penn State and Joe Paterno, who might as well get the school named after him upon retirement). When the ACC realigned in 2005 to include a championship game, the divisions were set up to ensure the possibility of Miami and FSU meeting every season. Instead, it's been Virginia Tech dominating the conference, appearing in four of six championship games and winning three. The ACC is Frank Beamer's conference, so the very notion of a hot seat for Beamer is essentially unimaginable.
Posted on: June 6, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Place your bet: Who picks up next NCAA violation?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

College football programs running afoul of the NCAA is the latest fashion in the sport today, as seemingly every program is running out and picking up all the latest violations. USC already has its, and Ohio State is next in line, but who will follow the Buckeyes? Well, if you feel you have a good idea, you can put your money where your gut instinct is. Among the bets that online sportsbook BetUS.com is listing on its website these days is which NCAA program will be the next to commit an NCAA violation? While the site if offering odds on schools themselves, or separate football and basketball programs, we are a football blog. So we're going to focus on the football odds.

They are as follows:

Southern California 8/1
Ohio State 9/1
Florida 10/1
Ole Miss 10/1
Florida State 12/1
Michigan State 12/1
Alabama 13/1
Michigan 13/1
Georgia 14/1
Iowa 14/1
Georgia Tech 14/1
Oklahoma 15/1
Virginia Tech 15/1
Mississippi State 15/1
Cincinnati 15/1
Texas A&M 15/1
Boston College 16/1
Oklahoma State 17/1
Texas 18/1
Texas Tech 18/1
Missouri 18/1
TCU 20/1
UCLA 20/1
California 20/1 

I don't want to tell you where to place your money, but I do like the value of Ole Miss at 10/1.

Also, if betting on NCAA violations goes against your moral code as a college football fan, don't worry. The site is also taking bets on the number of Florida Gators football players who will be arrested in 2011. Now is your chance to make crime pay! 

Posted on: June 6, 2011 2:45 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:43 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 30-21

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

30. LAMICHAEL JAMES, running back, Oregon. Granted, it was just Oregon's spring game. But Duck fans had to like the fact that LaMichael James had only three carries (lest he gets hurt) and that one of them went for a touchdown--your simple, run-of-the-mill, back-and-forth 67-yard "scamper" as the Oregon media described it. The run was almost par-for-the-course for the reigning Doak Walker Award winner, but that's the thing about James: when you're a threat to score just about every time you touch the ball, 67-yard touchdowns happen sometimes.

On top of setting his sights on a host of Oregon and Pac-12 rushing records this season, James hopes to help lead Oregon back to the BCS championship game and finish what the team came so close to doing last year. The Ducks have to replace several offensive linemen, but that might not be a big issue for James, who can hit the tiniest of holes in split-seconds. Speed is the 5-foot-9, 190-pound back's greatest asset, considering he moonlights on Oregon's track team and anchors the 4x100 relay team (among other things). James will leave the track behind soon though, moving on to playing a game of "catch me if you can" and blowing past defenses come fall. A second trip to New York as a Heisman finalist -- and possibly more -- seems likely. -- BF

29. LUKE KUECHLY, linebacker, Boston College. The ACC has produced several dominating defenders in the last couple of years, but few have demanded the attention from day one like Kuechly. Tapped to replace Mark Herzlich in the BC linebacking unit in 2009, Kuechly stepped in and set an NCAA freshman record with 158 tackles on the season. When the two were on the field together in 2010, Kuechly led the nation with 183 tackles and was named a unanimous All-American by pretty much anyone with a publication.

Entering his junior year the expectations are as high as ever for Kuechly. He is widely considered a first-round draft pick in 2012, but will need another impressive season to cement that status. The good news for Eagles fans is that head coach Frank Spaziani and the rest of the staff believe that Kuechly has done nothing but improve. But with a much younger defense alongside him in the huddle in 2011, Kuechly will need to provide more than individual statistics to help Boston College get back to the postseason. The good news is the mere presence of the 6-foot-3, 235-pound playmaker on the field is a tactical advantage, with the opposition always having to keep an eye on No. 40. Considering the potential for Kuechly in 2011, it won't just be the opposition--we'll all have our eyes on No. 40 this fall. -- CP

28. BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, title tilt, Indianapolis. For years and years, the Big Ten stood apart from the rest of FBS college football in one very unfortunate aspect: it was the only conference that did not employ either a full round-robin conference schedule or a conference championship game. In other words, only in the Big Ten could two teams potentially go undefeated in conference play (or otherwise tie for the conference championship) and have no way to break the tie on the field. In fact, that's not just a pointless what-if; it actually happened in 2002, when Iowa and Ohio State both ran the table in Big Ten play. Iowa had one blemish on its non-conference record and OSU didn't, so the Buckeyes went to the BCS Title Game and won. But Big Ten fans had (and still have) the right to feel cheated out of what would have been an excellent conference championship game.

No more, no more, as the Big Ten is going to be invading Indianapolis and the Lucas Oil Dome every December from now until 2015, settling the age-old controversy on whether being a Legend or Leader is better (more on that in a little bit). Purists are understandably chafed that the Big Ten--the conference that couldn't get more arctic or physical without literally employing polar bears as offensive linemen--is deciding its conference championship in a dome, but watching a game in horrible weather is miserable, and misery in the name of purity is still misery. It's good to see Jim Delany's still got something of a heart. -- AJ

27. THE SMURF TURF, home field, Boise State. It's rare for the actual field to be a school's most recognizable feature, but that's certainly the case for the love-it-or-hate-it blue turf at Boise State's Bronco Stadium. The only blue artificial turf in the world, it's rumored (though not confirmed, alas) that migrating birds sometimes mistake it for a giant lake and try to land on it. Like the birds that may or may not land flat on their face, opposing teams seem to nose-dive when they play on the turf, going 2-77 against the Broncos there since 1999.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that the home team is perfect in conference games, going 40-0 on the Smurf Turf during WAC play. This is Boise State's first year in the Mountain West and they aim to keep that mark going, but it won't be easy. Looming large on the schedule is a game against departing MWC power TCU in the middle of November. The Horned Frogs aren't expected to be quite as good as they were last year (or in the teams' 2009 Fiesta Bowl meeting) but they do figure to be the Broncos' biggest road block to another BCS game -- and possibly even the national title game -- if they get by Georgia in their opener. With plenty of returning starters back from last year's 12-1 squad, don't be surprised if Boise proves unbeatable on the blue turf once again. -- BF

26. MIKE SHERMAN, head coach, Texas A&M. When Sherman was hired at College Station before the 2008 season, replacing Dennis Franchione, it wasn't exactly the kind of move that had Aggie fans celebrating impending national championships. A 10-15 mark through his first two seasons didn't help matters, and Sherman found himself on the hot seat even after signing a seven-year deal. That seat only got warmer when the Aggies started off the 2010 season 3-3 ... and then a funny thing happened. Sherman finally pulled the plug on Jerrod Johnson and went with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and after that all Texas A&M could do was win. The team finished the year 9-4 after losing to LSU in the Cotton Bowl, but by then the Aggies had already picked up their first share of the Big 12 South title since 1998.

So it's safe to say that Sherman's seat has cooled considerably in 2011. Of course, while he may not have come to College Station with the highest of expectations, now that Aggie fans have a taste for winning again, Sherman's biggest task will be to keep that momentum going. To do that he's going to have to make sure his defense continues to improve. After finishing dead last in 2008 and 2009 in the Big 12 in points-against, the Aggies rocketed up to second in the conference last season, allowing only 20.3 points per-game. If Sherman can continue leading the Aggies to improvement on both sides of the ball, as he did last season, the Longhorns won't be the only team from Texas to worry about in the Big 12 championship race. -- TF

25. MANTI TE'O, linebacker, Notre Dame. During his time in South Bend, Charlie Weis seemed to have a lot of success recruiting offensive players. On the defensive side of the ball, while Weis brought in some solid players, the game-changing playmakers you need to win were never seemed to be among them. That is, until Weis went to Hawai'i and landed Manti Te'o. Weis may be gone, but the "Hawaiian Hitman" remains and Brian Kelly is thrilled to have him. The biggest factor in Notre Dame's strong finish in 2010 was a defense that shut down opposing offenses, and Te'o was the driving force in that unit.

Through his first two seasons Te'o has racked up 192 tackles (129 of them in 2010) and 14 tackles-for-loss. Te'o can be counted on to fly to the ball on every play, and while he's not as polished in pass coverage, he can stuff the run with the best linebackers in the country. What should scare offensive coordinators this year is that with the stockpile of talent Notre Dame has built on its defensive line the last few years, Te'o should be free to seek and destroy all season long. And if that's the case, it may not be long until Notre Dame is back on a BCS stage -- with Te'o the face of its success -- and college football fans are forced to hate the Irish again instead of just laughing at them. -- TF

24. LES MILES'S COJONES, coaching decision-makers, LSU. Since Les Miles took over for Nick Saban at the Bayou Bengal helm in 2005, it's no secret that LSU has won its fair share of thrillers. But it's not just the selective memory of the charmed 2007 run talking; over Miles's six seasons, LSU has gone a stunning 22-9 in games decided by seven points or less. Since we're talking about games potentially decided by a single bounce of the ball, most teams' records in these situations naturally yo-yo back and forth year-to-year--look at Iowa's rise-and-fall over the past few seasons, for instance. But not LSU. Aside from a 2-2 mark in 2008, Miles has finished above .500 in this category ever year of his Baton Rouge tenure.

The majority of observers (including many within his own LSU fanbase) have chalked this up to blind luck, and sometimes--as in Tennessee's 13-players-on-the-field penalty that saved the Tigers from themselves last season--they're right. But Miles also hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for the ballsy, go-for-broke, correct decisions that have often turned the tide in such games. While it's easy to note how fortunate Miles was when last year's botched fake field goal pitch against Florida bounced straight into his kicker's arms, it overlooks the fact that playing for a game-winning touchdown is by far the superior choice to settling for a long-distance field goal that would only tie the game even if good. If Miles ignores the criticism and continues to let his cojones do his thinking for him, expect another year of success for the Tigers in the dying minutes--and given how much talent his team will wield, potentially another run at a crystal football. -- JH

23. TODD MONKEN, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State. Last season the Cowboy offense averaged 44.9 points and 537.6 yards per game. That, to keep the superlatives to a minimum, is rather good. Then Dana Holgorsen left Stillwater to become the head coach-in-waiting at West Virginia, and Monken was hired to replace him. Those are some high-octane shoes for Monken to fill, especially considering he hasn't been a play-caller since 2004, when he was working a previous stint in Stillwater for Les Miles. Since then, Monken followed Miles to LSU for a couple of years and then went on to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

So there's going to be an adjustment period, but the good news is that Oklahoma State still plans to run the same system it ran under Holgorsen. Unfortunately Monken won't have the same command of the playbook right off the bat that Holgorsen did, but he does at least have Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to help cover him. Still, if Monken doesn't get the handle of things quick enough, Oklahoma State's top-10 season could already be "over" (and the immense potential of another year of the Weeden-Blackmon connection "wasted") by the time things are firing on all cylinders.-- TF

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22. "LEGENDS" AND "LEADERS," division names, Big Ten. One of the most dramatic changes in college football this year is the realignment of the Big Ten to a 12-team, two-division conference. Not only does that bring the aforementioned Big Ten Championship Game into existence, but it also introduces new and different conference tensions into play. Michigan and Nebraska as hated rivals? It sure could happen. Ohio State being more concerned with Wisconsin than the Wolverines? If a division title's on the line, absolutely.

But good lord, those names. It's one thing to deal with them over the course of an off-season, when they only come up once a month or so or whatever. Imagine what happens when they become part of the daily conversation. The derision will be deafening. Newscasters won't want to use them. Every time there's a slow moment in a football game, odds are pretty good that some bored color commentator is going to roll his eyes and casually call the division names stupid, and fans will laugh along with them. The Big Ten should be celebrating a brand new era and all of everything else that goes along with Nebraska's entry into the conference, and now instead it's going to have to defend the indefensible "LEGENDS" and "LEADERS" constantly. It's not too late to scrap them and just go with an admittedly imperfect-but-close-enough East-West nomenclature, right? Yeah, it's boring, but boring is good. It lets the on-field product speak for itself, and Big Ten football certainly can do that, right, Mr. Delany? Right? -- AJ

21. URBAN MEYER, television analyst/coaching free agent, ESPN. As we knew already and as Meyer spelled out for us just a few days ago, the most successful head coach of college football's previous decade won't be coaching anywhere in 2011. He'll be living the good life as a talking head at the "Worldwide Leader," offering what we hope will be pointed analysis and sharp X's-and-O's from one of the sport's shrewdest coaches.

But the shadow he'll cast over the college football coaching market will reach far longer than anything he does as a TV analyst. By specifically saying he won't be coaching "this fall," Meyer has all but announced he'll be looking for a new gig for next fall--meaning his name will be dropped into every conversation about currently vacant jobs (ahem), jobs that become vacant during the season, and even jobs that seem like they might become vacant if Meyer would show an interest. Like a prized NBA free agent, Meyer's influence is sure to be felt keenly in the narrative of the 2011 season ... even if he's not on the sidelines for a minute of it. -- JH

The 100 will continue here on Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41 and 40-31. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.



 
 
 
 
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