Formidable foursomes for 2002:
HEISMAN FAB FOUR
1. Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami
2. Chris Simms, QB, Texas
3. Jason Gesser, QB, Washington State
4. Dave Ragone, QB, Louisville
1. Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma: Projected to be a star last season, he didn't disappoint with 17 tackles for losses. Coming off a Big 12 defensive freshman of the year season, this agile but massive (6-3, 288) tackling machine is an All-American in the making.
2. Zack Mills, QB, Penn State: Proved to 75-year-old Joe Paterno that a freshman can succeed in Happy Valley. The 6-2, 215-pound Mills threw for 1,669 yards and nine TDs and may end up as the school's best running QB (187 yards, three TDs). Led Lions to five wins in last seven games after 0-4 start.
3. Chris Rix, QB, Florida State: Back for his sophomore season, Rix took his licks in '01 -- five fumbles and 13 interceptions -- as the Seminoles lost four games for the first time since 1986. However, he displayed the poise of a veteran and threw for 2,734 yards and 24 TDs. He is a team leader now, and can pass his way into the Heisman Trophy chase.
4. Jonathan Vilma, LB, Miami: His bone-crunching tackles against Nebraska in the Rose Bowl puts this 6-2, 220-pound junior atop many defensive player of the year lists.
Games most likely to have national title implications:
1. Texas vs. Oklahoma, at Dallas (Oct. 12).
2. Florida State at Miami (Oct. 12).
3. Miami at Tennessee (Nov. 9).
4. Florida at Florida State (Nov. 30).
LOST AND FOUND
1. George O'Leary: Defensive line coach with Minnesota Vikings, hired by QB he coached in high school, Mike Tice. Left Georgia Tech for Notre Dame on Dec. 9, but resigned five days later after it was discovered he lied on his resume.
2. Hal Mumme: New coach at Southeastern Louisiana, which begins playing in 2003 after dropping the sport in the mid-1980s. He was forced out at Kentucky in 2001 when dozens of NCAA violations were uncovered while he was coach.
3. Heisman Trophy: Presentation of college football's top individual prize will be held at the Yale Club in New York on Dec. 14. The trophy had been handed out at the Downtown Athletic Club since its inception in 1935, but was moved to a midtown hotel last year after the DAC was damaged in the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.
4. Bob Davie: Fired Notre Dame coach will work as an ESPN analyst this season after five years guiding the Fighting Irish. He spent 25 years in the coaching game.
TOUGH ROAD TO TEMPE
Yes, the road to the BCS national title game in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 goes through the state of Florida. The problem for Miami, Florida and Florida State is whether one can find a way out of the Sunshine State without a loss or two, or more. Herewith, some of the nation's toughest schedules:
1. Florida State: Sure the Seminoles play in one of the weaker BCS conferences, but how about this non-ACC lineup: vs. Iowa State (in Kansas City), at Louisville, at Miami, home to Notre Dame and Florida.
2. Miami: For the Hurricanes to repeat, they must overcome games at hated rival Florida, at Tennessee and home to Florida State.
3. Florida: Welcome back to The Swamp, coach. Ron Zook replaces Steve Spurrier and faces this: Home to Miami, LSU, Auburn and South Carolina; away against Tennessee and Florida State. There's also Georgia in Jacksonville. Cheers.
4. Iowa State: Coming off their second straight bowl season, the Cyclones will find it tough to return to the postseason. Road games are at Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado. Nebraska visits Ames, and the season opener is against Florida State in Kansas City.
1. Oklahoma: Without K-State and Nebraska on the schedule, the Sooners have a three-game season -- home to Colorado, at Texas A&M and vs. Texas in Dallas. Non-Big 12 games include UTEP, South Florida and Tulsa.
2. Washington State: Here's why many are picking the Cougars to win the Pac-10 -- home games against their toughest foes, USC, Oregon and Washington, and a non-league lineup that includes Nevada, Idaho, Montana State and Hawaii. Biggest threat: at Ohio State.
3. Michigan State: Eight home games, including seven of the first eight. Tough road games at the end include trips to Michigan and Penn State.
4. Tennessee: Nine of 12 games will be played in state -- seven in Knoxville, two in Nashville. Out of state games are at Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi State.
1. Nebraska: QB Jammal Lord for Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch -- Lord, a 6-2, 210-pound junior, is a run-pass threat in the best tradition of Husker QBs. He was 5 of 8 for 65 yards passing, with 83 yards and two TDs rushing in '01.
2. Oregon: QB Jason Fife for Joey Harrington -- a rugged 6-4, 224-pound redshirt junior, Fife played in two games last season, completing 6 of 9 passes for 71 yards.
3. Miami: LT Carlos Joseph for Outland Trophy winner Bryant McKinnie -- A 6-6, 322-pound redshirt sophomore, Joseph played sparingly in eight games as McKinnie's backup.
4. North Carolina: DE Issac Mooring for Lombardi Award winner Julius Peppers -- A 6-3, 272-pound junior, Mooring played in all 13 games last season and had 21 tackles and two sacks.
1. Eli Manning, QB, Mississippi: Son of former New Orleans Saints QB Archie; brother of Indianapolis Colts' QB Peyton.
2. Dan Klecko, DL, Temple: Son of former New York Jets DL Joe.
3. Kellen Winslow II, TE, Miami: Son of former San Diego Chargers TE Kellen.
4. Jarrett Payton, RB, Miami: Son of former Chicago Bears RB Walter.
1. A.J. Suggs, QB, Georgia Tech (from Tennessee): Started four games for Vols in 2000 before Casey Clausen took over. Will start for Yellow Jackets.
2. Justin Fargas, RB, USC (from Michigan): Played on Trojans' scout team last year after three injury-plagued seasons at Ann Arbor. Joins talented backfield that includes Sultan McCullough.
3. Devard Darling, WR, Washington State (from Florida State): Left after his brother, Devaughn, died after conditioning drills last summer in Tallahassee.
4. D. Bryant, QB, Iowa Wesleyan (from Duke): In leaving for an NAIA school after being declared academically ineligible, Bryant doesn't have to sit out a year like those who left for another I-A school. Maybe he'll win, too -- Duke takes a 23-game losing streak into the season. (Bryant played in 22 games and was 0-18 as a starter).
ON THE HOTSEAT
1. Ron Zook, Florida: He just arrived, but a few early losses will make life tough for Steve Spurrier's replacement.
2. Dana Dimel, Houston: Cougars enter season with a 15-game losing streak.
3. Bobby Wallace, Temple: In his four years, Owls have 12 wins.
4. Kevin Steele, Baylor: A 6-27 record in three years, plus 0-24 in Big 12 play, don't bode well.
ON THE RISE
1. Georgia: In coach Mark Richt's second season, the Bulldogs have the talent to beat Florida and Tennessee and make it to the SEC title game. Think QBs here, as in SEC freshman of the year David Greene and freshman D.J. Shockley.
2. Boston College: These guys beat the Dawgs in the Music City Bowl, and QB Brian St. Pierre is sitting on a breakout season.
3. Penn State: Two straight losing seasons for the first time under Paterno, has the Lions ready to rebound. With sophomore QB Zack Mills directing the ''Zack Attack,'' there should be happiness in the valley again.
4. Georgia Tech: The Georges are gone -- coach O'Leary and QB Godsey, but the Yellow Jackets have an NFL coach in Chan Gailey and a fine replacement at QB in A.J. Suggs, a transfer from Tennessee.
1. Nebraska: Heisman winning QB Eric Crouch is gone, Huskers' defense allowed 99 points in last two games of '01, and the schedule presents road problems -- Penn State, Iowa State, Texas A&M and Kansas State. There are also home dates with Texas and Colorado.
2. UCLA: Bruins lost four of their last five after 6-0 start, and slow afoot QB Cory Paus doesn't look like the answer. Tough non-league games, too: Colorado State at home, Oklahoma State on the road and back home against Colorado.
3. Virginia Tech: QB Grant Noel's injured knee is still a question, and RB Lee Suggs is coming off knee surgery. There's no standout WR, and the defense has holes to fill.
4. Fresno State: No QB David Carr, no chance to make a national splash like last year.
GREAT GAME DAYS
1. Oct. 12: Florida at LSU, Tennessee at Georgia, Florida State at Miami, Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas), Penn State at Michigan.
2. Nov. 23: Auburn at Alabama, South Carolina at Clemson, Oregon at Oregon State, USC at UCLA, Washington at Washington State and Michigan at Ohio State.
3. Sept. 14: Michigan at Notre Dame, Nebraska at Penn State, Florida State at Maryland, USC at Colorado and Washington State at Ohio State.
4. Nov. 2: Florida-Georgia (Jacksonville), Michigan State at Michigan, Colorado at Oklahoma and Texas at Nebraska.
1. Lee Evans, WR, Wisconsin: A knee injury in spring practice will keep him out until Oct. 5, at the earliest. Evans set a Big Ten receiving record with 1,545 yards in '01.
2. Frank Gore, RB, Miami: Out until October at the earliest as he recovers from right knee injury. Ran for 562 yards and five TDs in '01.
3. Julius Jones, RB, Notre Dame: Irish's leading rusher the past two years is academically ineligible.
4. Bo Sciafe, TE, Texas: Out for the season with knee problems.
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