100 Things We Can't Wait to See This College Football Season
The 2010 college football season kicks off this week and the months of anticipation are just days away from being realized.
As we venture into another roller coaster year, there are tons of burning questions, coaches on the hot seat, star players wrapping up their careers, must-see games, must-visit tailgates, and the excitement and entertainment that can only be found here.
College football is sporting tradition at it's best and there's really nothing quite like it.
So here's a look at 100 things we can't wait to see this season, from the smallest to the largest.
Get ready football fans, kick-off is right around the corner!
100. Presbyterian at Wake Forest, September 2
What better place to start than the first game of the season.
It doesn't matter who's playing or how little the game means in the grand scheme of things, all that matters is that when Presbyterian and Wake Forest kick-off at 6:30 p.m. on September 2, the college football season will be officially under way.
Will this be the most exciting game of the year?
No, but you can bet there will be millions of football fans all around the country thrilled to see this game come sparking one of the best days of the college football year.
It's opening kick-off weekend and it starts with Presbyterian at Wake Forest.
99. The Emergence Of a Star: Marcus Lattimore, September 2
Lattimore just has the look of a star running back. He's got the speed, quickness and talent to be one of the nation's top playmakers right out of the gates.
On any given play he's a threat to break loose and go the distance and there's little doubt he's going to take over the Gamecocks' backfield as a freshman.
There are few players who hit the hole with as much power, but also have the vision and patience to wait for the right moment to change gears.
The situation at South Carolina is perfect for a new talent to come in and instantly be the No. 1 guy.
Against Southern Mississippi at 7:30 p.m. on September 2 we could all be witnesses to what the next four years have in store.
98. Lane Kiffin's Debut, September 2
Pete Carroll bolted USC after nine seasons to return to the NFL after leaving the New England Patriots in 1999.
Caroll will be taking over as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks and has taken scrutiny for the timing of his defection.
He left the Trojans shortly before severe NCAA sanctions were put on the program and heads to an unfavorable situation in Seattle, after passing up better offers for years from other teams in the league.
Kiffin has had a bit of a roller-coaster ride over the last few years, going from the offensive coordinator at USC to the head coach of the Oakland Raiders to the head coach at Tennessee and then at USC, all in a period of just four years.
He steps into a tough situation with the Trojans with NCAA sanctions stripping them of future scholarships as well as the chance to compete in the postseason.
They can't compete for anything until 2012 or possibly 2011 if the school wins its appeal, so it'll be very hard to maintain order within the program.
His first game as head coach against Hawaii on September 2 will be the most interesting storyline of Week One.
97. Erin Andrew's First Appearance On GameDay, September 4
Everyone's favorite sideline reporter, Erin Andrews, will be making her debut as the newest part-time host of ESPN's College Football GameDay.
Andrews will step away from her normal duties for the first hour of the program and take a seat besides Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler, and Desmond Howard, before heading down to the sidelines to continue her role as a reporter.
The first instalment of GameDay will be in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on September 4.
LSU and North Carolina will face off in the contest, but that won't be the story of the show.
That role is reserved for Erin Andrews.
96. Lee Corso's First Foam Head Prediction, September 4
Another tradition of ESPN's College GameDay comes from it's most well-known host, Lee Corso.
At the end of the program, Corso and Kirk Herbstreit each make their predictions for the day's key matchups, finishing up with the game to be played at the host stadium.
In Atlanta in Week One, we'll be seeing Corso don the head piece of the mascot of his predicted winner.
Seeing Corso chose between LSU and North Carolina should let us all know that College Football is truly back for another year.
95. John Brantley Replacing Tim Tebow at Florida, September 4
How will we describe Tebow to future generations? Will he go down as the best player of his generation, the best player ever? There's an argument there for either of those.
The former Florida quarterback won the Heisman and carried his team to two national championships. His numbers during his Heisman season in 2007 were awe-inspiring.
3,286 yards passing, 895 yards rushing, 55 touchdowns, and just six turnovers.
John Brantley has bigger shoes to fill next season that any player in college football.
Fortunately for Gators fans, he just might be the man for the job. Brantley will be starting in place of Tebow in 2010 and, from what he's shown so far, seems more than up to the task.
Obviously he isn't going to step in and do exactly what Tebow did, but Brantley is somewhat underrated and people will be surprised just how good this kid is when he gets unleashed when the action starts.
Against Miami of Ohio Brantley might not be a key factor, but a good showing in Week One will go a long way toward building up his confidence.
94. Brian Kelly's Debut, September 4 330
The Charlie Weis Era of Notre Dame football came and went without expectations of greatness being realized. Now, we enter the Brian Kelly Era, and the show begins all over.
Kelly comes over from Cincinnati after a very impressive season in 2009 in which he lead the Bearcats to a 12-0 record and the Big East Championship (Remember he did not coach the bowl game).
Everyone is curious to see how that success will translate to Notre Dame, where Kelly has installed his high-flying spread offense and will be working with a first-year starter at quarterback in Dayne Crist.
Purdue might not be the toughest opponent, but it's a good place to start, and you can bet a ton of people from around the country will be tuning into this one on September 4 at 3:30 p.m.
93. Dayne Crist Replacing Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame, September 4
One of the top quarterbacks in the nation last season, Jimmy Clausen might not have had tons of success in the win-loss column, but he was the undeniable leader of the Fighting Irish and will be sorely missed now that he's with the Carolina Panthers.
Clausen passed for over 8,000 yards throughout his career with 60 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in three seasons with Notre Dame.
Dayne Crist, the 5-star quarterback from the 2008 recruiting class will get his chance to take over this team in 2010, but there are question marks to answer. He's coming off a torn ACL and has only thrown 20 passes for his career.
With a new head coach in Brian Kelly and a new spread offense, things will be very different in South Bend.
Crist has to be able to prove his knee is healthy and master Kelly's offensive system. That's what you'll really be looking for from him personally, but what he really needs to do take this team to more than six wins next year.
It all starts week one.
92. Rich Rodriquez's Hot Seat Adventure Begins, September 4
Rich Rodriguez's run as the head coach of Michigan has been a bumpy ride, and that's putting it lightly. Since coming to the school from West Virginia three years ago, Rodriguez hasn't delivered much success.
In his first two seasons with the Wolverines, Rodriguez has put up an 8-16 record and has failed to lead his team to a winning record.
There might not be anyone in the country who has a hotter seat that he does right now and it'll take a lot more than a .500 record for him to keep his job.
We might not have to even wait that long to see Rodriguez ousted as head coach though. A loss to UConn in week one might spell the end of his tenure with Michigan.
91. Andre Ellington Replacing C.J. Spiller at Clemson Sep 4
C.J. Spiller was THE highlight player of the 2009 season. The Tigers running back was a playmaker in every sense of the word. He was a threat to take it the distance any time he touched the ball out of the backfield, on a route, or returning a kick.
With 5,536 all-purpose yards in his four years with Clemson, Spiller proved he was the batteries to the offense.
WIth Spiller gone, Clemson won't be able to rely on one back to plug the hole, but Andre Ellington should get the majority of the carries and presents the closest playing style of the running backs still on the roster.
Ellington is lightning fast, can get downfield and be a deep ball threat, and will take it the distance almost as well as his mentor did. Behind him, Jamie Harper is the big back that will wear down the opponents, but the real pressure is on Ellington.
If Ellington is able to bring some semblance of Spiller in the same way he did last year with 491 yards and four touchdowns off just 68 carries, the Tigers will be better than people expect.
Against North Texas in Week One, he could really run wild and light up the highlight reel.
90. Ohio University Marching 110, Sepember 4
Ohio University's Marching 110 is "The Most Exciting Band in the Land!"
The Bobcat's marching band is ranked as the best in college football. Their complicated and demanding marching style and formations, high-energy, and halftime routines make them a sight to see.
There isn't a halftime show in the country that rates better than the one these guys can put on every week for their fans.
And it doesn't hurt that the football team is improving as well, that should only make the show that began back in 1936 all the more entertaining.
When Wofford heads to Ohio on September 4, expect the Ohio Marching 110 to have something special planed for their first show of the year.
89. Jacquizz And James Rodgers, Oregon State, September 4
The James brothers are one of the best one-two punches in the country, if not the outright best.
The first of the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz, will begin the year on quite a few Heisman lists in 2010 for good reason. He's the only two-time First-Team All-Pac-10 player returning this season and brings about as much to the table as any offensive player in the country.
At 5'7", he might be the pound-for-pound toughest football player in the country. He will slice through a defense with cuts very few players can make and can light up the scoreboard and highlight reels with the best of them
The less-heralded of the Rodgers brothers, James, led the Pac-10 in all purpose yards in 2009 with 179.1 ypg. He's an electric receiver who recorded over 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last season and is clearly the top returning wideout in the conference.
There aren't many receivers who can deliver more production, but at 5'7" there's probably no one who could do it at Rodgers' size. He's going to go down as the best receiver in Oregon State history.
They're a can't-miss show and it starts against 6th-ranked TCU at 7:00 p.m. on September 4.
88. Jamarkus McFarland Replacing Gerald McCoy, September 4
Gerald McCoy was the cog that kept the Oklahoma defense rolling last season and now that he's the pressure will really be on the rest of the team to perform.
Some felt that McCoy was the best defensive tackle in the country last season and his play on the field backs up that claim.
Jamarkus McFarland will be starting in his place in 2010 and while he's spoken of playing and acting more like his mentor did, there aren't many people out there who are expecting him too.
McFarland has a lot of talent and now has to prove that he's worthy of the hype he received coming out of high school.
There's still Adrian Taylor to lean on, but McFarland has to quickly show he can handle a starters role or there will be big problems for the Sooners.
If he isn't able to handle the likes of Utah State in week one, the questions will start piling up.
87. Cameron Newton and Darvin Adams, Auburn, September 4
Cam Newton went from Florida to JUCO and now has landed the starting quarterback gig at Auburn. He comes with baggage, but his alleged theft charges are long removed and all that's visible to the naked eye is a ton of talent and potential.
He's a big, athletic passer who should do great in Auburn's up-tempo offense. Don't be surprised if his stats are off the charts in 2010 because he's more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
Darvin Adams was the go-to guy for Auburn last year.
There might be other receivers in the SEC with more talent and athleticism, but he's a model of consistency and you can't ask for too much more than that.
For some reason, he hasn't been given the respect he deserves, but that should change in 2010; especially with Newton throwing him the ball.
The expectations for this offense are huge and the pickings should be real easy against Arkansas State to get this show moving right from the start.
86. Marvin Austin And Robert Quinn, North Carolina, September 4
Marvin Austin is the best defensive tackle in the country. He's a brick wall that demands a constant double team and clogs up a ton of space up front for others to take advantage of.
Austin is in serious danger of missing next season due to an NCAA investigation. It remains to be seen how that will play out.
With 11 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, Robert Quinn was in the backfield about as much as any player in the country in 2009. With the troubles surrounding teammate Marivn Austin, there will be a lot more pressure on Quinn this time around.
The two of them form the core of what could be the best defense in the country and a huge game against LSU in Week One is the perfect place to start.
85. Ralphie the Buffalo, Colorado, September 4
Is there really anything better than a 1,300-hundred pound buffalo storming onto the field with tens of thousands of fans cheering and five grown men hanging onto it for their dear life?
Ok, that last part was a bit of an exaggeration, but Ralphie the Buffalo sure does take her handlers for a ride on game days.
Colorado's mascot is about as good as it gets in the mascot business and the running of the buffalo has become one of college football's greatest traditions.
It began in 1967 when the first Ralphie took her first loop around the stadium in a homecoming game against Oklahoma State.
Against Colorado State on September 4, Ralphi will take her first run across the field in 2010.
84. Tommy Tuberville's Debut, September 5
Tommy Tuberville begins his first season as the head coach at Texas Tech and brings one of the best resumes in the business to the table.
Along with his resume come the expectations of course, and Tuberville seems up to the task.
He'll add defense, grittiness, and confidence to the team that to this point has mostly been associated to the offensive side of the ball.
Texas Tech is flying under the radar right now, but that could change quickly next season.
Southern Methodist will be the first visitor to head into town and you know Tommy is going to have his team ready to impress for that one.
83. Tyrod Taylor And Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech, September 6
Taylor is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country and a very difficult matchup for any opposing defense. He's a smart player that rarely makes mistakes and constantly capitalizes on the mistakes of his opponents.
He and Ryan Williams combine to provide a very potent one-two punch that will help the Hokies have one of the best offenses in the country next season
Williams exploded onto the stage as a freshman last season to become one of the top running backs in the country with a record-setting year.
Voted the Rookie of the Year in the ACC and First-Team All-ACC, Williams is a touchdown machine who is very difficult to slow down. He runs with amazing power and quickness, bulldozing tacklers and carrying defenders two or three yards on numerous occasions.
Considering he did all this as a freshman, there's really no telling what he's capable of down the line.
With No. 3 ranked Boise State coming to town, Virginia Tech's two best players will have to put up or shut up right from the start.
82. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State, September 6
One of the most efficient and productive quarterbacks in the country, Kellen Moore's touchdown to interception ratio is off the charts and there aren't many quarterbacks who read the field better.
The Broncos will be leaning on him to get it done for them for another season and there's no reason to believe he won't. He's got a solid arm and throws the ball so accurately he rarely makes mistakes.
He'll have to have one of his best games to get past Virginia Tech in week one though, especially with the star power on the other sideline trying to prove they're the better team.
Boise State's No. 3 preseason ranking his huge, but that can all go away in a heartbeat with a quick loss.
It'll be up to Moore to avoid that on September 6.
81. Randy Shannon's Trip To Ohio, September 11
The Miami-Ohio State game is huge for a number of reasons.
It's the rematch of the 2002 BCS Championship, it's the meeting of the No. 2 team and the No. 13 team, and it's the game that could quickly become the defining moment of Randy Shannon's career as the head coach of the Hurricanes.
He may have taken this team to nine wins last season, but he's still on the hotseat and can't afford any sort of letdown in 2010. If this team doesn't at least make it to the ACC championship, he could see his boxes packed.
With Ohio State in Week Two, Pitt in Week Three, and FSU in Week 5, things could get real ugly in Miami if the chips don't fall their way.
It all starts with this team's performance against the Buckeyes. Pull off the upset and this machine could get rolling similar to how it did last season.
Lose and the wheels could fall right off the bus.
80. Terrelle Pryor And Cam Heyward, Ohio State, September 11
On the other side of the field will be two of the game's best players and they're on a mission of their own.
Terrelle Pryor really came into his own late last season and by the end of the year looked like the quarterback he was hyped up to be coming out of high school a couple years ago.
He's the best dual-threat QB in the country and based on the way he closed out his 2009 campaign, he just might be the best player in the country in 2010. There really aren't many candidates to have a better season than him.
A very quick and agile player for his size with one of the best motors in the game, Cam Heyward is a very difficult player to block and the cause of many headaches for offensive line coaches.
He had only six sacks last season, but his production is limited by examining statistics alone. Heyward does a great job of collapsing the pocket, taking on double teams and filtering ball-carriers over to his linebackers. He's a key cog in Ohio State's defense and a contributor who can't be overstated
Pryor and Heyward will be leading the Buckeyes' offense and defense and the hopes of a national championship could go right out the door with a loss to Miami on September 6th.
79. Michigan at Notre Dame, September 11
Notre Dame lost a 38-34 thriller against Michigan last season in one of Jimmy Clausen's best contests of the year. But now that he's off to the NFL, the going should be even harder in the rematch.
Brian Kelly will be bringing in his high-powered offensive system from Cincinnati, but without Clausen and Golden Tate, there will be a void to fill. Dayne Christ and Michael Floyd should be up to the task, but Notre Dame still has to prove their defense can improve dramatically from a year ago.
This will be a close game and one to keep your eye on.
78. Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones, Alabama,September 11
For a defensive team, these guys sure have some solid firepower on offense.
The reigning Heisman trophy winner, Mark Ingram is one of the best players in the country and a force to be reckoned with at running back. He's powerful, elusive, breaks tackles, has great top-end speed, and has off the charts athleticism.
Julio Jones is expected to be one of the top receiving threats in the country in 2010. After playing in only eight games last season do to a knee injury that kept him out for a portion of the year, Jones is finally fully healthy and ready to do some serious damage.
Trent Richardson was one of the most sought after prospects in the country coming out of high school a couple years ago and proved to be worth the hype with a strong freshman campaign.
He's a rare combination of size, speed, and elusiveness and, although he plays behind Ingram, Richardson still gets on the field a lot and takes full advantage of his opportunities.
You can't name a team that has three offensive weapons that matchup with these guys.
It'll be a great show all season long, but it should really get going in Week Two against Penn State.
77. Dont'a Hightower Replacing Rolando McClain, Alabama, September 11
Rolando McClain dominated in his role as Alabama's star middle linebacker in 2009. He was a brick wall as a run-stuffer and a panther in pass-rushing situations.
There are few players who bring more to the table on defense than McClain did. He was crucial last season and while the talent is there to replace him, it's hard to say he won't be missed.
Dont'a Hightower was a devastating knee injury away from being one of the top linebackers in the country a year ago, and the word out of Alabama is that he's looking better than ever after a long and strenuous rehab.
Coming out of high school, he was highly touted and the hype proved to be real when he lined up as a starter on opening day as a true freshman and then finished the year a First-Team All-Freshman selection.
If Hightower is able to stay heathy and is able to continue to realize his potential at the rate he did a couple years ago fans won't miss McClain much.
The pressure will be on him to stop Penn State's offense in Week Two.
76. Jimbo Fisher's First Challenge, September 11
Jimbo Fisher will be taking over as the head coach at FSU, but we'll skip his debut and head straight to the real meat. Sure, he gets an easy opener against Samford, but the real contest will be a week later against No. 7 ranked Oklahoma.
The longtime offensive coordinator will finally get his chance to prove that he's the real brains behind the Seminoles after serving as an assistant to the legendary Bobby Bowden.
Fisher is a fan favorite and was named the heir-apparent well in advance of his rise to the top. But now the pressure is really on him.
There's no Bowden around to point fingers at and it could be a bumpy start to Fisher's tenure as head coach if FSU gets embarrassed by Oklahoma.
75. Adrian Clayborn And Ricky Stanzi, Iowa, September 11
Adrian Clayborn is arguably the top playmaker in the Big Ten. He's a great pass-rusher, solid in run support, and the leader of Iowa's defense.
Last season, he capped a campaign that ranked him as one of the league-leaders in sacks, tackles, and forced fumbles with an MVP performance against Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
He's a dominating force and only got better as the season went along. While Greg Jones might be the most nationally-recognized defender in the Big Ten, Clayborne is just as important to the Hawkeyes.
If not for a late-season ankle injury to Ricky Stanzi, it might have been Iowa instead of Ohio State that won the Big Ten in 2009.
When he went down against Northwestern, the Hawkeyes ended up losing that game. Two weeks later, the Iowa lost to the Buckeyes without their starting quarterback.
That's the type of difference and his 18-4 record as the starter can't be ignored.
Now that the pair are healthy and ready to roll, the folks at Iowa are expecting big things from this team in 2010.
Iowa State's visit on September 11 isn't a game to overlook though.
74. Shane Vereen Replacing Jahvid Best at Cal, September 11
Javhid Best was one of the top running backs in the nation throughout his tenure as the starting running back at Cal.
Though he was plagued by injuries last year and wasn't able to participate in the last three games of the season, he still managed to rush for 867 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 213 yards receiving and an additional four touchdowns.
Shane Vereen looks like a star in the making for the Golden Bears, and will be taking over as the starting back in 2010.
He actually outperformed Best in terms of rushing production, and elevated the offense over the last three games of the year without the highly regarded starter.
Though Vereen was able to rush for nearly 1,000 yards with 12 touchdowns while adding over 250 yards receiving, a lot of that came late in games with little to no pressure.
We'll skip the cupcake matchup against UC Davis in Week One and move on to a visit from Colorado in Week Two. That's where you'll get your first taste of what Vereen can really do.
73. Janzen Jackson Replacing Eric Berry at Tennessee, September 11
Eric Berry was the top safety in all of college football in 2010 and that got him drafted fifth overall by the Kansas City Chiefs.
He's a big-hitter, a solid tackler, can cover a ton of ground about as fast as any safety in the country. Throughout his career at Tennessee he recorded 241 tackles and 14 interceptions dominating the Vols secondary.
Janzen Jackson has some huge holes to fill, but the coaching staff thinks he's on the verge of stardom and the sophomore will shine in his role as a a full-time starter as the quarterback of secondary.
He started nine games last season and emerged as big-hitter and playmaker with a very, very high ceiling. He can fly across the field so fast it almost looks like you're watching the game in fast-forward.
Things will be looking good if Jackson is able to avoid the off-field issues that cost him three games last year and nearly got him charged with armed robbery.
When it comes to to his skills on the field, there's not much to be worried about. It's when Jackson steps out of the locker room and is on his own that the worries arise.
There's a tough start to the season though that should be a great test for Jackson. If he can hold up against Oregon, it'll only be his maturity that you have to worry about.
72. Rahim Moore And Akeem Ayer, UCLA, September 11
Rahim Moore might be the best returning safety in the nation and could be in line for even more success his junior year. He's a staple of consistency, starting all 25 games of his career to this point.
A sure handed ball hawk, Moore's 10 interceptions last season were the most by any player since 1993.
It must be admitted that Akeem Ayers is somewhat of a forgotten man in the national picture and may very well prove to be one of the top 25 players in the country by the end of the year; he's that good.
Ayers recorded 75 tackles with 14.5 coming for a loss in 2009. He also had six sacks, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. There are very few players who can deliver such a diverse stat line and that's the main reason he's showing up on preseason All-American lists.
These two players are the beginning and end of UCLA's defense and this team isn't going anywhere without them.
The Bruins have been in decline for years and a big matchup against Stanford will go a long way toward turning things around.
71. The Brett Nottingham Storyline, September 11
Sticking with that Stanford-UCLA matchup, there's another storyline to follow for this one.
Stanford and UCLA aren't starving at quarterback by any means, but you never know what you'll need down the line, especially in the Cardinal's case where Andrew Luck is a virtual lock to bypass the rest of his college eligibility for the NFL Draft.
That's where Brett Nottingham comes into play. He's a polished pocket passer with plenty to like about his game and is considered somewhat of a sleeper. He may end up being a special quarterback when he hits the field in then next couple years.
The problem is, it won't be at UCLA who gets to see that happen. He decommited from the Bruins in January and chose rival Stanford instead.
He'll be playing his college ball for the Cardinal and I really can't wait for some of the secondary storylines that come along with that - I'm a recruiting guy, you knew I'd have to throw a few of those in here.
70. USC Song Girls, September 11
USC's song girls are probably the most famous cheerleaders in all of college football. They have a long and storied tradition and fans from around the country gather to watch them put on a show at Trojans' games every year.
The group came together in 1967 when seven female students were selected to create a new addition to USC's spirit scene.
The following year, the Song Girls walked out onto the field at the Coliseum and cheered the Trojans football team to victory.
In 2002, Sports Illustrated Magazine voted the USC Song Girls as the Best Cheerleaders in America and when Virginia heads to Los Angeles on September 11, they'll be making their 2010 home debut.
69. Robert Griffin III, Baylor September 18
Robert Griffin emerged as a dangerous weapon as an 18-year-old dual-threat quarterback with exceptional athleticism. Unfortunately, a torn ACL sidelined him for much of last year and ruined Baylor's season.
He's back this year healthy and ready to resume where he left off as a freshman. As long as that knee holds up, he could be one of the best college football players in the country, period.
There's high hopes flying in Baylor and they all begin and end with their quarterback.
Will this team win a national championship? Of course not, but it wouldn't hurt to see Griffin put a whooping on No. 6 ranked TCU on September 18.
No one will see that one coming, but don't think Griffin doesn't have the talent to make it happen.
68. Garrett Gilbert Replacing Colt McCoy at Texas, September 18
Colt McCoy left Texas as a legend. He might not have brought the Longhorns a championship in 2009, but he's going down as one of the best to ever play the game.
In his four years as the team's starting quarterback he passed for 13, 252 yards with 112 touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 173.75 in 2008 was the third-highest in the country.
Garrett Gilbert barely saw any action in 2009 before the National Championship game. That's when Alabama knocked McCoy out of the contest, and forced GIlbert into a starting role he was clearly not ready for.
He completed just 37.5 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Before that game, Gilbert had through just 26 passes throughout the season.
Gilbert has to be the care-taker of the offense, lean on his defense and running backs and avoid mistakes. This team will be competing for a championship in 2010 and while there won't be much pressure on Gilbert to get them there, he's still in a position to screw it up.
Texas Tech in Week Three is the first real challege this team will be facing; it's also the first game Gilbert could realistically cost them.
67. Jared Crick Replacing Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska Sep 18
Ndamukong Suh was a monster in the middle for the Cornhuskers last season, and served as the linchpin for the defense. Everything started with the pressure the defensive line was able to get at the point of attack and most of that can be attributed to Suh.
He was the second player selected in the NFL draft after a stellar All-American season that got Nebraska back on track.
Jared Crick began the 2009 season as the body that occupied space beside Ndamukong Suh and took up some additional space. By the end of the year, he'd earned his own reputation as an exceptional defensive tackle.
Crick was named First-Team All-Big 12 as a sophomore, and now in his junior year is primed to become one of the leaders of the Cornhuskers' defense and a serious force in the middle.
Crick has to be able to prove he can be just as effective, if not more so, than he was last year now that Suh is no longer there to take the pressure off. Crick will assume the responsibility of being the anchor of Nebraska's defense; if they're going to improve he has to too.
Washington is an up-and-comer and shouldn't be overlooked. Crick needs to make his mark in this game and roll from there.
66. A.J. Green And Washaun Ealey, Georgia, September 18
A.J. Green is arguably the best receiver in the country and a deadly weapon for the Bulldogs. He possesses great size and speed, and plays with a physical style that wears down corners throughout a game.
Green missed three games due to injury last season, but is healthy now and should be in line for a massive 2010 campaign.
Washaun Ealey had enough rushing yards as a freshman to make himself the second-leading returning rusher in the SEC for 2010.
He's a tough, physical player who's about as hard to bring down as any player in the conference. He hits the hole hard, explodes through tacklers, and drives his legs all the way to the whistle.
Considering he didn't even play until the fifth game of the season and then closed the season out averaging over 100 yards per game in Georgia's last five contests, expect big things from him in 2010.
Georgia's offensive success will be built mostly on the success of these two individuals. If the Bulldogs want to finally compete for the SEC championship, they need to perform week-in and week-out.
Arkansas' defense on September 18 is the perfect test.
65. Dion Lewis And Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh, September 23
Lewis might be as important to his team as any player in the country. The Panthers rely on him so much and really don't have anyone who can fill the void that would be created without him.
Lewis is a powerful, straight-line runner who does a great job of hitting the holes hard, with purpose. There are few who can take him down on first contact and even fewer who can deal with him in open space
Baldwin is a huge target who's capable of getting the ball deep or catching it in traffic. His production has grown tremendously each year he's been at the collegiate level and should only continue to sky-rocket as he enters his junior year.
His 19.5 ypc were among the best in the country last season and are a great indicator of Baldwin's big-play ability. There are few players capable of breaking a game open the way he can
Together, Lewis and Baldwin present the best running back-wide receiver combo in the Big East, maybe even the entire country.
Their season has a make-or-break game on September 23 against the Miami Hurricanes; this will be a good one for both offenses.
64. Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas Sep 25
Ryan Mallet is the top quarterback in the country and, if he meets expectations, will be the top player in all of college football in 2010, which should earn him a Heisman.
He's a very accurate passer and a great leader on the field. He commands the respect of his teammates and leads by example with stellar play and a near-flawless work ethic.
Mallet is another player with all the tools the NFL is looking for and currently is in a tight race with Jake Locker to be the first pick in the 2011 draft.
But he needs to prove he can elavate the Ravorbacks to a new level in 2010 and take this darkhorse team to places not many people think they can go.
Look for Mallet to put a huge staple on his Heisman campaign against Alabama in Week Four. He doesn't have to win, but he needs to come close.
63. Janoris Jenkins Replacing Joe Haden at Florida, September 25
Joe Haden was one of the top cornerbacks in the country in 2009 and that got him selected seventh overall by the Cleveland Browns in last year's NFL draft.
He recorded eight interceptions and 197 tackles throughout his career with the Gators and even though this team has a ton of talent in the secondary, there's no one with the experience and leadership that Haden brought to the table.
Janoris Jenkins has been a starter for the Gators since he was a true freshman. Next season, he will have to prove he can be a leader in the secondary, because now it truly belongs to him.
He is a lock-down corner who can blanket his man, but he's also a very good tackler and a solid contributor in run support.
Without Haden, the pressure falls on him to cover the opponent's best wide receiver and Jenkins first test will come against Kentucky on September 25. That's when he'll have to contain the Wildcat's top weapon, Randall Cobb.
62. Patrick Peterson And Kelvin Sheppard, LSU, September 25
Peterson is one of the best cover cornerbacks in the country, consistently taking on an opponents best receiver and often times shutting them down. He's held some of the best wide outs in the country in check, including star players like A.J. Green.
Peterson is also capable of making big plays when he gets his hands on the ball. He might not make too many interceptions, but that is due mostly to the fact that no one throws the ball near him
Kevin Sheppard had a 110 tackles last season to lead his team and if not for the high number of star linebackers in the SEC he might have gotten more recognition.
He's a tackling machine, a model of consistency, and an instinctive player who pursues ball carriers like a mad man, covering the field from sideline to sideline about as well as anyone in the country.
He is the leader of LSU's defense alongside Patrick Peterson; they are truly irreplaceable talents.
Noel Devin and company head to Baton Rouge on September 25 and you can bet Peterson and Sheppard will show the nation what they're capable of against West Virginia.
61. Mark Herzlich And Luke Kuechly, Boston College Sep 25
Mark Herzlich is one of the best all-around defenders in the country and a playmaker who always finds a way to make a difference. He's a sure-handed tackler, solid in pass-coverage, a turnover machine, and a decent pass-rusher. You won't find many defenders who do more than him.
Herzlich is the heart and soul of BC's defense and should continue in that role as he enters his senior season with very high expectations and a scare with cancer in the rear-view mirror.
Luke Kuechly was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009 as well making First-Team All-ACC; he was a Second-Team All-American selection by SI.com. His 12.5 tackles per game were the most by any freshman in NCAA history.
Kuechly is already one of the top linebackers in the country and is only getting better. It's scary to think about what he'll be doing in a couple years.
Together, this pair of Eagles lead an underrated defense that will have the chance to turn some heads against Virginia Tech's nearly unstoppable offense.
60. The Eric Mack Storyline, September 25
Eric Mack, one of the best offensive line prospects in the country as well as a top-10 ranked player from the state of South Carolina, pulled a fast one on the Gamecocks and instead chose their rivals to play his college ball.
Mack decommitted from South Carolina in January after making a firm commitment to the school earlier that same month. Just days after telling the press he would not make an official visit to Auburn, Mack signed with the Tigers.
A force along the interior of the offensive line, Mack has the chance to be a burden in the Gamecocks side for the next four years. He's a bulldozer of a blocker and you can bet he'll be opening up holes for Michael Dyer on the regular in a year or two.
When Auburn faces off with South Carolina on September 25, the Gamecocks will get a preview of what's to come and a reminder of what should have been theirs.
Not to mention the rumors that Mack only committed to South Carolina to try and pry loose Marcus Lattimore.
There will be some bad blood in this one.
59. Tai-Ler Jones and the Stanford-Notre Dame Rivalry, September 25
Stanford-Notre Dame tends to be a somewhat unheralded rivalry because both teams have far greater competitions with other teams that get significantly more attention.
Still, the battle for the Legacy Trophy has had its moments, including Stanford's 45-38 win over Notre Dame last season.
The Irish managed to return the favor in a small manner by stealing four-star recruit Tai-ler Jones away from the Cardinal after he originally committed to them back in October.
When the two teams meet this September 25, Jones might have the chance to make another impact for the Irish.
Bet on this being a big talking point leading up to the game.
58. Florida at Alabama, October 2
Florida's only loss last season came at hands of Alabama in the SEC Championship, in what was arguably the biggest game of the year—including the National Championship.
Whichever undefeated SEC powerhouse won the game would go on to face Texas for the title, and many experts believed either team would have easily handled the Longhorns.
The Gators got thrashed by the Tide 32-13 in a stunning loss that left Tim Tebow in tears and the Gator Nation speechless.
This season, Alabama is expected to compete for the a second consecutive national championship, but their meeting with Florida in October will be a huge decider in that.
Even without Tebow, the Gators are an incredibly strong team, but Alabama just looks too strong on paper, and they're the early favorites to be the top team in the nation.
If this game was in the Swamp it might be a different story, but at home, you have to think the Tide will take care of business.
57. Miami at Clemson, October 2
Miami was one of the early-season surprises of 2009, with wins over FSU, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma in the first four weeks of the season.
Clemson pretty much dashed their chances of winning the ACC for the first time though after C.J. Spiller went crazy against the 'Canes to help the Tigers pull off the overtime upset in Miami.
Now that he's in Buffalo getting ready to suit up for the Bills, Clemson's offense just isn't the same beast anymore. Miami on the other hand is returning practically ever major weapon in 2010.
They should overpower the Tigers and avoid another devastating loss.
This could be the Hurricanes first trip to the ACC championship game and standing in their way is a much less frightening Clemson team that erased those hopes in overtime last season.
56. Oklahoma Vs. Texas, October. 2
The Red River Rivalry is one of the most heated in all of sports. These two teams have been going at it annually since the 19th century and play their yearly contest in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl.
It's about as intense as it gets, with fans from both sides swooping into the area by the thousands to eat, drink, celebrate their team, and taunt their rivals. And for those that need a little something extra, the Texas State Fair is just around the corner.
Last year Oklahoma was without Sam Bradford, which took a bit of the bite out of the contest. But this year's should be yet another classic. Expect the party to start early for all and end very late for one.
Last season, Texas was expected to beat Oklahoma with Sam Bradford, but after he was lost for the game after re-aggravating his notorious shoulder injury in the first quarter, the contest was supposed to be over.
The Sooners stuck it out though, and nearly pulled off the major upset in the 16-13 loss. They blitzed Texas all day, and gave Colt McCoy a headache he was barely able to get through.
Oklahoma may have lost Bradford to the NFL, but Landry Jones has proved more than capable in the minutes he's seen thus far, and should make up for the hole at quarterback.
Texas, on the other hand, is down a lot of key contributors in McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Sergio Kindle, and Earl Thomas—just to name a few. They have a lot of question marks entering the season, and that could be the difference in this one.
55. Penn State at Iowa, October 2
The Nittany Lions lost just two games last season, and both of them will be on their revenge list in 2010. First on the docket will be a rematch with Iowa, after a 21-10 loss last September.
The Big Ten is looking very strong, and the competition should be fierce between Penn State, Iowa, and Ohio State.
If Penn State will have any chance of repeating their 11-2 season from a year ago, they'll need to find some answers on the defensive side of the ball. They've lost six starters on defense from a year ago, including star linebackers Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee and tackle Jared Odrick.
Iowa, on the other hand, is stacked on both sides of the ball, and only really needs to find replacements along the offensive line. If they can do so, they should be in line for any even better year in 2010.
Some might worry about the Hawkeyes defense, but the thought here is that those worries are blown out of proportion.
54. Stanford at Oregon, October 2
Stanford ran and passed all over Oregon last season, in an impressive 51-42 upset over the then-ranked No. 8 team in the country. The Ducks went on to win the Pac-10, but the loss to the Cardinal still has to sting.
The matchup this year should be one of the best of the season, as both teams return the majority of their star power, especially on offense.
We should be in line for another shootout, but you have to think Chip Kelly will be more prepared in his second season as Oregon's head coach. If they can shut down Andrew Luck, this is a game the Ducks should win.
It'll be one of the top games to watch in the Pac-10 next season and a revenge matchup that will draw a ton of attention.
This could be the make-or-break game of Andrew Luck's outside shot at the Heisman.
53. Washington at USC, October 2
The Trojans had a disappointing season in 2009, going 5-4 in the Pac-10 and pretty much playing themselves out of any chance of a BSC bowl bid as a result.
They'll want revenge against all four of their losses from a year ago, but to give more teams a chance to make the list, only three of them will be listed year.
Spoiler alert: Oregon is not one of them.
Washington, on the other hand, is one opponent USC absolutely should have beaten last season; the others were understandable, if not acceptable.
The Huskies held the Trojans to just 13 points in their 16-13 upset that was defined by special teams and defense, more than anything else.
Jake Locker might be the early favorite to be the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft next year, but this isn't a game where he's going to find the going easy.
USC brought in a lot of talented guys to get the offense back on track next season, and it would be shocking if they were held to such low totals against Washington in 2010.
52. Justin Hunter,J.C. Copeland, and The Tennesee-LSU Game, October 2
The October 2 meeting between LSU and Tennessee will be a good one for a number of reasons, but from a recruiting standpoint both teams will be looking for a little payback.
The Vols managed to pry away Justin Hunter, one of the best wide receiver prospects in the country, after he decommitted from LSU in January. After the decision, Hunter left the door open for the Tigers, saying he was still considering them, before ultimately signing with Tennessee.
J.C. Copeland on the other hand, was one of the biggest surprises on National Signing Day when he announced his commitment to LSU after only hours earlier stating he was determined to stick with Tennessee. The four-star defensive end is expected to make a big impact down the line.
While both Hunter and Copper are both about 50/50 to play as true freshman, it will be very interesting to see how this recruiting rivalry will play out over the next few years.
These stories will be a sticking point on game day, maybe not one that will get discussed much in public, but the coaches will be talking about it.
51. The Da'Rick Rogers Storyline
Da'Rick Rogers was considered to be the top prospect in the state of Georgia and top 10 in the nation in 2010. He's a big and powerful receiver who can quickly develop into a great red zone threat.
While it seemed like he was destined to be Bulldog, the Vols reversed a rough start to signing day beginning with his decommitment from Georgia and ending with one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
Rodgers will join Justin Hunter to potentially form a very dangerous one-two punch at receiver for the next few years in Vol country.
Georgia still managed to get one of the top recruiting classes as well, but they won't forget about losing their state's top prospect. When these two teams meet on October 9, expect that to be the hot topic.
That, of course, hinges on whether Rogers is around to play after his involvement in a bar fight in Knoxville.
50. LSU at Florida, October 9
LSU stuck with Florida for most of the first half in their 2009 matchup, before Tim Tebow connected with Riley Cooper for a 24-yard touchdown to put the Gators up by seven. They went on to win 13-3, but the game was closer than the scoreboard suggested.
The Tigers defense really put on a strong performance, and if they'd gotten just a little from their offense, they might have pulled off the upset.
This will be a crucial year for head coach Les Miles, as he could find himself on the hot seat if he isn't able to improve on last season's 9-4 record. He'll try to pump up his team big time for this one.
But it's very difficult for anyone to win in the Swamp.
49. Florida State at Miami, October 9
FSU-Miami is one of college football's best annual rivalries, and year in and year out, one of these two teams is looking for revenge. This time, it will be the Seminoles, after last season's crushing 38-34 loss.
FSU was up 34-31 with under two minutes to play, before Greg Cooper plunged into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown to put the Canes ahead for good and seal the season-opening victory for Miami.
Both teams are returning a lot of firepower, but the Seminoles will have to find answers on defense after allowing a ton of points in 2009.
This is the same Hurricanes team that went into Tallahassee with an untested sophomore quarterback and shaky offense last season, and came out as the high-powered offense that defined their 2009 campaign.
That shouldn't be any different in 2010, especially at home.
48. Michigan State at Michigan, October 9
Michigan State has gotten the better of Michigan each of the last two years with a 35-21 victory in 2008 and a classic 26-20 overtime win in 2009.
The Wolverines have still got to be hurting after that one.
Both teams are returning a lot of their key players from a year ago, so we should be in line for another good one this year. This will be a contest where home field will play a major role and should be the deciding factor.
It will be interesting to see if B.J. Cunningham is able to blow up like many experts believe he will, and with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, he should have every chance of doing so.
Michigan will be reminded of last season's loss nonstop up until game time though, and they desperately will try to give their home crowd something to be proud of.
47. USC at Stanford, October 9
Stanford put a whupping on USC at the Coliseum like no one has seen in a long time.
Even in a down year, the Trojans just don't lose at home by 34 points, but that's exactly what happened when the Cardinal came into town and walked out with a 55-21 victory.
Losing 47-20 in Oregon was bad, but that was an away game they weren't favored in. This was different. This was bitter.
If USC has pegged a game on their schedule as a must-win, this is the one. If they're going to win, they need to figure out how to stop Stanford's offense though. Losing Everson Griffin and Taylor Mays will hurt, especially considering how much their defense struggled in 2009.
The offense should be rolling along a lot better now that Matt Barkley has a year of experience.
Look for a high-scoring event on October 9.
46. The Biggest Upset Of The Year? Alabama at South Carolina, October 9
There's been talk rumbling for South Carolina fans that Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks are going to do the unthinkable this season and beat Alabama when the Crimson Tide come and visit on October 9.
Alabama fans will deny this but it's a game that keeps popping up as a major upset.
Will it happen?
That's the beauty of college football. We'll all have to tune in and watch. But this could turn out to be one of the biggest storylines of the entire season.
45. Texas at Nebraska, October 16
The 2009 Texas-Nebraska Big 12 Championship was an ugly, defense-dominated affair that was much closer than most expected it to be. The Longhorns escaped with a 46-yard field goal as time expired to secure their spot in the national championship.
After holding Texas in check for most of the game, it was a tough pill to swallow for the Cornhuskers.
They return their core offensive skill position players for 2010, and should have a legitimate chance of unseating the Longhorns as the top team in the Big 12.
It would be surprising to see the defenses dominate this matchup quite like they did a year ago, but they'll still be the deciding factor even. Nebraska has the offensive advantage, and it will really be up to Texas' defense to keep them in check.
44. The First BCS Rankings Of The Year, October 17
The official BCS rankings aren't announced until after Week Seven play has come to a close and that means we'll get the first look at the computer standings on October 17.
This day will likely mark another round of criticism of the system and cries for a playoff format much in the same manner as in years past.
There's bound to be some surprises, some outrage, some smiles, and some serious frustration.
It'll also be a day college football fans around the country storm to their computers to see where their respective teams are ranked.
43. Georgia Tech at Clemson, October 23
The Georgia Tech-Clemson matchups from a year ago were some of the best games of the season, but the Yellow Jackets got the better end of the stick in two close games.
This year, their October meeting will be a double revenge game for Clemson, which lost 30-27 to G-Tech in September and 39-34 in the ACC Championship.
Kyle Parker should make improvements from a good freshman season, but he doesn't have his top weapons in C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford.
The Yellow Jackets have some issues as well with the departure of Jonathan Dwyer, Demaryius Thomas, and Derrick Morgan, three of their key contributors from a year ago.
Still, that triple option is a very difficult beast to tame.
42. Alabama at Tennessee, Oct. 23
Boats tie up by the hundreds along the Tennessee River and fans whip out the barbecues and beer. College students and fans pack the parking lots surrounding the stadium and party hard from dawn to dusk.
Tennessee fans can never seem to agree on who their biggest rival is or which game they're looking forward to the most. Some say Florida, while others insist it's Alabama.
Well, considering both are heading to Volunteer country this season and the Crimson Tide head into town after beating Tennessee 12-10 in 2009, that's probably the game that will be the more electric of the two.
This is one of college football's great tailgating experiences and one fans should try to make their way out to.
41. Notre Dame Vs. Navy, October 23
Navy has narrowly beat Notre Dame the last two seasons, and the annual matchup should be a good one in 2010.
If Notre Dame is able to hold firm and not fall behind quickly like they did a year ago, they could have a shot of pulling of the upset.
The Midshipmen look stacked on paper though, and they'll ride quarterback Ricky Dobbs all season long; he's one of the best running quarterbacks to play in a long time.
Notre Dame didn't have an answer for year ago, and even though the defense should be improved upon from last season, they'll still struggle.
40. The Chase Rome Storyline
Chase Rome doesn't quite measure up to some of the other prospects on this list, but when it comes to Nebraska and Oklahoma State, every victory matters.
No, we aren't talking Cornhuskers-Sooners here, but Cornhuskers-Cowboys still has a nice ring to it. These two teams haven't played since 2007, when Oklahoma State wiped the floor with Nebraska to the tune of 45-14.
Well three years later, the Cornhuskers are looking much stronger and Rome joins a solid recruiting class that has the chance to do some damage right out of the gates next season.
A defensive end in high school, Rome will likely play linebacker at the next level. That's the vision Oklahoma State had for him when he originally committed to them in March of last year.
That was before he decommitted in October and later signed with Nebraska.
When these teams meet on October 23, it will be just one of many story lines to follow
39. Ron Zook's Hotseat, October 23
Ron Zook took Illinos to the Rose Bowl in 2007, but that seems like a lifetime ago now. For as fast as he helped this team get to the top, they've fallen that quickly to the bottom.
Coming off a 3-9 record, the offense doesn't look nearly as promising as it once did and things are really starting to unravel for Zook and Co.
He'll be leaning on his running game with Mikel Leshoure leading the way, but if Illinois doesn't start winning, then Zook will find himself out of a job.
His seat will be a hot one all season long, but this is the game to keep your eye on.
With Missouri week one, and then Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State in weeks four, five, and six, Illinois could be looking at a 2-4 record heading into it's home game against Indiana.
Drop that one and it's bye-bye Zook.
38. The Original Homecoming: Missouri, October 23
Homecoming is a tradition that all schools have adopted, but it's at Missouri that the tradition first took hold back in 1911.
That's when Chester L. Brewer, MU's Director of Athletics, had the idea to invite all the school's alumni to "come home" and watch the Missouri-Kansas game—at the time the school's biggest rival.
As part of this celebration of "coming home," there was a parade and spirit rally to coincide with the actual game.
Things have never been the same for college football since and now homecoming is an integral part of the game.
So we pay homage to history and recognize the Missouri homecoming game against Oklahoma as something special to look forward to this season.
37. Michigan at Penn State, Oct. 30
What do you get when you pack 100,000 people into Beaver Stadium on Saturdays with another 10 to 15 thousand left in the parking lot?
Well, technically, the third-largest population in the state of Pennsylvania, but what the police saw was a drinking problem.
That caused a law to be enacted that prohibits drinking outside the stadium during games, apparently to settle the unruly crowds that come out to support their team.
If Penn State had Ohio State at home this season or even a classic Syracuse matchup, it would be one of the top two or three tailgating games this season, but unfortunately Michigan is the best available this time around.
But it's still a tailgating experience any real college football fan could enjoy.
36. Texas Tech at Texas A&M, Oct. 30
The fans at Texas A&M have been compared to a cult. They take their football so seriously that the old saying "Football is a religion in Texas" couldn't possibly ring truer.
Give these people some credit, though. After all, it's a lot easier to root for a powerhouse like UT than to raise an Aggies flag year in and year out.
But the passion and steadiness of the A&M fan base is just as good, if not better than their rivals. It's a a shame their contest with Texas comes on the road this season; it seems all the best rivalries are being played in the wrong tailgating location this year.
Texas Tech-Texas A&M doesn't spark the same interest, but it's still a heated rivalry between two schools who both love themselves a barbecue on Saturdays.
Not to mention Texas Tech got thrashed by A&M last season to the tune of 52-30.
35. Georgia Vs. Florida, Oct. 30
The Georgia-Florida annual contest at Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium is a staple of the tailgating experience. The event is known simply as the "World's Largest Cocktail Party" and usually draws crowds as large as 500,000 people.
Every year over 100,000 Bulldogs and Gators come to watch the game with the winning side always sticking around for the presentation of the Okefenokee Oar and the losing side resuming their parking lot festivities early.
It's a rivalry that dates back to 1915 and draws one of the largest yearly tailgating crowds in the country.
This looks like a year Georgia can make it interesting on the field, and that should make it interesting off it.
There isn't a tailgaiting experience in all of college football that has quite the same ring to it.
34. Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, November 4
Virginia Tech went 10-3 last season and narrowly missed out on a trip to the ACC Championship, thanks to a key loss to Georgia Tech in October.
The Yellow Jackets pulled off the upset, and controlled the game right from the get-go with great clock management and a dangerous running game behind their infamous triple option.
Georgia Tech took a bigger hit this offseason than Virginia Tech did, so you have to think this will be a closer contest than it was a year ago.
With running back Ryan Williams expected to compete for the Heisman, there's a good chance he'll be the key to victory for the Hokies.
33. North Carolina at Florida State, November 6
The Tar Heels finished in the middle of the ACC pack last season with an 8-4 regular season, but there were a couple losses that really shouldn't have happened.
One was against Florida State in October, and the other was against NC State to close out the regular season.
North Carolina was winning 27-23 against FSU with seven minutes to play, and it appeared they were headed for victory in front of their home crowd in Chapel Hill.
The Seminoles rallied behind Chris Ponder to take the lead shortly after though and escaped with the 30-27 win.
For as much as the Tar Heels would like to pay them back for that one, they'll have to do it on the road this time around, and that will be a much harder task.
32. Alabama at LSU, November 6
Louisiana knows how to do one thing better than any state in the country.
The dishes you'll see prepared on a Saturday outside the stadium are truly amazing. Not only do you have some of the nation's best fans, but they bring the absolute best food to the table too.
Duck, gumbo, sausage, craw fish, etouffee, and grilled alligator.
Now if only the Tigers were playing the Auburn Tigers, we'd have a real game on our hands this year; Alabama will have to do.
But lets put the food aside. You've got Nick Saban, the Tigers, the Crimson Tide, and a very good game to follow after Alabama's 24-15 win a year ago.
31. Iowa at Northwestern, November 7
Besides dropping a close one to Ohio State, Iowa lost only one other game on the year. It turned out they wouldn't have won the Big Ten even if they had beat Northwestern, but that won't change the fact that they'll be looking for serious payback in 2010.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over the Wildcats when they met last year, but then were held scoreless for the remainder of the contest and suffered a disappointing 17-10 loss as a result. Losing quarterback Ricky Stanzi to a sprained ankle turned out to be the kiss of death.
It was a rare slip-up for an otherwise impressive team. After seeing what they did to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl and knowing that they'll be returning a ton of guys next season, the good money is on them avoiding another letdown.
30. Georgia at Auburn, Nov. 13
The Auburn faithful will literally pack the road miles from Jordan-Hare Stadium on game day. There's stories of crowds showing up on Thursdays and not driving home until Sunday.
That's the type of dedication that can't be left off the list. If Auburn were playing Alabama at home this year, the venue would be higher up the list, but unfortunately that's an away game.
So it's got to be either Georgia or LSU, and considering that the Bulldogs escaped last year with a 31-24 victory, it's safe to say the fans will be pumped up for the rematch.
Expect a huge gathering off the field and stadium filled with pumped up fans once the action starts.
It's a perfect recepe for football.
29. Miami at Georgia Tech, November 13
The Hurricanes put a beating on the Yellow Jackets when they met in the second week of the 2009 season, but that may have been a game where Miami simply caught Georgia Tech off guard.
This time, they'll be meeting in November, and both teams will be much more seasoned by that time of the year.
The Hurricanes shut down the triple option like very few teams are capable of, and it seemed there really wasn't an answer for the speed and athleticism of their defense.
They'll have to try and repeat that performance in Atlanta, but they're an up-and-coming team with a lot to prove. Randy Shannon is fighting for his job at this point, and he needs to prove he can return the Canes to the national spotlight.
This will be a crucial conference matchup for them.
28. North Carolina at Virginia Tech, November 13
Virgina Tech lost three games in 2009, but one came against Alabama and the other was at the hands of Georgia Tech. The third was the one that really shouldn't have happened.
A last second field goal by the Tar Heels sealed the 20-17 upset, and delivered the Hokies their second consecutive loss to pretty much end any hope of reaching a major bowl game.
V-Tech might be even better than they were a year ago though, and North Carolina will have their hands full when they travel to Blacksburg in November for the rematch.
But this will be no cakewalk for the Hokies. North Carolina's defense is about as good as it gets and it'll be looking to turn some heads in this heated ACC contest.
27. Penn State at Ohio State, November 13
Penn State and Ohio State were two of the top teams last season, and their 2009 matchup was one of the most anticipated games of the season. The Nittany Lions came into the game ranked 11th and the Buckeyes were ranked 16th.
You had to think that Penn State had a solid shot of beating their conference rival at home, but they were crushed 24-7 in a game that turned out to be much more one-sided than most experts believed it would be.
The Nittany Lions took a lot of hits to their defense in the offseason, and will need to find several replacements for key contributors.
The Buckeyes, on the other hand, look stacked on paper and should be one of the top-five teams in the nation in 2010.
26. Texas Tech at Oklahoma, November 13
Oklahoma was absolutely dominated when it played Texas Tech a year ago, and would probably like to forget everything about the 41-13 loss and wipe the slate clean in 2010.
With Sam Bradford spending so much time on the sidelines and not enough on the field, the Sooners had a disappointing year and finished at 8-5, well below the record most had pegged them to achieve.
The bright side of this was Landry Jones was able to get a ton of experience, and should be in line to lead Oklahoma to a much more successful campaign this time around.
They will do everything they can to avoid another showing against their conference rivals this time around.
Texas Tech is a darkhorse though and you can never count out a team like that when it comes to college football.
25. USC at Arizona, November 13
Another one of USC's unexpected losses of last year came at the hands of Arizona in the final game of the regular season. The Trojans were leading 17-14 with just over three minutes to play, but their defense wasn't able to hold firm, and they ended up losing 21-17 to close out their year.
As mentioned previously, USC brought in a lot of firepower in the offseason to beef up their offense, and they should be able to return to their normal place in the college football world.
The defense needs to improve if it's going to have any chance of putting up the type of performances that Trojan fans are used to seeing.
But on the smaller scale of this contest, they shouldn't have the same issues as they had a year ago.
Arizona might not be as pumped up for this one, but you can bet USC will be ready to rock.
24. UCLA at Washington, November 18
If you're a fan of boating and tailgating, the ultimate combination of the two takes place on Lake Washington every Huskies home game.
Here the fans drop anchor in the mornings and head home well into the night after hours of food, drink and boat-hopping throughout the game.
Many head into the stadium for the real festivities, but thousands more remain on the water, listening to the contest on the radio or swimming to a friendly boat with a TV big enough to share.
The Huskies' two biggest rivalry games, Washington State and Oregon, are on the road this year, but given how heartbreaking the Bruins' 24-23 victory was last season, you can go ahead and mark that game on your schedule now.
Forget the weather, this one will be good.
23. Mississippi at LSU, November 20
Losing to Florida and Alabama is one thing, but losing to Mississippi is a whole different story. That's exactly what LSU did in 2009, when it was defeated 25-23 by Ole Miss last November.
The Tigers had the chance to tie it late, but missed on a two-point conversion that could have potentially sent the game into overtime. It was very bitter defeat after losing to Alabama a couple weeks earlier.
There will be a lot of big games for LSU next season, and while this may not be one of the ones on the national radar, it's an important one for the school.
They don't take kindly to getting upset, and will be gunning for the Rebels when they match up in November.
22. North Carolina State at North Carolina, November 20
The annual North Carolina-NC State game is always fun to watch, but last year's contest was one of the best in years. The Wolfpack slipped by the Tar Heels with a 28-27 victory in the last game of their season.
In a year that North Carolina played very well, this was one loss that should have been avoided; getting shut out in the fourth quarter didn't help matters either.
This year the Tar Heels return most of their key contributors and should put up a much better showing at home. Don't expect this to be as close a contest as it was in 2009.
Even if they have to go it without Marvin Austin, expect North Carolina to be fired up for this contest and avoid the embarrasment they suffered last season.
21. Stanford at California, November 20
Stanford was upset at home against Cal last year in a 34-28 loss that was one of the few blemishes on an otherwise solid season for the Cardinal.
With Stanford expected to make a noticeable push up the standings, and at least give USC and Oregon a run for their money in conference play, they'll have to avoid losses in winnable situations like this.
Andrew Luck had one of the worst games of his 2009 season against the Golden Bears, but it would be very surprising to see him repeat a performance like that.
Luck will probably be playing his last season with the Cardinal in 2010 as he's expected to head for the NFL, so it wouldn't be surprising if he's already marked this game on his calendar as a must-win.
20. Ohio State at Iowa, November 20
Iowa came into Columbus with a chip on its shoulder after a tough loss to Northwestern the previous week, but the going just got tougher after Ohio State handed it a 27-24 overtime loss.
Without Ricky Stanzi, the Hawkeyes weren't expected to put up much of a fight, but they really impressed, despite walking away with the loss.
Stanzi is back for his senior year, as are many of Iowa's best players, and if it can manage to stay healthy up to this point in the year, it should be one of the best games of the season.
Right now, it looks like Ohio State has the better roster, but a lot can change between then and now. Still, if it's going to compete for a championship, this is a must-win game.
It will be a close one that could go either way, but the prediction has to declare a winner, right?
19. Virgina Tech at Miami, November 20
Miami opened the season with impressive wins against FSU, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma. But before the Hurricanes beat the Sooners, they got thrashed by Virginia Tech 31-7 in Blacksburg in their worst loss of the season.
If they'd won that game, their victory over Oklahoma the following week would have made it 4-for-4 against ranked opponents to open the season; a feat like that would have put them in contention.
But that's a trip too far down the hypothetical ladder. The Hurricanes got crushed, and the season just wasn't the same afterwards.
Both of these teams are returning potent offenses in 2010, and it should be quite a battle between the two of them and Georgia Tech for control of the ACC.
Miami's pass-happy offense vs. Virgina Tech's dominant running game will be a thing of beauty for those who like high-scoring affairs.
18. Greg Jones' Final Home Game, November 20
Greg Jones was a consensus All-American in 2009 and the defensive MVP of the Big Ten. He was also the top linebacker in the country with an impressive number of tackles and sacks.
Jones sniffs out the ball and blows up plays so quickly that opponents often don't even have time to react. He's so quick to track down ball carriers and is very good at rushing the quarterback. MSU's best weapon shouldn't have any drop off in 2010.
He might be the best defensive player in the country and will go down as a legend at Michigan State. The fans will be cheering for him like they never have on November 20 when Purdue comes to town.
That will be Jones final home game as a Spartan.
17. Von Miller And Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M, November 25
Von Miller was voted First-Team All American by Sporting News and Sports Illustrated in 2009. He was the first Aggie since 1999 to year such accolades. His 17 sacks were tops in the country and his nearly 20 tackles for loss were good enough for fifth.
Miller can line up at linebacker or defensive end; it really doesn't matter with this guy. Wherever you put him on the field, he's going to cause havoc for opposing quarterbacks
Jerrod Johnson is already one of the best quarterbacks in Aggies history—if not the outright best. He holds several single-season records on top of throwing the most career touchdowns in school history.
After his breakout performance against Texas last year, Johnson has proven he's capable of playing with just about anyone. He's and Miller are the leaders of an A&M team that's better than its 6-7 record in 2009 indicates.
Johnson will get the chance to prove his performance against Texas last season wasn't a fluke when the Aggies head to Austin on November 25.
16. Craig Sanders and The Iron Bowl
While Auburn and Alabama both had some of the best recruiting classes in the country, when it comes to these two rivalries, every little battle matters.
One of those came over four-star recruit Craig Sanders, a versatile athlete who will likely play as a defensive end for the Tigers.
He decommitted from the Alabama way back in September, but don't think the Crimson Tide have forgotten his betrayal just yet.
Even if he doesn't make it on the field next season, which remains up in the air at the moment, Sanders will be one of the hot topics when the debate over who's recruiting class really was better kicks into full swing once these kids hit the field to battle it out on November 26.
Oh and did we mention the Iron Bowl is one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports.
Sanders is simply fuel to an already epic fire.
15. West Virginia at Pittsburgh, November 26
Pitt was ranked ninth in the country when it traveled to West Virgina last November, but in the classic fashion of college football, they lost when Tyler Bitancurt hit a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give the Mountaineers a 19-16 victory.
The Panthers might have won 10 games in 2009, but any chance of a BCS bowl bid was trashed after this loss.
They'll have to find a way to replace Bill Stull at quarterback, but they have two of the best playmakers in the country in tailback Dion Lewis and receiver Jonathan Baldwin.
Those two are a very difficult pair to slow down, and it'll be a long and arduous task for the Mountaineers in this one.
This game will go a long way toward deciding who wins the Big East and is definitely the biggest conference matchup on the schedule for both clubs.
14 .Matt Elam's Defection, Florida, and Florida State, November 27
Matt Elam was one of the highest-rated prospects in the country, ranked 25th in the nation and 3rd in the state of Florida by Rivals.com.
Everyone wanted a piece of this hard-hitting, high flying, versatile athlete from West Palm Beach with off the charts potential. It came down to Florida and FSU, but the battle would be a back-and-forth tug of war from October to January.
Elam originally committed to Florida in October of 2009, then changed his mind and decided Florida State was a better fit, before reversing field again and eventually signing with the Gators in January.
It was bitter defeat for the Seminoles, especially considering Elam will most likely be causing havoc against them for the next three to four years as either a safety, linebacker or running back.
They'll get their first taste of him on November 27 in the last game of the regular season.
13. Mississippi State at Mississippi, November 27
Mississippi is home to the legendary Grove, Ole Miss' tailgating location for generations. Tailgating and football have been one and the same here since the game first took hold over 100 years ago.
Unlike some places where the fans are rowdy and pumped up for what you'd easily mistake for a bar fight, the atmosphere at the Grove is welcoming, family-friendly, and even "sublime."
Now, there's nothing wrong with the opposite side of the tailgating spectrum, but for a change of pace and a tailgating experience quite unlike anything in sports, Ole Miss is the place to go; it'll welcome its in-state rivals for a visit on November 27.
And while the action on the field will be fierce after Mississippi State beat up on the Rebels 41-27 victory a year ago, the atmosphere outside should be as plesant as always.
12. Georgia Tech at Georgia, November 27
Georgia Tech got beaten badly against its in-state rivals last November in a 30-24 loss that wasn't as close as you might think.
Georgia was in control of the game right from the get-go, and led by as much as 14 and never let the Yellow Jackets get closer than six in the second half.
Demaryius Thomas had a monster outing for G-Tech, but it still wasn't enough to match the Bulldogs rushing attack that was good for over 300 yards on the day.
Thomas is gone now, and that will be a big loss for the Yellow Jackets, but they still have a ton of weapons offensively. It will be their holes on defense that are cause for concern in this one.
Georgia's rushing game should only improve now that Washaun Ealey has a full year under his belt. He'll lead the charge for the Bulldogs.
11. Todd Chandler's Decision Down In South Florida
Miami and South Florida aren't historically rivals, but that should change over the next few years as the gap in recruiting and talent base continues to shrink.
It used to be that all the top prospects in Florida either went to UM, FSU or Florida, but that hasn't been the case in recent years and it appears those days are behind us.
Teams like South Florida have been steadily climbing and will continue to do so.
Todd Chandler is an interesting prospect in that he's a bit shorter than your prototypical defensive tackle, but has a ton of talent and could develop into a force in the middle.
Originally committed to Miami, Chandler changed his mind last December and gave his word to South Florida a couple weeks later.
When these two teams match up on November 27, Chandler will be a reminder that the balance of power in Florida is shifting away from the big dogs, but it should be Miami who has the last laugh in this one.
10. Les Miles' Last Shot, November 27
Les Miles may have won a National Championship as the head coach at LSU, but many feel that he did so with Nick Saban's players and there are even fewer who are convinced he has what it takes to bring the Tigers back to the Championship game.
He might have led LSU to a nine-win season in 2009, but that same total probably isn't going to cut it in 2010, not when other teams in the SEC are routinely competing for the top spot year-in and year-out.
It doesn't help mattes that Saban has moved on to Alabama and brought home the National Championship last season; the fire underneath Miles' chair got a lot bigger with that one.
There are some tough games on the schedule, but keep an eye out specifically for this one. A win against Arkansas could take this team to 10 wins, maybe even a BCS Bowl.
A lose could spark the end of Miles' tenure as head coach.
9. Michael Floyd And Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame, November 27
Michael Floyd is one of the top receivers in college football and is expected to emerge as a near unstoppable force in 2010. He's got a huge frame and is already a difficult cover, but as he gains more and more confidence, his hands and route running have become very strong over the last year or two.
This season, Floyd is polished and ready to show off his skills to the NFL scouts. The question is how ready will Dayne Crist be to throw him the ball?
As a freshman, Manti Te'o appeared in all 12 games for the Irish, starting 10 of them. Once he got into his rhythm, he emerged as one of the top players on the defense and a tackling machine down the stretch.
Te'o's stats from 2009 won't wow you, but this is a guy who really came into his own around the midway point last season when things started to click. There are big things in store for his sophomore year.
The best two players on Notre Dame's roster will be in the national spotlight in their last game when they head to USC for a primetime matchup against the Trojans.
You know Floyd will want to shine in a contest like this.
8. Joe Paterno's Final Home Game, November 27
No, this one is not a given, but at 80 years old and starting to really show signs of his age, this might be the last season we get to see Joe Paterno marching down the Nittany Lions' sidelines as he has for the last 44 years.
Paterno simply is synonymous with college football. He's been a part of the game for as long as most fans have been alive and his legend will only grow after he's gone.
No one will ever match his tenure with Penn State, not even close. In today's game of show me something now and anxious fan bases and boosters, there's never going to be a head coach who spends half a century with one program.
Paterno has meant as much to the game as anyone. He's won two National Championships, was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007, and he holds the all-time record with 394 wins.
When Michigan State visits Penn State on November 27, that may very well be the last time Paterno marches onto his home field with the team at his back.
7. Dennis Erickson's Bitter End, December 2
Dennis Erickson might be a college football legend, but that isn't going to help him keep his job at Arizona State.
After posting a 10-3 record in 2007 and tying for first place in the Pac-10, things have gone downhill for Erickson much in the same way they have for Ron Zook at Illinois.
The Sun Devils dropped to 5-7 in 2008 and 4-8 in 2009, the first time the school has had consecutive losing seasons in 63 years.
As sad as it is to say, Erickson might find his illustrious and somewhat controversial career come to a close on a bitter note unless he's able to turn things around.
Arizona State wraps up their schedule at USC, then has home games against Stanford and UCLA before hitting the road for a rivalry game against Arizona.
Considering the Sun Devils are favored to lose the first three games on that list, a loss to the Wildcats on December 2 would spell doom for Erickson.
It may very well be the last time the two-time National Champion takes the field.
6. USC at UCLA, December 4
The Rose Bowl has always been considered one of the best atmospheres to watch a football game, so you can only imagine the type of tailgating the Bruins have built up over the years as they head there each weekend.
It's LA, it's near perfect weather, a great fan base and tradition, and the Rose Bowl right behind you. What more could you ask for?
A matchup with USC to close out the season in to what I hope will amount to more than a big game for USC and a chance to ruin their rival's season for UCLA.
This is one of the must-visit tailgates of the 2010 season.
5. Noel Devine's Fairwell, December 4
Devine has drawn comparisons to the likes of Barry Sanders, a feat not often accomplished. He's got incredible balance and vision and is exceedingly difficult to tackle. There really hasn't been a back in a very long time who's as elusive and slippery when it comes to staying on his feet and gaining extra yards.
The Mountaineers' offensive lives and dies by his hand and that'll only increase in his senior year.
Expect him to have a tremendous season and go out with a bang against Rutgers on December 4.
There have been quite a few heroes to walk the halls at West Virginia, but Devine is one that fans will remember for a very, very long time.
When he takes the field for his final home game, expect a standing ovation from a very grateful crowd.
4. Jake Locker's Last Game, December 4
Locker is considered to be one of the best all-around quarterbacks in the country this season and depending on how well he plays, has a very real possibility of being the top pick in the 2011 NFL draft.
He has all the tools a solid pro quarterback needs: size, arm strength, accuracy, vision, intelligence, etc.
Locker is the heart and soul of the Huskies and his play could lead them further than anyone would think next season.
Along with head coach Steve Sarkisian, no one deserves more credit for the turn-around Washington has seen over the last year or two and once Locker is gone, the program will forever remember what he did for them on the field.
Locker could go down as the best quarterback in school history and unless the team reaches a bowl game in 2010, which might not happen, the Huskies December 4 visit to Washington State will be Locker's last collegitate game.
3. Army Vs. Navy, December 11
What better place to begin closing out than the final game of the college football regular season and the annual Army-Navy matchup.
You have to go all the way back to 2001 to find the last Black Knights victory in this series, and to be honest, they haven't even come close to doing so since.
Still, as one-sided as this rivalry has been for the last decade, it's a classic and has to have a place on the list.
Army doesn't just want revenge for their 17-3 loss last year, they want revenge for nine years of embarrassing losses.
The problem is, Navy might be even better than they were a year ago, which is a bit of a scary thought, considering last season was only their third 10-win season in school history.
History says that one day Army will be victorious against Navy and return balance to the series, but that day isn't going to happen in 2010.
2. The Heisman Trophy Presentation
The Heisman trophy, as we all know, is awarded to college football's top player and every year a new member is added to the historic list of recipients.
Who will be this year's winner?
Will Mark Ingram take home the prize for a second straight year? Will Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker, or Andrew Luck return the crown to a quarterback? Will a defender rise so far above the rest that the honor must be awarded their way?
The discussion, or in most cases argument, will rage on for the next four months and it's one we're looking forward to partaking in throughout the year.
1. The BCS National Championship
What else could it be?
The one thing we can hope for is that the two best teams in the country are playing in the game, that for once the BCS actually works, and that there isn't someone left out who clearly deserves a shot at the title.
Will this happen? Probably not, but we're far enough away from even a discussion about a playoff format that for the good of the game that should be the hope for all of us.
But who will be vying for the college football crown in 2010?
Will we see a repeat of Alabama-Texas?
Could a non-BCS team lie Boise State or TCU make an unprecedented appearance, or will a darkhorse emerge from nowhere to take the country by storm?
We can only wait and see.