What to watch for

September 03, 1998|By Don Markus

Coaches on the hot seat

1. Frank Solich, Nebraska: Even though he's undefeated after one game, Solich will be in the shadows of Tom Osborne until he wins his first national championship.

2. John Cooper, Ohio State: A No. 1 preseason ranking only turned up the pressure gauge. Nothing less than a national championship will satisfy crazed Buckeye fans.

3. Terry Bowden, Auburn: The honeymoon is over, and his team's off-field problems since last season contributed to Bobby's son losing 25 pounds.

4. Butch Davis, Miami: With the Hurricanes off probation and up to a full allotment of scholarships, former Dallas Cowboys assistant will be expected to produce.

5. Gary Barnett, Northwestern: His star has lost some of its luster after last year's 5-7 record, and might lose the rest unless the Wildcats get to a bowl game.

Players under the gun

1. Tom Brady, Michigan: The senior quarterback will try to do for this year's team what Brian Griese did last year.

2. Tee Martin, Tennessee: Replacing Peyton Manning at quarterback can't be done, but beating Florida later this month in Knoxville would go a long way.

3. Chris Weinke, Florida State: He looked a little shaky in the first half of his debut Monday night, but the 26-year-old sophomore is Bobby Bowden's only choice at QB right now.

4. Dre' Bly, North Carolina: The Tar Heels lost seven starters from a defense that ranked second in the country, and the junior cornerback might have to do his Charles Woodson imitation for the Tar Heels to remain in the rankings.

5. Bobby Newcombe, Nebraska: He reminds folks in Lincoln of Tommy Frazier, but a banged-up knee in the opener against Louisiana Tech won't help the sophomore quarterback's progress.

Heisman hopefuls

1. Tim Couch, Kentucky: The sophomore quarterback has been projected as the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft.

2. Cade McNown, UCLA: Already the leading passer in school history, the senior quarterback is looking to keep the team's 10-game winning streak intact.

3. Ricky Williams, Texas: A second-week showdown against UCLA and McNown could go a long way in determining the candidacy of the senior tailback, last season's leading Division I rusher.

4. Amos Zereoue, West Virginia: The most famous man in Morgantown will be tested mightily Saturday by Ohio State.

5. Donovan McNabb, Syracuse: The senior quarterback put up Heisman-like numbers last year, but needs to pull off a couple of early season upsets of Tennessee and Michigan.

Newcomers of note

1. Drew Henson, Michigan: Though listed third on the depth chart at quarterback, the $2 million New York Yankees prospect might be starting by midseason.

2. Frank Murphy, Kansas State: The National Junior College Player of the Year scored 26 touchdowns at Garden City Community College and could challenge senior Eric Hickson for playing time.

3. John Robertson, Kansas State: Son of former Houston Oiler Bob Robertson, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound freshman could see significant time on the offensive line.

4. Damien James, LSU: Comes from the same high school as Tigers star Kevin Faulk, but will likely backup at wide-out this season.

5. Ryan Van Dyke, Michigan State: Freshman quarterback might replace incumbent Bill Burke if the Spartans continue to struggle at Oregon this week.

Teams to watch

1. Arizona State: The Sun Devils would like to play at home on Jan. 4 -- the date of the Fiesta Bowl -- and a win there Saturday over Washington could send them on their way.

2. West Virginia: The Mountaineers should win the watered-down Big East, but the biggest measuring stick will happen Saturday night against Ohio State

3. Washington: The Huskies could finally be back in the national spotlight if they win in Tempe this weekend.

4. Colorado State: The Rams had an impressive win last week at Michigan State, but playing in the WAC won't help them move up in the rankings.

5. Texas A&M: The Aggies looked tough in losing to Florida State on Monday, and they get Nebraska at home in October.

Huge games

1. Ohio State at West Virginia, Saturday: It will be a huge boost for the Buckeyes if they get Andy Katzenmoyer back for the opener, which several broadcast reports indicated yesterday. If Mountaineers win, they will be favored to win the rest of their games.

2. Florida at LSU, Oct. 10: If the Gators get by Tennessee in Knoxville Sept. 19, the Tigers will be waiting to repeat last year's 28-21 win, Florida's first loss in 26 Southeastern Conference games.

3. Nebraska at Kansas State, Nov. 14: The fans in Manhattan can't wait to get another chance at the Cornhuskers at home, but the Wildcats have not come close to beating Nebraska in nearly three decades.

4. Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 21: How big this game will be could be determined Saturday, since the Wolverines open at Notre Dame and the Buckeyes play at West Virginia

5. Florida at Florida State: The Seminoles should be undefeated when they host the Gators in the regular-season finale, but Steve Spurrier has been known to outcoach Bobby Bowden on occasion.

Pub Date: 9/03/98

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