A To Z

The Nation

August 27, 2003

A is for Auburn, which could be primed for a Southeastern Conference crown and a hard run at the second national championship in school history. The Tigers might have the best defense in the land and return eight starters on each side of the ball.

B is for the Big 12 Conference, which has three strong national championship contenders in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State, two more programs on the rise in Missouri and Oklahoma State, and possibly has supplanted the SEC as the game's top league.

C is for the Colorado State, which has become the class of the Mountain West under Sonny Lubick. In 10 seasons under Lubick, the Rams have won or tied for six league titles, have gone to seven bowl games and have won at least seven games for a school-record nine straight years.

D is for Ryan Dinwiddie, the relatively unheralded quarterback from Boise State, which he led to its greatest season in 2002. The Broncos topped Division I-A schools in scoring offense and total offense.

E is for Eli, who might end up being the best Manning of them all. The Mississippi quarterback, brother of Peyton and son of Archie, shapes up as a Heisman Trophy candidate and the top passer in the SEC.

F is for Ralph Friedgen, the man behind the dramatic turnaround at Maryland, which has 21 victories the past two seasons, has gone to two consecutive bowl games, crushed Tennessee in last season's Peach Bowl and is rounding into an ACC powerhouse.

G is for Joe Glenn, the Wyoming coach who has won Division II and I-AA national titles, and now brings his creative offensive approach to the big time.

H is for Houston, as in Tennessee tailback Cedric Houston, who rushed for 779 yards a year ago after overcoming injuries by midseason and could be the best in the SEC if he stays healthy.

I is for Richie Incognito, the potential All-America left tackle at Nebraska, where its traditionally vaunted offensive line tumbled to ordinary status during the Cornhuskers' stunning fall to a 7-7 finish.

M is for Scott McBrien, the senior Maryland quarterback who improved remarkably over the course of his junior year, led the Terps to a rout over Tennessee in the Peach Bowl and ended up as one of the game's most proficient passers.

N is for saying No to leaving college early for the riches of the NFL. Among the biggest names who decided to stick around for senior seasons are quarterbacks Cody Pickett (Washington) and Philip Rivers (North Carolina State) and wide receivers Roy Williams (Texas) and Rashaun Woods (Oklahoma State).

O is for Oklahoma, which will be back in the thick of a title chase and could ride its defense all the way to the Sugar Bowl.

J is for Jared Parseghian, the junior place-kicker from Miami (Ohio) and the great-nephew of Notre Dame coaching legend Ara Parseghian. Jared led the Mid-American Conference in accuracy a year ago.

K is for Craig Krenzel, the Ohio State quarterback who doesn't possess a strong arm or quick feet but did have enough poise, unselfishness and smarts -- he is a molecular genetics major -- to lead the Buckeyes to the national championship.

L is for the Lombardi Award, which recognizes the nation's top interior lineman. Among the leading candidates are Oklahoma junior defensive tackle Tommie Harris and Georgia defensive end David Pollack.

P is for Penn State coach Joe Paterno, the Happy Valley legend, who is not on the hot seat entering his 38th season, but is presiding over a proud yet declining program.

Q is for Miami (Fla.) fullback Quadtrine Hill, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound sophomore who will clear the way for tailback Frank Gore, completing what should be another potent Hurricanes backfield.

R is for Georgia coach Mark Richt, who, at 43, is one of the brighter young minds running a big-time program. He also needs to regain control of a program in which numerous players got into off-the-field problems this year.

S is for David Shula, the coach charged with the task of bringing stability to an Alabama program scarred by the embarrassing and premature end to Mike Price's tenure.

T is for Tennessee State, where quarterback Adrian McPherson ended up after getting into legal trouble at Florida State.

U is for USC, which, under the leadership of Pete Carroll, finally has returned to the top of the Pacific-10 and looks formidable despite the loss of quarterback Carson Palmer to the NFL.

V is for Virginia Tech, a Big East powerhouse for quite some time. Next year, the Hokies enter a much more competitive world in the ACC.

W is for Miami (Fla.) tight end Kellen Winslow, the son of the NFL Hall of Fame tight end of the same name. The son already is the best in the land at his position.

X is for Xavier Beitia, the Florida State kicker who needs to improve his accuracy to help the Seminoles regain their status as one of the nation's top teams. Beitia missed nine of 28 field-goal attempts, including five from inside the 40.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.