50 things you should know about College Football 2011

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Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles could be in position to win the national title if they get past Oklahoma.

A FAMILIAR face will start the season atop the rankings, the quarterback in Stanford is almost too good to be true and a local kid could be part of a very special season in Tallahassee.

Check your sweater vest at the door and tell Boise State not to wear those blue uniforms, the 50 things you need to know about the upcoming college football season is rolling through:

1 The last three times Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 in the preseason, it failed to finish No. 1. The Sooners are ranked first in the preseason for the 10th time, most of all time.

2 Landry Jones has a legitimate chance to become the third Sooners quarterback in 8 years to win the Heisman. He was in Haiti with eight other Sooners doing earthquake-relief work when he found out the horrible news of linebacker Austin Box's accidental death by an overdose.

3 Colorado coach Jon Embree balked at the assertion that the Buffaloes automatically will become rivals with fellow Pac-12 newcomer Utah. "This is not the old-world marriage when you give two goats and a cow and [get] a wife and husband."

4 Utah does not have to play Stanford or Oregon during the regular season.

5 Tennessee's young offensive line cleared the way for Tauren Poole to rush for 1,034 yards last year and now wants to double it. "They've come a long way," Poole, a senior, said of the unit that features four sophomores and a junior. "They keep saying 2,000 yards and that's bold to say that in this league [the Southeastern Conference]. I just tell them to work hard and don't worry about the 2,000 yards. Let's just work it and let's just win."

6 Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan, the SEC's leading tackler last season, was part of a group that went to Ethiopia after spring practice on a mercy mission. The most unforgettable moment, Trevathan said, was meeting a sickly woman who grasped his hand in gratitude. A few minutes later, she passed away.

7 Houston's Case Keenum needs 3,487 yards to break Timmy Chang's NCAA career record of 17,072 and 28 touchdowns to eclipse Graham Harrell's mark. Keenum, who averaged 5,300 yards and 44 TDs in his last two full seasons, is in good shape to get both.

8 The new trophy for the winner of the annual Iowa-Iowa State game was unveiled recently and, to quote colleague Stan Hochman, It's a disaster. Norman Rockwell might like the design of a farmer on one knee with his family and a basket of corn, but many others aren't so enamored. Somebody called it something left over from a flea market.

9 Massive Iowa State offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele (6-6, 347) is on numerous preseason award watchlists and almost surely will be an NFL first-rounder next year. The Nigerian native's first name means "Thank God," which led coach Paul Rhoads to echo, "Thank goodness he's on our side."

 

10 Quarterback Andrew Luck, who returned to Stanford despite likely being the NFL's No. 1 pick in April, is almost so perfect in practice that he confounds the coaches. "The hardest part is not trying to hold [the backups] up to Andrew's standards," coach David Shaw said. "It's too high. We have to kind of take a deep breath when Andrew comes out and adjust our expectations."

 

11 Luck's father, Oliver, was a reserve quarterback for the Houston Oilers in the mid-'80s and is currently the athletic director at West Virginia.

 

12 Stanford's AP ranking of No. 7 is its highest in the preseason since the 1950 team also was ranked seventh. The Cardinal went a disappointing 5-3-2 that year and ended the 6-year coaching tenure of Marchy Schwartz, who was a legendary halfback at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne.

 

13 Notre Dame has a difficult schedule that includes early trips to Michigan (Sept. 10) and Pittsburgh (Sept. 24). It closes the season with a night game at Stanford on Nov. 26. Call it the Marchy Bowl.

 

14 Irish senior Dayne Crist won the starting-quarterback job over sophomore Tommy Rees. Crist, who has overcome two knee injuries and an infection, was called by coach Brian Kelly "the kind of guy I want to coach."

 

15 Notre Dame's visit to Michigan on Sept. 10 will be the first night game in the history of Michigan Stadium, which opened in 1927. Naturally, there's an entire collection of paraphernalia on the UM website devoted to the game, including a shirt that reads "It's Better Under The Lights," selling for $28.

 

16 Three of the four Ohio State guys suspended for the first five games for pawning memorabilia for tattoos are starters who definitely will be missed. Tailback Dan Herron was last year's leading rusher, DeVier Posey is the best wide receiver on the roster and tackle Mike Adams had a strong season in 2010. Defensive end Solomon Thomas might not be a starter, but he is a key contributor.

 

17 The battle to replace Terrelle Pryor as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback is down to senior Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller. Bauserman spent three seasons as a pitcher in the Pirates organization and turns 26 on Oct. 4.

 

18 If Ohio State beats Michigan again this year, which would be eight in a row, it probably would represent the greatest indignity for Maize & Blue fans who happily watched the Jim Tressel era crumble. The Wolverines close with home games against Nebraska (Nov. 19) and the Buckeyes (Nov. 26).

 

19 Nebraska's first Big Ten game is at Wisconsin on Oct. 1. The following week, the Huskers host Ohio State. Nebraska in the Big Ten. Still hard to get used to.

 

20 Sorry, Big Ten, but the new divisional names "Leaders" and "Legends" are not only stupid, they're arrogant. Penn State is in the Leaders Division.

 

21 The ACC's two highest-ranked teams - Florida State (No. 6) and Virginia Tech (No. 13) - do not meet in the regular season.

 

22 Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler (6-8, 240) had a scholarship offer to play basketball at Gonzaga.

 

23 Virginia Tech, which has a rather large quarterback of its own in Logan Thomas (6-6, 254), has a softer nonconference schedule than in years past (no Alabamas or Boise States) and should be 5-0 when it opens its ACC slate against Miami.

 

24 The Hurricanes, of course, are in the midst of an embarrassing scandal that includes hookers, yachts and payouts. They hired coach Al Golden from Temple, but Charlie Sheen might have been a more appropriate choice.

 

25 All-America safety Mark Barron would have bolted Alabama for the pros if not for a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the regular-season finale. The NFL's loss is the Tide's gain as Barron anchors a unit that some think might be as good as the 2009 unit that led Alabama to the BCS national title.

 

26 Auburn defensive end Nosa Eguae got a taste of the rivalry with Alabama last season when he rode through Tuscaloosa on a team bus headed to a basketball game. "Oh man, [I saw] some fingers that weren't supposed to be up by some very young kids and old women."

 

27 Three things to know about Barrett Trotter, who is replacing Cam Newton as Auburn's starting quarterback: He was on the 2009 SEC academic honor roll; he got his degree in communications earlier this month; his dad, Rick (gulp), is an Alabama alum.

 

28 New Michigan coach Brady Hoke has scrapped predecessor Rich Rodriguez' spread offense for a pro-style formation. That sound you hear was Bo Schembechler exhaling in relief. Denard Robinson, who last year set the NCAA record for quarterbacks with 1,702 rushing yards, noted during training camp, "I am running less. I'm enjoying it, I have to say."

 

29 As if losing quarterback Jake Locker to the NFL wasn't enough of a blow, Washington will be without star running back Chris Polk for the first two games (Eastern Washington, Hawaii) following arthroscopic knee surgery. Polk, a junior, was injured in practice 2 weeks ago, denting his chances of becoming the first UW back to run for 1,000 yards in a season three times.

 

30 Mountain West officials have forbidden Boise State from wearing its all-blue uniforms for conference home games because they blend in with the blue turf. Coach Chris Petersen said if knew that ahead of time, he would have told his bosses at Boise State to tell the conference to take a hike.

 

31 Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore needs eight wins to pass Colt McCoy's Division I-A record of 45. The Broncos again open the season with a tough road trip, playing Georgia at the Georgia Dome on Sept. 3. Last season, BSU beat No. 6 Virginia Tech at FedEx Field.

 

32 Have to thank colleague Bill Fleischman for spotting this line in the daily transactions earlier this month: University of Virginia - Named Ray Roberts director of life skills for the football program. Good Lord.

 

33 Texas A & M's backfield will get a boost with a healthy Christine Michael, the Big 12 offensive freshman of the year in 2009 who broke a leg in the middle of last season. His mother, hoping for a girl, gave him his name, which is pronounced chris-TIN. Senior Cyrus Gray (1,133 yards in 2010) is expected to be the Aggies' bell cow.

 

34 We'll find out about the eighth-ranked Aggies quickly as they host No. 9 Oklahoma State on Sept. 24 and play No. 15 Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium the following Saturday.

 

35 Texas (5-7 last year) is coming off its first losing season since 1997, the year before Mack Brown arrived. That's a rough way to inaugurate the new Longhorns TV network, which debuted Friday and has irked rivals beyond description.

 

36 "One reason why I came to Texas was to live up to the tradition that had been built," said running back Fozzy Whittaker. "Not living up to that last year was a huge slap in the face. And we've worked hard to prevent it from happening again."

 

37 Doug Williams is back as the coach at Grambling State after most recently serving as a general manager for the Virginia franchise of the UFL. Williams, a Grambling alum, coached the Tigers from 1998 to 2003 and is best known for quarterbacking the Washington Redskins to a resounding victory in Super Bowl XXII.

 

38 Nobody was happier to see a coaching change at Florida than quarterback John Brantley, who was badly disjointed in Urban Meyer's spread offense. Will Muschamp is the head coach and will help build coordinator Dan Quinn's defense. Charlie Weis will run the offense.

 

39 Sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (George Washington High) has likely worked his way into the Gators' starting lineup. The Sept. 3 opener against Florida Atlantic (7 p.m.) is on ESPNU.

 

40 Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher unabashedly says, "We ought to be a very, very good [and] dominant defense. We really should be." The Seminoles' first big test is Sept. 17 when Oklahoma visits Tallahassee.

 

41 The (Syracuse) Post Standard points out that third-year Orange coach Doug Marrone is the second-longest tenured coach in the eight-team Big East. Only Greg Schiano, who is entering his 11th year at Rutgers, has been at his school longer than Marrone. Now that's coaching turnover.

 

42 Howard Schnellenberger, who built Miami into a national power before founding the program at Florida Atlantic in 1998, is calling it a career at the end of the season. The 77-year-old Schnellenberger will remain an ambassador for FAU. "You're not going to see me anywhere but here or the beach," he pledged.

 

43 Florida Atlantic's first three games are at Florida, at Michigan State and at Auburn. The Owls open their 30,000-seat stadium on Oct. 15 against Western Kentucky.

 

44 Junior quarterback Trent Steelman, who has started all 25 games in his career, says Army's first postseason win in 25 years is only the start of the Cadets' resurgence. "The biggest fear after winning the bowl game is getting complacent," he said. "The way I see it, 7-6 is one game above average. We're not an average team."

 

45 The Army-Navy game is at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. It comes back to Philly in 2012 and 2013 before heading to Baltimore in 2014.

 

46 The broken ankle suffered by Arkansas leading rusher Knile Davis has forced the Razorbacks to lean on juniors Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo. Johnson was the starter last year before sustaining a bowel injury in the second week. Trust us, it was as gruesome as it sounds.

 

47 Oregon running back LaMichael James, who finished third in the Heisman voting behind Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, on why he decided against going to the NFL: "I love my teammates. I think that's the big key. I don't want to let those guys down."

 

48 Oregon, No. 3 in the preseason, plays at seventh-ranked Stanford on Nov. 12. The Ducks open against No. 4 LSU on Sept. 3 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

 

49 There is an ugly cloud hanging over LSU's program as police investigate starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and three teammates for alleged involvement in a bar fight 11 days ago. Jefferson was arrested and has been suspended indefinitely. Jarrett Lee, a senior who is 5-4 as a starter, is expected to replace him for LSU.

 

50 The pick: Gonna jump on Jimbo Fisher's defense and take Florida State. Alabama might have an equal or even superior unit, but the Crimson Tide's schedule is as dangerous as an overflowing Schuylkill and it's too easy to pick an SEC team anyhow. Florida State's most important game is Sept. 17 when Oklahoma visits. If the 'Noles can get by that one, they'll be in good shape to make a run at their first national title since 1999.