The hype starts now.
In ESPN The Magazine's College Football Preview issue, which hits newsstands and mailboxes beginning today, you'll find out how to stop these teams -- and stop the hype. Here, on ESPNMAG.com, it's only beginning.
THE HYPE: Miami doesn't produce good backs; the Canes mass-produce great backs, from EJ to JJ to Najeh. Now, Hurricanes watchers are crowing about their best back ever -- redshirt freshman Willis McGahee.
THE HYPE: Another QB controversy looms this fall, with incumbent Rex Grossman and
upstart Brock Berlin battling for the top job. But not to worry. Florida's passing attack will be as deadly as ever because of a superb collection of receivers.
THE HYPE: The freakishly talented WRs are all grown
up and will put the burn in burnt orange, as Chris Simms pilots the greatest
aerial show outside of St. Louis.
THE HYPE: WRs Curtis Fagan, Antwone Savage and Andre Woolfolk learned how to play the game from QB Josh Heupel last season. This year, the trio will help bring new QB Nate Hybl along -- and he couldn't ask for better support.
THE HYPE: Oregon's 20-game home win streak at Autzen Stadium is second only to FSU's 35, and with RB Maurice Morris and QB Joey Harrington back, expect the string to reach 25 -- setting up an epic Civil War with Oregon state at Autzen on Dec.1
6. Florida State
THE HYPE: Want to run on FSU? Think w-i-d-e. The Noles lost seven starters on D,
but they're airtight between the hash marks. FSU has
finished in the AP Top 5 14 straight times. With help on the edges, it'll be
THE HYPE: You'll swear Reggie White's returned to Knoxville for postgrad work when you see John Henderson, the best Vols defensive lineman since White terrorized the SEC back in the '80s.
THE HYPE: You talk Nebraska, you talk O-line. The Huskers led the Big 12 in total offense in 2000 without a single 300-yard passing game. (What else is new? The Huskers have only four in their record book.)
9. Virginia Tech
THE HYPE: For two seasons, the only word you heard around this team
was Vick. This year the word is Suggs, as in Lee Suggs, and it, too, is preceded by the phrase "Heisman Trophy candidate."
THE HYPE: In two years, LSU has gone from 3-8 to the faves in the SEC West. And
with Trev Faulk and Bradie James, the best linebacking tandem in the country,
maybe the Tigers won't go in the tank when they're supposed to do well.
11. Georgia Tech
THE HYPE: Coach George O'Leary
will keep a close eye on how QB George Godsey -- who missed spring ball recovering from
surgery -- reacts to his knee and new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
12. Oregon State
THE HYPE: He's not big or fast. His little brother can outlift him. But
Ken Simonton gets it done. In a single-back, three-receiver set, he
fearlessly runs to daylight.
THE HYPE: Tommy Bowden makes no secret of how he
plans to use stud QB Woodrow Dantzler. "We're going to hit it, get it, rip it," he says.
That's shorthand for, "In Woodrow, We Trust."
THE HYPE: Lloyd Carr winced last season while his talented
but young D learned the hard way. Now he has one of the best LB corps in
the nation, the perfect cast for the deadly Michigan zone blitz.
15. Kansas State
THE HYPE: Ask what makes the K-State punt return so special, and Texas Tech
coach Mike Leach takes all of a nanosecond to answer: "I have six words for
you -- Aaron Lockett, Aaron Lockett, Aaron Lockett."
THE HYPE: Senior Larry Tripplett revives the Husky tradition of stud
D-linemen. He's not quite Steve Emtman yet, but he is one
of the premier interior linemen in the country.
17. Mississippi State
THE HYPE: With the lethal tailback combo of senior Dicenzo Miller and
junior Dontae Walker behind an experienced offensive line that averages 320 pounds per man, it's no wonder these Bulldogs love to run.
THE HYPE: This year, the Wildcats will jack up the tempo of their already-manic offense. How much? Coach Randy Walker wants the ball snapped immediately after it's placed. That should keep a lot of D-coordinators guessing.
19. Notre Dame
THE HYPE: QB Matt LoVecchio, a third-stringer last September, finished the year with 11 TDs and 1 INT, and displayed an uncanny awareness and maturity on the field. With September road trips to Nebraska, Purdue and Texas A&M, Notre Dame will need that kind of big-game experience.
THE HYPE: Craig Ochs is the Buffs' most versatile signal-caller since Kordell
Stewart -- and the only Big 12 QB who is equally as dangerous with his arm or
THE HYPE: The old Student Body Right, Student Body Left playbook? Burned. New O-coordinator Norm Chow brings his simple philosophy that worked for 27 years at BYU and last year at N.C. State -- find open guy; hit open guy, put up 31 points a game.
22. Ohio State
THE HYPE: All-America SS Mike Doss has drawn comparisons to Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum, and the 5'11", 197-pound junior will have plenty of opportunity this season to live up to the legends.
THE HYPE: The Tide need a major overhaul, and Dennis Franchione would seem to
be the man for the job: He's already turned around
New Mexico and TCU.
THE HYPE: Kurt Kittner's good. Not flashy or dynamic or likely to make a play that
will have your jaw dropping. Just good, okay?
25. East Carolina
THE HYPE: Coach Steve Logan's
unpredictable play-calling (like that onside kick in the first quarter of the
Galleryfurniture.com Bowl) and a weak schedule -- in- and out-of-conference -- give
the Pirates a real shot at an undefeated 2001.
This article appears in the August 20 issue of ESPN The Magazine.