TOP PLAYERS

Barkley, USC. Projected as a high NFL draft pick, Barkley became an instant Heisman Trophy front-runner when he announced he was coming back for his senior season.

Ball, Wisconsin. The Badgers' star running back changed the pronunciation of his name from Mon-tee to Mon-tay. Whatever you call him, dude's good.

Robinson, Michigan. The Wolverines' electric quarterback has churned out more than 8,000 yards in his career, most of those the past two seasons. Imagine what he could do if he tied his shoes.

Geno Smith, West Virginia. The Mountaineers' QB set multiple school records as a junior and more could be on the way in his final season in Morgantown.

Barkevious Mingo, LSU. Been known to train wreck offensive linemen.

Jones, Oklahoma. He's been around since Barry Switzer was coach. OK, maybe not that long, but the four-year starter will leave as the most prolific passer in OU history.

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon. Spectacular as a freshman last season and will likely get more touches this season now that James is in the NFL.

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina. Back from a torn ACL last season, he should be one of the nation's top running backs this year.

---

BIG GAMES

Sept. 1, Michigan vs. Alabama at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas. The annual opener at Jerry Jones' funhouse has had some great matchups in the past. This one could be the best of the bunch.

Sept. 15, Alabama at Arkansas. Winner could get the inside track on a national-title run.

Sept. 22, Michigan at Notre Dame. Last season's epic finish makes this a must-watch.

Oct. 13, Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas. The Red River rivalry continues after all the conference shuffling and could become epic again with these two teams on the rise.

Oct. 27, Notre Dame at Oklahoma. A rare meeting between power programs.

Nov. 3, Alabama at LSU. We may not get sucked into calling it the Game of the Century again, but it still figures to have national-title implications.

Nov. 3, Oregon at USC. Triple digits in combined points is a possibility with all those playmakers on the field.

Nov. 24, Michigan at Ohio State. Meyer is running the Buckeyes and Michigan appears to be back. This rivalry could be heating back up.

---

THE NEW GUYS

There was quite a bit of turnover in the coaching ranks over the offseason, with some pretty big names landing in new places. Here's a few:

Bob Davie, New Mexico. Away from coaching for a decade, Davie tries to turn around a program plagued by embarrassments on and off the field under Mike Locksley.

Todd Graham, Arizona State. The fast-talking Texan has done everything right in Tempe so far, soothing concerns about bouncing around while building excitement for the program. All that's left is to win some games.

Mike Leach, Washington State. His offenses are always entertaining. So's his mouth.