Campus rush staff
Thursday December 24th, 2015

What a year it has been. The 2015 college football season has brought lots of ups and downs, dominant performances and upsets for the ages, and countless moments that left us gasping for breath. Michigan State's miracle return touchdown to down Michigan? Miami's stunning final play to defeat Duke? All part of the fabric of what makes the sport and its culture so great.

This was also the first season in which Sports Illustrated presented Campus Rush, a website devoted to covering the players, programs and eccentricities that make college football what it is. It has been quite a ride, and with the second College Football Playoff just a few days away, here's a look at 40 of our favorite feature stories from the last few months.

You Don't Know Dabo

Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Colorful, charismatic coach Dabo Swinney is the new king of football in South Carolina. Here's a look at what makes the coach tick—and how his approach has led Clemson to new heights. By Brian Hamilton

From Heartbreak Back To Health

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Laquon Treadwell's 2014 season ended in heartbreak, with a nationally televised snap of his leg. One of the top receivers in the game revisited his road to recovery and all the process entailed. By Andy Staples

Wall Street To The Power Five?

Jason Smith/SI

Joe Moglia is the former CEO of TD Ameritrade. Now, he is the wildly innovative football coach at Coastal Carolina. Here's a look back at his journey here, and where Moglia's career might go next. By Pete Thamel

No Surrender

On the edge Weddings

A life-changing diagnosis and the incredible will to keep chasing a football dream. This is the story of Jace Malek, the player who went to Idaho, got in the battle of his life and refused to stop fighting. By Zac Ellis

Les's Last Stand That Wasn't

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LSU coach Les Miles seemed like he was on the way out in Baton Rouge. Here's the scene from the Tigers' 2015 regular-season finale as Miles's job was celebrated and then, somehow, saved. By Joan Niesen

The Islands' Next Great QB


Kent Nishimura/SI

Meet quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and learn the story of the man who helped him soar. This is the third part in a three-part series about football in the state of Hawai'i. Don't miss Part I and Part II. By Lindsay Schnell

Corey Coleman Will Destroy You

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Baylor's Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver put up prolific stats in the Bears' high-flying offense. The key to his success? He has an unrelenting need to win at everything, no matter what it is. By Andy Staples

The Zeke Squad

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Ohio State tailback Ezekiel Elliott became a national phenomenon during last year's playoff and continued his success in 2015. He has relied on many blockers to pave his path into the spotlight. By Pete Thamel

Football And Family

Courtesy of Brad Thompson

The unlikely story of how Division III Linfield College, a tiny liberal arts school in McMinnville, Ore., became a football powerhouse with a historic winning streak after overcoming tragedy. By Chris Ballard

Sparty's Surprise Heroes

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Michael Geiger. Tyler O'Connor. Damion Terry. Jalen Watts-Jackson. Get to know some of the improbable players who fueled Michigan State's dramatic run to the Big Ten championship. By Brian Hamilton

Calling To Mind The Greats

Pouya Dianat/SI

LSU tailback Leonard Fournette has drawn comparisons to Herschel Walker, Earl Campbell, Marshall Faulk and Bo Jackson. But what does hype matter to a child of Hurricane Katrina? By Alan Shipnuck

Rock Chalk Headlock

Courtesy of Kansas Athletics

Kansas defensive end T.J. Semke isn't your typical walk-on. This member of the Jayhawks has a background unique to him: He has a gig as a part-time bounty hunter. By Lindsay Schnell

Evolution Is In The Air

Jackson Laizure/Getty Images

Entering the 2015 season Oklahoma fully reinvented its offensive identity, beginning with the hire of coordinator Lincoln Riley. Its success reinforces the need to adapt in college football. By Albert Chen

Flipping The Script

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

When Missouri's football players went on strike, they did more than just impact their university. They proved that players, not the NCAA, hold the power in college athletics. By Andy Staples

Season Of The Storm

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Tulane's players and coaches from that time reflect on everything that transpired—and their unforgettable football season. By Joan Niesen

My Education As A Head Coach

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

What really goes into building a competitive program? A behind-the-scenes, first-person look at Tom Herman's first few months at Houston before the Cougars' breakout 2015 season. By Tom Herman

Maximum Impact

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry has always hit the hole like a freight train. That's far from the only impact the 6' 3", 242-pounder makes for the playoff-bound Crimson Tide. By Andy Staples

Steady Hand, Core Values

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Michigan State hasn't always been the contender it is today. Here's how coach Mark Dantonio changed the program's trajectory since taking over the head job prior to the 2007 campaign. By Michael Rosenberg

Razorbacks, Reinvented

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

From its mental approach to its health and conditioning regimen, Arkansas has completely revamped its football culture under Bret Bielema. Here's a look at exactly what he did—and why. By Pete Thamel

Man Of The Moment

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

DeShone Kizer was buried on the depth chart at Notre Dame and questioning his commitment to football. Then, after an unlikely series of events, he became the leader of this year's Fighting Irish. By Joan Niesen

The Millsaps Experience

Courtesy of Millsaps Athletics

How is a Division III football program in Jackson, Miss., drawing big crowds? Meet Josh Brooks, the athletic director at Millsaps College, and the most interesting student section in America. By Andy Staples

The Real Problem With Texas?

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

What was the root cause of the Longhorns' problems throughout 2015? According to opposing coaches, part of it is a lack of talent, while part of it is a sense of entitlement. By Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel

Master Of All

David Madison/Getty Images

Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is the nation's most dynamic playmaker: He can torch opponents as rusher, receiver and return specialist. So, is there anything the Cardinal standout can't do? By Lindsay Schnell

Here Come The Hawkeyes

Icon Sportswire via AP Images

Iowa entered this fall as an afterthought, expected to finish in the middle of the Big Ten. It ripped off an undefeated regular season. Here's a look inside what one player called "a circus." By Brian Hamilton

Dreaming Bigger

Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Clemson quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson has come a long way to find success on the field this season, and he has carried the Tigers' football program with him to the top. By Pete Thamel

Five Days In Michigan

Leon Halip/Getty Images

One weekend, one state, two programs. An all-encompassing look at how Michigan and Michigan State—two schools with very different football cultures—prepared for critical Week 2 games. By Andy Staples

Known For Something Else

Courtesy of Michael McKnight

Humboldt State is a small-school football power, with a stadium that feels like Friday Night Lights meets Apocalypse Now. It is known for this: "Humboldt weed is an international brand." By Michael McKnight

The Rise Of Hollywood Higgins

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins is an NFL draft darling who goes by the nickname "Hollywood." His journey into the spotlight has been far from glamorous. By Ben Glicksman

Jeff Driskel's Second Act

Cal Sport Media via AP Images

Former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel saw his career sputter in Gainesville. After transferring to Louisiana Tech, the embattled dual-threat talent has completely rejuvenated his football future. By Joan Niesen

Head Ball Coach, Out

Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Steve Spurrier stepped down from his position as South Carolina's coach midway through the season. The impact the Head Ball Coach made on the game was transformative and unforgettable. By Andy Staples

Pitch Perfect

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Quarterback Keenan Reynolds has enjoyed a historic college football career. He has also emerged as a touchdown maker for the ages while leading Navy's football program to new heights. By Ben Reiter

Uncommon Strength

Icon Sportswire via AP Images

He's a former powerlifter who plays defense on a program known primarily for its high-flying offense. No matter: Baylor standout Andrew Billings is the Bears' premier NFL draft prospect. By Lindsay Schnell

Yippee Ki-yazy

Todd Rosenberg/SI

How does a quarterback come down with a case of the yips? Wisconsin's Joel Stave offers an explanation—and talks about how, finally, he was able to get his Badgers career back on track. By Albert Chen

Motivation For The Millennial Generation

Andrew Hancock/SI

Is Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck ushering in a coaching wave set to take the nation by storm. Here's a behind-the-scenes glimpse at his approach, and an idea behind why it could take hold. By Pete Thamel

The Trojans' Horse

David Madison/Getty Images

From Todd Marinovich to Rob Johnson, Carson Palmer to Matt Leinart, USC has produced an impressive line of star quarterbacks. Cody Kessler is following in their footsteps—in his own way. By Lee Jenkins

Beauty Between The Hedges

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

During a trip to Athens, Ga., this writer discovered the passion, pageantry and unmistakable atmosphere of SEC football—and even got to take part in a few of its longest-standing traditions. By Alan Shipnuck

The Wildcat Catalysts

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The head coach. The athletic director. The top prospect. The first-round NFL draft pick. Kentucky's process of gradually shaping into a football contender owes largely to this important group of people. By Zac Ellis

True Perspective

Courtesy of the Perry Family

For a handful of parents, the armed forces and football tie together in a unique way. Here's a look at a few of the relationships between college football players and their moms and dads who serve. By Lindsay Schnell

A Brilliant Football Mind

Roger Hart/AP

As Michigan State's coach in the 1990s, Nick Saban was not particularly well liked. But he was seen as a brilliant coach, and even after he left, many of his player kept pulling for him. By Michael Rosenberg

Frank Beamer Says Goodbye

Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Days before coaching his final game, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and those close to him look back on his legendary 29-year career, the end of an era and the impact he made in Blacksburg. By Joan Niesen

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.