By Staff
May 20, 2014
Jamison Crowder (3) and Duke hope to build off last year’s run in 2014.
Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/Getty Images

This week marked the 100-day countdown to the start of the 2014 college football season. Abilene Christian visits Georgia State to kick things off on Aug. 27, when the road to the inaugural College Football Playoff begins in earnest. Catch up on TV shows now. Try new restaurants, or pick up new hobbies, or spend time with the in-laws. In a little over three months, college football -- in all of its glory -- will return.

Over the course of this week, Campus Union is unveiling the 100 things it is most excited for in the 2014 season. Here are 80-61. Click the following links for 100-81, 60-4140-21 and 20-1.

80. Pac-12 refs’ knack for keeping things interesting. At some point, a group’s reputation can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, where everything that group does is viewed through a specific lens. That’s where Pac-12 refs are entering the 2014 season. Every call is meticulously scrutinized. Every decision mocked. Of course, it’s hard to explain the crazy ending to last September’s Arizona State-Wisconsin game. Or this. -- Ben Glicksman

79. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds and his ridiculous statistics. Reynolds accounted for eight touchdowns (seven rushing, one passing) in the Midshipmen’s thrilling triple-overtime win at San Jose State last November. By comparison, Wake Forest scored six touchdowns as a team in its final four games combined. Reynolds will probably spend more time in the end zone in 2014. Do yourself a favor and watch him. -- Martin Rickman

78. The endlessly entertaining state of West Virginia football. With coach Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid offense, a porous defense and three overtime finishes in four games to close out last season, the 2013 Mountaineers were equal parts enthralling and calamitous. The offense returns with improved depth (West Virginia can legitimately go five-deep at running back), and the defense ... well, there's nowhere to go but up after allowing a Big 12-worst 5.9 yards per play last fall. So, settle in with Tudor's Biscuit World’s Dana combo (or a can of Red Bull) and enjoy what should be another riveting season in Morgantown. -- Colin Becht

77. Awards watches. While it seems like even Colorado's third-string intramural center qualifies for some watch list at this time of year, those lengthy lists eventually get whittled down, and that’s when intrigue sets in. Whether it's season-long speculation surrounding the Heisman Trophy or the intense fury fans feel when a lockdown corner is snubbed for the Thorpe Award, annual watch lists are an essential part of any college football season. -- CB

76. Inevitable hot-seat chatter. Hot seat debates are popular every preseason, and a number of prominent head coaches enter this fall with their job security in question. Many will zero in on Florida's Will Muschamp, whose Gators stumbled to a 4-8 campaign last year. Others will point to West Virginia’s Holgorsen, Illinois’ Tim Beckman and Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson. No matter whose leash is shortest, don’t underestimate the impact a single win or loss can have on a fan base’s perception. -- Zac Ellis

75. Jokes about empty stadiums before kickoff. These will likely be #B1G related, with #goacc as a close second. They’ll accompany photos of seats with no fans occupying them. And they’ll include quips like: “Haha no one likes Georgia Tech everyone streamed an OutKast concert instead”; “If Purdue loses 52-7 and no one is there to see, did it really happen?”; and “LOL PITT!” These jokes are coming. Be prepared. -- MR

74. The inimitable Mike Leach. Leach is the most interesting man in college football. He’s an offensive mastermind. He’s a pirate aficionado. He recently co-authored the book Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior. On the field, expect Leach to keep airing it out. Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday attempted an FBS-high 714 passes last season. Only two others (Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion) attempted more than 600. -- BG

73. Kirk Ferentz and under-the-radar IowaThough they were never in the hunt for a Big Ten title, the Hawkeyes quietly produced a major turnaround last season. Fresh off a four-win campaign in 2012, Iowa rallied to go 8-4 last fall. After hanging with LSU in the Outback Bowl, it hopes a deep receiving corps -- which features Kevonte Martin-Manley, Tevaun Smith and spring game star Derrick Willies -- and gargantuan left tackle Brandon Scherff can propel the Hawkeyes into the thick of conference contention. -- CB

72. Virginia Tech’s mission to take back the ACC (From special guest and friend of the blog @TheKeyPlay). Can Frank Beamer make one more run in Blacksburg? Yes, but not this season, unless the offense is ahead of schedule. The Hokies have talent and experience on that side of the ball, but coordinator Scot Loeffler must break in a new starting quarterback. However, Bud Foster will still be scowling from the sideline, and his defense is a throwback to the quick and chaos-creating units of the past. A favorable ACC schedule -- which avoids Florida State and Clemson -- should keep Tech in the conference conversation. -- The Key Play

71. Mark Stoops’ quest to turn recruiting stars into results. Is Kentucky morphing into a football school? Well, no, but it’s hard to ignore the remarkable recruiting job Stoops is doing in Lexington. The Wildcats may have failed to win an SEC game last fall, but Stoops signed more than a few top-flight prospects, including quarterback Drew Barker and defensive tackle Matt Elam (who picked Kentucky over Alabama). Stoops’ next challenge? Turning that raw talent into a winner. -- ZE

70. College football music videos. I don’t care if you have a big drum or are part of a campus comedy troupe that likes to make jokes about inventing Gatorade. Music videos are never a good idea (unless Marcus Lattimore is involved). Just don’t do it. These videos will entertain, but they’ll only end in tears and shame. I’m only saying this for your own good. -- MR

69. #MACtion. #MACtion provides weekday football when it's needed most. #MACtion is methadone in trying times. SB Nation said it best with this now-immortal GIF. -- MR

68. BYU’s identity crisis. The ACC and SEC have announced they won’t view BYU as a power-conference foe in their new scheduling philosophies. The Mountain West -- the Cougars’ former home -- is now considering the same approach. Still, as coach Bronco Mendenhall’s program seeks a spot in the ever-evolving college football landscape, it should remain dangerous between the sidelines. Quarterback Taysom Hill, who torched Texas for 259 rushing yards last September, and tailback Jamaal Williams both return. -- BG

67. Derek Mason’s debut at Vanderbilt. The Commodores first-year head coach enters an unenviable situation. Not only does he follow the most successful coach in Vanderbilt history (James Franklin), but he also does so with a patchwork 2014 recruiting class. Mason was a stellar defensive coordinator at Stanford. To model Vandy in the Cardinal's image, however, he’ll need to work quickly. It helps that he returns ultra-talented backs Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow. -- ZE

ELLIS: Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason starting to shape the program his way

66. Perennially underrated Kansas State. Few coaches fly under the radar quite like Bill Snyder. Only two seasons ago, Kansas State’s longtime leader had the program perched atop the BCS standings during what would ultimately become an 11-win campaign. It would be unwise to overlook the Wizard of Manhattan in 2014. Explosive all-purpose threat Tyler Lockett returns, and quarterback Jake Waters, who transferred from Iowa Western Community College before the ’13 season, began to come into his own toward the end of last year. -- ZE

65. A fully healthy Stefon Diggs. Before he went down with a broken fibula in last October’s loss to Wake Forest, Diggs established himself as one of the nation’s premier playmakers. He made a ridiculous one-handed catch in a win over FIU. He front-flipped into the end zone as part of a 179-yard receiving day against Old Dominion. In six and a half games last season before his injury, he tallied 912 all-purpose yards. As the Terrapins prepare for life in the Big Ten, Diggs is working to reach full strength, and he’s capable of doing things like this. -- BG

64. Breakout redshirt freshmen (one of whom will inevitably win the Heisman). Redshirt freshmen stole the show in each of the last two seasons. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Florida State’s Jameis Winston became the first freshmen ever to win the Heisman, and more than a few youngsters could vie for significant playing time (and awards recognition) in 2014. Look for players such as Florida State linebacker Matthew Thomas, Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander and Notre Dame running back Greg Bryant to emerge as key contributors. -- ZE

63. TCU’s third chance in the Big 12. From 2008-11, the Horned Frogs went 47-5 with two BCS bowl appearances. In the two years since joining the Big 12, coach Gary Patterson’s team has gone a forgettable 11-14. Off-field issues and injuries have contributed to those woes, but there’s cause for optimism entering this fall. While many skill-position players remain unpolished, TCU should benefit from an improved offensive line, the return of defensive end Devonte Fields and the most terrifying (and amazing) stadium statue in all of sports. -- BG

62. Larry Fedora and increasingly dangerous North Carolina. The battle for football dominance in the state of North Carolina has recently played out like a far less violent version of Game of Thrones. Wake Forest won the conference in 2006, Duke reached the ACC championship last year and NC State has enjoyed some good seasons in between. North Carolina, meanwhile, has been the equivalent of a sleeping giant a continent away, lurking with a stable of dragons. Eventually the Tar Heels will make their mark, but fans are sick of waiting. With quarterback Marquise Williams leading a potent offense, is this the year they finally torch the ACC? -- MR

61. Duke and the possible rise of a new ACC power. Providing a suitable East Coast embassy to the #NerdNation, the Blue Devils stunned the ACC en route to a Coastal Division title last season. Unlike most surprise rises, though, Duke's 2013 success wasn't fueled by a senior-laden squad. The team loses only one of its four first-team All-ACC honorees and returns receiver Jamison Crowder. The biggest loss may be ex-offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who left for Florida in December. Still, don’t be surprised to see coach David Cutcliffe’s group make another run in '14. -- CB

Click the following links for Nos. 100-81, 60-4140-21 and 20-1.

RICKMAN: Florida State, Alabama lead post-spring practice Power Rankings

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)