By Staff
May 21, 2014
South Carolina's Mike Davis (28) rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 TDs last season.
The State/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 60-41. Click the following links for 100-8180-6140-21 and 20-1

60. The launch of the SEC Network and the new voice of the national title. The nation's most dominant conference will soon have its own cable presence. The ESPN-branded SEC Network will feature games, original programming, two of the league’s most polarizing personalities -- Tim Tebow and Paul Finebaum -- and longtime announcer Brent Musburger once it launches in August. What can fans expect? And how will Chris Fowler fare replacing Musburger on both ABC’s Saturday Night Football and the national title game broadcast? -- Zac Ellis

59. Fast football in Arizona. Sure, fans could say the kerfuffle over the 10-second defensive substitution rule was just blather about a proposal that had little chance of passing. But at least it gave us this:

Free from restraint, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez intends to keep his offense moving at breakneck speed, which means great fun for everyone not named Bret Bielema. The same goes for Todd Graham and Arizona State, too. The Sun Devils' up-tempo attack loses running back Marion Grice, but returns quarterback Taylor Kelly and stud receiver Jaelen Strong. -- Colin Becht

58. Overlooked but not forgotten: The dynamic Duke Johnson (From friend of the blog and Palm Beach Post writer Matt Porter). No quarterback on Miami’s roster has played a down of college football. The Hurricanes' defense appears on every ACC Coastal team’s highlight tape but its own. Still, Miami should be a must-watch team in 2014. That’s thanks not only to wideout Stacy Coley and linebacker Denzel Perryman, but also (and mostly) to running back Duke Johnson. His broken ankle should be healed in time for the Hurricanes' opener at Louisville on Labor Day. A mixtape of spectacular touchdowns should follow. -- Matt Porter

57. Crootin’. While these players won’t arrive on campus until 2015, it’s good to start learning the names of college football’s future stars now. That’s especially true when the names are as memorable as Ray-Ray McCloud IIIShy TuttleDevonaire Clarington or Equanimeous St. Brown. There’s also the matter of coaches’ recruiting tactics. Letters from Mike London and Dan Mullen are welcome distractions from the grind of weekly practice. -- Ben Glicksman

56. Heisman Trophy campaigns. Last season, there was Jordan Lynch’s @LynchFor6 push at Northern Illinois, and Dri Archer’s comic book promotion at Kent State. Schools have launched a number of similar campaigns in recent years, and sometimes they pay off: Lynch finished third in Heisman voting in 2013. So, which schools will promote their stars heading into the fall? More importantly: How creative can they get? -- ZE

55. Oklahoma State’s push for more. If they could have won at home in Bedlam on Dec. 7, Oklahoma State would have been last year’s Big 12 champion. Instead, the Cowboys enter 2014 on the heels of back-to-back losses to close out the season, and with thoughts of what could have been. Seventeen starters are gone, including All-America cornerback Justin Gilbert, and coach Mike Gundy’s team must sacrifice one practice per week as a penalty for its low APR score. Can Oklahoma State overcome such obstacles? There's no time to waste: Florida State looms in the opener on Aug. 30. -- CB

54. Mississippi State’s climb out of the vaunted SEC West. Mullen was considered a breath of fresh air when he arrived in Starkville before the 2009 campaign. Since then, however, he has gone a combined 1-16 against Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. Heading into his sixth season at the helm, Mullen needs to prove he can hang with the SEC’s elite. It helps that he brings back a capable quarterback (Dak Prescott) and a dominant defensive end (Chris Jones). -- ZE

53. Dr. Bo and Ole Miss’ quest to reach new heights. Ole Miss opened last season 3-0, a mark that included a road win over Texas. Then the Rebels lost three straight (at Alabama, at Auburn, Texas A&M) against the cream of the crop in the SEC West. Still, a year after landing Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, coach Huge Freeze is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. Could Ole Miss -- which boasts the SEC's most experienced quarterback in Bo Wallace -- be on the verge of making a charge at Atlanta? -- ZE

ELLIS: Ole Miss, Mississippi State face similar challenges in SEC West

52. The best defensive player no one is talking about: Leonard Williams. Most preseason buzz on the West Coast surrounds the Pac-12’s plethora of quarterbacks. Some attention should be paid to USC’s havoc-wreaking defensive end. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Williams had 74 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, last season and says he was playing at “65 to 70 percent” health. He underwent offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum, but he’ll be a force to be reckoned with come fall. Fans can talk about Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley all they like. Williams was the player ESPN’s Todd McShay had going first overall in his way-too-early 2015 NFL mock draft. -- BG

51. The best offensive player no one is talking about: Mike Davis. Jadeveon Clowney was South Carolina’s undisputed headliner the past few seasons. He was the subject of draft hype, expectations and virtually constant scrutiny. His presence may have also overshadowed the fact that the Gamecocks have a budding superstar in the backfield. Davis rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013, including a 167-yard, three-score showing in a win over UCF in September. Following the departures of Connor Shaw and Bruce Ellington, he’ll be expected to shoulder the load for Steve Spurrier’s offense. – BG

50. The long-awaited debut of Gunner Kiel. Once the top-rated pro-style quarterback in the recruiting class of 2012, according to, Kiel has yet to take a snap at the college level. He has previously been tied to Indiana, LSU and Notre Dame, but he finally feels at home in Cincinnati. The Bearcats could be in for a big year, but they’ll likely only get there if Kiel reaches his potential. The Columbus, Ind., native could put up some big numbers in Tommy Tuberville’s attack. -- Martin Rickman

49. Missouri’s SEC follow-up. After a seven-win leap in its second season in the SEC, some regression will be expected from Missouri this fall. The Tigers have lost many key players from last year's team, including wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who was dismissed from the squad last month. Still, sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk gained experience in 2013. He could keep Mizzou in the hunt in the ever-unpredictable SEC East. -- CB

48. Postgame press conferences. Don’t get me wrong, coach-speak has its place in college football, as Grantland’s Holly Anderson pointed out in April. But aren’t fans waiting for a classic from Les Miles or Paul Rhoads or anyone else who comes storming up to the podium? There’s no telling when a postgame rant will strike, but the second it does, it’ll make its way online and everyone will talk about it. -- MR

47. Boise State enters a new era. After years of spurning overtures from major-conference programs, former Boise State coach Chris Petersen finally relented this winter. He traded in smurf-turf blue for Washington purple in December. New Broncos coach Bryan Harsin is a Petersen protégé and could lead Boise back to double-digit wins. The team should be healthier, and running back Jay Ajayi (1,425 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns in 2013) is poised to shine on a national scale. -- CB

46. ESPN’s College GameDay. GameDay is the undisputed champ of college football pregame shows. The features are well done, the hosts have as much fun as the fans and the special guest pickers can produce craziness. The show (and its signs) is an integral part of our Saturday morning routine, and we can't imagine fall without it. Still, it’ll be tough for anyone to top what Bill Murray brought to the table last October. -- MR

45. The stunning FCS upset that will definitely happen. If the 2013 season was any indication, FCS-over-FBS upsets are no longer extreme rarities. Last year alone saw North Dakota State beat Kansas State, Eastern Washington edge Oregon State and Georgia Southern stun Florida. There is no guarantee when an upset will happen in '14, but fans can count on one coming. An early possibility? Maine (10-3 last season) visits Boston College on Sept. 20. -- BG

44. Butch Jones' Tennessee rebuilding project. Jones’ mantra in Knoxville is brick-by-brick. So now that his program's foundation is laid, is it also time for lofty expectations? The Volunteers have a tough slate that includes an opener against Utah State (Aug. 31) and a trip to Oklahoma (Sept. 13). Plus, the Vols must replace every starter on their offensive and defensive lines. The rebuilding process is underway, but folks on Rocky Top might require some patience this fall. -- ZE

43. Oregon State’s prolific (and oft-ignored) quarterback. Sean Mannion turned in a career year as a junior, throwing for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. Yet despite an early barrage of stats, the Beavers faded down the stretch. They lost their final five regular-season games before beating Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl. With do-everything receiver Brandin Cooks off to the NFL and former offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf with the New York Giants, Mannion will be asked to make the team his own in 2014. -- MR

42. Bret Bielema’s second act. Last year’s 3-9 campaign was a disaster of epic proportions for Arkansas. But there’s hope for a rebound, especially with talented backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams leading the way. Bielema’s Twitter account offered a preview: Hogzilla is approaching. Hopefully this movie won’t be a box office bust. -- MR

41. Northwestern’s focus beyond the union movement. Former Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter’s push for unionization -- which was put to a vote on April 25 (the results are impounded until the university’s appeal of the regional National Labor Relations Board ruling is decided) -- has been one of the offseason's defining storylines. It has also removed attention from Northwestern’s quest to bounce back from last year's collapse. Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s team opened 4-0. It hosted College GameDay on Oct. 5. Then it dropped seven consecutive games, which included more than one backbreaking loss. Can Trevor Siemian, Venric Mark, Chi Chi Ariguzo and company make a run in the Big Ten? -- BG

Click the following links for 100-8180-61, 40-21 and 20-1

RICKMAN: Florida State, Alabama headline post-spring Power Rankings

ELLIS: Way-too-early Heisman Watch: A look at the potential 2014 field

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