After years of filling the air with spirals, college football teams are coming back down to earth, handing off and pitching the ball to running backs who are speedier, shiftier and stronger than ever. With 14 of the top 25 ground-gainers returning from last season, national rushing records are in danger, and throwing the football may be just a passing fancy. Last year 33 players ran for more than 1,000 yards, including a quarterback, Dee Dowis of Air Force, whose 1,315 yards is a record for his position. The average gain per rush among major college teams was 3.92 yards, the highest since 1975 and the third highest of all time. This season, the record of 4.05 yards set in 1954 may well be blown away. Why the big rush? Well, three years ago blocking rules were changed to allow more liberal use of the hands during running plays, and many coaches believe the full effect of that change is now being felt. But then, with backs like those pictured here, who can travel coast to coast at high speeds, why not go by land?
SAMMIE SMITH OF FLORIDA STATE HAS TWO YEARS LEFT TO PROVE THAT HE IS THE BEST RUNNING BACK IN THE LAND
AGAINST PITT AT SEASON'S END, ERIC WILKERSON OF KENT STATE PUT THE ALL-PURPOSE RUSHING TITLE ON ICE
WITH THURMAN THOMAS GONE TO THE PROS, BARRY SANDERS WILL GET A CHANCE TO GALLOP FOR OKLAHOMA STATE
RUNNER, RECEIVER AND RETURNER, HIGH-STEPPING ERIC METCALF OF TEXAS IS THE BEST IN THE SOUTHWEST
OREGON'S DEREK LOVILLE, A STARTER SINCE HIS FRESHMAN YEAR, HAS SCORED 18 TOUCHDOWNS IN TWO SEASONS
CLEMSON'S WESLEY McFADDEN HAD THREE 100-YARD GAMES WHILE SHARING TAILBACK WITH TERRY ALLEN
INJURIES HAVE DAMPENED THE HEISMAN HOPES OF BOBBY HUMPHREY, BUT HE'S THE LEADING RUSHER IN ALABAMA HISTORY