While State has only four returning offensive starters, it won't have any trouble scoring touchdowns. In averaging almost 40 points a game last season, the Bison were paced by two sophomores, quarterback Chris Simdorn and running back Tony Satter. The two rushed for 2,655 yards and 42 touchdowns, 27 of them by Simdorn. The defense has tackle Phil Hansen, who led the team with 12 sacks, and cornerback Todd Zabel, who intercepted seven passes and broke up 19 more.
If any team can upset the Bison, it will be Texas A & I. All tailback Johnny Bailey did last season was break the Division II career rushing record as a junior and win his second Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II's Heisman). His 5,051 career yards place him eighth on the NCAA alltime rushing list, a mere 1,031 yards behind leader Tony Dorsett. The Javelinas face Portland State, the team that knocked them off in the semifinals of the '88 playoffs, on Sept. 23.
In the Gulf South Conference, Jacksonville State has 17 starters returning from a team that finished 10-2 last season and made it to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. All-America candidates will lead the Gamecocks on both sides of the ball: junior David Gulledge at quarterback and defensive tackle Orlando (Cheeseburger) Adams. In 1988 Portland State lost in the title game for the second straight year. This fall, the hopes of the Vikings rest on the 5'5", 170-pound frame of running back Curtis Delgardo, who picked up 2,706 total yards in '88 on his way to being selected the Western Conference Player of the Year. At Sacramento State, quarterback Drew Wyant will take over the division's top-ranked offense.
Last season, in its first appearance in the playoffs, Millersville borrowed 60 pairs of turf shoes from intrastate neighbor Penn State, then went out and played like the Nittany Lions for three quarters. Unfortunately, in the fourth, North Dakota State stormed back to win 36-26. The Marauders will ask placekicker Luke Hadfield, tailback Scott Highley and cornerback Darren Ryals to repeat the glory of '88. Mississippi College's strength is on defense, in which the Choctaws are led by All-America tackle Terry Fleming. One of the best hitters at any level, Fleming finished last season with 102 tackles and 10 sacks.
Division III is a little like Rocky III—not quite as good as I or II, but with enough crusty old coaches and plot twists to keep things entertaining. In 23 seasons at Ithaca, coach Jim Butterfield has taken the Bombers to a record six Stagg Bowls, winning his second title last season. Ithaca runs an option, in which the pitch-faker takes a pounding, so Butterfield goes with a tag team at quarterback. Last season's pair, Mike Pasquale and Todd Wilkowski, return this fall. The best backfield—and player—in Division III is at Ferrum (Va.), where Chris Warren averaged 8.7 yards per carry while rushing for 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns in '88. His 5'4" backfield mate, Freddie Stovall, gained 1,200 yards and scored 13 TDs. Perennial power Dayton always starts with defense, and this season will be no different. Tackle Lou Loncar and free safety Sean Keneally return to a unit that held opponents to 12 or fewer points in the Flyers' nine wins last fall.
Augustana, which is historically the division's most dominant team, has the land's most versatile kicker. Barry Reade, one of coach Bob Reade's 11 children, nailed 36 consecutive extra points last season and is now competing with roommate Brian Pottinger to run the offense as well. The Vikings are bent on erasing the shame of last year's 10-2 record, which saw Reade's 10-year mark fairly shrivel to 101-11-1. His solace: That .894 winning percentage is college football's best, ahead of Knute Rockne's .881.
The Rock would be touched to hear that at Central of Iowa, the division runner-up, the rallying cry is Win One for the Schipper. Ron Schipper became coach at the school in Pella (pop. 8,349) in 1961 and hasn't had a losing season since—the longest active streak in any division. Yet, he has never won it all. But pressure on the Flying Dutchmen won't come from their coach. "We have a friendly college atmosphere." says Schipper. Though Wagner swears this will be a rebuilding season on Staten Island, its opponents—five of whom squirmed out of their scheduled dates with the Seahawks—seem unwilling to believe that. Sure, tailback Terry Underwood and quarterback Greg Kovar have graduated. But coach Walt Hameline is ready and able to reconstruct this juggernaut.