- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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On the first kick return of his college career, against Louisville last October, he ran 88 yards for a touchdown. Nickson brought back another kickoff for a touchdown and intercepted five passes, earning first-team All-Sun Belt honors as a safety.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER Ian Johnson, RB, Boise State The darling of the Broncos' epic Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma (one game-winning two-point conversion on a Statue of Liberty play, one marriage proposal) is in the Heisman hunt.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER Dwight Lowery, CB, San Jose State After picking off a total of 13 passes at Cabrillo (Community) College in 2004 and '05, the 6' 1" 185-pounder tied for most interceptions in the nation, with nine, in his first season with the Spartans.
TRUE FRESHMAN TO WATCH Alphonso Bryant, SS, Central Florida Landing Bryant, a four-star recruit out of Miami-Dade County who turned down Florida State, Arizona State and Rutgers, was a coup for Knights coach George O'Leary.
COACH ON THE RISE Chris Petersen, Boise State The innovative play-caller is undefeated--and soon to be a hot commodity for BCS-conference programs.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT Phil Bennett, SMU After going 6-6 in '06, he was nearly fired by new athletic director Steve Orsini--and could be gone if the Mustangs don't get to a bowl game. Bennett is 17-41 in five seasons, and SMU hasn't been bowling since 1984.
BCS SLEEPER Hawaii The Warriors, long a late-night novelty, have a shot at running the table, thanks in part to a weak nonconference schedule. If that happens, they could be this season's BCS crashers.