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
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.
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
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
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.