A: Not really, especially when you consider that—stop us if this sounds familiar—they are waiting to hear how the NCAA will punish them for various alleged rules infractions. One of the players involved is tailback Greg Hill, who will be virtually unstoppable this year, unless the NCAA does it. So if the Aggies can survive the investigation and a Sept. 11 game against Oklahoma in Norman, the only remaining question will be who'll expose them again in the Cotton Bowl.
Q: Will coach Bill Walsh find someone to replace running back Glyn Milburn, who averaged 176.8 all-purpose yards per game in '92? How about someone to take the place of All-America linebacker Ron George? Or safety John Lynch, another All-America?
A: No one will pick up where Milburn left off, not right away, but freshman Mike Mitchell might soon. Rated one of the best high school backs in the country last year, Mitchell ran for 2,201 yards at Brophy Prep in Phoenix. And keep in mind that the Cardinal offense is still quarterbacked by junior Steve Stenstrom, who is the ideal Walsh disciple. He spreads the ball around, has a nice touch on short passes and can air it out with accuracy. The defense, which led the Pac-10 with 34 takeaways, will miss George and Lynch but has solid performers in cornerback Vaughn Bryant, nosetackle Jason Fisk and end Tyrone Parker. And should the Washington, Colorado or Notre Dame games come down to kicking contests, Stanford is set. Sophomore Eric Abrams connected on 16 of 20 field goals last season.
16. Penn State
Q: Can coach Joe Paterno restore his troops' self-respect after the Nittany Lions, who got off to a 5-0 start, dropped five of their last seven games?
A: He can try. After last season he met with all his players. "They told me I make decisions and don't stick to them," says Paterno. "I do something one way for this guy and another way for someone else. I think we straightened out a lot of our problems."
Q: O.K., but what about the encounter group meetings that take place on the field?
A: Penn State will depend on its defense. Hero back Derek Bochna, who led the team in interceptions last season, is back, as is linebacker Phil Yeboah-Kodie, its leading tackier in '92. At tackle, Lou Benfatti and Tyoka Jackson match up well against anybody in the country. Offensively, Richie Anderson's decision to leave early for the NFL has opened up the tailback spot for sophomores Mike Archie, Ki-Jana Carter and Stephen Pitts, who have each been impressive in practice.
Q: How will the Nittany Lions be welcomed by their new Big Ten brethren?