Despite nagging foot, ankle and elbow injuries, Cal's JAHVID BEST rushed for 1,580 yards last year, fifth best in the nation. Now he's fully recovered from two surgeries, stronger after adding 10 pounds over the off-season (a more muscular 195) and ready to crash the Heisman party. The 5'10" junior is the most electric running back in the land, with six touchdown dashes of 60 yards or more as a sophomore. He finished 2008 with a bang, running for 311 yards and four TDs in less than three quarters against Washington and then 186 yards and two TDs in an Emerald Bowl win over Miami. Heisman voters won't be able to ignore Best if he has a monster game against the Trojans.
NO. 6 /// OCT. 10
Alabama at Ole Miss
Quarterback JEVAN SNEAD turned heads with the Rebels' upset of Florida at the Swamp last season, and a victory over defensive-minded Alabama could catapult the junior into the Heisman mix. Coach Houston Nutt says he's putting more on the shoulders of Snead, and why not? The transfer from Texas threw for a combined 779 yards and nine touchdowns in the Rebels' final three outings, including a Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech. Expect more of the same with a schedule that includes two I-AA schools (Southeastern Louisiana and Northern Arizona), plus Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis.
NO. 7 /// OCT. 17
Texas vs. Oklahoma
A Big 12 title shot, an invite to the BCS championship game and the Heisman could be on the line when the bitter rivals meet at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. In last year's game Heisman runner-up COLT McCOY (above) made the difference for the Longhorns with his poise and ability to make plays with his feet. He passed for 277 yards, didn't turn the ball over and completed 4 of 6 for 59 yards on third downs in the second half. BRADFORD (left) will get a chance to make up for an uneven performance in the 45--35 loss, in which he threw for 387 yards and five touchdowns but also tossed a pair of interceptions.
NO. 8 /// OCT. 31
Florida vs. Georgia
The Gators' last big challenge of the regular season will come in Jacksonville, at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Two years ago TEBOW was sacked six times and had the worst game of his career in a loss to Georgia. Last year he accounted for five TDs in a 49--10 rout that ended the Dawgs' national title hopes.
NO. 9 /// OCT. 31
Texas at Oklahoma State
This will be the Horns' toughest game on hostile turf. Last year MCCOY threw for 391 yards in a 28--24 squeaker in Austin, but this time an enemy wideout could upstage him. Overshadowed by Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree last year, Oklahoma State's DEZ BRYANT (above) warrants Heisman hype. The high-flying junior is not only the nation's top returning receiver—87 catches, 19 touchdowns in 2008, with Zac Robinson throwing to him again this fall—but he is also a game-changer on special teams (punt returns of 78 and 71 yards for TDs).
NO. 10 /// NOV. 7
Ohio State at Penn State