Penn State Nittany Lions
(8-4, 4th in Big Ten)
Key returnees: QB Anthony Morelli, WR Derrick Williams, LB Dan Connor, CB Justin King, S Anthony Scirroto
Player to watch: Morelli has never been an encouraging leader for Nittany Lion fans, and he didn't perform well at all last year. Unless he improves significantly, the offense will stagnate.
Ohio State Buckeyes
(12-0, Big Ten Champs)
Key returnees: LB James Laurinaitis, CB Malcolm Jenkins, RB Chris Wells, T Kirk Barton, T Alex Boone.
Player to watch: QB Todd Boeckman. The redshirt junior has Heisman Trophy shoes to fill, and as he goes, so do the Buckeyes.
(6-7, 8th in the Big Ten)
Key returnees: DE Ken Iwebema, RB Albert Young, LB Mike Klinkenborg
Player to watch: Yet another QB in this spot, but it seems that no contender other than Michigan in the conference is completely confident in its quarterback. Hawkeye Jake Christensen replaces Tate at the helm of the offense, and his ability to get the job done will determine where Iowa finishes.
BY JACK HERMAN
College football historians will eventually decide where Michigan's 34-32 loss to Appalachian State ranks among the sport's all-time greatest upsets. But there's no debate over part of the fallout.
Ranked fifth to start the season, the Wolverines fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll released yesterday. Since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1989, no team has ever fallen further.
Michigan placed 33rd in the poll, tallying 39 points. Southern Cal took the top spot with 1,619 points.
(8-5, 5th in the Big Ten)
Key returnees: WR Dorien Bryant, DE Cliff Avril
Player to watch: Quarterback Curtis Painter. With receivers like Dorien Bryant, Painter has the weapons he needs to lead the offense. But although he led the Big Ten in passing by more than 1,000 yards, he'll have to improve upon last year's 129.12 QB rating if he wants to command what could be among the Big Ten's most potent offenses.
Reason for optimism: The Boilermakers return 20 starters from last year's bowl team.
BY KEVIN WRIGHT
Put aside the different subdivisions and throw out preseason rankings.
It came down to execution.
Plain and simple, Appalachian State's 34-32 upset win over No. 5 Michigan in Saturday's home opener, a feat labeled as the greatest upset in college football history, was decided on the field.
"They just outplayed us," Michigan tight end Mike Massey said. "They executed better than we did, and we had a lot of penalties that hurt us too."
Appalachian State wide receiver Dexter Jackson brought reality home for the Michigan faithful with his post-game comments.
BY SCOTT BELL
Pinch yourself - just not too hard. As bad as you may feel right now, suicide isn't the answer. This past weekend really happened, and I think some people still haven't let it sink in yet. But the first step to moving on is acceptance.
So what's the easiest way to move on? Find someone else to blame, of course. It's the American way.
BY SCOTT BELL
As Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore celebrated near midfield Saturday, one of his media relations staffers had a message for him:
"We've got a lot to do."
But for as many interviews as Moore and his Mountaineers will be doing in the next week, the call to action might make more sense to the Michigan coaches.
They've got a lot to do.
And not the fun kind of stuff Appalachian State will be doing.
"We were very confident. We studied a lot of film, and what we saw was a lot of holes."
- Appalachian State quarterback Armanti Edwards, after completing 17 of 23 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns.
BY JACK HERMAN
In his first three years at Michigan, Mike Hart has consistently dazzled crowds with unbelievable runs and memorable games.
But leave it to the captain senior running back to add another chapter to his lore - even if it will be resigned to footnote status in one of college football's all-times greatest upsets.