1. Texas (13-0)…He didn't quite do it all by himself, but Vince Young darn near won a national championship on his own. If Texas had any other quarterback in college football, they wouldn't have won the Rose Bowl despite all their talent at the other positions.
2. USC (12-1)…Three years ago it was the Hurricanes who missed their chance to etch their place in history in an epic struggle in the BCS title game. Now it's the Trojans' turn. This was still a great run, and with the talent they've recruited and the schedule they're playing next year it ain't over yet.
3. Penn State (11-1)…JoePa proved there is still life in the old dog, and the Nittany Lions made the most of their first BCS appearance to put the capper on a memorable season.
4. Ohio State (10-2)…Perhaps more than any team in the country the talented Buckeyes are hoping there was a tournament to decide the national champion.
6. LSU (11-2)…Hard to say a team with 11 wins underachieved, but the Tigers certainly had national championship talent and showed it in their Peach Bowl rout.
8. Alabama (10-2)…Mike Shula got the breakout season he needed to establish himself in Tuscaloosa, as well as the Crimson Tide's first January bowl victory in nine years.
9. Virginia Tech (11-2)…A perplexing season for the Hokies, which featured some impressive performances as well as two head-scratching failures to show up for big games.
10. Texas Christian (11-1)…Under next year's rules the Horned Frogs would've made the BCS. Instead they'll just have to settle for their third double-digit win total in the last four years.
13. Oregon (10-2)…Disappointing end to an otherwise sterling season for the Ducks, who won't have to wait long to get their revenge on the Sooners in Eugene in September.
15. Auburn (9-3)…One of the more surprising results of the bowl season was the Tigers getting shelled in a de facto home game in the Capitol One Bowl.
17. Miami, Fla. (9-3)…The offense never really developed, and the defense wasn't quite as good as advertised. Back-to-back Peach Bowls doesn't excite Luther Campbell U.
19. Boston College (9-3)…Another season, another bowl win for what the most underrated program in the sport. If I were the athletic director at a big-time program with an opening I'd offer Tom O'Brien a blank check.
20. Oklahoma (8-4)…It may sound funny, but this season might have been Bob Stoops' best coaching job in Norman. Next season he's right back in the spotlight, just as he likes it.
21. Clemson (8-4)…Tommy Bowden still hasn't taken the Tigers back to prominence, but at least he's maintained the program's respectability.
24. Virginia (8-4)…The Cavaliers "upset" Minnesota in the Music City Bowl to send their loaded roster out with a win. But their fans still have to be wondering if this program will ever live up to expectations.
25. Florida State (8-5)…Anytime you win your conference and qualify for the BCS your season can be defined as a success no matter what your final record is.
1. In my opinion, the top priority for the Cyclones between now and September 2nd is developing their offensive line throughout the ranks. The unit is coming along, albeit too slowly. Scott Stephenson will be an All-America candidate next season, and Aaron Brant is a solid Big 12 starter. But after that improvement is needed. The recruiting misfires at this position in 2002 and 2003 prevents necessary competition and depth, and we're seeing the results of that on the field.
2. The second priority is finding quality depth at the tailback position. Even with a healthy Stevie Hicks the Cyclones lack a big-play threat in the backfield, and a true change-of-pace. Greg Coleman gave it his all, but perhaps it's time for him to try another position, or improve his running instincts?
3. 2006 becomes a pivotal year in the evolution of Cyclone football. We had hoped 2005 would be the breakout year, but it wasn't. On paper this team will be better next season, but the schedule becomes more challenging. Yet, there is still an excellent opportunity to take ISU football to the next level next autumn, particularly if the aforementioned two goals are successfully met.
4. The North division race is wide open, and will likely be decided on October 7th when the Cyclones host Nebraska at Jack Trice Stadium. While everyone is talking about ISU's schedule, have you checked out the Huskers' slate? They play at USC, at Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Texas A&M and host Texas. Given the schedules of ISU and Nebraska, and the state of the rest of the division, it's likely a 5-3 conference record will be enough to land a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game in Kansas City in December.
5. Set your TIVOs for September 16th. Here's the slate of games scheduled for that day so far: Nebraska at USC, Michigan at Notre Dame, Iowa State at Iowa, Arizona State at Colorado, Florida at Tennessee, Oklahoma at Oregon, and Texas Tech at TCU.