1. Washington & Jefferson
The Presidents have history on their side: They have played on College Field for 104 years, won their conference the last eight and made the playoffs the last five. With quarterback Jason Baer (1,686 yards in '93) and running back Jake Williams (1,109 yards), more history will be made in December—when W&J wins its first national championship.
Many Gator players go by the usual football nicknames: Thunder, Lightning, Wild Child, Precious. Precious? Quarterback Paul Bell earned that delicate moniker in 1991. "But he's taken a few hits since then," says coach Ken O'Keefe. "So that nickname has kind of died away." Protecting Bell's good name is All-America center Brad Goe, who prefers to be called, of all things. Brad.
The Profs have their road mapped out: They lost in the first round of the playoffs in '91, in the semifinals in '92 and in the final last year. "We're not thinking about a good season: we're thinking about the national title," says linebacker LeRoi Jones, who knows something about roads. He spent last summer working as a toll collector on the New Jersey Turnpike.
4. Wisconsin-La Crosse
Even if the graduation of the most efficient passer in school history grounds the Eagles, an offensive line that averages 275 pounds will keep the chains moving. On defense, only three starters return; one is 30-year-old safety Jim Antony, a holdover from the 1992 national champions.
5. Frostburg State
Game balls have been delivered to Bobcat Stadium by stagecoach, fire truck, hovercraft, hearse and horse-drawn carriage. At this year's home opener, a paratrooper is scheduled to drop in and hand the ball to quarterback Gilbert Telleria, who will keep it in the air this season with his aptly named wideout, Ariel Bell, who averaged 25.2 yards per catch in '93.
6. Mount Union
Last season Nate Sinning's main job as a backup was to help drag the tarp off the field. Now, with '93 player of the year Jim Ballard gone, Sinning, a sophomore, will take the field as the Purple Raiders' quarterback. There is precedence: For two years Ballard washed the team's laundry.
7. St. John's of Minnesota
No whistles in practice, no wind sprints, no brutal contact...and 306 career wins. Eight more and John Gagliardi, who has been a head coach for 45 years, will tie Amos Alonzo Stagg (page 98) for the fourth-most victories in NCAA history.
When junior quarterback Damon Perry was a boy, his older brother liked to scare him by hiding behind doors, under beds, in his closet. That's how Damon came to be known as Boo. He has yet to face a secondary as frightening: Last year he threw for 2,252 yards, and now he's baaack.
Defensive tackle Larry Boyer of the 1990 Warriors, a team that lost in the title game, used to say that he wrestled his pet bear for a workout. The players on the '94 squad have boasted of no such feats, but they have bragged about their ferocious defense: It forced 42 turnovers last fall.
10. Augustana of Illinois
For most teams a seven-game winning streak would make for a pretty good year. But not for the Vikings, who started 0-2 and missed the playoffs—a disaster at a school that won four straight national championships from 1983 to '86. "The players know the history," says coach Bob Reade. "And that streak was built by kids just like these."
Mount Union (in purple) and Rowan will once again push their way into the Top 10.