Darren Davis, RB, Iowa State--The 5'8", 190-pound senior leads
the nation in rushing with 176.7 yards per game, giving the
Cyclones (3-1) visions of their first bowl appearance in 21 years.
East Carolina--Picked to finish third in Conference USA, the
16th-ranked Pirates are 5-0, including a stunning 27-23 victory
over then No. 9 Miami on Sept. 25.
Kevin Feterik, QB, BYU--Booed by Cougars fans a year ago, the
6-foot, 202-pound senior has drawn raves this season while
passing for 1,403 yards and 12 touchdowns for 3-1 BYU.
Hawaii--After going 0-12 in 1998, the Rainbow Warriors are 4-1
under new coach June Jones and could reach a bowl for the first
time since 1992.
Josh Heupel, QB, Oklahoma--The 6'2", 210-pound junior has
flourished in new coach Bob Stoops's pass-happy offense,
throwing for 1,358 yards and 16 TDs for the 3-1 Sooners, who led
Notre Dame by 16 points before losing 34-30.
Julius Jackson, LB, Nebraska--Last season the 6'1", 240-pound
senior had 24 tackles. In five 1999 games he has 17 tackles,
three interceptions and two fumble recoveries and has earned the
nickname Captain Turnover.
Michigan State--After a disappointing 6-6 finish in 1998, the
Spartans (above) are 5-0 and haven't allowed a rushing touchdown.
Minnesota--Granted, the Gophers have faced only Ohio, Louisiana
Monroe, Illinois State and Northwestern, but after enduring
eight straight losing seasons, they're 4-0 and ranked No. 25.
Mississippi State--With a suffocating defense that has held
opponents to a second-best-in-the-country 205.6 yards per
game, the Bulldogs are 5-0, their best start since 1944.
Ken Simonton, RB, Oregon State--The 5'7", 175-pound sophomore is
second in the nation in rushing (171.0 yards per game) and a big
reason that the Beavers (3-1) might be headed for their first
winning season in 29 years.
COLOR PHOTO: SETH PERLMAN/AP