Kickoff: College football by the numbers

Michigan attracts the most fans. USC is the top-rated team. But do you know who plays in the 'Bowden Bowl?'

The season

The 138th college football season started Aug. 30 and runs through the national championship game on Jan. 6. Some 400 games will be telecast.

AP's preseason Top 20

1. Southern California

2. Louisiana State

3. West Virginia

4. Texas

5. Michigan

6. Florida

7. Wisconsin

8. Oklahoma

9. Virginia Tech

10. Louisville

11. Ohio State

12. California

13. Georgia

14. UCLA

15. Tennessee

16. Rutgers

17. Penn State

18. Auburn

19. Florida State

20. Nebraska

Honored traditions

•12th man at Texas A&M. By standing throughout home games, the student body serves as an extra "player." Stems from a 1922 game in which a student, called from the stands, stood ready to play even though he wasn't used.

•Dotting the "i", in which a sousaphone player in the Ohio State University band is honored by completing the famous Script Ohio formation.

•Marching cadets and midshipmen, who enter the stadium in formation to watch Army play Navy. After the game, the teams take turns serenading the fans with each academy's school song.

•Hook 'em hand signal of University of Texas, introduced by a cheerleader at a 1955 pep rally, which is intended to mimic a longhorn's head.

Notable college stadiums

Michigan: The largest college stadium, known as "The Big House," which seats 107,501.

Harvard: The world's first massive reinforced concrete structure (built in 1903 for $310,000). This year it will have lights for the first time.

Neyland: The University of Tennessee's home field in Knoxville, with its trademark orange-and-white checkerboard end zones. Boats use the nearby Tennessee River for tailgating.

Bronco: Home of Boise State in Idaho, known for its swimming-pool blue artificial turf.

Sanford: English privet hedges surround the University of Georgia's field in Athens, where games are said to be played "between the hedges."

Games of interest

Sept. 1 – East Carolina at Virginia Tech: VT's first game since the campus shooting.

Sept. 15 – Notre Dame at Michigan, matchup of college football's winningest programs.

Oct. 6 – Notre Dame visits the Rose Bowl for first time since 1925 to play home team UCLA.

Players to watch in 2007

Colt Brennan, a senior quarterback at the University of Hawaii, broke or tied 18 NCAA records last year, including the most touchdown passes in a single season (58).

Darren McFadden, a junior at Arkansas and a Heisman Trophy favorite, may be the best runner in what Sports Illustrated is calling "The Year of the Running Back."

Ray Rice, a junior running back at Rutgers, is on track to break the all-time career rushing record set by Wisconsin's Ron Dayne in 1999. McFadden and West Virginia's Steve Slaton are close behind.

Coaches to watch Moving up: Penn State legend Joe Paterno weighs coaching from the press box this season, as he did last year after being injured along the sidelines.

Moving over: Nick Saban shifts from the NFL to the University of Alabama, where anticipation is so high that an intrasquad game drew 92,000 fans.

Family ties: Sept. 3 will mark the ninth "Bowden Bowl," pitting Bobby Bowden, the Florida State coach, against his son, Tommy, who coaches Clemson.

Highest-paid coaches (in millions)

1. Nick Saban, Alabama $4

2. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame $3.3

3. Pete Carroll, Southern Cal $3

4. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa $2.855. Mack Brown, Texas $2.55

Winningest active coaches

Bobby Bowden, Florida State, 366

Joe Paterno, Penn State, 363

Attendance leaders(per game, 2006)

1. Michigan, 110,026

2. Penn State, 107,567

3. Tennessee, 105,789

4. Ohio State, 105,096

5. Georgia, 92,746

Great players who didn't win the Heisman Trophy

Peyton Manning, Tennessee

Joe Montana, Notre Dame

Tom Brady, Michigan

John Elway, Stanford

Jim Brown, Syracuse

Dan Marino, Pittsburgh

Little giants

Reigning small-college powers (all two-time defending national champions)

• Appalachian State (Boone, N.C.), I-AA

• Grand Valley State (Allendale, Mich.), Division II

• Mount Union (Alliance, Ohio), Division III

Best players of all time(as selected by americasbestonline.net)

1. Jim Thorpe, Carlisle

2. Herschel Walker, Georgia

3. Red Grange, Illinois

4. Sammy Baugh, Texas Christian

5. Vince Young, Texas

Trophies among rivals

Apple Cup (Washington vs. Washington State)

Little Brown Jug (Michigan vs. Minnesota)

Golden Egg (Mississippi vs. Mississippi State)

Keg of Nails (Cincinnati vs. Louisville)

Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana vs. Purdue)

Miscellany

24 – number of hours per week players can devote to "structured" football activity.

85 – maximum number of scholarship players per team.

$194 – cost of eight-game student pass to Michigan Stadium.

$48 – price of a Notre Dame baby crib bumper.

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