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Winners and losers of past week in college football

Associated Press
The last time FSU was a preseason No. 1 pick in the AP poll, it went on to win the national title.


Go ahead and start your internal clock: It's less than two weeks until the first kickoff, and you have our permission (as if you needed it) to begin the countdown.

As teams get ready to start actual game preparation, College Football 24/7 takes a look at some winners and losers from the past week.

Winners


The BCS is gone, replaced by the College Football Playoff. It's the dawning of a new and exciting era, with a four-team playoff starting this season. CFB 24/7 presents a primer to get you ready.

More:
» CFB Playoff Picture: If the season ended today
» CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings
» Updated bowl projections

Florida State

Not that it matters at all other than as a talking point, but Florida State is the No. 1 team in The Associated Press' preseason poll. One potential downer for QB Jameis Winston and the Seminoles: The last time a team ranked No. 1 in the preseason in the AP poll followed through by winning the national title was USC, in 2004. On the other hand, the last time FSU was ranked No. 1 in the preseason by the AP was 1999 -- and the Seminoles won it all that season. (FSU also was No. 1 in the preseason CFB 24/7 Top 25 Power Rankings.

Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill

Hill, a sophomore, was named the Aggies' starting quarterback Saturday, and he will head a unit that will be expected to put up big numbers. He has a plethora of fast skill-position players with whom to work and a big, physical line in front of him. The flipside, of course, is that he is replacing Johnny Manziel, and it seems folly to suggest Hill can duplicate the numbers put up by "Johnny Football."

Oregon's star players

(Well, except for one, who we will get to in a minute.) A few days after news broke that Oregon, unlike Florida State and Texas A&M, was not paying for supplemental insurance policies for QB Marcus Mariota, C Hroniss Grasu, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and DT Arik Armstead came word that the school was planning to reimburse the quartet for their out-of-pocket expenses related to the premiums they bought this summer. Considering the policies can cost up to $60,000 a year, the decision surely came as welcomed news for the four players.

Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) throws a pass to Penn State wide receiver Richy Anderson (19) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Eastern Michigan in State College, Pa. Penn State won 45-7. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
NFL Exposure

Top college QBs to watch in 2014

Take a look ahead to the 2014 college football season with the best quarterbacks to follow this fall.

Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg

Penn State has been playing football for a long time -- since 1881 -- but never has had a sophomore captain. Until now. Hackenberg was selected as an offensive co-captain in a vote by players and coaches. A big arm and leadership qualities? New coach James Franklin sure is lucky. Hackenberg seems likely to be overshadowed this fall by the likes of Mariota, Winston, Ohio State's Braxton Miller and Baylor's Bryce Petty, but he almost certainly will be the quarterback to watch heading into the 2015 season.

LSU

Last week at this time, the assumption was projected starting DT Quentin Thomas would miss the season for the Tigers because of a torn biceps. It was seen as a huge blow to an LSU defense that was looking to replace both starting defensive tackles -- both of whom had turned pro early. That meant that with Thomas out, a guy coaches late last season likely thought would be a third-teamer this fall instead was going to start. It turns out, though, that Thomas' injury might not even keep him out of the opening game against Wisconsin. That "whoosh" sound you heard last Monday? That was LSU defensive coaches (and fans) sighing in relief.

Losers



14 for '14 series:
CFB 24/7 counts down the 14 college football players or coaches to watch in varying categories in 2014.

» Top small-school prospects
» Impact freshmen in college football
» Top rivalries in college football
» Top personalities in college football
» Best uniforms in college football
» Best stadiums in college football
» Biggest hitters in college football
» Hot coordinators in college football
» Best recruiters in college football
» Hot-seat coaches in college football
» Best coaches in college football
» Best names in college football
» Heaviest players in college football
» Smallest players in college football
» Top celebrity college football fans
» Top Heisman Trophy candidates
» Most explosive athletes in college football
» Most versatile players in college football
» Most freakish athletes in college football
» Scariest players in college football
» Fastest players in college football
» Toughest players in college football
» Smartest players in college football
» Most physical players in college football
» College football players with best intangibles

Northwestern

Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald was hit with a double-whammy Wednesday. He found out that senior RB Venric Mark, the best offensive player on the team and one of the most explosive players in the nation, was transferring; he also found out that senior Christian Jones, the Wildcats' best receiver, would miss the season with a severe knee injury. That means a team that struggled to move the ball consistently last season lost its two biggest offensive playmakers in one 24-hour period.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame considers itself a bit different than most (all?) college athletic programs because of its emphasis on academics. Thus, when news broke Friday that four Irish players were being investigated for academic fraud, it carried more weight than if the same thing had happened at a "typical" university. The quartet includes three potential starters: CB KeiVarae Russell, WR DaVaris Daniels and DE Ishaq Williams. It was another academic hit for Notre Dame: Starting QB Everett Golson was dismissed from school last fall for academics issues; he re-enrolled in the spring and was named the starting quarterback Wednesday.

Oregon OT Tyler Johnstone

Johnstone was considered perhaps the second-best offensive tackle in the Pac-12. We say "was" because he has been lost for the season with a torn ACL, which hurts an Oregon offensive line that was in the mix to be the best in the nation. The Ducks still return four starters, including Grasu and standout RT Jake Fisher, but it's tough to replace a potential first-team all-league pick just two weeks before the first kickoff.

Duke

The Blue Devils won the ACC Coastal Division title last season behind their offense, and it seems likely they will have to do the same this season. Duke lost its best defensive player for the season when senior LB Kelby Brown -- a first-team All-ACC pick last season, when he had 114 tackles -- suffered a torn left ACL. Brown missed the 2012 season with a torn right ACL.

USC LB Jabari Ruffin

Ruffin, a sophomore who was a projected starter at outside linebacker for the Trojans, will miss the season with a torn ACL. Ruffin was a national top-60 prospect in the 2012 recruiting class and likely would've been one of the better sophomore defenders in the Pac-12 this fall. Depth is an issue for the Trojans, and there is little proven talent behind the two projected starters now.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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