UCLA, Ohio State, FSU, Alabama and Oklahoma land regional college football Sports Illustrated covers


Florida State University Jameis Winston celebrates after defeating Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Bob Leverone/AP)

Sports Illustrated unveiled a quintet of college football covers, each featuring a standout player from one of five U.S. regions — the West, the Midwest, the Southwest, the Southeast and the East. The meat of each issue is more or less the same. It previews the upcoming college football season and explains the four-team playoff that the NCAA is holding for the first time this season. Did your favorite player make the cover-boy cut?

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who threw for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, beat out everyone else in the West to get top Sports Illustrated billing. The magazine may not have slated UCLA to take a spot in the four-team playoff, but the team could be a contender to scare some Pac-12 rivals if the team can come together as a formidable unit.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, a Heisman candidate who threw 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,068 yards last season, is on the Midwestern cover. The young player is hoping to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten win after a less-than-stellar season ending last year.

Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Trevor Knight impressed as a freshman last year, and Sports Illustrated thinks he might lead OU to a Big 12 victory this season. Regardless of what happens, Knight can enjoy this moment as the Southwestern regional cover boy.

Moving southeast, Sport Illustrated chose Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, who caught 45 passes for 736 yards and four touchdowns, to represent that region. Another Big 12 competitor, Cooper is hoping to help usher in a Crimson Tide victory this season after losing to Oklahoma last year.

Last but not least, Florida State’s Heisman winner Jameis Winston is gracing the cover in the East. The ACC standout quarterback led FSU to its third national championship last season by throwing 4,057 yards for 40 touchdowns.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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