Players and coaches worth watching this season:

Bill Callahan, Nebraska

A couple of years ago, Callahan was working for Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis and helping the renegade franchise reach the Super Bowl. Now he's coaching in another uniquely challenging environment, where a 10-win season might not be considered successful enough.

Brad Smith, Missouri

A lot is expected of Smith, a dual-threat quarterback, and of the Tigers, who return most of their defense. At issue, however, is Smith's passing ability. A strong season could loft Smith into contention for the Heisman Trophy.

Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

The 6-2, 210-pound Texas running back was generally considered the best high school player in the nation. He joins what could be the nation's best team.

Brady Quinn, Notre Dame

Quinn struggled -- nine touchdown passes, 15 interceptions -- when he was given the starting job nearly midway through the season as a freshman. He should be better; let's face it, the offense can't be much worse. The schedule is manageable. Eight wins are possible.

Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State

Some of the excitement that came with Mississippi State's hiring of Croom, the first black SEC coach in history, could be washed away with the NCAA infractions committee's ruling. The school and the committee met in June for the longest hearing in years. The Bulldogs were expected to be sanctioned because of alleged recruiting violations that occurred under former coach Jackie Sherrill. The specter of probation already has hindered some of Croom's recruiting efforts in the cutthroat SEC.

QuinnSylvester Croom takes over Mississippi State's program, which could face NCAA sanctions.