College Football's New Look

That's why Jack won the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year Award and the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year Award. That's a first, and so what if the league has been giving out the awards only since 2008? You would have to go back to the World War II era to find a two-way player that talented who was allowed to play varsity (freshmen remained ineligible from the postwar era into the early '70s). Coach Jim Mora sprung Jack on the world as an offensive talent in the ninth game of the season. Jack rushed for 120 yards against Arizona, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the Bruins' narrow 31-26 victory.

So let's read the fine print in that performance. Jack benefited by the way that offenses had to focus on the Bruins' defensive star, the linebacker and future first-round draft pick Anthony Barr.

This season, Jack will become the focus of a lot more attention. Mora plans to play a lot of nickel this season against the league's spread offenses, which will move Jack from outside linebacker to the middle of the field, where he will be more of a run-stopper and have to perform more vertical drops.

As for running back, that remains the whipped cream on the sundae. Jack said last month that he wants his legacy to stand as one of UCLA's great linebackers, in the footsteps of Barr. He didn't say anything about Maurice Jones-Drew.


The Contenders

Editor's note: ESPN.com used a mock selection committee of 13 college football experts to chose the 16 best teams in the nation for the 2014 season.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In winning 60 of 67 games and three national championships in the past five seasons, Alabama has maintained its dominance while having its best talent cherry-picked by the NFL.

Nowhere has that been more evident than on defense, which has been the engine of this historic run. Ten starters have left early for professional football in the past five seasons, and five of those 10 have played in the secondary, coach Nick Saban's private stash of talent.

This year, safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri decided to forgo their senior seasons, joining Dee Milliner (2013), Dre Kirkpatrick (2012) and Kareem Jackson (2010) on the list of early departures.

The steady drain of talent, as well as Sunseri's midseason knee injury, caught up to Alabama's secondary last season. Eight players started at least one game as Saban searched for consistency. Interceptions fell from 18 in 2012 to 11 last season.

The news didn't get much better up front, where sacks plummeted from 35 to 22. There were other ways in which to measure Alabama's defensive dip: Texas A&M's 628 yards; Auburn's 296 rushing yards; Oklahoma's 348 passing yards.

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