USA TODAY/CNN Top 25


Final poll

1. Nebraska (12-0)

Points: 1,550. (62 first-place votes). Last poll: 1. Looking ahead to 1996: Lose top two QBs, Tommie Frazier and Brook Berringer. I-back Lawrence Phillips appears headed to NFL, but Ahman Green is ready to step in. DT Christian Peter will be missed, but there's plenty of experience on defense.


2. Tennessee (11-1)

Points: 1,438. Last poll: 4. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Peyton Manning figures to make strong run for the Heisman Trophy. Fleet RB Jay Graham also is back, along with DE Leonard Little (11 sacks). Vols must replace senior-dominated offensive line but should make run at SEC title.


3. Florida (12-1)

Points: 1,434. Last poll: 2. Looking ahead to 1996: Junior QB Danny Wuerffel should make a run at the Heisman (third in voting this year). WR Chris Doering leaves, but WR Ike Hilliard and RBs Elijah Williams, Fred Taylor and Terry Jackson are back, along with six defensive starters.


4. Colorado (10-2)

Points: 1,308. Last poll: 7. Looking ahead to 1996: QBs Koy Detmer (knee injury) and John Hessler are back, along with WR Rae Carruth and RB Herchell Troutman. LB Matt Russell (119 tackles), fourth in Butkus Award balloting, and FS Steve Rosga (three interceptions) head veteran defense.


5. Florida State (10-2)

Points: 1,280. Last poll: 8. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Danny Kanell graduates, but most of the skill position players are back. RB Warrick Dunn is expected to decide quickly whether he will enter the NFL draft. Star LB Todd Rebol must be replaced.


6. Kansas State (10-2)

Points: 1,129. Last poll: 10. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Matt Miller and standout DB Tim Colston graduate, but WR Kevin Lockett has a year left and CB Chris Canty will be back to try to improve on his eight interceptions.


7. Northwestern (10-2)

Points: 1,121. Last poll: 3. Looking ahead to 1996: Plenty of experience is back as Wildcats return 15 of the top 22 players on defense, including LB Pat Fitzgerald, and 19 of the top 22 on offense, including RB Darnell Autry. Will coach Gary Barnett also be back?


8. Ohio State (11-2)

Points: 1,105. Last poll: 5. Looking ahead to 1996: RB Eddie George will take the Heisman to the pros. QB Bobby Hoying is gone, too. But WR Terry Glenn is due back, along with huge OL Orlando Pace and defensive line stalwarts Mike Vrabel and Matt Finkes.


9. Virginia Tech (10-2)

Points: 1,101. Last poll: 11. Looking ahead to 1996: Offense returns QB Jim Druckenmiller and RB Ken Oxendine but loses star WR Bryan Still. Defense loses LB George DelRicco and DT J.C. Price but returns DB Torrian Gray and DE Cornell Brown.


10. Kansas (10-2)

Points: 994. Last poll: 13. Looking ahead to 1996: Efficient QB Mark Williams and RB L.T. Levine must be replaced, but Jayhawks' other standout, RB June Henley, is back. This program appears to have staying power, especially with coach Glen Mason returning.


11. Southern Cal (9-2-1)

Points: 898. Last poll: 17. Looking ahead to 1996: Rose Bowl champion must retool offense, which loses All-America WR Keyshawn Johnson and six other starters. QB Brad Otton has a year left. Defense should be strong, with six starters back.


12. Penn State (9-3)

Points: 857. Last poll: 16. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Wally Richardson and flanker Freddie Scott expected back, but SE Bobby Engram leaves, along with six other offensive starters. Young defense has nine starters due back and should be able to carry more of the burden.


13. Notre Dame (9-3)

Points: 813. Last poll: 9. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Ron Powlus due back from broken arm and FB Marc Edwards will be a senior. Standout WR Derrick Mayes must be replaced along with five defensive starters, including star end Renaldo Wynn.


14. Texas (10-2-1)

Points: 768. Last poll: 6. Looking ahead to 1996: Pass-catch duo of QB James Brown and WR Mike Adams scheduled to return as are RBs Ricky Williams and Shon Mitchell. Dynamic DE Tony Brackens has a year left.


15. Texas A&M (9-3)

Points: 703. Last poll: 18. Looking ahead to 1996: RB Leeland McElroy announced he's leaving for the NFL, and Corey Pullig, winningest quarterback in Aggies history, graduates. Sirr Parker and/or D'Andre Hardeman could step in for McElroy. Standout DE Brandon Mitchell is due back.


16. Syracuse (9-3)

Points: 593. Last poll: 22. Looking ahead to 1996: Star QB Donovan McNabb and FB Rob Konrad will be sophomores, but record-setting WR Marvin Harrison is gone. DBs Kevin Abrams and Donovin Darius are due back to anchor secondary. Team loses only seven senior starters.


17. Virginia (9-4)

Points: 585. Last poll: 19. Looking ahead to 1996: Cavaliers must replace QB Mike Groh and five other starters on offense, but RB Tiki Barber is due back and could be a dark-horse Heisman candidate. CB Ronde Barber and DE Duane Ashman should lead a defense that returns six starters.


18. Oregon (9-3)

Points: 441. Last poll: 12. Looking ahead to 1996: Seven starters on the ``Gang Green'' defense are gone. Only two are lost on offense, but they're the two best, TB Ricky Whittle, the school's career all-purpose yardage leader, and Cristin McLemore, the Ducks' all-time leading receiver. QB Tony Graziani returns.


19. Michigan (9-4)

Points: 426. Last poll: 14. Looking ahead to 1996: Injured starting QB Scott Dreisbach and his backup, Brian Griese, are due back, along with RB Tim Biakabutuka, a probable Heisman candidate. WRs Amani Toomer and Mercury Hayes are gone. Standout LB Jarrett Irons has a year left, but DT Jason Horn graduates.


20. Texas Tech (9-3)

Points: 329. Last poll: 25. Looking ahead to 1996: Future would look bright, except team will play in Big 12 and face seven bowl teams. Return eight starters from potent offense, led by soph QB Zebbie Lethridge (1,885 yards, 13 TDs) and TB Byron Hanspard (1,374 yards, 18 TDs). Strong point on defense is front four headed by DEs Montae Reagor and Tony Daniels.


21. Auburn (8-4)

Points: 292. Last poll: 15. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Patrick Nix and RB Stephen Davis will be missed, but much of the offense returns. Young defense should improve with experience; eight starters due back.


22. Iowa (8-4)

Points: 205. Last poll: Not ranked. Looking ahead to 1996: Hawkeyes return seven starters on both offense and defense. QB Matt Sherman (2,546 yards) and school's career rushing leader, Sedrick Shaw (3,040 yards), headline offense. Stingy defense will be led by T Jared DeVries (19 tackles for loss) and CB Tommy Knight (four interceptions, two for TDs).


23. East Carolina (9-3)

Points: 163. Last poll: Not ranked. Looking ahead to 1996: QB Marcus Crandell, school's career passing yardage (5,691) and total offense leader (6,026), headlines wide-open offense, losing only two starters. Must replace LB Mark Libiano, leading tackler past three seasons, but Pirates return seven players from defense ranked No. 38 in USA (335.2 yards a game).


24. Toledo (11-0-1)

Points: 150. Last poll: Not ranked. Looking ahead to 1996: Rockets will be explosive and again could be the team to beat in Mid-American Conference. They return main man Wasean Tait, exciting runner who had 2,090 yards and 24 TDs. Also back is QB Ryan Huzjak. Need to fill holes along offensive line because of graduation, but 18 of top 22 defensive players return.


25. Louisiana State (7-4-1)

Points: 110. Last poll: Not ranked. Looking ahead to 1996: Should field potent offense led by TBs Kevin Faulk (six TDs) and Kendall Cleveland (team-high 10 TDs), and QB Herbert Tyler, who was 3-0 as starter. All three will be sophomores. Defense must replace Es Gabe Northern (21 career sacks) and James Gilyard (six sacks), but three starting linebackers return, led by Allen Stansberry (team-high 109 tackles). Chad Kessler, USA's No. 5 punter (44.1 yards a kick), also is back.


DROPPED OUT: No. 20 Washington (7-4-1), No. 21 Clemson (8-4), No. 23 Arkansas (8-5) and No. 24 UCLA (7-5).

Miami (Fla.) (8-3) and Alabama (8-3) no longer are eligible because of NCAA sanctions.


OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: North Carolina 100, Washington 98, Arkansas 54, Clemson 42, UCLA 22, Stanford 11, Colorado State 9, Michigan State 6, Fresno State 5, Air Force 3, Baylor 3, Louisville 3, Georgia 1.


The USA TODAY/CNN Board of Coaches is conducted with the cooperation of the American Football Coaches Association and in conjunction with the American Football Coaches Retirement Trust. By agreement with the AFCA, teams on major NCAA or conference probation are ineligible to be ranked.