This is how it all started — Athlon Sports' first issue in 1967. Founder Jerry McCoin made it clear how highly he regarded the 10-team SEC at the time.
College Football and Athlon were both coming of age in 1973. There were just 11 bowl games back then. Notre Dame defeated Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship. Some things never seem to change: Alabama won the SEC, USC the Pac-8, Michigan and Ohio State tied atop the Big Ten, Oklahoma won the Big 8 and Texas was SWC champion. Arizona and Arizona State tied for the WAC championship.
Athlon Sports 10th Anniversary issue. Pittsburgh, led by head coach Johnny Majors, won the national championship behind Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett and a 1972 recruiting class of more than 75 players.
Remember the old Southwest Conference? The 11th-ranked Houston Cougars defeated No. 9 Arkansas on the last Saturday of October for the SWC championship.
1978 Big Ten
Michigan and Michigan State both finished with 7-1 records in the Big Ten. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines and won their next six games in blowout fashion, but did not appear in a bowl. Michigan represented the conference in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State's appearance in the Gator Bowl vs. Clemson ended in embarrassment for coach Woody Hayes.
Nebraska won the Big 8 in 1981 and entered the Orange Bowl ranked No. 4, but lost to Clemson giving the Tigers the national title.
1981 Big Ten
Art Schlichter threw for more than 2,500 yards and Gary Williams was his favorite targer. Tim Spencer rushed for 1,217 yards as the Buckeyes defeated Navy in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
Dan Marino makes his first appearance on an Athlon cover.
1982 Pac Ten (John Elway)
John Elway was a popular Athlon cover subject, but most of his covers were in Denver. No doubt No. 7 looked good in Stanford Cardinal.
Herschel Walker of Georgia finished in the top three in Heisman voting after all three of his seasons in Athens. Walker coundn't get UGa over the top in 1982 as he did in 1980.
Lest you forgot, Lou Holtz spent some quality time with players at Arkansas on his way to Notre Dame via Minnesota.
Prior to Big East football, the Eastern Independents played for the Lambert Trophy, which used to be a bigger deal than it is now.
1984 Oklahoma/Big Eight
The 1984 Oklahoma Sooners were 1-0-1 against No. 1-ranked teams. They tied Texas and defeated Nebraska. The No. 2 Sooners lost to No. 4 Washington in the Orange Bowl.
Texas spent two weeks at No. 1, but a three-game losing streak, including a 55-17 loss to Iowa in the Freedom Bowl, to end the season knocked the Longhorns out of the final poll.
1986 Oklahoma/Big Eight
Linebacker Brian Bosworth was the man in Oklahoma. That is until a wayward drug test knocked him out of the 1987 Orange Bowl. Unveiling a shirt referring to the NCAA as National Communists Against Athletes, ended his collegiate career. The two-time All-America linebacker was one of the best ever to play the game.
1987 Big Ten
The 1987 Iowa Hawkeyes were ranked No. 16 in the preseason poll as well as the final poll.
1988 Pac Ten
Troy Aikman of UCLA and Rodney Peete of USC were two of the best college quarterbacks in the 1980s.
There weren't many dual-threat quarterbacks in the 1980s than Major Harris of West Virginia.
Georgia Tech, at 6-0-1, won the ACC then defeated Nebraska 45-21 in the Citrus Bowl to earn a share of the national title.
Even though Ty Detmer threw for 4,031 yards, the Cougars began the season with consecutive losses to Florida State, UCLA and Penn State, which took Detmer out of the Heisman race early.
The Florida State Seminoles were ranked in the top 10 all season. They lost to Miami, tied Florida, then defeated the Gators in a rematch in the Sugar Bowl.
1994 Big Ten (Kerry Collins)
Penn State, led by quarterback Kerry Collins, finished the season undefeated. They began ranked No. 9, made it No. 1, but somehow a 63-14 win over No. 21 Ohio State knocked the Nittany Lions back to No. 2 where they finished.
Peyton Manning didn't open the season as the quarterback. Some guy named Todd Helton played ahead of him. Jerry Colquitt started and lasted about five plays before tearing his ACL. Helton was injured a few games later, opening the door for Peyton.
1995 ACC (Brian Dawkins)
Brian Dawkins, a popular figure in Philadelphia, was Clemson's leading man in 1995.
1995 Pac Ten
Keyshawn Johnson caught 90 passes for 1,217 yards for th Trojans in 1995.
1995 SEC Danny Wuerffel
In the season prior to winning the Heisman Trophy, Danny Wuerffel led the Gators to an undefeated regular season prior to a 62-24 thrashing in the Fiesta Bowl at the hands of Nebraska.
1996 Big Ten (Orlando Pace)
Complete with a stack of pancakes and a half-gallon of milk, Athlon Sports enjoyed a cool photo shoot with Orlando Pace, the Pancake Man and All-America tackle for the Buckeyes.
1997 Big Ten (Charles Woodson)
The talented Charles Woodson had eight interceptions, returned a punt for a touchdown and added 267 yards from scrimmage on offense on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.
1997 Pac Ten/Arizona State
Pat Tillman was a football star at Arizona State. He became a national hero after enlisting in the Army following the attacks of 9/11. He died in the mountains of Afghanistan as a member of the Army Rangers.
1998 Eastern (Donovan McNabb)
In 1998, Donovan McNabb led the Syracuse Orangemen to three wins over Top 20 teams ending the season ranked No. 25.
1998 SEC (Champ Bailey)
The All-America defensive back, Champ Bailey, was the Bulldogs' top punt returner and led the team in receiving and yards from scrimmage.
1998 SEC (Jamal Lewis)
On a national championship team full of stars, Jamal Lewis was the Vols' thrid leading rusher behind Travis Henry and Travis Stephens.
1999 Big Ten
Big Ron Dayne was one of the most powerful runners in college football in recent memory.
2000 Eastern (Santana Moss)
The 2000 Miami Hurricanes were a star-studded bunch. Santana Moss caught two more passes than teammate Reggie Wayne and had seven fewer yards. Moss added 201 yards rushing for the Hurricanes, who despite being No. 2 in the AP Poll, were No. 3 in the BCS, which prevented a shot at the national title. The one-loss Hurricanes defeated Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
2001 Big Twelve
The 2001 Oklahoma Sooners were picked by Athlon to finish No. 5. The Sooners spent most of the season at No. 3, but needed a 10-3 win over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl to finish at No. 7.
2005 Big Ten (Ted Ginn Jr.)
Big things were expected of Ted Ginn Jr., who was a part of a receiving corps that included NFLers Anthony Gonzalez and Santonio Holmes. Ginn returned a punt and kickoff for scores as well as catches passes for 803 yards.
2005 Big Twelve
Vince Young led the Texas Longhorns during a season capped by a thrilling come-from-behind win over USC in the Rose Bowl to win the national championship.
There's nothing like doing a photo shoot with Uga, one of the most recognizable -- and photographed -- mascots in college football.
Almost heaven. This picturesque scene graced the cover of one of our best selling covers ever.
2008 Big Ten
Beanie Wells was jumping for joy prior to the 2008 season. The Buckeyes' three losses came at No. 1 USC, against No. 3 Penn State and No. 3 Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.
After being dianosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, Mark Herzlich missed the 2009 season after being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.
Coming off a Heisman Trophy season — the first in Alabama history — Mark Ingram had 1,157 yards from scrimmage. His backfield teammate Trent Richardson added 966 yards.
Recent seasons haven't been kind to the U.
2012 Big 12
Welcome the Big 12, Mountaineers!
2012 Pac 12
Matt Barkley is USC's Golden Boy in 2012. The Trojans are Athlon's pick to break the SEC's hold on national championships.
Oops. Running afoul of team rules at LSU by the Honey Badger rendered this cover a special collector's item.
2007 SEC (Tim Tebow)
Clearly one of the greatest college football players of all-time, Tebow was an excellent cover choice for three years at Florida.
2000 Western (LT)
TCU hasn't made many cover appearances, but LaDainian Tomlinson carried the day on this rare Western edition.
1996 SEC (Peyton Manning)
Tennessee was picked No. 1, but that didn't happen until Peyton Manning left Knoxville for Indianapolis.
2000 Eastern (Michael Vick)
Michael Vick, the best offensive player in Virginia Tech history.
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