Kickers game can turn around a game - or a season.
Just ask Alabama about Jamie Christensen, who last season kicked game-winning field goals for the Crimson Tide against Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas Tech. Or ask Iowa State, which saw its chance at
the Big 12 title game end after Kansas' Scott Webb beat the Cyclones in overtime with a 34-yard field goal.
Punters have the ability to help give their teams a field position advantage by booming a long kick or pinning an opponent deep in their territory.
A punt attempt can also backfire, too. Wisconsin blocked a Minnesota punt and recovered it for a touchdown in the final 30 seconds of a 38-34 win.
Here are Rivals.com's preseason picks for the top five kickers and punters:
Rivals.com 2006 Preseason Top Kickers
1. Mason Crosby, Colorado, Sr., 6-2, 215
The Lou Groza Award finalist was at his best from long distances. His 58-yarder against Miami tied for the longest field goal of the year. Crosby was 13 of 18 from beyond 40 yards and 22 of 29
overall in 2005.
2. Brandon Coutu, Georgia, Jr., 6-0, 185
Coutu tied Crosby with a long field goal of 58 yards last season. He was also successful on attempts from 51 and 56 yards. He was perfect on nine attempts inside 30 yards and made 10 of 14 kicks
of 40 yards or longer.
3. Sam Swank, Wake Forest, So., 6-2, 206
Before missing his final attempt of the year, Swank converted 10 consecutive field goals. Swank hit a season-long 52 yarder against Miami and a 51-yarder against Nebraska. He was 19 of 24 for the
4. Jad Dean, Clemson, Sr., 5-11, 205
Dean's 24 field goals (out of 31) were most in the country last season. He went 6-for-6 against Texas A&M in the season opener. The six field goals included a 42-yarder
with two seconds to go in the 25-24 win.
5. Alexis Serna, Oregon State, Jr., 5-7, 157
The Lou Groza Award winner converted 23 of 28 field goals, including 15 in a row. He accounted for all of Oregon State's scoring in an 18-10 victory over Washington.
1. Ken DeBauche, Wisconsin, Jr., 6-1, 221
DeBauche ranked No. 8 in the country and set a school record by averaging 44.8 yards per punt. Of his 57 punts, 22 landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
2. Kody Bliss, Auburn, Sr., 5-10, 177
The first-team All-SEC punter averaged 44.9 yards per kick and had at least one punt of 50 yards or longer in each of the last six games.
3. Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor, Sr., 6-3, 221
The 2004 Ray Guy Award winner would be No. 1 if healthy. He is recovering from a torn ACL in his plant leg sustained while playing basketball in the spring. He was a second-team All-American after
averaging 46.2 yards per punt.
4. Jim Kaylor, Colorado State, Jr., 6-2, 191
Kaylor, a first-team All-Mountain West selection, was fourth in the country with 45.3 yards per punt, including a long of 64 yards. He pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line 12 times.
5. Michael Hughes, San Diego State, Jr., 5-10, 170
Hughes, who was second team in the Mountain West behind Kaylor, averaged 44.8 yards per punt last season. Best game was against TCU when four of his five punts left the Horned Frogs inside
their 20 (two were inside the 5-yard line).