August 13, 2009

Rivals.com Preseason Top 120 Countdown

Rivals.com presents its 2009 countdown, ranking the teams from first through No. 120.

We started at the bottom with our No. 1 team to be unveiled Aug. 13 - which will be three weeks from the start of the season.

After that, you won't see any team rankings from Rivals until early October. The reason: We will wait until enough games have been played so we can legitimately rank the teams.

The team rankings were compiled by football writers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee. They look forward to your emails.

Rivals.com Preseason Top 120 Countdown
1. Florida
Much like the 2008-09 North Carolina basketball team, this season will be somewhat of a disappointment if the Gators don't win the national title. At the least, they should be in Pasadena, Calif., playing for it all on Jan. 7. [ 2009 season preview ]
2. Texas
The annual midseason grudge match against Oklahoma appears to be the key to winning the Big 12 South. But Texas has beaten OU twice in the past three seasons only to lose later in the season. [ 2009 season preview ]
3. USC
USC enjoyed one of the best defensive seasons in recent history last year on the way to another Rose Bowl rout. The offense will be expected to carry the Trojans in 2009 while eight new starters on defense find their footing. [ 2009 season preview ]
4. Oklahoma
If the offensive line performs at an acceptable level and new starting receivers emerge, the Sooners again will contend for the national championship. If the line struggles, a third-place finish in the Big 12 South isn't out of the question. [ 2009 season preview ]
5. Alabama
Two seasons - that's all it has taken for Nick Saban to restore the luster to Alabama football. Saban is right on course for greatness in Tuscaloosa, but a retooled offense may keep the Tide from again winning the SEC West. [ 2009 season preview ]
6. Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games in each of the past five seasons without seriously contending for the national title. This could be the season, but the passing game must get better. A win in the opener against Alabama would help, too. [ 2009 season preview ]
7. Ohio State
The Buckeyes just may find their way to a fourth BCS title game this decade. The defense again is built to backstop a title run, and the offense is primed for big things. To have legitimate national title hopes, Ohio State has to beat USC. [ 2009 season preview ]
8. Ole Miss
The Rebels' starting lineup compares favorably to any SEC team other than Florida. Ole Miss also should benefit from playing a much easier conference schedule than LSU or Alabama. The big concern is Ole Miss' relative lack of depth. [ 2009 season preview ]
9. Boise State
The Broncos went 12-0 last season before losing to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl. They didn't have a player taken in the NFL draft, meaning most of the talent returns to Boise. Anything less than 11 wins would be disappointing. [ 2009 season preview ]
10. Oklahoma State
At the least, this appears to be an eight-victory team, and that's if the defense continues to struggle. If the defense comes through, the Cowboys will win 10 or even 11. It's hard to overstate how important the first two games are. [ 2009 season preview ]
11. LSU
LSU will be better. But how much better? That's the question. Expecting the Tigers to earn a BCS bid just one season after going 8-5 is perhaps overly optimistic. The biggest worry is a schedule with the two biggest division foes on the road. [ 2009 season preview ]
12. Penn State
Joe Paterno led the Lions to their second Big Ten title in four seasons. Yes, the 2009 Nittany Lions have issues, but they could be buffeted by one of the nation's weakest schedules. What's it mean? Penn State may win the Big Ten again. [ 2009 season preview ]
13. California
More than 50 years have passed since California made the Rose Bowl, but this could be the year. The Bears have star power with RB Jahvid Best and Syd'Quan Thompson leading a defense that projects to be one of the best in the Pac-10. [ 2009 season preview ]
14. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech will continue to have one of the nation's top rushing attacks. If the Jackets establish some semblance of passing attack, it will only make them that much more dangerous. The questions are on the other side of the ball. [ 2009 season preview ]
15. Georgia
More production from the defensive ends and secondary is needed. Although Georgia isn't likely to topple Florida, the Bulldogs still have a chance to reach 10 victories for the seventh time in Mark Richt's tenure. [ 2009 season preview ]
16. Kansas
If the defense is as mediocre as it was last season a 7-5 or 6-6 season beckons. If the defense has made some improvements, this could be a 10-win team. More likely is eight or nine wins and a Big 12 North title. [ 2009 season preview ]
17. Oregon
The uncertainty and inexperience in the offensive and defensive lines raises doubt whether Oregon can contend for the Pac-10 title. If the new starters step up, the Ducks could gel and become a major factor in the race. [ 2009 season preview ]
18. Iowa
Kirk Ferentz rallied his program last fall from a 3-3 start to a 9-4 finish and the Big Ten's lone postseason triumph. And the players have generally behaved off the field, too. If you're looking for a Big Ten sleeper, this is your team. [ 2009 season preview ]
19. West Virginia
The odd-numbered years have been kind to West Virginia, especially in the latter part of this decade. The Mountaineers have played in BCS games after the 2005 and 2007 seasons, and they can do it again in 2009. [ 2009 season preview ]
20. TCU
While there are several star players, there also are holes to fill. If a few new starters distinguish themselves, this could be a special season. A Sept. 26 road trip to Clemson should give an indication of which way the season will go. [ 2009 season preview ]
21. Texas Tech
Mike Leach has said the Red Raiders will be good again. They will. But any team that lost the talent Tech did has to anticipate some kind of decline, especially with the Big 12 South once again appearing loaded. [ 2009 season preview ]
22. Utah
Some felt the Utes, as the nation's only undefeated team, should have been No. 1. The Utes may take a step back this fall, largely because of the loss of Brian Johnson under center. Still, never count out Utah behind Kyle Whittingham. [ 2009 season preview ]
23. Florida State
Slowly but surely, FSU seems headed back in the right direction. But the Seminoles' record this season might not reflect their progress. The schedule is so much tougher this season that they could have a better team but a worse record. [ 2009 season preview ]
24. Notre Dame
If Jimmy Clausen carries his Hawaii Bowl performance over to the season and the Irish figure out how to run the ball, they ought to win eight or nine games. If they can put together an adequate defensive line, they could be BCS-bound. [ 2009 season preview ]
25. South Florida
The Bulls have the talent and experience to contend for the Big East title this season, especially with the departure of Pat White at West Virginia and the gutting of Cincinnati's defense. [ 2009 season preview ]
26. Oregon State
Oregon State stunned fans last season by finishing a win short of the Pac-10 title, which would've meant a Rose Bowl appearance. Another run at the conference championship might be too much to ask this season. [ 2009 season preview ]
27. Nebraska
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Huskers win the Big 12 North; it also wouldn't be a surprise to see them finish third in the division. Let's split the difference and call for a second-place finish, behind Kansas. [ 2009 season preview ]
28. North Carolina
North Carolina could be better this season, but so is the rest of the Coastal Division. The Tar Heels might be good enough to win the Atlantic Division, but they instead have to fight it out with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami. [ 2009 season preview ]
29. Brigham Young
This season, the Cougars should contend for the league title and could win their third crown in four seasons. They should have the best offense in the league; they just need to find a defense to match. [ 2009 season preview ]
30. Houston
The Cougars look like the cream of the C-USA crop. Once again, the offense will carry the program's hopes. If the defense is better than average, this could be a special season along Cullen Boulevard. [ 2009 season preview ]
31. Michigan State
Mark Dantonio has given Michigan State hope of better days by instilling a tough, disciplined style. Paced by a strong defense, the Spartans may be a sleeper Big Ten title contender this fall. [ 2009 season preview ]
32. Clemson
Last season, Clemson was the ACC's biggest surprise for all the wrong reasons. The Tigers could offer an entirely different kind of surprise thanks to an exceptional defense and arguably the league's most dynamic player in C.J. Spiller. [ 2009 season preview ]
33. Cincinnati
Thanks to quite a bit of turnover on defense, it will be tough for Cincinnati to repeat as Big East champions. Then again, last season's team didn't win the conference title under ideal conditions, either. [ 2009 season preview ]
34. South Carolina
The Gamecocks appear more talented than a year ago. But with their minefield of a schedule, it might not show up in the won-lost record. Stephen Garcia's progress at quarterback and the offensive line's development are huge keys. [ 2009 season preview ]
35. Illinois
Illinois is at a crossroads of sorts, facing a critical season to show that the school's trip to the Rose Bowl after the 2007 campaign wasn't a fluke. Coach Ron Zook likes this edition of the Fighting Illini. [ 2009 season preview ]
36. East Carolina
Skip Holtz has the Pirates humming along. The defensive line and secondary are big-time units, and the offensive line should pave the way for a much more productive rushing attack. ECU should be expected to reach the C-USA title game. [ 2009 season preview ]
37. Rutgers
Greg Schiano has built Rutgers into a consistent bowl team and a contender in the Big East; the Scarlet Knights have been to four consecutive bowls. The next step is winning the league and going to the school's first BCS game. [ 2009 season preview ]
38. N.C. State
N.C. State is getting plenty of preseason attention as the ACC's biggest team on the rise. But much depends on the health of All-ACC quarterback Russell Wilson, who may mean more to his team than any player in the nation. [ 2009 season preview ]
39. Miami
Miami has scuffled a bit the past few seasons. A fast start could mean the Hurricanes challenge for the division title. A more realistic goal is eight victories and a move up the ACC's bowl pecking order. [ 2009 season preview ]
40. Tennessee
The Vols aren't as talented as they have been in years past, so several incoming freshmen will get the opportunity to show what they can do. It wouldn't be a surprise to see this team go 8-4 or 5-7. [ 2009 season preview ]
41. Colorado
Colorado appears equipped to finish in the upper half of the Big 12 North. If the Buffs can run effectively, it takes a ton of pressure off the QBs, who truth be told don't engender that much confidence. [ 2009 season preview ]
42. Missouri
Not long ago, a 10-4 record at Missouri would've seemed like a miracle or a flash in the pan. In 2008, though, it was viewed as a mild disappointment. A third straight trip to the Big 12 title game doesn't seem likely. [ 2009 season preview ]
43. Kentucky
The Wildcats have the talent and the schedule to continue their string of bowl bids, but a postseason invitation is no sure thing. The offense that struggled in '08 season must perform better because the defense might not be quite as good. [ 2009 season preview ]
44. Wake Forest
Last season, Wake Forest relied on its defense to make up for its offensive deficiencies. This season, the Deacons are going to need their offense to carry more of the load while their defense gains experience. [ 2009 season preview ]
45. Arizona State
The Sun Devils aren't ready to contend for the Pac-10 title. But the defense should be strong, so if the quarterback situation stabilizes and the offensive line improves, Arizona State could make a run at eight victories. [ 2009 season preview ]
46. Michigan
Rich Rodriguez has tweaked his staff, turned the page and further ingrained his system. His goal: contending for the Big Ten title. Don't bet against him if a quarterback emerges and the defense buys into Robinson's schemes. [ 2009 season preview ]
47. Southern Miss
Southern Miss quietly has become one of the most successful programs in the nation. The Golden Eagles are one of just four Football Bowl Subdivision schools with at least 15 consecutive winning seasons. [ 2009 season preview ]
48. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh finally had its long-awaited breakthrough under Dave Wannstedt, finishing 9-4 after a run at the Big East title. The offense must regroup from LeSean McCoy's departure. [ 2009 season preview ]
49. Wisconsin
Wisconsin faces a season at the crossroads. The talent is there to be a dark-horse Big Ten contender, especially with better quarterback play. But another average season will mean 2010 will be a critical season for Bielema. [ 2009 season preview ]
50. Arkansas
If Ryan Mallett is as good as advertised, Michael Smith stays healthy and the defense improves, Arkansas ought to go at least 7-5. Even if the Razorbacks accomplish just one or two of those goals, they should manage to finish 6-6. [ 2009 season preview ]
51. Minnesota
The Gophers who open a new on-campus stadium this season made tremendous progress in their second season under Tim Brewster, improving by six victories. The climb projects to continue with 17 returning starters. [ 2009 season preview ]
52. Auburn
Auburn slipped from SEC contender to second-division finisher in one year. They demand much more on The Plains, and new coach Gene Chizik faces more scrutiny than perhaps any first-year coach anywhere. [ 2009 season preview ]
53. Central Michigan
Coach Butch Jones has built on the momentum that predecessor Brian Kelly started, making this the top program in the MAC as it shoots to be the first conference team to appear in four bowls in a row. [ 2009 season preview ]
54. Stanford
Despite just nine wins in two seasons, Jim Harbaugh has turned around the culture at Stanford. The next step is to take the Cardinal to a bowl, and Stanford looks primed to return to the postseason in his third year. [ 2009 season preview ]
55. Connecticut
After making consecutive bowl appearances for the first time ever, Connecticut is hungry for more. The Huskies, though, face a daunting schedule with road trips to West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. [ 2009 season preview ]
56. Air Force
Air Force hasn't reached bowl games in three consecutive years since 1990-92. In his first two seasons as coach, Troy Calhoun has directed Air Force to back-to-back Armed Forces Bowls. [ 2009 season preview ]
57. Nevada
With one of the nation's more dynamic offenses, Nevada should build on its school-record bowl streak with its fifth postseason bid in a row. The Wolf Pack also hope to challenge Boise State for the WAC title. [ 2009 season preview ]
58. Western Michigan
Bill Cubit's 29 wins in four years are the second-best run in school history, and last season was one of the best for the Broncos. They won nine games for just the third time and advanced to their fourth bowl. [ 2009 season preview ]
59. Maryland
Last season, as the Terps went 4-1 against teams ranked in The Associated Press poll yet also lost to Middle Tennessee and Virginia. Maryland now must gain consistency after losing a bunch of experience. [ 2009 season preview ]
60. Northwestern
The schedule is conducive to a fast start; just one of the first six opponents and two of the first eight went bowling last season, and the Wildcats miss Ohio State (and Michigan) this season. [ 2009 season preview ]
61. Vanderbilt
Now that they finally have snapped that string of 25 consecutive losing seasons, the Commodores won't sneak up on anybody. Vanderbilt will go as far as its defense can carry it because the offense won't scare anybody. [ 2009 season preview ]
62. Tulsa
Replacing the production of departed QB David Johnson won't be easy, but plenty of offensive talent returns. And with some defensive improvement, the Golden Hurricane again figure to be contenders in the C-USA race. [ 2009 season preview ]
63. Navy
Navy could be an improved team this season but have a worse record than last season (8-5). The schedule will be challenging, with games against eight bowl teams from last season and only six games in Annapolis. [ 2009 season preview ]
64. UCLA
The high hopes that accompanied Rick Neuheisel's return to Westwood tumbled down in a four-win debacle. But the second season under the former Bruins quarterback could be much better. [ 2009 season preview ]
65. Arizona
Hopes are high in Arizona after the Wildcats went to their first bowl since 1998, likely saving coach Mike Stoops' job. Arizona has enough veterans remaining to make a run at another bowl, but the schedule is tough. [ 2009 season preview ]
66. Troy
Troy has been the dominant Sun Belt Conference program the latter half of this decade, and the Trojans are in good position to win at least a portion of their fourth consecutive league title. [ 2009 season preview ]
67. Baylor
If Baylor were in the Big 12 North, a bowl bid would look realistic. The problem for the Bears is they're competing in the much tougher South Division, which could make it difficult for them to get six wins. [ 2009 season preview ]
68. Boston College
Few college programs in recent memory have endured offseasons as discouraging as what Boston College has gone through this year. If BC makes the ACC title game again, it would represent a stunning accomplishment. [ 2009 season preview ]
69. Fresno State
The Bulldogs are one of the more respected non-"Big Six" programs, yet they haven't won a share of the WAC title since 1999. Fresno State also is 1-7 against Boise State since the Broncos joined the league. [ 2009 season preview ]
70. Virginia
Virginia is counting on the arrival of new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon to help spark a team that averaged just 16.1 points per game last season. The Cavs have ranked outside the top 100 in total offense each of the past three seasons. [ 2009 season preview ]
71. Louisville
Following the season opener against hapless Indiana State, Louisville plays six consecutive games against teams that went bowling last season, with four of those on the road. A team with issues doesn't need this schedule. [ 2009 season preview ]
72. Louisiana Tech
Just three seasons after struggling to a three-win finish, Louisiana Tech has climbed to upper-division status and is a sleeper contender in the WAC championship race. The Bulldogs are proven and experienced. [ 2009 season preview ]
73. Bowling Green
New coach Dave Clawson struggled as Tennessee's offensive coordinator last season, but he had plenty of success before that as coach at Fordham and Richmond. He is taking over a good situation at Bowling Green. [ 2009 season preview ]
74. Texas A&M
No coach should be on the hot seat after just one season, but the pressure on Mike Sherman may rise rapidly if the Aggies don't get off to a quick start. Four of the first five games are at home and the other is a neutral-site meeting. [ 2009 season preview ]
75. Mississippi State
There will be seven new starters on defense, so there could be some issues there. Three of the first four games are against SEC foes and four of the first six are against teams that went bowling last season. [ 2009 season preview ]
76. Purdue
Danny Hope takes over following Joe Tiller's 12-year run that saw him leave as the school's winningest coach. Is he the breath of fresh air needed coming off the school's second losing record in the past four seasons? [ 2009 season preview ]
77. Northern Illinois
Coach Jerry Kill had an impressive debut in taking over a team that finished 2-10 in '07 and leading it to a bowl in '08. With a good nucleus returning, there is optimism that the Huskies will keep climbing. [ 2009 season preview ]
78. Colorado State
Coach Steve Fairchild breathed some life into a Colorado State program that was one of the nation's more respectable programs outside the major conferences from 1994-2002 before falling on hard times. [ 2009 season preview ]
79. Arkansas State
Arkansas State has been a consistent contender in the Sun Belt Conference under coach Steve Roberts. The Red Wolves appear poised to contend again this season thanks to their rushing attack. [ 2009 season preview ]
80. Temple
Temple is getting closer to ending its bowl drought, which has lasted since 1979. There's no question Al Golden has turned around the culture at Temple; it's only a matter of time before the Owls start playing for bigger prizes. [ 2009 season preview ]
81. UTEP
After back-to-back 8-4 finishes, three consecutive losing seasons have followed and you wonder if Mike Price has lost his magic. The Miners should have a good offense but the defense has been a huge problem. Plus, the schedule is a bear. [ 2009 season preview ]
82. Florida Atlantic
FAU received a bowl bid and upset Central Michigan to finish 7-6, and it was considered a disappointment. That's a prime example of the kind of job Howard Schnellenberger has done: In a disappointing season, FAU still gets a bowl bid. [ 2009 season preview ]
83. New Mexico
Mike Locksley may be the spark needed to launch the Lobos from the middle of the MWC pack toward the top. The Lobos play five of their first seven games against teams that went to bowls last season, so a slow start is possible. [ 2009 season preview ]
84. Buffalo
From 2002-06, the Bulls managed just seven total victories. They surpassed that total last season in their surprising run to the MAC championship. Could the Bulls win two championships in a row? It's possible but not likely. [ 2009 season preview ]
85. Marshall
After finishing last season on a 1-7 slide, Mark Snyder can't afford a similar swoon in 2009. Marshall returns several key players capable of all-conference honors, meaning Snyder will be expected to challenge for his first bowl bid as Marshall's coach. [ 2009 season preview ]
86. Indiana
The Hoosiers followed an emotional 7-6 season in 2007 with a 3-9 flop in 2008, and injuries were a big factor. Indiana has to have better luck on the injury front this fall, but it may not translate into any more success. [ 2009 season preview ]
87. Iowa State
The arrival of new head coach Paul Rhoads has raised hopes in Ames. With some improvement, some luck and a schedule that doesn't include Texas, Oklahoma or Texas Tech, the Cyclones could make a run at bowl eligibility. [ 2009 season preview ]
88. Duke
Duke clearly is on the right track. By going 4-8 in David Cutcliffe's first season, the Blue Devils matched their win total from the previous four years combined. Can they take that next step by challenging for a bowl bid? [ 2009 season preview ]
89. Kansas State
Bill Snyder's back. Will the Wildcats be, too? It won't be easy. The Wildcats managed just 17 victories during Snyder's three-year sabbatical, and they lost many of the top players from last season's team. [ 2009 season preview ]
90. Rice
After enjoying one of the best seasons in school history in 2008, Rice appears headed for a fall. Losing its top passer, top two receivers and top rusher, not to mention offensive coordinator Tom Herman, will hurt. [ 2009 season preview ]
91. Ball State
New coach Stan Parrish is in his 39th season as a coach and has been a head coach at Kansas State and Marshall. Still, he'll be hard-pressed to get Ball State back into the postseason with so many questions, particularly on offense. [ 2009 season preview ]
92. Florida International
Coach Mario Cristobal a former player and assistant coach at crosstown Miami has FIU poised to be a sleeper in the Sun Belt this season. Four of the first five games are on the road, but FIU gets Troy and Florida Atlantic at home. [ 2009 season preview ]
93. San Jose State
With only one bowl bid since 1990, San Jose State's goal should be to reach the postseason. As one of the few defense-minded teams in the WAC, the Spartans need to find an offense to match to contend in the conference. [ 2009 season preview ]
94. Central Florida
A winning season in '09 will require vastly better offensive production buthe defense should be fine again. After an easy opener, the Knights play six games in a row and eight of their next nine against teams that went bowling last season. [ 2009 season preview ]
95. Memphis
Memphis has been one of the most consistent bowl teams in Conference USA five appearances in the past six seasons but expecting the Tigers to get to the postseason again this season appears to be asking a bit much. [ 2009 season preview ]
96. Akron
Excitement surrounds a program that christens a new stadium this fall. Say "good-bye" to the Rubber Bowl and "hello" to 30,000-seat InfoCision Stadium. And the Zips have a good chance to break in their new digs with a strong season. [ 2009 season preview ]
97. Washington
The Huskies' losing streak would reach 15 with a loss to LSU in the opener, but it could turn around after that. New coach Steve Sarkisian has brought energy and life to the program. [ 2009 season preview ]
98. UNLV
After the Rebels had been stuck at the two-win mark for three seasons, five victories is progress. If UNLV can get a full season out of QB Omar Clayton while improving the defense, the Rebels could end a nine-year bowl drought. [ 2009 season preview ]
99. Hawaii
Hawaii has one of the best home-field advantages in college football, but any hope for another bowl appearance likely will depend upon whether the Warriors can win three or four games on the mainland. [ 2009 season preview ]
100. Wyoming
School officials hope Dave Christensen's arrival jump-starts a program that faded to the bottom of the Mountain West standings while other conference programs reached new heights. This is a tough rebuilding job. [ 2009 season preview ]
101. Middle Tennessee
The season's success likely comes down to how well QB Dwight Dasher plays. Even if the defense struggles again, MTSU still should be able to win five league games if the offense comes through. [ 2009 season preview ]
102. Syracuse
Syracuse plays seven of its first eight games at home and is one of just seven teams with eight home games this season. But expecting more than four victories is foolish in Doug Marrone's first season. [ 2009 season preview ]
103. Ohio
The Bobcats' defense gives them a chance to contend for the MAC East title. But the offense has to get a lot better. October will tell the tale for the Bobcats. The potential exists for at least a 3-2 mark in that month. [ 2009 season preview ]
104. Washington State
The Cougars have a long way to go to become respectable again in the Pac-10. Quarterback play must take a quantum leap to even reach the mediocre level, and the defensive front has to show some toughness against the run. [ 2009 season preview ]
105. SMU
Growing pains were severe in Jones' first season, but better days should be ahead. This could be a five- or even six-win team if things go well. Realistically, though, a four-victory season would be something to celebrate. [ 2009 season preview ]
106. Louisiana-Lafayette
The potential exists for a strong rushing attack because of the line, but the passing attack is a huge mystery. Defensively, the line must play better if the Ragin' Cajuns are to again contend for the league crown. [ 2009 season preview ]
107. San Diego State
There are three winnable games among the first five. Finishing with at least six wins and nabbing a bowl bid would take everything breaking exactly right, and that doesn't seem likely. [ 2009 season preview ]
108. Toledo
The non-conference schedule is a bear. The Rockets do not have a schedule that will lead to a lot of wins. If the Rockets can get to five, it will have been a great first season for coach Tim Beckman. [ 2009 season preview ]
109. Utah State
Five wins should be the goal, but the tough schedule may preclude the Aggies from getting that many. This team could and should be better than last season, but the record may not reflect it. [ 2009 season preview ]
110. Kent State
RB Eugene Jarvis needs to stay healthy and the defense has to make a huge improvement. Kent State hasn't had a winning record since 2001, and that streak should reach eight years this season. [ 2009 season preview ]
111. UAB
The Blazers open the season with two winnable conference games at home before playing five of their next six on the road. Any bowl hopes depend on a fast start. [ 2009 season preview ]
112. Louisiana-Monroe
Back-to-back home games against Florida International and Arkansas State teams that should contend for the Sun Belt title in early October will be a good gauge as to how ULM will fare in the league race. [ 2009 season preview ]
113. Miami (Ohio)
Five of the first seven games are on the road; plus, the first three games and five of the first six are against bowl teams from last season. What that means is that the growing pains on both sides of the ball could be severe [ 2009 season preview ]
114. Army
New coach Rich Ellerson has to find a way for Army to throw the ball better the Cadets were absolutely inept in that category last season and become more physical on defense. [ 2009 season preview ]
115. New Mexico State
On paper, it doesn't appear as if DeWayne Walker and his staff have a lot to work with offensively. The transition from Hal Mumme's pass-happy system could take a while. Then again, there are some OK running backs on hand. [ 2009 season preview ]
116. Tulane
The Green Wave regressed last season, not surprising considering that Matt Forte was such a huge part of the offense in 2007. A lot depends on how well QB Joe Kemp plays this season; 20 TD passes from him is a legitimate expectation. [ 2009 season preview ]
117. Eastern Michigan
The Eagles haven't had a winning season since 1995, so there's a lot of work for new coach Ron English and his staff. If EMU can get to five wins, it will be a hugely successful first season for English. [ 2009 season preview ]
118. Western Kentucky
Four of the first six games are at home, so the Hilltoppers need to make some hay early in the season. The non-conference schedule is tough, but the toughest league games are at home. [ 2009 season preview ]
119. Idaho
The Vandals gave up 35 rushing touchdowns last season, and unless that figure drops by 10 or so, they are going to finish at or near the bottom of the WAC again. [ 2009 season preview ]
120. North Texas
The Mean Green have struggled mightily on defense under Todd Dodge. The offense has had its moments, and Riley Dodge should provide a steady hand at quarterback. [ 2009 season preview ]



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