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2011 CFN First Look Rankings - No. 26 to 50
TCU LB Tank Carder
TCU LB Tank Carder
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 17, 2011


The first look at the rankings for the 2011 college football season.... No. 26 to 50



CFN 2011 First Look Rankings

No. 26 to No. 50


2010 CFN Final Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

2011 CFN First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back, before Signing Day and spring ball, where does everyone stand? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2011. The 2010 CFN Final Ranking is based on the season the team had. The 2011 First Look Ranking is based on how good the teams appear to be at the moment.

50. Air Force     
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 31
2010 Record: 9-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 62
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 40
2008 Final Ranking: 46 

The Falcons get back QB Tim Jefferson and three offensive linemen, but with eight starters back on defense, including LB Jordan Waiwaiole, they should battle with TCU and Boise State for the Mountain West title.

49. Boston College    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 66
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 28
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 48
2008 Final Ranking: 25

Will there be any more offense? It should be more of the same with Montel Harris and the running game dominating, but Chase Rettig and the passing attack has to be better. It'll be a shock if the defense isn't among the 20 best in America with Luke Keuchly a mortal lock to win the Butkus. Seven starters return on both sides of the ball.

48. Kansas State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 60
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 65
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
2009 Final Ranking: 72
2008 Final Ranking: 83

Will Kansas State got full-bore running game? Daniel Thomas is gone, but running quarterback Collin Klein will try to make things happen with his great ability in the open field. Three starters are gone from the line, all in the interior, but the tackles should be solid. The defense gets seven starters back and should be outstanding in the secondary. The safety tandem of Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman should be among the best in the Big 12.

47. Syracuse     
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 42
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 67
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
2009 Final Ranking: 79
2008 Final Ranking: 104

Was the Pinstripe Bowl the awakening for the offense that sputtered throughout the year? RB Delone Carter is gone, but the receiving corps should be great with Marcus Sales and everyone else returning. If QB Ryan Nassib can take the next step, the attack should be better. Only five starters are back on defense, but the safeties should be strong. They'll have to be with linebackers Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue done.

46. Iowa    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 24
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 14
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 8
2008 Final Ranking: 19 

Iowa was a disappointment with the expectations sky-high, but now nothing will be expected in a rebuilding year. That's usually when the Kirk Ferentz teams are their most dangerous. The problem is the massive loss of all the defensive stars including Adrian Clayborn and Karl Klug off the offensive line, and with safety Tyler Sash leaving early for the NFL. Corner will be a strength with bowl hero Micah Hyde and Shaun Prater coming back. The offense needs James Vandenberg to be a steady leader, and RB Marcus Coker has to pick up where he left off after the Missouri win. The O line should be fine in time, but the receiving corps will be an Achilles heel.

45. Clemson 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 59
2010 Record: 6-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 33
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 24
2008 Final Ranking: 45

After an extremely disappointing and flat 2010, the Tigers have the potential to be far better even with QB Kyle Parker off to play baseball and RB Jamie Harper jetting early for the NFL. The offense gets eight starters back and the defense returns seven starters, but Da'Quan Bowers will be missed off the D line.

44. Northwestern    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 64
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 53
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 47
2008 Final Ranking: 49

Can Dan Persa really come back from the torn Achilles heel? He might not be quite ready for the start of the season, but as is, nine starters are back on offense including four good starters on the offensive front. Now the attack needs to find more producers in case Persa isn't back to do it all. The defense has to be stronger, and it could be with seven starters back including three in the secondary and three up front. Losing linebackers Quentin Davie and Nate Williams isn't a plus for a team that needs to play tougher.

43. Ole Miss 
2010 CFN Score: 98
2010 Record: 4-8
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 25
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 25
2008 Final Ranking: 15

After two shockingly strong seasons, the Rebels took a major step back in a bizarre 2010. Even with QB Jeremiah Masoli gone, 2011 should be far stronger with nine starters returning on offense including all five starters on the line and running backs Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis to handle the ground game. QB Nathan Stanley will be more than fine, but he needs more out of his receivers. The defensive front needs work, but the secondary has some nice pieces to work around.

42. Tulsa   
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 28
2010 Record: 10-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 84
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 54
2008 Final Ranking: 17

Head coach Todd Graham might be gone to Pitt, but new head man Bill Blankenship will get about 13 seconds of grace period. The Golden Hurricane were close to a truly special year in 2010, and the 2011 team returns as loaded as any non-AQ team in America with eight starters back, and with QB G.J. Kinne returning, while the defense returns eight starters including six players on the front seven. The nation's No. 5 offense should be even better, while the 111th defense can't and won't be worse.

41. San Diego State
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 36
2010 Record: 9-4
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 83
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 5-7
2009 Final Ranking: 96
2008 Final Ranking: 111 

Is former New Mexico head man Rocky Long really the man to keep the Brady Hoke momentum going? The new Michigan coach left the shelves stocked with QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman leading a strong offense that should be great if it can find receivers. The defense returns all the key parts of the back seven.

40. Maryland    
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 29
2010 Record: 94
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 59
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 109
2008 Final Ranking: 36

Ralph Friedgen has a beef; the team he put together that's returning is loaded for an honest run at the ACC title with nine starters coming back, even with the loss of WR Torrey Smith to the NFL, while the defense gets six starters back. However, losing linebackers Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten will be devastating for the run defense. The sophomore defensive tackles of last year should be terrific, but the key to the season should be the play of QB Danny O'Brien. Can he produce without Smith?

39. California    
2010 CFN Final Ranking:76
2010 Record: 5-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 34
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 43
2008 Final Ranking: 27
2008 Final Score: 15.09

Has Jeff Tedford lost his magic or was last year an indication that the window has closed? RB Shane Vereen left early for the NFL, but QB Brock Mansion leads a veteran offense with eight starters returning including receivers Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen. The defense that was so strong last year has to replace four starters from the defensive back eight and Cameron Jordan and Derrick Hill up front. Punter Bryan Anger should be a weapon.

38. Utah 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 23
2010 Record: 10-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 48
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 23
2008 Final Ranking: 4

Utah, welcome to a real league. No, the Pac 12 isn't the SEC, but it should be top-to-bottom good and the Utes have holes. the return of QB Jordan Wynn gives the team a franchise player to work around, but the offensive line could use some work and the loss of DT Sealver Siliga and corner Brandon Burton to the NFL leaves two huge holes on defense.

37. Tennessee 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 72
2010 Record: 6-7
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 42
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2009 Final Ranking: 39
2008 Final Ranking: 66

There were some positives about 2010, but it also showed how big the talent gap is between the Vols and the top teams. Derek Dooley has a franchise quarterback in Tyler Bray to work around, and the line that played a sophomore and three freshmen last season should be better. Now Bray needs someone to throw to with Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore, and Luke Stocker gone. RB Tauren Poole will carry the ground game. The defense needs a ton of work up front, but the secondary that was full of underclassmen last year should become a strength.

36. Texas Tech   
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 38
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 32
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 42
2008 Final Ranking: 9

And the quarterback will be .. ? Taylor Potts is gone, as is Steven Sheffield, but seven starters are back including all five starters up front and receivers Tramain Swindall and Alex Torres. Is Seth Doege ready, or will Michael Brewer, Scotty Young, or Jacob Karam run the show? It'll be the position watch of the Big 12 spring. The defense that was such a disaster gets seven starters back, but a defensive coordinator and a new philosophy need to emerge.

35. BYU
 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 54
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 56
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 11
2008 Final Ranking: 33

It all depends on who’s off on Church missions, and who’s ready after returning, but life as an independent should be sweet with the return of OT Matt Reynolds, who should’ve gone pro, protecting QB Jake Heaps. Ten starters might be back on offense (again, the missions).

34. Baylor   
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 58
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 66
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 5-7
2009 Final Ranking: 85
2008 Final Ranking: 92

2010 wasn't a fluke, and now the offense should go from great to ballistic with nine starters returning including QB Robert Griffin. RB Jay Finley and LT Danny Watkins need to be replaced, but everyone else is back. The defense is still going to be a problem, and the back seven needs work, but the Bears aren't going to beat anyone on D. Expect plenty of wild and crazy shootouts.

33. Arizona
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 40
2010 Record: 8-5
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 30
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 22
2008 Final Ranking: 37

After a clunker of a 2010 finish, Arizona should come back rolling, at least on offense. The offensive line is a big, BIG problem with four starters gone, but QB Nick Foles should make the passing game sing with WR Juron Criner in the mix for All-America honors. The defense loses most of the key starters up front, but the linebacking corps returns intact and the corners should be solid. Punter Keenyn Crier will be missed.

32. Michigan 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 50
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 47
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 82
2008 Final Ranking: 97

And the Brady Hoke grace period ends .... now. The defense might need more playmakers, but it can't help but be better with a simplified scheme and with nine starters returning led by Mike Martin on the nose. The offense got its big break with Denard Robinson choosing to stay, and he leads a loaded attack with ten starters returning including all the key parts to the ground game. The passing game should sing from the start.

31. Illinois

2010 CFN Final Ranking: 41
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 60
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 5-7
2009 Final Ranking: 98
2008 Final Ranking: 69

Which Illinois will return, the one that flounders at times at the end of the regular season, or the one that dominated Baylor in the bowl? The problem is the loss of the three best players early to the NFL with Mikel Leshoure's departure hurting the ground game, and DT Corey Liuget and LB Martez Wilson's bailing taking big presences out of the middle of the line. The offense is all QB Nathan Scheelhaase, and if he can improve his passing consistency, the attack should be fine.

30. Miami
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 45
2010 Record: 7-6
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 11
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2009 Final Ranking: 20
2008 Final Ranking: 53

Can Al Golden step in and take the Canes to an ACC title right away? Step One is figuring out who the quarterback will be, but with seven starters returning on offense and the O line emerging, the potential is there to be far better. The defense loses a few key players including DE Allen Bailey and linebackers Colin McCarthy and Sean Spence, but the tackles will be outstanding the pass rush should continue to be great. Losing punter/placekicker Matt Bosher will be a problem.

29. TCU
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 2
2010 Record: 13-0
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 7
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 11-1
2009 Final Ranking: 5
2008 Final Ranking: 8 

TCU rebuilds as well as anyone, but it has a huge, HUGE task ahead to replace Andy Dalton and eight starters from the 2010 attack. The linebackers, led by Tank Carder, should be terrific, but too many starters are gone from the nasty defense to expect another No. 1 ranking. Yeah, this might be too low … give it a few months before the replacements can show what they can do.

28. Virginia Tech 
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 18
2010 Record: 11-3
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 9
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2009 Final Ranking: 9
2008 Final Ranking: 11

The Hokies can't help but take a step back losing QB Tyrod Taylor and running backs Ryan Williams and Darren Evans. Even so, seven starters are back on defense, led by a young linebacking corps that should grow into something special. It Logan Thomas ready to take over the attack? The 6-6, 242-pounder is a big departure from Taylor, and he has the entire receiving corps back to work with. David Wilson will be the star of the ground game.

27. Stanford  
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 6
2010 Record: 12-1
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 29
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2009 Final Ranking: 38
2008 Final Ranking: 73

Andrew Luck, play like the No. 1 pick in the draft. Stanford might not be the Stanford of old, but new head coach David Shaw has a ton of work to do. Only four starters are back on offense with rebuilding to be done on the line and receivers Ryan Whalen and Doug Baldwin gone. The defense will be a problem losing LB Owen Marecic and linemen Sione Fua and Brian Bulcke. Even with Luck, the team will take a step back.

26. Auburn (14-0)
2010 CFN Final Ranking: 1
2010 Record: 14-0
2010 CFN Preseason Rank: 23
CFN 2010 Preseason Prediction: 8-4
2009 Final Ranking: 33
2008 Final Ranking: 81 

Enjoy the 2010 National Championship t-shirts. Welcome to payback time for a team that was so loaded with veterans and so reliant on two of the best players in college football. Cam Newton is gone to the NFL meaning the offense will now revolve completely around Michael Dyer, Onterio McCalebb and the running game early on. Four starters are gone from the offensive line, while the defensive front has to undergo a major rebuilding job with Nick Fairley and Antoine Carter done. The loss of PK Wes Byrum will also hurt. Fortunately, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is back and things won't fall off the map, but the team will take a major step back.

2011 CFN First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20