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2012 CFN Post-Spring Rankings - No. 21 to 30

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 7, 2012


Based on where we think the teams are going to end up, here are the CFN post-spring rankings - No. 21 to 30


CFN 2012 Post-Spring Rankings

No. 21 to No. 30


2012 CFN Post-Spring Rankings
(where the teams will end up)
- Top Ten | Rankings 11-20 | Rankings 21-30
- Rankings 31-40 | Rankings 41-50 | Rankings 51-60
- Rankings 61-70 | Rankings 71-80 | Rankings 81-90
- Rankings 91-100 | Rankings 101-112 | The Bottom 12

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Which teams looked great this spring? Which ones reloaded, rebuilt, and looked surprisingly sharp? Which ones struggled a bit and need more time and more practice time? These are the CFN Post-Spring Rankings based on where we think the teams are going to finish up when all is said and done. Part of the rankings are based on talent and potential, and part of them are based on schedules and what the teams might do. Coming later this summer are the CFN 2012 Rankings based on how good the teams are.

30. Notre Dame
(2011 Record: 8-5, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 7-5)


The team will be far better and the talent level is rising, but the schedule is a sadistic joke with no breaks whatsoever – outside of possibly a late home game against Wake Forest – and road trips to Michigan State, Oklahoma, Boston College, and USC. That doesn’t even count the Opening Day game against Navy in Ireland that’s followed up by the home opener against an improved Purdue team to follow. Throw in Michigan Stanford, BYU, Pitt, and a date in Chicago against Miami and a winning season in any way might put Brian Kelly in the hunt for Coach of the Year honors. The quarterback situation has to be sorted out – with the Tommy Rees problem not really helping the cause – but there’s talent on offense. Losing pass rusher Aaron Lynch stinks, but getting LB Manti Te’o back for one more season should ease the pain a bit.

29. Virginia
(2011 Record: 8-5, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4)


Can the program take another big step forward under Mike London? The talent level is improving and there’s just enough talent returning to expect a solid season with a run to be in the ACC title mix. The O line will be a rock and should lead the way for RB Perry Jones and a good year for the ground game, while the passing attack should be fine with enough good targets coming back to do more. While the defense has to replace several key players, there’s depth with good options across the board. It all has to come together early on with Penn State coming up early before starting out the ACC season at Georgia Tech. If the Cavaliers lose to the Nittany Lions, and with a road game at TCU on the horizon, 1-3 wouldn’t be a shocker. However, there’s a nice stretch of five home games in seven weeks with one of the road games at Duke.

28. TCU
(2011 Record: 11-2, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4)


The team will be far better than the record. The offense will be built to keep up the pace with anyone in the Big 12 led by QB Casey Pachall and a loaded receiving corps, but the line will need a little time. The defense that struggled so much gets seven starters back with a front four that should be fantastic. But how much will the off-the-field scandal affect the program? Everything appears to be business as usual, but the Big 12 schedule will be a whole new world for the Horned Frogs.

Virginia will be an interesting non-conference date, as will a home game against SMU, who should be the best team in Conference USA. Going to Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Texas in a four week span will be even rougher than it appears with the run ending with a regular season finale home game against Oklahoma. The wins are going to have to be built up over the first half of the season.

27. Mississippi State
(2011 Record: 7-6, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4)


Can the Bulldogs find their way through the brutal SEC West? In any other division in college football they’d be in for a great season with six starters back on a good defense and with plenty of hope for an offense that should have a stronger passing attack. The O line needs some work and the running game needs to replace Vick Ballard, but Dan Mullen’s offenses always produce on the ground. But will it matter with so many nasty SEC teams to deal with? If MSU can get by the conference opener at home against Auburn, a 7-0 start is not only possible, it’s likely before the brutal back half of the slate kicks in including dates with Alabama and LSU on the road and home battles with Texas A&M and Arkansas.

26. Georgia Tech
(2011 Record: 8-5, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4)


This should be Paul Johnson’s best team yet, including the one that won the 2009 ACC title that was later taken away by the NCAA. QB Tevin Washington is a veteran playmaker who knows how to run the option, and he has the running backs to crank out yards in chunks. The ultra-efficient passing game loses Stephen Hill, but the O line gets all five starters back and should be good enough to pick up the slack and make the running game even better. Eight starters are back on defense with a good, active front line, but will it be enough to rock right out of the box?

The Yellow Jackets start out the season at Virginia Tech and get Virginia and Miami before the end of September. On the plus side, after going to Blacksburg they have just one road game from September 8th until going to Maryland on November 3rd, but that one away date is at Clemson and three of the four November games are on the road, closing out at Georgia.

25. Rutgers
(2011 Record: 9-4, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 9-3)


Greg Schiano left new head coach Kyle Flood with a heater of a team and an extremely manageable schedule. The quarterback play has to be more effective, but there’s talent in the receiving corps – even with Mohamed Sanu gone – and Jawan Jamison is a terrific running back to work around. LB Khaseem Greene is expected to be 100% and ready to go after suffering a broken leg in the bowl game, and the co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year should lead a terrific defense that gets eight starters back. Back-to-back road games at South Florida and Arkansas close out a run of three road games in four weeks to start the season, and then things ease up with four home games in the next five to build up the record. It’ll all come down to the finishing kick with road games at Cincinnati, Pitt, and closing out hosting Louisville.

24. NC State
(2011 Record: 8-5, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 9-3)


This is supposed to be the year coach Tom O’Brien has been building for. A ten-win season is possible with a favorable schedule with several of the key games at home, and with a veteran team that should be able to come up with a balanced effort from the start. Facing Tennessee in Atlanta to kick off the season could be a showcase moment, but the Wolfpack need to make its biggest statement at Miami to start off ACC play. A midseason run of three road games in four will be the one big test, especially with the home game against Florida State, but the veterans should be able to handle it. The receiving corps is the biggest question mark, but the running game should be better with four starters returning up front and James Washington a nice back to work around. The entire secondary returns and the pass rush should once again be terrific.

23. Florida
(2011 Record: 7-6, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4)


Can Will Muschamp start to do something with all the talent amassed over the last few years? The starting quarterback job is up in the air, but both Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are top players who could each produce with a good receiving corps and a nice stable of running backs to work with. The defense should be phenomenal even with star DE Ronald Powell suffering a torn ACL this offseason. Led by linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Jonathan Bostic, the back seven is experienced and fast, while the line should be great with Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter locking down on the inside.

While the team is stronger, like last year, the schedule will be a problem with road games early at Texas A&M and Tennessee and in the regular season finale against Florida State. However, while the Tigers have to face LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri, from the September 22nd date with Kentucky to the November 17th layup against Jacksonville State, the Gators have only one true road game at Vanderbilt.

22. Nebraska
(2011 Record: 9-4, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 9-3)


Can the Nebraska offense find someone else to help out the cause? QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead will carry the attack once again, but the line has some rebuilding and reworking to do. The defense not only loses heart-and-soul tackler Lavonte David, but key assistant Carl Pelini is off to be the head man at Florida Atlantic. Even so, the front seven gets five starters back and the secondary should be a plus. It’ll have to be unless the offense can be more consistent.

The start of the season is tougher than it looks starting out against defending Conference USA champion Southern Miss, going to UCLA, and following it up with defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas State. Four of the first five games might be at home, but the final one in the stretch is against Wisconsin before the real problems kick in. The Huskers have to go on the road three times in four weeks with dates at Ohio State, Northwestern, and Michigan State wrapped around a home game against Michigan. If that wasn’t enough, there’s still Penn State to deal with and the regular season finale at Iowa.

21. Auburn
(2011 Record: 8-5, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4)


The Tigers will be better on offense even after losing coordinator Gus Malzahn and RB Michael Dyer – at least the passing game should be stronger. First things first, the offense has to settle on a starting quarterback, and while it’ll almost certainly be Kiehl Frazier, Clint Moseley still has an outside shot. The problems with the defense last year should all pay off with nine starters returning and with more talent across the board than it had in the national title season.

Even though there’s reason to be optimistic, there’s still the schedule to deal with. The Tigers will know where they stand right away opening things up in Atlanta against a Clemson team fired up to show the Orange Bowl was an aberration, and followed up by a trip to Mississippi State. To make things even more interesting, LSU and Arkansas have to come to Auburn to wrap up a fun first five weeks of the season. Four home games in a row late in the year will help prepare for the regular season finale at Alabama, but Georgia and Texas A&M will be fights.

2012 CFN Post-Spring Rankings
(where the teams will end up)
- Top Ten | Rankings 11-20 | Rankings 21-30
- Rankings 31-40 | Rankings 41-50 | Rankings 51-60
- Rankings 61-70 | Rankings 71-80 | Rankings 81-90
- Rankings 91-100 | Rankings 101-112 | The Bottom 12