2014 - Pre-Preseason Rankings No. 51-60
East Carolina WR Justin Hardy
East Carolina WR Justin Hardy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 11, 2014


The very, very early look at the teams as spring ball kicks in - No. 51-60

2014 Spring Football Preview & Analysis
- The Four Best-Looking Teams Going Into Spring
- In the Hunt For College Football Playoff - No. 5-20
- The Very, Very Good, But Not Quite Elite - No. 21-30
- The Teams On The Verge Of Really Big Things - No. 31-40
- The Mid-Level Teams - No. 41-50 | No. 51-60
- Will Fight For A Bowl - Rankings No. 61-70 | No. 71-80
- Teams That Will Struggle - Rankings No. 81-90 | No. 91-100
- Automatic Wins - Rankings No. 101-110 | No. 111-120
- The Bottom 8 - Rankings No. 121-128
Follow us this offseason for latest posts ... @ColFootballNews

60. Rutgers
2013 Record: 6-7, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 86

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Life in the Big Ten will be different than playing in the American Athletic, but the D might have enough to improve in the secondary and the run defense might still be good. Teams bombed away on the Scarlet Knights, but three starters are back in the defensive backfield.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The offense might return eight starters, but it needs to be far more physical up front to improve on a miserable running game, and losing Brandon Coleman early to the NFL takes away a great target. The team has to be night-and-day sharper after having problems with turnovers and penalties.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … uh oh. The experience is there, and there's a buzz over the move to the new league, but after losing four of the final five games and six of the final eight, there's a long way to go to be able to hang with most Big Ten teams.

59. NC State
2013 Record: 3-9, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 97 

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The toughest part is over. Second-year coach Dave Doeren can now begin building the Pack into a contender. Florida transfer QB Jacoby Brissett will help, as will a defensive line that could be one of the sneaky-good units in the ACC.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Brissett will be an upgrade, but only if he gets more help than last year's quarterbacks did. State blocked poorly, averaged fewer than four yards per carry and ranked No. 10 in the league in scoring.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … up, because the basement isn't too far away. The Wolfpack has a chance to surprise this season now that Doeren has been able to get a better handle on the personnel he inherited from Tom O'Brien.

58. Washington State
2013 Record: 6-7, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 75 

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Mike Leach is ahead of schedule in Pullman, guiding the Cougars back to the postseason last year. The coach's trademark high-powered passing attack welcomes back starting QB Connor Halliday and just about every wide receiver who caught a pass last season.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The defense is second-rate, especially by the Pac-12 measuring stick. Wazzu was terrific last fall at creating takeaways, but it still needs to find a way to prevent chunk plays and get to the quarterback with more regularity.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … up. Making it to the postseason was an enormous step forward for Leach and Washington State, which will now look to turn a December bonus game into a perennial expectation on the Palouse.

57. Georgia Tech
2013 Record: 7-6, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 42 

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Head coach Paul Johnson always find a way to gash opponents on the ground, while the defense made strides in coordinator Ted Roof's first season. The Jackets have a solid corps of defenders, led by NT Adam Gotsis, linebackers Jabari Hunt-Days and Quayshawn Nealy and rehabbed S Isaiah Johnson.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Tech has become stagnant and stale over the past two years, putting Johnson in a degree of jeopardy. It didn't help that starting QB Vad Lee voluntarily opted to transfer to James Madison at the conclusion of the season.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … down. The Yellow Jackets are in a rut, hovering around the .500 mark over the past four seasons. There's no indication that this edition can break though with the kind of season that earns a staff much-needed breathing room.

56. BYU
2013 Record: 8-5, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 34

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams. The two form a deadly QB-RB rushing combination that should explode on a regular basis with all five starters back to pave the way up front. Even without Kyle Van Noy, the defense shouldn't fall back too much.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: But the D will fall back a little bit after losing Van Noy, leading tackler Uani ‘Unga, NT Eathyn Manumaleuna and six starters. Offensively, the running game might be great, but the loss of star receiver Cody Hoffman could be impossible to overcome.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … inconsistent. Coming up with the same performance week in and week out was a problem last year, struggling too much to get the O going against some of the better teams, and it could be a fight again. BYU will come up with another winning record, but there are too many holes to fill to hope for more.

55. Marshall
2013 Record: 10-4, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 29 

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: If the old system was still in place, the Herd might be known as one of this year's potential BCS busters. The offense is dynamite, with potent passer Rakeem Cato lighting the fuse. Marshall has the fleet of backs and receivers to top last season's 42-point-a-game average.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: The Herd has to rebuild a defensive line that quietly played an instrumental role in last year's 10-win campaign. This team is going to struggle all season to earn respect while playing a cotton-soft schedule.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … way up. The Herd will pile up points, tout Cato as a fringe Heisman contender and flirt with a perfect season from September to December. There's a lot to be excited about in Huntington in 2014.

54. Utah State
2013 Record: 9-5, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 28

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Aggies managed to get to the Mountain West title game and come up with a great nine-win season despite losing star QB Chuckie Keeton. Fortunately, the torn ACL came early enough that it had time to heal, but there are options now in case he's not quite ready. Defensively, the linebacking corps should be among the best in the league.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: There's too much turnover. Can the program reload despite losing C Tyler Larsen and four starters on the offensive front? Three starters are gone in the secondary and the defensive line needs some retooling.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … even. Considering how lousy Utah State football was for so long, the idea of reloading might seem a bit crazy, but that's where things are at now. Everything moved on after Gary Andersen took off to Wisconsin, and Matt Wells has done a great job of keeping things going. Expect another rock-solid year.

53. Boise State
2013 Record: 8-5, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 51

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The defense should rebound. It was a rough year for the secondary, and the D was uncharacteristically soft against the run, but there's enough talent back to be far, far stronger. End Demarcus Lawrence is gone, but the secondary will be outstanding. The offensive skill stars are back with QB Grant Hedrick ready to pilot the attack.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: Yes, the defense returns a slew of key parts, but it still has to be more physical and better against the more talented attacks – will experience translate into production? The offensive line needs to rebuild a bit after losing three good starters.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … rejuvenated. Chris Petersen did a phenomenal job with the program, but he was ready for something new. New head man Bryan Harsin has the skill and potential to ramp things back up to become a Mountain West powerhouse. With a little tweaking, the Broncos will be the preseason favorites.

52. Pittsburgh
2013 Record: 7-6, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 45 

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Panthers used a lot of young kids a year ago, which is going to benefit the 2014 squad. RB James Conner and WR Tyler Boyd, in particular, are the kinds of players that an offense can be built around.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: On offense, Pitt needs to do a much better job of protecting whoever wins the quarterback job. On defense, every unit will notice that All-American DT Aaron Donald is missing, especially a secondary that counted on No. 97 to generate constant pressure.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … even. The Panthers were a .500 team during the regular season of their ACC debut. There's no indication that the upcoming season will be markedly different in either direction.

51. East Carolina
2013 Record: 10-3, 2013 Final CFN Ranking: 26 

Why The Ranking Should Be Higher: The Pirates will be bringing plenty of firepower to their new league. QB Shane Carden threw for 33 touchdowns and 4,139 yards, and his top two receivers, Justin Hardy and Isaiah Jones, return for another season of posting huge numbers.
Why The Ranking Should Be Lower: ECU will have defensive issues this fall in the American. The Pirates allowed 24 scoring strikes in 2013, while ranking No. 13 in Conference USA pass defense. Three starters from a vulnerable secondary have graduated, including all-leaguer S Damon Magazu.
The 2014 Team Is Trending … up. Okay, so changing conferences won't be what the Pirates originally thought it would be, but it's still a step in the right direction. The 2014 edition has a chance to parlay Carden and the passing game into a championship in its American debut.

2014 Spring Football Preview & Analysis
- The Four Best-Looking Teams Going Into Spring
- In the Hunt For College Football Playoff - No. 5-20
- The Very, Very Good, But Not Quite Elite - No. 21-30
- The Teams On The Verge Of Really Big Things - No. 31-40
- The Mid-Level Teams - No. 41-50 | No. 51-60
- Will Fight For A Bowl - Rankings No. 61-70 | No. 71-80
- Teams That Will Struggle - Rankings No. 81-90 | No. 91-100
- Automatic Wins - Rankings No. 101-110 | No. 111-120
- The Bottom 8 - Rankings No. 121-128
Follow us this offseason for latest posts ... @ColFootballNews