2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 71 to 80
East Carolina WR Justin Hardy
East Carolina WR Justin Hardy
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 20, 2014


2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 71 to 80 - Also-Rans


Preview 2014 - Rankings

No. 71-80

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2014 CFN Preseason Rankings
Top 4 | 5 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50 | 51 to 60
61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 128 
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There's one very important distinction in the CFN preseason rankings: these are based on how good the teams are going into the season and NOT how they're going to finish. Some teams have easier schedules than others, some get tougher road games and some will need a little bit of time to jell, meaning they might be better than their final record indicates. Going into the year, these are how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 128.

80. SMU
Prediction: 4-8
3 Best Players: 1) LB Stephon Sanders, Sr., 2) WR Darius Joseph, Jr., 3) DE Beau Barnes, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Linebacker, 2) Quarterback, 3) D Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) Secondary, 3) O Line
The season will be a success if … the Mustangs bounce back with a return to the postseason. The program that had been to four bowl games in a row can’t afford to regress with back-to-back sub.-500 seasons. The schedule is going to be challenging, especially in the first-half, when Texas A&M, TCU and Cincinnati visit, and trips to Baylor, North Texas and East Carolina will be made. SMU has to start pulling out the tight ones after falling to Rutgers, Cincinnati and UCF by a total of ten points in 2013.

79. Purdue
Prediction: 3-9
3 Best Players: 1) RB/KR Akeem Hunt, Sr., 2) DE Ryan Russell, Sr., 3) S Landon Fletcher, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Receiver, 2) O Line, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) D Line, 3) Quarterback
The season will be a success if … Purdue wins four games. Western Michigan and Central Michigan have to be must-wins at home to double last season’s victory total by September 6th. Southern Illinois needs to be a win to make it 3-1 – assuming a loss to Notre Dame. Purdue will probably be the underdog the rest of the way, but they might be just good enough to rise up and tag an Illinois on the road or Northwestern at home. Four wins with at least one Big Ten victory will seem like a monumental step after last year.

78. Toledo
Prediction: 8-4
3 Best Players: 1) LB Junior Sylvestre, Sr., 2) RB Kareem Hunt, Soph., 3) OG Greg Mancz, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) D Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Linebacker, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … Toledo wins the MAC championship. Just getting to a bowl game would be nice after getting spurned last year, but there’s enough experience and firepower returning to not only get back to the title game for the first time since 2004, but win it. It’s not going to be easy with the rough second half of the schedule with five road games in the final seven, but the Rockets should be favored in every MAC game except for the road trip to Northern Illinois.

77. Bowling Green
Prediction: 10-2
3 Best Players: 1) RB Travis Greene, Jr., 2) QB Matt Johnson, Jr., 3) LB D.J. Lynch, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Quarterback, 3) Special Teams
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) D Line, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … the Falcons do it again. There are big losses on defense, and the offense needs some reworking on the line, but even with a new coaching staff they should be the class of the MAC. The schedule works out perfectly with Toledo the only difficult road game and Buffalo, Ohio and Ball State at home. A double-digit win season is there for the taking if they can get by Indiana and roll through the MAC, but in the end, all that matters is another conference title, and they should at least get back to Detroit.

76. San Diego State
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) LB Jake Fely, Sr., 2) CB J.J. Whittaker, Sr., 3) QB Quinn Kaehler, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Quarterback, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) Receiver, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … the Aztecs win eight games and go back to a fifth straight bowl game. It might sound boring, and it might not be the championship season many might like, but with so much turnover on defense and such a brutal schedule, there’s nothing wrong with maintaining the winning ways this year. As long as Rocky Long and company can avoid the drop-off into the five-win territory – which wouldn’t be a stunner with this road slate – it’ll be a decent year.

75. Wake Forest
Prediction: 3-9
3 Best Players: 1) CB Kevin Johnson, Sr., 2) CB Merrill Noel, Sr., 3) LB Brandon Chubb, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Secondary, 2) Linebacker, 3) O Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Quarterback, 2) Running Back, 3) Receiver
The season will be a success if … the Deacons are playing their best ball in November. What is this, a three or four-win team in 2014? The final record won’t be as important this fall as it will be to make tangible gains throughout the campaign. No one will ever hint to the reality that this season is largely about getting a running start on 2015. But if Wake Forest shows signs of catching on late in the year, or even delivers an upset, it’ll be a talking point Dave Clawson can go to during another long offseason.

74. East Carolina
Prediction: 8-4
3 Best Players: 1) QB Shane Carden, Sr., 2) WR Justin Hardy, Sr., 3) LB Zeek Bigger, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Linebacker, 3) Receiver
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) Secondary, 3) O Line
The season will be a success if … the Pirates win at least eight games. East Carolina is capable of winning the American, but setting the bar at a title this soon is aggressive. The program will once again get a crack at making non-conference noise with three consecutive games against South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. On the conference front, it only has one really tough road game, the Nov. 15 trip to Nippert Stadium to face Cincinnati. The Pirates won’t be intimidated by a league that looks an awful lot like the one it just left.

73. Fresno State
Prediction: 8-5
3 Best Players: 1) S Derron Smith, Sr., 2) WR Josh Harper, Sr., 3) DE Tyeler Davison, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Receiver, 2) Running Back, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) D Line, 2) Secondary, 3) Quarterback
The season will be a success if … the Bulldogs win a second straight Mountain West title. Getting USC, Utah and Nebraska in non-conference play, and with road games against Boise State and Nevada, might be too much to come up with another double-digit win season, but the defense should be stronger, the offense will still work, and the creativity will be there from the coaching staff to make up for some huge personnel losses. Another title would solidify Tim DeRuyter as a superstar head man, and Fresno State as the true class of the conference.

72. Utah State
Prediction: 9-3
3 Best Players: 1) QB Chuckie Keeton, Sr., 2) LB Zach Vigil, Sr., 3) LB Kyler Fackrell, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Linebacker, 3) Special Teams
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) O Line, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … the Aggies win ten games. They might not be quite good enough to beat Boise State, especially on the road, and there’s way too much turnover to expect a smooth run through teams like BYU and Colorado State. Even so, by the end of the season, they need to be jelled and good enough to win a third straight bowl game and come up with nine regular season wins along the way. They’ll probably lose at Tennessee to start things off, and at Boise State, so if there’s a split between road games at BYU and Colorado State, and no hiccups anywhere else, it’ll be a fantastic year.

71. Vanderbilt
Prediction: 4-8
3 Best Players: 1) LB Darreon Herring, Jr., 2) DE/LB Kyle Woestmann, Sr., 3) RB Jerron Seymour, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) O Line, 2) Linebacker, 3) Running Back
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Secondary, 3) Special Teams
The season will be a success if … the Commodores come up with a winning season. The SEC is going to be better and Vandy is in transition. As long as there aren’t any big mistakes against Temple, UMass, Charleston Southern and Old Dominion, it shouldn’t be too hard to get two more wins to get bowl eligible, even if there aren’t any layups in SEC play. Getting those two and a bowl victory would make it an impressive debut for Mason.