2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 21 to 30
Washington LB Shaq Thompson
Washington LB Shaq Thompson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 21, 2014


2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 21 to 30 - Potential Stars


Preview 2014 - Rankings

No. 21-30

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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 
 - CFN Preseason Rankings 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007  
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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.

30. Kansas State
Prediction: 8-4
3 Best Players: 1) WR/KR Tyler Lockett, Sr., 2) DE Ryan Mueller, Sr., 3) C B.J. Finney, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) D Line, 2) Quarterback, 3) Coaching
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) Receiver
The season will be a success if … the Wildcats come up with the third season with ten or more wins in the last four and the and the tenth in the Bill Snyder era. This is a good team that should finish in the upper-half of the Big 12, but there might not be quite enough to beat Oklahoma and Baylor to win the conference title. Even so, as long as the Wildcats beat the teams they’re supposed to, they should have a good base of at least six wins (Stephen F. Austin, at Iowa State, UTEP, Texas Tech, at West Virginia and Kansas) to build off of. They need to at least get two key wins against Auburn, Texas and Oklahoma State, who all come to Manhattan, and they have win at least one of the three tough road games against Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor. Do that, get to nine regular season wins, take the bowl game.

29. Maryland
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) WR Stefon Diggs, Jr., 2) DE Andre Monroe, Sr., 3) LB Cole Farrand, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Receiver, 2) Running Back, 3) Special Teams
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) Linebacker, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … the Terps finish with a winning season. They have enough experience and enough talent returning to potentially get through the non-conference schedule against James Madison, USF, West Virginia and Syracuse, and there needs to be wins over teams like Indiana, Iowa, Penn State and/or Rutgers to get to at least six wins. The program hasn’t had back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003, but it has the makeup to do it in the inaugural Big Ten campaign.

28. Virginia Tech
Prediction: 10-2
3 Best Players: 1) DT Luther Maddy, Sr., 2) CB Kendall Fuller, Soph., 3) CB Brandon Facyson, Soph.
Relative Strengths: 1) Secondary, 2) D Line, 3) Special Teams
Spotlight Units: 1) Quarterback, 2) O Line, 3) Receiver
The season will be a success if … the Hokies win the Coastal Division. This is still Virginia Tech, so why should the bar be set any lower? Even with the offensive struggles and the rebuilding that needs to be done on the front seven, the Hokies have as good a chance as anyone in the division to appear in the ACC title game. Miami still has a long way to go, and no disrespect to Duke, but the Blue Devils are the defending Coastal champ. In other words, it ain’t the Atlantic Division.

27. Missouri
Prediction: 8-4
3 Best Players: 1) DE Markus Golden, Sr., 2) QB Maty Mauk, Soph., 3) C Evan Boehm, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) D Line, 3) O Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Secondary, 2) Receiver, 3) Linebacker
The season will be a success if … the Tigers win nine games. It might seem like a huge letdown considering they were so close to doing something truly amazing, but it’s still the SEC, and it’s still really, really hard to get close to double-digit wins. If they can take care of the non-conference games, beat Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Arkansas at home and come up with a split in the road games against South Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M and Tennessee, that’s nine wins. That’s not going to be easy with so much overhaul on both sides of the ball.

26. Oregon State
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) QB Sean Mannion, Sr., 2) LB Michael Doctor, Sr., 3) C Isaac Seumalo, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Linebacker, 3) O Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) Receiver, 3) D Line
The season will be a success if … Oregon State peaks in November. If the Beavers snap a recent trend of collapsing late, they’ll be good for eight or nine regular season wins. The schedule will allow the offensive and defensive lines to gel long before the grueling final stretch begins. Sure, trips to the Coliseum and the Farm will be nasty, but OSU avoids UCLA, and the non-conference schedule should produce a 3-0 mark. This team’s final grade squarely hinges on how well it plays in the last three games with Arizona State, Washington and Ore

25. TCU
Prediction: 8-4
3 Best Players: 1) SS Sam Carter, Sr., 2) CB Kevin White, Sr., 3) DT Chucky Hunter, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Linebacker, 2) D Line, 3) Receiver
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) Secondary, 3) Quarterback
The season will be a success if … the Horned Frogs win eight games and get back to a bowl. There’s no excuse to shoot for anything less with their relatively schedule and with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State all coming to Fort Worth. Beating SMU, West Virginia and Kansas on the road is a must, and if they can do that, and if they don’t blow it at home against a Minnesota or Iowa State, this could and should be a turnaround season – if the offense works.

24. Wisconsin
Prediction: 11-1
3 Best Players: 1) RB Melvin Gordon, Jr., 2) CB Sojourn Shelton, Soph., 3) OT Rob Havenstein, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) D Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Secondary, 3) Quarterback
The season will be a success if … Wisconsin wins the Big Ten championship. The Badgers will never, ever get a break of a slate like this one. There’s absolutely no excuse with a dream draw from the East and with Nebraska having to come to Camp Randall. Getting into the College Football Playoff isn’t an unreachable goal, but it can only happen with a third Big Ten championship in four years. After the success of recent years, just getting to Indianapolis isn’t enough, even if this might be the third or fourth best team in the East.

23. Washington
Prediction: 9-4
3 Best Players: 1) DE Hau’oli Kikaha, Sr., 2) LB Shaq Thompson, Jr., 3) CB Marcus Peters, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Special Teams, 3) Running Back
Spotlight Units: 1) Secondary, 2) Receiver, 3) O Line
The season will be a success if … the Huskies win nine in Chris Petersen’s first season. Asking too much from a team with a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback? Maybe not. Washington will be strong at the line of scrimmage, maybe be as strong as it’s been in a number of years. Plus, a fast start should be built in versus an opening quartet of Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Illinois and Georgia State. Getting Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State at Husky Stadium won’t hurt the cause either.

22. Louisville
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) WR DeVante Parker, Sr., 2) DE Lorenzo Mauldin, Sr., 3) CB Charles Gaines, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) O Line, 2) Receiver, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) Quarterback, 2) Running Back, 3) D Line
The season will be a success if … the Cardinals win eight games. Starting a season with a new coach and a new quarterback is never easy. But Louisville is better than most people think. There’s a lot of quality players still left on campus, and it’s not as if Petrino is a stranger to starting from scratch. This program could be a pleasant surprise in its ACC debut, as long as the quarterback situation isn’t a year-long problem. A visit from Florida State and road games at Clemson and at Notre Dame will keep the Cards from climbing much higher.

21. Arizona State
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) QB Taylor Kelly, Sr., 2) WR Jaelen Strong, Jr., 3) OT Jamil Douglas, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Linebacker, 2) Quarterback, 3) Secondary
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) Special Teams, 3) Receiver
The season will be a success if … the Sun Devils win nine games. Of course, the bar is set at returning to the Pac-12 title game. But it’s a lofty pursuit in a year that the defense has been gutted to the foundation. Arizona State hasn’t won as many as 19 games in consecutive seasons since 1996-97. If the program can achieve that milestone this season, it’ll confirm the direction that it’s headed under Todd Graham. With UCLA, USC and even Arizona from the South Division on upward swings, ASU wants to be sure not lose any ground in 2014.