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2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 41 to 50
Tennessee LB A.J. Johnson
Tennessee LB A.J. Johnson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 21, 2014


2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 41 to 50 - Mid-Level Bowl Teams


Preview 2014 - Rankings

No. 41-50

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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  
- Preview 2014 - All The Team & Conference Previews

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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.

50. Syracuse
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) LT Sean Hickey, Sr., 2) SS Durell Eskridge, Jr., 3) RB Prince-Tyson Gulley, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) D Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Secondary, 3) Linebacker
The season will be a success if … the Orange matches last season’s seven-win total. Yeah, Scott Shafer is targeting eight victories, which is a bit of stretch against a schedule that includes games with Notre Dame, Louisville, Florida State, Clemson and Duke. Syracuse wants to build both a foundation and momentum as a member of the ACC. Returning to the postseason and finishing above .500 for a second straight year would accomplish multiple goals for the players, the coaching staff and the fans.

49. BYU
Prediction: 9-3
3 Best Players: 1) QB Taysom Hill, Jr., 2) RB Jamaal Williams, Jr., 3) OT Michael Yeck, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Running Back, 3) O Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Special Teams, 3) Defensive Back
The season will be a success if … the Cougars beat Texas and are part of the national discussion for the College Football Playoff. 12-0 gets BYU in, 11-1 makes it interesting, 10-2 means Miami Bowl. The Cougars have the running game to get by Connecticut, and if they can beat Texas for a second year in a row, all of a sudden things get interesting with four of the next five games at home potentially beef up the record. If BYU loses two games before Boise State on October 25th, national relevance will be out the window.

48. West Virginia
Prediction: 5-7
3 Best Players: 1) S Karl Joseph, Jr., 2) OG Quinton Spain, Sr., 3) LB Isaiah Bruce, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Receiver, 3) Quarterback
Spotlight Units: 1) Secondary, 2) D Line, 3) Linebacker
The season will be a success if … the Mountaineers win eight games and get back to a bowl. That might be a little bit of a reach for a team that has to start out the season against Oklahoma and needs to go to Maryland. There’s just enough experience to be two games better – there won’t be a home loss to Kansas this time around – and it might take road wins at Texas Tech and Iowa State to get the job done, but if this really is going to be a good Big 12 program, it’s time to turn things back around and be able to ball against the better teams. With Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State coming to Morgantown, the chances will be there to make a statement.

47. Georgia Tech
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) OG Shaquille Mason, Sr., 2) NT Adam Gotsis, Jr., 3) S Isaiah Johnson, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Secondary, 2) Special Teams, 3) Running Back
Spotlight Units: 1) Quarterback, 2) Secondary, 3) O Line
The season will be a success if … the Yellow Jackets win eight games for the first time since 2011. The best way for Georgia Tech to fight through the malaise is to get beyond the back-to-back seven-win seasons that have plagued the program of late. Florida State isn’t on the schedule, but Clemson is, and there are no free rides in the Coastal Division. At least the Jackets open with Wofford, Tulane and Georgia Southern, which should provide for a fast 3-0 start to 2014.

46. Penn State
Prediction: 6-6
3 Best Players: 1) QB Christian Hackenberg, So., 2) CB Jordan Lucas, Jr., 3) LB Mike Hull, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Running Back, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) Secondary, 3) Special Teams
The season will be a success if … the Nittany Lions flirt with nine wins. Seven wins would make for a more realistic goal, but Franklin isn’t about shooting low. Depth issues and offensive line concerns should be a bit too much to overcome, but the program has dealt with bigger problems over the last two years. The schedule just isn’t that bad, and even if Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State turn out to be losses, there’s a chance to be favored in every other game. If there’s an upset win over one of the division’s big three, it could be a special year going into 2015.

45. Northwestern
Prediction: 8-4
3 Best Players: 1) LB Chi Chi Ariguzo, Sr., 2) C Brandon Vitabile, Sr., 3) S Ibraheim Campbell, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Receiver, 2) Linebacker, 3) Secondary
Spotlight Units: 1) D Line, 2) Special Teams, 3) Running Back
The season will be a success if … the Wildcats win eight games and start looking more like 2012 again. There aren’t a lot of layups on the slate, but there isn’t a game that’s an absolute loss, either. Even if it’s a 7-5 regular season and a bowl win to close out, it would be a great bounceback campaign. However, with so much returning talent, and a coaching staff that won’t accept anything less than a Big Ten title, even 8-5 would seem disappointing – it shouldn’t be.

44. Oklahoma State
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) RB Desmond Roland, Sr., 2) RB/WR Tyreek Hill, Jr., 3) OT Daniel Koenig, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Quarterback, 3) D Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Linebacker, 2) Secondary, 3) Special Teams
The season will be a success if … the Cowboys make it four ten-win seasons in the last five. It might take a bowl win to do it, but the schedule doesn’t start to get nasty until November, and by then the young team will either be jelled, or it’s not going to happen. Assuming a loss to Florida State, OSU should still be favored in the next seven games before going to Kansas State. Win that, and at very worst the record is 7-2 with Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma to close things up. At this point, though, the program expects success. 9-3 going into the post-season would excellent in the rebuild.

43. Arkansas
Prediction: 6-6
3 Best Players: 1) RB Alex Collins, Soph., 2) DE Trey Flowers, Sr., 3) RB Jonathan Williams, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Quarterback, 3) D Line
The season will be a success if … the Hogs get to a bowl game and beat at least one big-time West team along the way. With Nicholls State, Northern Illinois and UAB on the slate, Arkansas will be guaranteed to win at least three games, but it’s going to take some work to get at least three more victories. The second half of the season should be interesting with most of the big games at home, but overall, Arkansas has to improve enough to start making more noise in the division. A home win over Alabama, Georgia, and/or LSU would be nice.

42. Tennessee
Prediction: 6-6
3 Best Players: 1) LB A.J. Johnson, Sr., 2) LB Curtis Maggitt, Jr., 3) SS Brian Randolph, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Linebacker, 2) Running Back, 3) Secondary
Spotlight Units: 1) Quarterback, 2) O Line, 3) Special Teams
The season will be a success if … the Volunteers come up with a winning season. There are too many newcomers and too many question marks to expect anything special, but after three straight 5-7 seasons, a good step forward would be a winning campaign with a bowl appearance. It’s not going to be easy, and going to Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina along with home games with Alabama, Florida and Missouri means it’ll take a few upsets, but seven wins would set the tone for a potentially big 2015.

41. Houston
Prediction: 9-3
3 Best Players: 1) WR Deontay Greenberry, Jr., 2) FS Trevon Stewart, Jr., 3) LB Derrick Matthews, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Receiver, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) Secondary, 3) D Line
The season will be a success if … the Cougars win ten. Houston is a better all-around team than it was a year ago, when it went 8-5, so ten victories shouldn’t be out of the question. The team is loaded on both sides of the ball, and the American became a little weaker after the departures of Louisville and Rutgers to the ACC and Big Ten, respectively. Oh, and the Cougar schedule is soft, including a pair of September visits from FCS teams, Grambling and Tennessee Tech, and avoiding East Carolina.











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