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2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 51 to 60
Texas Tech QB Davis Webb
Texas Tech QB Davis Webb
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 21, 2014


2014 CFN Preseason Rankings - No. 51 to 60 - In the Bowl Hunt


Preview 2014 - Rankings

No. 51-60

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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.

60. California
Prediction: 4-8
3 Best Players: 1) QB Jared Goff, Soph., 2) WR Bryce Treggs, Jr., 3) WR Chris Harper, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Receiver, 2) Quarterback, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) D Line, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … the Bears are markedly more competitive than they were a season ago. Forget the record. Cal won’t be bowling in December, and if it wins more than three games, go ahead and label it a major surprise. For Dykes in his second season, he’s aiming to bring this program closer to that point when outcomes are in doubt after halftime. After being outscored by an average of 23 points in 2013, even a few close calls versus Pac-12 opponents will qualify as progress at this downtrodden program.

59. Colorado
Prediction: 5-7
3 Best Players: 1) LB Addison Gillam, Soph., 2) WR Nelson Spruce, Jr., 3) CB Greg Henderson, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Secondary, 2) Running Back, 3) Special Teams
Spotlight Units: 1) D Line, 2) Quarterback, 3) Receiver
The season will be a success if … the Buffaloes win two league games. It’s a modest pursuit, sure, but one that’ll mean Colorado is gradually climbing up the Pac-12 ladder. It defeated lowly Cal last year, yet was generally pummeled the rest of the time. Since the non-conference slate includes games with Colorado State, UMass and Hawaii, two Pac-12 victories positions the Buffs to have a crack at going 5-7. And progress is the buzzword in Boulder these days.

58. Minnesota
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) RB David Cobb, Sr., 2) QB Mitch Leidner, Soph., 3) DE Theiren Cockran, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) Coaching
Spotlight Units: 1) Receiver, 2) Running Back, 3) Quarterback
The season will be a success if … the Gophers win nine games, going one better than last year. Minnesota has to be at the point where it shouldn’t be a problem handling a Middle Tennessee, or a Northwestern at home, or an Illinois on the road. Those have to be givens if the program is going to keep progressing under Kill. It’s probably not going to be good enough to beat TCU on the road, or Ohio State at home, or Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin away from TCF Bank Stadium, but it has to be good enough to come up with at least one win in those games, maybe two, and not stumble against a Purdue or an Iowa. Winning eight games and a bowl isn’t going too far out on a limb, but it’s going to require a lot of luck and a few breaks.

57. Texas Tech
Prediction: 6-6
3 Best Players: 1) OT Le'Raven Clark, Jr., 2) QB Davis Webb, Soph., 3) WR Jakeem Grant, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Receiver, 3) O Line
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) Linebacker, 3) Special Teams
The season will be a success if … the Red Raiders win ten games. It might seem like a bit of a lofty goal, but after winning eight games last season, and with so many veterans back on offense, shooting for an extra two victories is a reasonable goal. If this a ten-win team? The defense has to be far better to get even close, but Central Arkansas, UTEP, Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa State have to be sure things, and then it’ll be up to coming up with a few upsets to get close. There might not be enough in the bag to win the Big 12 title, but a top four finish is possible with a few big breaks.

56. NC State
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) QB Jacoby Brissett, Jr., 2) WR Bryan Underwood, Sr., 3) DT Thomas Teal, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) D Line, 2) Quarterback, 3) Secondary
Spotlight Units: 1) Linebacker, 2) O Line, 3) Receiver
The season will be a success if … the Wolfpack is a part of the postseason, even if it enters through the backdoor. Is NC State bowl-worthy in 2014? Not yet. But is the schedule tailor-made for at least six wins? You bet. The Pack is set up to start 4-0 against Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, South Florida and Presbyterian, which would generate much-needed momentum in Raleigh. While there are no gimmes after Sept. 20, it would take just two more wins over two months to reach the six needed to be bowl-eligible.

55. Virginia
Prediction: 6-6
3 Best Players: 1) S Anthony Harris, Sr., 2) CB Demetrious Nicholson, Sr., 3) DE Eli Harold, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Secondary, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) Quarterback, 2) Receiver, 3) Coaching
The season will be a success if … the Cavaliers manufacture six wins out of a very difficult schedule. Whether or not a bowl is realistic in 2014 is somewhat irrelevant, because that’s where the bar will be set for a program that hasn’t been a part of the past two postseasons. At first glance, Virginia might be favored in no more than three or four games this fall. Still, if the school isn’t playing an additional game in December, the year will go down as another failure, and the coaching staff will have to be overhauled by AD Craig Littlepage.

54. Washington State
Prediction: 5-7
3 Best Players: 1) QB Connor Halliday, Sr., 2) DT Xavier Cooper, Jr., 3) LB Darryl Monroe, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Quarterback, 2) Receiver, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) Running Back, 2) O Line, 3) D Line
The season will be a success if … Washington State returns to the postseason. Last season was all about breaking through. This season is about proving that the program is here to stay. Leach and the Cougars can ill-afford any kind of regression, which would come in the form of a losing season that ends on Nov. 29. Wazzu wants to make a statement to its fan base and prospective recruits that bowl games are becoming the norm in Pullman.

53. Pitt
Prediction: 7-5
3 Best Players: 1) WR Tyler Boyd, Soph., 2) RB James Conner, Soph., 3) OG Matt Rotheram, Sr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Receiver, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) D Line, 2) Quarterback, 3) Secondary
The season will be a success if … Pitt wins eight games for the first time since 2010. There’s no doubt that this program is facing hurdles on both sides of the ball entering 2014. The schedule, though, is brimming with possibilities. The Panthers miss Florida State and Clemson in the rotation, while Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke will travel to Heinz Field. Delaware, Florida International, Akron and Iowa comprise the non-conference schedule, and the toughest road games don’t occur until November. Pitt could be rebuilding and still have a crack at winning eight.

52. Indiana
Prediction: 5-7
3 Best Players: 1) RB Tevin Coleman, Jr., 2) CB Tim Bennett, Sr., 3) QB Nate Sudfeld, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Receiver, 2) Quarterback, 3) Running Back
Spotlight Units: 1) D Line, 2) Secondary, 3) Linebacker
The season will be a success if … the Hoosiers come up with a winning season. 2007 was the last bowl appearance, and that was the last winning season since 1994. After winning five games last year, and with so much experience returning, it’s time to be a wee bit better, even in the tougher of the two Big Ten divisions. Beat Indiana State, Bowling Green, North Texas, Penn State and Purdue and there’s the base of five wins. Take on Maryland at home, maybe Rutgers on the road, and pull off an upset over a Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa or Ohio State, and it’ll be a big season. But for IU, if it can just go 6-6 and win a bowl game, it’ll be a massive success.

51. Boise State
Prediction: 11-1
3 Best Players: 1) RB Jay Ajayi, Jr., 2) WR Matt Miller, Sr., 3) CB Donte Deayon, Jr.
Relative Strengths: 1) Running Back, 2) Special Teams, 3) Linebacker
Spotlight Units: 1) O Line, 2) D Line, 3) Quarterback
The season will be a success if … the Broncos win ten games or more and take the Mountain West title. The talent might not be there to beat Ole Miss, and it’s not going to be easy to take out BYU at home or Nevada on the road, but after last year’s dip and with a new energy and a new coaching staff, proving that things are back on track with a season with ten or more wins and with a conference title will more than do that. Ramp the expectations up to 11 if there’s a win over Ole Miss.