CFN Rankings - Preseason No. 100-109
North Texas RB Jamario Thomas
Posted Aug 26, 2006

Near the Bottom ... These teams should struggle to make much noise

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 might indicate. Going into the year, these are how good the teams appear to be from No. 1 through 119. The predicted finishes don't take into account possible bowl games or conference championships.

No. 1 to No. 10 | No. 11 to 20 | No. 21 to 29 | No. 30 to 39 | No. 40 to 49
No. 50 to 59 | No. 60 to 69 | No. 70 to 79 | No. 80 to 89 | No. 90 to 99
No. 100 to 109 | No. 110 to 119

109. North Texas   
Predicted Finish:
4-8  2005 Predicted Finish: 7-4   2005 Record: 2-9
After owning the Sun Belt for several years with trip after trip to the New Orleans Bowl, North Texas found out what it's like to be on the other side of things finishing dead-last in the conference. Considering the team was at or near the bottom in just about every major statistical category and loses only nine lettermen off of last year's team, there's reason to believe a turnaround can be just as quick as a fall from grace.
Relative Strengths:
running backs, linebackers    Relative Weaknesses: secondary, quarterback

108. Arkansas State   
Predicted Finish:
4-8  2005 Predicted Finish: 4-7   2005 Record: 6-6
Arkansas State has to try to become the new North Texas and be a yearly participant in the New Orleans Bowl. Head coach Steve Roberts has the program on the right track and he has the talent to be the best team in the league with a little bit of luck. ASU got a taste of success last year with its first non-losing season since 1995, and that could be just the beginning. 
Relative Strengths: linebackers, secondary    Relative Weaknesses: quarterback, defensive line

107. Idaho 
Predicted Finish:
3-9  2005 Predicted Finish: 3-8   2005 Record: 2-9
It'll take a little while, but new head man Dennis Erickson has certainly generated plenty of excitement with his four and five wide receiver sets and sophisticated offense that should provide a consistency that hasn't been there in years. The return of QB Steven Wichman for his senior season provides a veteran to run the attack, and the running game should finally get going again with Jayson Bird coming back from a collarbone injury. But the big problem for Idaho has been defense allowing 39 points per game over the last two seasons.
Relative Strengths: quarterback, running backs    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, secondary

106. Troy   
Predicted Finish:
4-8  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 4-7
After looking like the potential dominator in the Sun Belt, Troy has to prove that last season's setback was a fluke. The conference is better from top to bottom, but if the offense can generate a bit more production, the Trojans could finally pull off a conference title.
Troy will still be known for its defense. It'll be among the best in the Sun Belt despite some key losses and a big hope for several decent prospects to turn into stars, but the offense has to be far, far more prodductive.
Relative Strengths: special teams, defensive line    Relative Weaknesses: quarterback, wide receivers

105. MTSU
Predicted Finish:
5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 5-6   2005 Record: 4-7
It’s going to take a little while for new head coach Rick Stockstill and his coaching staff to figure out what they’re doing, but they have good pieces to work with led by QB Clint Marks. The defense won't be the killer it was last year after losing seven top starters, but it's not going to fall off the map with several good prospects ready to step in and linebacker J.K. Sabb and corner Bradley Robinson to build around. If the offense comes though with a better season, the D will be good enough to win the Sun Belt title with.
Relative Strengths: quarterback, running backs    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, offensive line

104. Ohio   
Predicted Finish:
2-10  2005 Predicted Finish: 3-8   2005 Record: 4-7  
This isn't a good enough team to challenge for the MAC East title, but there should be plenty of improvement with 20 returning starters..
There's no question the running game will be among the best in the MAC thanks to the return of a huge, veteran line and potential all-star RB Kalvin McRae, but the passing game needs a lot of tinkering. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t work out well. This will be a better team than the final record will indicate. Nine starters return to a defense that got shoved all over the field against the run and bombed on by anyone who could throw a football overhand. The linebacking corps will be the strength with MLB Matt Muncy among the best in the country and Tyler Russ and Michael Graham strong returning starters on the outside.
Relative Strengths: running backs, linebackers    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, quarterback

103. Eastern Michigan     
Predicted Finish:
3-9  2005 Predicted Finish: 3-8   2005 Record: 4-7
The 2006 Eagles have a mix of major strengths and screaming concerns. Four starters return to an offensive line that welcomes JUCO transfer star Tom Schmeding, but the backfield is starting from near-scratch breaking in new quarterback Tyler Jones and a slew of small, quick backs. The linebacking corps has the potential to be sensational and Kevin Howe is one of the best defensive ends in the conference, but the secondary is going to be abysmal right off the bat. 
Relative Strengths: wide receivers, linebackers    Relative Weaknesses: secondary, running backs

102. Ball State     
Predicted Finish:
5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 2-9   2005 Record: 4-7
For a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1996 and has only ten wins in the three-year Brady Hoke era, it's not exactly the time to get greedy and start shooting for the MAC title, but there's no reason this can't be one of the league's sleeper teams.
Ten starters return on offense helped immensely by a line that should be night-and-day better now that tackles Andre Ramsey and Robert Brewster aren't true freshmen anymore. Joey Lynch has the potential to be one of the MAC's better quarterbacks with a good receiving corps to throw to. There's hope for improvement on defense with a good, deep linebacking corps returning and two excellent safeties in Erik Keys and Trey Lewis. The big problems are on the line and at corner.
Relative Strengths: quarterbacks, linebackers  Relative Weaknesses: secondary, defensive line

101. UL Lafayette 
Predicted Finish:
7-5  2005 Predicted Finish: 3-8   2005 Record: 6-5
The talent and experience is there for this to be the Sun Belt's best team, and now it has to show it can handle expectations. If nothing else, the ground attack will be worth the price of admission. However, this is a flawed team with a complete overhaul needed on the special teams and a passing game that only threw three touchdown passes last season.
Relative Strengths: running backs, quarterbacks   Relative Weaknesses: offensive line, defensive line

100. Kent State   
Predicted Finish:
2-10   2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 1-10
After averaging eight points per game over the final five games, it's hard to believe the Golden Flash machine will instantly turn on. Even with several good newcomers, the running game still has to prove it can move the ball, QB Michael Machen has to prove he isn't a multi-interception game waiting to happen, and the linebacking corps needs time to jell. There might be talent to build around, but don’t expect miracles.
Relative Strengths: linebackers, running backs   Relative Weaknesses: linebackers, wide receivers