CFN Rankings - Preseason No. 90-99
Posted Aug 26, 2006

Probably Rebuilding ... At least two of these teams will finish much higher

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

99. Bowling Green 
Predicted Finish:
7-5   2005 Predicted Finish: 8-3   2005 Record: 6-5
This might be a rebuilding year after a disappointing 2005, but the Falcons play in the easier of the two MAC divisions and could find its way into the MAC title mix. The most scrutiny will be at quarterback, where Anthony Turner is the next in line after Omar Jacobs and the ultra-productive Josh Harris. A sophomore, he'll have to play like a veteran with a nearly-new receiving corps to throw to and a brand, spanking new backfield to work with.
Relative Strengths: wide receivers, offensive line    Relative Weaknesses: linebackers, running backs

98. Tulane  
Predicted Finish:
3-9  2005 Predicted Finish: 7-4   2005 Record: 2-9
As bad as last season was on the field with an average of only 321 yards per game and allowing 31.6 points per outing, there's hope for a big turnaround. Quarterback Lester Ricard has next-level talent and an experienced receiving corps to work with, Matt Forte is a great back who should be productive with more touches, and the defensive line has the potential to be night-and-day better with good size and plenty of experience. After dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last year, there will be a true home field advantage again with games scheduled to be played in the Superdome starting September 30th.
Relative Strengths: quarterbacks, wide receivers    Relative Weaknesses: linebackers, secondary

97. Western Michigan   
Predicted Finish:
5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 2-9   2005 Record: 7-4
18 starters return to a team that saw its starting quarterbacks go down with injuries like Spinal Tap went through drummers, and struggled with a pass defense that was just this close to being the worst in America despite having the MAC's best pass rush to help out generating pressure. Last year's problems should turn into this season's positives with a stronger, more experienced secondary and a healthy Ryan Cubit at quarterback.
Relative Strengths: quarterbacks, special teams    Relative Weaknesses: secondary, running backs

96. Air Force    
Predicted Finish:
4-8  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 4-7
The defense has to stop giving up so many game-changing big plays, the turnover margin (Air Force finished 95th in the nation) has to become a positive, and the offense has to be much sharper. Quarterback Shaun Carney is well on his way to being the greatest passer in the Fisher DeBerry era, but he has to get the ground game back to the point where it can hang 300 yards a game on anyone. It only hit the 300-yard mark once last year. Talent-wise, this isn't DeBerry's best team, but there aren't any problems he hasn't dealt with before. If Carney can take the next step up in his ability to run the attack, and if some reliable receivers and game-breaking running backs can emerge, and if Bobby Giannini and the veteran secondary can slow down the better passing teams just a little bit, then a winning season is more than possible.
Relative Strengths: quarterbacks, running backs    Relative Weaknesses: wide receivers, defensive line

95. Central Michigan   
Predicted Finish:
5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 2-9   2005 Record: 6-5
It's all there for the Chippewas to have a fantastic season and even hope for their first bowl bid since 1994 while shooting for back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1990 and 1991. However, there's reason to worry about a porous secondary that isn't going to be any better, and the loss of steady QB Kent Smith isn't going to help the offense, but everything else is in place from four returning starters on a rock of an offensive line to an improved receiving corps to one of the MAC's best linebacking corps.
Relative Strengths: running backs, wide receivers    Relative Weaknesses: secondary, quarterbacks

94. UNLV  
Predicted Finish:
3-9  2005 Predicted Finish: 5-6   2005 Record: 2-9
Head coach Mike Sanford's Rebel Shotgun Spread offense never took flight last year because the pieces weren't in place. Now the offensive line is experienced, the receiving corps is deep, there are several good running back options to push Erick Jackson, and the quarterbacks are a strength with Rocky Hinds and Shane Steichen each good enough to put up big numbers. The defense has to hold up its end of the bargain after allowing 30 points or more in eight games. Things are pointed in the right direction for UNLV, but is the program ready to rock this season, or will it take another year for everything to jell? Watch out for this to be a dangerous, exciting team all year long.
Relative Strengths: quarterbacks, running backs   Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, linebackers

93. Louisiana Tech 
Predicted Finish:
7-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 5-6   2005 Record: 7-4
Only two starters return on defense, there's a woeful lack of experience at quarterback, and there could stand to be far more explosion considering all the speed in the receiving corps and at running back. Even with the problems, this should still be an upper-division WAC team that needs to come up with more big wins.  
Relative Strengths: wide receivers, special teams    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, quarterbacks

92. Miami University  
Predicted Finish:
6-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2   2005 Record: 7-4
Only five starters return, but it's not like the cupboard is completely bare with good prospects returning to fill most of the holes with the biggest question at quarterback, where Mike Kokal, Jared Elliott and Daniel Raudabaugh will try to be next in line after Josh Betts and Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, the talent level will be there to be competitive, but can Miami get the momentum back after tremendous seasons in 2003 and 2004? Absolutely.
Relative Strengths: running backs, special teams    Relative Weaknesses: linebackers, offensive line

91. SMU  
Predicted Finish:
5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 1-10   2005 Record: 5-6
There will be an interesting mix of fast, talented young players, a lot of inexperience, and good building blocks. Bobby Chase leads a deep and experienced receiving corps, DeMyron Martin is one of the league's best backs heading a very fast, very good backfield, and the starting five up front should be fine. However, there's no experience whatsoever at quarterback and absolutely no developed depth on the line. The offense might have been bad throughout last year, but the defense saved the day time and again keeping the team in several games. There are lots and lots of speed in the back seven, but little experience outside of safety Joe Studivant and linebacker Wilton McCray. The line will be fantastic with Adrian Haywood and Justin Rogers among the best in the conference.
Relative Strengths: running backs, defensive line    Relative Weaknesses: secondary, offensive line

90. Akron    
Predicted Finish:
7-5   2005 Predicted Finish: 5-6   2005 Record: 7-6
After winning the MAC title, J.D. Brookhart's crew wants to do even more, and it has the talent to do it with 16 returning starters led by what should be one of the MAC's best defenses. To get back to the championship game and earn another bowl bid, the Zips have to be far more consistent and get steadier play out of both sides of the ball. Considering where the defense was a few seasons ago, to even be considered among the best in the MAC shows how quickly Brookhart and his staff have turned things around. The offense could be another story, at least early on, needing to replace the top receivers along with 1,000-yard back Brett Biggs. However, quarterback Luke Getsy should be able to build on a great end to 2005 and be one of the MAC's best passers, while all five starters return to what should be a top offensive line.
Relative Strengths: quarterbacks, offensive line   Relative Weaknesses: special teams, running backs