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CFN Rankings - Preseason No. 50-59
BYU RB Curtis Brown
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 26, 2006


Shooting for a Bowl  ... Some lower-level BCS conference teams and top mid-majors

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

59. Oklahoma State   
How young is OSU? On the projected two-deep depth chart there are 24 players with sophomore, redshirt freshmen, or freshmen eligibility. The defense will need at least another year of seasoning in the back seven, but the time is now up front with five good seniors that should finally make for a solid Cowboy defensive line. This won't be the type of defense that will shut anyone down and it has to force more turnovers, but it should be more aggressive and it has plenty of upside. One-time superstar quarterback recruit Bobby Reid has all the tools to be a great one. If the light turns on for him, the offense should be far better with a decent line, a dangerous 1-2 receiving punch in D'Juan Woods and Adarius Bowman, and a productive backfield tandem of Mike Hamilton and Julius Crosslin.
Predicted Finish:
4-8  2005 Predicted Finish: 5-6   2005 Record: 4-7
Relative Strengths: running back, receiver    Relative Weaknesses: linebacker, secondary

58. North Carolina  
Predicted Finish: 5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 3-8   2005 Record: 5-6
The key to the team's success will be the steady play of the running backs. Ronnie McGill and Barrington Edwards form a tremendous 1-2 punch, but they have to prove they can be on the field for a full season. They have to carry the offense until the quarterback situation irons itself out. Nebraska transfer Joe Dailey and redshirt freshman Cam Sexton add far more mobility than Matt Baker did last year, and now they need to prove they can be consistent passers.
Relative Strengths: running back, secondary   Relative Weaknesses: offensive line, quarterback

57. Ole Miss 
Predicted Finish: 6-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 3-8
With QB Brent Schaeffer and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the backfield along with last season's leading rusher, Mico McSwain, the running game will get off the team bus and average more than the 73 rushing yards a game it came up with in 2005. The offensive line that was so miserable last season will be stronger with more experience led by NFL caliber tackle Michael Oher. Defensively, the return of linebacker Patrick Willis gives Ole Miss and All-America star to work around. The pass defense finished 14th in the nation last season and gets three starters back along with rising corner Nate Banks. The line has to replace all four starters, but the new faces up front have more talent. 
Relative Strengths: linebacker, secondary    Relative Weaknesses: receiver, special teams

56. Northwestern   
Predicted Finish: 4-8  2005 Predicted Finish: 4-7   2005 Record: 7-5
The untimely death of head coach Randy Walker and ascension of young Pat Fitzgerald as the new leader will make this a team to watch all season long. Quarterbacks C.J. Bacher, Andrew Brewer, and Mike Kafka are going to have to be Brett Basanez without the three years of starting experience. There's a fantastic line to work behind and Tyrell Sutton to put all the pressure of the offense on his shoulders, but without the nation's seventh-ranked passing game to keep things moving, another big season might be hard to come by. The defense was one of the worst in America last year and needs to be far tougher against the run.
Relative Strengths: running back, offensive line    Relative Weaknesses: secondary, defensive line

55. Tulsa    
Predicted Finish: 8-4  2005 Predicted Finish: 4-7   2005 Record: 9-4
As good as last year’s team was, the potential is there to be even better with 42 lettermen returning including QB Paul Smith, four starters to the offensive line, and most of a defense that should be the best in the league. Most importantly, the team has to be every bit as rock solid after finishing fourth in the nation in turnover margin, committed 21 fewer penalties than its opponents, and was a consistent, efficient offensive machine after the losses to Minnesota and Oklahoma. With this team, anything less than another Conference USA title will be a major disappointment.
Relative Strengths: linebacker, secondary    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, receiver

54. Kansas State   
Predicted Finish: 4-8   2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 5-6
The new excitement surrounding Ron Prince and the new coaching staff, along with the air of mystery about what this team really might be like, makes Kansas State one of the wild-cards in the Big 12 race. The receiving corps can fly, the defense will likely go to an even more aggressive than before scheme, and there are plenty of interesting options to work with in the offensive backfield. While the lines need at least a year of seasoning and several major position battles still need to be settled, a little bit of tweaking and a little more production could mean a winning season and a bowl game.
Relative Strengths: running back, linebacker    Relative Weaknesses: offensive line, secondary

53. Kansas 
Predicted Finish: 6-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 7-5
The defense loses its top three tacklers, linebackers Nick Reid, Kevin Kane and Banks Floodman, along with all-star end Charlton Keith and his nine sacks and 23 tackles for loss. Will the D be able to replace all the playmakers? Not right away, but there are several athletic young prospects to build around. The offense isn’t built for shootouts, but there's enough talent to hope for decent production against average defenses and enough upside to provide plenty of hope for the future.
Relative Strengths: secondary, offensive line    Relative Weaknesses: receiver, linebacker

52. Connecticut 
Predicted Finish: 6-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 5-6
This isn't a star-studded team by any means, but there are plenty of good, rock solid players and depth everywhere but on the offensive line. 16 starters return including most of a fantastic defensive back seven that should be the best in the Big East led by cornerbacks Darius Butler and Tyvon Branch, while weakside linebacker Danny Lansanah is a star in the making with his combination of size and speed. The offense will have to figure out who the right fit is at quarterback. Terry Caulley returns for what seems like his 14th season at tailback and should put up big numbers thanks to the welcome return of his lead blocker, Deon Anderson. The line isn't going to scare anyone, but it's not going to be any worse than last year.  
Relative Strengths: running back, secondary    Relative Weaknesses: offensive line, receiver

51. Minnesota 
Predicted Finish: 5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 7-4   2005 Record: 7-5
This year's team has a nice starting 11 on both sides of the ball with just enough experience and skill to get back to a bowl game if everyone plays as expected, but there isn't enough depth and there’s a lack of big-time playmakers, especially on defense. The D line isn't all that big, the back seven isn't all that fast, and the overall defensive athleticism is lacking compared to other Big Ten teams. The offense will put up numbers, but it's not an attack equipped for the firefights it'll get into with some of the top teams.
Relative Strengths: offensive line, quarterback    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, linebacker

50. BYU 
Predicted Finish: 8-4  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 6-6
The fans want the old days of BYU back when the program was winning conference titles with some of the most prolific offenses in college football history, and this year's team might not disappoint with veteran quarterback John Beck, excellent running back Curtis Brown, a fantastic offensive line, and Mackey Award candidate Jonny Harline at tight end. However, the defense full of question marks could give up points just as quickly. The line has issues with experience, the linebacking corps, while good, is nothing special, and the secondary might be a major problem until the middle of the season. All this means lots of shootouts, lots of scoring, and fun, fun, fun.  
Relative Strengths: quarterback, offensive line    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, secondary