CFN Rankings - Preseason No. 40-49
Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard
Posted Aug 26, 2006

The Mid-Level  ... The teams that should finish in the middle of their respective leagues

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

49. Virginia 
Predicted Finish: 7-5  2005 Predicted Finish: 7-4   2005 Record: 7-5
Even though 13 starters and 32 lettermen return, this might be a season where the program takes a step back to take a giant leap forward. This is a young team with one senior on the projected defensive two-deep and only one on the offensive line. The skill players are veterans who should be able to generate more production than last year, but the top talents are all young reserves waiting for a chance to shine.  
Relative Strengths: receiver, secondary    Relative Weaknesses: defensive line, quarterback

48. South Carolina 
Predicted Finish: 6-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 5-6   2005 Record: 7-5
This is a nice team with some next-level parts, but it's hardly a complete one. Wide receiver Sidney Rice is among the best in America, the 1-2 rushing punch of Mike Davis and Cory Boyd is tremendous, and cornerback Fred Bennett could be the SEC's best cover man. Beyond that, the Gamecocks are woefully undermanned compared to the LSUs, Auburns, Floridas, and other top SEC teams. That's not to say Steve Spurrier isn't going to win his share of games this season, but this isn't going to be that contending year many are hoping for even with a relatively easy schedule with an all-but-gift-wrapped six wins.
Relative Strengths: receiver, running back     Relative Weaknesses: offensive line, linebacker

47. Purdue
Predicted Finish: 7-6   2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2   2005 Record: 5-6
All the problems of last year allowed several young players to see time and gain valuable experience coming into this season. The offensive line should be among the Big Ten's best, the receiver combination of Dorien Bryant and Kyle Ingraham (if he gets his grades back in order) should be deadly, Kory Sheets is a great looking young running back, and quarterback Curtis Painter appears ready to be the leader of the program for the next few seasons after taking his lumps over the second half of last year. Then again, that's what the Boilermakers were thinking about 2005's starting quarterback, Brandon Kirsch.
Relative Strengths: receiver, offensive line     Relative Weaknesses: secondary, defensive line

46. UCLA 
Predicted Finish: 5-7  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 10-2
UCLA survived last year by making several fourth quarter comebacks. The team can’t play with fire again needing to replace the entire linebacking corps, is still smallish up front for a national power program, loses top playmakers Drew Olson, Maurice Drew and Marcedes Lewis from the offense, and lacks proven playmakers on both sides of the ball. Factor all that into a better Pac 10 and it'll be a stunner if UCLA can even dream about double-digit wins.
Relative Strengths: running back, quarterback     Relative Weaknesses: linebacker, defensive line

45. Fresno State 
Predicted Finish: 7-5   2005 Predicted Finish: 9-3   2005 Record: 8-5
If a steady quarterback emerges from the three-way race between Tom Brandstater, Sean Norton and Ryan Colburn, the passing game will be explosive. The running game will be great with Dwayne Wright returning from a knee injury to work behind a big and talented line. The receiving corps is solid, the defense is the best in the WAC, and the special teams are easily the best in the conference.
Relative Strengths: receiver, special teams     Relative Weaknesses: quarterback, linebacker

44. Texas A&M
Predicted Finish:
8-4   2005 Predicted Finish: 7-4   2005 Record: 5-6
The defense will switch to a 4-2-5 alignment to try to help the nation's worst pass defense and be more productive against one-back offenses. The offense should be humming as long as new starting quarterback Stephen McGee is merely adequate. The line is among the best in the league, the receiving corps has the potential to break out and have a big season, and the running back trio of Courtney Lewis, Jorvorski Lane and Mike Goodson should be terrific. This is a team that's about a year away from potentially challenging for the South title, but that's what was said last year. However, there's no need for head coach Dennnis Franchione to polish up his résumé quite yet. There's enough talent to win several games with, and there's a big boost thanks to an easy schedule.
Relative Strengths: running back, offensive line     Relative Weaknesses: secondary, special teams

43. Pitt 
Predicted Finish: 8-4   2005 Predicted Finish: 9-2   2005 Record: 5-6
QB Tyler Palko, LB H.B. Blades, CB Darrelle Revis and P Adam Graessle are among the best players in the conference at their respective positions. Young talent has to emerge at defensive tackle, wide receiver and running back, but the positive is the athleticism; it's better than what was there before. Getting off to a big start in conference play will be vital with home showdowns with West Virginia and Louisville to close out the year.
Relative Strengths: secondary, quarterback     Relative Weaknesses: running back, defensive line

42. NC State 
Predicted Finish: 6-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 7-5
It's possible that no one did less with more than Chuck Amato and his staff over the last two seasons, but he has the type of team that can quickly make amends. The running back tandem Andre Brown and Toney Baker is good, but it's not good enough to lead the way to an ACC title. QB Marcus Stone has to use his good receiving corps and better offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman, to become a star. This team will go as he goes. On defense, replacing the three first round draft picks (Mario Williams, Manny Lawson and John McCargo) will get all the attention, but don't be stunned if there's not a devastating drop-off in all-around production.
Relative Strengths: secondary, special teams     Relative Weaknesses: quarterback, offensive line

41. South Florida 
Predicted Finish: 8-4  2005 Predicted Finish: 3-8   2005 Record: 6-6
The USF D will be the best in the Big East if the line is merely adequate. This is a fast, fast, fast defense with just enough size to hold up against the stronger power offenses. Stephen Nicholas, Ben Moffitt, and Pat St. Louis form one of the nation's best linebacking corps, while the return of safety Danny Verpaele from a foot injury gives a big boost to an already strong secondary. The offense has athletes and has experience at key positions, but will it go anywhere without all-star back Andre Hall to carry the attack? The receiving corps has the potential to be the second best in the league behind Louisville's fantastic group, but someone has to consistently get them the ball.  
Relative Strengths: linebacker, secondary     Relative Weaknesses: running back, special teams

40. Oregon State 
Predicted Finish: 7-6  2005 Predicted Finish: 6-5   2005 Record: 5-6
The 2006 Beavers are much improved with several things to get excited about. The offensive line gets all five starters back and should be dynamite. The backfield is loaded with JUCO transfer Clinton Polk joining Yvenson Bernard. All-America caliber tight end Joe Newton is back and healthy, and kicker Alexis Serna returns after winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker. However, the problems are way too much to overcome in the hopes of competing for the Pac 10 title. It's a relatively young team with most of the seniors backed up by better prospects. There will be shootouts galore, only this year the Beavers will end up on the right side of most of them.
Relative Strengths: running back, offensive line     Relative Weaknesses: secondary, linebacker