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CFN 2007 Pre-Preseason Rankings 26 to 119

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 14, 2007


It's time to start looking ahead to the 2007 season with Pre-Preseason Rankings of what appear to be the 26th through the 119th best teams.



2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings - No. 1 to 25

26. South Florida   2006 Record: 9-4
The program proved it could hang with the big boys last year, and now it'll make its big move with QB Matt Grothe leading an experienced offense that gets the entire line back. The defense takes a bit hit at linebacker losing Stephan Nicholas and Pat St. Louis, but eight starters return. Now the team will have to learn how to deal with expectations.

27.
Iowa    2006 Record: 6-7
The Jake Christensen era gets rolling in what should be a bounceback season. The losses on the offensive line might make things difficult early on, but just about everyone returns on defense including LB Mike Klinkenborg and DE
Ken Iwebema, who'll be back from a shoulder injury. Also returning is head coach Kirk Ferentz, who was on everyone's NFL hot list.

28.
Louisville   2006 Record: 12-1
The team's overall production might not slip under Steve Kragthorpe, but there won't be the same offensive explosion. The passing game will still be light's out, and Anthony Allen and George Stripling will keep the running game going, but most of the defensive stars are gone hurt most by the loss of DT Amobi Okoye and CB William Gay.


29. Miami   2006 Record: 7-6
Randy Shannon will certainly have the defense humming, but can he get the offense going? The quarterback situation will be the biggest issue, while getting even more out of the offensive line and the ground attack, led by Javarris James, will be a must. The secondary might be the best in America.

30. Missouri   2006 Record: 8-5
The Tigers might have finished last year on a major down note, but the 2007 version should be fantastic with QB Chase Daniel and all the top offensive players back. The big concern will be in the linebacking corps losing Dedrick Harrington and Marcus Bacon.

31. Maryland   2006 Record: 9-4
Maryland was a better team than it got credit for last year, and now it should get some recognition with nine starters returning on offense and seven on defense. QB Jordan Steffy needs to be a competent replacement for Sam Hollenbach, but the offense will revolve around Lance Ball, Keon Lattimore and the running game.

32.
Clemson   2006 Record: 8-5
One of the strangest teams to figure out after last year's collapse, the Tigers might have the best running back tandem in America in James Davis and C.J. Spiller, but they lose a bulk of the offensive line and QB Will Proctor. DE Gaines Adams is gone, along with corners C.J. Gaddis and Duane Coleman, but everyone else returns.


33.
Oklahoma State   2006 Record: 7-6
A young, talented, erratic team in 2006, this will be an experienced, talented, erratic team this year. The return of WR Adarius Bowman, who should probably be off to the NFL, is a huge boost to help emerging star QB Bobby Reid. The defensive line is gone, but the back seven returns. Expect shootout after shootout.

34. South Carolina   2006 Record: 8-5
Is this the year the Gamecocks finally turn the corner under Steve Spurrier? It's certainly possible with the entire defensive front seven coming back. The offense might be a bit of an issue needing to replace star receiver Sidney Rice, who left early for the NFL, along with three key offensive linemen.


35.
Notre Dame   2006 Record: 10-3
Is Jimmy Clausen going to get the starting quarterback job right off the bat? Charlie Weis will always get production out of the offense, but it might take a while with eight starters gone including RB Darius Walker, who left early for the NFL. For good and bad, the defense also needs an overhaul.

36. Hawaii   2006 Record: 11-3
Oh this will be interesting. The defense might still be porous, but it'll be experienced. All it'll have to do is keep teams under 40 and everything should be fine even without Colt Brennan since all the top receivers are returning. Two problems. The losses on the offensive line will hurt, and big RB Nate Ilaoa, the unsung playmaker on the offense, is gone.


37. Boise State  2006 Record: 13-0
The Broncos aren't way too low; everyone else will just be a lot better. While BSU will still be the favorite for the WAC title, losing QB Jared Zabransky, the top receivers, LB Korey Hall, and three starters off the defensive line will be just enough to knock the team down a peg.

38. Kentucky   2006 Record: 8-5
The return of QB Andre Woodson, WR Keenan Burton and RB Rafael Little means the offense should be even more dynamic than it was at the end of the year, but the defense, which was among the worst in America throughout last year, needs to make a dramatic improvement in all areas. Teams won't take the Cats lightly this year.

39. Arizona State   2006 Record: 7-6
There's certainly talent for Dennis Erickson to work with led by QB Rudy Carpenter and running backs Keegan Herring and Ryan Torian. Ten offensive starters return from the Hawaii Bowl team only losing TE Zach Miller early to the NFL. The defense is a different story with several holes to patch, but it might get oft-injured DE Loren Howard for another year.

40. Texas Tech   2006 Record: 8-5
You always know what you're getting out of Texas Tech. Expect another up-and-down year with all the top receivers and four starting offensive linemen gone. The defensive front has some work to do.


41. Alabama   2006 Record: 6-7
Nick Saban isn't walking into a bare cupboard. The offensive line has the potential to be a major strength in time, while the passing game could be fantastic. The defense loses plenty of playmakers, but the pass rush should be solid.

42. Kansas State   2006 Record: 7-6
Ron Prince was tremendous in his first season, and playing all the young stars should pay off in a big way with QB Josh Freeman and RB Leon Patton leading a potentially dangerous offense. DE Ian Campbell is one of the nation's best, and he'll have to be even better than 2006 with several starters gone off a decent D.

43. Oregon   2006 Record: 7-6
Experience won't be an issue on either side of the ball, and now the production has to follow. Settling the quarterback situation between Brady Leaf and Dennis Dixon right away will be key, while keeping RB Jonathan Stewart healthy is a must. Jaison Williams is the best receiver you've never heard of.

44. Cincinnati   2006 Record: 8-5
New head coach Brian Kelly has already won a game with the team, and he should win a lot more in 2007 with most of the key parts returning. As long as the quarterback situation is settled right off the bat, this will be the big sleeper in the Big East. Only three starters are gone off the defense.

45.
Washington State   2006 Record: 6-6
Can the Cougars avoid yet another disappointing season? It has the pieces to do it with QB Alex Brink, RB Dwight Tardy and several good receivers returning. The defense has work to do needing to replace DE Mkristo Bruce and linebackers Scott Davis and Steve Dildine.


46. Minnesota   2006 Record: 6-7
The cupboard is hardly bare in the post-Glen Mason era with Amir Pinnix certain to have a big season behind a veteran offensive line. The defense might have stunk, but it should be better with ten starters returning. Tony Mortensen is a big, capable replacement for Bryan Cupito.

47. Utah   2006 Record: 8-5
TCU will be the Mountain West favorite, but the Utes might not be far behind. The return of QB Brian Johnson should make the offense sing, and he'll need to with mega-changes being made on a defense without most of the defensive line and do everything All-American Eric Weddle.

48.
Arizona   2006 Record: 6-6
Will the team finally turn a corner and get to a bowl under head coach Mike Stoops? QB Willie Tuitama has to stay healthy for a full season, and he should get better protection with several experienced linemen returning. The return of star CB Antoine Cason, who should probably be off playing in the NFL, means ten starters return to a defense that should be as nasty as any in the Pac 10 outside of USC.


49.
Virginia   2006 Record: 5-7 
Last year's too-young team is now a veteran group with nine returning starts on offense and nine back on D including the entire defensive front seven. The more consistent QB Jameel Sewell is early on, the better. Experience has to turn into production on the offensive line.


50. Colorado   2006 Record: 2-10
Dan Hawkins is way too good a head coach to let that happen again. It's not going to be a worst-to-first year, but if QB Bernard Jackson can get the passing game going a bit better, and if the defense can play up to the level it did throughout most of 2006, expect a night-and-day difference.

51.
Wake Forest   2006 Record: 11-3
Fine, this is way too low for the defending ACC champions, but the rest of the league is far better this year. QB Riley Skinner is back along with even other starters, but losing the top two receivers and OT Steve Vallos is bigger than you might think. Three defensive backs are gone along with LB Jon Abbate.

52.
BYU   2006 Record: 11-2
The team's not going to fall off the map, but it's not going to be nearly as good without QB John Beck, top TE Jonny Harline, and RB Curtis Brown. The Cougars will win with defense early until the new offensive stars get their feet wet.


53. Purdue   2006 Record: 8-5
Is this the year Purdue finally decides to play defense? Curtis Painter and the best Big Ten's best receiving corps (yes, better than Michigan's) should light most teams up like a Christmas tree, but it'll all go for naught if the D doesn't make a big turnaround.

54. Washington   2006 Record: 5-7
The future is now for Ty Willingham and his Huskies as QB Jake Locker, the team's top recruit of a few years ago, is the number one man going into spring ball. Other star recruit, RB J.R. Hasty, has to get back in the mix after being academically ineligible last year. The defensive back seven is decimated by losses, but the line should be a strength.

55.
Southern Miss   2006 Record: 9-5
RB Damion Fletcher might have all-star potential, but he might have a tough time early with three starters lost off the line. QB Jeremy Young might make the passing game better. Eight starters return to a defense that should be better than 2006.


56.
Pitt   2006 Record: 6-6
Is Pitt finally going to turn the corner under Dave Wannstedt? The loss of QB Tyler Palko might mean the running game will carry the offense for a while, but the defense could be the downfall after the loss of LB H.B. Blades and CB Darrelle Revis. The defensive line will be the strength early on.


57.
Kansas   2006 Record: 6-6
Who's the starting quarterback going to be? It might be Kerry Meier, but he'll have to battle. Whoever it is will have more responsibility with RB Jon Cornish gone. CB
Aqib Talib leads a decent defense that'll have to be more consistent.

58.
Vanderbilt   2006 Record: 4-8
Can someone say 2006 Wake Forest? Fine, so the SEC is too good to let that happen, but junior-to-be QB Chris Nickson  and WR Earl Bennett will keep defensive coordinators up at night, while LB Jonathan Goff leads what should be an improved defense.


59. Mississippi State   2006 Record: 3-9
The record might not have showed it, but MSU played extremely well over the second half of the year with three losses by three points. The defense takes a big hit, but if QB Michael Henig can return healthy and effective, the offense should be far better. RB Anthony Dixon is a keeper.

60. Michigan State   2006 Record: 4-8
How quickly can Mark Dantonio turn the overall attitude around? Brian Hoyer takes over for Drew Stanton, but the offense should revolve early on around the running game and a veteran offensive line. The defense will certainly be stronger under the new coaching staff.

61.
Illinois   2006 Record: 2-10 
Ron Zook recruited well since he came to Champaign and threw many of the young talents into the fire. QB Juice Williams is one of the Big Ten's most exciting young talents with a good receiving corps to work with. The defense was far better than it got credit for, and it gets just about everyone back led by tackling machine LB J Leman.


62.
NC State   2006 Record: 3-9 
If nothing else, new head man Tom O'Brien will get the team playing more consistently. If QB Daniel Evans is as strong for the first 58 minutes as he is in the final two, the offense will roll. The backfield will be the focus of the attack until the passing game can be steady. The defense suffers huge losses in the back seven.


63. Ole Miss   2006 Record: 4-8
Ed Orgeron needs results and he needs them this year. With the exception of Patrick Willis, just about everyone returns with the secondary the one main concern losing three starters. Getting the quarterback situation settled between Brent Schaeffer and Seth Adams will be the key early.

64. Houston   2006 Record: 10-4
You don't replace a QB Kevin Kolb, but Blake Joseph will try. Home run hitting RB Anthony Alridge will get the ball in his hands more, while receivers Jeron Harvey and Donnie Avery should keep the passing game going. Seven starters return on defense led by LB Cody Lubojasky.

65. Navy   2006 Record: 9-4
Is this the year things finally slow down for the Midshipmen? Probably not with the entire backfield returning. The biggest offensive loss will likely be WR Jason Tomlinson. The problem? The defensive front seven loses six starters including tackling machines Rob Caldwell and Tyler Tidwell. Two defensive backs need to be replaced.

66. Northwestern   2006 Record: 4-8  
Is this the Big Ten's big sleeper? Year two under Pat Fitzgerald should be far better if the strides made at the end of 2006 carry over. Tyrell Sutton is one of the Big Ten's best backs, while QB C.J. Bacher now has experience and knows what he's doing. Ten starters return on defense.

67. Marshall   2006 Record: 5-7
RB Ahmad Bradshaw leaving early for the NFL at the last second hurt. Bernard Morris should now have the starting quarterback job all to himself with almost the entire receiving corps to work with. DE Albert McClellan should make several preseason All-America teams.

68. Connecticut   2006 Record: 4-8
After things fell off the map in 2006, Randy Edsall's club needs more production out its quarterbacks while the defense needs to find something that works. Eight starters return on D, but the tackles need to be replaced. Donald Brown is one of the Big East's top returning backs.

69.
North Carolina   2006 Record: 3-9 
Butch Davis won't make the Tar Heels an ACC powerhouse overnight, but he has plenty of players to work with on offense. QB Cam Sexton needs to shine right at away, while Barrington Edwards has to be a workhorse runner.  The defense, which didn't stop anyone last year, replaces a ton of experience.


70. Wyoming   2006 Record: 6-6
Sophomore QB Karsten Sween appears to be the franchise player the offense will build around. The offense needs the line to be more productive, but it'll have to do so with three new offensive linemen.

71.
Nevada   2006 Record: 8-5
QB Jeff Rowe might be gone, but RB Luke Lippincott should be in for a big year behind a decent offensive line. LB Ezra Butler leads a promising defense that should be strong against the run.


72. Tulsa   2006 Record: 8-5
New head coach Todd Graham was a good replacement for Steve Kragthorpe, but he'll have some work to do after losing seven offensive starters and several key defenders. QB Paul Smith needs to be a consistent, steady playmaker until everyone gets their feet wet.

73. Indiana   2006 Record: 5-7  
Kellen Lewis to James Hardy might be the Big Ten's most productive pass-catch combinations. The defense won't ever stop anyone and the offense needs several new linemen to step up into starting roles.

74.
New Mexico   2006 Record: 6-7  
If nothing else, the quarterback situation should be interesting with Kole McKamey returning and Donovan Porterie the future star. Everyone is back on defense except Quincy Black, while almost all the key parts, highlighted by RB Rodney Ferguson, return on offense.

75. Stanford   2006 Record: 1-11  
Step one for Jim Harbaugh will be to get the quarterback situation settled hoping Tavita Pritchard can be the main man. Step two will be to hope everyone can stay healthy. Offensive production has to be found right off the bat, while the defense has to find replacements for the starting safeties and top playmaking linebacker Michael Okwo.

76. San Jose State   2006 Record: 9-4 
Dick Tomey has worked wonders, and he should have his best team yet. LB Matt Castelo is a near-lock for All-WAC honors while the offense should be more productive with veteran QB Adam Tafralis and RB Yonus Davis.


77. Syracuse   2006 Record: 4-8
Greg Robinson's team needs some offense in a big way. The return of WR Taj Smith from a collarbone injury, and the expected emergence of Curtis Brinkley as a featured back, should help. The defense loses tackling machine Kelvin Smith, but has plenty of experience to build around.

78. Central Michigan   2006 Record: 9-4
CMU should still be the toast of the MAC even with head coach Brian Kelly off to Cincinnati. QB Dan LeFevour leads an explosive offense, while the defense should be solid even after losing top ends Dan Bazuin and Mike Ogle.

79. SMU   2006 Record: 6-6
QB Justin Willis is a franchise star to build the offense around, but he'll have to find some new targets to work with. RB DeMyron Martin will provide a nice balance working behind a veteran line. The defense takes the biggest hit on the line, but the linebacking corps should be solid.

80. Western Michigan   2006 Record: 8-5
The return of Tim Hiller from a knee injury should spark the offense, while the sophomore-filled defense of last year should be dominant at times despite the loss of Ameer Ismail.

81.
Fresno State   2006 Record: 4-8
2006 might have been a big fluke. The offense has the potential to be great if QB Tom Brandstater can live up to his potential, but the loss of RB Dwayne Wright takes away the team's safety net.


82. UTEP   2006 Record: 5-7
Without the pitch-catch combination of Jordan Palmer to Johnnie Lee Higgins to rely on, expect RB Marcus Thomas to carry the offense for a while. The defense is the real issue losing eight starter including the entire front line.

83. East Carolina   2006 Record: 7-6
The offense has to go on without QB James Pinkney, RB Brandon Fractious and top receiver Aundrae Allison, but the line returns intact. The defense has to start from almost scratch in the secondary, while the entire front seven returns. 

84.
Iowa State   2006 Record: 4-8  
A combination of a nasty schedule and disappointing performances meant the end of the Dan McCarney era. Gene Chizik has plenty of work to do needing to replace four starters on the offensive line along with a few top offensive weapons. On the plus side, if Chizik can work his magic, the defense should be far better with everyone returning in the back seven.


85.
Duke   2006 Record: 0-12
Really, the team wasn't that bad last year despite going winless. QB Thaddeus Lewis is a potentially dangerous playmaker leading an offense with everyone returning. The graduation of CB John Talley and linebackers Codey Lowe and Jeramy Edwards will hurt.


86.
Baylor   2006 Record: 4-8
2006 was supposed to be the year with QB Shawn Bell leading a strong passing attack. Now he's gone along with receivers Trent Shelton and Dominique Ziegler, while the defense has just enough big losses to expect another losing year.


87.
Colorado State   2006 Record: 4-8
Will the return of RB Kyle Bell from a knee injury make all the difference after a seven-game losing streak to end the year? The program's slide can quickly stop if the running game finally gets going and the defense improves just a bit.

88.  
Kent State   2006 Record: 6-6
So close to big things in 2006, the Golden Flashes should turn the corner this year with QB Julian Edelman leading a potentially dominant offense. They should be among the MAC contenders all year long.


89. Toledo   2006 Record: 5-7
The program has been too good to be down for long. The quarterback situation needs to be settled right off the bat, and the offensive line has to jell in a big hurry.

90. Northern Illinois   2006 Record: 7-6
Will this finally be the year the Huskies get their elusive MAC title under Joe Novak? Probably not. Expect a setback before the team roars back in 2008. The defense needs too much help, while there's no replacing Garrett Wolfe.

91.
UCF   2006 Record: 4-8
Will this be the surprise team in the league, like it was in 2005, or a supreme disappointment, like 2006? Probably somewhere in between with all the young talents from the 2005 team rounding out into experienced veterans. Now there has to be more pop to the offense.


92. Ohio   2006 Record: 9-5
Even with RB Kalvin McRae, the MAC title might be way out of reach. The entire linebacking corps needs to be replaced, while mega-holes need patching on the offensive line.

93. Rice   2006 Record: 7-6
It's one and done for head coach Todd Graham who jetted to Tulsa, but at least almost everyone comes back including WR Jarett Dillard. The defense loses just enough playmakers to take a big drop.

94. Ball State   2006 Record: 5-7
Nate Davis is one of the MAC's most exciting young quarterbacks, and he has weapons to work with. Now the defense has to prove it can slow someone down.

95. Akron   2006 Record: 5-7
A major disappointment in 2006, the Zips have to make too many replacement on offense to be back in the MAC title hunt. Losing defensive linemen Kiki Gonzalez and Jermaine Reid won't help.

96. Miami University   2006 Record: 2-10
One of 2006's biggest disasters, the chance is there for an immediate turnaround with almost everyone coming back. It's all up to the offensive line and the running game. If they're not night-and-day better, the season will be another failure.

97. Air Force   2006 Record: 4-8
It's the first year post-Fisher DeBerry with Troy Calhoun inheriting veteran QB Shaun Carney and most of the defensive back seven. The offensive line has to deal with some major personnel changes, but it always does at Air Force.

98. Memphis   2006 Record: 2-10
Was 2006 just a strange fluke? The offense should be better with ten starters returning including QB Martin Hankins and RB Joseph Doss. The defense that was so awful last year will at least be experienced with the entire defensive front seven returning. Three starters in the secondary need to be replaced.

99. San Diego State   2006 Record: 3-9  
Chuck Long's second year had better be a whole bunch better. He needs RB Lynell Hamilton to stay healthy for a full season, but Atiyyah Henderson is a nice backup. There's experience at the top spots, so there's no excuse to average just 14.17 points per game again.

100. UAB   2006 Record: 3-9     
This was a veteran team in 2006 that didn't do much of anything, and now new head coach Neil Callaway has a ton of work to do. The top runners are gone, as is injured QB Chris Williams and several starting offensive linemen. The defense has to start from near-scratch on the defensive line.

101. UNLV   2006 Record: 2-10 
Things can't be any worse than last year's disaster. The best defensive player, CB Eric Wright, left early for the NFL, and four starters need to be replaced on the offensive line, but QB Rocky Hinds has a year of experience and a good receiving corps to work with.

102. Tulane   2006 Record: 4-8 
New head coach Bob Toledo has to hope Scott Elliott can be a steady, consistent quarterback. The lack of dangerous offensive playmakers should keep things grounded for at least another year. The defense gets eight starters back and should be decent on the defensive front.
   
103. Bowling Green   2006 Record: 4-8
One of the hardest teams to rank, Bowling Green has a slew of exciting players to build around. If all the freshman and sophomores of last year start to play better than they did at the end of last year, put the Falcons at least 15 spots higher.

104. New Mexico State   2006 Record: 3-8
The defense might not stop anyone, but it might not have to. Chase Holbrook will give Colt Brennan a run for his money when it comes to stratospheric passing numbers. Chris Williams should be one of the nation's leading receivers.

105. Troy   2006 Record: 8-5
After shocking the bowl world with a dismantling of Rice in the New Orleans Bowl, the program is sky high. The offensive line will be the big problem early, but QB Omar Haugabook proved he can handle himself under pressure.

106.
Arkansas State   2006 Record: 6-6
This might be too low considering all the returning talent on offense, especially the backfield. The defensive line needs work.

107.
UL Lafayette   2006 Record: 6-6
The Ragin' Cajuns will run more than ever with Michael Desormeaux at quarterback and Sun Belt Player of the Year candidate Tyrell Fenroy the workhorse. They might be the preseason Sun Belt favorites.


108. Army   2006 Record: 3-9
Carson Williams got his feet wet last year, and now he has to live up to his immense potential and be the difference making quarterback the program hasn't had in years. Five starters are gone off the defense, while three starters need to be replaced on the offensive line.

109. Florida Atlantic   2006 Record: 5-7
The team played great over the second half of the season, and now it has experience coming back on offense.

110. Middle Tennessee   2006 Record: 7-6
Rick Stockstill's team should take a bit of a dip replacing several key offensive linemen, QB Clint Marks, and RB Eugene Gross from an offense that was hardly nasty to begin with. The defense should once again be great.

111.
Louisiana Tech   2006 Record: 3-10
The Derek Dooley era should start off slow, but there's a boatload of experience returning. The first order of business will be to get the defense back on track, while former Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo has to get Zac Champion and the offense to find some consistency.


112. UL Monroe   2006 Record: 4-8
Just about everyone returns on offense led by exciting QB Kinsmon Lancaster and star back Calvin Dawson. Closing out with a two-game winning streak should provide some momentum.

113. Idaho   2006 Record: 4-8
Robb Akey tries to pick up the pieces after Dennis Erickson bolted for Arizona State, and he has experience to work with. The strength is at running back, while QB Brian Nooy has to be strong right away replacing Steven Wichman.

114. North Texas   2006 Record: 3-9
If Todd Dodge brings over half the success he had as a high school head man, UNT will soon be solid. The running back tandem of Jamario Thomas and Evan Robertson need to be unleashed.

115.
Eastern Michigan   2006 Record: 1-11
There's still a long road ahead needing to settle the quarterback situation right off the bat while praying for all the returning talent on both sides of the ball to be enough to finally start winning some close games.


116. Buffalo   2006 Record: 2-10 
Turner Gill still has his work cut out for him, but the young team has time and pieces to build around to finally be more than just a MAC doormat. Step one will be to get the offense on track.

117.
Utah State   2006 Record: 1-11
Arguably the nation's worst team last year, the Aggies have to try to pick up the pieces with a veteran defense that has to prove it can slow someone down, and running back Marcus Cross leading an offense that finished near the bottom nationally in almost every major category.

118. Temple    2006 Record: 1-11
Baby steps, baby steps. This was a young group last year that took its lumps, but got a lot of experience. The team's one real offensive weapon, RB Tim Brown, is gone, but Adam DiMichele and Vaughn Charlton are promising quarterbacks to work around. Eight starters return on defense.

119. FIU   2006 Record: 0-12
Mario Cristobal takes over at a bad time needing to replace many of the key parts from the great defense while starting from scratch on offense.

2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings - No. 1 to 25