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CFN 2007 Pre-Preseason Rankings 26 to 119
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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