2007 Preseason Rankings - No. 80 to 89

Posted Aug 3, 2007

Preview 2007 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 80 to 89 ... Admittedly Underrated

2007 Preseason Rankings

Admittedly Underrated - No. 80 to No. 89

No argument here if you think some of these teams should be 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.

CFN 2007 Preseason Rankings
1 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 29 | 30 to 39 | 40 to 49 | 50 to 59
60 to 69 | 70 to 79 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119

80. San Jose State 
- San Jose State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... Adam Tafralis went from being in a quarterback battle to start last season to becoming the steady leader of a strong team. There's explosion in the backfield with Yonus Davis leading a quick, experienced group of running backs. Defensively, head coach Dick Tomey has most of his guys in place to build on a shocking season. LB Matt Castelo and corners Dwight Lowery and Christopher Owens should be All-WAC stars.
The ranking is too high because ... the receiving corps has to undergo a total overhaul. Was Tafralis really that efficient, or was it his receiving corps that made him look so good? The defensive front has to do a better job in all areas, while the offensive line has to replace three starters and still find a way to improve the pass protection.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Special Teams
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Defensive Line

81. Houston

Houston Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the defending Conference USA champions get a world of experience back, and even some of the main replacements, like QB Blake Joseph in for Kevin Kolb, has experience. The receiving corps is explosive, Anthony Alridge is one of the nation's best home run hitting backs, and the linebacking corps will be among the best in the league.
The ranking is too high because ... Joseph isn't Kolb. Kolb was a special player who put together a brilliant four-year career as the leader and face of the program. You don't just replace a player like him. The secondary will be a question mark early on, and the special teams will likely be mediocre enough to cost the Cougars a shot at repeating.
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Secondary

82. Tulsa 

Tulsa Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... if Todd Graham could make Rice look like a real, live Conference USA player, then he should be able to work wonders with a Tulsa team good enough to challenge for the title. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who wasn't allowed to run his offense at Arkansas last year, should be great with QB Paul Smith in place to run his hurry-up, no-huddle, up-tempo attack. Defensively, Graham is the school's former defensive coordinator and is familiar with many of the players he helped bring to the school. Now that he's back, expect more turnovers.
The ranking is too high because ... there are big holes to fill. The receiving corps and offensive line are average at best, the defensive line isn't anything special, and the cornerbacks have to prove they can be left on an island with the front six being so aggressive. The real key to the season is the offensive line that will undergo some major personnel changes.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Offensive Line

83. SMU   
SMU Preview | Offense | Defense |
Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... of Justin Willis. The sophomore quarterback is one of Conference USA's more accurate passers with all the skill and talent to be the franchise player to carry the program to a big season. Helping out is a good, experienced offensive line that should pave the way to a nice season for the running game. The defense has a nice group of linebackers led by All-America candidate Reggie Carrington, and the special teams should be among the league's best.
The ranking is too high because ... the defensive line could be a problem early on after losing two stars in Justin Rogers and Adrian Haywood, and there won't be nearly enough of a pass rush early on. The secondary is just average enough to get picked apart by the better quarterbacks when they get a little time to work. Offensively, Willis will have to make his receivers look far better than they are.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Linebacker
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Defensive Line

84. New Mexico State
New Mexico State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the offense will be among the most productive in the nation. Last year, it was third in the country averaging 475 yards per game and 15th in scoring averaging 31 points per game. Now, all the key parts are back with nine returning starters including QB Chase Holbrook, WR Chris Williams, and four offensive linemen. This group will win games simply by outbombing most average teams.
The ranking is too high because ... the defense still won't be up to snuff. Eight starters might return, and there might be a move to being more aggressive and creating more turnovers, but there's no proven pass rush to rely on and there isn't a whole bunch of talent in the secondary. The offense might be tremendous, but there won't be any semblance of a running game to rely on. While that's sort of by design, if Chase Holbrook isn't on, of if he gets hurt, the machine will break down.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Running Back, Defensive Front Seven

85. Memphis
- Memphis Preview
| Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

The ranking is too low because ... the Tigers lost five games last season by a touchdown or less and now appear to be better with more experience on both sides of the ball and more potential for explosion on offense. Joseph Doss is a good back who should shine with improved play from the line. The defense was a nightmare, but now has a nice mix of talented new starters to blend in with the veterans.
The ranking is too high because ... the secondary has a long, long way to go before it's respectable. An overall lack of a pass rush didn't help matters, and now the team has to hope for a good rotation to quickly form to generate more production. Offensively, the offensive line should be better, but it has to prove itself first.
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses:
Offensive Line, Secondary

86. Northern Illinois
- Northern Illinois Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the offense will be more balanced and varied than last year when it was Garrett Wolfe, Garrett Wolfe, Garrett Wolfe. There are good running backs to step in and shine, while Dan Nicholson is a good enough passer to spread the ball around to Britt Davis and a good receiving corps. The defense is extremely athletic with the MAC's best pass rusher, Larry English, to lead the way.
The ranking is too high because ... the offensive line, the staple of the better NIU teams over the years, will need time to jell. It'll be one of the MAC's best lines in 2008, but it won't be all that great to start the season. The defense needs a huge turnaround year from the secondary that got roasted way too often. Yeah, the running backs will be good, but you don't get better by losing Garrett Wolfe.
Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Secondary

87. Bowling Green 
- Bowling Green Preview
| Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the running game should be terrific with mobile quarterbacks and a nice group of running backs working behind Kory Lichtensteiger and a strong line. The defense is full of quick, athletic players who make plays all over the field. The front seven should make plenty of stops behind the line and the secondary should be among the best in the MAC as the season goes on.
The ranking is too high because ... the defense might be quick, but it's small and should be pushed around by the better running teams. The offense doesn't have much in the way of passing ability and should be one-dimensional too much of the time, even though there will be an emphasis on getting more of a balance. There aren't any obvious deep threats who'll stretch the field.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Special Teams

88. Toledo 
- Toledo Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... the offensive line should be good enough to be a major factor against most MAC teams, and that should allow a good stable of running backs to shine. QB Aaron Opelt appears to be ready to make a major jump up in production, going from a promising, athletic rookie to a consistent, dangerous threat. The receiving corps might have been disappointing over the last few years, but it's very big, very fast, and very promising.
The ranking is too high because ... the defense got ripped apart by just about everyone last year, and while there's plenty of depth, there has to be more pressure and more production. The corners have to be night-and-day better for the Rockets to have any hope of challenging for the MAC title, much less getting through a tough early part of the schedule.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Special Teams
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Cornerback

89. Marshall 
Marshall Preview | Offense | Defense |
Depth Chart
The ranking is too low because ... things finally appear to be turning back around in the Mark Snyder era. The offense her talent at running back to work around, while QB Bernard Morris is experienced enough to be more consistent. Albert McClellan is one of the nation's premier pass rushers and a disruptive force who should be able to make everyone around him shine.
The ranking is too high because ... the defensive back seven is merely average and could have problems holding up considering the pressure put on them. Defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap will bring the house to generate more pressure and be aggressive, and the corners might suffer in a big way. Morris might be a veteran passer, but he has to prove he can produce.
Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Secondary


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