2008 Pre-Preseason Rankings - No. 26 to 50
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
Posted Jan 17, 2008

The very, very early look at the teams going into the off-season - No. 26 to 50


CFN 2008 Pre-Preseason Rankings

No. 26 to 50

- 2008 Top 25 | No. 51 to 75 | No. 76 to 100 | No. 101 to 119
- 2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings

26. Cincinnati  2007 Record: 10-3
Somewhat quietly, the Bearcats had a huge first year under Brian Kelly. If QB Ben Mauk gets a sixth year of eligibility, which he's expected to receive, the offense should once again be strong with a good receiving corps returning. However, there are just enough holes to fill on the O line to expect a slight step back overall, while the defense loses five starters including safeties Haruki Nakamura and Anthony Williams. Mike Mickens might be the Big East's best defensive back.

27. Connecticut  2007 Record: 9-4
The defense was amazing last year, and it should be again even with the loss of LB Danny Lansanah, DT Dan Davis and CB Tyvon Branch. The offense was wildly inconsistent, but at least it returns with a ton of experience with only one starter, OG Donald Thomas, needing to be replaced. The big key is the improvement of QB Tyler Lorenzen, but he has Andre Dixon and Andre Brown to hand off to.

28. Utah  2007 Record: 9-4
One of the nation's hottest teams over the second half of last season, it should come out roaring in 2008 with QB Brian Johnson and RB Darrell Mack two of the best offensive weapons no one has seen. Some hits are taken in the receiving corps, but the O line gets almost everyone back and the defense should eventually be better even with the loss of SS Steve Tate and LBs Joe Jiannoni and Malakai Mokofisi. PK/P Louie Sakoda will be one of the best all-around kickers in America.

29. Virginia
  2007 Record: 9-4
Can the Cavaliers win as many close games and can they get over the loss to Texas Tech in the Gator Bowl? RB Mikell Simpson is a special talent to build around, while QB Jameel Sewell is experienced. With Branden Albert taking off early, the interior of the O line is gone. Even with the loss of DE Chris Long, the defense has enough good pieces back to expect a strong year led by LB Jon Copper.

30. Rutgers  2007 Record: 8-5
If the rest of the offense can pick up the slack for the early departure of RB Ray Rice, this should be one of the favorites for the Big East title. The O line loses tackles Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah, along with OG Mike Fladell, but QB Mike Teel is back along with receivers Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt. The defense should be fantastic even with the departure of DT Eric Foster and SS Ron Girault. The graduation of PK Jeremy Ito is tough.

31. South Florida  2007 Record: 9-4 
A breakout season is now marred by the blowout loss to Oregon in the Sun Bowl and the story of LB Ben Moffitt not doing any of his own schoolwork. The return of QB Matt Grothe should help turn things back around on the field, and he has a loaded offense to work with losing just one starter, OT Walt Walker. The defense loses Moffitt, star CBs Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams, and two D linemen, but DE George Selvie is back along with five other starters.

32. Michigan State  2007 Record: 7-6
Expectations will be sky-high after a solid first year under Mark Dantonio, but most of the stars are gone. RB Javon Ringer and QB Brian Hoyer return, but WR Devin Thomas took off early along with a chunk of the O line. TE Kellen Davis, RB Jahuu Caulcrick, and DE Jonal Saint-Dic are done.

33. Texas A&M  2007 Record: 7-6
Mike Sherman inherits one of the nation's best running backfields with QB Stephen McGee and RBs Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson back, but the O line has to undergo a major overhaul. Can Lane slim down a bit like Sherman wants him to? Six starters are gone off the defense, including three linemen, but the secondary should be a strength.

34. Pitt  2007 Record: 5-7
The team was totally average and underachieved, but it's now one of the hot programs going into the off-season thanks to the win over West Virginia to screw up Mountaineer national title hopes. LeSean McCoy is one of the nation's best young running backs, but he loses his main man to run behind, top tackle Jeff Otah, early to the NFL. The quarterback derby this spring between Pat Bostick and Kevan Smith will be worth watching to run an attack with just about everyone coming back. Big-hitting LB Scott McKillop leads a solid defense that needs to replace the ends and CB Kennard Cox.

35. Arizona State  2007 Record: 10-3  
The Sun Devil offense gets QB Rudy Carpenter back, along with RBs Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance, and most of the top receivers return. Now the offensive line has to keep Carpenter from becoming a tackling dummy for a second straight year, and that could be a problem with three starters gone. The defense takes a big hit in the secondary, but the line should be strong.

36. Oklahoma State  2007 Record: 7-6
Will all the explosion and all the talent mean the team will finally be consistent? Probably not, but the T. Boone Cowboys should still light up the scoreboard with QB Zac Robinson orchestrating a great group of skill players. WR Adarius Bowman and RB Dantrell Savage might be gone, but the overall production will still be there. The defense has some huge holes to fill up front, but six starters return to the back seven. P Matt Fodge is a weapon.

37. UCLA  2007 Record: 6-7
The Rick Neuheisel 2008 Passion Bucket tour should get off to a rousing start if he can get his quarterback situation under control. Can he count on Pat Cowan or Ben Olson? Is a running back ready to step up? Who will the number one receiving target be? Losing three starters off the offensive line won't help, but the biggest problem will be in the secondary losing Trey Brown, Chris Horton, Dennis Keyes and Rodney Van. You don't get better by losing Bruce Davis and Kevin Brown off the line.

38. Iowa  2007 Record: 6-6  
Will the ugly way 2007 ended be a jump-start to a bounce-back 2008? If the team stays healthy, maybe, with QB Jake Christensen experienced now and with his receiving corps, which was decimated last year, knowing what it's doing. Finding a steady runner will be priority one to work behind a veteran O line. Mitch King and Matt Kroul might be the Big Ten's best tackle tandem.

39. Mississippi State  2007 Record: 8-5 
The expectations are set higher now, and they should be. The defense should be fantastic again if Titus Brown and Avery Hannibal can be replaced on the ends. The offense, as always, is the issue, but QB Wesley Carroll and RB Anthony Dixon are fantastic pieces to build around.

40. California  2007 Record: 7-6  
The underachieving Bears of 2007 will take another step back without a wide receiver or running back. QBs Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore should wage an interesting battle for the starting job, while the defense needs to replace a slew of key parts. The return of C Alex Mack is a huge boost for what would've been a depleted line.

41. Colorado  2007 Record:  6-7
It's year three under Dan Hawkins; there aren't any excuses. Two key offensive linemen, OT Tyler Polumbus and OG Edwin Harrison, along with RB Hugh Charles, are gone, but that's it off the offense, while the defense should be better with eight starters returning. However, the three losses, LB Jordon Dizon, DE Alonzo Barrett and CB Terrence Wheatley, are huge. As QB Cody Hawkins goes, so goes the Buffs.

42. Arkansas  2007 Record: 8-5
Bobby Petrino will need time to get the personnel in place to add more of a passing element to the attack. Not having Darren McFadden or Felix Jones around isn't a plus, but Michael Smith, even at just 5-7 and 174 pounds, should grow into the No. 1 role behind a decent offensive line that has to replace the right side. The defense should be fine up front with work to do in the secondary. The big overall question will be at quarterback, where Casey Dick has to start doing more.

43. Miami  2007 Record: 5-7
Is Jacory Harris ready to roll right away? The superstar recruit, and several other true freshmen from a loaded haul, might be thrown to the wolves with Robert Marve the only returning quarterback on scholarship thanks to Kirby Freeman bailing. As expected, DE Calais Campbell and S Kenny Phillips bolted early, but there are enough good pieces returning to hope for a stronger year from the D. The offense has a strong backfield, but everything else has to undergo an overhaul. Expect plenty of true freshmen from a great recruiting class to see time.

44. Oregon State  2007 Record: 9-4  
The quarterback situation needs to be settled between either Lyle Moevao or Sean Canfield right away, and a running back has to emerge, but a strong offensive line should make things easier. The defense will be the issue losing all the starters from the defensive front seven and SS Daniel Drayton. The kicking game has to find a few players to take over for Alexis Serna.

45. Notre Dame
  2007 Record: 3-9
Was last year a mega-step back to take a giant leap forward? A slew of true freshmen, including QB Jimmy Clausen, got their feet wet, and now they have to shine. The offensive line has been miserable over the last two years, and for good and bad, everyone is back. Losing TE John Carlson, the offense's best player last year, isn't a plus, but ten starters are back along with RBs Armando Allen and James Aldridge. The defense was better than it got credit for, and now it needs a little retooling with the loss of SS Tom Zbikowski, LB Joe Brockington and DE Trevor Laws. On the plus side, CB Terrail Lambert LB Maurice Crum get a 5th year.

46. Fresno State  2007 Record: 9-4 
This should finally, finally be the year Pat Hill's team is the class of the WAC with Boise State likely to take a step back and Hawaii to take a huge tumble. The Bulldogs are loaded on offense with QB Tom Brandstater ready to take the next step up and grow into a NFL prospect.

47. Florida State  2007 Record: 7-6 
Who's going to be welcomed back in the mix after the cheating fiasco? With Xavier Lee giving up and trying to move on to the NFL, the offense is all Drew Weatherford's to run. WR Greg Carr and RB Antone Smith are two of the ACC's most talented skill players, while RB Preston Parker should make more of an impact. The right side of the O line has to be replaced and bombing PK Gary Cismesia is gone, along with DT Andre Fluellen and LB Geno Hayes, but the defense gets back eight starters including S Myron Rolle and LB Derek Nicholson.

48. Nebraska  2007 Record: 5-7
Bo Pelini's first task is to whip the defense into shape. The starting linebacking corps is gone, along with starting DBs Cortney Grixby and Tierre Green, but everyone else is back along with a ton of depth. The offense wasn't a problem, outside of being inconsistent, and now it should be interesting with QB Joe Ganz, RB Marlon Lucky, and three starters on the O line providing hope.

49. Georgia Tech  2007 Record: 7-6
Paul Johnson finally has D-I talent to work with, but can he have the same success he had at Navy? Massive departures on defense, especially in the back seven, will be a problem, but the offense should be better if Taylor Bennett can prove he can be a living, breathing passer. Jamaal Evans and Jonathan Dwyer are good backs who should replace the lost production of Tashard Choice. The graduation of PK Travis Bell and P Durant Brooks is a killer.

50. Kentucky  2007 Record: 8-5  
Can Rich Brooks keep the machine running without QB Andre Woodson, RB Rafael Little, WR Keenan Burton and TE Jacob Tamme? On the plus side, the defense only loses three starters and the offensive line gets three starters back. While the frontline stars aren't there, the overall depth is deep.

- 2008 Top 25 | No. 51 to 75 | No. 76 to 100 | No. 101 to 119
- 2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings