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2008 Spring Preview - Who's The New Kansas?
Iowa DL Mitch King
Iowa DL Mitch King
Posted Mar 2, 2008

Who's the new Kansas? Which five teams have the potential to go from out of a bowl to special in one year?

Spring Preview 2008

The 20 Big Questions - No. 14

By Pete Fiutak 

- 2008 Spring Questions
No. 20 - Top 40 Non-Conference Games
No. 16-19 - BCS Busters, Rule Changes & More
No. 15 - Ranking the Conferences

14. Five teams that could be this year's Kansas or Illinois (or non-bowl teams that could go from mediocre to big-time) ...

- Iowa
Put it this way, the Hawkeyes went 6-6 with an offense that lost almost all its top receivers, didn't get any production from the line, and was inconsistent in the backfield. The bloom is off Kirk Ferentz's rose, but he's done more with less than he has coming back. The veteran team should be far better on both sides of the ball, but the real reason for excitement is a schedule that misses Ohio State and Michigan and has Wisconsin and Penn State come to Iowa City.

- Kansas State
The program appeared to be building in Ron Prince's first year, and then it took a major step back last season once the defense went in the tank. The receiving corps needs work and QB Josh Freeman has to be better, and, of course, the defense has to rebound, but this could be just the type of under-the-radar team, with just enough on both sides of the ball, to pull off a monster upset or three to be in the North race. It doesn't hurt to have four of the first five games at home, and to finish up with Nebraska and Iowa State in Manhattan, but the middle of the slate is brutal.

- North Carolina
It seems like the Tar Heels have been "on the verge of really big things" for the last several years, but now it could really be true. Head coach Butch Davis has done a good enough job recruiting to upgrade the overall talent level in a big hurry, and now last years' way-too-young team full of not ready for primetime players might be ready some big ACC noise. Again, we've all heard this before from the hoops school, but the biggest games (Virginia Tech, Boston College, Georgia Tech) are in Chapel Hill, and yes, the team really is getting good.

- Notre Dame
Yes, that Notre Dame. Lost in the nightmare of 2007 was a defense that actually showed up for the first time in the Charlie Weis era. Weis turned over the offensive reins and will focus on the entire team, while the attack should be better with a load of veterans returning. Catching Michigan early in the season in South Bend is a huge plus, while facing five-non bowl teams in the first eight games should help.

- Pitt
It's time. There's just way too much talent to not have a productive year. Thanks to a few years of the Big East's best recruiting classes, the Panthers have the potential to finally turn the corner with four non-bowl teams to start out the year and with West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers coming to Heinz Field.