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2008 Spring Preview - Who's The New Missouri?
Clemson RBs James Davis & C.J. Spiller
Clemson RBs James Davis & C.J. Spiller
Posted Mar 3, 2008

Who's the new Missouri? Which five teams have the potential to go from good to elite? Clemson has been excellent under head coach Tommy Bowden, but now it has a chance to turn the corner and be sensational led by the running back tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

Spring Preview 2008

The 20 Big Questions - No. 12

By Pete Fiutak 

- The 2008 Big Spring Questions  
No. 20 - Top 40 Non-Conference Games
No. 16-19 - BCS Busters, Rule Changes & More
No. 15 - Ranking the Conferences
No. 14 - Who Could Be This Year's Kansas?
No. 13 - 5 Teams That Could Tumble

12. Five teams that could be this year's Missouri and go from good to special ...

- Clemson
Has any program generated as much buzz and done exactly squat over the last few years? Finally, this should be the season Tommy Bowden's team puts it all together with eight starters returning on both sides of the ball led by one of the nation's top backfields. QB Cullen Harper and RBs James Davis and C.J. Spiller should be fantastic, while the defense that finished ninth in the nation should be devastating. If the team really is as good as expected, a road slate against Wake Forest, Boston College, Florida State and Virginia, along with a date with Alabama in Atlanta, should be manageable.

- Texas Tech
Oh ... my ... goodness. The nation's No. 2 offense and No. 1 passing attack loses WR Danny Amendola. That's it. Everyone else, including
Biletnikoff Winner Michael Crabtree and QB Graham Harrell are back. Lost in all the fireworks was a defense that finished third in the Big 12 and 45th in the nation, and while there are a few significant losses, especially up front, but the holes should be patched by a few JUCO transfers. While road games at Texas A&M, Kansas and Oklahoma aren't going to be easy, Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma State have to come to Lubbock. The rest of the schedule is no big whoop.

Yeah, there are some big losses on both sides of the ball, but the cupboard is hardly bare for the new coaching staff. While Rick Neuheisel takes center stage, the key is Norm Chow, the former USC offensive coordinator who left for the Tennessee Titans and was in the running for the Bruin job. Chow has free reign over the offense, and he should do wonders with quarterbacks Ben Olson and Pat Cowan returning. The recruiting class is loaded with ready-made players, but there are already some excellent pieces in place to win right now. Four of the first five games are at home, and if the Bruins can beat Fresno State, likely the WAC's best team, Tennessee, and win at BYU, the tone will be set for a huge year. The problem? Pac 10 road dates at Oregon, Cal and Arizona State.

- Utah
One of the nation's hottest teams over the second half of the season comes back
loaded with the Mountain West's best offensive line, a fantastic backfield, with QB Brian Johnson and RB Darrell Mack returning, and the defense welcoming back three of the four starting defensive backs from the league's best pass defense. The defensive line and the receiving corps needs some work, but the team will be really, really good. Watch out for the August 30th game at Michigan. Utah's spread attack is much better than Appalachian State's.

- Wisconsin
All the Badgers have done is win 40 games in four years with four straight trips to Florida on New Year's Day, with a 2-2 record against the SEC, but they still don't get much in the way of respect. Maybe that's because they needed everything in the bag to get by lousy teams like UNLV, Citadel, Iowa and Minnesota and it's hard for any Big Ten team to get any national love. The team was battered by major injuries on both sides of the ball, and now it comes back loaded with a tremendous stable of running backs, a nice offensive line, and a no-name defense that'll be really, really good with LB Jonathan Casillas, FS Shane Carter and DE Matt Shaughnessy among the Big Ten's three best players. Easy schedules have never really mattered to Wisconsin, who always seems to play down to its competition, but this year's slate isn't bad if the team can get by a nasty early road trip to Fresno State. If you're going to play at Michigan, this is the year, while the other three road dates are at Iowa, Michigan State and Indiana. Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois have to come to Madison.