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2008 Preseason Rankings - No. 40 to 49
Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky
Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky
Posted Aug 6, 2008

Preview 2008 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 40 to 49 ... Mid-Level Bowl Teams

Preview 2008 Preseason Rankings

The Mid-Level - No. 40 to No. 49

The teams good enough to finish in the middle of their respective leagues
(or the non-BCS teams good enough to battle the big boys)

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.

CFN 2008 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 | 80 to 89 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119

40. Alabama
- 2008 Alabama Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 
What to watch for on offense: The tight ends. Until the freshmen get their feet wet, the safety-valve tight ends will be the life-savers. Travis McCall might be more of a blocker than a receiver, but he'll catch more than the six passes he took home last year. Nick Walker is an NFL-caliber tight end who should be featured as a go-to target to keep the chains moving.
What to watch for on defense: The linebacking corps. The spotlight will be on as it's Rolando McClain and bunch of other guys. From Ezekial Knight's heart condition to Prince Hall's off-the-field issues to Jimmy Johns' big off-the-field issues, the linebacking corps has been gutted. True freshmen Jerrell Harris, Courtney Upshaw and Don'ta Hightower could play big early roles if Alex Watkins can't get the job done.

Relative Strengths: Offensive Line, Special Teams
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver (at least until the freshmen emerge), Linebacker

41. Purdue  
- 2008 Purdue Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart 
What to watch for on offense: The health of the line. There's good experience up front to protect Painter and pave the way for the solid running duo of Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets, but the isn't a lot of depth and no one appears to be healthy. All the main blocks the offense is counting on, Sean Sester, Zach Jones and Zach Reckman, among others, were hurting this off-season. Those three have to be full-season rocks.
What to watch for on defense: The outside linebackers. Anthony Heygood is a given on the strongside after a big year finishing as the team's second-leading tackler, but the excitement this off-season was around Jason Werner, a former safety who spent last year as a reserve as he continued to try to get over the back surgery that cost him all of 2006. Werner wasn't just good in spring ball; he appeared to be the team's best linebacker at times. These two need to wreak havoc on the outside.

Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Secondary

42. Nebraska
- 2008 Nebraska Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: More power running. Marlon Lucky is one of the nation's best all-around backs, and there's good speed and promise behind them. The line gets four good starters returning to go along with a little bit of depth, so while the passing game won't be abandoned, the offense will revolve around the ground attack. It'll have to with a mediocre receiving corps unlikely to scare anyone.
What to expect on defense:
A tackle. The defense didn't exactly give up as it was giving up 46 points per game over the final seven, but it wasn't exactly effective. The talent in the back seven is down compared to last year, but the coaching staff will make it more aggressive, lighter, and faster, while the line should be far more productive with all four starters returning and great depth.

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Secondary

43. Fresno State
- 2008 Fresno State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The emergence of QB Tom Brandstater as a big-time player. It's been a relatively slow maturation over the last three years, but with his size, arm, and experience, he should be ready to blow up and be an All-WAC star. He has the league's best line in front of him, a tremendous pair of backs to hand off to, and a speedy receiving corps to let him bomb away.
What to watch for on defense: The ends. The tackles aren't deep, but they're good. Now the ends need to come through. While the Bulldogs lose all-star Tyler Clutts, they have several good prospects to keep one of the league's best pass rushers going. Ikenna Ike was promising before getting hurt, Wilson Ramos is an athletic talent, and Kenny Borg and Chris Carter are quick.

Relative Strengths: Running Back, Offensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Linebacker, Defensive Line

44. Maryland 
- 2008 Maryland Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: More big plays out of the running game. Former Terps Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore were terrific while they were in College Park, but rarely broke free for long gains. That just wasn’t their strength. Their replacements, however, Da’Rel Scott and Morgan Green, both have the speed and burst to force revisions to the playbook. Scott, in particular, only needs a little room to be off to the races and into the secondary.
What to look for on defense
: Problems on the defensive line. Maryland has talent in the back seven, but it might not always look that way if the front four doesn’t pull its weight. Losing big bodies Dre Moore and Carlos Feliciano will be felt on a unit that was No. 10 in the ACC in run defense and No. 11 in sacks. Jeremy Navarre is the line’s best player, but at 6-3 and 270 pounds, his move from end to tackle could wind up negating some of his pass rushing ability.     

Relative Strengths: Wide Receiver, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Quarterback, Defensive Line

45. Georgia Tech
- 2008 Georgia Tech Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: Unpredictability. Yes, Johnson is installing an offense similar to the ones he ran at Navy and Georgia Southern, but it won’t be your father’s triple-option. The first-year coach promises a power-based playbook that’ll use elements of the wishbone, the I-formation, the veer, and the run-and-shoot. Basically, the coach wants to create as many one-on-one matchups as possible, opening up the field for the passing game as well as the running attack.
What to look for on defense
: Less blitzing. The cornerstone of the Tech defense for years under Tenuta won’t be scrapped, but it will be reduced. Under new coordinator Dave
Wommack, the ends will play wider, the back seven will sell out far less, and all of the linemen will be given more room to make plays. Translation?  Wommack recognizes the Jackets’ strength is in the trenches, and wants to capitalize on their abilities as much as possible.

Relative Strengths: Defensive Line, Running Back
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Quarterback

46. TCU
- 2008 TCU Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The line to make up for plenty of problems. The front five is loaded with veterans with four returning starters and a decent player in Preston Phillips ready to step in at left guard. There's a great mix of all-star talent, dependable all-around blockers, and decent depth. If the running backs are healthy, the ground game should be dominant.
What to watch for on defense: More of the same. After finishing 15th in the nation in total defense, the production should be fantastic again as long as the ends can crank out consistent production in the backfield. The back seven in the 4-2-5 alignment will be a brick wall. New Mexico likely has the league's best cornerback tandem, but Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders aren't far behind. It's possible LBs Jason Phillips and Robert Henson, along with SS Stephen Hodge, will all be first team all-stars.

Relative Strengths: Linebacker, Secondary
Relative Weaknesses:
Wide Receiver, Special Teams

47. Rutgers
- 2008 Rutgers Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The receivers. After relying so much on Ray Rice to carry the offense, now Rutgers could have both first team All-Big East receiving slots occupied by Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt. It’s not like the offense will stop running the ball, but the bread will now be buttered with the passing game. With these two targets to work with, there’s no reason to go with anything else in tight games.
What to watch for on defense: Pressure in the backfield. There might be a slew of problems stopping the run early on, and the linebacking corps might be a bit suspect, but there should be no issues when it comes to getting to the quarterback and making plays behind the line. Greg Schiano’s defenses are great at attacking, and even though this is a relatively young, inexperienced group overall, the dogs will be sent early and often to try and be disruptive. Jamaal Westerman has Big East Defensive Player of the Year potential.
Relative Strengths: Quarterback, Wide Receiver
Relative Weaknesses:
Special Teams, Running Back

48. Iowa 
- 2008 Iow
a Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to watch for on offense: The running back situation. The passing game will go from awful to explosive with the return of Andy Brodell, Trey Stross and Tony Moeaki, but the running game needs to provide some help with Albert Young and Damian Sims gone, and Jevon Pugh leaving. Paki O'Meara was the star of the spring, but he's not going to carry an offense, so it'll be up to JUCO transfer Nate Guillory and former Hawkeye, who later went the JUCO route, Shonn Greene to provide more help.
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. Mike Humpal, A.J. Edds, and Mike Klinkenborg finished 1-2-3 in tackling last season, and only Edds is back. Jacody Coleman, Jeff Tarpinian, Jeremiha Hunter, and Dezman Moses are all sophomores, they're all athletic, and they're all in desperate need of playing time. If this group doesn't produce, the run defense that allowed just 122 yards per game will be a problem.

Relative Strengths: Receivers, Defensive Line
Relative Weaknesses:
Running Back, Offensive Line

49. Texas A&M
- 2008 Texas A&M Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
What to look for on offense: Mike Goodson. Oh yeah, come hell or high water there's going to be a passing game, and it might involve a rotation of quarterbacks with Jerrod Johnson working with Stephen McGee, but the bread will still be buttered by the running game with 285-pound (and that's without eating lunch) Jorvorskie Lane moving to fullback to pave the way for Goodson. The underutilized star recruit of a few years ago, with blinding speed and next-level skills, will be the focal point of Sherman's attack. If he can stay healthy, the numbers should be fantastic.
What to look for on defense: No more Mr. Nice Guy. The days of the sit back and react defenses are over. Joe Kines is going for a leaner, meaner front seven, and the transformation has been made from a bigger, stronger, clunkier linebacking corps to a speedy, undersized group that's going to fly all over the place. The line will have problems unless a pass rusher decides to show up, but the scheme should make for more activity in the backfield.
Relative Strengths: Running Back, Quarterback
Relative Weaknesses:
Defensive Line, Linebacker

CFN 2008 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 | 80 to 89 | 90 to 99 | 100 to 109 | 110 to 119