2009 Pre-Preseason Rankings - No. 26 to 50

Posted Jan 27, 2009

Which teams will likely be just outside of the preseason top 25, but strong enough to be in their respective conference races? Check out the very, very early look at the teams going into the off-season with the CFN Pre-Preseason ranking from No. 26 to 50.

CFN 2009 Pre-Preseason Rankings

No. 26 to 50

- 2009 No. 1 to 10 | No. 11 to 25
No. 51 to 75 | No. 76 to 100 | No. 101 to 120
- 2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings
- 2008 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings

Most of these teams will be in the top 25 at some point this year, and almost all will go into the season thinking about winning the respective conference titles. There's something just missing from each team to be considered among the elite. The ranking is based on how good the team should be in 2009, while the Final CFN Season Ranking is based on how good a season the team had in 2008.

Teams that should be better than last year, teams that should be worse, team that should be about the same.

26. Kansas  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 39
KU missed the big boys from the South in 2007 and didn’t play a tough non-conference game, and it went to the Orange Bowl. The schedule got much, much nastier last year and the Jayhawks went to the Insight. This year’s team should be right in the hunt for the North title all year long with QB Todd Reesing leading a loaded offense that will be fantastic if replacements can be found for the interior of the line. The points are going to have to come in bunches with the phenomenal linebacking corps needing to be replaced. The secondary returns intact.

27. Michigan State  2008 Record: 9-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 28
The team was more than Javon Ringer last season, and it’ll come through this year as LB Greg Jones leads a loaded defense that loses SS Otis Wiley and DT Justin Kershaw, but should be fantastic. The young receiving corps of last year should be far better, but it’ll all come down to the backfield as Kirk Cousins will get the first look this spring as the new starting quarterback, with Oklahoma transfer Keith Nichol as the No. 1A. There are a good slew of backs ready to replace Ringer, led by A.J. Jimmerson.  

28. Auburn
  2008 Record: 5-7   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 81
The Gene Chizik hiring might have been a bit bizarre, but he came up with two great hires in former Tulsa offensive coordinator, Gus Malzahn, and former Minnesota defensive coordinator, and Duke head man, Ted Roof. The new coordinator moves should make the Tigers instantly better, even if Chizik needs to prove himself. Seven starters are back on offense, including QB Kodi Burns, who has to show he can throw despite the loss of receivers Rodgeriqus Smith and Robert Dunn. Sen’Derrick Marks is gone off the defensive line, but nine other starters return to what should be among the SEC’s best defenses.

29. Boston College  2008 Record: 9-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 25
After a bizarre parting of ways with head coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who led the Eagles to two straight ACC title games, and losses, Boston College will go with Frank Spaziani to try to keep the success going. Can the offense be better? Can QB Dominique Davis be better? Will there be more of a running game? All-star LB Mark Herzlich is back to lead a good back seven, and the ends will be fine, but there’s no replacing the nation’s best tackle tandem of B.J. Raji and Ron Brace.

30. Texas Tech  2008 Record: 11-2   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 9 
And so the rebuilding begins. Mike Leach is still in Lubbock, but Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, and three offensive linemen are gone. Taylor Potts will get the first look as the new star of the passing show, but Crabtree will be impossible to replace. Even with the loss of DE Brandon Williams a year early to the NFL, along with the graduation of both safeties, the defense shouldn’t be all that bad.

31. Iowa  2008 Record: 9-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 19
Just how much of last year was Shonn Greene, the great defensive tackles, and the right all around mix? Greene is gone, along with the defensive inside tandem of Mitch King and Matt Kroul, but the offensive line should be fantastic and the defense gets back almost all the playmakers in the defensive back seven. QB Ricky Stanzi should be a steady factor, instead of just along for the ride.

32. Florida State  2008 Record: 9-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 20
The potential is there for the Noles to be in for a special team, with a little bit of luck. Pushing for an ACC title is a must considering all the starters are back on a young offensive line, while QB Christian Ponder should be far better with a year of experience. The defense will have some problems with stars like DE Everette Brown and LB Derek Nicholson gone, while the loss of kicker/punter Graham Gano will be felt.

33. Cincinnati  2008 Record: 11-3   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 21
The Bearcats keep winning and winning and winning. If they could go to the Orange Bowl last year with a variety of key injuries, then getting past a few personnel issues this season shouldn’t be a problem … maybe. QB Tony Pike is back along with seven other offensive starters including receivers Mardy Gilyard and Marcus Barnett. Oh yeah … the defense. One starter returns. One. SS Aaron Webster. To make matters worse, star P Kevin Huber is gone.

34. Missouri  2008 Record: 10-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 16
Now we get to see if the program has staying power or if the last two seasons were just an aberration. The Chases, QB Daniel and TE Coffman, were all-timers who won’t easily be replaced, and it’s not every day when an explosive first round talent like Jeremy Maclin hangs around Columbia. While S William Moore was a disappointment, he was one of the decent parts of the miserable pass defense and is now gone. LB Sean Weatherspoon is an All-American, and he’ll have to play like it with three starters gone, including DT Ziggy Hood and DE Stryker Sulak, off the front four.

35. Houston  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 41
It’ll be a shock if Houston doesn’t have one of the top five statistical offenses in the nation. Eight starters are back, led by QB Case Keenum, the 2008 national leader in total offense, from an attack that finished second in the nation in passing (behind Texas Tech) and second in total offense (behind Tulsa). And then there’s the defense, a nightmare last year, it loses all four starters up front including pass rushing star, Phillip Hunt.

36. Wisconsin  2008 Record: 7-6   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 60  
This was supposed to be a BCS caliber team last year and it was a tremendous disappointment. Few will be expecting much after last year, but the pieces are there to be a sleeper in the Big Ten race with RBs John Clay and Zach Brown working behind a good line, and QB Dustin Sherer with a year of experience. The secondary should be the strength of a defense that’ll be better than it appears considering all the losses on the front seven.

37. Southern Miss  2008 Record: 7-6   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 51
The team that was so red hot to end the year, winning the last five games, including a 21-3 domination over eventual Conference USA champion, East Carolina, comes back loaded. Led by RB Damion Fletcher, eight starters are back on an offense that got better and better. The defense loses heart-and-soul LB Gerald McRath, but gets back eight starters from the league’s No. 2 scoring defense.

38. Arizona State  2008 Record: 5-7   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 87
One of the nation’s most disappointing teams last year, ASU still had a shot to go bowling had it beaten Arizona in the regular season finale. QB Rudy Carpenter is gone, but Danny Sullivan should be ready to hit the ground running. In all, the offense gets back seven starters and has good replacements for the missing producers. Defensively, seven starters are back from a ball-hawking group that should be even better after a strong season. PK Thomas Weber is one of the nation’s best.

39. Notre Dame  2008 Record: 7-6   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 67  
The thrill of the blowout win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl temporarily glossed over the disappointing season, but it also set the expectations high for this boom-or-bust year for Charlie Weis. The offense should start to fly, with two years of experience under Jimmy Clausen’s belt and the receiving tandem of Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. Eight offensive starters return, but only five starters are back on defense with FS David Bruton and LB Maurice Crum gone. 2009 is when the Weis recruiting classes need to finally come through big-time.

40. Arkansas  2008 Record: 5-7   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 72 
2008 was all about the transition from the Houston Nutt running attack to the Bobby Petrino passing game, and now the real fun should begin. One-time star recruit, and former Michigan Wolverine, Ryan Mallett, wasn’t able to play last year, but that only gives him another year of eligibility. The young defense that took its lumps throughout last year will still be young, but it should be loaded thanks to nine returning starters.

41. Illinois  2008 Record: 5-7   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 69  
The market corrected itself a bit on Illinois last year. The team really wasn’t Rose Bowl-worthy in 2007, and it was far better than the 5-7 record might have indicated, and now it’s time for everything to even out. QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn should form one of the nation’s best pitch-catch combinations, while RB Daniel Dufrene turned out to be a not-that-bad replacement for Rashard Mendenhall. There’s work to be done on the offensive line, while the defense suffers some huge losses with LB Brit Miller, CB Vontae Davis, and three other key starters are gone.

42. NC State  2008 Record:  6-7   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 54
Can the Wolfpack get off to a decent start so it doesn’t have to scramble at the end just to get bowl eligible? Russell Wilson is one of the ACC’s stars to get excited about, but RB Andre Brown won’t be around to help carry the offense. The lines will be a major plus, while the defense that was so great at ball-hawking over the final few games of last year gets many of the top playmakers back.

43. Kentucky  2008 Record: 7-6   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 57
In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Kentucky wasn’t all that bad with a winning season and a bowl win over East Carolina. Now the expectations are high with nine offensive starters returning, not including do-it-all star, Randall Cobb. On the other side, the defense got a pleasant surprise with the return of all-star corner Trevard Lindley. Five starters are back, but the defense will need a bit of help with the loss of DE Myron Pryor and DE Ventrell Jenkins.

44. Minnesota  2008 Record: 7-6   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 71
Now the program has to start to really roll. Despite last year’s disastrous second half, big strides were made throughout the season. Out of the dome, Minnesota is in a new stadium and with a new attitude. QB Adam Weber and WR Eric Decker will form a dangerous combination, but it’ll be the defense, even without defensive coordinator Ted Roof, who took off to Auburn, that should make the biggest improvement with nine returning starters.
45. Rutgers
  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 38
The team didn’t start playing well until the passing game turned around, and now all the key parts are gone including QB Mike Teel. Kordell Young and the running game will have to carry things early on, working behind a strong line with all five players returning. There are some big losses on defense, like S Courtney Greene and DE Jamaal Westerman, but things aren’t all that bad.

46. South Carolina  2008 Record: 7-6   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 61 
Steve Spurrier has recruited well, and he has had a little bit of success, but he hasn’t been able to make South Carolina a consistent power. It won’t happen this year, either, with several strong starters gone, but there are some great players returning including three starters on the defensive front and LB Eric Norwood. Stephen Garcia is expected to be the new star quarterback, but he’ll need seasoning.

47. Arizona  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 37 
Mike Stoops finally got the program over the hump and to a bowl game, but it’ll be tough to build on the success. Long time starting QB Willie Tuitama is gone, and now it’ll likely be up to untested prospect Matt Scott to take over. Losing WR Mike Thomas hurts, but star TE Rob Gronkowski is special. With top tackle Eben Britton gone early to the NFL, the Wildcats have to replace three starters up front, while the defense loses LB Ronnie Palmer and four other starters. Even with all the key losses, there are some stars to rely on, specifically the running back tandem of Keola Antolin and Nic Grigsby, and punter Keenyn Crier.

48. Oregon State  2008 Record: 9-4   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 23
RB Jacquizz Rodgers will be back and will be one of the stars of the Pac 10, but the Beavers lose 20 seniors including tremendous defensive linemen Victor Butler and Pernell Booth. Lyle Moevao is back at quarterback and the leader of the offense, but he’ll have to be more decisive and even sharper with patching needing to be done on the line.

49. BYU  2008 Record: 10-3   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 33
The Cougars need to prove once again that they can be considered among the elite of the non-BCS conference teams. They were supposed to be Utah, but melted down against the top teams. QB Max Hall has to carry the attack that loses star WR Austin Collie and almost everyone on the line. DE Jan Jorgensen leads a veteran defense that should be among the best in the Mountain West.

50. South Florida  2008 Record: 8-5   2008 Final CFN Season Rank: 44
The USF defense is always strong and is always good at coming up with replacements. That’ll be put to the test again this year in a few key spots. The big loss is LB Tyrone McKenzie, but in a surprise move, DE George Selvie came back for his senior season. QB Matt Grothe returns to run the offense, but four starters are gone off the line and several key playmakers will need to be replaced.

- 2009 No. 51 to 75 | No. 76 to 100 | No. 101 to 120
- 2007 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings
- 2008 CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings