2010 Preseason Rankings - No. 81 to 90
San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley
San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley
Posted Aug 9, 2010

Preview 2010 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 81 to 90 ... Admittedly Underrated

Preview 2010 - Preseason Rankings

Likely Underrated - No. 81 to 90

2010 CFN Preseason Rankings
- 1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50 | 51 to 60
- 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120
- CFN Preseason Rankings 2009 | 2008 | 2007

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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 120

81. Ohio
- 2010 Ohio Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 8-4
Key to the Season:: Close wins. The Bobcats went 5-0 in the regular season in games decided by seven points or fewer, but lost the Little Caesars Bowl to Marshall by four. On the flip side, the Bobcats lost five games over the previous two seasons by a touchdown or less, and they didn't go bowling either season. In 2006, Ohio went 3-0 in the close battles and played for the MAC title. With an improved East, there won't be any margin for error in the nail-biters.
Relative Strength: Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weakness: Offensive Line, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The newcomers and the quarterback situation. The return of QB Boo Jackson from a shoulder injury gives the team a leader and a veteran who knows what he's doing, but Iowa State transfer Phillip Bates is big, fast, and very, very dangerous adding another element to the rushing mix. Bringing more talent to the running game is USC transfer Kenny Ashley, who has the cut-on-a-dime quickness and the ability to be a dangerous difference maker.
What to watch for on defense: The linebacker rotation around Noah Keller. The Bobcats have a possible MAC Defensive Player of the Year in Keller manning the middle, and there should be a good rotation of four players, Shannon Ballard, Alphonso Lewis, Eric Benjamin, and Chad Clemens, who are all built like safeties and all need to hold up. If two of them can fly around the ball and be disruptive, Keller will take care of the rest.
Fun Stat: Punt Returns: Ohio 43 for 437 yards – Opponents 18 for 236 yards

82. Louisiana Tech
- 2010 Louisiana Tech Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 7-5
Key to the Season:: A pass rush. The loss of D'Anthony Smith and Kwame Jordan from the line would normally be a major problem, but it's not like they crushed and killed their way into backfields on a regular basis last season. The Bulldogs were able to generate sacks from time to time, but they finished 111th in the nation in tackles for loss and didn't come up with enough big plays. The pressure will be on veteran end Matt Broha, along with the speedy linebackers, to be far more disruptive.
Relative Strength: Receiver, Secondary
Relative Weakness: Running Back, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: Air Raid. The Louisiana Tech offense that finished 91st in the nation in passing, and relied more on efficiency than yards, will now try to bomb away and spread out the field in the Texas Tech-like attack. The running game isn't going to be ignored, but Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will be trying to get the offense moving with quick hitting passes and be creating mismatches with their speedy receivers. It might take a while for everything to work, but there will be a game or two when the passing game blows up.
What to watch for on defense: The linebacking corps. Adrien Cole earned First Team All-WAC honors and led the team in tackles … and he might be a backup. With the emergence of super-soph Solomon Randle along with excellent outside options in Jay Dudley and Dusty Rust, the Bulldogs linebackers could turn out to be the team's biggest strength. Everyone has to do more against the pass, and it took way too long to produce against the run last year, but it's not a stretch to say that this group could end up carrying the defense, and the team, if it plays up to its potential.
Fun Stat: Interception return average: Louisiana Tech 23.6 yards (on 13 picks) – Opponents 2 (on 5 picks)

83. San Diego State
- 2010 San Diego State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 5-7
Key to the Season:: Turnover margin. SDSU simply isn't good enough to not own the turnover margin, and it showed last year. The Aztecs finished 111th in the nation, and last in the Mountain West, in turnover margin with 25 giveaways and just a mere four fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions. After coming up with three takeaways in the opening day loss to UCLA, the Aztecs picked off two passes or more in four games, and none in the other seven. In those four, SDSU won three of them and lost once in a tight battle with UNLV. In other words, over the last two years, SDSU is 0-14 when it doesn't come up with a pick.
Relative Strength: Receiver, Quarterback
Relative Weakness: Running Back, Special Teams
What to watch for on offense: The play of the offensive front. There's decent talent and plenty of experience to be far better. Tommie Draheim is a nice left tackle and Trask Iosefa is a solid veteran center, and now they have to lead the way to some semblance of a running game. The pass protection was excellent last season and it should be strong again with a nice scheme to go along with the good veterans. However, after getting in better shape and with a bit more athleticism, the line has to open up some holes for the speedy backs.
What to watch for on defense: The 3-3-5. The quirky defensive alignment has good athletes at linebacker and five big, veteran defensive backs who should be all over the field, but the play of the front three needs to be better. With three seniors back in B.J. Williams, Ernie Lawson, and Jacob Tauanuu for the ends, the line has veterans with time logged in to not make a slew of big mistakes, but they have to start doing something at a high level. With eight starters back overall, there's no reason the D can't start to be tighter and come up with a little more help for the offense.
Fun Stat: Rushing Yards: Opponents 2,598 – San Diego State 1,159

84. Tulsa
- 2010 Tulsa Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 6-6
Key to the Season:: QB G.J. Kinne gets time. The junior is a dynamic playmaker, with his arm and feet, but you didn't always know it a year ago. Too often, he was avoiding the rush and throwing while under duress. Give him the time he needs to run this offense and run through his progression, and he'll have a chance to be every bit as productive as predecessors David Johnson and Paul Smith, who won division titles.
Relative Strength: Special Teams, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Secondary, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The play of the line. Everyone else will be fine ... as long as these guys step it up and play markedly better than a year ago. Basically, if they give QB G.J. Kinne time to operate and distribute to his playmakers, the Hurricane has a chance to approach its production of 2007 and 2008. The good news is that last season's injuries up front forced a slew of linemen to letter unexpectedly. In fact, nine are back, including four starters, which has the program believing it can get past the disaster of 2009 and provide better support for the backs and receivers.
What to watch for on defense: The attacking to continue. Sure, the defense will get burned through the air on occasion, but that won't deter the staff from turning loose its linebackers and safeties in order to create havoc in opposing backfields. The Hurricane plans to play hard and fast, setting the tempo with its speed and intensity, and generating as many sacks and turnovers as possible. The program has recruited a specific type of athlete, who can cover ground quickly and perform the tasks of multiple positions. In Tulsa, the job descriptions can be rather extensive.
Fun Stat: Sacks: Opponents 46 - Tulsa 25

85. UCF
- 2010 UCF Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 8-5
Key to the Season:: More from the passing game. The running game will be fine even with Brynn Harvey overcoming a knee injury, but the passing attack has to be far better. Success this year boils down to a passing attack that has to be accountable, carry some of the weight, and keep defenses from ganging up on the running backs.
Relative Strength: Linebacker, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Quarterback, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The situation at quarterback. Brett Hodges gave the Knights their most consistency at quarterback since Daunte Culpepper was in Orlando. Unfortunately, he used his only year of eligibility. Although it's Rob Calabrese's job to lose, that's exactly what he'll do if he can't turn the corner in his junior year and begin playing with more consistency. Looking to narrow the obvious gap in experience will be true freshman Jeffrey Godfrey, who already too part in spring practice and has uncommon poise and confidence for such a young kid.
What to watch for on defense: Josh Linam. The coaching staff has been raving about his potential and preparation for the past two years, but there were no openings at middle linebacker. That's changed now that Corey Hogue has graduated. With Lawrence Young and Derrick Hallman manning the perimeter, Linam is poised to hit the ground running and pile up a bunch of stops from his spot on the field. He's one of those Conference USA players no one knows today, but could have 100 tackles by December.
Fun Stat: Punt return average: UCF 11.7 – Opponents 2.3

86. Hawaii
- 2010 Hawaii Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 6-7
Key to the Season:: Converting drives into points. The Warriors put up a ton of yards but struggled to punch it in and generate points. Hawaii finished dead last in the nation in red zone offense scoring a mere 61% of the time when getting inside the 20, scoring a pathetic 35-of-57 times. The team simply isn't good enough to not take advantage of every chance.
Relative Strength: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Running Back, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The receiving corps. It was an issue going into last year with the loss of Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne, and the Warriors simply reloaded with Greg Salas making 106 catches and with Kealoha Pilares and Rodney Bradley showing great upside, and with a slew of dangerous backups ready to rotate in. As long as QB Bryant Moniz gets time, the receivers will make the passing game even more lethal than it was last year.
What to watch for on defense: The secondary. While the stats weren't that bad, mainly because everyone ran the ball on the Hawaii defense, the Warrior secondary gave up too many big plays and allowed the chains to move too easily. This year the defensive backs might turn out to be the team's biggest strength (or second behind the receiving corps) with five regular starters returning and blazing speed among the backups. The combination of Mana Silva and Spencer Smith could be the most productive 1-2 safety punches in the WAC, while Lametrius Davis and Jeramy Bryant are solid senior corners.
Fun Stat: Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 15-of-21 (71%) – Hawaii 2-of-17 (12%)

87. SMU
- 2010 SMU Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 5-7
Key to the Season:: X
Relative Strength: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Running Back, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The evolution of Kyle Padron at quarterback. You can talk all you want about other needs, but if the passing game sneezes, the entire program catches a cold. While the sophomore was fantastic toward the end of his first season on campus, he still has just seven games of experience and no Emmanuel Sanders at his disposal on the outside. Amid all of the optimism and excitement concerning his coronation, the staff still wants to be sure that he takes the next step forward by getting a better grasp on the system and sharpening his reads and progressions.
What to watch for on defense: The young linebackers. Those close to Conference USA know Pete Fleps and Youri Yenga, the Mustangs' steady veterans at Buck and strongside, respectively. In all likelihood, they don't know second-year sophomores Taylor Reed or Ja'Gared Davis, but that's about to change. After playing well as rookies, both are set to explode into playmakers for the defense.
Fun Stat: Second quarter scoring: SMU 124 - Opponents 66

88. Middle Tennessee
- 2010 MTSU Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 9-3
Key to the Season:: Third down conversions. Time of possession is an occasionally meaningless stat (Cincinnati almost went to the BCS Championship and was last in the nation in time of possession and Oregon was 117th), but this really might make a difference for the Blue Raiders. This isn't a big defense, especially at tackle and linebacker, and since it relies on its athleticism and quickness, the last thing it needs is to be on the field. MTSU was 110th in the nation in time of possession holding on to the ball for just 27:30 per game, and that's on Dasher. As good as he was last season, he and the offense struggled at converting on third downs hitting on just 35.4% of their chances.
Relative Strength: Quarterback, Secondary
Relative Weakness: Receiver, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: More running from the backs. New offensive coordinator Mike Shultz isn't going to change up much from an attack that was so successful last season, but one of the goals will be to get the backs more involved after Dwight Dasher spent so much time running from his quarterback spot. The offensive line should be the best in the conference and Shultz wants to take advantage of that by using Tanner and D.D. Kyles to carry more of the workload. But don't look for Dasher to become Peyton Manning; he's going to be taking off, too.
What to watch for on defense: How fast will the linebackers adjust? Part of the reason the Blue Raiders were so successful was because of all-stars Danny Carmichael and Cam Robinson cleaning up everything the line didn't get to. The front four was able to take a few more chances and pin its ears back to get to the quarterback and behind the line because of the talent and smarts at linebacker, and Carmichael and Robinson did their share of playmaking, too. Antwan Davis is a talented veteran who'll be fine on the outside, but the spotlight will be on very athletic, but very young players like Justin Jones and Stephen Roberts to shine right away. It helps that defensive coordinator, Randall McCray, also handles the linebackers.
Fun Stat: Field goals: MTSU 18-of-22 – Opponents 15-of-24

89. Washington State
- 2010 Washington State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 3-9
Key to the Season:: Stay healthy. For the second straight year, Wazzu was crippled by the kinds of long-term injuries that tested an already shallow pool of talent on the roster. While everyone deals with losses at this level, it was almost unfair how frequently the Cougars were hit. They've tried to train their way in the offseason to fewer tears and sprains, hoping to break this vicious cycle that has some wondering if the program is operating under a curse.
Relative Strength: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Special Teams, Offensive Line
What to watch for on offense: Tuel time. Whenever Washington State has been successful in the past, it's had a prolific quarterback throwing darts. Think as far back as Jack Thompson or as recently as Ryan Leaf and Jason Gesser. Sophomore Jeff Tuel needs to gradually blossom into one of those types of distributors if the Cougs are going to even sniff mediocrity. Before being lost to a knee injury, he flashed loads of upside as a rookie, even carving up a veteran Cal defensive backfield for 354 yards and a pair of scoring strikes.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush. Non-existent a year ago, the Cougars had just 13 sacks in 12 games, a contributing factor to the demise of the pass defense. A bigger and stronger DE Travis Long will be even more effective than his debut, when he had a team-high 6.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Plus, he'll get more cover on the other side from 6-6, 259-pound Kevin Kooyman, who missed all but one game with a knee injury.
Fun Stat: First quarter scoring: Opponents 176 - Washington State 6

90. Kent State
- 2010 Kent State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 6-6
Key to the Season:: Scoring. The attack did some nice things last year with Keith upgrading the passing game and with a strong season from the offensive front in pass protection, but it was like pulling teeth to score. The offense only scored more than 30 points once, was never consistent, and almost never came up with a clutch score. Step one to improve the problem will be to convert on third downs after capitalizing just 29% of the time.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Special Teams
Relative Weakness: Defensive Line, Receiver
What to watch for on offense: The Pistol. The Nevada offense that ripped apart the WAC with a record-setting ground game should be perfect for the Kent State backfield. Spencer Keith isn't necessarily a running quarterback, and he's not Colin Kaepernick, but the speed of Eugene Jarvis, Jacquise Terry, and Dri Archer should mean an instant turnaround for a ground game that sputtered and coughed all last season. The passing game won't be forgotten with a top receiver in Tyshon Goode to stretch the field.
What to watch for on defense: Sacks. With a pass rushing terror in Monte Simmons and pressure generated from every spot, Kent State will take plenty of chances to screw up offenses. The D can't hold up by playing it straight, and it won't with everyone swarming to the ball and lots of flying around. It's a fun defense to watch.
Fun Stat: The biggest crowd Kent State played in front of was at Baylor. 27,047 was the announced attendance. The count at Eastern Michigan was 2,401.

2010 CFN Preseason Rankings
- 1 to 5 | 6 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40 | 41 to 50 | 51 to 60
- 61 to 70 | 71 to 80 | 81 to 90 | 91 to 100 | 101 to 110 | 111 to 120
- CFN Preseason Rankings 2009 | 2008 | 2007