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2010 Preseason Rankings - No. 51 to 60
UCLA LB Akeem Ayers
UCLA LB Akeem Ayers
Posted Aug 9, 2010

Preview 2010 CFN Preseason Rankings No. 51 to 60 ... Should Go Bowling

Preview 2010 - Preseason Rankings

Likely Bowling - No. 51 to 60

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

51. UCLA
- 2010 UCLA Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 6-6
Key to the Season:: More touchdowns and fewer field goals. There wasn’t a single program in the FBS worse than the Bruins at turning red zone trips into six points. In fact, of its 37 excursions deep into enemy territory, UCLA scored just 13 touchdowns, a paltry 35% success rate. The difference between a pulsating win and a heartbreaking loss this fall could come down to improved efficiency in the red zone.
Relative Strength: Linebacker, Secondary
Relative Weakness: Offensive Line, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: Kevin Prince: The Sequel. The Bruins need far more consistent play from the quarterbacks, especially with the running game misfiring and the defense expected to suffer a decline. Prince had his share of ups and downs as a rookie, yet also showed hints of being the kind of strong-armed scrambler that the rest of the offense can rally around. If he fails to bloom up to his potential, coordinator Norm Chow will be forced to consider sophomore Richard Brehaut, another highly-touted UCLA recruit.
What to watch for on defense: The sophomore cornerbacks. UCLA is set at safety with the returns of All-American Rahim Moore and starter Tony Dye. Corner is going to be a lot more perilous this fall, particularly with the graduation of all-star Alterraun Verner. The Bruins will lean heavily on a pair of sophomores, Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price, who’re are hoping to reach rather high ceilings as soon as possible. Hester was actually the starter before getting hurt in the opener and, ironically, replaced by Price for the balance of the season.
Fun Stat: Of its 37 red zone trips, UCLA scored just 13 touchdowns, ranking last among the 120 FBS schools

52. Oklahoma State
- 2010 UCLA Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 6-6
Key to the Season:: More from the receivers. Hubert Anyiam had an all-star year as the No. 1 target after Dez Bryant was suspended for the year early on, but there wasn’t the same pop to a passing game that finished 99th in the nation. Everything was supposed to work around Bryant, but this year the big, fast corps should be ready to handle the load better with several good players like Josh Cooper and Justin Blackmon to join Anyiam to make the passing game go.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Defensive Line
Relative Weakness: Secondary, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: The maturation of the offensive line. OSU has had some terrific skill players over the last several years, but the key the last few seasons has been the offensive front. The attack might not have been as stellar as expected last year, but Russell Okung and a group of veterans formed one of the nation’s best front fives, and it would’ve received a whole bunch more attention in 2008 if Oklahoma’s O line wasn’t so special. This year, talented freshmen Parker Graham and Brandon Webb need time to grow into roles and push the projected starters while the rest of the line, led by three juniors, a sophomore, and just one senior, has to come together right away to make the skill guys look good.
What to watch for on defense: The secondary. There’s a world of speed and upside at all four spots in the defensive backfield, and everyone is young and hungry. Sophomores Andrae May, Brodrick Brown, and Malcolm Murray and redshirt freshman LeRon Furr form the nucleus for a secondary that should eventually be terrific on the corners, while veteran Markell Martin and junior Johnny Thomas have the potential to be one of the Big 12’s most productive safety tandems. OSU has never been a rock against good passing teams, but the faster this year’s secondary matures and produces, the less pressure on the rest of the D.
Fun Stat: Opponent 1st quarter scoring: 30 – Opponent 2nd quarter scoring: 104

53. Northwestern
- 2010 Northwestern Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 7-5
Key to the Season:: Keeping teams to under 31 points. Duh, most teams aren’t going to do too well when they allow a ton of points, but last year, Northwestern went 8-1 when allowing 31 points or fewer and 0-4 when allowing 32 or more. In 2008, the Cats gave up 30 points or more three times and lost all three.
Relative Strength: Linebacker, Defensive Line
Relative Weakness: Running Back, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: More from the running game. The offensive line was bad, the running backs were injured and lousy, and the offense became too reliant on the passing of Mike Kafka. This year, the big, veteran line should get more chances to blast away and be more physical, and the rushing production should follow with five very quick, relatively small backs to work in a rotation, and with a quarterback in Dan Persa who’ll run more than Kafka did. There should be a better balance to the attack.
What to watch for on defense: A terrific year from the front seven. Star end Corey Wootton is off to the Chicago Bears, but he was still trying to find his way back from a knee injury last year. Junior Kevin Watt could be far more productive than Wootton was last year now that he has the full-time job, while Vince Browne is a dangerous end on the other side. The linebacking corps has the potential to be among the best in the Big Ten with several good options and two potential all-stars in Quentin Davie and Nate Williams. This isn’t going to be a rock of a run defense against the better power running teams, but the front seven will be all over the place and should spend plenty of time in opposing backfields.
Fun Stat: Northwestern 2nd quarter scoring: 143 – Northwestern 3rd quarter scoring: 59

54. Arizona State
- 2010 Arizona State Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 5-7
Key to the Season:: Being better in close games. Arizona State was 4-8 last season, yet they actually outscored opponents 268-253. The problem was that the Sun Devils routinely got off to slow starts and didn’t have the offensive firepower to claw all the way back. In fact, six of their losses were by no more than 11 points and four were by five points or fewer. Had even two of those nail-biters gone in its direction, the program would have been bowl-eligible.
Relative Strength: Offensive Line, Running Back
Relative Weakness: Secondary, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The quarterback competition. Comparatively speaking, nothing else will seem to matter quite the same in August. Hulking sophomore Brock Osweiler and Michigan transfer Steven Threet are the primary combatants, though neither was able to pull away in the spring. The raw talent and strong arms are there, but now one of them needs to put it all together and do his part to help turn around an impotent attack that ranked 102nd and 67th in passing efficiency over the last two seasons, respectively.
What to watch for on defense: The perimeter pass rush. Oh, Arizona State will get plenty of push from the interior, but it also needs to generate pressure from the defensive ends. While Dexter Davis didn’t get to the quarterback nearly as often as the staff would have like, he did draw plenty of attention from opposing blockers. If the secondary is going to remain stingy, it’ll need more help up front from the likes of James Brooks, Greg Smith, and Jamaar Jarrett, who are all in the hunt for a starting job.
Fun Stat: Red zone touchdowns: Arizona State 55% – Opponents 43%

55. Wake Forest
- 2010 Wake Forest Preview | Offense | Defense Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 5-7
Key to the Season:: The offensive line has to be better. This group has been sub par for the past couple of seasons, a trend that must be stopped if the Demon Deacons are to take a positive step. Getting a push from the inside shouldn’t be a major problem, with C Russell Nenon and guards Joe Looney and Gabe Irby. At tackle, however, Wake might be holding its breath, as rookie Steven Chase and Doug Weaver take over on the left and right side, respectively.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Quarterback, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: Ground Grobe. Jim Grobe plans to harken back to his days as an assistant at the Air Force, leveraging his talent and employing a healthy dose of the triple-option. Now that Riley Skinner has graduated, the Deacons are heavy on athletic, improvisational quarterbacks, so the shift in approach couldn’t come at a better time. The top two quarterbacks coming out of spring, Skylar Jones and Brendan Cross, will make things happen with their feet, and the top two backs, Josh Adams and Brandon Pendergrass, have feature potential. In other words, this year’s opponent better be prepared to slow down the run.
What to watch for on defense: The new interior linemen. Gone are John Russell and Boo Robinson, a pair of stalwarts in Winston-Salem. In their place will be Ramon Booi and Frank Souza, underclassmen with just one letter between them. Now, both players have considerable upside and could be all-stars before their through at Wake Forest. However, for a unit pointing to the run defense as a must-solve area, it’s incumbent upon Booi and Souza to move up the timetable for reaching their potential and plugging the gaps in the first line of defense.
Fun Stat: Extra Point attempts: Wake Forest 100% (40-40) - Opponents 100% (37-37)

56. BYU
- 2010 BYU Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 9-3
Key to the Season:: Holding teams under 30 points. For all the firepower and all the offensive skill Mendenhall’s teams have had, it’s the defense that has dictated the success. BYU has lost 15 games since Bronco Mendenhall took over, and it allowed 30 points or more in 12 of them. Mendenhall has gone 4-12 when his teams have allowed at least 30 points, and have gone 41-3 when allowing fewer.
Relative Strength: Offensive Line, Secondary
Relative Weakness: Running Back, Linebacker
What to watch for on offense: Jake Heaps. BYU has been a factory for quarterback talent over the last three-plus decades, and while it’s way, way, way too early to put Heaps in the rare air of Jim McMahon, Steve Young, and Ty Detmer, at the very least the super-recruit, who many considered the nation’s No. 1 quarterback prospect, and possibly the nation’s top prospect, has the talent to be the program’s best quarterback in a long, long time. Heaps isn’t being handed the job, with three other good prospects in place including former Utah State Aggie, Riley Nelson, but if the hype is for real, BYU has a franchise player who can take the program to another level.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rushing in the 3-4. The line is expected to get into the backfield on a regular basis, but the two new starting ends, Matt Putnam and former star tight end recruit, Vic So’oto, have to prove they can produce. The linebackers are fast and athletic, but three starters have to be replaced and they’re going to be asked to make plays behind the line, too. The defense was great against the run last year, and now the front seven has to dominate once again.
Fun Stat: 2nd Quarter Score: BYU 161 – Opponents 64

57. Houston
- 2010 Houston Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 9-3
Key to the Season:: More stops. Houston was 97th nationally in third down conversion defense, which essentially meant too many long drives and too many gassed Cougars. The faster the O gets the ball to the offense, the quicker Houston can put its opponent out of reach.
Relative Strength: Quarterback, Receiver
Relative Weakness: Secondary, Defensive Line
What to watch for on offense: The offensive line. While the Cougars are well above the curve at quarterback, running back, and receiver, the line is cause for some hand-wringing. The situation really became unsettling when RT Jarve Dean, a second team all-star, was dismissed before the spring. Although three starters are back, filling the void at tackle will either require some shuffling or a redshirt freshman to be thrust into the spotlight. Either way, Houston is going to be precariously thin and vulnerable against opponents with talented defensive lines.
What to watch for on defense: An alignment shift. The hiring of Brian Stewart away from the Philadelphia Eagles also ushered in a shift from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Considering the program’s inability to amass gobs of talent up front, it makes sense. Stewart will be playing to the personnel he inherits, leveraging the speed and general lack of size on this side of the ball. The key will be finding an adequate nose tackle to man the middle of the line. Tyrone Campbell has been here longer, but transfer Matangi Tonga could end up having a breakthrough year in his only season of eligibility.
Fun Stat: Touchdown passes: Houston 47 – Opponents 15

58. Kansas
- 2010 Kansas Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 5-7
Key to the Season:: The O line. Five starters are back with Trevor Marrongelli a new starter at right guard. Now the line has to be better after allowing 32 sacks last season and paving the way for just 1,345 yards of rushing offense.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weakness: Offensive Line, Secondary
What to watch for on offense: The backfield. Is it going to be Kale Pick or Jordan Webb at quarterback? Will Toben Opurum, the team’s most talented running back, be able to beat out Angus Quigley and Deshaun Sands for playing time? With all five starters returning up front and a good receiving corps, considering the loss of Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe to the NFL, the young backfield has to be a plus. With underclassmen at all the key places, except for Quigley, a senior, this will be the area to watch over the next few seasons. If offensive coordinator Chuck Long can get everyone to play like veterans right away, KU’s offensive production won’t drop off that much, if at all.
What to watch for on defense: The move back to a 4-3. KU played a 4-2-5 for most of last year, and despite a lack of superstars ended up coming up with a decent statistical year, even if it didn’t show up on the scoreboard. The linebacking corps should be sneaky-good as long as Drew Dudley doesn’t have any shoulder problems in the middle. The front line is solid and there should be a steady stream into opposing backfields with the change in alignment likely to mean more production.
Fun Stat: Points allowed in the first five wins: 90 – Points allowed in the final two losses: 92

59. Maryland
- 2010 Maryland Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 6-6
Key to the Season:: Winning closer games. The Terps were just 2-10 last season, but they were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter in seven of the losses. With a third down conversion here and a defensive stop there, maybe Maryland doesn’t author one of its worst seasons in school history. This program won’t blow anyway out, save for maybe Morgan State, meaning late-game execution is especially critical for overall success.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weakness: Offensive Line, Secondary

What to watch for on offense: The introduction of the option. No, Maryland won’t be doing an impression of one of the service academies, but it will look to leverage the athleticism of likely starting QB Jamarr Robinson. When the Terps were peaking under Ralph Friedgen, they used Shaun Hill as a multi-dimensional threat from behind center. Robinson has similar traits, possessing a strong arm and the quickness to do a lot of damage outside the pocket. As a backup last season, he third on the team in rushing, beating Virginia Tech and Florida State for 187 yards in consecutive weeks.
What to watch for on defense: The linebackers. There won’t be a ton of reasons to monitor Maryland this season. On offense, WR Torrey Smith and RB Da’Rel Scott can be real exciting. And on defense, the Terps have cobbled together one of the most underrated collections of linebackers in the nation. Most fans outside of ACC country wouldn’t be able to pick Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, or Demetrius Hartsfield out of a lineup, but all three are playmakers, with the potential to keep playing on Sundays once they’re through in College Park.
Fun Stat: Maryland’s 6.4 yards per reception were third lowest in the ACC, ahead of only Virginia and North Carolina

60. Illinois
- 2010 Illinois Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record:: 5-7
Key to the Season:: Takeaways. Illinois tied Florida Atlantic, Tulane, and UNLV for the honor of picking off the fewest passes in America. The Illini came up with five interceptions a year after taking away just six. The D forced 11 fumbles, which was fine, but that didn’t make up for the other problems. With little pass rush and few tackles for loss (the Illini finished last in the Big Ten in both categories), the hope has to be for the Bandit to be the difference.
Relative Strength: Running Back, Linebacker
Relative Weakness: Secondary, Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: Nathan Scheelhaase. Going into last year, Illinois had a four-year starter in Juice Williams, who appeared to be ready to come up with a monster senior season with a loaded receiving corps to work with, and a promising star-in-waiting in Jacob Charest, a top recruit with next-level passing skills. Williams stunk, Charest transferred, and longtime backup Eddie McGee moved to wide receiver permanently. Part of the reason for Charest bolting and McGee’s full-time switch was the emergence of Scheelhaase, an extremely promising redshirt freshman with 6-3, 195-pound size, Juice-like running ability, and an accurate arm. The rest of the offense should be just good enough to shine if Scheelhaase turns out to be more than just average.
What to watch for on defense: The Bandit. Vic Koenning likes to employ a hybrid in the front seven that combines the pass rushing ability of an end and the range of an outside linebacker so his defense can flex in between a modified 3-4 and 4-3. It’s the glamour position in the defense with the potential to create big play after big play and pile up tons of stats. 6-6, 225-pound Michael Buchanan will get the first crack at the job and the pressure will be on to be a disruptive force.
Fun Stat: Attendance for Illinois State (the home opener), 62,347 - Attendance for Fresno State (the season finale), 48,358

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