Re-Ranking All 124 College Football Teams One Week Before Kickoff

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IAugust 22, 2012

Re-Ranking All 124 College Football Teams One Week Before Kickoff

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    The anticipation is mounting, as the official start of the college football season is merely a week away.

    The preseason rankings have been released, and it is looking like the SEC will be as strong as ever.

    Will somebody finally dethrone the mighty conference this year?

    While the preseason rankings list the top 25 teams in the country, we have decided to take it a little further and rank all teams from 1-124.

    Here they are.

124. Texas-San Antonio

1 of 124

    Texas-San Antonio is one of four teams joining the FBS this year, and they have a head coach everybody has heard of in former Miami man Larry Coker.

    They finished 4-6 last season and will likely not be able to reach that number in 2012. South Alabama to start the season will be a winnable game for the Roadrunners.

123. South Alabama

2 of 124

    The previously-mentioned South Alabama Jaguars are next on the list. They are also new to the FBS level and have had some success in the previous two seasons.

    In 2012, the competition will step up drastically, however, and the Jaguars will have trouble winning more than a few games.

122. Akron

3 of 124

    Akron only won one game last season, but it welcomes Terry Bowden as their new head coach. It will, however, take some time for him to get this program back on track.

    The Zips have only won two games over the past two seasons and have a few winnable games on the schedule with the likes of Morgan State and Massachusetts (who joins the MAC in 2012) on the schedule.

121. Texas State

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    Texas State is the third of four teams on the list joining the FBS. They have some talent, but nowhere near enough to compete in the WAC.

    Even though the WAC is not strong, don't expect any more than two wins from this team. They do take on Texas-San Antonio and New Mexico State at the end of the season. Those seem like the only two winnable games on the slate.

120. Massachusetts

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    Massachusetts is certainly a bigger name than a lot of the other schools who are completely new to the FBS, but they are not going to be much better.

    The Minutemen are joining the MAC, so the competition will be a little stiffer than what the other new FBS teams will face.

    Either way, a win or two will be all that is expected.

119. New Mexico

6 of 124

    New Mexico is another very bad team with a coach that most fans have heard of. Bob Davie takes over a squad that has gone 1-11 in each of the past three seasons and has a long way to go.

    They have a very favorable schedule, which should allow them to win at least two games this season, but it is hard to tell with this team.

118. New Mexico State

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    Sticking in the same state, the New Mexico State Aggies are another football team that has been a poor representative the state of New Mexico in recent years.

    They did win four games last season, but they hardly bring anybody back from that team. Do not expect them to duplicate that this year.

117. Tulane

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    Tulane has had some decent football teams over the years, but they only won two games last year. It is not looking very promising for 2012.

    They had one of the worst defenses in the country last season. Winning any more than two or three games in 2012 would be a surprise.

116. Buffalo

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    Buffalo, like a lot of other teams on the list, has been bad for quite some time and has only averaged about two wins in conference play over the past decade.

    Head coach Jeff Quinn has started to build something back up, and Buffalo is more talented than any team on the list so far. The schedule is not favorable for them though. 

115. UAB

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    UAB has grown into a bottom feeder in Conference USA along with the likes of Tulane. They have not done anything in the past seven seasons and have only averaged about four wins a year during that time.

    Playing in Conference USA means the schedule is a little tougher, but UAB is showing no signs of improvement heading into 2012.

114. Florida Atlantic

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    Carl Pelini steps in to take over this program, and the Florida Atlantic Owls could use a little help.

    They were formidable in 2007 and 2008, going to bowl games in both seasons, but they have fallen on some hard times in recent years, capped off with a 1-11 season in 2011.

    Pelini might be able to turn things around, particularly with some talent coming back, but more than three wins would be miraculous.

113. North Texas

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    North Texas got used to qualifying for bowl games just a few years back, but sadly that is no longer the case.

    The Mean Green have a defense that will have trouble stopping just about anybody. Throw in a non-conference slate that features Kansas State, Houston and LSU, and there is not much hope for this squad.

112. Middle Tennessee State

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    This is another team that has not been too bad, but has recently fallen on some hard times. The Blue Raiders went 2-10 last season and may be slightly better in 2012.

    That "slightly" should equal about three wins. More than half their starters are coming back, but that is not always a good thing. Either way, a few wins are a possibility.

111. San Jose State

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    San Jose State does have a few players who are talented enough to play at a big-time program, but after that, things get a little rough.

    They have a weak middle portion of their schedule, and there is a chance three or four wins are possible for the Spartans.

110. Rice

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    Conference USA does have some top-level teams that can compete with nearly anybody in the country. Sadly, Rice is not one of them.

    The Owls went 4-8 a year ago, but they play a grueling schedule from start to finish, at least according to their standards. This should not allow for any more wins than last season, especially with only 10 starters returning.

109. UNLV

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    There was a time when UNLV was relevant when it came to college sports. That is no longer the case, as they have only won four games over the past two seasons. 

    A little bit of an improvement will be likely, but more than three or four wins would be a stretch for this depleted team.

108. Memphis

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    The Memphis Tigers have been abysmal over the past three seasons, going 5-31 during that stretch. They are another of the terrible teams Conference USA has to offer.

    With new head coach Justin Fuente in the mix, the Tigers are going to improve. It will only be a matter of time before that happens, but don't expect it in 2012.

107. Idaho

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    Idaho has never been a football powerhouse, and they play in perhaps the most atrocious stadium in college football history.

    With that being said, they did go to a bowl game after the 2009 season, but they fell to 2-10 last season. The schedule is not favorable, as only 10 starters return.

106. Central Michigan

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    Even though the Chippewas return nearly all of their starters from a year ago, that does not change the fact that they have only won six games over the past two seasons.

    There are some very favorable games on the schedule, which might lead to a four-win season for the Chippewas if the returning talent can continue to develop.

105. Troy

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    Troy has had success on the football field in recent years, but that was not the case in 2011 after they struggled to a 3-9 season.

    Their non-conference schedule is brutal, so they will have to get their wins in league play.

    Look for a similar season in 2012.

104. Louisiana-Monroe

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    Louisiana-Monroe is one of the many tiny schools in the state of Louisiana that are not very formidable.

    They lost nearly half of their starters from a team that struggled in many aspects last season. The schedule at the beginning is nothing short of grueling, as Auburn, Arkansas and Baylor come calling at the beginning of the year.

103. Colorado State

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    The Colorado State Rams finished last season 3-9. Despite returning a bulk of their starters, it's unlikely there will be much of an improvement in 2012.

    They have only posted nine wins total in the past three seasons, and they appear to be on a downward spiral. It might be a while before they return to a bowl game.

102. Bowling Green

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    Since the departure of Urban Meyer, the Bowling Green football program has not had much to say. They have struggled under head coach Dave Clawson in each of his three seasons. 

    There is some talent coming back, and the competition in the MAC makes four wins a strong possibility.

101. Utah State

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    Utah State was competitive in a lot of its games last season, but the Aggies did not win some that they should have. Still, they managed to go 7-6 in the WAC.

    The schedule will be a little tougher this year, and the talent is not quite there, meaning there may only be four or five wins in order.

100. Kent State

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    Kent State has not been to a bowl game in 40 years, and that won't change this year.

    They were winners of five games a year ago, and they bring back most of their starters. Any more than five wins, however, would be a big surprise.

99. Wyoming

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    Wyoming was very successful last season, finishing the year 8-5, but they lost a ton from that squad.

    The Cowboys will be relevant, but there is not much of a chance that they come anywhere close to the eight wins they had a season ago.

    Just look at what Temple did to them in the bowl game as a sign of things to come.

98. Ball State

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    Ball State was improved last year (6-6), and this season they might have the talent to repeat that performance, but the schedule is brutal.

    Out of conference, they will take on Army, Clemson, Indiana and South Florida. There is no question that those will be very challenging matchups.

    Either way, five wins wouldn't be a bad season.

97. UTEP

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    When it comes to defenses, this is another team in Conference USA that just is lacking in that department.

    The Miners did win five games last season, but unless they can improve on a weak defense, they will not sniff a winning season in 2012.

96. Eastern Michigan

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    Eastern Michigan is another team that has been on a long bowl drought. Theirs has lasted 25 years, to be exact.

    They will be looking to break that streak this season. They almost came through last year, going 6-6, but don't be fooled; this team is not talented enough to finish near the top of the league.

95. Indiana

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    Indiana was as bad as it got last season as far as BCS schools are concerned. They won one game, and head coach Kevin Wilson did not get off on the right foot in his first season.

    The Hoosiers will likely be better this season, but more than a couple of wins would be asking too much of this squad.

94. Miami (Ohio)

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    The Miami Redhawks are very talented at the quarterback position with Zac Dysert. He is one of the best the MAC has to offer.

    Other than that, they leave a lot to be desired. They won four games last year and should be just as good in 2012, but they have a tough non-conference schedule featuring games against Ohio State, Boise State and Cincinnati.

93. Boston College

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    Boston College has plummeted in recent years, and this year they may have their worst squad of them all.

    The Eagles dismissed Montel Harris from the team and now will be looking for a running back, among other positions. Head coach Frank Spaziani might even be on his way out before the season is over.

92. Western Kentucky

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    Last season was a big deal for Western Kentucky as they went 7-5, though they did not qualify for a bowl game.

    They bring back 16 starters but lose Bobby Rainey, who might have been the best player in school history.

    Good luck with the schedule as well, as games against Alabama, Kentucky, Southern Miss and Arkansas State clog the beginning of the season.

91. Oregon State

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    Oregon State has dropped off the face of the earth in recent years, and there is a chance head coach Mike Riley will be on his way out.

    The Beavers only won three games last season, and the schedule does not look too favorable this year. They play Wisconsin and BYU out of conference, not to mention the difficult Pac-12 slate.

90. Minnesota

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    Minnesota has slowly made a plummet to the bottom of the B1G. If not for Indiana, the Golden Gophers would be the worst team in the league.

    The Gophers have a talented quarterback in MarQueis Gray, but there is not much around him. They have only totaled six wins over the past two seasons, and three more this year sounds about right.

89. Army

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    When it comes to the independents, Army was the worst of the bunch last season. It finished the year 3-9 and is not looking much more promising in 2012.

    The Black Knights take on plenty of BCS schools, but they will not be able to pose a huge threat against any of them. Still, four wins is a likely number for Army.

88. Kansas

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    Charlie Weis takes over a dismal Kansas program that was only able to win two games last season.

    The Jayhawks went 0-9 in the Big 12 and may be able to win a game or two in the league this year with quarterback transfer Dayne Crist's help.

    Either way, three or four wins is all that can be expected.

87. Hawai'i

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    Hawai'i is certainly on the right track with Norm Chow leading the team. The Warriors managed to win five games last season, and it may take a while, but they will improve in the coming years.

    There have been some talented offenses representing Hawai'i over the past decade. They will get back to that point sooner or later.

86. Temple

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    Temple was very successful last season as a member of the MAC. The Owls finished the year 8-5 with a bowl victory.

    This year, things will get a little tougher in the Big East. While Temple will be competitive, a finish near the bottom of the conference is likely, particularly with running back Bernard Pierce having moved on to the NFL.

85. Ole Miss

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    Ole Miss was awful last season—one of the worst SEC teams in recent memory. The Rebels only managed to win two games all year, going 0-8 in conference play.

    They will be better in 2012 with former Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze running the show. A solid recruiting class will also help them in the future.

84. Navy

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    Navy is another independent that struggled last season, winning only five games. The Midshipmen may be similar in talent in 2012, so another five-win season could be in the works.

    Who knows, they may be able to upset Notre Dame in Dublin the first weekend of the season to get the year started off right.

83. Marshall

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    Marshall had a very successful 2011 season, going 7-6 with a bowl victory over Florida International.

    There are some cellar dwellers in Conference USA for the Thundering Herd to feast on, but there's enough talent at the top of the league that they will win only a handful of games once again.

82. Connecticut

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    Connecticut was at the bottom of the Big East last season. With Temple joining the league, the Huskies will likely have company near the bottom.

    They finished last year 5-7 and have a talented running back in Lyle McCombs. He shined as a freshman last year. Five more wins in 2012 will be hard to come by though.

81. San Diego State

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    San Diego State had a solid 8-5 showing last season, but it will be hard to duplicate that in 2012.

    The Aztecs lost about half of their starters and have a few challenging games on the schedule, but another bowl season is still a strong possibility.

80. Kentucky

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    Kentucky has consistently been near the bottom of the SEC for what seems like an eternity. This year will likely be no different, as the competition is just too tough to imagine the Wildcats putting together a winning season.

    Head coach Joker Phillips is on the hot seat. If he can't orchestrate a winning season, he may be on his way out.

79. Maryland

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    Randy Edsall and Maryland were awful in his first season running the program in 2011. The Terps only won two games last year.

    Edsall will get the program headed in the right direction in the coming years, but it may take some time. Still, they should be able to at least double their wins from last season.

78. Western Michigan

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    Western Michigan won seven games last season and has enough talent to finish in the middle of the MAC.

    The non-conference schedule is not too challenging, so a six- or seven-win season and possibly another bowl game is not out of the question.

    Quarterback Alex Carder is one of the best in the conference.

77. Duke

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    This may be a year that Duke shows a little bit of improvement. The Blue Devils will likely battle with Maryland at the bottom of the conference.

    They have a few talented players, and head coach David Cutcliffe certainly has them headed in the right direction. Who knows if they will ever get over the hump and make a bowl game though.

76. East Carolina

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    Despite returning 15 starters from last year's team, East Carolina will have to learn to live without star quarterback Dominique Davis.

    The Pirates still have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, similar to a lot of other teams in Conference USA.

    If they can improve on defense, a winning season may be in their future.

75. Air Force

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    There is no team in the country with less experience coming back than the Air Force Falcons. They went to the Military Bowl last season and will benefit from a very easy schedule.

    The talent will be a lot to replace, but another bowl season is still a strong possibility.

74. Arizona

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    Arizona is probably headed in the right direction with Rich Rodriguez now running the show, but it might take some time to build up enough talent to contend in the Pac-12.

    The schedule is grueling, and the Wildcats lost half of their starters from a team that only won four games last season and finished at the bottom of the conference.

73. Fresno State

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    Fresno State has a stud quarterback in Derek Carr and will be much improved from a team that struggled to a 4-9 season in 2011.

    The Bulldogs are a team to look out for as they continue to adjust to life after head coach Pat Hill.

72. Colorado

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    It took Colorado a little bit of time to adjust to life in the Pac-12 last season, and it only finished the year 3-10 in 2011. 

    The Buffaloes will likely be improved this season, and they have a good shot to win each of their first four games of the season.

71. Syracuse

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    Syracuse has a chance to finish in the middle of the pack as far as the Big East is concerned. It only finished 1-6 in conference play a year ago and 5-7 overall.

    The Orange return senior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who has a chance to be one of the better signal-callers in the Big East.

70. Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Louisiana-Lafayette was a nine-game winner last season, but it played in a weak Sun Belt conference that only featured three teams with winning records.

    This year, the Ragin' Cajuns have a few difficult non-conference games against the likes of Oklahoma State and Florida (both on the road).

    Six or seven wins seems more likely in 2012 for the Ragin' Cajuns.

69. Penn State

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    It is still hard to tell how Penn State will fare this year with everything that has happened in recent months.

    With everybody back, the Nittany Lions still would have been formidable, but with how much they lost, there is no doubt that they will be near the bottom of the B1G by the end of the season.

    Losing Silas Redd to USC was a big blow.

68. Washington State

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    Washington State is another Pac-12 team with a new head coach in Mike Leach.

    Leach will certainly bring a winning attitude, but it will definitely take some time to turn around a team that has struggled in recent years.

    Still, the Cougars appear to be headed in the right direction.

67. Tulsa

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    Like many of the other teams in Conference USA, the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes will need to improve on their defense if they have any hopes of finishing above the middle of the conference. 

    The schedule is not too difficult, but non-conference games against Arkansas and Iowa State will be huge challenges.

66. Pittsburgh

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    Pittsburgh cannot seem to hold on to a head coach, and it will need to keep Paul Chryst around to achieve sustained success. 

    If running back Ray Graham can come back healthy and Tino Sunseri has a spectacular season, the Panthers could be a sleeper in the Big East.

    Odds are they will finish in the middle of the league in 2012.

65. Northwestern

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    Northwestern has been steadily improving in recent years, and there is no question that head coach Pat Fitzgerald is doing what he can with the program.

    The Wildcats qualified for a bowl game last season, and even though quarterback Dan Persa is gone, Kain Colter will take over a position he is accustomed to. This team should have a season comparable to that of 2011.

64. Arizona State

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    New Arizona State head coach Todd Graham inherits a program with a little more talent than his counterparts in the Pac-12.

    The Sun Devils have a very challenging schedule, and it may take a year or two before they put together a winning season.

63. Wake Forest

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    Wake Forest was one of the country's surprise teams last season, winning six games en route to a bowl appearance.

    The Demon Deacons only return 11 starters, so doing more than they did last season does not seem like an easy task.

    Still, six wins is not out of the question.

62. Iowa State

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    Iowa State was another team that was a bit of a surprise last season, winning six games on its way to a bowl appearance.

    This year, the Big 12 will be so tough that it is hard to imagine the Cyclones getting back to a bowl game.

    There is plenty of talent for the the program, however, and it appears to be headed in the right direction.

61. UCLA

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    Jim Mora Jr. is yet another of the new Pac-12 coaches, and he inherits a team that was a mess last year.

    It will only be a matter of time for the Bruins, and they should have enough talent coming back to play in a bowl game in 2012.

    Now, if they can only compete with USC for some of those recruits...

60. Nevada

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    Nevada has had a lot of success in recent years, and it finished the 2011 season 7-6. There is plenty of talent coming back to win seven or even eight games in 2012.

    The Wolf Pack have consistently been one of the better non-BCS schools, and this season will be no different.

59. North Carolina

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    Even though North Carolina will not be bowl eligible in 2012, there is a good chance that it will win enough games to have achieved such success.

    The Tar Heels have plenty of talent coming back, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Giovani Bernard was one of the best in the ACC last year as a freshman, and quarterback Bryn Renner is talented as well.

    UNC won seven games last season and should be able to duplicate that in 2012.

58. Texas Tech

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    Texas Tech suffered through more injuries last season than possibly any team in the country, and that could have attributed to its 5-7 record.

    The Red Raiders do return more starters than almost anybody in the country, and even tough the Big 12 is tough, they should win more than the two conference games they did a year ago.

    Running back Eric Stephens Jr. will be a force, as will quarterback Seth Doege. Expect plenty of points from this team.

57. Ohio

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    Believe it or not, the MAC is filled with some very talented quarterbacks, and Tyler Tettleton is one of the best of the bunch.

    Ohio also has a lot of talent around him, and even though the Bobcats lost most of their starters from a season ago, there is still enough talent to contend for a MAC championship.

    They were only three points away from one last season in their 10-4 campaign.

56. SMU

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    SMU should be one of the top teams in Conference USA heading into the 2012 season. It has some talent coming back from the team that went 8-5 a year ago.

    Running back Zach Line will be the best in the league and one of the most talented backs in the entire country.

    Head coach June Jones will have enough talent to work with to contend for the conference crown.

55. Louisiana Tech

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    Louisiana Tech can be a sleeper next season in the WAC. It should be one of the top non-BCS schools in the country.

    The Bulldogs went 8-5 last year, but they bring back a lot of talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

    Quarterback Colby Cameron is a huge threat, and wide receiver Quinton Patton had a big season in 2011. Throw in running back Hunter Lee, and this offense is very talented.

54. Florida International

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    When it comes to the previously-mentioned non-BCS schools, Florida International is also near the top of the list.

    The Golden Panthers won eight games last season, and they bring back 10 starters on the defensive side of the ball.

    If they can improve a little on offense and find a serviceable quarterback, nine wins is not out of the question.

53. Houston

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    Houston proved it was one of the best teams in the country last season, going 13-1, with its only loss coming to Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship.

    The Cougars lost a ton of talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. They will have to replace Case Keenum, who was one of the greatest quarterbacks the school has ever seen.

    Still, there is enough coming back to contend for the conference title.

52. Arkansas State

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    Arkansas State is the hot pick coming into the 2012 season, and for good reason. The Red Wolves finished 10-3 last year, but they will have to replace head coach Hugh Freeze, who left for the Ole Miss job. 

    Either way, they are about as talented as it gets as far as non-BCS schools are concerned.

    They have a difficult schedule to start the season, including road games against Oregon and Nebraska, but after that, they should be able to pick up double-digit wins.

51. Northern Illinois

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    Northern Illinois was the MAC champion last season, going 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the conference.

    This year, the Huskies will be favored once again to take the conference crown. They have enough talent coming back to do just that.

    Replacing do-it-all quarterback Chandler Harnish will be difficult to do, but the Huskies are ready for it.

50. Tennessee

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    Tennessee struggled to a 5-7 campaign last season, and a lot of that was due to the amount of injuries it suffered.

    The Volunteers will be better this year if they can stay healthy. If not, Derek Dooley will likely be on the hot seat.

    The talent at wide receiver is hard to replicate anywhere else in the country with Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers catching passes from quarterback Tyler Bray.

49. Central Florida

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    Despite suffering through a disappointing 5-7 season in 2011, the Knights should be better this year even though they are not eligible for a bowl game.

    Last season, they had one of the best defenses in the nation and ranked ninth in points allowed in the entire country.

    If they can find a serviceable quarterback, they should contend with Houston and Southern Miss for the Conference USA crown. Eight wins seems likely in 2012.

48. Purdue

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    Purdue was impressive last season, going 7-6 and moving up to the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.

    The Boilermakers are led by one of the best defensive lines in the country, and Kawann Short is at the heart of that line.

    With an easier conference schedule than most, they could win as many as eight games in 2012.

47. Toledo

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    Toledo was eighth in the country last season with its average of 42 points a game. The Rockets will have to move on without head coach Tim Beckman, who left for Illinois.

    Quarterback Terrance Owens is one of the most talented in the country. He threw for 18 touchdowns a year ago with only three interceptions.

    This team was 9-4 last season and should win just as many games in 2012.

46. Vanderbilt

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    The Vanderbilt Commodores were somewhat of a surprise last season, winning six games and earning a berth in the Liberty Bowl.

    That could be attributed to a number of things, but at the top of the list is running back Zac Stacy. He is one of the best the SEC has to offer and will return to lead an experienced Vanderbilt team.

    If quarterback Jordan Rodgers can continue to improve, another bowl season is in the cards for the Commodores.

45. South Florida

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    B.J. Daniels is back for one more season at South Florida, though it seems like he has been around forever.

    Last season, the Bulls fell apart toward the end of the year, finishing 5-7 and only 1-6 in the Big East.

    With Daniels coming back for his senior year and a lot of other talented players around him, South Florida should be in contention near the top of the Big East. Eight wins are a strong possibility.

44. Virginia

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    Virginia was one of the surprise teams in the country last season en route to eight wins. The Cavaliers were close to playing for the ACC Championship.

    Running back Perry Jones will team up with Kevin Parks to form perhaps the best tandem in the conference.

    While last season may have gone better than expected, eight wins once again is not out of the question for this team.

43. Illinois

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    Even with everything that happened a year ago, Illinois still managed to win seven games and has enough coming back to do even more with Tim Beckman running the show.

    A new head coach will surely be accompanied with some bumps in the road, but one thing is certain about Ron Zook: He knew how to recruit.

    Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is back for his junior season. If he can improve like Illinois expects him to, seven or eight wins is a possibility.

42. Mississippi State

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    With a non-conference schedule that is easier than imaginable, Mississippi State will once again be able to pick up enough wins to qualify for a bowl game.

    The Bulldogs will have to find a way to replace running back Vick Ballard, but they had one of the strongest defenses in the SEC last season, only allowing 19.7 points per game.

    Another seven-win season is not out of the question.

41. Baylor

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    Baylor will have as much to replace on the offensive side of the ball as anybody in the country.

    The defense should be better, and a little ball control will help as well.

    Wide receiver Terrance Williams is one of the returning offensive stars, and his big-play capability is something the Bears will need.

    A seven- or eight-win season is still possible.

40. Utah

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    Even though quarterback Jordan Wynn went down early in the year in 2012, the Utes still managed to go 8-5 and come on strong at the end of the season.

    This year, Wynn will return healthy, and running back John White IV also returns.

    With the exception of Oregon and USC, the Utes have the talent to compete with anybody in the Pac-12. Look for Utah to be a serious sleeper.

39. Miami

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    Even though the Hurricanes only went 6-6 last season, there were a lot of close games that did not go their way.

    The talent is still there to win eight or more games this season, even with the ongoing NCAA investigation.

    One problem will be the difficult schedule, with games against Kansas State and Notre Dame on the slate.

38. Texas A&M

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    Texas A&M will welcome a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin while joining a new conference in the SEC.

    Running back Christine Michael will be one of the big returning names on the offensive side of the ball. A&M will have to replace the departed Ryan Tannehill, and it should be able to duplicate a seven-win season in 2012.

37. Iowa

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    Iowa muddled through another 7-6 season last year, and quarterback James Vandenberg will be back for his senior season.

    The talent level this season will be similar, and another seven-win season is a strong possibility.

    With how talented the Big Ten is, the Hawkeyes will likely be in the middle of the pack.

36. California

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    There are plenty of explosive offenses in the Pac-12, and California is certainly one of them. The Golden Bears were 7-6 last season and should be at least as good in 2012.

    Wide receiver Keenan Allen is one of the best in the country, and he will be catching passes once again from quarterback Zach Maynard.

    The Bears should be able to win eight games and finish in the top half of the Pac-12.

35. Auburn

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    Even with the departure of Cam Newton before the 2011 season, the Auburn Tigers still managed to go 8-5, including a bowl game victory over Virginia.

    With Michael Dyer having departed, a lot of weight will be placed on running back Onterio McCalebb.

    There is some talent to replace, but if quarterback Kiehl Frazier can step in and contribute, this team might be a sleeper in the SEC.

34. Southern Miss

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    Southern Miss is the favorite in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles went 12-2 last season en route to a top-25 ranking and a conference championship.

    They will have to live without quarterback Austin Davis, but it will still be possible to achieve double-digit wins.

    With Houston not likely to be as good this season, the Golden Eagles have a chance to win a lot of games in 2012.

33. Cincinnati

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    Cincinnati has a ton of talent to replace from a team that won 10 games last season. Not too many BCS schools have won 10 games four of the past five seasons like the Bearcats have.

    They will likely battle with Rutgers and Louisville near the top of the Big East.

    Wide receiver Anthony McClung is one of the best in the conference. If Munchie Legaux can step in and take over at quarterback, the Bearcats could find themselves headed toward another 10-win season.

32. Missouri

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    Of the two teams moving to the SEC, the Missouri Tigers are likely the more prepared of the two.

    They have a talented quarterback in junior James Franklin and won eight games last season. They have enough personnel coming back to be able to do that again in 2012, no matter the conference.

    The offense will be explosive in 2012, and Missouri should be able to put some points on the board against the SEC defenses.

31. Rutgers

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    Rutgers has to replace head coach Greg Schiano, but its recruiting class certainly did not reflect his departure.

    The Scarlet Knights have the best defensive player in the conference in Khaseem Greene. They will be talented on that side of the ball.

    Running back Jawan Jamison is very solid, and with how weak the Big East is, Rutgers is clearly one of the favorites.

30. Georgia Tech

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    When it comes to running the football, not too many teams do it quite like Georgia Tech.

    The Yellow Jackets were second in the country last season in rushing yards. Quarterback Tevin Washington is returning after leading the team in passing and rushing last season.

    After accumulating 25 total touchdowns, Washington will be even better in 2012. The Yellow Jackets should be just as good as they were in 2011.

29. BYU

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    BYU won 10 games last season and as an independent, it has plenty of advantages when it comes to scheduling.

    This season, the schedule is very challenging, with road games against Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

    The talent is there, particularly at wide receiver with Cody Hoffman. Getting to the 10 wins of a season ago will be difficult, though.

28. Florida

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    Florida struggled to a 7-6 campaign in 2011, and first-year head coach Will Muschamp had his fair share of difficulties.

    With that being said, he put together quite a recruiting class. The Gators should be in good hands in the coming years.

    This season, they are still relatively young, and a year similar to the one they had in 2011 is a strong possibility.

27. Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State was one of the best teams in the country last season, finishing the year 12-1 with a Fiesta Bowl victory.

    This year, the Cowboys will have to learn to live without talented names like Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden.

    There is no doubt that head coach Mike Gundy will have his hands full, but there is still enough talent for them to be a contender in the Big 12.

26. North Carolina State

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    There were few teams in the country last year that were as big of a surprise as North Carolina State.

    The Wolfpack finished the year 8-5, and quarterback Mike Glennon helped fans forget about Russell Wilson. He passed for over 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns.

    If he plays like that from start to finish this season, N.C. State could be a sleeper in the ACC.

25. Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame still has a lot of questions surrounding its football team, and the quarterback situation is one of them.

    With the season only a week away, the Fighting Irish are preparing for their season opener in Dublin, Ireland.

    Their schedule is brutal, and even though they may only win six or seven games, there is a lot of talent on this team.

24. Washington

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    While the Pac-12 is top-heavy with the likes of Stanford, Oregon and USC, the Washington Huskies are a team that has a chance to knock off the big boys.

    Junior quarterback Keith Price is one of the best in the league, and if they can improve on defense, there is no question that they are a contender.

    The offense, however, leaves nothing to be desired, as they will put plenty of points on the board.

23. Boise State

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    Boise State lost more starters than just about anybody in the country. Replacing quarterback Kellen Moore will be more difficult than anything. 

    With that being said, the Broncos are still talented, and head coach Chris Petersen is one of the best in the business.

    They still will have trouble reaching double-digit wins, though.

22. Louisville

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    Louisville was one of the youngest teams in the country last season, and even though it only finished the year 7-6, it will be much more experienced in 2012.

    Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should be the best in the conference this year, and the defense is on another level. They were 17th in the country last season.

    While teams like Rutgers and Cincinnati may pose a threat to the Cardinals, this is clearly the team to beat in the Big East.

21. Texas

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    Texas was very young last season and struggled for most of the year. With that being said, it still managed to win eight games and will be better in 2012.

    The Longhorns have another talented recruiting class. If they can get their quarterback situation straightened out once and for all, they might be a sleeper in the Big 12.

    Nine wins is not out of the realm of possibilities.

20. Virginia Tech

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    Virginia Tech is always strong on special teams and defense, but this season, the Hokies will be very impressive on the offensive side of the ball, led by quarterback Logan Thomas.

    Thomas is one of the top 10 signal-callers in the country, and Virgina Tech should be just as good as they were last season, when they nearly won the ACC.

    If only they come through in the big games this year...

19. Stanford

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    Stanford has to replace some serious talent, and on the top of that list is quarterback Andrew Luck.

    The Cardinal still put together quite a recruiting class, and head coach David Shaw clearly knows what he is doing.

    While they will obviously not be as good as they were last season, they are still going to be one of the top teams in the Pac-12.

18. Nebraska

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    Nebraska will likely finish in the middle of the pack in a talented Big Ten, and that will be because of the offensive combination of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.

    The quarterback-running back combo will be hard to stop for anybody.

    If the Cornhuskers can shore up the defense, they will be able to compete with the big boys in the Big Ten.

17. Clemson

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    When it comes to talent on the offensive side of the ball, Clemson has plenty of it.

    The Tigers are led on offense by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Even though Watkins is suspended for the first two games of the season, the Tigers should be just fine.

    They open up the season with a tough game against Auburn, and if they can get past that without Watkins, they should be able to contend for an ACC title once again.

16. Kansas State

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    Kansas State was not impressive against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, but it still has one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Collin Klein.

    The dual-threat QB could be a sleeper for the Heisman, and the Wildcats are one of the most talented teams in the country.

    Look out for them to contend with the big boys of the Big 12.

15. Ohio State

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    Ohio State is not bowl eligible, but that does not mean that it is not one of the top teams in the country. 

    The Buckeyes are led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, and with Urban Meyer now running the show, there is no question that they will be putting some points on the board.

    With the recruiting class they put together, the Buckeyes will be a force in the coming years.

14. Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin is another team that has a ton of talent to replace from last season's Big Ten-winning Rose Bowl team.

    However, the Badgers do have Montee Ball, the best running back in the country, returning for his senior season. If they can find somebody to replace Russell Wilson, they should be almost as talented as a year ago.

    There is no question that the offensive line will be good once again.

13. TCU

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    TCU is stepping up a level, as it officially joins the Big 12 this season. The good thing is that they have the talent to compete at the highest level.

    Quarterback Casey Pachall is one of the best in the conference, and the defense will be solid.

    The Horned Frogs are definitely in for a wake up call, however, and the double-digit wins that they have grown accustomed to will be hard to come by.

12. Michigan State

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    Michigan State had quite a dramatic ending to last season. The Spartans played in some crazy games.

    They were close to playing in the Rose Bowl, and this year they will likely be in the same spot with a ton of talent coming back on defense.

    Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have a good shot to win 10 games and take the conference crown in the process.

11. Michigan

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    Michigan may be the slight favorite to come out on top in the Big Ten, but they will need to improve a little bit on defense to do so.

    There is no question that the offense is the most explosive in the conference, led by do-it-all quarterback Denard Robinson.

    With the recruiting class Brady Hoke put together, the Wolverines will be near the top of the conference for quite some time.

10. South Carolina

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    South Carolina and head coach Steve Spurrier continue to put together great teams, but the problem is, this team is not talented enough to win the SEC.

    This year will be no different, as the Gamecocks are excellent and have to contend with a strong Georgia team for the SEC East title.

    If they can finally get over the hump, they could contend for a national championship.

9. Arkansas

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    Even with what has happened to Arkansas and their coaching situation over the past few months, there is still plenty of talent for the Razorbacks to beat anybody in the country.

    Led by Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis on offense, they could win nearly any conference they play in.

    Too bad they are only the third-best team in the SEC West.

8. West Virginia

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    West Virginia might have the most explosive offense in the country, with the exception of USC.

    The Mountaineers showed just how talented they were in the Orange Bowl last season. Quarterback Geno Smith will put up astronomical numbers in the Big 12, and West Virginia may be able to win the conference.

    If it can get its defense together, WVU may be a sleeper for the national championship.

7. Florida State

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    Jimbo Fisher has had some talented teams over the past few years, but he has never been able to put everything together.

    This year, the Seminoles may just be the best team he has had to date. If E.J. Manuel can stay healthy and the offense can put some points on the board, the rest will take care of itself.

    The Florida State defense is one of the best in the country, and it has the talent to lead the team to the ACC title.

6. Oklahoma

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    Even with a little offseason turmoil, particularly when it comes to the wide receiver position, the Sooners still have an offense that will likely average over 40 points a game.

    Landry Jones is a Heisman contender, and hopefully for the Sooners, running back Dominique Whaley can come back healthy.

    There are a lot of teams that are contenders for the Big 12 title, but the two that might battle it out will be West Virginia and Oklahoma.

5. Georgia

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    With the exception of LSU and Alabama, Georgia is the most complete team in the SEC.

    The Bulldogs have talent all over the field and a defense that returns nine starters.

    Throw in quarterback Aaron Murray and a strong offensive attack, and they will be a serious national title contender next season.

4. Oregon

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    Oregon is one of the most fun teams in the country to watch, and this year will be no different.

    With the running back tandem of Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, the Ducks will not miss a beat with the early departure of LaMichael James to the NFL.

    The quarterback production will be the key. If they are going to compete with USC for the Pac-12 crown, they will need to improve a little bit on defense.

3. LSU

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    The departure of Tyrann Mathieu will certainly hurt the Tigers, but not too much. They are still a national championship contender and have a great shot to win the SEC.

    The key will be the quarterback play of Zach Mettenberger, who is stepping into the starting role.

    On defense, the Tigers will be solid, but there are now some questions in the secondary without Mathieu.

2. Alabama

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    Alabama is relatively young, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and if teams are going to get to them, they better do it early.

    Michigan has the best chance to do that, and if the Crimson Tide can get by them, they have a great shot to run the table.

    There are plenty of question marks surrounding the team, but as always, there is more than enough talent for them to win it all once again.

1. USC

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    At the top of the list are the mighty USC Trojans. The group is filled with NFL talent at the skill positions, and they and will have no trouble scoring plenty of points against any defense.

    They are also solid on the defensive side of the ball.

    Now that they are off probation and Matt Barkley decided to return for his senior season, this is the team to beat in college football.