Early Projections, Predictions and Rankings for the 2013 College Football Season

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IDecember 18, 2012

Early Projections, Predictions and Rankings for the 2013 College Football Season

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    When it comes to college football, it's never too early to start looking ahead. 

    Even though we're just now entering the real heart of the 2012 bowl season, it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on the future and to start preparing for what to expect in 2013. 

    Here's a very early and preliminary look at how all 124 FBS teams are shaping up for next season. 

1. LSU Tigers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 12

    LSU lacked the same type of attitude and swagger that it had during its undefeated run through the regular season in 2011. However, the Tigers still won 10 games and they were one bad defensive drive against Alabama away from possibly playing in a second straight BCS championship game. 

    The offense will return all the necessary pieces it takes to compete for a national title in 2013. QB Zach Mettenberger should be much better in his second year as a starter, especially since he'll have one of the deepest and most talented stable of running backs in the country, headlined by freshman Jeremy Hill and sophomore Kenny Hilliard, and two dynamic wideouts, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. 

    It will be interesting to see if Les Miles can convince many of his talented underclassmen defenders such as defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, LB Kevin Minter, DT Bennie Logan, CB Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid to put off the NFL to return to Baton Rouge for another run. 

    Even if the Tigers lose a few of their key defenders, they still have an abundance of up-and-coming future stars on defense—especially CB Jalen Mills, DT Anthony Johnson and DE Jermauria Rasco—to build another dominant unit out of. 

    Just like the season-opener against Oregon at Cowboys Stadium last year, we're going to find out a lot about the Tigers when they kick off the 2013 season against a very tough TCU team in Arlington on the first Saturday night of the season. 

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 12

    Urban Meyer did one of the best coaching jobs in the country in his first season at Ohio State in 2012. Meyer instantly revived the Buckeyes, who went just 6-7 in 2011, and turned them back into a national power, leading the team to a perfect 12-0 record in his first year at the helm.

    Exciting and explosive dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller is a big reason why there were so many reasons to cheer in Columbus this year. Miller totaled over 3,300 yards of offense and accounted for 28 touchdowns during his sophomore campaign.

    He was truly one of the most impressive offensive playmakers in the country. 

    With Miller and Meyer combining forces once again, it's tough to see any other team in the Big Ten knocking off the Buckeyes in 2013. 

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 11

    Alabama is going to lose plenty of high-profile players to the NFL after it plays Notre Dame in the BCS championship game. However, the Tide should be right back in the national title hunt yet again next season. 

    OG Chance Warmack, center Barrett Jones, NT Jesse Williams, LB Nico Johnson, safety Robert Lester and TE Michael Williams are all seniors who will move to the next level after Jan. 7.

    Plus, other highly regarded underclassmen such as RB Eddie Lacy, LB CJ Mosley and CB Dee Milliner could all join them in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    One player who won't be joining them, though, is QB AJ McCarron, who has already announced that he will return for his senior year

    With McCarron, RB TJ Yeldon, WR Amari Cooper and OT Cyrus Kouandjio all returning on offense, and with plenty of talent still left on defense, Alabama will have the type of talent it takes to make a serious run at a national title again in 2013. 

4. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 11

    South Carolina's defense will feature the best defensive player in the country, DE Jadeveon Clowney, in 2013.

    Clowney will enter the season as the early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after racking up 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore this year. 

    The former prized high school recruit will be joined on defense by other future pros such as DT Kelcy Quarles, CB Jimmy Legree and safety Brison Williams. 

    QB Connor Shaw will return to lead an offense that will no longer have star running back Marcus Lattimore, who has decided to chase his NFL dream after experiencing two serious knee injuries in his collegiate career.

    Shaw may not have Lattimore in the backfield, but he'll still have a potentially lethal receiver corps to throw to, which will include junior Ace Sanders, sophomores Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd and freshman Shaq Roland. 

    Even without Lattimore in the lineup, the Gamecocks still have enough elite talent at key positions to compete for an SEC title in 2013. 

5. Oregon Ducks

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 11

    Oregon's offense remained as powerful as usual in 2012 due in large part to the three-headed backfield monster of QB Marcus Mariota and running backs Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. 

    Barner's last game as a Duck will be the Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State. However, both Mariota and Thomas will be back to lead an attack that averaged 50 points and 550 yards per game this year. 

    The main storyline this offseason will surround coach Chip Kelly, who is sure to receive a substantial amount of interest this offseason from NFL teams that will be in need of a head coach.

    There will also be plenty of focus paid to a defensive unit that loses important senior starters such as DE Dion Jordan, linebackers Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso and safety John Boyett. 

    Mariota and Thomas should be able to create enough explosive plays on offense next year. But there are obviously holes on the defensive side of the ball that need to be properly filled for this team to win a Pac-12 title next season. 

6. TCU Horned Frogs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 11

    TCU may have only won seven regular season games in its first year in the Big 12. However, Gary Patterson still had one of the finest coaching performances of his career, considering the circumstances he had to deal with. 

    Patterson lost his starting quarterback Casey Pachall and his best running back Waymon James for the season before the calendar even said October. Yet, he still managed to get the Horned Frogs to perform at a high level and win key road games at West Virginia and at Texas. 

    It will be very interesting to see what happens if Pachall returns to the team after taking some time to deal with his personal life. His replacement, freshman Trevone Boykin, showed a lot of nice flashes of his potential in 2012, and Pachall likely won't just be handed his starting job back. 

    The starting quarterback spot may still have to be determined. But this is clearly a team that will have enough playmakers and stars such as WR Josh Boyce, RB Waymon James, DE Devonte Fields and CB Jason Verrett to compete for a Big 12 title next season. 

    There's simply no telling what a coach like Patterson is capable of once he gets a good feel for his opponents. He is a true coaching mastermind. 

7. Florida Gators

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Florida's defense was one of the strongest units in the country this year. The Gators finished the regular season ranked third in the nation in scoring defense and fifth in total defense after allowing just 12 points and 282 yards per game. 

    The team's stout defense is the main reason why the Gators were able to win 11 games and make it into the Sugar Bowl.

    Will Muschamp's team will likely once again have one of the best defenses in the country in 2013.

    Still, we'll have to wait and see if key underclassmen such as defensive linemen Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, LB Jelani Jenkins and safety Matt Elam all choose to forgo the NFL and return to join DE Dante Fowler, LB Ronald Powell and cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Louchiez Purifoy.

    On offense, the Gators will miss RB Mike Gillislee, who developed into a true workhorse back this year. But that means we'll get the opportunity to see if QB Jeff Driskel is ready to be a true offensive leader in 2013. 

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Notre Dame was able to ride a dominant defense to a surprising 12-0 campaign this year, which has earned the Irish a berth in the BCS championship game.

    The defense, which has given up just 10 points per game this season, will clearly miss star LB Manti Te'o, a future top-10 NFL draft pick. However, the unit will still be one of the strongest in the nation yet again in 2013 with the return of other future high draft picks such as DE Stephon Tuitt, NT Louis Nix, LB Prince Shembo and CB Bennett Jackson. 

    On offense, QB Everett Golson should keep progressing and developing, even though he'll miss some of his key surrounding players such as RB Theo Riddick, TE Tyler Eifert and center Braxston Cave. 

    Brian Kelly seems like he's now in his comfort zone in South Bend, and as we saw when he was coaching at Cincinnati, that can be a very dangerous thing for any team that has to play his squad. 

9. Texas A&M Aggies

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Not even the most die-hard Texas A&M fans expected the Aggies to win 10 games in their first season in the SEC. But then again, nobody could have foreseen how big of an impact the duo of coach Kevin Sumlin and QB Johnny Manziel would have on the team. 

    Sumlin and Manziel helped turn the Texas A&M offense into a wrecking ball, which averaged 44 points and 552 yards per game this year. 

    Manziel turned out to be the biggest breakout star of the season, as he transformed from an unproven redshirt freshman into the surprising Heisman-winner.

    The explosive dual-threat quarterback will be back to lead an offense that loses RB Christine Michael, and could lose the supremely gifted tackle tandem of Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, who both could be top-10 picks in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    Still, even if A&M does come back down to earth a bit in 2013, Manziel is still good enough to have this team in contention for a conference championship next year. 

10. Clemson Tigers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Clemson's offense had plenty of firepower in 2012, and the numbers reflected that. The Tigers ranked in the top 10 nationally in both scoring offense and total offense, averaging 42 points and 518 yards per game. However, that offensive talent wasn't enough to win the two biggest games of the season against Florida State and South Carolina

    Because of their shortcomings on the big stage, the Tigers failed to make it back to the ACC championship game and a BCS bowl this season.

    They could be in store for a trip next year, though, if both QB Tajh Boyd and WR DeAndre Hopkins choose to return to school and form a dangerous passing trio with WR Sammy Watkins.

    Boyd, Hopkins and Watkins are the type of passing combination which is capable of lighting up any defense that it faces. 

11. Louisville Cardinals

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 11

    Charlie Strong deserves a ton of recognition for the job he's done in his first three years at Louisville. After consecutive 7-6 campaigns in his first two seasons, Strong's squad had a breakthrough performance in 2012, winning 10 games, capturing a Big East title and earning a berth in the Sugar Bowl. 

    QB Teddy Bridgewater is the one player who deserves the most credit for the team's rise to national prominence this year. Bridgewater put together a sensational sophomore season in 2012, completing 69 percent of his passes for over 3,500 yards and accounting for 26 total touchdowns. 

    With running backs like Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry and receivers like DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers and Damian Copeland all returning, the sophomore signal-caller will once again have the supporting cast he needs next season to guide the Cardinals back to another BCS bowl game. 

    After what we witnessed this year, Bridgewater definitely deserves to start off next season on the short list of Heisman favorites. 

12. Stanford Cardinal

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Stanford's first season without Andrew Luck proved to be a much more successful one than anyone could have imagined or expected. The Cardinal shocked everyone by winning 11 games and taking home a Pac-12 title this season. 

    The team relied on a strong ground game, led by senior Stepfan Taylor, and a suffocating defense, led by linebackers Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas to capture its first conference title since 1999. 

    Taylor, Skov and Thomas are all seniors who will be playing in their final game in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin on New Year's Day. However, Stanford will still have plenty of talent returning, including offensive linemen David Yankey and Cameron Fleming, linebacker Trent Murphy and safety Ed Reynolds.

    If emerging star head coach David Shaw decides to turn down the inevitable offers he'll get from NFL teams and return to tutor quarterback Kevin Hogan next season, Stanford will definitely have a strong shot to successfully defend its Pac-12 title.

13. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Landry Jones has been Oklahoma's starting quarterback for the past four years, so it's going to be a little strange to see the "Belldozer" Blake Bell behind center full-time next season. Bell is certainly a unique specimen who adds an interesting dynamic to the Sooners offense. 

    We know the big, strong and athletic 6'6'', 254-pound sophomore can run the ball with power and authority. However, we'll have to wait and see if he can come close to matching what Jones was able to do in the passing game these past few years. 

    If Bell can prove that he can throw the ball effectively, Oklahoma should be able to put together another double-digit win season in 2013. 

14. Oregon State Beavers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Oregon State went from having a nine-loss season in 2011 to having a nine-win regular season this year. The scary part is, the Beavers could be an even bigger threat next season. 

    Sure, the team may have to replace future NFL draft picks such as WR Markus Wheaton and CB Jordan Poyer. But there are enough experienced and talented veterans returning to the fold such as RB Storm Woods, WR Brandin Cooks, defensive ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn and LB Michael Doctor for this team to make a legitimate run at a Pac-12 title. 

    The big question is at quarterback, where Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion will likely battle for the starting job this offseason. 

    Whether it's Vaz or Mannion who ultimately wins the job, they're certainly going to have the surrounding help they need to succeed in 2013. 

15. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Georgia won't be playing in a BCS bowl game this season, even though the Bulldogs won 11 games and came up just one play short against Alabama in the SEC championship game. 

    Mark Richt's squad likely isn't all that thrilled about being snubbed by the BCS, which is why Georgia could be playing with a chip on its shoulder in 2013. 

    The Bulldogs will likely welcome back junior signal-caller Aaron Murray, along with freshman sensation RB Todd Gurley and highly skilled receiver Malcolm Mitchell. However, we won't know just how good Georgia's defense will be until linebackers Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones make their NFL intentions known. 

    If Ogletree and Jones both return, Georgia will definitely have a great chance to compete for its third straight SEC East division title next year. 

16. Miami Hurricanes

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Al Golden has quietly started to build Miami back into a dangerous team, even though the program has been dealing with the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

    Even if we don't get the oppportunity to see the Hurricanes in the postseason next year, there's a good chance we'll still see them win plenty of regular season games. 

    Miami brings back one of the most explosive and versatile playmakers in college football, do-it-all freshman running back Duke Johnson. 

    Johnson totaled over 2,000 all-purpose yards and accounted for 14 total touchdowns in his first season. What's so frightening is that he's yet to come close to reaching his true potential.

17. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Oklahoma State started three different quarterbacks, Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf this season. However, the Cowboys still managed to rank in the top 5 nationally in both scoring offense and total offense, averaging 44 points and 548 yards per game. 

    The team's MVP was RB Joseph Randle, who thrived as the focal point of the offense, totaling over 1,500 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns in 2012. 

    While we don't yet know whether the junior will return for his senior year, we do know that sophomore WR Josh Stewart, who caught 96 passes this season, will be back to torment defenses. 

    If Randle, Stewart and one of those quarterbacks all join together again in Stillwater next season, opposing defenses better get ready for a fireworks show. 

18. UCLA Bruins

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    UCLA outplayed its modest preseason expectations in Jim Mora's first season in Westwood. 

    Mora's decision to start unproven redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley ultimately paid off in a big way. With some help from senior RB Johnathan Franklin, Hundley helped lead the Bruins to nine wins, a Pac-12 South division title, and most importantly, a much-needed win over crosstown rival USC. 

    The highly athletic dual-threat signal-caller totaled over 3,700 yards of offense and accounted for 35 total touchdowns in 2012. 

    Although the Bruins will miss Franklin, who piled up 1,700 yards on the ground, they should still be in great shape with Hundley back to lead the way next season. 

19. Texas Longhorns

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    For whatever reason, Texas just did not step up and become the factor in the Big 12 race that many thought it could be in 2012.

    The Longhorns lost four regular season games, including two ugly blowouts to the conference's two best teams, Kansas State and Oklahoma. 

    Don't be surprised if you see a few offseason shakeups in Austin soon, especially since defensive coordinator Manny Diaz received so much criticism this season (and let's be honest, he deserved it). 

    The underperforming defense will lose DE Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro, two important seniors, but it will also welcome back DE Jackson Jeffcoat, linebackers Steve Edmond, Kendall Thompson and Jordan Hicks and cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom.

    On offense, quarterback is still an issue of concern, but running back certainly isn't. The Longhorns have three backs, Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, who have starter caliber ability. 

20. Florida State Seminoles

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Florida State managed to take advantage of a rather weak ACC field this season.

    The Seminoles compiled an 11-2 record, won a conference title and made it to the Orange Bowl. However, given how weak their schedule was this year (Yes, Tomahawk Nation, we know the West Virginia game got canceled, but come on, really, Savannah State and Murray State?) it's tough to tell just how good Jimbo Fisher's squad really was, and how good the group could be in 2013. 

    QB EJ Manuel will hand off the starting job to Clint Trickett, who has a decent amount of experience under his belt for a backup (66 career pass attempts). But he's still largely an unproven commodity. 

    Fortunately, the defense will still have plenty of athletic playmakers in 2013, even if DE Bjoern Werner and CB Xavier Rhodes leave for the NFL as expected.

    DT Tim Jernigan, LB Christian Jones and safety Lamarcus Joyner are three defenders who could all be in store for All-American-caliber campaigns next year.

21. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Nebraska's defense may have gotten embarrassed in the Big Ten title game, giving up 70 points to Wisconsin. However, it's the fact that Cornhuskers made it all the way to Indianapolis that really counts.

    The Big Ten Legends division-winner will bring back important offensive players such as QB Taylor Martinez, RB Ameer Abdullah and RB Kenny Bell for next season, However, the defense will get decimated by the loss of eight of this year's top 10 tacklers, including key cogs such as LB Will Compton, DE Eric Martin and safety Daimion Stafford. 

    If Martinez can build on his 2012 success and continue to progress as a passer in his senior season, Nebraska should be in the hunt for another division title. However, the real key to the team's success will be its largely unproven defense. 

22. USC Trojans

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    USC entered the 2012 season surrounded by plenty of hype and expectations due to the fact that the sports media decided to latch onto QB Matt Barkley, who shocked many by returning for his senior year. But the Trojans turned out to actually be one of the biggest letdown stories of the season, as they went just 7-5 in the regular season after starting the year affixed all over every national magazine cover.

    Coach Lane Kiffin and his star quarterback have both had to deal with most of the criticism for the team's shortcomings this year. But in their defense, it's not as if the Trojans have lost to a bunch of nobodies.

    All five teams that beat USC in 2012 will be playing in the postseason, and three—Oregon, Notre Dame and Stanford—will be playing in BCS bowl games. 

    Obviously, next year, USC will not be the same team without Barkley, who has been a rather dependable four-year starter, even though he didn't live up almost unreal expectations this year. However, standout receiver Marqise Lee is the type of supremely gifted playmaker that can make any quarterback look good.

    Plus, the USC defense will be welcoming back plenty of key starters such as linebackers Dion Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Hayes Pullard, CB Nickell Robey and defensive tackles Leonard Williams and George Uko. 

23. Michigan Wolverines

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Michigan will have to replace one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country, Denard Robinson. But luckily, the Wolverines have a potential star in Devin Gardner, who will be taking over for Robinson under center.

    Like Robinson, Gardner is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback, who can create big plays in a variety of different ways. The junior signal-caller has the chance to be even better than his predecessor, but he's got to believe in the teammates around him and finally get serious about making the most of his ability. 

    Gardner will have players like RB Fitz Toussaint, WR Jeremy Gallon and TE Devin Funchess to help him out, as he tries to create a more explosive offensive attack in Ann Arbor in 2013. 

24. Fresno State Bulldogs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Tim DeRuyter was one of the most underrated head coaches in college football this season.

    In his first season as head coach at Fresno State, DeRuyter helped turn the Bulldogs from the nine-loss team they were in 2011 into the nine-win team they became this year. 

    Fresno State's offense was one of the most efficient and productive units in the country, averaging 40 points per game. The key to the offense's success was the highly productive trio of QB Derek Carr, RB Robbie Rouse and WR Davante Adams. 

    Rouse is a senior, and thus will not be back for 2013. But Carr and Adams are the type of lethal passing combination that the Bulldogs can build another conference contender around for next season. 

25. Northwestern Wildcats

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    There weren't many analysts who predicted Northwestern would go 9-3 in the regular season in 2012. However, that's exactly why coach Pat Fitzgerald deserves so much recognition for the job he did. 

    Fitzgerald has helped turn his alma mater into a viable threat in the Big Ten, and this year, he led the Wildcats to one of their best seasons of all time. The 38-year-old head coach relied on the outstanding rushing duo of QB Kain Colter and RB Venrick Mark, who totaled 2,130 yards and scored 26 touchdowns.

    Northwestern will once again use the two juniors as much as possible in 2013. The question is, will opposing defenses finally figure out how to contain them?

26. Utah State Aggies

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Utah State didn't garner an overwhelming amount of national publicity this season, But the Aggies were still one of the most impressive non-AQ Teams in the country in 2012. 

    QB Chuckie Keeton developed into one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in college football, as he helped guide the team to a WAC championship and an 11-2 record. Keeton finished the season with over 3,300 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns and another 619 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. 

    The Aggies have lost RB Kerwynn Williams, who rushed for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns this year. However, they not only bring back Keeton to lead the way on offense in 2013, they also welcome back seven of the top 10 tacklers from a defense that ranked eighth in the country in scoring defense this season. 

27. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Whether QB Logan Thomas, who dramatically regressed in 2012, chooses to return for his senior season or not will likely have a sizable effect on just how good the offense can be next year. Thomas has the ability to be a dangerous playmaker, who can burn a defense with either his arm or his legs. However, he has to make better decisions with his passes and work on his overall accuracy in order to reach his full potential. 

    If he chooses to return to Blacksburg, the big 6'6'', 260-plus pound quarterback will be joined by the intriguing running back duo of J.C. Coleman and Michael Holmes, who each averaged over four yards per carry this season. 

    On defense, the Hokies lose middle linebacker Bruce Taylor. But they'll still have plenty of impact players such as cornerbacks Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller, defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins, DT Derrick Hopkins and LB Jack Tyler for 2013. 

28. Vanderbilt Commodores

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    James Franklin has only been at Vanderbilt for two years. But he's already done a terrific job of completely altering the attitude and outlook for the program following the school's first eight-win season since 1982. 

    The Commoderes may not be ready to compete for an SEC title next season. But they'll certainly be a team that nobody else in the conference will want have to deal with. 

    Sure, the losses of QB Jordan Rodgers and RB Zac Stacy are tough blows to deal with on offense. But luckily, Vanderbilt has two of the premier pass-catchers in the conference, Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd, to still unleash on opposing defenses in 2013. 

29. Boise State Broncos

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    The fact that Boise State won 10-win regular season was considered to be somewhat of a letdown goes to show you just how far Chris Petersen has been able to take this program during his tenure. 

    This year, The Broncos offense did not look like the same type of unit that we had become accustomed to seeing over the past few years, when QB Kellen Moore was leading the show. But the team's defense was still surprisingly strong, even though it was full of inexperienced new starters. 

    It's still hard to tell what's going to happen with the whole Boise State-Big East situation. But wherever the Broncos end up playing next season, they should have a stout defense once again, led by the likes of DE Demarcus Lawrence, LB Blake Renaud and DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe. 

30. West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    It sounds odd to say, but West Virginia will likely have to rely on its running game and its defense for success in 2013.

    That's because the team is losing its three most explosive offensive weapons, QB Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. 

    There were times this year when the Mountaineers defense was just awful. However, a lot of that had to with inexperience at key positions, especially in the secondary, and bad game-planning by first-year coordinator Joe DeForest, who has now relinquished that role.

    West Virginia should be much more stout on defense in 2013 with the return of key players such as DE Will Clarke, LB Isaiah Bruce and safety Karl Joseph at all three levels. 

    The question is, can running backs Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison give the offense enough of a spark on the ground to keep the offense moving?

31. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Mississippi State put together an eight-win season and made it to its third bowl game of the Dan Mullen era this year. However, that had a lot to do with a schedule that included just three ranked teams, all of which the Bulldogs lost to. 

    Mullen's team wasn't as good in 2012 as its record would seem to indicate. But the Bulldogs do have the chance to make some noise in the SEC West next season. 

    QB Tyler Russell and RB LaDarius Perkins form the type of backfield that you can mold an offense around, while linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Deontae Skinner, safety Nickoe Whitley and DE Denico Autry give the defense some solid playmakers. 

32. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    North Carolina has lost its best overall player, RB Giovani Bernard, who led the nation with an average of 171 yards from scrimmage per game in 2012. However, all hope is certainly not lost for the Tar Heels as far as next season is concerned. 

    Larry Fedora will not only have to replace Bernard and All-American OG Jonathan Cooper on offense, he'll also have to figure out how to make up for the losses of future NFL draft picks DT Sylvester Williams and LB Kevin Reddick on defense. 

    Luckily, Fedora has one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country, Bryn Renner, to build around for 2013. Renner was definitely aided by the presence of Bernard in the backfield with him, but now he'll have the chance to really prove just how good he is when he becomes the team's true offensive leader next season. 

33. Northern Illinois Huskies

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Once Northern Illinois received an Orange Bowl invitation following the team's 12-win campaign this season, people started to realize just how good Huskies QB Jordan Lynch really is. Lynch was one of the most productive players in college football this season, throwing for over 2,900 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushing for over 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns. 

    The junior quarterback will lose his top receiver, Martel Moore. But he'll still have the chance to dominate MAC competition again in 2013. 

    If the Huskies defense can remain as sturdy as it was this season again next year, Northern Illinois could definitely make another run at a MAC title, and possibly even a BCS bowl berth if things break right. 

34. Washington Huskies

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Many were expecting Washington QB Keith Price to have a huge breakout campaign in 2012. But Price never materialized into the type of quarterback many thought he would be. 

    Still, the athletic junior signal-caller did show some intriguing flashes of his ability this season, as he led the Huskies to a 7-5 record, which included upsets of Stanford and Oregon State.

    Price will have plenty of talent surrounding him at the skill-positions next season, as WR Kasen Williams, RB Bishop Sankey and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins will provide him with the weapons he needs to tear defenses apart. 

35. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Rutgers relied on a strong ground game, led by RB Jawan Jamison, and a tough, physical defense, led by LB Khaseem Greene, to win nine games in Kyle Flood's first season as head coach. 

    Although the team will have to deal with the loss of Greene, a likely Day-2 draft pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the offense will still have plenty of talent returning, especially if Jamison decides to hang around. 

    QB Gary Nova certainly isn't great, but he's at least serviceable, and he's aided by the presence of such a big, skilled receiver as Brandon Coleman and a back like Jamison behind him. 

    If Nova can improve on his decision-making and his coverage recognition skills in the offseason, the Scarlet Knights should contend for another conference title in 2013. 

36. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Wisconsin won its third straight Big Ten title and made it to its third straight Rose Bowl this season, even though the Badgers finished the regular season with five losses. 

    The team won't have such an easy time making it four straight conference championships in 2013, since Ohio State will be eligible for the postseason in 2013. Still, the Badgers do have enough returning talent to give the Buckeyes somewhat of a scare. 

    Star RB Montee Ball will be gone, but his backup James White seems like the type of player who has simply been lurkingin the shadows, waiting for his time to shine. 

    On the other side of the ball, junior middle linebacker Chris Borland will be back to lead a unit that returns six of its top 10 tacklers from a defense that allowed just 19 points per game in 2012. 

37. San Jose State Spartans

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    One of the biggest surprise success stories of the 2012 season was San Jose State winning 10 games and making it to just its second bowl game since 1990. 

    The Spartans found a true hidden gem in QB David Fales, who transferred from the JUCO ranks this past offseason. Fales completed a whopping 72 percent of his passes for over 3,700 yards and threw 31 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions. 

    If he decides to return for his senior year, Fales will once again lead a potent offense that will also feature dangerous receivers Noel Grigsby and Chandler Jones. 

38. Michigan State Spartans

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Michigan State was one of the most disappointing teams of the 2012 season. After starting off the year ranked in the top 20, the Spartans could only manage to win six games, even though they had one of the strongest defenses in the country. 

    It's a defense that really relied on the performances of underclassmen such as linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, CB Darqueze Dennard, safety Isaiah Lewis and DE William Ghoston for success. If all five players choose to return to East Lansing, Michigan State will have the type of defense it takes to compete for a Big Ten title in 2013. 

    The big question marks, however, are on offense, where RB Le'Veon Bell will likely depart for the NFL, leaving inconsistent junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell in charge of carrying the offense next season. 

39. BYU Cougars

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    BYU had the talent to win more than seven games in the regular season. The Cougars just didn't execute properly against some of their tougher opponents this year. 

    The centerpiece of the team this year was WR Cody Hoffman, who looked almost unstoppable, catching 90 passes, including 11 touchdown grabs. If Hoffman returns for his senior year, it will certainly help out freshman QB Taysom Hill, who saw six games of action before going down with a season-ending injury. 

    On defense, the team will have to replace freakishly athletic pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah. But LB Kyle Van Noy, who had 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss in 2012, should be able to make up for that loss if he decides to return for his senior year. 

40. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Kansas State certainly wasn't the most talented overall team in the Big 12 this season. But you have to give credit to the Wildcats for riding QB Collin Klein and a stout defense to an 11-win season and a conference title. 

    Things will be different next year, when Klein is gone and the defense has to replace key starters such as LB Arthur Brown, DE Meshak Williams and CB Nigel Malone. 

    Obviously, a dropoff is to be expected. But if there's one coach in college football who has certainly proven that he should never be underestimated, it's Bill Snyder. 

41. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Todd Graham had a very encouraging debut in the desert in 2012, and it seems as if Graham has finally found a school that he can stay at for the long haul. The nomadic head coach led Arizona State to a 7-5 record in the regular season and he helped develop sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly into a formidable passing threat. 

    Kelly could be a potential breakout star in the Pac-12 next season, and it wouldn't be surprising if he guides the Sun Devils into contention for a South division title.

42. San Diego State Aztecs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    San Diego State may have lost QB Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman. But the Aztecs still managed to go 9-3 in the regular season, which was a record that included a huge win over Boise State on the blue turf. 

    The offense will welcome back plenty of talent at the offensive skill-positions for 2013, including QB Adam Dingwell, RB Adam Muema, WR Colin Lockett and TE Gavon Escobar. 

    On defense, the Aztecs will have to replace top cover corner Leon McFadden, a future high NFL draft pick. But they'll still have LB Jake Fely holding things down in the middle of the field. 

43. Ball State Cardinals

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 10

    Ball State will once again have one of the most dangerous offensive trios in the MAC in 2013 comprised of QB Keith Wenning, RB Jahwan Edwards and WR Willie Snead. 

    Wenning, Edwards and Snead were the key reason the Cardinals won nine games in the regular season, and they'll each play a crucial role in Ball State's run at a MAC title in 2013. 

44. NC State Wolfpack

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    NC State made one of the best hires of the offseason, snatching away Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois to replace Tom O'Brien. Doeren went 23-4 during his two years as the head man of the Huskies. He's the type of coach that will instantly add some new life to the locker room. 

    Although the Wolfpack will have to replace strong-armed starting signal-caller Mike Glennon and big, athletic corner David Amerson, two players who will be playing on Sundays next season, Doeren still has plenty of intriguing talent to work with for 2013. 

    The receiver duo of Quintin Payton and Bryan Underwood should put plenty of stress on opposing secondaries next year. 

45. UCF Knights

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    UCF came up short in its quest to win a Conference USA championship in 2012. However, the Knights still managed to win nine games before losing to Tulsa in the league title game. 

    A similar type of outing should be expected from the team in 2013. 

    Former Miami transfer RB Storm Johnson is the type of player who could explode next season and really turn a lot of heads. 

46. Ole Miss Rebels

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Pretty much everyone outside of Oxford picked Ole Miss to be an SEC cellar-dweller this season. But the Rebels quieted their doubters by winning six games and making it to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Hugh Freeze's first season on the job. 

    The key to the team's success was QB Bo Wallace, who invigorated the offense with his playmaking skills. 

    Wallace will be back to guide the ship in 2013. But the real players to watch could be on the other side of the ball, where linebackers Denzel Nkemdiche and Mike Marry and DE C.J. Johnson are all developing into difference-making defenders. 

47. Arizona Wildcats

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Rich Rodriguez returned to the sideline with a bang in 2012. Rodriguez guided Arizona to an eight-win season and a win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl in his first year back following his disastrous three-year tenure at Michigan. 

    It certainly helped that RB Ka'Deem Carey proved to be a perfect fit for Rodriguez's offensive system.

    Carey turned out to be one of the biggest breakout stars in the country, as he rushed for 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2012. The bad news for Pac-12 defenses is that the sophomore speedster will be back in Tucson once again next season. 

48. Pittsburgh Panthers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Paul Chryst's first season at Pitt had plenty of ups and downs. The Panthers managed to reach the six-win mark and make it to a bowl game, even though they started their season with a horrific loss at home to FCS opponent Youngstown State. 

    The team may be losing QB Tino Sunseri and dependable running back Ray Graham. But Pitt still has the chance to improve in 2012 if RB Rushel Shell and WR Devin Street both continue to develop as expected. 

49. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Tulsa won 10 games and a Conference USA championship thanks in large part to an offense that featured a wide array of very talented and very versatile skill-position players. 

    QB Cody Green, a former transfer from Nebraska, led the way, throwing for over 2,400 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

    Green will be back for his senior year in 2013, and he'll be joined again by the team's top two rushers, Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas, and its top three receivers, Keyarris Garrett, Jordan James and Thomas Roberson. 

50. Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    First-year head coach Bill O'Brien did an incredible job in his first season at Penn State in 2012. O'Brien was somehow able to rally the Nittany Lions after an 0-2 start and lead the team to eight wins in its final 10 games. 

    Along the way, the team discovered some valuable young contributors on offense such as WR Allen Robinson and RB Zach Zwinak. 

    Although Penn State will have to replace starting quarterback Matt McGloin as well as a few key defenders such as linebackers Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges and DT Jordan Hill, the Nittany Lions should still be in surprisingly decent shape for the 2013 season. 

51. Toledo Rockets

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Toledo's season certainly didn't have a happy ending, as the Rockets lost to Utah State 41-15 in the Potato Bowl. However, winning nine games in the regular season is still certainly impressive. 

    You have to like the direction that young head coach Matt Campbell is taking this team in. 

    Campbell will have plenty of offensive talent to work with once again in 2013, including QB Terrance Owens, RB David Fluellen and the team's two top receivers Bernard Reedy and Alonzo Russell. 

52. Cincinnati Bearcats

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Cincinnati has already lost head coach Butch Jones, and the Bearcats will soon lose key senior contributors such as RB George Winn, WR Kenbrell Thompkins, TE Travis Kelce, linebackers Greg Blair and Maalik Bomar, DE Walter Stewart, CB Cameron Cheatham and safety Drew Frey. 

    Obviously, new head coach Tommy Tuberville will have some rebuilding to do. But there's enough talent left over on offense with players like RB Ralph David Abernathy, WR Anthony McClung and QB Munchie Legaux to make it to a bowl game in 2013. 

53. East Carolina Pirates

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    East Carolina quietly put together an 8-4 record in the regular season and earned an invitation to the New Orleans Bowl to face Louisiana-Lafayette. Given the type of players the Pirates have returning for 2013, there's a good chance that they could be even better next season. 

    QB Shane Carden and WR Justin Hardy have developed a strong passing connection, while junior RB Vintavious Cooper has put together a 1,000-yard rushing season.

    On defense, LB Jeremy Grove will be back to lead a unit that will return seven of its top eight tacklers from 2012. 

54. Nevada Wolf Pack

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    After starting off the season 6-1, Nevada fell apart down the stretch, losing five of its last six games to finish the season 7-6. 

    Still, there were plenty of positives to take away from 2012, most notably the play of the backfield duo of QB Cody Fajardo and RB Stefphon Jefferson. 

    Jefferson rushed for over 1,800 yards and 24 touchdowns, while Fajardo totaled over 3,900 yards of offense and accounted for 32 total touchdowns. 

55. Baylor Bears

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Baylor managed to survive and make it to a bowl game this season, even though QB Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright were no longer in the offensive lineup. The team got great performances from QB Nick Florence and WR Terrance Williams, who helped the Bears average 353 passing yards per game in 2012.

    The bad news is that Florence and Williams are both seniors, and both will have to be replaced. 

    That means that RB Lache Seastrunk and WR Tevin Reese will now likely become the two key weapons on offense in 2013. Seastrunk and Reese are two explosive threats that possess field-stretching speed. 

56. Purdue Boilermakers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Former Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell takes over a Purdue team that was remarkably average and mediocre in 2012.

    The Boilermakers lose key playmakers such as RB Akeem Shavers, WR Antavian Eddison, DT Kawann Short and CB Josh Johnson. But there's enough talent for Hazell to at least make a competitive team out of. 

    Don't be surprised if Hazell turns sophomore RB Akeem Hunt into a dangerous playmaker in 2013. 

57. Missouri Tigers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Missouri looked ill-prepared for its first season in the SEC in 2012. The Tigers went just 2-6 in league play and just 5-7 overall. However, they did play one of the toughest schedules in the country. There's certainly no shame in losing to better teams such as Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M. 

    The Tigers will have plenty of challenging games on the 2013 schedule. But QB James Franklin and the rest of the team should be better prepared to handle the type of tough teams they'll face next season. 

58. Kent State Golden Flashes

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Kent State was one of most surprising teams of the 2012 season. After starting off the year as an unranked afterthought, the Golden Flashes managed to reel off 11 wins and make it all the way to the MAC championship game. 

    The team may not be able to replicate the tremendous success it had in 2012 again next season. But if RB Dri Archer returns for his senior year, Kent State will definitely still be in the hunt to win another MAC East division title. 

59. Tennessee Volunteers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley wasted some great offensive talent this year, including QB Tyler Bray, wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson and offensive lineman Dallas Thomas. 

    The problem was, the team's defense just couldn't get the type of consistent stops it needed, which is why the Volunteers went just 1-7 in SEC play. 

    New coach Butch Jones should be able to get the team to toughen up and play smarter, and he should be able to fix some of the glaring holes that plagued the defense this year. 

60. Iowa Hawkeyes

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Iowa will be looking to bounce back in 2013 after a putrid season this year. The Hawkeyes won just four games, and they finished the season on a six-game losing streak. 

    Considering how bad QB James Vandenberg was as a senior in 2012, it might just be better that he's now going to be replaced. 

    RB Mark Weisman and WR Kevonte Martin-Manley will once be the featured players on offense. But the defense will feature a few notable playmakers as well, including a linebacker trio comprised of Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey that will be one of the best units in the country. 

61. Bowling Green Falcons

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Bowling Green was able to compile an 8-4 record in the regular season this year thanks to the play of its dominant defense, which allowed just 15 points and 289 yards per game in 2012. 

    That defense will likely experience a bit of a dropoff without DT Chris Jones and LB Dwayne Woods patrolling the field in 2013. However, the offense should be able to pick up some of the slack if RB Anthon Samuel continues to develop as expected. 

62. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 9

    Louisiana-Monroe's big upset win over Arkansas doesn't look as good now as it originally did back in September. However, the Warhawks still had a lot to be proud of in 2012. They won eight games in the regular season, and they now have the chance to win their first ever bowl game. 

    The team could find itself right back in the postseason again next year as long as QB Kolton Browning keeps playing like he did this season. 

    Browning completed 64 percent of his passes for over 2,800 yards and threw 27 touchdowns while also adding 441 yards and seven scores with his legs. 

63. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Texas Tech made a solid hire, replacing Tommy Tuberville with former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, who really proved to be one of the top offensive coordinators in the country at Texas A&M this year. 

    Kingsbury won't get the chance to work with departing senior QB Seth Doege. But he will have three exciting receiving threats, Eric Ward, Darrin Moore and Jace Amaro, to exploit in 2013. 

    It will be interesting to see what type of offensive attack Kingsbury can develop in Lubbock next season.

64. Iowa State Cyclones

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    This offseason, Iowa State will have to replace two of the best defenders in school history, linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, which certainly won't be an easy task. 

    The Cyclones defense will really miss the type of intensity that Knott and Klein always brought to the table for the past few years. 

    Luckily, the offense should still be in relatively good shape, as the team's top two rushers, Shontrelle Johnson and James White, will both be back to give the Cyclones a consistent ground attack in 2013. 

65. Arkansas Razorbacks

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Arkansas fans would love to put this year's ugly 4-8 season in the rear-view mirror and focus on the future under new head coach Bret Bielema. 

    Bielema takes over a team that loses star quarterback Tyler Wilson, running backs Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson, top wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and top tight end Chris Gragg. 

    Obviously, there will be plenty of new faces on the offensive side of the ball in 2013. However, the Razorbacks do have a few intriguing young freshman playmakers such as RB Jonathan Williams and WR Mekale McKay to watch out for next season. 

66. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Wake Forest hasn't finished with a winning record since the 2008 season. But that drought could end next year if things break right. 

    The Demon Deacons will have plenty of experience on offense with the return of QB Tanner Price, RB Josh Harris and WR Michael Campanaro. Plus, the defense will welcome back 11 of its top 14 tacklers from this season. 

    DT Nikita Whitlock and CB Merrill Noel both underperformed in 2012, but they each have the chance to have big bounce back campaigns next season. 

67. Auburn Tigers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has returned to the school to take over a team that was pitiful in 2012, winning just three games. 

    Malzahn certainly has plenty of work to do this offseason. But given the way Gene Chizik recruited over the last few years, the cupboard certainly isn't bare. 

    The new head coach's main priority will be to find a quarterback that can give the offense the much-needed spark that it lacked throughout the 2012 season. The question is, can former highly touted recruit Kiehl Frazier be that player?

68. Navy Midshipmen

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Navy certainly didn't rely on any tricks to win eight regular season games in 2012. The Midshipmen did what they always do—line up and force defenses to try to stop the old school triple-option offense. 

    Most opponents had a tough time slowing down QB Keenan Reynolds, who rushed for 628 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

    Reynolds looks like he has the chance to develop into a dangerous offensive catalyst in 2013. He and RB Noah Copeland will certainly cause plenty of headaches for opposing defenses. 

69. Utah Utes

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Utah was not able to take a step forward in its second season in the Pac-12 this year. The Utes went just 3-6 against league opponents and just 5-7 overall. 

    Now, the team will have to replace its best offensive player, RB John White, and its best defensive player, DT Star Lotulelei, a future top-10 NFL draft pick. However, there are still at least a few reasons to be optimistic about this team heading into 2013. 

    Like Lotulelei, DE Joe Kruger is a defensive lineman who has evident NFL potential, as does his fellow defenders junior linebackers Eric Rowe and Brian Blechen. 

    On offense, sophomore receivers Dres Anderson and Kenneth Scott are two players to keep an eye on in 2013. 

70. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    This year, Louisiana-Lafayette got a solid season out of sophomore quarterback Terrance Broadway. The former Houston transfer completed 65 percent of his passes for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns and added another 661 yards and eight scores on the ground. 

    Broadway is going to miss his top receivers, Harry Peoples and Javone Lawson, but he'll at least have RB Alonzo Harris to rely on. 

    On defense, the Ragin Cajuns' will bring back budding star sophomore defensive end Christian Ringo, who established himself as one of the Sun Belt's top pass-rushers by racking up seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss this season. 

71. Syracuse Orange

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Syracuse will have to deal with the losses of QB Ryan Nassib, who threw for over 3,600 yards this season, as well as his top two receivers, Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales, who combined to catch 133 passes. But the team's top two running backs, Jereome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, should be able to keep the offense afloat in 2013.

    The top impact players will be found on the Orange defense, however. Linebackers Dyshawn Davis and Marquis Sprill both have star potential. Plus, there will be some legitimate buzz about DE Marcus Pierce-Brewster, a 6'3'', 248-pound junior who had eight tackles for loss in his first year after transferring from City College of San Francisco. 

    OT Justin Pugh, an athletic and tough 6'5'', 298-pound junior, will be the team's top NFL prospect to watch next season. 

72. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 8

    Western Kentucky has been gaining some notoriety for its recent accomplishments on the field. However, the program hasn't gotten anywhere near the national buzz that it did when it hired disgraced former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino to be its new head coach. 

    Petrino certainly knows how to build a winning program, which he proved at stops at Arkansas and Louisville. But it will be interesting to see what he can do now that he's had to deal with the shame of being publicly embarrassed for his actions. 

73. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Georgia Tech managed to make it to the ACC championship game by default this season, even though the Yellow Jackets won just six games. 

    Making it back to the title game in 2013 doesn't seem to be a very real possibility unless the team can figure out how to at least form some semblance of a passing game and tighten up on defense.

    The Yellow Jackets have some quality talent returning, but it doesn't look like they have enough pieces to compete for an ACC Coastal division title.  

74. Houston Cougars

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Houston went from winning 13 games in 2011 to winning just five games and completely missing out on the postseason this year. A dropoff was to be expected following the departures of head coach Kevin Sumlin and record-setting quarterback Case Keenum. But nobody really thought the Cougars would miss a bowl game in 2012. 

    The team's struggles mainly centered around the quarterback position, as David Piland just did not look like the answer. 

    If the team can get its quarterback situation straightened out, Houston is a team that has enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to have a solid bounce back year in 2013. 

75. Connecticut Huskies

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    The first couple of years of the Paul Pasqualoni era at Connecticut haven't exactly been riveting. The Huskies have gone 5-7 in each of Pasqualoni's first two years, and 2013 is now shaping up to be a make-or-break year for the 63-year-old coach. 

    Connecticut brings back one of the most underrated running backs in the country, Lyle McCombs. But the defense loses a lot of key contributors such as DE Trevardo Williams, linebackers Sio Moore and Jory Johnson and cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. 

76. Maryland Terrapins

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Another coach that will have a make-or-break year in 2013 is Maryland's Randy Edsall. 

    Edsall has gone just 6-18 in his first two seasons as the leader of the Terps, and he's now clearly on the hot seat going into next season. Luckily, Maryland's got some solid young talent on offense such as explosive game-breaking receiver Stefon Diggs and big, powerful 6'1'', 220-pound freshman back Wes Brown. 

    The key will be to find a quarterback that can remain healthy and consistent throughout a full season. 

77. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Louisiana Tech had one of the most potent and powerful offensive attacks in the country this season. The Bulldogs ranked first in the nation in scoring offense and second in total offense, averaging 51 points and 577 yards per game.

    The reality is, however, that without Sonny Dykes overseeing the offense, and without quarterback Colby Cameron and wide receiver Quinton Patton routinely embarrassing secondaries with long passing plays, it's highly doubtful that the team will have anywhere near that kind of extraordinary production in 2013. 

    Still, freshman running back Kenneth Dixon, who led the nation with 28 total touchdowns scored this season, should be able to step up and put the offense on his back next season. 

78. Ohio Bobcats

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    After starting the season 7-0, Ohio fell apart in the latter part of the year, losing four of its last five games to finish just 8-4. 

    The Bobcats will be looking to avoid another late collapse like that again next year. But it's doubtful that they'll even be 7-0 again, considering they start off the season with a tough game at Louisville. 

    Still, any time you have a quarterback like Tyler Tettleton and a running back like Beau Blankenship leading the way on offense, you have the chance to compete with anyone, as we saw in Week 1 this season when Ohio upset Penn State in Happy Valley. 

79. California Golden Bears

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    California fired Jeff Tedford after a miserable 3-9 campaign in 2012. But you have to take into account that the team's schedule, which included matchups with Ohio State, USC, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State, was absolutely brutal. 

    The 2013 slate won't be much easier. But at least the Golden Bears now have offensive guru Sonny Dykes running the show. 

    Dykes won't get the chance to work with star receiver Keenan Allen, who left school early to enter the 2013 NFL draft. However, he does have some excellent young receivers in Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. 

80. Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Tm Beckman's first year at Illinois was a disaster. The Illini finished the 2012 season with just two wins and they were outscored by an average of 32-16. 

    Beckman's squad had too much talent to win just two games, which is why the coach will need a big turnaround in 2013. 

    He'll have to do it without DE Michael Buchanan and CB Terry Hawthorne, two future high NFL draft picks, on defense. But linebackers Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim are both solid and they should be able to hold opposing offenses in check on a more consistent basis than what we saw this year. 

81. Air Force Falcons

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Air Force's Flexbone triple-option offense has produced two different 1,000-yard rushers, Cody Getz and Asher Clark, over the last two years. Next season, the back who will have the chance to shine is 5'10'', 190-pound sophomore Jon Lee. 

    Lee only carried the ball 87 times in 2013, But he averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns.  

82. Virginia Cavaliers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Virginia regressed in Mike London's third season in charge, winning just four games. Much of the team's struggles had to with instability at the quarterback position. 

    The team's opening day starter Michael Rocco has left the school, leaving Alabama transfer Phillip Sims as the choice to lead the offense in 2013. 

    Sims completed 56 percent of his passes for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012. But he's going to have to do a better job of getting the ball down the field next season, as he averaged just 6.2 yards per attempt in 2012. 

83. Arkansas State Red Wolves

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    Arkansas State won nine games and a Sun Belt championship in Gus Malzahn's one and only season as head coach. Now, it will be former Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who takes over the Red Wolves in 2013. 

    Harsin won't have the chance to work with departing senior quarterback Ryan Aplin. But he does have some intriguing offensive talent to work with, including explosive freshman receiver J.D. McKissic. 

    The Red Wolves finished the regular season ranked first in the Sun Belt in scoring offense and second in total offense, averaging 36 points and 481 yards per game. However, they probably won't be able to match those numbers next season without Aplin.

84. South Florida Bulls

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    South Florida fired head coach Skip Holtz after a disappointing 2012 season, in which the Bulls finished with just three wins. 

    Starting over with a new head coach and a new quarterback may not necessarily be such a bad thing, however. 

    Former Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart will have plenty of athleticism to work with in 2013, especially on defense with playmakers such as LB DeDe Lattimore, DE Ryne Giddins and safety JaQuez Jenkins.

    The big question is, can Taggart mold freshman quarterback Matt Floyd into a more consistent passer than his predecessor, B.J. Daniels?

85. SMU Mustangs

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 7

    SMU will be making its fourth straight bowl appearance under the watch of head coach June Jones, when the Mustangs battle Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl. But it's not exactly as if Jones' squad was that great in 2012, as the team finished with just a 6-6 record. 

    if they want to improve next season, the Mustangs will need a better year out of former Texas transfer QB Garrett Gilbert, who completed just 53 percent of his passes this year. 

    Gilbert will miss RB Zach Line, who rushed for over 1,200 yards in 2012. But fortunately he'll have a go-to receiving target in 6'0'', 175-pound junior Jeremy Johnson, who led the team with 67 catches. 

86. Washington State Cougars

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Washington State did not come close to having the type of offensive revival that some were forecasting for Mike Leach's first year at the school. The Cougars ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring offense in 2012, averaging just 20 points per game. 

    Leach may have only won three games in his first year. But what he did do was find some quality young talent to develop such as freshman receivers Gabe Marks, Dominique Williams and Brett Bartolone, who combined to catch 136 passes in their first year. 

    It will be very interesting to see if the passing guru can develop QB Connor Halliday into his next prized signal-caller in 2013. 

87. Duke Blue Devils

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Duke made it to its first bowl game since the 1994 season when it was able to put together a 6-6 record this year. Coach David Cutcliffe deserves a lot of credit for turning around a program that's long been considered one of the weakest among the BCS schools. However, Cutcliffe could have a much tougher job in store for 2013. 

    The offense loses starting quarterback Sean Renfree and cornerstone receiver Conner Vernon. Plus the defense loses key veteran leaders such as safety Walt Canty and DE Kenny Anunike. 

    It's definitely not going to be easy for Duke to make it back to a bowl game again next season. 

88. Marshall Thundering Herd

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Marshall certainly loved to throw the ball in 2012. The Thundering Herd ranked first in the nation in passing offense, averaging 365 yards through the air per game. However, they also ranked second in the nation with 607 total pass attempts. 

    The team is going to have to find some more offensive balance next season in order to make it to a bowl game. 

    The Thundering Herd have three capable freshmen running backs, Kevin Grooms, Steward Butler and Remi Watson, who should be able to take some of the pressure off of QB Rakeem Cato in 2013. 

89. Wyoming Cowboys

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Wyoming got another solid outing from sophomore quarterback Brett Smith in 2012. However, the Cowboys didn't get many other great performances from the rest of their players, which is why they finished just 4-8 this season. 

    Smith completed 62 percent of his passes for over 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns in his second season as a starter. However, Wyoming didn't have a running back rush for over 400 yards. 

    The defense also struggled mightily, ranking eighth in the Mountain West in scoring defense and last in total defense, allowing an average of 33 points and 469 yards per game. 

90. Indiana Hoosiers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Indiana has some quality young talent, especially on offense with difference-makers such as RB Stephen Houston and the explosive receiver trio of Shane Wynn, Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes

    The problem is, the Hoosiers defense was nonexistent in 2012, ranking dead last in the Big Ten in both scoring defense and total defense, giving up an average of 35 points and 463 yards per game. 

    If key returning starters such as LB David Cooper and safety Greg Heban can get the defense glued back together, the Hoosiers offense has enough talent to surprise a few teams in the Big Ten this season. But a breakout season won't happen unless the team gets consistent play from dual-threat QB Tre Roberson

91. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    Former Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, the younger brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, has taken over a Kentucky team that won just two games in 2012. 

    While a huge turnaround isn't expected immediately, the Wildcats do have some underrated young talent to work with heading into next season. 

    Kentucky's offense will feed off of RB Raymond Sanders III, a 5'8'', 190-pound junior who averaged 5.3 yards per carry on 125 touches this season, while the defense will be led by linebackers Avery Williamson and Alvin Dupree, who combined to total 226 tackles in 2012. 

92. New Mexico Lobos

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    In his first year at New Mexico, former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie helped guide the Lobos to four wins, which was three more than they had during their pitiful 2011 campaign. Even in losses, Davie's squad fought valiantly, losing to Boise State by just three points, losing to Wyoming and Air Force both by five, losing to Nevada by seven and to Colorado State by just four. 

    There's a different attitude within the program now. This is a team that could possibly even contend for a bowl invitation in 2013. 

    Underrated junior running back Kasey Carrier will once again be the star of the show next year. Carrier earned second-team All-Mountain West honors this season after rushing for over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. 

93. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Middle Tennessee State should be able to win two of its non-conference games at home against Western Carolina and Memphis. But asking the Blue Raiders to go on the road and beat a strong BYU team in Provo will likely be asking too much. 

    Still, even if the team loses to the Cougars, they should be able to pick up enough wins within the conference to flirt with bowl eligibility. 

    QB Logan Kilgore and RB Jordan Parker should form a solid backfield duo in 2013. Kilgore threw for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, while Parker rushed for 851 yards. 

94. Buffalo Bulls

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Buffalo has two of the MAC's best overall players, RB Branden Oliver and LB Khalil Mack, leading the way on both offense and defense. But the reason the Bulls won just four games this season has to do with the fact that the team didn't get enough production from the other surrounding players. 

    This year, Oliver averaged 5.5 yards per carry in eight games of action, while Mack led the team with 94 tackles, including 52 solo stops, 20 tackles for loss and eight sacks to go along with his four forced fumbles. 

    If Buffalo can get some more help from the players around their two stars, they should be able to climb out of the MAC's basement in 2013. 

95. Boston College Eagles

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    Steve Addazio didn't exactly have a stellar coaching campaign this past year at Temple. The Owls went just 4-8 in their first year in the Big East. However, that didn't stop Boston College from giving Addazio the chance to help turn around the school's floundering football program. 

    The Eagles won just six total games in the final two years of Frank Spaziani's tenure, and they rarely looked anything like the team that won consecutive ACC Atlantic division titles in 2007 and 2008. 

    Boston College will lean on the running back duo of seniors Andre Williams and Rolandan Finch, who combined to rush for over 1,000 yards this season. Plus, WR Alex Amidon will also likely have plenty of chances to get the ball in his hands in 2013. 

    The team needs to do much better than the 19 points it averaged during its 2-10 campaign this year.

96. Miami (Ohio) Redhawks

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Miami has lost four-year starting quarterback Zac Dysert, but the Redhawks do bring back top receiver Nick Harwell, who hauled in 68 passes for 870 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games in 2012. 

    The defense will return four of its top five tacklers from this season, including LB Chris Wade, who finished with 128 tackles, including 75 solo stops. 

    Harwell and Wade will both be in the conversation for All-MAC honors. But Miami's lack of experience at quarterback will likely be its ultimate undoing. 

97. Minnesota Golden Gophers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    Minnesota was able to win the required six games to make it into the postseason, where the Golden Gophers will play Texas Tech in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. 

    The team has to be proud of its bowl invitation this year. But the reality is, it's not going to be easy to earn one again in 2013. That's because the defense loses plenty of key senior leaders such as linebackers Mike Rallis and Keanon Cooper and cornerbacks Troy Stoudermire and Michael Carter. 

    If freshman quarterback Philip Nelson turns out to be a solid starter, Minnesota could win a few Big Ten games. But outside of a guaranteed victory over Western Illinois, nothing will be a certainty in 2013. 

98. Memphis Tigers

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    Justin Fuente won just four games in his first season as head coach at Memphis. But it can still be characterized as an encouraging debut. 

    The Tigers have plenty of important players coming back for 2013, including QB Jacob Karam, running backs Brandon Hayes and Jai Steib and WR Keiwone Malone at the offensive skill-positions. 

    The players to watch on the Memphis defense will mainly be up front, where DT Johnnie Farms and DE Martin Ifedi will be causing havoc in the trenches. Sophomore LB Charles Harris is a another defender that can make plenty of noise as well. 

99. Western Michigan Broncos

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    Western Michigan won just four games in 2012. But things could definitely turn back around next season. 

    On offense, the Broncos bring back a dangerous rushing threat in RB Dareyon Chance and an emerging playmaker in freshman receiver Jaimie Wilson, who caught 67 passes for 792 yards in his first season. 

    In order for this team to be successful and win at least six games in 2013, Western Michigan is going to need quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen to make better decisions and make more big plays through the air than he did this year. 

100. Colorado Buffaloes

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    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    Fortunately, Colorado fans won't have to sit through another year of the Job Embree era Embree went just 4-21 in his two years spent as the head coach of his alma mater.

    His replacement, former San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre, doesn't have a lot to live up to, but he also doesn't have a ton of great talent either. 

    On offense, the Buffaloes will be hoping for a big comeback year out of WR Paul Richardson, who missed all of last season with a torn knee ligament. On defense, they'll need to find players that can tackle. Colorado finished the regular season ranked dead last in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 46 points per game.

    The team's two senior NFL prospects to watch will be OT David Bakhtiari and DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who both possess Day-2 potential. 


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    101. Kansas Jayhawks
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    102. Temple Owls
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    103. Troy Trojans
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    104. Central Michigan Chippewas
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    105. UNLV Rebels
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    106. North Texas Mean Green 
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    107. FIU Golden Panthers
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    108. Colorado State Rams
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    109. Texas State Bobcats
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 6

    110. Army Knights
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    111. Rice Owls
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    112. UTSA Roadrunners
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 5

    113. UTEP Miners
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    114. Eastern Michigan Eagles
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    115. UAB Blazers
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    116. Southern Miss Golden Eagles
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 3

    117. New Mexico State Aggies
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 3

    118. Florida Atlantic Owls
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 4

    119. South Alabama Jaguars
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 3

    120. Hawaii Warriors
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 3

    121. Tulane Green Wave
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 3

    122. UMass Minutemen
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 2

    123. Akron Zips
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 2

    124. Idaho Vandals
    Projected Regular Season Win Total: 1