College Football 2011: A Quick Outlook for All 120 FBS Teams

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJune 3, 2011

College Football 2011: A Quick Outlook for All 120 FBS Teams

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    With every passing day, the college football season is drawing closer and closer. The dog days of summer are upon us but that just means we are closer to summer camps opening.

    With the 2011 season slowly arriving, the college football world is already buzzing about their respective teams and what the new year may bring to their program.

    Here is a quick glimpse into each college football team and what the vibe is coming into 2011.

Air Force

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    Air Force has made a lot of steps to becoming a consistent contender in the Mountain West Conference.

    With four straight bowl victories, including last years Independence Bowl victory, it is time to see if the Falcons are able to make that next step in 2011.


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    To put it nicely, the Zips are in store for another tough year. Last years one win performance was only the beginning for this program as they continue to lack both depth and talent.

    Coming into his second year, head coach Rob Ianello will have to continue to build this program towards the future but this will be another rough year for the Akron program.


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    In 2011, the Crimson Tide will be back, led by a strong defense and experience and depth at most other positions.

    Alabama will also have to face some difficult road games and then still contest with playing a regular SEC schedule.

    At the end of the day, Alabama will only go as far as A.J. McCarron will take them in his first year as starting quarterback.


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    When the 2011 season gets started, the Wildcats will hope to not pick up where they left off in 2010. Arizona ended the year losing five straight games.

    In the newly formatted Pac-12, Arizona will come up against some tough competition in the first half of their schedule and will lean on senior quarterback Nick Foles to lead them to a good start.

Arizona State

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    The heat is on Dennis Erickson in 2011 and it is not because his program resides in Arizona.

    The Sun Devils have failed to reach a bowl game since 2007 and the pressure has continued to rise on Erickson to get the job done.

    With a talented offense and a solid defense led by Vontaze Burfict, there will be no excuses at the end of the year if Arizona State fails to make a bowl game.


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    As is the case with most teams in the SEC, the schedule is not one to be envious of. In 2011, Arkansas heads on the road to face both Alabama and LSU.

    Despite the loss of Ryan Mallett, Arkansas still has a lot of talent at the skill positions and could having a surprisingly good defense in 2011.

Arkansas State

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    Arkansas State will look to improve in 2011 and be a bigger threat in the Sun Belt conference.

    Coming into the new year, the Red Wolves will be now playing for Hugh Freeze, last years offense coordinator, and will be looking to break in a new offensive line.

    If both transitions go well, the Red Wolves will look to shoot for the conference crown.


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    People around the Army program are hoping the football team can capitalize on the momentum that began last year.

    In 2010, Black Knights secured a winning season along with a bowl victory.

    In 2011, Army brings back its starting quarterback and if the defense is able to play up to the level of the offense, Army could be in store for back to back winning seasons.


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    Auburn will not be sneaking up on anyone in 2011. After a dream season was capped off with a national championship in 2010, the Tigers will have to replace a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.

    While Auburn does have a lot of young talent ready to step forward, the schedule is more difficult then ever and going undefeated in the SEC in back to back years is an almost impossible task.

Ball State

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    Pete Lembo takes over at Ball State this year and will have to start from the ground up.

    After a four win 2010 season, Lembo has work to do on both sides of the ball before this team can be competitive in the MAC.


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    Many of people around the Baylor football program have reason to be excited for the 2011 season.

    Last year, Baylor got into a bowl game and ended the season 7-6. In 2011, Robert Griffin will be leading an extremely explosive offense that had no issues putting up points last year.

    The level of success for the Bears will all come down to how its defense performs.

Boise State

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    Boise State is facing a situation in which they have good news and bad news.

    The good news is, Boise State is loaded with experienced talent that will allow them to take another run at getting to the BCS National Championship.

    The bad news is the Broncos have 17 starters that are seniors and have a week one game at Georgia.

    Broncos fans know that one loss will likely eliminate them from title contention and if they fail to cash in with the squad the have this year, it could take a while to get back to this level.

Boston College

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    2010 was a very streaky year for Boston College. They began the season with back to back victories, then lost five straight and then won five straight.

    The heat will be on head coach Frank Spaziani to get this program back to a level that they can contend for ACC championships.

Bowling Green

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    The one consistent thing throughout the Bowling Green roster is the fact that players will have the ability to earn playing time.

    The Falcons have a young time and after a two win season in 2010, it doesn't appear that 2011 will be much better.


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    Entering his second season as head coach, Jeff Quinn will look to see improvement from his two win squad from 2010.

    The Bulls defense should be solid enough that if the offense can thrive under Quinn's new system that Buffalo will find improvement in 2011.


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    Everything we need to know about the BYU Cougars will be learned in the first three weeks of the 2011 season.

    To start of the season, BYU goes on the road to Ole Miss and Texas and then comes home for a game against Utah.

    Win two or three of these games and you will see them in the top 25. On the other hand, should they drop two or three it could send them in a downward spiral.


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    Last year was the first time since arriving at Cal that Jeff Tedford had a losing season. In 2011, things could get worse.

    Cal must find a way to replace both their quarterback and running back and also only return six starters on defense.

    Lastly, just to make things a little bit harder on the team, Memorial Stadium is being renovated so the team will be playing all home games at AT&T Park.

Central Michigan

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    It is not too long ago that Central Michigan was enjoying success in the MAC but after last years three win season, it seems like a lifetime ago.

    Coach Dan Enos knows that this year will not be a great year for the Chippewas but hopes to make strides towards getting back to a bowl game.


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    Only winning four games in 2010 was a huge disappointment for a program that had won two straight Big East crowns.

    While the lack of depth will hurt the Bearcats in 2011, a bigger factor in how the season plays out will be have they fill the holes left by three offensive linemen.


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    After winning the ACC divisional title in 2009, Clemson had a 2010 that they would like to forget about. The Tigers went 6-7 and had their first losing season since 1998.

    In 2011, Clemson will be led by first year quarterback Tajh Boyd but he has a lot of returning talent around him.

    If the defense and Boyd can have a solid season, the Tigers will once again be a contender in the ACC.


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    In their first year in the Pac-12, Colorado got a handed a rough schedule. Not only do they take on Hawaii and Ohio State in out of conference play, but the Buffaloes are going to go 13 weeks without a bye.

    They do have Tyler Hansen and Rodney Stewart returning for their senior years but Colorado will struggle to get through the schedule and earn a bowl game.

Colorado State

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    Coming into 2011, Colorado State will rely heavily on quarterback Pete Thomas. Thomas has the ability to keep defenses with both his arm and his legs.

    Colorado will need to take advantage of a relatively easy opening schedule or they will be looking at a repeat performance of 2010.


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    After losing head coach Randy Edsall to Maryland, Connecticut hired Paul Pasqualoni to take over the program.

    Last year, the Huskies got to the Fiesta Bowl and the one thing stopping them from repeating as Big East champions is they will be looking to start a new quarterback and running back.

    If they can get solid play out of their newcomers, the Huskies can lean on a defense that only lost two starters from last year.


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    After last years three win season, the Duke Blue Devils face a good news and bad news scenario in 2011.

    The good news is head coach David Cutcliffe has finally brought in enough offensive talent to put points up on the board and keep games close.

    On the other hand, the bad news is Duke still lacks both talent and experience on defense and prevents the program from making strides towards improvement.

Eastern Michigan

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    As is the case with most small schools, Eastern Michigan suffers from a lack of top end talent and depth.

    Ron English is now entering his third year as head coach and has taken the Eagles from a winless season in 2009, to two victories in 2010.

    Nobody is expecting a bowl game but with only two wins in two seasons, English will need his program to take another step forward.


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    It will not take long for head coach Ruffin McNeill to see the kind of season the ECU Pirates are in for in 2011. In week one, the Pirates go up against South Carolina.

    While putting points on the board will not be a problem, especially with Dominique Davis at quarterback, the defense must improve for ECU to take a step forward.


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    In 2010, FIU was able to reach out and grab a piece of the Sun Belt conference championship. Despite getting out to an awful start, the Golden Panthers were still able to get it together and end the year on a positive not.

    During the 2011 season, FIU has a favorable schedule that has they playing at home for four out of their first five games.


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    This is the year that John Brantley must perform for the Gators to regain their dominance in the SEC.

    Last year, the Gators suffered five losses and that is not something they will look to repeat. Despite a difficult schedule ahead of them, the Gators only competition in the SEC east will be South Carolina.

    If Brantley is able to take a step forward in this offense, the Gators could be a threat to come out of the East and get their crack at the SEC title.

Florida Atlantic

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    Except for Colorado, who goes 13 weeks without a bye week, Florida Atlantic has one of the more challenging season starts. The Owls open 2011 with five straight road games which includes Florida, Michigan State and Auburn.

    With a start like that to the season, Florida Atlantic will have to try and find a way to grind out six victories in order to get to a bowl game, something they couldn't do in 2010.

Florida State

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    In 2011, the Seminoles return eight defensive starters and are ready to help lead Florida State.

    On the other side of the ball, EJ Manuel steps in as the new FSU starting quarterback and will determine how far this team can go.

    Last year, Jimbo Fisher got the program back to 10 wins and will look to get them back into a BCS game in 2011.

Fresno State

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    Pat Hill has helped develop Fresno State into a solid program. The Bulldogs have stayed around the seven to eight win mark but Hill is ready for that to change.

    Throughout the offseason, the buzz around the program has been taking the next step.

    Fresno should be able to make a run at the WAC conference title and will likely only have to compete with Hawaii.


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    If quarterback Aaron Murray is able to show growth and play better then he did in 2010, the 2011 season will be a good one for the Bulldogs.

    Despite ending the 2010 season with a Liberty Bowl loss to UCF, Georgia will get an opportunity to quickly erase that with a week one game at home against Boise State.

Georgia Tech

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    Coming into 2011, coach Paul Johnson will be looking for new players to step up in his triple option offense.

    Newcomers Tevin Washington and Charles Perkins will be leaned on to help get the Yellow Jackets back on track after going through a losing season in 2010.


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    Behind a strong defense and returning quarterback Bryant Moniz, Hawaii is the strongest contender to win the WAC.

    With the conference losing Boise State, the conference may come down to a late season game with Fresno State.


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    The buzz in Houston is very simple, Case Keenum is back. After having his 2010 season cut short due to injury, Keenum returns for his final season and hopes to lead Houston to a fast start.

    On top of getting Keenum back, the Houston offense returns two starting receivers as well as running back Bryce Beall.

    One thing is for sure, Houston will not struggle to score points as long as Keenum stays healthy.


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    Despite having two straight seasons with six wins or more, the Vandals depth chart took a huge hit when the 2010 season came to an end.

    Idaho does return seven starters on its defense but only has three starters coming back from last years offense.

    The only thing that might help the offenses transition is the fact that the three returning starters are all on the offensive line.


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    On the offensive side of the ball, Illinois has the talent to earn back to back bowl games.

    On the other hand, the defense will be looking to replace four players in their front seven and will be the big question entering the 2011 season.


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    Despite not being a program with a strong history, Indiana has been very competitive over the past few years and has had some successes in the Big 10.

    In 2011, the Hoosiers get a new look with coach Kevin Wilson, who will bring a new style offense to the school.

    If Indiana can adopt his philosophy and get production out of their young quarterbacks, they will remain competitive in the Big 10.


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    2011 could be a rebuilding year for Iowa. They still have the talent to be a bowl team but will need to see growth out of their skill positions.

    James Vandenberg will be taking over at quarterback and if he can get on the same page as Marvin McNutt, Iowa could make a smooth transition into the new year.

Iowa State

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    Despite having solid depth this year, Iowa State lost a lot of their top end talent from 2010 and it will show this year.

    Coach Paul Rhoads will have to look to get the most out of what he has but even then, the schedule will not be his friend in 2011.


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    The first year under Turner Gill did not go so well and there is not much reason to believe the second year will be much different.

    Gill is still trying to get the type of talent needed to fit his system and the lack of depth at quarterback will not help him.

    Unless players make huge strides in 2011, Kansas will finish last in the Big 12.

Kansas State

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    While 2011 could be another mediocre year for Kansas State, the pieces are in place to challenge in the Big 12 in 2012.

    The Wildcats will be breaking in a new backfield and will struggle throughout the year.

    Despite needing a year to potentially break through, it will be interesting to watch running back Bryce Brown in 2011.

Kent State

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    With a fresh energy surrounding the program, new coach Darrell Hazell has big expectations for Kent State.

    The Golden Flashes offense should be its strong point in 2011 as they only lost two starters from last years team.

    If Kent State can find some answers up front on the defensive line, Kent State will contend in the MAC.


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    While the out of conference schedule does not present a huge challenge, Kentucky is going to struggle to get to the six win mark and become bowl eligible.

    Both the offense and defense took major hits in the offseason and will need to gear back up in 2011.

Louisiana Tech

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    Like most teams in the WAC this year, the thought is with Boise State gone, why not us.

    Louisiana Tech has the same thought but they will need Colby Cameron to give them a consistency at quarterback if they want to challenge for the conference title.


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    The Ragin Cajuns head in a new direction in 2011 as Mark Hudspeth comes to the program and takes over as head coach.

    After a 3-9 season last year, things don't appear to be looking up this year. Hudspeth will need a couple of seasons to try and recruit and turn this program around.


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    If your a Louisiana-Monroe fan your hope is that after the fourth week of the season, the Warhawks are still healthy and ready to enter league play.

    In three out of their first four games, the Warhawks go on the road to Florida State, TCU, and Iowa.


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    After going 7-6 in 2010, Louisville enters 2011 with more questions then answers.

    The Cardinals still have a quarterback battle between Will Stein and Teddy Bridgewater and are looking to also fill their starting running back spot.

    Combine the inexperience in the offensive backfield with a rough schedule and it is unlikely you will see Louisville in a bowl game for 2011.


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    Much like Oregon, all the talk around LSU football right now is their week one game against the Ducks.

    LSU will find themselves in most peoples preseason top fives and could receive a huge boost by winning their opening game.

    If the Tigers are able to earn a victory over the Ducks, they will become one of the favorites to get to the BCS championship.


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    This is a year to keep your eye on Marshall to make a breakthrough in Conference-USA.

    The big storyline last year for the Thundering Herd was the amount of underclassmen that saw significant playing time. Coach Doc Holliday hopes that is a strategy that pays off big in 2011.


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    After a 9-4 season in 2010, new coach Randy Edsall takes over the Terrapins football program.

    The good news for Edsall is that Maryland returns some key starters and could make a run at the ACC championship.


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    Like any team that only wins one game the year before, its hard for things to get much worse. Memphis finds itself in this position and knows that there are a lot of holes to start filling before this team can begin to think about a bowl game.


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    While Miami will never find themselves at a loss for talent, they do have some work to do in 2011.

    The Hurricanes first question to answer is who will step up and lead them at the quarterback position.

    They also must address the two-deep on defense. While most of their starting core is back, they have  a lot of inexperienced players behind them.

    Lastly, should all of these issues work themselves out, Miami must become more disciplined and stay focused on the 60 minutes of football.

Miami University of Ohio

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    Despite losing head coach Mike Haywood, Don Treadwell knows he is stepping into a great situation.

    The Redhawks went 10-4 in 2010 and won both the MAC championship as well as the Bowl.

    Based on the returning talent, Miami is poised for a repeat performance.


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    The Michigan Wolverines face three questions entering 2011. Can the defense stop anyone in 2011? Will Denard Robinson take the next step in his development? Can Brady Hoke stop the bleeding and bring this program back to prominence.

    While 2011 will be better then 2010, the defense will still struggle in conference play and Michigan will end the year on a sour note again, losing to Ohio State.

Michigan State

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    Michigan State returns a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball this year. B.J. Cunningham, Kirk Cousins and Edwin Baker will be an impressive trio on offense.

    While Michigan State will compete for a Big 10 title shot, the road schedule is brutal this year as they are at Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa.

Middle Tennessee

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    2011 will be a long season for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee has some talent on the offensive side of the ball and will do their best to keep them in games but the lack of talent and depth on defense will continue to cost them games.


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    Jerry Kill has his hands full as he takes over as the head coach at Minnesota. The Gophers have remained at the bottom of the Big 10 for a few years now and not much is expected to change in 2011.

    Kill will need time to help build this program back up but should be able to do some things with MarQueis Grey at quarterback.

Mississippi State

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    The talent is there at Mississippi State this year and many believe they have the potential to pass the nine wins they had last year.

    Bulldogs will find out early on how good their team is with back to back games against Auburn and LSU.


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    The tone for the 2011 season will be set early on this year. Missouri will be starting a new quarterback and will only have one game before the schedule gets very interesting.

    Sophomore James Franklin will get a game against Miami of Ohio to get his feet under him but two of the next three games are road dates against Arizona State and Oklahoma.


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    Ken Niumatalolo enters his fourth year as Navy head coach and has done a terrific job during his time there.

    While Ricky Dobbs is no longer leading the offense, Kriss Proctor did get some valuable playing time last year and will look to improve in 2011.

    The one thing that may stand between the Midshipmen and a bowl game is a difficult schedule.

NC State

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    The news around camp for the Wolfpack is are they moving on without Russell Wilson or is he coming back.

    Coach Tom O'Brien has done a good job of turning this program around and ended the 2010 season with a bowl victory over West Virginia.

    Coming into 2011, NC State will be led by their defense but will also put points up on the board regardless of what Wilson ends up doing.


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    In 2011 Nebraska makes the move from the Big 12 over to the Big 10 and comes in as a favorite to win the Legends division and get to the conference championship.

    The biggest thing for the Cornhuskers will be getting used to the style of play in the Big 10. The transition should not be too difficult as they already have a solid defense and like to run the ball.


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    In 2011, the Wolf Pack will be trying to figure out how to replace quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

    Last year Nevada achieved the best record in school history, 13-1, and also upset Boise State in a memorably game.

    The season will get off to a rough start as they face Oregon, Texas Tech and Boise State in the first four weeks of the season.

New Mexico

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    After only earning one victory last year, its hard to go anywhere but up from there.

    The defense returns most of its starters and will have to help lead this defense as the offense looks to adjust to a new quarterback and running back.

New Mexico State

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    The Aggies will need the offense to make major improvement to be able to have a better season then they had in 2010.

    Last year, the offense only scored over 25 points one time and was held to 20 points or less eight time.

    Despite only winning two games, things could get worse before they start to get better for New Mexico State.

North Carolina

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    North Carolina's program has come a long way and Butch Davis is keeping this team competitive in the ACC.

    Last year was a tough year for the Tar Heels considering the talent was there but issues off the field stopped them from reaching their potential.

    While 2011 will be somewhat of a rebuilding year, the talent is there to go to another bowl game.

North Texas

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    It will be another long season for the Mean Green in 2011 much like seasons past. North Texas still lacks starting talent and overall depth and will not be able to get out of the Sun Belt basement.

Northern Illinois

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    While the Huskies got to the MAC title game last year, they are hoping they can not only get there in 2011 but also win the conference.

    Despite returning 14 starters on both sides of the ball, the Huskies defense will struggle to finish off games.


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    Last year, Northwestern got out of the gates quick and went to 5-0. They unfortunately faltered down the stretch, finishing the year at 7-6.

    2011 will not be much easier on the Wildcats. While they do return 14 starters, Northwestern heads on the road to play Boston College, Iowa and Nebraska and wraps up the year against Michigan State.

Notre Dame

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    With the four game winning streak that ended the 2010 season, Notre Dame fans are excited for their second season under Brian Kelly.

    The Irish only lost five starters from last year and believe they have a much improved offense. If the offense does take a step forward, Notre Dame could be contending for a bowl game.


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    People around the Bobcats program are hoping that this is the year Ohio has a breakthrough season in the MAC.

    Last year they went 8-5 but they return their entire starting offensive line, which could lead to big things in 2011.

Ohio State

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    This may just be a year that Buckeye fans would like to be over.

    The offseason has been filled with accusations and investigations and as we enter the summer months, Jim Tressel has now stepped down as head coach.

    Even once the football season gets underway, Ohio State will have to deal with the distraction of not having some of its top players, who have been suspended for violations.


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    With Landry Jones under center and a excellent defense on the other side of the ball, Oklahoma is one of the early favorites to win the national championship.

    The schedule lines up well for the Sooners but they do have a road date with Oklahoma State and a game against Texas in Dallas.

    Anything less then 12-0 and a Big 12 title will be viewed as a disappointment.

Oklahoma State

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    One thing we know about the Cowboys is the offense will be putting up points throughout the 2011 season. With the return of Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State will not find themselves short on big plays.

    The question is can the defensive fill some holes in the front seven and get through a brutal road schedule that includes Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

Ole Miss

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    After last years 4-8 season, Ole Miss could be in for more of the same in 2011.

    While the offense returns the majority of its starters, the Rebels will not return to a bowl game without seeing improved play from its defense.

    Things will get off to a difficult start was they get both BYU and Georgia in the first month of the season.


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    All the talk around Oregon is if they can replace the loss of three players on the offensive line and if Darron Thomas can develop a chemistry with another receiver after losing Jeff Maehl to graduation.

    Oregon is coming off of back to back conference championships and will take part in the biggest week one game as they head down to Dallas to take on LSU.

Oregon State

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    Oregon State enters the 2011 season hoping they have one Rodgers brother left.

    During the 2010 season, James Rodgers suffered a season ending knee injury and only time will tell if he is fully healed. At the end of the season, the Beavers lost the other Rodgers brother, Jacquizz, to the NFL draft.

    If James is not able to reach the level of play he was at before his injury, the 2011 season could be a long year for Oregon State fans, including a fourth straight Civil War loss.

Penn State

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    Penn State opens the 2011 season knowing they have one week to get prepared for Alabama. The problem that the Nittany Lions face is they are extremely thin on both the offensive and defensive lines.

    Once Penn State finds an answer to both lines they can begin to worry about who will be under center in 2011.


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    The big question in Pittsburgh is have they truly found the right man to take over the Panthers program.

    After a disappointing 2010, Pittsburgh let go Dave Wannstedt and hired Mike Haywood. It only took 16 days to fire Haywood, who was charged with domestic violence, and replace him with Todd Graham.

    Graham will have his hands full in 2011 as the Panthers lose some key players on both sides of the ball and will likely take a step back this year.


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    It looks like it will still be another year before Purdue gets back into a bowl game.

    Last year, the Boilermakers went 4-8 and were hampered by injuries. This year, they are thin at most position and will struggle to get to six victories in the Big 10.


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    Rice has been floating around the bottom of Conference-USA and hopes this might be the year they can get over the hump and become bowl eligible.

    While the offenses only concern centers around its receiving core, the defense will again by under the microscope after having a dismal 2010.


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    Last year, Greg Shiano and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights had a set back going 4-8 and failing to make a bowl game.

    The bad news for Rutgers fans is they enter the 2011 season with more questions then answers.

    If they are able to get solid play out of the offensive line, who needs to replace two starters, then Rutgers should be able to take advantage of a light out of conference schedule and get to a bowl game.

San Diego State

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    While some key components have returned from the 9-4 2010 season, San Diego State will be heading into the 2011 season with a new head coach.

    Brady Hoke is now at Michigan and the Aztecs turn to Rocky Long to lead the program. The good news for Long is that Hoke has not left the cupboard bare and it will be another solid year at San Diego State.

San Jose State

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    For a team that went 1-12 and 0-8 in conference, the 2011 season will not get off to a good start.

    The Spartans head on the road to start the season against Stanford and UCLA and even when they return home, they will take on Nevada.

    This might be a year that San Jose State goes without a win.


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    Since taking over at SMU, June Jones has taking major strides to revive this program and 2011 hopes to be another step in the right direction.

    In 2008, the Mustangs went 1-11 but found themselves in their conference championship game in 2010.

    With 17 starters returning, this could be the chance the Mustangs have waited for.

South Carolina

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    South Carolina enters summer camp with arguably the best triple threat on offense. Quarterback Stephen Garcia, running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery will have no issues putting up points in 2011.

    While the out of conference schedule is not that difficult, the Gamecocks will still have to deal with the competition in the SEC East.

South Florida

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    South Florida has found themselves developing a trend of being consistently decent. They have played in six straight bowl games and have won their last three including last years victory over Clemson.

    B.J. Daniels returns under center for the Bulls and they have their eyes set on winning the Big East. That goal may still be one year away.

Southern Miss

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    After a second place finish in Conference-USA in 2010, the Golden Eagles have their eyes set on November 12, when they take on UCF.

    The talent that is needed for Southern Miss to win their conference is there as long as the defense can find away to slow down some of the high powered offenses they go up against.


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    Normally the loss of a coach like Jim Harbaugh would dominate the headlines entering summer camp but not so much for Stanford.

    While the loss of Harbaugh could have an impact on the Cardinal, Andrew Luck passed up being the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft to return for another season at Stanford.

    Stanford faces an easy out of conference schedule and will likely meet up with Oregon in mid-November to determine the Pac-12 north champion.


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    In 2010, Syracuse was one of the most improved programs. They went from 4-8 to 8-5 and defeated Kansas State in a bowl game.

    The problem for the Orange in 2011 is they only return five starters on defense and will be starting two new cornerbacks. If the defense get up to speed quickly, Syracuse can continue to move the program in the right direction.


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    With the 2011 season around the corner, TCU fans understand the Andy Dalton era is over. While Dalton did leave after the 2010 Rose Bowl season, TCU will still be a contender in the Mountain West conference.

    After spending the past few years competing against Boise State without playing them, the Horned Frogs will play Boise State in November, a game that could determine the conference title.


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    Former coach Al Golden has moved on to the University of Miami and now Temple welcomes in Steve Addazio.

    After back to back winning season, the Owls may not have caught the elite teams in the MAC but will still give them all they can handle.


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    After his first year at Tennessee, coach Derek Dooley has brought in some talent and appears to be on the right track.

    Last year Tennessee did become bowl eligible and will fight through a tough SEC schedule to do so again.

    While this year may not be as bright as most Vols fans would hope for, Tennessee has a ton of potential coming into the 2012 season that should only see the departure of one offensive starter.


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    People are still buzzing about the new television contract Texas signed with ESPN. This fall, the Longhorns will be launching their new network, in a deal that runs for 20 years.

    On the field, Texas will see improvement from last years five win season. The defense should be solid and if Garrett Gilbert can take a step forward the offense will be much improved.

Texas A&M

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    The Aggies are ready for 2011 and in position to make some noise in the Big 12.

    From 2009 to 2010, Texas A&M showed huge strides in improving their defense. If they can continue this trend into 2011 and maintain the offensive output they had last year, the Aggies will be in position to contend with Oklahoma for the conference title.

Texas Tech

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    No surprises in 2011 for the Red Raiders. The storyline for the season will be about an explosive offense but the question mark is what will we be saying about the defense.

    From 2010 to 2011, Texas Tech only returns three starters on defense. This will be another season that Tech will only go as far as their defense takes them.


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    In 2010, the Toledo Rockets fell short of the MAC title game but have are refocused and have the returning talent to give it another run.

    By the time we reach the end of the conference schedule, look for Toledo to meet up with Miami of Ohio to play for the conference title.


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    The bad news for the Tojans is they know they have issues up front on the offensive line and that their receivers lack experience entering 2011.

    The good news is quarterback Corey Robinson is back and that Troy has enough overall talent to make it back to back Sun Belt titles.


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    2011 is a make or break year for Bob Toledo. In his four years at Tulane, Toledo is 13-35 and has the program only making baby steps.

    Tulane improved from 3 wins in 2009 to 4 wins last year but will need to make a bowl game to save Toledo's job.


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    After a 10-3 season in 2010, Bill Blakenship will be hard pressed to have a repeat performance.

    In order for Tulsa to come close to last years record, they will have to be nearly perfect in conference play since their out of conference schedule includes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State.


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    While the talent to win their conference is not there, UAB believes that with solid play up front on their defensive line and Bryan Ellis back at quarterback, that they will head to a bowl game in 2011.


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    After winning the Conference USA title in 2010, UCF is ready to take aim at another conference crown.

    Most of the talent on the offense and defense are back and the only big question facing the Knights is if they can receive solid production out of their new receiving core.


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    The heat is on at UCLA and this could prove to be Rich Neuheisel's last year unless he is able to show substantial improvement in the direction of the program.

    Since taking over, Neuheisel is 15-22 and has not been able to lead UCLA back to prominence.

    Playing against Houston and Texas in the first three weeks of the season does not look like it will be easy for the Bruins to get off to a fast start.


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    Much like the top of the Mountain West Conference, the bottom is well known as well. While they may not finish last in the conference, UNLV will struggle to get much more then three or four victories in 2011.


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    USC enters the newly formed Pac-12 with one year of post season ban left on its punishment.

    In 2011, the Trojans are going to try and get back some of the swagger they have lost over the past couple of seasons and try to reestablish themselves as a dominate program going into 2012.


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    Over the past few years, Utah has stepped out of conference to take on Pac-10 opponents. In 2011, it will be time to find out if Utah is able to compete week after week in the Pac-12.

    Led by Kyle Whittingham, the Utes will look to rebuild a defense that only returns three starters from 2010.

Utah State

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    Another coach on the hot seat will be Utah State's Gary Anderson. In his two years, Anderson has gone 8-16 and has not moved the program forward. If 2011 doesn't show improvement, Anderson will be sent packing.


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    2011 will end up being a long season for the UTEP Miners. They only return two starters on their defense but do return the majority of their defense.

    While having experience on the defensive side of the ball is always good, UTEP had one of the worst defenses in the conference last year.


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    Coming off of last years 2-10 season, the Commodores return all but six total starters for 2011.

    With a new season comes new coach James Franklin. Vanderbilt hopes that the young head coach came breathe some life into this program.

    Franklin would gain major respect around the nation by getting Vanderbilt to its second bowl in 29 years.


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    Last year is being viewed as a turning point in the Virginia football program. Coach Mike London had the team competing and making strides towards the future.

    The Cavaliers return most of their offensive starters and should be able to improve upon the four wins they had in 2010.

Virginia Tech

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    Despite losing some of their offensive starters, Virginia Tech has an extremely favorable schedule that should help them repeat as ACC champions.

    If the Hokies are able to escape a slow start like they had in 2010, they could not only be a force in the ACC but also have a shot at going to the BCS Championship.

Wake Forest

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    Going into the 2011 season, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons are still going through some growing pains that started in 2010.

    While youth does has it advantages, Wake Forest is still a year away from being a threat in the ACC.


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    No Jake Locker and being placed in the same division as Oregon and Stanford means that what the Huskies need to aim for is getting to six wins and going to another bowl game.

    It appears for now that Keith Price has won the job at quarterback but with the loses along the offensive and defensive lines, a seven win season is what is to be expected.

Washington State

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    While a 2-10 record may not suggest it, Washington State made strides towards improvement in 2010 and will look to build on that this year.

    The Cougars showed signs of being more competitive throughout the Pac-10 schedule and with quarterback Jeff Tuel in his junior season, Washington State should be able to add to last years win total.

West Virginia

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    Things are set up nicely in Morgantown for West Virginia to win the Big East. The Mountaineers will receive a strength of schedule boost with LSU coming to town and are also the benefactors of having Pittsburgh and Louisville at home.

    Geno Smith will be back for his junior season and has an offensive line in front of him that only needs to replace one man.

Western Kentucky

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    2011 will see improvement for the Hilltoppers. After finishing last in the Sun Belt last year, Western Kentucky will pass up North Texas and should be able to double last years win total of two.

Western Michigan

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    Most other teams in the MAC know that Western Michigan has a solid passing attack but there is no concern over the running game.

    If the Broncos can develop the running game and make opposing defenses respect it, the offense could put up some big numbers.


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    With the recent actions that have been taken at Ohio State, Wisconsin is quickly going to emerge as a Big 10 favorite.

    As usual, the Badgers will have a solid run attack which should allow sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr to ease into his first full year as starter.


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    After a 3-9 season in 2010, things do not look like they will get much better in 2011. Wyoming lose half of its starters from last year and still lack the depth and talent to compete in the Mountain West Conference.