College Football Preseason Rankings 2011: Ranking All 120 Teams

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2011

College Football Preseason Rankings 2011: Ranking All 120 Teams

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    With less than three weeks remaining before the 2011 college football season gets underway, teams continue to look to improve during summer workouts and begin to figure out what their final depth chart will look like for their week one opponent.

    One important part of college football is the preseason polls. It helps fans and teams gauge where they stack up against teams across the nation. The polls also help shape the race for the national championship based on how high or low a team is ranked in the first polls.

    Here is a look at all 120 teams and where they rank coming into 2011.

No. 120: New Mexico

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    Coming into the 2011 season, New Mexico has the honor of being the worst team in the nation. Under head coach Mike Locksley, the Lobos are 2-22 over the past two seasons, and 2011 will likely be a repeat performance of the past two.

No. 119: Akron

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    Last year, Akron was one of the worst teams in the nation, and 2011 will not be much different for the Zips. In 2010, they went 1-11, and the schedule and depth chart did not improve in the offseason. Look for a repeat performance by Akron in 2011.

No. 118: New Mexico State

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    The state of New Mexico has it rough when it comes to college football. New Mexico State is not that much better then New Mexico and comes in at No. 118.

    Last year, the Aggies went 2-10, and with a tough schedule in front of them, getting back to that record might be all they can do.

No. 117: Western Kentucky

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    2010 was not kind to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, and fans and people around the program should not expect much more from the program in 2011.

    Western Kentucky does return a lot of starters, but the offense still lacks firepower and will continue to make things difficult on the offense.

No. 116: North Texas

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    Last year, the North Texas Mean Green went 3-9 and did not have much success. In 2011, they are replacing their quarterback and looking to replace players on both lines.

    While 3-9 may have been bad last year, 2011 will be even worse.

No. 115: San Jose State

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    Last year's 1-12 record was tough to sit through for Spartan fans, and in 2011, the team will be looking to start a new quarterback. The upside for San Jose State is the defense returns all but one starter and should help the program reach two wins in 2011.

No. 114: Ball State

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    Out of the MAC conference, Ball State turned in a 4-8 record that placed them fourth in the conference.

    In 2011, the schedule does not ease up on the Cardinals and could put them in a position to post a worse record then last year.

No. 113: Eastern Michigan

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    Ron English improved Eastern Michigan in his second year, but that jump was from zero wins to two wins in 2010.

    Eastern Michigan should be able to match their record or improve upon it due to an easier schedule.

No. 112: Louisiana

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    The Ragin' Cajuns lost a lot of players from last year's 2010 team, but I am not convinced that is a bad thing. Last year, Louisiana went 3-9 and struggled to keep up with team.

    In 2011, they will be looking to break in a lot of new starters, and 3-9 might be a good thing if they can reach that mark.

No. 111: Buffalo

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    Since the loss of Turner Gill, Buffalo has gone back to the bottom of the MAC. Last year, the Bulls went 2-10 and are showing no signs of improvement.

    When the 2011 season gets started, Buffalo will be starting a new quarterback and look to replace eight starters on defense.

No. 110: UAB

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    With the 2011 season approaching, the UAB Blazers return a good amount of their starters from last years 4-8 season and hope to move up the ranks in Conference USA.

    With a tough schedule in front of them, five or six wins may be out of their reach.

No. 109: Memphis

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    Under new head coach Larry Porter, things did not go so well in year one. Last year, the Tigers went 1-11, and coming into this season, the depth chart and returning starters were hit hard.

    Replacing your entire backfield and four out of five starters could have Memphis in danger of not winning a single game.

No. 108: Florida Atlantic

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    The story with Florida Atlantic in 2011 will be that it is the last season for Howard Schnellenberger.

    Last season, Schnellenberger led the Owls to a 4-8 record, and while the team may look to send him out on a positive note, there is just not enough talent on the team to make that happen.

No. 107: Kent State

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    Another team that could take a step backwards in the MAC is Kent State. During the offseason, the Golden Flashes were hit hard on the defensive side of the ball and will likely cause them to end the 2011 season below their previous record.

No. 106: UTEP

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    Last season's 6-7 record was pretty good for the UTEP Miners. The bad news entering the 2011 season is they lost all but two starters from the offense, including all five linemen and their quarterback.

    During this season, Mike Price will have to do his best with his inexperienced talent.

No. 105: Middle Tennessee

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    It has been a while since Middle Tennessee has competed for the Sun Belt championship, and 2011 is not the year they will get back to it.

    Last season, the Blue Raiders had a 6-7 record, but expect a dip in that record during 2011, as they have to replace both their starting quarterback and running back.

No. 104: Central Michigan

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    After winning the MAC in 2009, Central Michigan had a huge dip in performance and went 3-9 in 2010.

    For the upcoming season, the Chips will need some of their new defensive starters to come in and help keep the offense in the game.

No. 103: Louisiana-Monroe

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    Louisiana-Monroe went 5-7 in 2010 and were towards the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt.

    In 2011, the Warhawks are replacing the majority of their defensive starters and could be off to a rocky start, as they face Florida State, TCU and Iowa in the first four weeks of the season.

No. 102: Tulane

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    After a 4-8 record last year, the schedule is a bit more manageable in 2011. If the Green Wave is able to win some of the close games, they could push their record to six wins and find themselves in a bowl game.

No. 101: Bowling Green

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    Last year's 2-10 record was hard for Bowling Green fans to watch. The upside coming into 2011 is the fact that the team will be starting a lot of young players, which may not cause this season to go as well as they had hoped, but could pay off next year.

No. 100: Idaho

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    Another team likely to take a dip from their previous year's record is the Idaho Vandals. Last year, the Vandals went 6-7, but coming into 2011, the have lost eight offensive starters and will not match the success that they had last year.

No. 99: Arkansas State

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    The Arkansas State Red Wolves are out of the Sun Belt conference and ended up finishing fourth last year with a 4-8 record.

    The down side for the Red Wolves is that in 2011, they will be replacing four out of five starters on the offensive line and two more on the defensive line. Not a good way to start the year.

No. 98: Temple

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    With the departure of Al Golden for Miami, Steve Addazio inherits a team that has some pieces in place to compete in the MAC.

    Last year, Temple went 8-4, and with a wealth of returning talent on offense, they could repeat that record in 2011.

No. 97: Western Michigan

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    One thing that Western Michigan is not short on coming into 2011 is a passing attack. The Broncos passing attack could be tops in the conference, but only if they can develop a running game that defenses must respect.

No. 96: Marshall

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    Marshall has the potential to surprise some teams in Conference USA this year.

    Doc Holliday is entering his second year as coach and made it a priority to get his young players into games last year. The payoff could be this year, as they ended 2010 by winning four out of five games.

No. 95: Utah State

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    Utah State is entering the season with a good amount of offensive talent. The offense could put up some big numbers in 2011, but only if they can get solid play out of first year starter Adam Kennedy.

No. 94: Colorado State

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    They key to a successful season for Colorado State is truly going to be measured by how they do in September. The Rams start the season off with a light schedule that should allow them to go at least 3-2. If they are unable to reach that mark, it will be a long season for fans of the Rams.

No. 93: Northern Illinois

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    The fans at Northern Illinois are hoping that this might be the year that the school earns its first conference title. With the solid offense that the Huskies enter 2011 with, the expectations may not be too far off.

No. 92: Rice

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    In 2011, the Rice offense should be able to get on track, but the difficulty could be found on the other side of the ball. The owls will be replacing three out of four defensive linemen, and if they want to start moving up the ladder in Conference USA, they must get some help from the offense.

No. 91: UNLV

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    After one year at UNLV, coach Bobby Hauck looks to improve on the program's 2-11 record. With the returning starters and easier schedule, Hauck and the Rebels are more than capable of making a step toward not only improving, but being bowl eligible.

No. 90: Wyoming

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    Out in the Mountain West Conference, Wyoming has been struggling to get out of the bottom half of the conference. In 2011, the team will need its offense to make stride for improvement if this program is hoping on improving from 3-9.

No. 89: Ohio

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    With only two returning defensive starters, the Ohio Bobcats will be looking to lean on the offense this year. The downside to that is the offense will be placing four starters, including their quarterback and running back.

No. 88: Louisiana Tech

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    Lots of things could be going Louisiana Tech's way in 2011. The Bulldogs return some key starters, and competing in the WAC could be a lot easier this year, as they will not have to contend with Boise State.

No. 87: FIU

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    The end of last year was capped off by a victory in the Little Caesars Bowl, and FIU hopes to build on that coming into this season

    With a solid amount of returning starters, if the Golden Panthers can get some support from their younger players, another bowl game or possible conference championship is not out of the picture.

No. 86: Minnesota

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    Jerry Kill is taking over at Minnesota and will have his work cut out for him. Last season, the Gophers went 3-9 and appeared to be heading nowhere fast.

    If Kill is able to get some consistency out of his offense, then the Gophers might reach four or five wins in 2011.

No. 85: Kansas

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    Year one under Turner Gill did not go so well, as the Kansas Jayhawks went 3-9. The bad news for Kansas fans is it appears that year two may go just about as bad.

    While the offense appears to have the firepower to put up big points, the defense still lacks depth and will get eaten alive in the Big 12.

No. 84: Vanderbilt

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    When you look at the talent and depth on the Vanderbilt Commodores roster, you struggle to see how the team could get two wins like they did in 2010.

    James Franklin is taking over this year as head coach, and he will need a few years to help get this program back to being competitive.

No. 83: Washington State

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    While Washington State does continue to take baby steps towards improvement, they are still not at a level in which they can get out of the bottom of the Pac-12.

    Jeff Tuel is a good quarterback, but the lack of talent around him hurts, and the defense is not going to help things, either.

No. 82: East Carolina

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    After a 6-7 season last year, the schedule gives East Carolina a break, and with the offensive talent that the Pirates have, a winning season and a better bowl are within their reach.

    If the Pirates can get better defensively, this could be a team that gets back to competing for a conference crown.

No. 81: Toledo

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    This will be year three under head coach Tim Beckman, and he, as well as the program, is hoping that this is the year their efforts pay off.

    With a solid offense and defense, Toledo will likely pass their 8-5 record of last year and compete for the MAC title.

No. 80: Indiana

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    Indiana has started to turn the program around, but instead of being a team with a history of losing, they are now becoming a team that keeps a game competitive but cannot finish the deal.

    Last year, Indiana went 5-7, and if they hope to become bowl eligible, they will need their new quarterback and running back to step up right away.

No. 79: Wake Forest

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    For Demon Deacon fans, their ACC title from 2006 seems like decades ago. Last year, Wake Forest went 3-9 and, based on the talent level of the ACC, appear to be staying in the bottom half of the conference for this year.

No. 78: Troy

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    The winner of last year's Sun Belt conference is back and ready to defend their conference crown.

    While the offense will need to replace three starting offensive linemen, the defense only lost three players overall and have enough talent to go for a sixth straight Sun Belt title.

No. 77: Rutgers

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    It has been a few years now since Rutgers has been relevant in the Big East, and the Scarlet Knight fans will need to wait another year in 2011. 

    If the defense is able to retool, Rutgers should be able to improve on last year's 4-8 record and make a run at getting into a bowl game.

No. 76: Army

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    It appears that the Army Black Knight turned a corner last year, going to a bowl game. As the 2011 season gets started, Army returns key starters on both sides of the ball, which should help them return to a second straight bowl.

No. 75: UCLA

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    Things have not gone that well over the past few years for UCLA, and 2011 should bring more of the same. Rich Neuheisel is directly on the hotseat, and if the Bruins fail to get to a bowl game this year, Neuheisel will find himself looking for a job elsewhere.

No. 74: Colorado

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    Along with Utah, Colorado is making the move to the Pac-12 this season, leaving the Big 12 behind.

    The one bright spot this season should be the play of running back Rodney Stewart. Other than that, Colorado will have to go through some growing pains in its first season in the Pac-12.

No. 73: Duke

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    Last year, Duke went 3-9 and could be on the verge of getting out of the ACC basement. The offense has been effective, and it appears that David Cutcliffe is the right man for Duke.

No. 72: Louisville

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    Charlie Strong completed his first year as head coach of Louisville last year and led the Cardinals to a 7-6 record.

    One thing that will hurt Louisville this year is the fact that they lost a ton of senior leadership from last years team.

    Strong must help the young talent on this team come along and become productive so that they do not take a step backwards.

No. 71: Iowa State

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    Nobody in the country is going to envy the schedule of Iowa State and for good reason. They Cyclones have road games against Baylor, Missouri, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

    While the young talent may be starting to come around, don't look for Iowa State to improve on last year's 5-7 record.

No. 70: Nevada

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    Last year was an outstanding season for Nevada, as they ended the season 13-1 and defeated Boise State.

    2010 is gone, and so is a lot of the talent that helped make it so successful. While Nevada won't fall far, they will struggle to replace quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

No. 69: Virginia

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    The first year under coach Mike London did not go that well, as Virginia finished the year 4-8. Coming into his second year, London knows that he will need to find a way to win the close games that eluded him in his first year.

No. 68: Illinois

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    If there was ever a season to get back into contention in the Big 10, this is the season for Illinois. The Fighting Illini start the season with five straight home games and only go on the road four times all year.

    Led by Nathan Scheelhaase at quarterback, the Illini should be able to put up points; the question will remain if the defense can stop offenses from doing the same.

No. 67: Hawaii

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    This is the year for Hawaii to separate from the rest of the WAC. Last year, the Warriors shared the conference crown, but with Boise State out of the way, the conference is theirs for the taking.

No. 66: Syracuse

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    The Syracuse Orange caught some people off guard last year when they went 8-5.

    Luckily for the Orange, they return much of their major contributors from last year, and, as is the theme in the Big East, they have as good as chance as any team to win the conference.

No. 65: Fresno State

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    Pat Hill has done an outstanding job at Fresno State, but is not satisfied with the program being considered good. Hill is pushing to get this program to breakthrough from being a consistently good team to a great team.

    While it may not happen this year for Hill, he has done a nice job of bringing in solid talent and could have a shot of meeting his goal in the next couple years.

No. 64: Miami of Ohio

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    In 2010, Miami of Ohio won the MAC conference and will be looking for their second straight in 2011.

    While Toledo will prove to be a challenger for the conference crown, the Redhawks are solid on both sides of the ball and will lock up their second conference title in a row.

No. 63: Kentucky

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    Joker Phillips completed his first year in 2010 and led the Kentucky Wildcats to a 6-7 season, which ended with a loss in a bowl game.

    Coming into 2011, the Wildcats will once again struggle to become bowl eligible. Their only saving grace may be their relatively weak out of conference schedule.

No. 62: Ole Miss

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    Last year's 4-8 season was not what Ole Miss fans were hoping for last year. To make things worse, the Rebels have lost some starters from last year and will once again struggle in a tough SEC conference.

No. 61: Kansas State

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    One thing that Kansas State has entering the 2011 season is youth. The Wildcats have a lot of first time starters on the depth chart, and while they are certainly not going to make a push for a Big 12 title, Bill Snyder is setting himself up for a solid 2012 season.

No. 60: Oregon State

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    Oregon State is a team that routinely falls off the radar early in the year but slowly builds up steam leading toward the end of the season.

    In 2011, Mike Riley will have a tough task in front of him, as he will have to compete with Oregon, Stanford and Washington in the Pac-12 North and could fail to make a bowl game for the second straight season.

No. 59: Purdue

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    Danny Hope is entering his third year as Purdue head coach and needs to show that this program is starting to turn the corner. After going 9-15 over the past two seasons, making a bowl game would be a step in the right direction.

No. 58: NC State

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    It will be interesting to see how NC State rebounds from losing quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson was a player that helped lead the team to a 9-4 record and bowl victory, and if they cannot replace his production, the Wolfpack will struggle to get into a bowl game in 2011.

No. 57: Tulsa

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    After going 10-3 last year, Tulsa lost their head coach and inherited a extremely difficult schedule. While the talent to come close to last year's record is there, games against Boise State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will prevent that from happening.

No. 56: Washington

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    Coach Steve Sarkisian appears to have Washington on the right track after taking over two years ago. Despite the loss of Jake Locker, the Huskies still have Chris Polk, who they will rely on until new quarterback Keith Price gets up to speed.

No. 55: Cal

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    After a rough 5-7 season in 2010, Cal fans need to prepare for an equally as challenging 2011.

    With the upcoming season, Cal will be replacing both their starting running back and quarterback and could fail to make a bowl game for the second straight season.

No. 54: Navy

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    In 2011, Navy will need to replace Ricky Dobbs, who led the Midshipmen at quarterback.

    Last year, Navy went 9-4, but getting back to that level of success will be a long shot in 2011.

    On this year's schedule, Navy must play South Carolina, Army, Southern Miss, East Carolina and Notre Dame, all games that could be difficult to earn victories in.

No. 53: SMU

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    June Jones has done an outstanding job turning the SMU program around and led them into a Conference USA title game and bowl game last year.

    For the 2011 season, the Mustangs are returning 17 out of 22 starters and appear to have another level they can reach this season.

No. 52: Houston

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    Houston fans have a bright outlook on the 2011 season, and with good reason. Case Keenum is returning for another season after last year was cut short by a knee injury.

    If Keenum returns and picks right up where he left off, the Houston Cougars will turn some heads in 2011.

No. 51: Tennessee

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    Last year, head coach Derek Dooley led the Volunteers to a 6-7 record, but had some positives come from the season.

    Tennessee started a lot of young players in 2010, which should hopefully help them become more competitive in the SEC during this season. Also, Tyler Bray took over at quarterback late in the year and appears to be the answer at that position.

No. 50: Boston College

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    Head coach Frank Spaziani appears to be heading into a make or break type year with Boston College. The coach is entering his third season and has put together a record of 16-11, including last year's 7-6 season.

    With talent on both sides of the ball, Boston College should have one of the best defenses in the conference. If the offense is able to step up, then the Eagles could have a good season in front of them.

No. 49: Connecticut

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    While the loss of Randy Edsall does not help the program, Connecticut has the benefit of playing in one of the weakest BCS conference and could still compete for the Big East title.

No. 48: Cincinnati

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    As recent as 2009, Cincinnati won the Big East, but after a 4-8 season last year, that seems like a distant memory.

    Entering the 2011 season, the offense appears to be strong, and if the defense can step up, the Bearcats could get back to championship form in a wide open conference.

No. 47: Arizona

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    With Nick Foles back for another season, Arizona will have no trouble putting up points. The question will be is if their defense has made strides towards improvement. If they have not, it will be another long and stressful season for Mike Stoops.

No. 46: Georgia Tech

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    After winning an ACC title in 2009, Georgia Tech failed to capitalize on that momentum last year and found themselves with a losing record, going 6-7.

    In 2011, the opportunity to get back up towards the top is there, but the Yellow Jackets will need to have improvements from both their offense and defense.

No. 45: Southern Miss

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    Southern Miss will be the major competition for UCF as they attempt to win Conference USA.

    Both the offense and defense return a good amount of starters and should prove to be good competition for UCF.

No. 44: Northwestern

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    The success of Northwestern season is being put squarely on the shoulders of Dan Persa. Persa has done an outstanding job at quarterback for the Wildcats, and if he is able to stay healthy through the season, the Wildcats should have no trouble getting into another bowl game.

No. 43: Maryland

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    In 2011, the hope is that new coach Randy Edsall can help turn Maryland into an ACC contender.

    Coming into the season, Edsall has the program in good hands but will need a couple of seasons to help this program earn their first conference crown since 2001.

    Expect the Terrapins to take a step back from last year's 9-4 record.

No. 42: UCF

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    Last year, UCF won the Conference USA championship and appears to be heading for a second in 2011.

    The out of conference schedule appears to be easier in 2011, and while they may not be as dominant in conference as they were last year, they still have enough talent to get the job done.

No. 41: Utah

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    Utah is on the move this season and is getting their shot in a BCS conference. The Utes are going to be playing in the Pac-12 this season and will have the opportunity to show the nation if they are truly a solid program or a result of their weaker schedule.

No. 40: Iowa

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    No matter the talent level at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz always manages to find a way to get the best out of his teams.

    This will be needed this season as the Hawkeyes turn the offense over to junior quarterback James Vandenberg.

    With an always tough defense and an offense that should be able to move the ball, Iowa will be a Big 10 force in 2011.

No. 39: BYU

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    In 2011, BYU has left the Mountain West Conference and is now an independent.

    The depth chart remains strong coming into the season, but the Cougars will have to navigate through a tough first half. By the end of September, the nation will know what BYU is all about this year.

No. 38: Pittsburgh

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    After an interesting offseason for the Pittsburgh Panthers, Todd Graham landed the head coaching job entering 2011.

    Last year, the Panthers went 8-5 and fell short of winning the Big East.

    If the offense come together in 2011, there is no reason that the Panthers could not compete for the conference title.

No. 37: San Diego State

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    Rocky Long will be taking over at San Diego State and looking to keep the program in the condition it was left by Brady Hoke.

    With the offensive and defensive talent that San Diego State is returning, they have the potential to be a BCS buster.

No. 36: Penn State

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    Penn State is coming off of a 7-6 season and should have much more success in 2011.

    The offense will be led by Matt McGloin and should have a solid passing attack.

    On the other side of the ball, Penn State has a good defense that will help get the ball back to their offense throughout the year.

    The Nittany Lions should contend for the Leaders Division in 2011.

No. 35: Baylor

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    Don't look now, but the Baylor Bears look poised to have a breakout season in 2011.

    During the 2010 season, the team was much improved and went 7-6. If quarterback Robert Griffin III can continue to work his magic and if the defense can continue to improve, Baylor will not only make it back to a bowl game, but should also be able to notch eight wins.

No. 34: Michigan

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    As good as the Michigan offense can be at times, the Michigan defense is equally as bad.

    Denard Robinson is back at quarterback this season, and defenses started to catch on to the fact that he is not a consistent enough passer to beat you.

    If the defense does not improve and Robinson cannot find some passing touch, the Wolverines and new coach Brady Hoke could be in for a long season.

No. 33: South Florida

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    After a good season in 2010, Skip Holtz has won over the South Florida fans and team. Coming into 2011, the program is being viewed as a team that is under the radar and could certainly compete to win the Big East.

No. 32: Air Force

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    Not only is Air Force performing well for a service academy program, but they are starting to make a name for themselves nationally.

    Last year, the Falcons went 9-4 and return enough starters that they should be able to reach a fourth straight bowl game, which would be great for the program.

No. 31: North Carolina

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    With the firing of Butch Davis, the Tar Heels will be entering an interesting season. Last year, North Carolina went 8-5, and if they hope to do the same or better in 2011, they will need their offense to step up, as their defense should be solid, especially up front.

No. 30: Texas Tech

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    Teams like Texas Tech that find themselves around the middle of the Big 12 will have a hard time competing with programs like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

    During his second season with the team, coach Tommy Tuberville is hoping to continue to bring along his young talent and get this program back to competing for conference titles.

No. 29: Clemson

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    Last season, Clemson dropped to 6-7 and ended the year with a loss to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. In 2011, Dabo Swinney needs to get the Tigers back on track.

    The offense looks like it could have a great year, and if Clemson can win some of the closer games they play, then the fans will be able to breathe a little bit easier in 2011.

No. 28: Texas

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    Last year, the Longhorns had a season that they hope to soon forget. Under Mack Brown, Texas had not had a losing season until last year's 5-7 campaign.

    In 2011, the Longhorns will be tested early with games against BYU, UCLA and Oklahoma. Once they get through that stretch, people will be able to see if last year was a one time occurrence or a developing trend.

No. 27: Miami

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    A new era is beginning at Miami, and it will be led by new head coach Al Golden. Golden has two things he must accomplish to make 2011 a successful season for the Hurricanes: He must find an answer at quarterback and help clean up the penalty issues.

    If Golden can accomplish these two things, then Miami will be heading in the right direction.

No. 26: USC

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    USC enters another season that is limited by NCAA sanctions and will have to play through the season knowing that there is no reward for their hard work.

    The Trojans have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, so the only question will be is if they have the depth, which was lacking in 2010.

No. 25: Auburn

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    After an outstanding season that was capped off with a national championship, Auburn has lost its two biggest playmakers that made that dream season possible.

    With the loss of both Nick Fairley and Cam Newton, Auburn will still be competitive but will lose a few games that would have been wins with Newton in the lineup.

No. 24: Notre Dame

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    Brian Kelly has the Irish fans believing again, but Notre Dame is on a let's wait and see list.

    Often times, Notre Dame has a schedule that favors them making a BCS bowl run but have fallen short despite having the talent. This year, all the pieces are in place, but we will have to see if Kelly can deliver.

No. 23: Missouri

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    Missouri is in a state of change as they look to replace quarterback Blaine Gabbert. One thing to keep your eye on with Missouri is that based on the schedule, they will likely fall out of the top 25 in September but then build some steam towards the end of the season and find themselves back in the rankings.

No. 22: Arizona State

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    In the Pac-12 South division, Arizona State is being viewed as a serious contender to play for the conference title.

    Behind a solid defense, coach Dennis Erickson has his best chance of having a breakout year and saving his job with Arizona State.

No. 21: Mississippi State

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    Dan Mullen has done a fantastic job at Mississippi State and has the program heading into 2011 with high expectations.

    The offense gets some help from seeing their key pieces return for another season, which should help the Bulldogs improve this year.

No. 20: Florida

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    Florida has brought in some new coaches in 2011, and it will all start with head coach Will Muschamp. Along with Muschamp, the team has hired Charlie Weis to take over the offense and help turn John Brantley into a more productive quarterback.

    If Weis can get the job done, the Gators could be on their way back to the top of the SEC.

No. 19: Michigan State

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    Coach Mark Dantonio has a good thing going in East Lansing and has positioned the Spartans towards the top of the Big 10.

    Last year, Michigan State won a share of the conference title. In 2011, the program hopes to get a shot to win it all on its own behind a solid offense led by Kirk Cousins.

No. 18: West Virginia

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    After a long offseason for West Virginia, fans and people surrounding the program will be happy to just have football get started again.

    With the overall opinion of the Big East being so bad, West Virginia must show that they are an elite program, and it will start and end with quarterback Geno Smith. Smith is a good quarterback and should be a perfect fit for the spread offense.

No. 17: Arkansas

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    Before this past week, Arkansas may have checked in at a better spot on this list, but due to a season ending injury to starting running back Knile Davis, the Razorbacks check in down a few spots.

    While the offense should still be in good hands with new quarterback Tyler Wilson, it will be hard to replace the production that Davis would have given in 2011.

No. 16: Georgia

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    Georgia may have the most to gain or lose from their first two games of the season. With games against Boise State and South Carolina, the Bulldogs have the ability to pick up two huge victories and jump up in the polls or lose one or both and drop in the polls or fall completely out.

    For Mark Richt's sake, the Bulldogs better win both.

No. 15: TCU

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    Despite the loss of Andy Dalton, TCU still has a solid returning cast on both offense and defense.

    The struggle in 2011 will be for the Horned Frogs to replace some starters on both lines and then also to get past a date with Boise State on the smurf turf.

No. 14: Ohio State

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    With all of the issues that have surrounded the Ohio State program in the offseason, new head coach Luke Fickell is hoping to keep the program heading in the right direction but will have his challenges throughout the year.

    With the offense missing key pieces due to suspensions and players leaving, Ohio State may have to settle for a non-BCS bowl in 2011.

No. 13: Wisconsin

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    With the recent addition of Russell Wilson, the Badgers went from just Big 10 contender to national championship contender.

    Both the offense and defense will be solid coming into the season, and with the playmaking ability of Wilson, the Badgers could be tough to stop.

No. 12: Texas A&M

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    Despite all the speculation about a possible move by Texas A&M, the Aggies are primed for a great season in 2011 but the only thing that may hold them back is that the Big 12 has some heavy hitters at the top of the conference.

    In order to have a chance at the conference title, Texas A&M must find a way to beat both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State; not an easy task.

No. 11: Virginia Tech

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    Frank Beamer continues to do a great job at Virginia Tech, and like most years, Hokie fans believe that this is the year the team gets back to the national title game.

    If Virginia Tech is able to be focused from the first snap of the season and keep that focus all year long, the fans' prayers could be answered in 2011.

No. 10: South Carolina

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    With the offensive talent of players like Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina will not struggle to keep up with anyone in the SEC.

    What may end up hurting them in the long run is that while the Gamecocks have an outstanding offense, the defense continues to struggle and could end up holding them back.

No. 9: Nebraska

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    Nebraska is another team on the move, and this year, they will settle into the Big 10.

    As if the adjustment to Big 10 play won't be enough for Nebraska, they have some key holes to fill on defense, but more importantly, they will be replacing three starters along the offensive line.

No. 8: Stanford

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    When Andrew Luck announced that he would be returning for another season at Stanford, the Cardinal immediately became a top 10 team and a contender to win the Pac-12.

    While the offense will be as good as ever with Luck at the controls, Stanford will need to find some answers throughout their defense to make sure they stay in the top 10.

No. 7: Boise State

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    This year, Boise State has left the WAC and is playing their first year in the Mountain West Conference.

    For years, Boise State has been knocking on the door hoping to be let into the national championship, but have not gotten through.

    In 2011, the schedule is marginally better then it usually is, and Boise State will still face a challenge getting into the title game.

No. 6: Oklahoma State

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    The Sooners aren't the only team in the state that can put up points in a hurry.

    Oklahoma State has an extremely explosive offense that is led by Justin Blackmon. Blackmon had an outstanding year in 2010 at wide receiver and hopes to help lead the Cowboys to a Big 12 title.

No. 5: Florida State

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    Despite the loss of Christian Ponder to the NFL Draft, the Seminoles and their fans turn to new quarterback EJ Manuel and place their title hopes in his hands.

    Jimbo Fisher has a team that looks ready for a serious title run, but it will only be if they can get past an early game against Oklahoma.

No. 4: LSU

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    The LSU Tigers are another SEC school that has BCS title aspirations.

    LSU has an outstanding defense and an offense that can put up points but will only go as far as quarterback Jordan Jefferson takes them in 2011.

No. 3: Alabama

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    Despite being in a season of transition, Alabama has not be rebuilding but rather reloading.

    The Tide will be starting a new quarterback in 2011 and giving Trent Richardson the spotlight as the main back.

    The program will be led by their defense, which could turn out to be one of the best in the nation.

No. 2: Oregon

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    Coming off of last year's national championship run, the Ducks are more focused then ever and looking to finish what they started last year.

    While there are some lingering questions about the offensive line and wide receivers, the Ducks have an explosive offense and fast defense that could get them back to the title game.

No. 1: Oklahoma

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    Landry Jones and the Oklahoma Sooners find themselves with the top spot in the preseason rankings.

    The Sooners have a dynamic offense that will be one of the best in the Big 12, as well as the country.

    On the other side of the ball, Oklahoma has a great defense but did suffer a summer injury by losing leading tackler Travis Lewis for eight weeks.

    All together, Bob Stoops has another team that is primed and ready to make a title run.