Political activist Ralph Nader suggests the elimination of athletic scholarships.....Iowa WR Marvin McNutt out for spring practice due to shoulder injury.....Jim Tressel suspended for five games officially due to role in 'TatooGate'.....Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd arrested on DUI.....


Questions? Links? (Insert Corny Joke About Being Mad About Something I Wrote)? E-Mail me at: saturdaysoundoffs@gmail.com


2-a-Days: UConn and Duke

UConn Huskies

Uconn has been mediocre over the past two seasons. Once they blew MAC champion Toledo out of the water in the 2004 Motor City Bowl, it appeared that UConn was ready to make an impact at a BCS level. Obviously, they have fallen just short of the postseason mark ever since. But things are finally going to happen for UConn. How, exactly?

THE OFFENSE: It looks like JUCO transfer Tyler Lorenzen will be the new man at QB. D.J. Hernandez will shift positions a little and play more WR. Randy Edsall should really be hoping that this move works out because the passing offense ranked 110th in the country. If not, UConn better be looking for some kind of loophole for Dan Orlovsky to come back. Donald Brown can't do this by himself. Speaking of that talented sophomore running back, Donald Brown is prepared for a breakout year. Last year was nothing. He impressed people in the opener against Rhode Island, but he didn't become the starter until later in the year. He ran all over Rutgers on that Sunday night game. He displayed his ability to all of the country that night and I'm a huge fan. This guy is an awesome runner. If the passing game can improve, it might not be to the level of West Virginia or Louisville, but the offense could get more explosive. That's easier said than done, though.

THE DEFENSE: Really needs some work. The pass defense was really good though. They got bowled over up front however surrendering about 180 yards of rushing. That's not going to work playing West Virginia (run first), Louisville (talented rushing attack), Rutgers (running is all they do), and Pitt (now that Palko is gone, Stephens-Howling is the focus of the offense). The Big East has some really good running games and they're not going to be able to win if they can't make things better up front. Losing Rhema Fuller was one of the worst things that could happen to this defense. The good news is, Danny Lansanah and Ryan Henegan are back at linebacker and the secondary returns most of their key parts.


Sept. 1 at Duke
Sept. 8 Maine
Sept. 15 Temple
Sept. 22 at Pitt
Sept. 29 Akron
Oct. 13 at Virginia
Oct. 19 Louisville
Oct. 27 South Florida
Nov. 3 Rutgers
Nov. 10 at Cincinnati
Nov. 17 Syracuse
Nov. 24 at West Virginia

UConn is taking the "schedule easy, win 6" road. It could work out that way. Going at Duke is no gimmie and I'll get to that in a minute. The Temple and Akron games should be wins. The Big East schedule is okay I guess. The good thing about this schedule is getting Louisville, USF, and Rutgers at home so in case they get upset somewhere down the line, they could upset one of these teams and back on the road to bowl eligibility.

Don't Even Think About It: Louisville, @ West Virginia
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Pitt, @ Virginia, USF, Rutgers, @ Cincinnati
Good/Probable Shot At It: @ Duke, Maine, Temple, Akron, Syracuse

THE OUTLOOK: I think UConn will get a little better from last season's 4-8 mark. They have new life at the QB position which was really their Achille's Heel last season. Donald Brown, with a year under his belt, will be a better running back. The defense still needs to shore up that line. One of UConn's issues is that they always suffer from one WTF loss. Last year, it was against Syracuse. This year, it could be that game against Duke or Akron. They must avoid that or they pretty much eliminate their hopes of bowling. They MUST take advantage of the soft OOC schedule.

BOWL GAME?: International Bowl

Duke Blue Devils

Duke was really, really, really bad last year. You could tell that one from the get-go. They opened the season being shutout by Richmond, 12-0.....Yikes! Is there a shred of optimism buzzing around the Duke football team? Actually, there just might be.....

THE OFFENSE: The offense is led by QB Thaddeus Lewis. He was probably their most talented offensive player last season. He at least had the ability to make plays, something that Duke's offense hasn't done in..............a while, let's just leave it at that. Here's the thing about Duke though: Duke returns their entire two deep offense! Yes, it's true. Duke's offensive lineman are all veterans and should become instantly better. Thaddeus Lewis has some targets in Eron Riley and Jomar Wright. Duke's running backs situation is a bit of a quagmire, but it should be a little bit better this year.

THE DEFENSE: We can't go through a preview about Duke without mentioning something negative, unfortunately. The defense seems like it has some gaping holes. Casey Comero is gone and I thought he was their second best defensive player last year behind CB John Talley, also gone. They gave up about 400 yards last year and about 34 ppg. With a defense that loses some of their best players, it doesn't sound like everything is all good in Durham.


Sept. 1 Connecticut
Sept. 8 at Virginia
Sept. 15 at Northwestern
Sept. 22 at Navy
Sept. 29 at Miami
Oct. 6 Wake Forest
Oct. 13 Virginia Tech
Oct. 27 at Florida State
Nov. 3 Clemson
Nov. 10 Georgia Tech
Nov. 17 at Notre Dame
Nov. 24 at North Carolina

For a Duke team that could actually contend for a bowl game if they had a sinch of a schedule, this probably won't do the trick. I actually think the game against UConn is a tossup because like I said earlier, UConn suffers from WTF-loss syndrome. It bites them about once a year. That could be the game. They also have to go @ Northwestern, @ Navy, and @ Notre Dame, so Duke fans, kiss your slim-chance-of-a-bowl game hopes goodbye.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Navy, @ Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, @ Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, @ Notre Dame
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: UConn, @ Northwestern, @ Virginia, @ North Carolina
Good/Probable Shot At It:

THE OUTLOOK: I look for Duke to improve............A LOT. At least compared to last year. The amount of guys back on offense is staggering and even though they were horrible on that side of the ball last year, averaging 15 points a game, look for that to increase by about 3 or 4 ppg. I really mean that. Thaddeus Lewis played pretty solid for a QB that didn't have much offensive line help and considering the fact that he was a freshman last year, his performance was not bad. The problem with Duke is the defense. It's going to have to get a lot better if they want to accomplish what they want to do. They will be the ACC's surprise team this year. Of the magnitude of Wake Forest? Uh, no! But don't be surprised if they win 3 games. I think fans that aren't really paying much attention to Duke this offseason would be surprised by that.



ESPN Announcing Crews

I found this off of Awful Announcing.


- Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, & Lisa Salters(primetime)

- Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire, & Bonnie Bernstein (top afternoon game)

- Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham, & Jack Arute (Big XII)- Dan Fouts, Tim Brant, & Todd Harris (West Coast)

- Terry Gannon, David Norrie, & Jeanine Edwards (select games)


- Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge, & Holly Rowe (ESPN Saturday Primetime)

- Chris Fowler, Doug Flutie, Craig James, & Erin Andrews (ESPN Thursday Primetime)

- Mark Jones, Bob Davie, & Stacey Dales (ESPN2 Saturday Primetime)

- Dave Pasch, Andre Ware, & Erin Andrews (ESPN Saturday Noon)

- Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, & Rob Stone (ESPN Friday Primetime)

- Pam Ward, analyst, reporter TBD (ESPN2 Saturday Noon)

- Rece Davis, Mark May, Lou Holtz, & Todd Harris or Rob Stone (ESPN mid-week games)


- Clay Matvick & Kelly Stouffer (noon)

- Doug Bell & Charles Arbuckle (afternoon)

- Dave Armstrong & Mike Gottfried (primetime)

- Charlie Neal & Jay Walker (HBCU Thursday)

- Larry Coker as an analyst on select games

Just a couple of comments...........

I think I may be one of the few who actually likes Brent Musberger. He and Herbstreit made a pretty good team. Lisa Salters is also underrated. I think she's more attractive than people give her credit for.

Paul Maguire used to be the NFL fans' problem. After one year of putting up with him, I will never watch a game with this crew without the mute button. Ugh, God, he's horrible! You could tell that the chemistry just wasn't there. He's like your crazy uncle that cracks idiotic jokes and you give a fake chuckle that really sends the message, "it's not really that funny, uncle" and he doesn't get it. That that was what Griese had to do all of last year. Do you wonder why he spent some games outside of the booth like he did in the ACC championship game? It's just an excuse to get him out of there. But........Bonnie Berstein is a good reason to tune it. She's the only reason I'd watch NFL Live in June

Putting Ron Franklin on regional coverage just isn't fair. The guy is too good for that. Same thing goes for Mike Gottfried. He may lack a little in the words per minute category, but that doesn't stop him from being a good announcer. What's up with all of the constant demoting? Yeah, Franklin's going to ABC, but I'd think his audience might shrink a little if it isn't like the Red River Shootout that's on across the country. The Gottfried/Franklin crew was like all-time good. Splitting them up is just STUPID!

I don't liiiiiiiiiike Mike Paaaaaaaaaaaaaatrick. He's not very goooooooooooooood.

Craig James has a voice made for C-USA weekday games and ABC halftime shows. What's the purpose of putting him on Thursday night? A Fowler/Flutie crew would've been better. And I'm tired of people telling me how hot Erin Andrews is. She's decent, but she isn't that great. I could find someone better looking if I took a walk down the street.

Mark Jones is just horrible. "That's a Pick Six, and HE JUST CASHED IN HIS TICKET!" Wow.............nice one.............

Clay Matvick isn't very good. Are they telling me that he's the best ESPN can get for ESPNU Where's David Diaz-Infante? I thought he was actually pretty solid.

I like Charlie Neal and Jay Walker too. They could work on the enthusiasm, though.

Larry Coker is now an analyst! Hooray for him. I'm actually looking forward to this because I think this is going to really work out for him. At least a couple years before he gets hired again. Kinda like Butch Davis with the NFL Network.


2-a-Days: Colorado and Colorado State

Colorado Buffaloes

2005 ended horribly with Colorado getting demolished against the eventual national champions Texas, 70-3. Barnett gets fired, and they put up a valiant effort against Clemson, but lose. Now, the Dan Hawkins era was supposed to wake up the sleeping giant, that one team that could emerge from the Big 12 North and compete for the BCS. Well............we all know how that turned out .

THE OFFENSE: Was and still is terrible. Hawkins was supposed to be the guy that brought creativity and all kinds of production, but the offense just collapsed. The biggest issue? No quarterback. When Klatt got hurt and couldn't participate in the Champs Sports Bowl, we all got a first hand-look at how the quarterback auditioning was going to go. James Cox had one of the worst quarterback performances in recent memory besides Rex Grossman's against the Packer's earlier this year. All of a sudden, Brian White lost a year of eligibility, but the Buffs scored! How about that? Back to this year, anyway, White and Cox are no longer with the team. Bernard Jackson is not a passing quarterback. He can't throw at all, but at least he gave the offense another dimension at QB, he can scramble a little. Their best offensive player, by far, is running back Hugh Charles. He's pretty much the only guy that they can rely on offensively.

THE DEFENSE: What was lost in the 2-10 year was how well the defense played at times. They weren't a great defensive unit, but they were pretty solid. Led by LB Jordan Dizon, the defense finished 66th in total defense. That's not that good, right? Well, considering the offense, can you really blame them? The offense couldn't hang onto the ball keeping the defense out on the field for too many drives. Colorado only had three bad games on defense against Baylor, Kansas State, and Nebraska. Other than Dizon, I'd say that their next best defensive player is George Hypolite at the defensive tackle position.


Sept. 1 Colorado State
Sept. 8 at Arizona State
Sept. 15 Florida State
Sept. 22 Miami OH
Sept. 29 Oklahoma
Oct. 6 at Baylor
Oct. 13 at Kansas State
Oct. 20 Kansas
Oct. 27 at Texas Tech
Nov. 3 Missouri
Nov. 10 at Iowa State
Nov. 23 Nebraska

Not easy, but not bad. They have a solid schedule to face and it will be a tough test for them. The Rocky Mountain Showdown is always evenly contested, so whoever'll tune into that game will be in for a treat. Their toughest games are against Florida State, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Don't Even Think About It: Florida State, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Arizona State, @ Kansas State, @ Texas Tech
Good/Probable Shot At It: Colorado State, Miami OH, Baylor, Kansas, @ Iowa State

THE OUTLOOK: Okay, just to avoid confusion, the "Good/Probable Shot At It" part of the schedule breakdown includes everything from a mild upset to a gimmie. I think that Kansas is better than Colorado, but I'd say that they have a solid shot at beating them. With that said, Colorado can run and things will get better in year two of Hawkins reign. It's just not going to be enough with a solid defense and a sputtering offense. If Hugh Charles can't run over you, you've defeated the Buffaloes.


Colorado State Rams

Stunning. I wasn't sure that CSU would be bowling, but to win ONE measly game in the MWC is absolutely shocking. We're used to Sonny Lubick fielding one of the better non-BCS teams out there on a year-to-year basis. What happened?

THE OFFESNE: The offensive play was probably what did Colorado State in. The running games at CSU are usually pretty effective, but Kyle Bell succumbed to a knee injury and got hurt (again). This really hurt their chances to be competitive. Also, it didn't help that CSU finished 113th nationally in sacks allowed. Caleb Hanie had no time to throw whatsoever. The passing game wasn't brilliant, but it was alright averaging 218 yards through the air.

THE DEFENSE: The defense improved. They had one of the nation's worst run defenses in 2005 and we saw Navy exploit that in the Poinsettia Bowl. The run defense still needs some work, but finishing 80th in the country means that it did improve a little bit. While the offense didn't generate many points, the defensive side of the ball did absolutely nothing to help. They were tied for the worst team in generating turnovers, only 12 all season long! They must improve on that or the offense will continue failing to produce points. The pass defense will remain stellar with guys like safety Klint Kubiak, CB Darryl Williams, CB Joey Rucks, and safety Mike Pagnotta all returning in the secondary.


Sept. 1 vs. Colorado
Sept. 8 California
Sept. 22 at Houston
Sept. 29 at TCU
Oct. 6 San Diego State
Oct. 13 Air Force
Oct. 20 at UNLV
Oct. 27 Utah
Nov. 3 at BYU
Nov. 10 at New Mexico
Nov. 17 Georgia Southern
Nov. 23 Wyoming

The schedule is not easy. While California, @ TCU, Utah, and @ BYU are losses themselves, they also must play Colorado in a rivalry game, they have to travel to Houston, and they get to go to University Stadium in Albequerque.

Don't Even Think About It: Cal, @ TCU, Utah, @ BYU
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Colorado, @ Houston, @ New Mexico, Wyoming
Good/Probable Shot At It: SDSU, Air Force, @ UNLV, Georgia Southern

THE OUTLOOK: I don't like Colorado State coming into this year. There's no way that Colorado State should be winning one conference game. They're too good of a program for that. However, Sonny Lubick needs to put an end to this slide that's been occuring over the last couple of seasons. He's good enough to accomplish that, just not with this team. There's just not enough pass protection, Kyle Bell isn't really all that healthy (sort of like MWC counterpart, Lynell Hamilton), and they don't get that many turnovers. Try having all of these problems in the best non-BCS conference and winning 6 games. Probably isn't going to happen. I'd expect minor improvement.


June Jones Gets a Jab in at John L.

I remember watching this, but I'd forgotten that I had on College Football Overdrive. If you skip over to about 2:30 in the video, June talks about John L.'s "crybabying" That's a pretty bold charge. I'm pretty sure he was referring to the 2004 season when a late season loss knocked the Spartans out of the bowl picture.


If You're Tired of Big & Rich......

..........and speaking of College Gameday, here's a little something to take you back, you know, remember when ESPN was sorta cool. Enjoy:

College Gameday to Open Up in Blacksburg

Looks like the ECU/Virginia Tech game has been selected to kickoff the college gameday season. Now, of course the event was tragic and words can't express the sorrow and grief that that community suffered, but I'm really hoping that the folks over at ESPN are doing this for the right reason. I would be pissed if ESPN is sending the crew over there to cash in on this horrible event.

However, something tells me that the management over there is human and that they'd do this the right way. The one thing is though, that they will probably not be at the Virginia Tech/LSU game the following week. The show rarely has two straight road trips talking about the same team.


2-a-Days: Cincinnati and Clemson

Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati played through a brutal schedule last year. Now, head coach Mike Dantonio has departed to Michigan State and Brian Kelly is 1-0 at Cincinnati (after coaching their bowl game; has that ever happened before?) The defense was hard-hitting and worthy of a ; they were just overall a solid team. Will the Bearcats progress in Kelly's first full season?

THE OFFENSE: Kelly's offense at CMU last year took off and it was a delight to see. I speak from first-hand experience here in mid-Michigan. Cincinnati has the talent to run the system, but it took the Chips three years to reach it's zenith of offensive production. Even with that said, it should still generate enough points for the Bearcats to take that next step. Greg Moore figures to be one of the biggest parts of this offensive machine. Dominick Goodman and Derrick Stewart will produce a lot at WR. They're going to be Dustin Grutza's main target. Or, they could be Ben Mauk's main target. The former Wake Forest QB transferred to Cincinnati this year and he's eligible to play. Also, former Notre Dame QB, Zach Frazer, could be the Bearcat's QB in 2008.

THE DEFENSE: Awesome last year. They were very solid under Dantonio because the guy is a defensive mastermind (BTW, good luck trying to whip Michigan State's defense into shape !). Losing track star and best defensive back John Bowie to graduation might hurt the secondary, but they have two guys you need to pay attention to this fall: CB Mike Mickens and safety Haruki Nakamura (who is pictured). These guys are two of the Big East's best secondary players. How about some stats? 25th in rushing defense, 31st in total defense, and 36th in scoring defense (don't forget, they played Virginia Tech, Ohio State, West Virginia, and Louisville, so the stats may lie a little bit). The defense won't all of a sudden forget how to play, they should keep up the production along with..................


Aug. 30 Southeast Missouri State
Sept. 6 Oregon State
Sept. 15 at Miami OH
Sept. 22 Marshall
Sept. 29 at San Diego State
Oct. 6 at Rutgers
Oct. 13 Louisville
Oct. 20 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 3 at South Florida
Nov. 10 Connecticut
Nov. 17 West Virginia
Nov. 24 at Syracuse

.................a slightly easier schedule. It's not a cakewalk, don't get me wrong, but I certainly don't see an Ohio State or Virginia Tech on the OOC schedule. Oregon State could be the game that helps Brian Kelly liftoff with this program. It's on national TV, ESPN Thursday night, so it could make for an excellent game. I'm thinking this comes down to the 4th quarter. They get three big breaks with Oregon State, Louisville, and West Virginia all coming to Nippert Stadium.

Don't Even Think About It: West Virginia
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Louisville, Oregon State
Good/Probable Shot At It: Southeast Missouri State, @ Miami OH, Marshall, @ SDSU, @ Pitt, USF, UConn, @ Syracuse

THE OUTLOOK: I was reading something on ESPN.com, and I couldn't believe what Joe Starkey predicted regarding Cincinnati.

Essshhh.....Ooh, uh.....yeah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you there.....

Watch out for Cincinnati to be one of the bigger sleepers that nobody really pays attention to when it's all said and done. Brian Kelly is one of the best coaches in the country and Cincy really found a gem with him. His offense may not produce out of this world results, but I'm thinking that it will generate a little more production in year 1. The defense will still be fine. They have the schedule to pull off a couple shockers getting the toughest 3 teams on their schedule to come to Cincinnati. Dantonio laid the foundation and I see Kelly getting them to the next level sometime soon.

BOWL GAME?: Meineke Car Care Bowl

Clemson Tigers

Clemson was everybody's hot pick to win the ACC last season. Now, they appear to be that again. A lot of people still have faith in Clemson, and who wouldn't? With guys like C.J. Spiller and James Davis in the backfield, they have an unstoppable rushing attack. But what makes them that different from last year?

THE OFFENSE: Will run, run, run, and run. Besides Felix Jones and Darren McFadden, these guys make up the best rushing duo in the country, no questions asked. Spiller is just a sophomore while James Davis is a senior. The offensive line doesn't seem to have many issues. They allowed only 6 sacks last season..............In the ACC where talented defenses abound! That's pretty impressive. Only one guy comes back, but their backups are talented and experienced, so I'll assume more of the same in the blocking game. Now, if that QB can only pass better. That's what the biggest issue to me is. The loss of Will Proctor wasn't anything that you'd shed a tear about if you want Clemson's passing attack to prosper. The WRs coming back don't provide that much punch. There's a possibility that incoming freshman QB, Willy Korn, could win the job. Like I said, Clemson has to focus on running the football more than anything or they won't move the football against ACC defenses.

THE DEFENSE: The defense was awesome last year. They lose Gaines Adams, but he can be replaced. C.J. Gaddis and Dwayne Coleman also left, but they can be replaced also. Nick Watkins leads a sqaud that finished 13th in the country in total defense. They stopped the ball cold on run plays and they have the QBs and WRs hell. Clemson's defense was just flat out awesome. And, this year will not prove to be abberant in any shape or form.


Sept. 3 Florida State
Sept. 8 UL Monroe
Sept. 15 Furman
Sept. 22 at NC State
Sept. 29 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 6 Virginia Tech
Oct. 20 Central Michigan
Oct. 27 at Maryland
Nov. 3 at Duke
Nov. 10 Wake Forest
Nov. 17 Boston College
Nov. 24 at South Carolina

Over the years, I've noticed that Clemson usually has 3 easy games and South Carolina on the OOC schedule. However, they will play Central Michigan, defending MAC champions. That will be one of the most interesting non-BCS/BCS games. The road schedule isn't that difficult, the hardest road game is probably against South Carolina. They're lucky to get Florida State, Virginia Tech, and Boston College at home which could set up a surprise run at an ACC title.

Don't Even Think About It:

Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Florida State, Virginia Tech, Boston College, @ South Carolina

Good/Probable Shot At It: UL Monroe, Furman, @ NC State, @ Georgia Tech, Central Michigan, @ Maryland, @ Duke, Wake Forest

THE OUTLOOK: The outlook for Clemson is to expect another 8-4ish kind of season. I'm going to list some of their stats for you:

Rushing offense: 5th

Total offense: 15th

Scoring offense: 12th

Rushing defense: 18th

Pass efficiency defense: 17th

Total defense: 13th

Scoring defense: 16th

Kickoff returns: 6th

Pass defense: 24th

Sacks: 20th

Tackles for loss: tied for 16th

Sacks allowed: 6th

Sounds like a BCS team to me. No, it's an 8-4 team who was flaky down the stretch that lost to Kentucky in a not-too-evenly-contested game (even though the score indicated it) Music City Bowl. Something's not right there, and I don't know when Clemson is going to realize that Tommy Bowden is Ron Zook. He's got talent, but he can't coach.

BOWL GAME?: Meineke Car Care Bowl

It's a coincidence, but I see both of these teams playing in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2007.

Heisman Dark Horses?

Pretty much the consensus out there is that it's between Darren McFadden and John David Booty. But, there are some other Dark Horses out there. I'll analyze each's chance at winning the Heisman trophy and issue a percentage that I think they win the Heisman trophy (hopefully that doesn't sound as stupid as that "Win Probability" that ESPN has been using during the CWS )

1. Darren McFadden: The guy is awesome as I'm sure we can all attest to. Ever since the shallacking of Arkansas by the USC Trojans in 2005, he was the one guy that stood out to me. McFadden will run for 1500+ yards easily. This'll probably be McFadden's last season in college so you know that while he is playing for his team to win, he'll also be playing for $. The only thing Arkansas has to do is win the SEC West, get into the BCS, and the Heisman is there for the taking for McFadden.


2. John David Booty: He's plays on USC and he's the leader of the team. If USC finishes undefeated which they most likely will, he'll be the one getting all of the pub besides Pete Carroll. If he has a good season and McFadden fails to meet the criteria above, he could be the one to come away with the Heisman trophy.


3. Colt Brennan: Monster passing numbers. As we all know, Colt Brennan shattered the record books and will probably do so again even though they are only going to play 12 regular season games. Why? Well, they play the following OOC teams: UNLV (4-, Northern Colorado (1 year removed from transitioning to 1-AA), Charleston Southern (plays in the Big South), and Washington (bad team). He should rack up about 2000 yards in those 4 games alone.


4. Brian Brohm: Why not? If he can stay healthy this year, he could put up big numbers in this 3rd season as a starter. He has some great WRs like Mario Urrutia to help him out. The problem is, the Cards would have to make the BCS if he wanted a prayer. I just don't think it's going to happen but if he can perform well in the marquee games, he'll get an invite.


5. Steve Slaton: Slaton will put up huge numbers. We pretty much know that barring any injuries. West Virginia's offense is based on the running game as we all are aware of that. Slaton will probably rack up over 1000 yards. He won't run for as much as McFadden, but the good thing is that West Virginia has a much better shot at running the table. That would certainly work in his favor.


6. Pat White: Pat White mans this offense. He could run for around 1000 yards and he'll have the passing numbers to boost his chances. Again, if West Virginia is undefeated at the end of the year, that gives him a big advantage unless USC or somebody else is as well. The only problem is that "vote-splitting" that sometimes occurs.


7. Ian Johnson: Boise State has a great opportunity to run the table. The problem is, he plays for Boise State. They got the publicity last year, but does anybody see a Boise State player winning the Heisman? As unfair as that is, he might be invited to just act as a representative of Boise State if they go 12-0 or 11-1. The difference between him and Brennan is that all of the media and the pundits find passing numbers to be much more sexy than rushing numbers and Brennan will shatter those passing records. But, as unlikely as it is, he still has a shot.


8. Sam Keller: I might be in the minority in this one, but I think Keller has an excellent shot at winning the Heisman because: A. He's a 5th year senior, B. He'll roll in this offense, C. He'll be extra motivated since he went through the Arizona State fiasco, D. He won't suffer from a lack of exposure, E. He will benefit from superfluous exposure at Nebraska. All of those things sound like a Heisman candidate to me IF Nebraska can go 10-2 or 11-1. It'll be tough, but I wouldn't put it past him.


9. Matt Flynn: He is now the main man of the 2nd most talented team in the nation. He has to have a shot, right? The guy was magnificent in the Peach Bowl and he's got talent. Most situations would love to have a guy like Flynn replacing their graduated QB. LSU has a plethora of marquee football games in the SEC and they have a huge game against Virginia Tech. If he can perform well enough in those games, he could be a popular dark horse candidate.


10. Mario Manningham: He plays for Michigan, so that's a bonus. He's the only deep threat on the team. While Mike Hart will probably be Michigan's most valuable player, Manningham will make the highlight reel plays. Henne's numbers won't be that fascinating. But, he'll be throwing to Manningham all day. I think Manningham has a solid shot if he stays healthy.


11. The Field: Why not? You've got Graham Harrell, P.J. Hill, Chris Wells, Mike Hart, Colt McCoy, Matt Stafford, Chase Holbrook even, Brandon Ore, C.J. Spiller or James Davis, Matt Ryan, DeMarco Murray (maybe with an Adrian Peterson-esque kinda year), Jonathan Stewart, Yvenson Bernard, Nathan Longshore, Ray Rice, and Brian Johnson (another shoutout for the mid-majors). I guess they have a puncher's chance if they have big seasons. 1%


Pittsburgh's New Logo

Anybody see Pitt's new logo? The last one looked scary..............This one looks like........ehhhhhhh......an otter or a dog or something

2-a-Days: Cal and Central Michigan

California Golden Bears

Cal has been similar to Boston College over the years. They normally win their bowl game. They usually finish 2nd or 3rd in the Pac-10. But they're usually not good enough to compete in the BCS (2004 included with the Mack Brown fiasco). Will DeSean Jackson and the Golden Bears of Cal finally make the BCS this year?

THE OFFENSE: Cal's offense will be awesome this year. Led by QB Nathan Longshore, the team finished last year with one of the best offenses in the nation. This year shouldn't be any different. Yes, Marshawn Lynch is gone, but they have one of the best kept secrets in America and his name is Justin Forsett. He's really one of the best running backs in the nation, but playing behind Marshawn Lynch will do that to ya. DeSean Jackson is probably the premier WR in the nation if he can get just a tad better at the little things. Under Tedford, the Bears have always had an extremely potent offense and that trend will continue. I'm not really going out on a limb with that statement.

THE DEFENSE: This is the area of the team that could use a little help, mostly in the secondary. Cal finished being the 103rd best team in the nation against the pass. That can't happen in the pass happy Pac-10. To make matters worse, they also lost Brandon Mebane and Daymeion Hughes, their two best defensive players, to the NFL. The talent is sorta there, it's just going to be very inexperienced and Cal will probably get hooked up in a couple of shootouts.


Sept. 1 Tennessee
Sept. 8 at Colorado State
Sept. 15 Louisiana Tech
Sept. 22 Arizona
Sept. 29 at Oregon
Oct. 13 Oregon State
Oct. 20 at UCLA
Oct. 27 at Arizona State
Nov. 3 Washington State
Nov. 10 Southern California
Nov. 17 at Washington
Dec. 1 at Stanford

Cal opens up with a really, really tough game against Tennessee. Revenge will also be on the menu against the Vols. After back to back drubbings against Colorado State and Louisiana Tech, Cal better not take lightly the Wildcats of Arizona. If they do, they could lose for a second straight time against the Wildcats. The USC/Cal game is always one of the bigger ones in the Pac-10.

Don't Even Think About It:
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: USC
Good/Probable Shot At It: Tennessee, @ Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, Arizona, @ Oregon, Oregon State, @ UCLA, @ Arizona State, Washington State, USC, Washington, Stanford

THE OUTLOOK: Cal can make the BCS. If they find a way to fix their issues on defense, they'll get in. If the defense is as bad as it was last season, they might find themselves in the Holiday Bowl. Early on, I think that the offense will be good enough for the defense to gel in time. Tennessee, I don't think, will kill them this year, as a matter of fact, I think Cal is better coming into the year. I think they'll win rather easily. So that will give the team 3 games for the defensive unit to come together before Pac-10 play begins. They won't win the Pac-10 title (guess who will), but they are going to recieve an invitation to the Rose Bowl.

BOWL GAME?: Rose Bowl

Central Michigan Chippewas

Central Michigan is sitting upon the top of the MAC world. A 7-1 mark and a MAC title later, former head coach Brian Kelly decided to bolt for Cincinnati. In steps Butch Jones (who grew up in the system and coached WRs at West Virginia last year). Will CMU continue it's success from last year?

THE OFFENSE: After starting QB Brian Brunner was knocked out against Boston College, true freshman Dan LeFevour turned out to be one of the best QBs in the country. Ontario Sneed was a bit of a disappointment in the rushing game, but he wasn't bad. Marcel Archer is another weapon in the arsenal of CMU as a solid, backup running back. WR Bryan Anderson is also one of the best that the MAC has to offer. In other words, Central Michigan has, by far and away, the best offense in the MAC.

THE DEFENSE: The defense was okay last year. They ranked an average 67th in total defense. The biggest loss on the whole team is that of Dan Bazuin who was one of the best DEs in the country. Losing Mike Ogle and Doug Kress hurts. CMU has some adequate replacements stepping up. Again, expect the defense to be alright and the offense to be lights out.


Sept. 1 at Kansas
Sept. 8 Toledo
Sept. 15 at Purdue
Sept. 22 North Dakota State
Sept. 29 Northern Illinois
Oct. 6 at Ball State
Oct. 13 Army
Oct. 20 at Clemson
Oct. 27 at Kent State
Nov. 6 at Western Michigan
Nov. 16 Eastern Michigan
Nov. 23 at Akron

The biggest thing that sticks out to me is the OOC schedule. Besides North Dakota State (one of the better teams at the 1-AA level), they get to play Kansas, Purdue, and Clemson all on the road. They have to go @ Ball State (the most improved MAC team this year), @ Western Michigan (the frontrunner probably for the MAC), and @ Kent State (one of the frontrunners for the East title).

Don't Even Think About It: @ Clemson
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Kansas, @ Purdue, @ Western Michigan
Good/Probable Shot At It: Toledo, NDSU, Northern Illinois, @ Ball State, Army, @ Kent State, Eastern Michigan, @ Akron

THE OUTLOOK: CMU's outlook is not too bad. Brian Kelly is one of the best coaches in the country and no team is going to get better by losing one of the best coaches in the country. I'm not a big fan of Butch Jones. He's got Shane Montgomery, Kyle Whittingham, and Gregg Brandon written all over him. However, for a few seasons, CMU should be one of the better teams in the MAC. All in all, I see more of the same but a little bit of regression considering the loss of Brian Kelly and the difficult schedule.

BOWL GAME?: International Bowl


2-a-Days: Buffalo and BYU

Buffalo Bulls

The Bulls have never been a factor at the 1-A level. But, with the hiring of Turner Gill, could the fortunes be changing for Buffalo? So far, they've managed to win 12 games and lose 79 since they transitioned to 1-A.

THE OFFENSE: Let's just say that Drew Willy (pictured) is the closest thing that Buffalo has to a star on the offensive side of the ball. He was pretty solid last season, he finished with 6 touchdowns and 6 INTs last year while guiding the new offense. Interestingly enough, he had the same amount of yards per attempt as he did in 2005 with Jim Hofher as head coach. Buffalo's problem was not being capable of running the football. They were #107 in the nation running the football. That has to change or else Buffalo will not experience anything differently from last year's performance. They also have a kid named Namaan Roosevelt who is a speed demon. The guy is a tremendous athlete who can play QB if need be. He could also be utilized as a WR, KR, and PR. The most astonishing stat that jumped out at me is how bad the offensive line was. Here's a stat for you: 3.5 sacks allowed per game!

THE DEFENSE: Last year's Bulls defense was one of the worst defenses in the nation. They got steamrolled almost all year long. The worst part is, they have to replace two of their top linebackers, Jeff Bublavi and Ramon Guzman. They were the 3rd worst team in the nation in terms of scoring defense. They were 117th in the country in passing efficiency defense. 109th in rushing defense. They have nobody on defense that will leave opposing offenses shaking in their boots. I'd say their best player is CB Mike Newton. He's just about the closest thing to a playmaker on the D.

Aug. 30 at Rutgers
Sept. 8 at Temple
Sept. 15 at Penn State
Sept. 22 Baylor
Sept. 29 at Ball State
Oct. 6 Ohio
Oct. 13 Toledo
Oct. 20 at Syracuse
Oct. 27 Akron
Nov. 3 at Miami OH
Nov. 17 Bowling Green
Nov. 24 at Kent State

The road schedule is what sticks out to me. They have to go at Kent State, Miami OH, Syracuse, Ball State, Penn State, and Rutgers. The biggest potential upset here is Baylor if they take Buffalo wayyyyyyyy too lightly. Even if that happens, it would be pretty doubtful.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Rutgers, @ Penn State, @ Ball State, Ohio, Toledo, @ Syracuse, Akron, @ Miami OH, @ Kent State
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Baylor, Bowling Green
Good/Probable Shot At It: Temple

THE OUTLOOK: The outlook isn't too bright for Buffalo. I think maybe 5 or 6 years down the road, Turner Gill could get some momentum rolling because I think he can make a good coach, but he's still dealing with the Hofher recruits. If he can find the right players to fit his scheme, Buffalo could improve down the stretch. The closest thing to a lock this year is the game against Temple, so they are probably going to win 2 or 3 games. I still think there's a slight chance that they can catch Baylor or Bowling Green........slight, but possible.

BOWL GAME?: Hell no!

BYU Cougars

BYU wasn't much of a surprise last year. Led by John Beck, the Cougars walked all over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl and disposed of them rather easily. Heartbreaking losses to Arizona and Boston College turned into an impressive win over TCU and a thrilling win over Utah in the regular season. How will BYU preform without their offensive stars?

THE OFFENSE: Max Hall must have a big year. John Beck is now a Miami Dolphin and somebody has to step up and take the reigns. It appears that Max Hall was the guy to do just that. He's only a sophomore, but from what I hear, the guy is good. The running game might lack a little bit of that wow factor without speedy back, Curtis Brown. The guy to fill that void? Well, that might be Vui Vakapuna, the FB/RB shown to the left. Manase Tonga will also see some playing time. Vakapuna seemed to me to be the Nate Ilaoa of BYU; the unsung hero at running back of a pass happy offense. This was one of the most potent offensive machines in the nation last year, but offensive coordinator Robert Anae needs to find a replacement for TE Johnny Harline; he was the team's leading receiver last year.

THE DEFENSE: Is the area that needs work. Just a little tweak here and a little tweak there. I might be nit-picking, but if they can improve the defense, they can make up for whatever loss there is in offensive production. Cameron Jensen was big loss up the middle. He's provides one of the biggest gaps that they need to fill. I love Quinn Gooch in the secondary; I believe he is one of the most underrated safeties out there. Speaking of the secondary, they need to improve as they ranked 65th in the country in passing defense.


Sept. 1 Arizona
Sept. 8 at UCLA
Sept. 15 at Tulsa
Sept. 22 Air Force
Sept. 29 at New Mexico
Oct. 13 at UNLV
Oct. 20 Eastern Washington
Oct. 27 at San Diego State
Nov. 3 Colorado State
Nov. 8 TCU
Nov. 17 at Wyoming
Nov. 24 Utah

Not easy. Those are the first two words to come to me. Tulsa, UCLA, and Arizona are some solid OOC teams. They do get two breaks though in MWC play getting TCU and Utah to go to Lavell Edwards Stadium.

Don't Even Think About It:
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ UCLA, Arizona, TCU
Good/Probable Shot At It: @ Tulsa, Air Force, @ New Mexico, UNLV, EWU, @ SDSU, Colorado State, @ Wyoming, Utah

THE OUTLOOK: Watch for BYU's offensive production to slide a little bit (still in the top 20 in the nation though) and watch for BYU's defensive stats to get a wee bit better (probably a little higher than their 38th ranking this year). The two games to start the year against Pac-10 schools will tell the story of their season. If they lose those two games, don't be surprised if they get upset by Tulsa the following week. I think that the loss of superstars gives TCU the MWC title, but it doesn't change the fact that BYU will still be in that top 3 of the Mountain West.

BOWL GAME?: Poinsettia Bowl


2-a-Days: Boston College and Bowling Green

Boston College Eagles

Solidly efficient would describe Boston College. They have the nation's longest bowl winning streak. They really have never looked that great over that span, but they just.......are. Now, the Tom O'Brien era is over and the Jeff Jagodzinski era kicks off. Will BC keep heading in the right direction?

THE OFFENSE: The main man of the Boston College offense is QB, Matt Ryan. He is one of the toughest guys in the game, always playing even when he's hurt. The guy is one of the best leaders in the game. Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth probably team up to make one of the best and underrated RB duos in the country. Brian Toal, who plays LB, is often used in goal line situations and he is, actually, very effective in those William Perry-like situations. The problem with the running game is that it is mysteriously ineffective. Both running backs are pretty talented, but they finished 92nd running the football. I think it'll get better because two solid running backs like that will not produce that little next year.

THE DEFENSE: Led by JoLonn Dunbar. Extremely athletic, very quick, great tackler. He's the glue to this defense. They were #1 in turnovers gained. Extra possessions never hurt the offense, that's for sure. They had 37 turnovers, tied with Nevada actually. They finished a solid 34th in total defense. This team is just efficient all of the time all over the place. DeJuan Tribble is a very good CB and he really contributes to the defense. B.J. Raji is a monster on the defensive line.


Sept. 1 Wake Forest
Sept. 8 NC State
Sept. 15 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 22 Army
Sept. 29 Massachusetts
Oct. 6 Bowling Green
Oct. 13 at Notre Dame
Oct. 25 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 3 Florida State
Nov. 10 at Maryland
Nov. 17 at Clemson
Nov. 24 Miami

Standard ACC schedule. The OOC isn't very difficult playing Army, UMass, BGSU, and Notre Dame. The season kicks off with 3 ACC teams, so Boston College really doesn't have any time to "get their feet wet".

Don't Even Think About It:
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Virginia Tech
Good/Probable Shot At It: Wake Forest, NC State, @ Georgia Tech, Army, UMass, Bowling Green, @ Notre Dame, Florida State, @ Maryland, @ Clemson, Miami

THE OUTLOOK: I see Boston College being one of the best teams that the ACC has to offer this year. I know they lost O'Brien, but the team finally looks like they're good enough to jump over that "good, but never quite good enough to contend for the BCS" hump. Matt Ryan's a senior, the running game will improve, and the defense will always be good. The schedule's tough, but they can certainly win their division and play for the ACC title in the championship game.

BOWL GAME?: Peach Bowl

Bowling Green Falcons

Bad. Bowling Green was expected to be one of the teams to break through the sub-par MAC East last season, but it turns out they were contributing to its mediocrity. The low point of the season? A 21 game streak-snapper to Temple!

THE OFFENSE: The passing game was really bad for some reason. They tried to mix it up using both Anthony Turner and Freddie Barnes at QB. Barnes has now been converted to a full-time WR and Anthony Turner better produce...........fast. Kory Lichtensteiger has been solid on the lines and he is probably the best MAC offensive lineman out there. Corey Partridge is a very nice asset to have at WR. The running game was pretty good last season because they were pretty much forced to run because the passing game was so poor. They were 92nd in passing offense! We're talking about the same program that produced both Josh Harris and Omar Jacobs.

THE DEFENSE: The defense is going to get 8 starters back. BGSU's defense wasn't that bad last year. They finished 37th in total defense. I'd say that their best defensive playmaker is Erique Dozier. He finished 2nd on the team in tackles and he has a nose for the ball. The secondary will act as their biggest advantage when they play teams like Kent State and Toledo. Jarrett Sanderson is a S, I really like him. Antonio Smith is a solid player at CB. They finished 70th in rushing defense in a conference that isn't that great at running the football. If they can find a way to fix that, this could be one of the better mid-major defenses out there.


Sept. 1 at Minnesota
Sept. 8 at Michigan State
Sept. 22 Temple
Sept. 29 Western Kentucky
Oct. 6 at Boston College
Oct. 13 at Miami OH
Oct. 20 at Kent State
Oct. 27 Ohio
Nov. 2 Akron
Nov. 9 at Eastern Michigan
Nov. 17 at Buffalo
Nov. 23 Toledo

The OOC is difficult. It'd be nice if BGSU could pick off one between Minnesota, Michigan State, and Boston College, but the problem is, all of those games are on the road. BGSU proved to be a mediocre MAC team last year, so some of the games on here (@ Miami OH, @ Kent State) could be losses.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Minnesota, @ Michigan State, @ Boston College, Toledo
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Kent State, @ Miami OH
Good/Probable Shot At It: Temple, Western Kentucky, Ohio, Akron, @ Eastern Michigan, @ Buffalo

THE OUTLOOK: The outlook for Bowling Green is more of the same from last year. The kicking game is said to have improved with a new JUCO transfer, but Alonso Rojas is still the punter and they were one of the worst punting teams in the nation. The passing game will be ineffective. The running game and the defense will be solid. However, it's just not going to be enough to get to a bowl game with teams in the MAC like Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Ball State, Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Miami OH. The MAC is deep, but BGSU appears to be in that lower tier and Gregg Brandon will probably be fired this year.



2-a-Days: Baylor and Boise State

Baylor Bears

Baylor has never been able to accomplish that much since they moved to the Big 12. Will this year produce different results?

THE OFFENSE: Last in rushing. Yep. #119 out of 119 schools. There's no reason to believe that they'll have a running game this year. They get 3 guys back on the O-line, a solid amount. Their QB from last year, Shawn Bell got hurt and they tanked their last 3 games. The new starting QB this year seems to be Kent State transfer, Michael Machen. He happens to be TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS old! The problem is, that JUCO transfter John David Weed is expected to take over at some point during the season. Baylor was 11th in passing offense, but overall, they were 86th. So even with the spread passing attack, Baylor's offense was horrible. The WR to the left here, Thomas White, will probably be one of Baylor's only real, productive players.

THE DEFENSE: 4th-to-last in sacks. 113th against the run. 110th in total and scoring defense. Maybe that will get you a feel of their defensive play last year. There were hardly any bright spots in what was one of the worst defenses at a BCS level, but LB Joe Pawelek was someone who stepped up. Dwain Crawford is one of their only guys that can play in the secondary. Again, I don't see any improvement.


Sept. 1 at TCU
Sept. 8 Rice
Sept. 15 Texas State
Sept. 22 at Buffalo
Sept. 29 at Texas A&M
Oct. 6 Colorado
Oct. 13 at Kansas
Oct. 20 Texas
Oct. 27 at Kansas State
Nov. 3 Texas Tech
Nov. 10 at Oklahoma
Nov. 17 Oklahoma State

The OOC is very light. They will most likely lose to TCU to open things up, but they will probably beat Rice, Texas State, and Buffalo. Baylor won 3 conference games last year so if they do that again this year, they just might be bowling, actually.

Don't Even Think About It: @ TCU, @ Texas A&M, Texas, Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Kansas State, @ Kansas
Good/Probable Shot At It: Rice, Texas State, @ Buffalo, Colorado

THE OUTLOOK: Baylor won't really improve from last season without Sean Bell. The passing game was the one big thing that they could really rely on last year, and I'm just not sure that either Michael Machen or John David Weed are going to be answers at QB. The running game can't produce. The defense will get steamrolled. However, the Big 12 isn't that great this year. They might be capable of winning 3 games. Even if they do, they're not going to be selected ahead of the following bowl teams: Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas State, or Oklahoma State..............Do you see it happening? Not me.


Boise State Broncos

Smooth move, dude . This was certainly one of the more entertaining football shows on blue turf. Or, on any turf, for that matter. The Fiesta Bowl was the second best bowl game of all time (right behind the 2006 Rose Bowl). It had everything: the underdog, the big, bad bully, a big underdog screwup (Zabransky's INT) and comeback, trick plays, the Statue of Liberty, and a marriage proposal. Does it get any better than that?

THE OFFENSE: Run, run, run, run, run with Ian Johnson. Now that Zabransky is gone, it looks like the Boise State passing attack is going to be taking a huge hit. But, there will be guys stepping up like Taylor Tharp or Nick Lomax. However, Bush Hamdan looks like he will be the man heading into the season opener. From what I've heard, he's the frontrunner. Zabransky was their steady leader for three seasons, now we'll have to see if the QB play can carry the torch. They'll have some time to get their feet wet because Ian Johnson will be the main load-carrier.

THE DEFENSE: The defense seems like it will be fine, but Peterson has some holes that he must fill left by Korey Hall and Gerald Alexander. Orlando Scandrick is a very good player when he isn't making stupid mistakes. I think he'll cut back on those and be one of the WAC's top defensive players. Marty Tadman on the other side is a great safety as well.


Aug. 30 Weber State
Sept. 8 at Washington
Sept. 15 Wyoming
Sept. 27 Southern Miss
Oct. 7 New Mexico State
Oct. 14 Nevada
Oct. 20 at Louisiana Tech
Oct. 26 at Fresno State
Nov. 3 San Jose State
Nov. 10 at Utah State
Nov. 17 Idaho
Nov. 23 at Hawaii

Okay, I am for one tired of hearing Boise State and their fans complain about not being able to play for a national title when they have Weber State on the schedule. They could do what Utah has done; find a way to schedule UCLA, Oregon State, and Louisville. If Utah could do it, why not Boise State? Instead, the only BCS conference team on the slate is Washington who'll finish in 9th place in the Pac-10. Does anyone else besides me feel that the Boise State/Hawaii game will be one of those college football epics?

Don't Even Think About It:
Good/Probable Shot At It: The whole schedule

THE OUTLOOK: The outlook for Boise State is very good. Replacing Zabransky is the team's biggest issue, but it's not going to kill them if they can't. If they can't get an adequate replacement for Zabransky, they'll go 9-3 and be in the MPC Computers Bowl. If they can, they'll have a great shot to run the table. I don't see them making the BCS at 10-2, but this will still be your usual Boise State squad.

BOWL GAME?: MPC Computers Bowl


2-a-Days: Auburn and Ball State

Auburn Tigers

Auburn always fields a good team. Much NFL talent has come through Auburn throughout the years. They were the only team in the nation last year to defeat 2 BCS-bound teams So why will Auburn have a rougher go at it this year?

THE OFFENSE: The offense struggled to find a groove last season. Finishing 76th in the nation in total offense, the only place that they succeeded mildly was in the running game. Now, Kenny Irons is gone and so is Courtney Taylor, their main go-to guy. Brad Lester will fill in at RB. Brandon Cox was encumbered by injuries last season. To make matters worse, he didn't have a target to throw to besides Taylor. Personally, I'm not a big Cox fan and his only reciever that could start for some other top-notch SEC squads is Rod Smith (no, not the Bronco ). With all of that said, that's not the biggest issue. The bigger issue that the Auburn offense must deal with is the losses taken on the offensive line. King Dunlap is the only starter last year that is coming back. We know Auburn has talent on the O-line, they always do. But they'll be inexperienced and it'll take a while to get into the flow of things. Handling SEC defensive lineman is no easy chore.

THE DEFENSE: Quentin Groves will be busy this year leading one of the better defenses in all of the SEC, if not the nation. Up front will be their strong point. They only get 7 guys back on D, a decent amount, but not anything that would hinder the defensive performance. Auburn finished 7th in scoring defense and there's nothing that would indicate that anything should change. Keep an eye out on Merrill Johnson, who is one of their OLBs. The guy is very, very talented. Remember this name on draft day.

Sept. 1 Kansas State
Sept. 8 South Florida
Sept. 15 Mississippi State
Sept. 22 New Mexico State
Sept. 29 at Florida
Oct. 6 Vanderbilt
Oct. 13 at Arkansas
Oct. 20 at LSU
Oct. 27 Mississippi
Nov. 3 Tennessee Tech
Nov. 10 at Georgia
Nov. 24 Alabama

It's interesting. It's not often that you see a big-name school have the guts to schedule two potential upsets. Even though Kansas State and USF must enter The Jungle, it does take some guts to go ahead with that because, from a pollster standpoint, Auburn really has little to gain and if they lose, it will be a big hit on their image. The road schedule for AU is brutal having to go at Florida, Arkansas, LSU, and Georgia.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Florida, @ LSU
Ehhhhh....Maybe....: @ Arkansas, @ Georgia
Good/Probable Shot At It: Kansas State, USF, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Tennessee Tech, Alabama

THE OUTLOOK: I don't see Auburn getting better, that's for sure. While they will be solid, they will be more like Miami from 2006; great defense, not much offense. Well, Auburn's offense will be better than 2006 Miami's because of Rod Smith, Brad Lester, and Brandon Cox. The defense should finish in the top 15 but the offense will lag back in the 80s nationally.

BOWL GAME?: Liberty Bowl

Ball State Cardinals

Ball State made huge strides at the end of the year. The turning
point? A close, early November defeat at Michigan. Most schools don't see a loss as a turning point, but with a team as good as Michign and a "pipsqueak", MAC team like Ball State hanging around with them, it gave the Cards all the confidence they needed to close out the season. Will it translate to a bowl game in 2007?

THE OFFENSE: Think of the best passing attacks in the
nation. Hawaii? New Mexico State? Texas Tech? Okay, maybe Ball State wasn't as good as they were, but they were pretty darn close last season finishing 16th in passing offense. When Brady Hoke made the decision to go with Nate Davis instead of Joey Lynch, the offense shot off like a rocket, propelling Ball State out of the doldrums of non-competitiveness. He claimed he was playing "backyard football" and it just clicked. However, losing their #1 RB, Larry Bostic, hurts more than it may seem. They were 106th in rushing offense, but he was the only running presence they had last year before MiQuale Lewis stepped in. He should carry the load, but I liked Bostic.

THE DEFENSE: One word sums the defense up: Feckless. It was feckless no matter how you looked at it. I read somewhere that the defensive staff is trying to shake it up some more by blitzing more often. Good luck. I don't think anything that the coaches do will help out the defense besides recruiting better . The pass defense was terrible and that's where they're going to have to do the most improving if they want to go to a bowl game.

Aug. 30 Miami OH
Sept. 8 at Eastern Michigan
Sept. 15 at Navy
Sept. 22 at Nebraska
Sept. 29 Buffalo
Oct. 6 Central Michigan
Oct. 13 Western Kentucky
Oct. 20 at Western Michigan
Oct. 27 at Illinois
Nov. 3 at Indiana
Nov. 13 Toledo
Nov. 24 at Northern Illinois

It's a solid schedule. Miami OH on opening day is a huge tossup. If they lose that game, their season could go down the crapper. They'd bounce back against EMU the next week. They have tough road games @ Navy and @ Nebraska. They get the defending MAC champions, Central
Michigan, at home. They have a formidable three game stretch @ Western Michigan, @ Illinois, and @ Indiana. They finish up with two of the West's most consistent programs.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Nebraska
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: @ Navy, Central Michigan, @ Western Michigan, @ Illinois, @ Indiana
Good/Probable Shot At It: Miami OH, @ EMU, Buffalo, WKU, Toledo, @ Northern Illinois

THE OUTLOOK: The outlook is clear skies ahead for this program. Ball State, with Nate Davis manning the offense, will make Brady Hoke one of the most coveted coaches in the mid-major ranks. Of course the defense could use some help, but the offense will be what carries this team. They went 5-3 in the MAC last year, the same record as Northern Illinois. So that tells me if they finish 5-3 again in MAC play with a win over Western Kentucky, they're in the bowl picture.



2-a-Days: Arkansas State and Army

Arkansas State Indians

Arkansas State is really one of the more low-key, potential "surprises" to most people. They don't garner much attention (not many teams from the Sun Belt do), but they could be on the rise with head coach Steve Roberts and, let's not forget, they are only one year removed from a Sun Belt title.

THE OFFENSE: It seems like nobody in the Sun Belt can throw and that includes Arkansas State. The Indians could never find anything from the passing game. Getting production from Corey Leonard this year is key. However, having Reggie Arnold in the backfield is a huge plus. Arnold appears to be one of the best backs in the entire mid-major ranks and he will probably be the best Sun Belt running back. They averaged 15 points a game, mainly because they couldn't throw worth a lick. That's horrible. I know they have more talent than that and if they could score another 5 points here and there, they would probably be the heavy favorite in the Sun Belt Conference. Loren O'Neal, FB, was a big cog in their offense so it'll be interesting to see how they fare without him.

THE DEFENSE: Arkansas State looks like they're going to have the best defense in the conference. Their safeties are the stars of the defense. The pictured safety is Tyrell Johnson and the other is Khayyam Burns, both seniors. They finished 32nd in the nation (behind Florida International, oddly enough) in total defense. The secondary is the main plus. They have another senior playing at CB whom I really like, Darren Toney. They couldn't sack anybody registering 1.08 sacks per game. That's not a stat to hang your hat on. They need more pressure on the QBs. If they do that, since nobody in the Sun Belt can pass, they could totally shut down the other offense and 15 ppg would win.


Sept. 1 at Texas
Sept. 8 Memphis
Sept. 15 SMU
Sept. 22 at Tennessee
Oct. 6 at Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette
Oct. 20 at Middle Tennessee
Oct. 27 Troy
Nov. 3 Florida International
Nov. 10 at Florida Atlantic
Nov. 15 North Texas
Nov. 24 at Southern Mississippi

It's pretty difficult for a Sun Belt schedule. I actually think they beat Memphis like they did last year. However, SMU and Southern Miss will be the two best teams that C-USA has to offer this year. Not to mention they got those other two teams in the OOC, Texas and Tennessee
Don't Even Think About It: @ Texas, @ Tennessee, @ Southern Miss
Ehhhhh....Maybe....: SMU
Good/Probable Shot At It: Memphis, @ UL Monroe, UL Lafayette, @ MTSU, Troy, FIU, @ FAU, North Texas

THE OUTLOOK: The outlook is fair for Arkansas State. ASU could be one of the best Sun Belt teams to come around........Ever, actually. For a conference that offers very little OOC (which might be changing if last year is any indication), Arkansas State has the potential to do the most damage. They might be able to hang for one half against Texas and/or Tennessee and/or Southern Miss. They beat Memphis last year. They got smoked by SMU last year but it might be different. Any time you have a secondary that is better than more than a handful of BCS schools in a conference that can't pass, you look to be in pretty good shape. But (there's that dreaded "but" again), I can't get past this hunch that I have. You'll see who I'm talking about later when I get to their preview.


Army Black Knights

Out is Bobby Ross. In is Stan Brock. Out also, is Bobby Ross' son providing for some off-season drama. The Black Knights are usually outmatched when it comes to skill, but usually, Army plays with more heart. Will that heart of their's be enough to help their bowl dreams?

THE OFFENSE: Army's offense wasn't spectacular by any means last year. They couldn't pass the ball at all. Brock has tried to change that by hiring former Portland State head coach, Tim Walsh, to offensive coordinator. The QB battle hasn't been settled, but it is between Carson Williams and David Pevoto. Williams is supposedly the frontrunner. The offensive line is undersized and they have a talented RB in Wesley McMahand. Turning the ball over is a huge issue. They finished dead last in the nation in turnover margin......

THE DEFENSE: The defense was awful stopping the run. Well, technically, they didn't stop the run at all. The defensive line has their work cut out for them. You know how Army turned the ball over a lot? Well, the defense didn't exactly help by getting it back. They finished the year with 4 INTs, only besting Ole Miss. The best player on the defense is safety Caleb Campbell. The guy is really talented and he was one of the only bright spots on last years' defense.

Sept. 1 at Akron
Sept. 8 Rhode Island
Sept. 15 at Wake Forest
Sept. 22 at Boston College
Sept. 29 Temple
Oct. 6 Tulane
Oct. 13 at Central Michigan
Oct. 20 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 3 at Air Force
Nov. 9 Rutgers
Nov. 17 TulsaDec. 1 at Navy

It is very hard. The closest thing to a "gimmie" on here (a 1-A opponent) is Temple and that's more of a 70/30 thing with Temple getting more experienced. If Army can get better under Brock, they'll probably get 4 wins with this.

Don't Even Think About It: @ Wake Forest, @ Boston College, @ Central Michigan, @ Georgia Tech, @ Air Force, Rutgers, Tulsa, @ Navy
Ehhhhh.....Maybe....: Tulane
Good/Probable Shot At It: Rhode Island, Temple

THE OUTLOOK: Army isn't going to do much. #1, they just don't have the talent right now, and #2, the schedule, and #3, transitioning to a new coach. Add 'em all up, and it doesn't look too bright. That doesn't mean that they can't find a way to make some strides this year. It's possible that they win 4 games if they can get an upset or two to go their way. They started off the year pretty nice and finished horribly, maybe they can be a little more consistent this year.