Wednesday, July 16, 2008

FRD's Entirely Too Early College Football Preview: Non-BCS Conferences

Jimmy Clausen needs to stop being a d-bag and help his team win games this year.

So I've loaded up the blog with previews here tonight, but I'm battling a bad case of insomnia mixed with subtle panic attack dealing with law school so it's been kind of an escape.  Disregard the typo's- I know there is a lot and if I can stay alert enough tomorrow I will fix them- I promise.  
On to the topic of the post.  These will not be as detailed as the BCS conference previews because I'm not sure anyone cares to look at them.  If you really want my total breakdown of any of these teams or conferences shoot me an email and I'll get it to you.  Also, I figure I should make it known (for the future of this blog) that I hate underdogs, mid-majors, whatever else you call them.  I view them as a novelty in the landscape of college athletics.  I have significantly more interest in Division III football or High School football than I do in who wins the Sun Belt conference.  Although I do pay attention to the Sun Belt and if there was no other games on I would happily watch it.  

Conference and Team Projections:

Mountain West:
BYU- 9-3- Might be getting a little too much credit in some pre-season publications but a solid team overall who should hang around the top 25.
Utah-9-3- A team I definitely think is overrated in the national scene.  If they can beat Michigan the opening weekend, and they do have a chance, I might be wrong. 
TCU- 9-3- The team I think most likely to challenge BYU for the conference title.  
Air Force-7-5- So hard to gauge these teams because the turnover, but they play a solid brand of football and should be competitive again.  
New Mexico- 5-7-I have next to nothing to offer on this team.  Should be just around bowl level. 
San Diego State- 5-7- Might be time for Chuck Long to produced.  Team is getting better but could/should be there already in my opinion.  
Colorado State-4-8- They are no longer the mid-major power they once were.  Program on the decline for sure.  
Wyoming-4-8- Difficult team to judge, not good enough to go bowling but good enough to win some games.  
UNLV- 3-9- One of the bottom 5 programs in America.  I would be shocked at 3 wins or more. 

Fresno State- 9-3- A program that is always tough and has to be respected for willing to play anyone.  Probably their best team in a couple of years and maybe good enough to sneak into the top 25. 
Boise State-10-2- This year's Hawaii.  An easy schedule will have them in the national discussion, but this is not the team of 2 years ago.  If they get anywhere near a BCS game they will get murdered.  
Nevada-7-5- Chris Ault does a really nice job with this program.  Probably able to hack out a bowl game.
New Mexico State-6-6- Blah. Terrible with the football last year. 
Hawaii- 5-7- June Jones is gone and that might be the signal of bad things for the rainbow warriors.  Tough place to win, but they have won and might be able to keep that attitude. 
San Jose St.- 4-8- Trying to get better, but just can't make it over that edge.  +13 in turnovers and still couldn't turn it into a winning record.
Louisiana Tech- 4-8- Offense can score, defense can't stop anyone= not good.
Idaho-2-10- Bottom 5 program year in year out. Not sure anyone can win here.
Utah State-1-11- I can only think of one team worse in college football this year.

The MAC:  Because I live in the region I'm partial to the MAC.  After a good run about 5-8 years ago the league has really fallen off.  Should be a better brand of football this year than we've seen in awhile, but still a largely wide open league.  I'd cheer for Ball State to beat anyone in college football but Ohio State (There's a long story behind this).

Central Michigan-7-5- The head of the MAC the past few seasons.  They might just be able to hang on for another season
Ball State- 8-4- I love their coach Brady Hoke- there might not be a better guy in college football.  A good team last year that couldn't play a lick of defense but could score some points.  Nearly everyone is back, but I'm not sure how much better they could get. 
Miami-7-5- Probably the best squad since the days of Big Ben.
Kent State-5-7- Good little running back in Eugene Jarvis but not a lot else to get excited about.
Bowling Green- 6-6- Challenging schedule, but has some strength returning from a good team last year.  Record might not show improvement even if it's there.
Toledo-5-7- Had a good season last year considering some major off the field distractions.  Struggling to regain momentum of a few seasons ago
Western Michigan-7-5- Should be in position to challenge for MAC crown with a few breaks.
Akron-4-8- Roughly the same as last year.
Ohio- 4-8- Better than their record will show.  Games against Wyoming and Northwestern offer chances to build something heading into the conference slate.
Northern Illinois-3-9- Program in transition.  Turnover machine last year. 
Temple-4-8- They return 22 starters and I only have them at 4 wins for a reason. 
Buffalo-4-8- People give Turner Gill credit for almost having them .500 last year.  Good amount of that team is back so there is opportunity but I'm not sure there is the talent.  
Eastern Michigan-2-10- Doormat program.  Needs something to get them going, I have no idea what that is.  

Conference USA:
Tulsa-9-3- Still a step ahead of the conference in terms of talent and program. 
Memphis-8-4- Good enough to challenge for the conference, but not sure Tommy West will have them ready.
Houston-7-5- Art Briles did such a good job here, I hope they can keep it going.  Important season for the program. 
Southern Miss-7-5- New coach but I dont expect improvement anywhere on the field.
UCF-6-6- George O'leary's done a nice job here but loses a ton of offense. 
East Carolina- 5-7- Skip Holtz proved he can coach, need to pull off a couple of upsets to be bowl eligible.  
Marshall-5-7- Former OSU guy Marc Snyder had a rough start, but they are slowly improving.  
UTEP-4-8- Not sure there is much improvement here for Mike Price
Tulane-3-9- I like Bob Toledo but he doesn't have much to work with here.  Huge offensive losses. 
SMU-3-9- I could be totally off on this one cause I have that much respect for June Jones, but I'll give him a year to get his system in place.
Rice-2-10- Phil Steele says this team will be much better, but they were downright awful last year.  I'm not sure I see reasons they wont be again this year.
UAB-2-10- They have tons of JC players coming in and they need to be ready to contribute right away.  

Sun Belt: easily the worst conference in college football this year.
FAU-8-4- Great job building this program in less than 10 years.  Pretty amazing they can compete as well as they do. 
Troy-7-5- Not as good as the teams from the last couple of years ago, bringing in a ton of JC players,
Louisiana-Monroe-5-7-Middle of the pack team with decent amount of returning players.
Middle Tennessee State-5-7- they find ways to be around .500 it seems like every year.
Louisiana-Lafayette-3-9- They've never been to a bowl. It's not going to happen this year.
Arkansas State-3-9- They've had a good three year run, even making a bowl once, but it's going to be a long season for the Red Wolves.  
North Texas-2-10- Good QB prospect in Riley Dodge maybe he can steal some games for them, but unlikely.
FIU-1-11- Program that can't seem to get it going, but with their location and ability to take questionable characters, they could turn it around fast.  It just won't be this year.  
Western Kentucky- 2-10- Transitioning to division 1 and probably one of the worst teams in it this year.  Pulled off a winning record last year, so I could be totally off on this, it's very hard to judge.  

Notre Dame-8-4- Easy schedule allows for them to be in much better shape than last year. Talent is starting to contribute, but much is overrated.  If the O-line doesn't improve it might not matter.  Should be in the top 25.  
Navy-4-8- Could be tough without Paul Johnson, but I hope they surprise me.  
Army-3-9-  Hope they do better, but nearly impossible to have a winning season here.  

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