For now, these rankings are based on how good the teams look following the 2004 season, and not necessarily where they'll end up. Don't forget that a great team can look lousy when playing a nasty schedule, while an average team might be overrated after playing a bunch of cream-puffs.
There are five categories: 1) The teams that can go into the season honestly thinking about playing for the national title, 2) the teams that have an honest shot at getting to a BCS game (in other words, which teams should be in the hunt even if they don't win their conference title), 3) contenders for the Top 25 and 4) the probable also-rans, and 5) the bottom 19. Remember, there are 119 D-I teams this year with the addition of Florida Atlantic and Florida International.
Also, the teams are in three categories: 1) Should have a better team (but not necessarily have a better record) than last year, 2) should be about as good as last year, 3) should have a worse team than last year
The Bottom 19
The teams that have some serious work to do
101. UCF 2004 record: 0-11 Conference USA
After being a gigantic bust since joining the MAC, George O?Leary?s boys head off to Conference USA. An 0-11 2004 is ugly no matter how many ways you slice it, but there were some close games that could?ve gone the right way with a little more offense. Enough experience returns to expect a much better season. It couldn?t be worse.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Alex Haynes Biggest defensive loss: LB Gerren Bray
102. SMU 2004 record: 3-8 Conference USA
Last year?s young team needs to find more offense this season and should do it if a starting quarterback emerges. The attack doesn?t lose anyone who can?t be replaced. The defense showed a bit of improvement, but not enough to overcome the problems on offense. SMU gave up 51 touchdowns and scored 23.
Biggest offensive loss: C Brad Kieschink Biggest defensive loss: DT Allen Adami
103. Ball State 2004 record: 3-8 MAC
2004 was a disappointment, but the running game should be better led by young RB star Adell Givens. WR Dante Ridgeway's decision to turn pro early is a killer taking away the an All-America caliber playmaker. The problem was on defense giving up 36.8 points per game and 260.6 yards through the air. Now S Justin Beriault is gone. The loss of P Reggie Hodges will hurt.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Dante Ridgeway Biggest defensive loss: S Justin Beriault
104. UL Lafayette 2004 record: 4-7 Sun Belt
Five starters are gone off the offense and four on defense, so there?s hope for overall improvement after an average 2004. QB Jerry Babb is the team?s do-it-all playmaker, but he could use some more help from Chester Johnson and the ground game. The defense should be solid if it can make some replacements in the back seven.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Bill Sampy Biggest defensive loss: S C.C. Brown
105. New Mexico State 2004 record: 5-6 WAC
New head coach Hal Mumme will try to bring success to a program that struggled to get over the hump in the Sun Belt. The WAC might not be much kinder right away, but the offense will be more fun with Mumme looking to throw it around.
Biggest offensive loss: QB Buck Pierce Biggest defensive loss: LB Richard Glover
106. Utah State 2004 record: 3-8 WAC
The Aggies move over to the WAC after an unsuccessful stint in the Sun Belt showing little offense and no defense. Enough playmakers return on both sides of the ball to expect a better team, but the same result considering the tougher conference.
Biggest offensive loss: QB Travis Cox Biggest defensive loss: LB Robert Watts
107. Army 2004 record: 2-9 Independent
Army leaves Conference USA for Independent status, but it could be a rough second year for Bobby Ross losing seven defensive starters and four starting offensive lineman. RBs Carlton Jones and Tielor Robinson are good players to build around.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Aaron Alexander Biggest defensive loss: LB Greg Washington
108. Idaho 2004 record: 3-9 WAC
Head coach Nick Holt had a solid first season with an improved offense and a stronger defense. Consistency was an issue for the young team and now there?s hope for more explosion with a fantastic running game and QB Michael Harrington returning as an experienced senior. Look for more improvements in the first season in the WAC.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Bobby Bernal-Wood Biggest defensive loss: DE Brandon Kania
109. Louisiana Tech 2004 record: 6-6 WAC
This could be a tough year for the Bulldogs losing ten starters on defense and heart-and-soul RB Ryan Moats. With Moats off early to the NFL, the passing game will have to be far better than it was in 2004 only throwing 11 touchdown passes.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Ryan Moats Biggest defensive loss: LB Byron Santiago
110. Ohio 2004 record: 4-7 MAC
New head coach Frank Solich won?t install a pure form of the option, but it could be back to the days of Ohio?s rushing dominance. The defense was a strength for most of last year and should be strong again if new safeties can be found right away.
Biggest offensive loss: QB Ryan Hawk Biggest defensive loss: DE Kevin Carberry
111. Western Michigan 2004 record: 1-10 MAC
New head coach Bill Cubit has work to do to make the one-time MAC power respectable again. The defense has to stop someone first after allowing close to 40 points per game. A running game wouldn?t hurt either after averaging 99.5 yards per outing. WR Greg Jennings will be near the top of most of the statistical charts.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Tyrone Walker Biggest defensive loss: CB Scott Robinson
112. Temple 2004 record: 2-9 Independent
Oh this won?t be pretty. Temple is banished to the land of independents without its top two stars to rely on with QB Walter Washington and LB Rian Wallace leaving early for the NFL. Believe it or not, last year was supposed to be the year of improvement with several upperclassmen.
Biggest offensive loss: QB Walter Washington Biggest defensive loss: LB Rian Wallace
113. Florida Atlantic 9-3 Sun Belt
FAU was one of the surprise teams in 2004 beating Hawaii, North Texas and MTSU before losing to UL Monroe, Troy and New Mexico State. The Owls will have some work to do losing QB Jared Allen, RB Doug Parker and TE/WR Anthony Crissinger-Hill. The defense has enough playmakers to carry things for a while.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Doug Parker Biggest defensive loss: LB Chris Laskowski
114. Arkansas State 2004 record: 3-8 Sun Belt
ASU struggled to win three games last year with an interesting mix of seniors on offense and underclassmen on defense. The back seven should be better after a year of experience led by LB Josh Williams and CB Montis Harrison.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Chuck Walker Biggest defensive loss: LB Steven Tookes
115. UL Monroe 2004 record: 5-6 Sun Belt
The Indians won with a senior-dominated defense last year and now have some major rebuilding to do. The offense had a tough time with its consistency, but it has a big-time playmaker returning in 6-6 WR Drouzon Quillen who averaged 17.2 yards per catch with seven scores. P Joel Stelly is one of the nation?s best.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Bruce Hampton Biggest defensive loss: S Chris Harris
116. Eastern Michigan 2004 record: 4-7 MAC
EMU was one of the MAC?s most fun teams even though it didn?t win a whole bunch. There might not be a more explosive pitch-and-catch combination in America than Matt Bohnet to Eric Deslauriers, but the defense has to stop someone. That won?t be any easier with the loss of several starters.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Anthony Sherrell Biggest defensive loss: LB Kevin Harrison
117. Central Michigan 2004 record: 4-7 MAC
The Chippewas won three D-I games last year by a total of seven points. The defense takes a huge hit losing several top starters, but some good young players return. The offense needs help with depth on the line. RB Jerry Seymour could be the MAC?s most exciting player.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Adam Kieft Biggest defensive loss: LB/S James King
118. Florida International 2004 record: 3-7 Sun Belt
Welcome to the first season in D-IAA for a Golden Panther team looking to make an immediate Sun Belt splash. QB Josh Padrick leads a decent offense with nine starters returning while nine defensive players also return on D.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Rashod Smith Biggest defensive loss: DT Ira Turner.
119. Buffalo 2004 record: 2-9 MAC
The Bulls showed some signs of life in 2004, but not enough to assume things will be appreciably better in 2005. The offense still needs more pop to help out a defense that wasn?t all that bad.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Matt Knueven Biggest defensive loss: S J.J. Gibson
You have to remember this must be a very dificult team to rank this year considering we did lose a bunch of players and our recruiting class from last year and I would assume ( :-X0 ) this year won't be ranked either - so it's rather hard to get a real feel for what this team will be capable of - it's all on paper right now.
Still makes for a good locker room posted note - any motivation the players can use to prove some people wrong is fine by me.
I can remember Schnelly at the UM and not to many people had any hope for the program. attendence sucked real bad, and the ratings where in the toilet. The UM was a joke, but this guys vision was unbelieveable and what he did was such a tremendous accomplishment. I think Bobby Bowden said it best if he would have stayed at the U he would have probably have been one of the greatest coach's of all time. IMHO he one of the greatest coach's of all time and FAU is very fortunate to have him. Man if anyone can do this what better hands to be in.
What I see happening with both OL & DL is a lot of rotation to keep guys fresh, of course you will have a few that will take the majority of the snap - the work hogs. All will be good in Owl Land.
I just like the position we are in actually, we keep proving people wrong.
They just have to be shown the truth on the field. AGAIN.
Now with that said, I'd say we are at the bottom because we are a new team to D1-A. Still unproven to play with the Big Boys. We have to be placed somewhere and to place us in the BCS area would be a little off base too. To place us in the mid majors may be a little off also because we're too new and haven't beaten that caliber of teams yet. Consistantly.
It's safer for the writers to place us in the bottom and see what happens.
If it's based on last year's records, then we know that we're better than the rating. If upcoming 2005 ASSUMPTIONS are included, then it's impossible to predict.
The new RB Ferguson? According to someone who saw him play last year, he is a strength and make you miss type of runner. His stats back up that theory too. My prediction: He will probably break cousin Dougs mark his soph year. The line will be upperclassmen and he'll be even stronger.
WR's are OK and the O-line will eventually jell together. The defense will continue to make folks take notice. Remember, our goal is the SunBelt. I like our chances at being competitive this year.