This is a conference with some exciting teams at the top, but some really bad teams at the bottom. They are of course not an automatic qualifying conference, but UCF could make a run at getting in a BCS game. Its really an exciting conference that won't have very much attention paid to it.
This is a school that has recruited and coached well, making this a good football program (they won 11 games last year). Jeff Godfrey is quite an athlete at quarterback, and while there may be debate in the NFL about whether athletic quarterbacks can make it, there is no debate in college football. Athletic quarterbacks rock! They also have a NFL caliber tight end for him to throw to. Despite losing a couple key guys on defense (including their all-time sack leader), their d-line looks to be pretty solid. Their secondary is a shut down style secondary, and will give the pass-happy teams in this conference problems.
Final Prediction: Boston College is the only big program team on the schedule. They really could beat those guys. I don't expect an unbeaten season, there will probably be a slip-up or two, but they are going to be really good. Expect at least 10 or 11 wins.
Case Keenum was given another year of eligibility and thats really good news for this pass happy school. They should pass for about a bazillion yards. So we know the offense will be good, the only question will be whether or not their defense will put them over the top.
Final Prediction: UCLA at the beginning of the season will be an interesting match-up, they are probably the favorites in the rest of their games. Expect a run at the conference title and maybe even 10 wins, but I think they will be second place.
June Jones has already turned this program around. Two straight bowl games may not sound all that impressive, but it is for a school that had become the laughingstock of college football following the “death penalty”. Their whole offensive line returns, and many say this is the best line in the country. That is always a plus. Zach Line has proved to be an incredible runningback out of the Run and Shoot. Their defense has to be better than it was last year though. They have 8 starters returning, and their defensive line looks really good by all reports. So maybe it will be different.
Final Prediction: Texas A&M, Navy, and TCU will be match-ups that SMU probably have no business winning. Other than that, if their defense figures it out, they will be pretty good. They aren't going to win the conference or anything but anything less than 8 wins would be a disappointment.
A really good offense last year, but a mediocre (at best) defense. Some changes on defense have come this off-season, and they will need those to work for them to compete for the conference crown.
Final Prediction: A very very manageable schedule. They have had 17 straight winning seasons, and there is no reason for them to not have 18. There is just a lot of uncertainty with this team, and its hard to really predict how they will do compared to the top tier in this division. 7 wins seems about right.
They are coming off a 10 win season including beating Hawaii in the Hawaii bowl. They also come ranked #25 in the polls. But as with many successful seasons for small programs, they also come with a new coach. While coaching experience may be a problem, offense won't be. These guys can, and they will score. The only question is what the defense will look like. Their secondary is weak, and thats a big problem.
Final Prediction: Who made this schedule? Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Boise State? They will lose all three of these games. They are really shouldn't be ranked, they are probably a borderline team and will get about 6 wins.
This is where nearly all of Mike Leach's Texas Tech assistants migrated. So they bring that style of play. So of course, this team was awesome on offense but terrible on defense last year. They are going to try to fix that by changing to the 3-4, which will probably make their defense bad this year as they try to adjust.
Final Prediction: They start the year with two automatic losses against South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Throw in Navy and North Carolina, and this team has a real scheduling problem. They were probably a borderline team anyway, and with that schedule, its hard to picture them winning more than 5.
This team just couldn't run the ball last year, and were among last in the country. They had the best recruiting class in the conference according to experts this off-season. However, it usually takes at least a couple years for a class to take full effect. They return most of their defense, so they should be decent on that side of the ball.
Final Prediction: West Virginia and Virginia Tech are going to be real problems. I am not sure why colleges feel the need to play all the schools close to them, regardless of quality of program. Louisville may be tough, but they do have breaks in their schedule with Rice and Ohio. They won 5 games last year, the big question will be whether they can find another game to win to go to a bowl game. It really doesn't appear they will, and they may actually regress. Expect 4-5 wins.
Last year, they got off to a good start, but they struggled down the stretch are were profoundly mediocre. They will have to replace last years quarterback in Vittatoe, who was their all-time leader in passing. Only 2 starters on offense return (none on the offensive line), meaning they will have some serious problems on that side of the ball. They will have 9 defensive guys returning and they should be okay on that side of the ball.
Final Prediction: A nice easy schedule, including a start against Stony Brook. Yes, they have a football team. However, they look like a team that everybody else will circle on their schedule as an easy win. No more than 4 wins, if that.
Not a good year last year, but its not a real good football program either. Toledo, their head coach, is in some hot water, and it is desperation time for this team. Their offense may shape up to be pretty good, as they have a decent quarterback and runningback, but they will have to get good production on the line. Their defense won't be very good, probably offsetting anything the offense is able to accomplish.
Final Prediction: Ending the year against Hawaii is always fun, and a match-up with Army will be similarly exciting. But there won't be many high notes for this team, they aren't all that good.
They have had 3 straight losing seasons, and only won 4 games last year. While their offense was okay, their defense was pretty bad. They do have 16 returning starters, so they do bring some experience. Experience doesn't equal talent though, and they seem to be lacking in that department. Their secondary is not very good, and when you have a bad secondary, you probably have a bad team.
Final Prediction: Florida and Mississipi State are tough, but the only real tough ones on the schedule. These guys haven't made a bowl game since 2004 and don't expect them to do it this year either. 3 wins seems pretty reasonable.
They had a great year in 08, but since then things have not been good. Almost the entire offense comes back (saving for a key tackle). They feel like they can move the ball in the air or on the ground. Whether they actually can in FBS play is a whole other question. Their defense was terrible last year, and even though they may get better up front, their secondary is not going to be good.
Final Prediction: A start against Texas, Purdue and Baylor won't do them any favors. Rice always needlessly shoots themselves in the foot with a tough schedule. They aren't a very good team though, don't expect a lot.
Last year, they couldn't score, so they made up for it by giving up a whole bunch of points. They won a grand total of 1 game last year. They only have 9 starters returning on both sides of the ball. This may be viewed as a positive thing, because evidently those guys that left weren't any good anyway.
Final Prediction: A really soft schedule with a couple FCS teams and Mississippi State being the only big football program. They should win at least 2 but no more than 3.