BC Tailgate is the official home on Blogcritics for college football news, rants, and riffs. Every week, a crack team of college football fans with access to one of many Internets will tackle each conference, one by one, every week leading up to the games of the week. This is actually one of those features that will cover more teams than just USC and Florida. We got the Sun Belt and MAC covered like Marques Slocum on fuck lions. This is our super double special season preview edition. BC Tailgate's normal editions will appear every Friday.
ACC by Geeves
Big East by Dan McGowan
Big Ten by Geeves
Big XII by Ben Miraski
Independents by Benjamin Cossel
Mountain West by Matt Sussman
Pac 10 by Steve
SEC by Josh Hathaway
Sun Belt by Jerkwheat
WAC by Matt Sussman
The ACC picture doesn't look terribly different than it did last year, with Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami (FL), and Florida State as the early season favorites and the rest of the conference playing just well enough to muck up the standings.
The Hokies will look to use their always great defense and special teams to rise above past tragedy into a BCS bowl, while Boston College looks for continued success in their first year after the Tom O'Brien decade. Miami and Florida State will hope their respective games of quarterback roulette land on a winner, but rough schedules – Miami plays at Oklahoma in Week 2, and Florida State plays their three toughest opponents on the road in November – may hold them back. Watch out for a newly invigorated North Carolina squad. Butch Davis has begun a serious influx of talent, and adding that to his coaching is guaranteed to pay off bigtime eventually.
With credibility no longer a concern, accountability becomes essential.
It took a 5-0 bowl record and three teams finishing in the top 12 last season for the Big East to justify itself as worthy of an automatic BCS bowl. In 2007, the expectations are clear: A team from this conference needs to play for the national championship. The question is who.
West Virginia and Louisville are clearly the class of the conference, maybe the nation. Both begin their season in the top 10, with the Mountaineers even receiving one of the three No. 1 votes the Associated Press didn’t award to USC. They’ll be led by the dominating quarterback/running back combo of Pat White and Steve Slaton. Both are legitimate Heisman candidates and will continue to put up monster numbers against a less-than-demanding schedule.
The Cardinals have the best overall offense in the league. Brian Brohm has a great chance at being the first quarterback taken in the NFL draft next April and he’s got a number of talented pass catchers at his disposal, including Harry Douglas — who is probably one of the top three wideouts in the country.
One of last year’s feel good stories, Rutgers, is back with the best defense in the league and a Heisman-caliber tailback. The Scarlet Knights will probably be undefeated when they host West Virginia October 27. The major concern with this three team race for the title is chance that they’ll all knock each other off, the way they did last year. For a Big East team to play in the BCS title game, they’ll have to be unbeaten.
How they’ll finish:
Look for the usual suspects.
It appears to be more of the same this season in the Big Ten, a conference that starts the season with four ranked teams – Michigan(5), Wisconsin(7), Ohio State(11), and Penn State(17) – and seven other teams huddling around the fire for warmth.
Michigan's defense must show it can give the powerful offense opportunities to light it up. Wisconsin and Ohio State look to play their usual smashmouth ball (leading to more low scoring in the important games), while Penn State will hope the new defensive line can keep up with the immense talent elsewhere on the field. Keep an eye out for Purdue's similarly dangerous offense and an Illinois squad who looked bad (2-10) but wasn't horrible (four losses by a touchdown or less).
Last season was a down year for the Big XII. They were not represented in the National Title game for the first time after three straight appearances, they didn’t place a team in the top ten in the final poll, and they were just 3-5 in bowl games.
This year appears to be more of the same. While there may be a few teams at the top of the league which may challenge for the National crown, the performance of the rest of the league, plus the dearth of scheduling, will likely come back and hurt the league. Despite two teams in the top of the pre-season rankings, the league champion will likely be headed back to the Fiesta Bowl and not the National Championship game.
How will they stack up this season? Let’s take a look. All records are projected based on predicting the full schedule for all 12 teams in the league.
Big XII South:
Oklahoma (11-1, 8-0) – The Sooners struggled with bad calls and off the field problems in 2006 and should be beyond that this year. Despite the loss of Adrian Peterson and Paul Thompson, the Sooners are more than equipped to repeat as league champions. They have two of the most punishing lines in the nation, and their running backs proved they are more than up to the challenge when Peterson was out last season. They do replace their QB, but at least this year’s starter, Sam Bradford, has been taking snaps for the last year and not playing wide receiver. Look for the Sooners to challenge for the national crown but a projected early loss to Miami may keep them from the title game.
Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2) – The Aggies are poised to strike this season. They return nine offensive starters from last year including their very dangerous quarterback Stephen McGee. I have the Aggies only losing to Nebraska and Oklahoma, the two teams I project to be in the Big XII championship again this season. Look for them to pull a huge win in Miami on a Thursday night late in September which should vault them up the national rankings and for them to seal a January Bowl with a late win against Texas in College Station.
Texas (10-2, 6-2) – The Longhorns have struggled with off the field problems before the start of the season and that may have more impact than anything on the field. Quarterback Colt McCoy is looking to build on his record setting rookie season, but will have to overcome a defense which had losses both on the field and in the coaching box. I see the Longhorns struggling this season. I have two projected losses to Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout and to A&M for the second straight year to close the season. Along the way, there are three games where Texas could be tested and they could easily go 7-5. The good news is that this year looks to be only a blip on the trend of good seasons that have graced Austin lately.
Texas Tech (7-5, 3-5) – And then there were these teams… The Red Raiders still have their potent passing offense, and for the first time in a number of years, the same quarterback will be at the helm. Graham Harrell will look to help Texas Tech break into the upper tier in the Big XII. That will be a tough challenge given the talent in the South Division.
Oklahoma State (6-6, 3-5) – The Cowboys don’t look to influence the conference any, but they do have one of the more intriguing out of conference schedules. They face a Georgia team on the first week of the season which should be challenging for the SEC crown. At the end of September, they take on Div. 1AA Sam Houston, and former Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar, who was dismissed from the team last season because of extra benefits he received. The Cowboys also face what should be a tough Troy team on September 14th. Look for that one to be closer than you would expect.
Baylor (2-10, 0-8) – You can’t return only 4 starters on offense and hope to compete in the Big XII. One win will come against a Div. 1AA team and the other will be against Rice. Don’t look for anything special after the 3rd week of the season.
Big XII North:
Nebraska (10-2, 7-1) – The Cornhuskers don’t return the wealth of talent that you would like but Bill Callahan is developing the former powerhouse back into something special. With new quarterback Sam Keller, this will be an interesting team to watch, as we know that Keller has an arm from his time at Arizona State. The offensive line is huge and should protect him well. The question will be the defense and if they can stop the run. I only project a single loss in the league to Texas, and what will likely be a crushing defeat by USC. Otherwise, Nebraska should be able to handle their division and get back to the title game in the conference for the second year in a row.
Missouri (9-3, 5-3) – Last year’s surprise team in the Big XII won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this year. Chase Daniel is back for his junior season, and a second year at the helm should help him in the pocket and allow him to improve on his shocking numbers from last season. The team loses a chunk of defense including the core of the linebackers and a big piece of their defensive backfield. In a league with so many quarterbacks returning, that could leave them vulnerable. They will have to count on the offense improving over what was a very impressive last season to have any shot of competing for the conference title.
Kansas State (8-4, 5-3) – The Wildcats could surprise this season and were one of the hardest teams to read based on the numbers and their returnees. I see a close loss to Texas and two losses late to Nebraska and Missouri which keep them out of the lead in the North.
Colorado (5-7, 3-5) – Too many close losses and late collapses are what did in the Buffaloes last year in Dan Hawkins’ first year. While it is too early in his tenure to predict a Colorado North title, you can see better things on the horizon especially with most of the team back from last year. With a second year in the Boise State system, Colorado should come close to breaking back into bowl territory. Look for a very close game against Missouri late in the year to be the difference between a bowl and a long winter break.
Kansas (4-8, 1-7) – Kansas never finishes in the top half of the division and this year will be more of the same. While most of their defense returns, they just don’t seem to have the offense, especially with half of their offensive line being new. They should start 3-1 but look for October and November to be very dark months in Lawrence.
Iowa State (2-10, 1-7) – Iowa State surprisingly fired Dan McCarney last season, yet named a big replacement, pulling in Texas’s defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. While Chizik won’t perform miracles in his first season as a head coach, he will have seven returning starters on the defensive side to work with. The biggest questions will still be on offense. Look for them to come close to surprising Texas in October and get a late win in Lawrence, a place where Kansas never loses.
Welcome to the Division 1-A Independent Conference. Now, one must ask, does this conference even exist if not for Notre Dame? Thankfully, the answer this season is yes as the Midshipmen of Navy look to give the Irish a run for the conference lead this year.
While Navy and Notre Dame will battle it out for the top spot in this conference, look for absolutely no challenges from conference brethren Army and Western Kentucky.
So many expectations were placed on the shoulders of Westlake, Cal. freshmen quarterback Jimmy Clausen when he was anointed the heir apparent that it was inevitable that the kid would eventually do something to sour the mix but Clausen is the least of head coach Charlie Weis’ concerns.
Let’s see – every major position on the offense except tight end is gone as well as three-fifths of the offensive line. There’s a new defensive coordinator (Corwin Brown) in town with a “new to Notre Dame” 3-4 scheme looking to make something resembling a defensive squad out of a unit that ranked 75th nationally last year. And to top it off, Notre Dame has possibly one of the toughest schedule in the nation with four of their first six games on the road and four of the first eight against preseason top-20 teams (No. 1 USC, No. 5 Michigan, No. 14 UCLA and No. 17 Penn State). Can you say thank the Golden Dome for a 10-year contract?
Weiss has commented on several occasions that 2007, the first year without Quinn, would be a year that the Fightin’ Irish took a step back. Their season opener, Sept. 1 against Georgia Tech should be a good indication of how much progress the squad made during the off-season. As to who will be under center for the season opener? Weiss ain’t telling until game day, for Notre Dame to have much success this year, Weiss better have a few more tricks up his sleeve.
Key match-ups, oh who are we kidding, with this schedule, they’ll all be tough.
So if Notre Dame has one of the toughest schedule going into the season, Navy looks ahead at a fairly easy tour of duty on the gridiron. Only four of Navy’s opponents this season finished with winning records last year – Rutgers, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois. Add on top of that the number of teams Navy will play this year that won few then four games last year (Duke, Temple, North Texas, Army and Air Force) and Navy has a cream puff schedule that would make best of bakers jealous.
With no competition, Navy will easily take the Commanders Cup again, for the fifth consecutive year, this season and will look for a potential invitation to the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Dec 20. But not all is roses at the Naval Academy. Head coach Paul Jones looks to replace his offensive line and a defensive squad that only touts two returning starters (Clint Sovie and Irv Spencer at inside linebacker). At least their isn’t a quarterback controversy as Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada returns to take the snaps in Navy’s slot option offense boasting the return of three solid slotbacks in seniors Reggie Campbell, Zerbin Singleton and junior Shun White.
Navy’s toughest competition of the year will come Sept 7 when they’ll travel to New Brunswick to face the #16 Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.
Can anyone save this program? With Bobby Ross having retired after three unsuccessful years it would appear that nothing can keep this program from being one of the worst in the Division 1-A world.
New coach Stan Brock looks to a mostly returning squad (six on offense, six on defense) and Brock surprisingly kept most of Ross’ assistants including defensive coordinator John Mumford while hiring Portland State coach Tim Walsh as the offensive coordinator.
Sophomore Carson Williams gets the nod under center over senior David Pevoto. At 6-3, 210 pounds, Williams is a big quarterback with a strong arm but one prone to mental mistakes. If Williams can take advantage of the improved offensive line (Brock served 16-years in the NFL as a lineman), Army might very well play spoiler to a few teams this season.
The critical match-up in any season for Army is their final meeting with Navy. This year’s game takes place in Baltimore with the slimiest of chances Army will walk away victorious. The Black Knights open their season Sept 1. versus Akron in the inaugural FirstMerit Patriot Bowl at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Why hello there, WKU. You may not officially be a Division 1-A team yet, but you play six other 1-A schools, and in 2009 will even have a conference affiliation. But welcome to the division as an “intern,” so tos speak. Oh yeah, the price of admission? You get to play the defending national champions and currently ranked #6 Florida, at home, in your season opener – welcome to the big time.
Head coach David Elson has his work cut out from him as his Hilltoppers make the provisional move from Division 1-AA to Division 1-A this season.
Elson has three returning starters on the offensive side of the ball and four for the defense. Notre Dame transfer David Wolke will most likely start the season as the Hilltoppers field marshal over red-shirt freshman K.J. Black.
Key match-up, if the ‘Toppers can survive Florida, look to a fairly routine schedule with Ball State looming over the horizon.
Last year BYU sleepwalked through the conference, winning all eight MWC games. But now that quarterback and (last year's conference Offensive Player of the Year) John Beck is in the NFL, and a flurry of other players either graduated or gone on Mormon missions, the TCU Horned Frogs have become the heavy favorite.
The Horned Frogs are returning nine starters on defense that gave up fewer than 13 points a game last year. Because of a road game at Texas, TCU could finish 11-1.
But Utah's mammoth non-conference (Oregon State, Louisville, UCLA) schedule might help them down the Mountain West stretch and weasel out a conference championship with a poorer record. In fact — yes, I'll go with Utah winning the MWC.
Could also complete: Colorado State, New Mexico, Wyoming
Not this year: Air Force, San Diego State, UNLV
The Battle for the Top
USC: The preseason #1 ranked team is looking to put another championship trophy in the case. QB John David Booty is being talked about for the Heisman, the team returns 10 defensive starters, and Pete Carroll went out and did one of the best recruiting jobs of the off-season, netting 5 freshman that were ranked at the best of their respective positions.
Cal: This year, the #12 ranked Golden Bears are looking for a little payback… and another Pac-10 championship. Junior Heisman hopeful DeSean Jackson looks to put on a show for the national media in Week 1 in a marquee matchup against a Tennessee team that embarrassed the Bears last season.
UCLA: The Bruins, after a strong 2006, enter this year ranked #14. UCLA looks to be in good shape as well, returning 21 starters from last year's team. RB Chris Markey, who rushed for 1107 yards and had 35 receptions, and DE Bruce Davis, who had 12.5 sacks last season, are two players to keep your eyes on.
Look For Strong Seasons
Oregon: The Ducks, who led the Pac-10 in rushing last year return both TB's Johnathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson who rushed for a combined 1625 yards and 20 TD. The Ducks won't have a cakewalk this year, playing four teams ranked in the top-15. Look for a great game on Sept 8th when the Ducks take on #5 Michigan.
Oregon State: The Beavers posted a 8-1 record to finish up 2006. Their run game looks to be a definite strength of the team, as they are returning 1300 yard rusher Yvenson Bernard and 4 of their starting linemen from last year. The Ducks also return a great WR in Sammie Stroughter, however the lack of experience at QB may affect his output this season.
Arizona State: Returning 10 starters on offense, including Ryan Torian, who rushed for 1229 yards last season; Arizona State, under new head coach Dennis Erickson, is looking to improve on their 7-6 record from 2006.
Washington State: As a program used to winning, the Cougars are looking to add a few wins to their 2006 total of 6-6. They will have their hands full with in a tough Pac-10, and a early season game at Wisconsin. Senior QB Alex
Brink has a shot at 10,000 career passing yards this season.
Stanford: After a dismal 1-11 in 2006, new coach Jim Harbaugh and his team has room to improve. This could prove difficult, with Stanford playing 9 teams that played in bowl games and only 1 team that had a losing record.
Arizona: Returning 19 starters and look to build on 2006 victories over Cal and Oregon, the Wildcats should be exciting to watch with a new spread offense which was brought in by new offensive coordinator, Sonny Dykes.
Washington: The Huskies will be tested early and often this year, a schedule that has 6 top-25 ranked teams, and 10 teams that had at least 10 wins in 2006 will prove quite the challenge for freshman QB Jake Locker.
We begin where we ended last year, with the Florida Gators dismantling the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the Alleged National Championship.* No matter how tired people are of hearing it, the SEC is the best conference in the country and it will be until I say they're not. As good as I expect the Pac-10 to be this year – and they will be excellent — they are no match for the SEC even if USC wins it all.
So, who's going to win the SEC?
The smart money has to be on LSU. Preseason polls are stupid but that doesn't mean they're always wrong. USC and LSU are currently picked #1 and #2 respectively and with good reason. They embarrassed an obviously overmatched Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, nettiing them almost as many headlines as the alleged champs at season's end.
The Tigers' 2007 schedule sets up favorably with their most difficult games at home. Nick Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide is the most difficult road game they will play and it's debatable how good Bama will actually be. Games against Virginia Tech, Auburn, Arkansas, and Floria will all be played in Baton Rouge.
So, what's the problem? LSU sent four players to the NFL in the first round and lost their offensive coordinator to Florida State. The secondary lost some star power but their defensive front could be fabulous. If Les Miles' coaching staff can get the best out of what might be the most talent-deep team in the country, LSU will be playing for a title.
Georgia struggled last year — something they haven't done a lot of under Mark Richt – but are poised to make noise in the SEC East. They're replacing most of their offensive line this year but early reports are indicate they have found a starting five that is working well together. If they have, lookout for sophomore Matthew Stafford. He had a tough time adjusting to the SEC as a true freshman but has all the makings of a great one. If LSU doesn't win it, the Bulldogs could be poised for big things.
One team to watch from the outside of the pack is Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks. The other USC could be dangerous if they can get their QB to go to class, keep guns out of the hands of their safeties, and replace the interior of their line. They'll also need to get some big plays out of the receiver position, a position Spurrier recruited very well coming into this year. Their schedule is brutal, but this is a good team with an excellent defense and one of the great minds in the game.
The wildcards are Auburn, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Auburn has to replace most of their offensive line, but last year's veterans were a major disappointment as a unit. If the new kids play better than the old, if their receivers can catch and Will Muschamp can work some magic on the defense, Auburn could make some noise. I'm not as high on Tennessee as some other pundits seem to be. David Cutcliffe did wonders with QB Erik Ainge in his first year but something seems to be missing from the Vols. They're good enough to ruin some contenders' seasons but probably aren't good enough to win the conference. I hope Cal shithammers them in Week 1, even if means enduring the barbs of Pac-10 wonks who think their conference is in the same galaxy as the SEC.
While everyone loves to rip Alabama for being a lunatic program, they at least waited until a subpar season followed a 10-win season to fire their coach. Houston Nutt barely survived a coup immediately following a 10-win season that saw stud RB Darren McFadden introduce himself to the rest of the country. Alabama was his coming out party during his freshman year, and the Razorbacks' win over the Tide last year was also pivotal for McFadden and the team. No one wishes Maurice Clarett had been successful in his legal challenge to the NFL's age limit more than Bama. McFadden has owned the Tide. The Razorbacks will be dangerous if they can get consistent play in the passing game.
Since I've gone this long already, let's talk about my beloved Crimson Tide for a moment. Nick Saban probably won't have a dream season in his first year but Alabama will no longer be the undisciplined team that can't shoot straight. The defense is going to be a mess unless the new kids are better than I think they are and the running game has major questions. John Parker Wilson has two of the SEC's best receivers in DJ Hall and Keith Brown, so points might come to Tuscaloosa through the passing game for the first time in a long time. Their record will probably look similar to last year but the quality of play should be significantly better with big things ahead for the Tide.
It’s time again for football in America’s favorite conference… from which to choose their homecoming opponent. That’s right, football season has at last arrived for The Sun Belt Conference! Woooo! Lock up your women and prepare to have your face blown off by the heart-stopping action! Can you contain your excitement? Of course not! Read below and learn about the teams that will be filling your favorite teams schedule until conference action starts.
In order of predicted finish (so pay no attention to the order, right?)
1) Arkansas State [Mascot Redacted]
Why am I picking the Arkansas State soon-to-no-long-be-Indians #1 in the mighty Sun Belt? Because I grew up in northeastern Arkansas and have been to more Arkansas State Native American Peoples games than I care to admit to. Additionally, they have four of their conference games at home this year and they return 14 starters from a team that had a chance at winning the SBC last year. I see no reason why they won’t win the SBC with a 5-2 conference record and a 5-7 overall record. That’s what happens when teams like Arkansas State play teams like Texas, Tennessee, and Southern Mississippi.
2) Troy Trojans
These guys are the most likely actual champions of the SBC, as they figure to have the best offensive attack in the conference thanks to the return of All-Conference QB Omar Haugabook. Haugabook threw for 21 TDs last year, but most of his line is gone this go around. Good thing for him that he is mobile, eh? The Trojans also return 8 starters on defense. Things appear to be on the up and up and this team could very well surprise one of their major conference opponents this year. I just pray it’s not my beloved Razorbacks on September 1st.
3) Louisiana – Monroe Warhawks
According to our good friend Phil Steele, the Warhawks actually outgained their opponents by nearly 30 yards per game last year. Somehow, they still finished only 3-4 in conference. They return both their top QB and WR and their offense is expected to remain capable of putting up yardage and points. They will challenge for the SBC crowd. More importantly, they will be out saving grace on Thursday by taking part in the first televised D-1A game of the year against Tulsa on ESPN2. Huzzah!
4) Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
I have a warm spot in my heart for the MTSU Blue Raiders. You see, they were the team that my alma mater (Central Michigan) defeated in their bowl game last December. I can’t dislike a team that provided me such happiness now can I? They aren’t returning many starters from that SBC runner-up team though and a drop in production is to be expected. But are they really going to be worse than the rest of these teams? Probably not. Fourth place suits them well for now.
5) Florida Atlantic Owls
Good God! It’s the ghost of Howard Schnellenberger! The former Miami and Louisville coach has been at FAU for a few years now and has the program on the rise within the conference. They are returning a ton of starters and are expected to challenge for the SBC championship this year. So why do I have them so low? Because a world where Sun Belt conference teams live up to expectations is not a world I wish to live in. Plus they are the Owls. Nobody fears an Owl except for field mice. Ask Rice.
6) North Texas Mean Green
By virtue of their utter meanness, I shall place them fifth and no lower – despite expectations that they will be the worst team in the league. I’m giving new head coach Todd Dodge the benefit of the doubt, and I’m expecting them to pull off a few upsets along the way. Dodge’s new spread offense should at least be fun to watch. Did I mention that Dodge is taking over a Division 1A program directly from coaching high school football? Granted, he was coaching at Southlake Carroll in Texas, who probably has a larger stadium and budget than some MAC teams, but it was high school nonetheless. Dodge was also 98-11 in his seven years at Southlake Carroll. He does have college coaching experience though, having served as North Texas’ offensive coordinator in the early 90s.
7) Louisiana – Lafeyette Ragin’ Cajuns
ULL’s Ragin’ Cajuns have by far my favorite nickname in the SBC, if not the NCAA as a whole. Also, they have my favorite fan in all of college football because of the Internet’s world famous RaginCajunRebel. Go google that name and prepare to have your mind blown. I’m already horrified he’ll come after me for picking his boys so low. They just have so few starters returning that I couldn’t see picking them much higher. They may give the Ol’ Ball Coach a scare in their season opener at South Carolina, but I just don’t see too many victories in store for them this year. I like the Ragin’s quite a bit though, and I hope they prove me wrong.
8) Florida International Golden Panthers
A’mod Ned. That is all you need when you are FIU. Ned is back and he is coming for you Sun Belt. Watch out.
Boise State? Never heard of 'em.
After last year's jesuschristdidtheyjustdothat season, capped off by the Fiesta Bowl victory, Boise State could run the table for the second straight year. Running back Ian Johnson will have to carry even more of his share of the team, now that NCAA Football '07 posterboy Jared Zabransky is no longer a student.
But standing in their way, on the final week of the season, is a November 23 duel with the preseason-ranked Hawaii Warriors. Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan wants to throw about a hundredy billion touchdowns this year, and they have both the offense and home field advantage to do so (seriously, when you're standing on an island, you feel claustrophobic — doubly so when you're surrounded by zealous island natives yelling loudly).
That November 23 Boise St.-Hawaii match might be one of the games of the year in the entire NCAA, considering there's a chance both teams enter the game undefeated. As for me, I have a soft spot for poi and parody. Hawaii will play in a BCS game this year.
Also in contention: Nevada (they get Hawaii at home, but have to travel to Boise early in the season)
Not exactly a pushover: Fresno State (they never are), San Jose State
Not exactly not a pushover: Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Idaho
Yuck: Utah State (and can we do something about the acronym USU?)