March 20, 2009

34. Tulsa didn’t make things easy. The Golden Hurricane released their schedule and it features seven games against bowl teams from last year, including matchups with Oklahoma and Boise State.

35 Nebraska needs to find some playmakers on offense. Right now, running back Roy Helu and tight end Mike McNeill are the only two tried and true weapons at coach Bo Pelini’s disposal.

36. Mike Leach is coming back for another year in Lubbock, but what does the offensive mastermind have up his sleeve now that he doesn’t have Michal Crabtree and Graham Harrell around?

37. Dave Wannstedt only has to worry about finding a starting quarterback and running back. LeSean McCoy is gone and Wannstedt’s opening up the QB position to competition.

38. Don’t dismiss Baylor in the Big 12. The Bears, under second year head coach Art Briles, bring back 20 starters.

39. It may only seem like Matt Grothe’s been in school forever, but he’s back and will have to deal with four new starters on the offensive line. Defensively, South Florida has a new coordinator and holes at linebacker and the secondary. At least George Selvie is returning.

40. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney took a field trip before spring practice started to Texas where he studied from Mack Brown and the Longhorns. Time will tell if he took good notes.

41. Ron Prince did not turn out to be the right fit at Kansas State. So the Wildcats decided to bring back the man who made Kansas State football what it is. Bill Snyder should be well rested considering he retired back in 2005.

42. Speaking of new coaches, Purdue said goodbye to Joe Tiller and says hello to Danny Hope who the Boilermakers hope can work wonders without Curtis Painter and Kory Sheets.

44. Continuity goes a long way toward winning and it’s been in short supply at Miami. The Hurricanes are welcoming in their third defensive coordinator and second offensive coordinator in three years.

45. Donald Brown is off to the NFL, but what will UConn do at quarterback? There are potentially five names that could land the gig by September. Four of them are on campus. Head coach Randy Edsall would prefer to have it settled by the end of spring practice.

46. West Virginia could arguably have the biggest hole to fill in the country. How can anyone come close to replicating what Pat White did in four years at Morgantown? Jarrett Brown – for now – has the unenviable task of following the record-breaking dual-threat QB.

47. After finalizing its schedule, Houston will officially play Texas Tech Sept. 26 and while the Red Raiders will be minus two of their offensive stars from last year, expect the scoreboard to light up in this one, regardless.

48. Rudy Carpenter is gone and so is Keegan Herring. It looks like the days of running and gunning at Arizona State might be over. The offense will be inexperienced and the defense will be leaned upon heavily. 

49. The NFL supposedly flirted with Kirk Ferentz, but the highly-regarded Iowa coach is still leading the Hawkeyes, albeit without Shonn Greene. Defense appears to be a strength once again.

50. Another year, another open competition at quarterback for Wisconsin. Dustin Sherer, Scott Tolzien and Curt Phillips will battle it out and chances are the No. 1 starter won’t be determined until summer.

51. Where will Robert Marve land? The former Miami quarterback is looking to transfer with a number of teams supposedly piquing his interest.

52. Rutgers has more than a few offensive holes to fill – like at quarterback and wide receiver – but coach Greg Schiano isn’t overly concerned considering it’s not even April.

53. Stanford started spring practice Feb. 24 and they won’t wrap things up until April 13. Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh stretched things out to give it more of an NFL mini-camp feel.

54. Louisville has a bunch of new faces on the sidelines. The Cardinals have welcomed six new assistant coaches, including new defensive coordinator Brent Guy, the former Utah State head coach.

55. Skip Holtz is going to garner a lot of attention again. If the East Carolina coach can position his team into the Top 25 next fall, he’s going to be a hot commodity. It helps that QB Patrick Pinkney got another year of eligibility.

56. Russell Wilson had himself quite a freshman season for N.C. State, becoming the first freshman to be named first-team All-ACC at QB. But Wilson’s expected to be limited during the spring after suffering a knee injury against Rutgers in the Bowl.

57. Doug Marrone steps in as the new head coach at Syracuse as the Orange try and turn things around. Syracuse hasn’t had a winning season since 2001.

58. Jerrod Johnson seems like the logical choice to slot in as Texas A&M’s starting quarterback, but wide receiver Ryan Tannehill is going to get a shot under center this spring after he was moved to wide out last fall.

59. New Minnesota offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch wants to install a new system, but it doesn’t help matters that QB Adam Werner won’t be 100 percent after surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.

60. Nevada is coming off its fourth straight bowl appearance and the Wolf Pack are looking forward to returning 15 starters.

61. No Brady Hoke, no Nate Davis gives Ball State a distinctively different look heading into 2009 after the Cardinals completed a perfect regular season. Last year’s bowl appearance was just the school’s second in the last 12 years.

62. Other than finding themselves a new QB, Arizona looks to be in pretty good shape as they should be among the Pac-10’s better teams next year. The Wildcats return 14 starters from their Las Vegas Bowl winning team.

63. Remember Ryan Mallett? He’s going to be competing for the Arkansas starting QB job this spring with Tyler Wilson and Jim Youngblood.

64. Vanderbilt went to a bowl game for the first time in 53 years last season after securing their first winning season in 26 years. Jamie Graham, the Commodores third leading receiver last year, will be spending most of his time working out at cornerback this spring. But chances you’ll see him catch passes again this fall.

65. All is well at Florida for the defending BCS Champions. Urban Meyer didn’t lose Tim Tebow, the defense returns practically intact and the Gators have the talent to cover the loss of Percy Harvin.