The midsummer holiday weekend slows down a fair amount of work.
It definitely slows down traffic to a college sports-oriented blog.
It does not, however, slow down the countdown. Much.
Here's five more teams ...
No. 45 NEVADA
Ladies and gentlemen, the top 20 rushing offenses of the last 10 years:
349.3: 2000 Nebraska
348.8: 2007 Navy
344.9: 2009 Nevada
327.0: 2006 Navy
323.2: 2003 Navy
323.0: 2000 Ohio
318.7: 2005 Navy
316.7: 2003 Rice
314.7: 2001 Nebraska
307.8: 2002 Air Force
306.6: 2004 Rice
303.0: 2006 West Virginia
299.5: 2007 Air Force
299.1: 2004 Texas
297.2: 2007 West Virginia
295.4: 2009 Georgia Tech
294.9: 2000 Air Force
292.3: 2008 Navy
289.5: 2004 Navy
289.1: 2003 Minnesota
Consider that Nevada's running game piled up more yardage per game than all but one of the series of Navy ground juggernauts of the Paul Johnson/Ken Niumatalolo years.
The consider the Wolf Pack brings back nine starters on offense, including two of their three 1,000-yard rushers.
Yes, Nevada's defense needs some work. And, yes, it's inevitable the Wolf Pack will stumble when they play a nonconference team with any sort of reputation (go ahead and pencil in Brigham Young and/or California as losses).
For the most part, though, Nevada will dramatically overwhelm inferior opponents and will probably throw a scare into Boise State when the Broncos visit Reno the day after Thanksgiving. That likelihood alone makes the Pistol-packing Wolf Pack worth keeping an eye on.
No. 44 UCLA
June 10 will probably be a day that lives in infamy for one of Los Angeles' football programs.
For the other, though, it represents a much-coveted opportunity to finally re-establish itself as one of the Pac-10's pre-eminent programs.
Assuming Rick Neuheisel doesn't find a way to fritter it all away.
That's not to say he can't recruit. That was established long ago. It's not to say he can't coach. The guy's 77-44 in his career, but perhaps it is worth mentioning the Bruins are 2-13 against eventual postseason teams in Neuheisel's first two years in Westwood (they beat Tennessee to open 2009 and wrapped up the season with a defeat of Temple in the EagleBank Bowl).
It's just, well ... Neuheisel didn't earn the moniker "Slick Rick" for being a choir boy.
It is amusing that his opening in L.A. was created by someone else's wrongdoings, but it is still on him to keep things moving forward. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince should be better, and they possess a fantastic weapon in kicker and Groza Award winner Kai Forbath.
The running game absolutely must improve, but if the Bruins can develop their offense, they'll safely move into the middle of the Pac-10 and go bowling again.
No. 43 RUTGERS
Give the Scarlet Knights credit: After years of serving as a pinata for powerhouses, they sure know how to spot a nonconference mark a mile away.
Rutgers has run off five straight bowl appearances, a feat that probably should get Greg Schiano a statue (or a bronzed mini-helicopter, if he would rather honor his preferred form of transportation). Over those regular seasons, the Scarlet Knights have gone 19-5 in nonconference games.
The competition level? Not so hot. Take a look:
2005: 15-30 (.333)
2006: 28-34 (.452)
2007: 30-31 (.492)
2008: 32-31 (.508)
2009: 18-40 (.310)
Rutgers' nonconference defeats of bowl teams in that span? 2005-07 Navy and 2006 Ohio.
Yes, Rutgers picks up its series against North Carolina this year. It also gets a team from the former Division I-AA (Norfolk State), Florida International, Army and Tulane. Chances are good that winning percentage doesn't come close to .500 unless Norfolk State turns in a decent year (which is possible).
Rutgers should (and probably will) be 5-1 or 4-2 when it enters the second half of its schedule. And just like last year at that time, no one is going to have any way what to make of the Scarlet Knights --- other than that they'll be on their way to another postseason berth.
No. 42 CONNECTICUT
An admission of a somewhat incorrect viewpoint I've held for a couple years: Few power conference programs seem as boring as Connecticut.
That's unfair to some extent. The Huskies played some insanely exciting games last year (the Notre Dame win and Cincinnati loss come to mind, and eight of their 13 contests were decided by 10 points or less). They've been to three straight bowls and won eight games each of those seasons.
Of course, it's not as if UConn feels like it's a top-10 or top-20 program, either. It goes about its business, rolls up solid seasons, visits a mid-tier bowl game (recent postseason destinations: Charlotte, Toronto and Birmingham) and is merrily on its way.
Perhaps this is the thing that prompts some ennui: A 1-15 record against ranked teams since 2001.
Over the last three seasons, the Huskies are 1-5 when facing ranked opponents (the victory came against South Florida in 2007) and 24-9 against the unranked masses. That's good, not great, and certainly not overwhelmingly fascinating in the big picture. It's also enough of a justification to peg the Huskies in their usual neighborhood, even with a plethora of experience coming back.
No. 41 CLEMSON
C.J. Spiller's gone. So's Ricky Sapp. Quarterback Kyle Parker might as well be, and for the purposes of this ranking it's assumed he'll sign with the Colorado Rockies later this summer and end his college football career.
And all of this begs the question: Is Clemson expected to be good this year? Or do most people anticipate the Tigers fading back to 7-5 territory?
It's an important point thanks to the omnipresent force known here as Clemsonliness, which dictated the overhyped 2008 team would disappoint (it did) and last year's unheralded outfit would overachieve (it did).
It's hard to tell where this team is going. The defense should be good, even though the linebackers still aren't particularly special. Perhaps the Tigers should trade a defensive end to nemesis Maryland in exchange for a linebacker to iron out that deficiency.
Spiller's absence will be felt more on special teams; Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper are more than competent replacements, and much of last year's offensive line returns intact.
The big question is whether or not Clemson can survive a schedule that sets them up for serious headaches. The Tigers draw Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina from the Coastal Division (no Duke or Virginia to be seen), must visit Boston College and Florida State and also take an early swing to Auburn.
It has to sound scary to Tigers fans, who no doubt realize there's a real chance redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd is thrown into the fire if/when Parker commits to baseball. If Dabo Swinney somehow coaxes another nine wins out of the Tigers, he'll warrant a raise nearly as big as the one he received after last season.