The triple-digit brigade will be over soon enough. For now, here's five more teams
The bad news for Akron is it plays three power conference teams before September is out.
The good news for the Zips is those three games are against Syracuse, Kentucky and Indiana --- and it's especially good news that it's football and not basketball Akron is facing those teams in.
With Kentucky likely a wee bit down and Syracuse and Indiana, well, Syracuse and Indiana, the Zips have a chance to pull off a surprise or two early in the season. But that's going to depend heavily on the improvement of a front seven that managed all of 11 sacks while yielding more than 170 yards rushing a game last year.
It really can be a simple game sometimes. If Akron can actually put up a decent performance up front on both sides, it has a prayer to be competitive in the MAC. If not, new coach Rob Ianello's first season could easily end up like J.D. Brookhart's last --- 3-9 and not especially enjoyable.
The truth is, a program without a winning season in 16 years at college football's top level isn't particularly interesting on its own all that much.
The Warhawks do have a solid tailback in their employ in Frank Goodin, who ran for 1,126 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. But perhaps more fascinating was their choice in a new coach to replace Charlie Weatherbie of Navy fame.
That would be Todd Berry, formerly of Army --- where he had virtually no success at all. He did, however, go 1-0 against Weatherbie and 2-1 against Navy.
That's about all he did, which is how he landed on the list of current major college coaches who got their current jobs despite career losing records:
.102: Todd Berry, Louisiana-Monroe (5-42 at Army)
.208: Gene Chizik, Auburn (5-19 at Iowa State)
.242: Bill Stewart, West Virginia (8-25 at VMI)
.364: Gary Andersen, Utah State (4-7 at Southern Utah)
.364: Kirk Ferentz, Iowa (12-21 at Maine)
.364: Mike Riley, Oregon State (8-14 at Oregon State, Part I)
.400: Turner Gill, Kansas (20-30 at Buffalo)
.459: Derek Dooley, Tennessee (17-20 at Louisiana Tech)
.472: Brady Hoke, San Diego State (34-38 at Ball State)
No team strikes fear into my heart as a predictor than the Owls.
In 2007, coming off a 7-6 season season, I had Rice closer to sixth among Conference USA teams than last. The Owls promptly went 3-9 (with a midpack 3-5 showing in the league).
In 2008, I sized up a dreadful defense that yielded more than 500 yards a game, concluded Rice's additional experience didn't mean a whole lot and picked it 103rd in the country. The Owls went 10-3.
A year ago, thoroughly chastened but aware Chase Clement and Jarrett Dillard were gone, I pegged the Owls for 86th and declared them a bowl possibility. At 2-10, they most certainly were not.
So now I see a team bringing back 19 starters, and will fall back in that 2008 trap. The difference here is Rice returns most of the components of an underwhelming team on both sides of the ball, not just defense. So the prediction is more struggles; considering I can't ever figure the Owls out, go ahead and pencil them in for 7-5.
The Tigers very much earned their 2-10 record a season ago, absorbing all but one of their losses by 10 points or more. It had more than a little to do with a defense that yielded 30 or more points in six straight games.
As for their offense, the most notable thing here is a former ACC quarterback (Cannon Smith, by way of Miami) and a former ACC commit (Tyler Bass, who didn't like the idea of grayshirting at Maryland and landed in Conference USA) competing for a starting job. It's a small world, indeed.
New coach Larry Porter opens up with a September stretch featuring four games that could go either way --- trips to Mississippi State, East Carolina and UTEP, with a home date against Middle Tennessee sprinkled in. OK, the Tigers probably won't win in Starkville, but there's at least a chance to get off to a decent start before a three-game homestand of doom against Southern Mississippi, Houston and Tennessee in the middle of the season.
The return of four starting offensive linemen (plus a tight end) provide some reason for hope. But realistically, Memphis fans would be better off fast-forwarding to October to see just how good those recruits Josh Pastner brought in really are. Football's still at least a year away from making a push back to the top of C-USA.
106. NEW MEXICO
Talk about a rough first year of the job.
Mike Locksley, the uber-recruiter who fueled the eternal promise of Ron Zook's mediocre machine at Florida and Illinois, finally got his first head coaching gig. And he landed in Albuquerque, a nice place with a recent history of cranking out solid football teams.
So he got a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. And he got into a fracas with an assistant coach and wound up suspended for a game. Oh, and the Lobos lost their first 10 games.
In short, Locksley just about hit for the cycle when it came to attracting negative attention to his program.
Fortunately for Locksley, the situation is salvageable --- even if it won't be a quick fix. The Lobos still need a quarterback, where any one of five guys could factor in. That's never a soothing assessment heading into a season.
New Mexico probably won't be good, though it could challenge UNLV and escape the Mountain West basement. As long as the Lobos at least double their victories (to two) and Locksley's problems remain confined to the field, it will probably be a step forward for a program not far removed from reaching five bowls in six seasons (2002-07).