Getting tired of MAC and Sun Belt teams on the countdown? After all, they've accounted for nine of the first 15 teams in this year's reverse rundown of major college football.
Well, there's more of both leagues in today's installment. But first up is a representative from another conference. ...
Fourth-year coach Neil Callaway probably dreams of fielding even an adequate defense in Birmingham. The Blazers' total defense rankings from the last three years:
In 36 games in that span, the Blazers have held precisely five opponents to less than 21 points --- Alcorn State (2007), Alabama State, East Carolina and Central Florida (2008), and Southern Mississippi (2009).
It's not exactly a great track record. But considering UAB was 5-7 last with that terrible defense (one that nonetheless helped produce a plus-9 turnover margin no one should expect anyone to be able to replicate), the Blazers could slip into one of Conference USA's bowl slots if things break right.
One thing that must happen: A pass defense that gave up more than 300 yards a game must substantially improve.
Just as its always fun to see what happens when a promising quarterback who got little more than garbage time work for a few years finally gets his turn (here's looking at you, John Brantley), it's also interesting to find out just how good a veteran assistant under an ultra-successful head coach really is.
Sometimes you get Lloyd Carr and things get even better. And sometimes you wind up with Ron Zook and ... well, you know how that story has gone.
Buffalo predictably lost Turner Gill, who bolted western New York for Kansas a year after winning a MAC title at a school not long removed from being a complete doormat. Enter Jeff Quinn, a long-time assistant under Brian Kelly at three different stops.
It's unfair to consider one year a referendum on Quinn's abilities; after all, he's installing a spread-option offense to a team that lost most of its starters at the skill positions (not to mention the defensive front seven). But the Bulls can still be competitive in the muddled MAC --- especially if Quinn is anywhere near as good a coach as his old boss.
103. FLORIDA ATLANTIC
It's been a pretty good first decade of football for the Owls, who enter their 10th season of existence.
It took three years to reach the Division I-AA playoffs, five years to make it to Division I-A and seven years to win a bowl game.
But here's the rub for 2010: The Owls bring back zero offensive line starters.
It's difficult to imagine Florida Atlantic maintaining an offense anywhere near as good as the one that rolled up 432 yards a game last season. And considering the defense wasn't particularly stingy, it would take a remarkable degree of optimism to consider the Owls one of the favorites in the Sun Belt this fall.
Nothing like dusting off an old chart for repeat use.
Thanks to Toledo's habit of knocking off a notable name every year, it is possible.
CONSECUTIVE YEARS WITH A VICTORY OVER A BCS SCHOOL, NON-BCS TEAMS
8: Texas Christian (Northwestern 2002, Vanderbilt 2003, Arizona 2003, Northwestern 2004, Oklahoma 2005, Iowa State* 2005, Baylor 2006, Texas Tech 2006, Baylor 2007, Stanford 2007, Stanford 2008, Virginia 2009, Clemson 2009)
7: Navy (Vanderbilt 2003, Duke 2004, Vanderbilt 2004, Rutgers 2004, Duke 2005, Stanford 2006, Connecticut 2006, Duke 2006, Duke 2007, Pittsburgh 2007, Notre Dame 2007, Rutgers 2008, Wake Forest 2008, Wake Forest 2009, Notre Dame 2009, Missouri* 2009)
4: Brigham Young (Oregon 2006*, Arizona 2007, UCLA 2007*, Washington 2008, UCLA 2008, Oklahoma 2009, Oregon State 2009*)
4: Hawaii (Purdue 2006, Arizona State 2006*, Washington 2007, Washington State 2008, Washington State 2009)
4: Toledo (Kansas 2006, Iowa State 2007, Michigan 2008, Colorado 2009)
3: Fresno State (Kansas State 2007, Georgia Tech 2007*, Rutgers 2008, UCLA 2008, Illinois 2009)
3: Utah (UCLA 2007, Louisville 2007, Michigan 2008, Oregon State 2008, Alabama 2008*, Louisville 2009, California 2009*)
Of course, the Rockets haven't had a winning season in that stretch, either.
So look out Arizona (Sept. 3) or maybe Purdue (Sept. 25). Toledo will probably win one of those. Just don't count on the Rockets being a .500 outfit the rest of the time, especially with a shaky defense.
The Rebels hired Bobby Hauck, the greatest scourge to student newspapers the Big Sky Conference ever produced. You've been warned, Rebel Yell.
Hauck, though, has much bigger problems than whatever a bunch of meddling kids (and, perhaps, their dog).
UNLV ranked 115th in total defense a year ago. It also has the misfortune of playing Wisconsin, Utah, West Virginia, Texas Christian and Brigham Young --- all in the first nine games.
Hauck lost 17 games in eight years at Montana. The over/under for setbacks this year might just be exactly half of that: 8.5. If the Rebels replicate last year's 5-7 record, their new coach will receive enough praise to ensure any sort of ban on student media is unnecessary.