Moving along with five more teams you shouldn't expect to see do much more than collect big paychecks for paying visits to titanic opponents ...115. BALL STATE
The Cardinals did something that was nearly unprecedented last fall. It was history they wanted no part of.
Ball State joined 1989 UTEP and 2009 Rice as the only teams to lose 10 games a year after they won 10 games. This list of 10-loss teams coming off merely winning seasons isn't particularly huge:
1965 Ohio: 0-10 (5-4-1 in 1964)
1973 Army: 0-10 (6-4 in 1972)
1973 Florida State: 0-11 (7-4 in 1972)
1978 Boston College: 0-11 (6-5 in 1977)
1981 Colorado State: 0-12 (6-4-1 in 1980)
1987 Colorado State: 1-11 (6-5 in 1986)
1989 UTEP: 2-10 (10-3 in 1988)
1990 Cal State Fullerton: 1-11 (6-4-1 in 1989)
2000 Wyoming: 1-10 (7-4 in 1999)
2001 Ohio: 1-10 (7-4 in 2000)
2006 Miami (Ohio): 2-10 (7-4 in 2005)
2006 Colorado: 2-10 (7-6 in 2005)
2006 Memphis: 2-10 (7-5 in 2005)
2006 Louisiana Tech: 3-10 (7-4 in 2005)
2007 Northern Illinois: 2-10 (7-6 in 2006)
2009 Maryland: 2-10 (8-5 in 2008)
2009 Rice: 2-10 (10-3 in 2008)
2009 Ball State: 2-10 (12-2 in 2008)
2009 Vanderbilt: 2-10 (7-6 in 2008)
You'll note eight of these 19 seasons (found thanks mainly to scouring the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia) have come since the advent of the 12-game schedule on a full-time basis in 2006. No surprise there, really.
In any case, the average wins in the third season in the sequence for these yo-yoing outfits before the 12-game schedule: 3.3.
The average wins in the third season in the sequence since the 12-game schedule was made permanent: 5.2.
The return of tailback MiQuale Lewis thanks to an extra year of eligibility will help give the Cardinals some hope of surpassing that total. The return of most of the components of a passing game that ranked ahead of only the three service academies, Georgia Tech and New Mexico State probably will not.
114. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
A few quick notes on the Golden Panthers, who will visit Byrd Stadium on Sept. 25. ...
1. Florida International was ranked in triple digits in all four major defensive metrics (scoring, passing, rushing total). To say the Golden Panthers were bad on that side of the ball is an understatement.
2. Florida International is 1-19 in September since moving up to college football's top level in 2005.
3. Florida International is 0-17 all-time against BCS conference schools.In short, history is very much against the Golden Panthers early in the season against big-name teams, even one coming off a 10-loss season like Maryland.
Sometimes it's possible to look at a lousy record and turn it into something decent.
That's just not the case for the Green Wave, which was 3-9 and absorbed just two of its losses by 20 points or less.
Tulane could barely score and checked in at minus-16 in turnover margin, which gives a torn-up defense a bit of a pass for last year's struggles. But that unit was gutted as well, with an entirely new front seven expected to start.
The Green Wave hasn't checked in at even .500 in Conference USA since 2002, not-so-coincidentally the last time Tulane earned a bowl invitation. It's difficult to envision those streaks ending this year, especially with three road games to open conference play.
112. UL LAFAYETTE
Unremarkable, thy name is UL Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns are coming off their fourth six-win season since 2005, and have nary a postseason appearance to show for it.
In these times of the coming bowl-pocalypse --- when there won't be enough .500 teams to fill up every bowl slot --- a program like UL Lafayette will eventually have to land in a postseason game by default. But the schedule says that won't be this year.
The Cajuns visit Georgia and Mississippi, and Oklahoma State pays a visit to town. Even if UL Lafayette can win at Ohio --- doable, but not easy --- it's going to place a great onus on piling up conference wins.
The best thing going for the Cajuns is a history of protecting solid quarterback Chris Masson. But with three new starters on the line and another switching positions, even that could lead to some dicey days.
111. SAN JOSE STATE
The single most notable thing the Spartans will probably do in coach Mike MacIntyre's first season in the Bay Area will be show up for their season opener at Alabama.
That's because the Crimson Tide is paying a ridiculous $900,000 to San Jose State to travel cross country and absorb what could easily be a 45-7 walloping to open 2010.
That will take care of some bills, no question. But it doesn't take care of on-field problems.
The Spartans were 115th in total offense and 109th in total defense last year. They were outgained, on average, by 160 yards and outscored on a weekly basis by nearly three touchdowns. Regardless of how many starters are returning --- and there are quite a few --- getting to 4-9 in MacIntyre's first season would surely constitute a step forward.