Monday Musings: Part III

Still haven't had enough? Here are 25 more teams our publisher thinks are worthy of keeping an eye on this fall.

26. Fresno StateIf quarterback Paul Pinegar is healthy, the Bulldogs have the talent to rival their noteworthy 2001 squad and make a national splash.

27. MinnesotaAnother friendly schedule and another potent running game gets the Gophers back to the postseason somewhere, but it won't be Pasadena.

28. Kansas StateDespite heavy graduation losses you know Bill Snyder will find a way, but without Ell Roberson defenses will gang up on Darren Sproles.

29. ClemsonFinished last season on a roll, and returns a good base of talent. Unfortunately, the schedule won't allow them to take the next step.

30. LouisvilleHave the horses to contend in C-USA with 16 returning starters, if Eric Shelton or Michael Bush becomes the stud tailback they need.

31. OregonThe Ducks underachieved last season in a mediocre Pac-10, and Mike Bellotti is too good a coach to allow that to happen again.

32. HawaiiThe Warriors are 27-11 with two bowl wins under June Jones, and with 10 starters back on offense and 58 lettermen this could be his best team yet.

33. ToledoThe Rockets are tired of hearing about Bowling Green, Miami (Ohio), and Northern Illinois. They want to return to the top of the MAC.

34. Texas A&M…What in the world happened to the Aggies last season? Dennis Franchione is always better in year two, and will be so again.

35. MarylandRalph Friedgen is 29-8 in three years at his alma mater, but with just nine starters back he'll find the sailing not quite as smooth in the new ACC.

36. South CarolinaLou Holtz shook up his coaching staff in an effort to stave off pressure from two straight losing seasons. He'll rebound in 2004.

37. Arizona StateThe Sun Devils never meet expectations when they're high, and always exceed them when they're low. This season they'll surprise.

38. Virginia TechThe Hokies finished on a downer for the second straight year, and now face a far more difficult road in the pumped up ACC.

39. MarshallOne last go-around in the MAC for the Thundering Herd, and it could end with yet another conference title.

40. Boston CollegeShould something happen to West Virginia, the Eagles look like the next man in for their final season in the weakened Big East.

41. Colorado StateJustin Holland has been patiently biding his time behind Bradlee Van Pelt at quarterback, and now it's his turn to lead the Rams.

42. Georgia TechChan Gailey's team could be a dark horse in the ACC with an underrated defensive front and sophomore Reggie Ball at quarterback.

43. Texas TechThree things we know about Mike Leach's Red Raiders: they'll score a lot, give up a lot of points, and be bowl-eligible come November.

44. Bowling Green…Losing Josh Harris hurts, but this is still the most experienced team returning in the MAC with 16 starters and 54 lettermen back.

45. Washington StateThe Cougars made a believer out of me last season by going 10-3 in a rebuilding year. Will Derting could be an All-American linebacker.

46. N.C. State…The Wolfpack have the most starters returning in the ACC, but they'll miss all time great quarterback Phillip Rivers against a rigorous schedule.

47. San Diego StateThe next Fresno State out on the West Coast? The Aztecs may finally start realizing their program's great potential this season.

48. Penn StateJoe Paterno has posted losing seasons three of the last four years, here's a sucker's bet that he'll find a way to halt that ominous streak.

49. Oregon StateMaybe the most overrated team heading into 2004. The Beavers will miss Steven Jackson greatly, and Derek Anderson is too sloppy.

50. Southern Mississippi…For a change the offense will be the story in Hattiesburg, or should we say Hawkeye Nation south?

 (Steve Deace can be heard each weekday on the radio from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network. His next column, part two of his 2004 college football preview, will be published on July 19th.)

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