Navy football: Ranking the 12 opponents

The Navy 2007 football season opener will soon be here. Of the twelve 2007 opponents, who is the toughest? Who is the weak link? Today ranks the 2007 Navy opponents from top to bottom.

  1. Notre Dame (away, 11/3)- As all Navy fans know Notre Dame is always a tough game for the Mids. Will Navy end over 40 years of frustration? The Irish must replace 12 starters but head coach Charlie Weis knows how to win and has a stable of highly recruited players to reload with.
  2. Rutgers (away, 9/7)- The Scarlet Knights, who hammered Navy 34-0 in 2007 in Annapolis, were recently pegged as the predicted No. 3 team in the Big East for 2007 behind West Virginia and Louisville. Replacing 10 starters won't be easy but don't be surprised to see New Jersey's team finish No. 1 in their conference.
  3. Wake Forest (home, 10/20)- The Demon Deacons surprised everyone in 2006 by winning 11 games and making it to the Orange Bowl. Can they continue the success in 2007? It remains to be seen. The Deacs return their starting quarterback but defensively must replace 6 starters. Player to watch: tailback, Micah Andrews. He was injured during much of 2006 but is an explosive runner who can hurt opposing defenses.
  4. Pittsburgh (away, 10/10)- Pitt finished the 2006 season strong for a net 6-6 record and has 15 (includes 1 specialist) returning starters. The Panthers must find a quarterback for 2007 so that could be an issue. LaRod Stephens-Howling will be Pitt's money man for the upcoming season. He rushed for almost 900 yards in 2006 and will be looking to improve on those numbers.
  5. Northern Illinois (home, 11/17)- Joe Novak arrived at NIU in 1996 and has converted the Huskie program from a laughing stock into a competitive program that has defeated the likes of Alabama, Iowa State and Maryland in recent years. Novak has a good nucleus of 15 starters (includes 2 specialists) returning for 2007 from a 7-6 2006 squad.
  6. Air Force (home, 9/29)- A new coach and just 10 returning starters is a recipe for disaster in Colorado Springs but quarterback Shaun Carney and running back Chad Hall are good players to build a team around.
  7. Army (neutral, 12/1)- Many write Army off as starting all over again with a new coach but don't be surprised if the Cadets are improved in 2007. New coach Stan Brock kept the good in former coach Bobby Ross' system and kept the best assistants while letting go the ones who were not getting it done. Brock has two experienced quarterbacks returning along with his top running backs and wide receivers but must fill big holes on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary.
  8. North Texas (away, 12/1)- The Mean Green, once the elite team of the Sunbelt, will look to rebuild its program under former Texas great Todd Dodge. Dodge built Carroll high school into the nation's top prep program and will attempt to bring his magic to Denton. North Texas won just three games in 2006 but has 16 starters returning including 10 on defense to work with.
  9. Ball State (home, 9/15)- The Mid-American Conference has gotten tougher the past few years. Ball State is a middle of the pack team that should win 5 or 6 games in 2007. BSU's best player is its punter Chris Miller who will likely kick in the NFL someday. Quarterback Nate Davis gives the Cardinals a capable signal caller.
  10. Delaware (home, 10/27)- Delaware is I-AA but don't be fooled. I-AA teams always seem to give the Mids trouble as Paul Johnson only schedules the best. The Blue Hens have already been picked as the preseason 20th ranked program in America.
  11. Temple (away, 8/31)- Al Golden took over the Owls in 2006 and the team seemed to show improvement as the season progressed. The Owls even shocked onlookers in by pulling off a 28-14 win over Bowling Green. With a year experience under the Golden system and a boat load of starters returning expect the Owls to be improved.
  12. Duke (home, 9/22)- Blue Demon head coach Ted Roof seems to be a good recruiter but that hasn't translated to wins on the field leading some to believe he isn't the total package as a coach. Duke didn't win a game in 2006 and probably won't win a game in 2007. They have a lot of work to do. What do you think about this story? Sound off in our Navy Football Forum Top Stories