Five more teams to consider while closing out the weekend (or, more likely, begininng your work week) …
No. 75: MEMPHIS
Other than the aberration that was the first post-DeAngelo Williams season (2006), Memphis is the sort of program you can set your watch to.
In three of the last four years, the Tigers have won either six or seven games, and that’s about how this season sizes up.
Toss out the two games against SEC teams (Mississippi and Tennessee), and Memphis could easily wind up above .500.
But the best advice for Tommy West‘s team is to get while the getting is good; November features trips to Tennessee, Houston and Tulsa, and it wouldn’t be very smart to harbor questions of bowl eligibility at that point.
On a local note, a team from Conference USA’s East Division will get an EagleBank Bowl berth if Army does not win six games. The preseason projection here is that Memphis fills that spot opposite the No. 8 selection from the ACC.
No. 74: DUKE
A couple intriguing Thaddeus Lewis facts (not quite Chuck Norris Facts-style) to pass along.
If Lewis simply matches his yardage total from a season ago (2,171), he’ll finish his career eighth on the all-time ACC list at 8,906 yards.
If he does that, he would be only the third-highest Blue Devils quarterback on that list, behind Ben Bennett and Spence Fischer.
But will he play in a bowl game? The guess here is no. The Blue Devils play two teams from the former Division I-AA (Richmond and N.C. Central), so they have to win seven games rather than six to become eligible for the postseason.
So, yes, the projection is for Duke to be better this season. But the Blue Devils will probably need to break even in the ACC to go bowling, and that’s going to be awful tough even with one of the nation’s most underappreciated quarterbacks under center.
No. 73: FRESNO STATE
Here come the Barnstormin’ Bulldogs are at it again, taking on an assortment of big-name prey while trying to wriggle through the WAC season unscathed.
The good news? There are no obvious letdown opportunities. The entire WAC schedule (sans Boise State) is sequestered between a pair of bye weeks. That should lead to ample preparation for Wisconsin and Cincinnati early and Illinois in December.
And to be sure, one of those teams is going down. A rundown of the BCS conference schools the Bulldogs have upended this decade:
2001: @Colorado, Oregon State, @Wisconsin
2002: vs. Georgia Tech
2003: Oregon State, vs. UCLA
2004: at Washington, at Kansas State, vs. Virginia
2007: Kansas State, vs. Georgia Tech
2008: at Rutgers, at UCLA
No. 72: BUFFALO
Thankfully, this is it for teams out of the mercurial MAC East (a division that could easily wind up in any sort of order when the end of November rolls around).
The Bulls won eight games a year ago —- or one more than they did in between 2002 and 2006.
Needless to say, Turner Gill is a latter day Bill Snyder, though there have to be doubts whether he’ll stick around too much longer. If you can win at Buffalo, chances are you can probably win somewhere like Auburn (oh, wait, the Tigers went with the 5-19 guy. My bad).
As for right now, Buffalo has to solve its quarterback situation, and pronto. Senior Drew Willy tossed 25 touchdowns against six interceptions last year, and the Bulls’ penchant for close games (four! overtime games, plus three more decided by a field goal or less) didn’t exactly create the opportunity to hand a random series to a backup.
All those close games scare me as much as the fluid QB situation, though the Bulls’ 4-3 record in those seven contests doesn’t scream fluke. But bad luck can happen, too, and Buffalo will need a little bit of improvement to avoid taking a step back this season.
No. 71: TROY
Rather than an extensive pontification on the Sun Belt favorites, it’s worth noting the Trojans have recorded a shutout in each of the last three seasons (hat tip to Phil Steele for including game-by-game results of the last five years in his preseason mag).
In 2006, Troy blanked Alabama State. In ‘07, the Trojans shut out Arkansas State. Then last year, they whitewashed Alcorn State.
That would make Troy one of five teams in the country to do that. The other four are far more recognizable names:
Boise State —- (2006: Sacramento State; 2007: New Mexico State and Utah State; 2008: New Mexico State)
Rutgers —- (2006: Illinois and Navy; 2007: Norfolk State; 2008: Morgan State)
Southern California —- (2006: Stanford; 2007: Notre Dame; 2008: Arizona State, Washington State and Washington)
Virginia —- (2006: Duke and North Carolina; 2007: Miami; 2008: Richmond and Maryland)
Thus wraps up probably the most random stat you’ll see today, one that the Official Dot-Com Diva will almost sure roll her eyes at should she ever see it.
—- Patrick Stevens