Articles By Steven Lassan

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Could Conference USA have a contender for the Group of 5 bowl spot among college football’s top postseason destinations? WKU is a team to watch as the Hilltoppers return an explosive offense behind quarterback Brandon Doughty. The senior headlines the All-Conference USA team, along with two other members from WKU’s offense on the first team. In addition to WKU’s players, there’s no shortage of Louisiana Tech and Marshall players in the mix for all-conference honors.

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the Conference USA last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

Related: 2015 Conference USA Predictions

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

Conference USA 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank:
128107112708811369
West Division
 
National
Rank:
8611789116100123

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

Athlon's 2015 All-Conference USA Team

 First-Team
Offense
Second-Team
Offense
Third-Team
Offense
Fourth-Team
Offense
QBBrandon Doughty
WKU 
Driphus Jackson
Rice 

Jaquez Johnson

FAU 

Jeff Driskel
Louisiana Tech 
RBDevon Johnson
Marshall 
Leon Allen
WKU 
Ray Lawry
ODU 
Shane Tucker
MTSU 
RBKenneth Dixon
Louisiana Tech 
Aaron Jones
UTEP 
Kalif Phillips
Charlotte 
Jowan Davis
Rice 
WRJared Dangerfield
WKU 
Zach Pascal
ODU 
Paul Turner
Louisiana Tech 
Carlos Henderson
Louisiana Tech 
WRTrent Taylor
Louisiana Tech 
Taywan Taylor
WKU 
Austin Duke
Charlotte 
David Washington
ODU 
APCarlos Harris (WR)
North Texas 
Deon-Tay McManus (WR)
Marshall 
Michael Thomas (WR)
Southern Miss 
Jeffrey Wilson (RB)
North Texas 
TEJonnu Smith
FIU 
Tyler Higbee
WKU 
Marcus Smith
North Texas 
David Morgan II
UTSA 
CKaydon Kirby
North Texas 

Cameron Tom

Southern Miss 

Kirby Wixson
Louisiana Tech 
Eric Lee
UTEP 
OGDarius Johnson
MTSU 
Will Hernandez
UTEP 
Brandon Ray
WKU  
Mikingson Marsaille
FAU 
OGAndrew Reue
Rice 
Tyler Fisher
ODU 
Jordan Budwig
FIU 
Derek Elmendorff
UTEP 
OTClint Van Horn
Marshall 
Reggie Bain
FAU 
Connor Mewbourne
ODU 
Rashod Hill
Southern Miss 
OTForrest Lamp
WKU 
Caleb Williams
Rice 
Aaron Nielsen
FIU 
Jamal Covington
Charlotte 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DEMichael Wakefield
FIU 
Roy Robertson-Harris
UTEP 
Trey Hendrickson
FAU 
Gary Thompson
Marshall 
DEVontarrius Dora
Louisiana Tech 
Gavin Rocker
WKU 
Denzell Perine
FIU 
Chad Polk
North Texas 
DTVernon Butler
Louisiana Tech 
Brandin Bryant
FAU 
Jontavious Morris
WKU 
Poncho Barnwell
ODU 
DTTrevon Coley
FAU 
Stuart Mouchantaf
Rice 
Patrick McNeil
MTSU  
Brian Price
UTSA 
LBT.T. Barber
MTSU 
Alex Lyons
Rice 
Alvin Jones
UTEP 
Nick Thomason
Louisiana Tech 
LBD.J. Hunter
Marshall 
Drew Douglas
UTSA 
T.J. Ricks
ODU 
Fred Scott
North Texas 
LBNick Holt
WKU 
Evan McKelvey
Marshall 
Davison Colimon
FIU 
Treyvon Williams
FIU 
CBRichard Leonard
FIU 
Cre'von LeBlanc
FAU 
Wonderful Terry
WKU 
Kenny Buyers
North Texas 
CBAdairius Barnes
Louisiana Tech 
Bennett Okotcha
UTSA 
Ryan Pollard
Rice 
Bryson Abraham
Louisiana Tech 
SXavier Woods
Louisiana Tech 
Taj Letman
Marshall 
A.J. Leggett
Marshall 
Devin Cockrell
UTEP 
SKevin Byard
MTSU 
Kentrell Brice
Louisiana Tech 
Fellonte Misher
ODU 
Branden Leston
WKU 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KTrevor Moore
North Texas 
Jay Mattox
UTEP 
Garrett Schwettman
WKU 
Austin Taylor
FIU 
PTyler Williams
Marshall 
Dalton Schomp
FAU 
James Farrimond
Rice 
Eric Keena
North Texas 
KRAutrey Golden
UTEP 
Deandre Reaves
Marshall 
Carlos Henderson
Louisiana Tech 
Richard Leonard
FIU 
PRRichard Leonard
FIU 
Darvin Kidsy
North Texas 
Casey Martin
Southern Miss 
Trent Taylor
Louisiana Tech 

 

Related: 2015 Conference USA Predictions

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 All-C-USA Team
 FirstSecondThirdFourth
Charlotte

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

FAU

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

FIU

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 2

Louisiana Tech

Offense: 2

Defense: 4

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2 

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Marshall

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

MTSU

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

North Texas

Offense: 2

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 1

Old Dominion

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Rice

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2 

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Southern Miss

Offense: 0 

Defense: 0 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

UTEP

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

UTSA

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

WKU

Offense: 3

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 3

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

 

Teaser:
Conference USA Football 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
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Ranking every college football coach is an impossible task. However, coaching is a critical component to every collegiate program. Needless to say, success with any college football team starts with coaching. Even if a program doesn’t have the resources of the nation’s elite jobs, a good coach can elevate a program into national title contention. However, similar to any position on the field, statistics may not tell the full story when judging a coaching tenure.

 

This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It's always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

 

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

 

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don't get the assistants - only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking.

 

Here’s the full 128 list of coach rankings, as voted on by the Athlon Sports staff for 2015.

 

By Conference: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Ranking All 128 College Football Coaches for 2015

 

1. Nick Saban, Alabama

Record at Alabama: 91-17 (8 years)

Career Record: 182-59-1 (19 years)

 

Maintaining a place among college football’s elite every year is no easy task. However, as long as Alabama has Saban, the Crimson Tide will factor into the Playoff mix and remain among the nation’s top threats to win the national championship every season. In Saban’s eight years in Tuscaloosa, Alabama has won 10 games at least seven times and has not lost more than one game in SEC play in four years. And of course, we can’t forget about the three national championships during the BCS era. Additionally, the Crimson Tide has seven consecutive finishes inside of the top 10 in the final Associated Press poll. Recruiting and developing talent is another strength of the program under Saban, as Alabama has reeled in the No. 1 recruiting class over the last five seasons and 48 players have been drafted since 2009. 

 

Related: SEC 2015 Predictions

 

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State:
 38-3 (3 years)

Career Record: 142-26 (13 years)

 

There was never really any doubt about his place among the nation’s best coaches, but if there was, Meyer clearly solidified his top billing with Ohio State’s 2014 season. The Buckeyes lost their No. 1 and No. 2 quarterbacks, yet won 14 games and claimed the national championship over Oregon. In three seasons at Ohio State, Meyer is 38-3 and has not lost a regular season game in Big Ten play. The 2014 national title was Meyer’s third as a head coach, as he claimed two during his tenure at Florida (2006, 2008). In addition to his national championships in Gainesville, Meyer went 65-15 with the Gators, 22-2 in two years at Utah and 17-6 in two seasons with Bowling Green.

 

Related: Big Ten 2015 Predictions

 

3. Art Briles, Baylor

Record at Baylor: 55-34 (7 years)

Career Record: 89-62 (12 years)

 

Briles has completely changed the perception of Baylor football over the last seven years. Prior to Briles’ tenure, the Bears did not play in a bowl or post a winning record from 1995-2007. Baylor went 8-16 in Briles’ first two years, but has played in five consecutive bowl games and tied or won the conference championship in back-to-back years. The Bears are 22-4 over the last two seasons and have three double-digit victory totals in three out of the last four years. Prior to taking over at Baylor, Briles went 34-28 at Houston. Briles is a Texas coaching lifer and has changed this program from one of the bottom teams in the Big 12 into a conference championship contender. The talent level on this team has improved with four consecutive top-40 signing classes, and the program just opened brand-new McLane Stadium in 2014. Momentum at Baylor is at an all-time high with Briles at the controls – and it doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

 

4. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

Record at Michigan: First Year

Career Record: 58-27 (7 years)

 

Harbaugh is the right coach to return Michigan back among the nation’s elite. At three different coaching jobs, Harbaugh has delivered a quick turnaround and won at a high level. At San Diego from 2004-06, Harbaugh went 29-6 and lost only two games over the final two years. Harbaugh moved to the FBS level in 2007 at Stanford and won 29 games in four seasons. The Cardinal missed a bowl appearance in the first two years, but managed 20 wins over Harbaugh’s last two seasons, including a 12-1 finish in 2010. Harbaugh left Stanford for the NFL and won 44 games with the 49ers from 2011-14. San Francisco lost in the NFC Championship Game twice under Harbaugh’s watch and lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. As a former Michigan quarterback and player under Bo Schembechler, Harbaugh knows what it takes to win in Ann Arbor. Expect to see the Wolverines back among the top 10-15 teams in the nation in the next few years.

 

Related: Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 College Football Coach Hire for 2015

 

5. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Record at Kansas State: 187-94-1 (23 years)

Career Record: 187-94-1 (23 years)

 

There’s not a coach in the nation doing more with less every year. Kansas State is not an easy job, yet Snyder continues to keep the Wildcats in contention for the Big 12 title on a yearly basis. Kansas State won only three games in the four previous years prior to his hire in November 1988, and after a 1-10 record in his first season, Snyder’s teams have won fewer than six games only four times and claimed double-digit victories in seven years. Don't forget that following his retirement after the 2005 season, Kansas State went just 17-20 in three years under Ron Prince before Snyder returned in November 2008. Regardless of how much talent or key personnel Kansas State loses, the Wildcats are always a threat to win the conference championship and finish among the top 25 teams in the nation. Developing and finding talent in the junior college ranks is one of Snyder’s biggest strengths. Kansas State doesn’t recruit at a high level, so it’s important to develop talent and find ways to win games with less. That’s exactly what Snyder has accomplished, as from 2011-14, the Wildcats have the best record in Big 12 games (27-9).

 

Related: Athlon's 2015 College Football Rankings: No. 1 to 128

 

6. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 75-31 (8 years)

Career Record: 93-48 (11 years)

 

Dantonio has transformed Michigan State from an underachieving program to one of the best in the Big Ten. The Spartans have won at least 11 games in four out of the last five years and finished No. 3 nationally after winning the Big Ten Championship Game and Rose Bowl in 2013. Under Dantonio’s watch, Michigan State also has claimed four consecutive bowl victories and went 15-1 in conference play from 2013-14. And if you needed any more information on why Dantonio is among the nation’s best: The Spartans have six seasons of 10 or more wins in program history. Four of those have come with Dantonio at the helm. 

 

Related: Michigan State's Connor Cook Ranks as the Big Ten's No. 2 QB in 2015

 

7. Gary Patterson, TCU

Record at TCU: 132-45 (14 years)

Career Record: 132-45 (14 years)

 

Coming off a 12-1 season and a No. 3 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, TCU is among the favorites to contend for the 2015 national championship. The Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short amount of time since joining the Big 12. TCU finished 7-6 in its Big 12 debut in 2012 but followed that up with a 4-8 mark in 2013, thanks in large part to a struggling offense. The The 8-1 mark in conference play last season is easily the best of TCU’s three-year stint in the Big 12. In Patterson’s 14 years, the Horned Frogs have won 132 games and claimed 10 or more victories in nine of those seasons. Winning at a high level is nothing new for Patterson in Fort Worth. In 2010, TCU finished No. 2 nationally with a 13-0 mark, No. 7 in 2008 and No. 6 in 2009. With Patterson at the helm, TCU will be a consistent threat to win the Big 12 title.

 

Related: Big 12 2015 Predictions

 

8. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

Record at Oklahoma: 168-44 (16 years)

Career Record: 168-44 (16 years)

 

With 16 seasons at Oklahoma, Stoops is the second-longest tenured coach in college football. The Sooners have consistently ranked among the Big 12’s best under Stoops, winning at least 10 games in 12 of his years in Norman. Additionally, Stoops has guided Oklahoma to eight Big 12 titles and one national championship (2000). Winning at a high level and competing for a spot in one of college football’s top bowl games has become the norm for the Sooners under Stoops. However, Oklahoma finished 8-5 in 2014, which was the worst mark under Stoops since 2009 (8-5). Maintaining success at one job for a long period of time is no easy task for any college football coach. Stoops will try to get the program back on track with a few staff changes, including new offensive play-caller Lincoln Riley. There’s no question Stoops is among the best in the nation, and it will be interesting to see if 2014 was just a small blip on the radar or if it’s the beginning of a down period for the program. 

 

9. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Record at Auburn:
 20-7 (2 years)
Career Record: 29-10 (3 years)

 

In just three seasons as a head coach, Malzahn has already entrenched his name among the best in the nation. After a 9-3 record at Arkansas State in 2012 (his first as a head coach on the FBS level), Malzahn has guided Auburn to a 20-7 mark over the last two years. The Tigers played for the 2013 national championship and finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after the loss to Florida State. Auburn slipped to 8-5 last year, but Malzahn should have this team back in contention for the SEC title in 2015. Prior to being a head coach on the FBS level, Malzahn was one of the nation’s top offensive coordinators at Auburn and Tulsa, with a one-year stop at Arkansas in 2006. He’s also known for his stint as a high school coach at Springdale High School in Arkansas from 2001-05. Malzahn is one of the game’s top X’s and O’s tacticians on offense and upgraded his defense with the addition of Will Muschamp as his new coordinator.

 

10. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State
Record at Florida State:
58-11 (5 years)

Career Record: 58-11 (5 years)

 

Fisher has returned Florida State to the nation’s elite, guiding the Seminoles to a 27-1 mark over the last two seasons and the 2013 national championship. Under Fisher’s watch, Florida State has averaged 11.6 wins a season and has three consecutive finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Replacing Jameis Winston won’t be easy, but Fisher is one of the nation’s best at talent evaluation, and the Seminoles will continue to win at a high level under his watch.  

 

Related: ACC 2015 Predictions

 

11. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

Record at South Carolina: 84-45 (10 years)

Career Record: 226-85-2 (25 years)

 

Spurrier enters 2015 ranked No. 2 among active FBS coaches with 226 career wins. South Carolina slipped in 2014 after three consecutive 11-win seasons, but Spurrier has elevated a program that had only one 10-win campaign prior to his arrival in 2005. Additionally, out of the six times the Gamecocks have won at least nine games, four of those have taken place under Spurrier’s watch. And Spurrier’s track record is no secret, as he went 122-27-1 at Florida from 1990-2001 and 20-13-1 at Duke from 1987-89. It’s not easy for coaches to maintain success over a 20-year span. Spurrier has had to tweak a few things along the way, but as evidenced by his recent success at South Carolina, he’s still one of the game’s top coaches.

 

12. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

Record at Louisville: 50-13 (5 years)

Career Record: 92-34 (10 years)

 

Petrino’s return to Louisville was a success, as the Cardinals finished 9-4 in their first season in the ACC. And Petrino’s team was neck-and-neck with the top teams in the conference, losing by just six points to Clemson and was defeated by Florida State after leading the defending national champs going into the fourth quarter. In Petrino’s 10 years as a college head coach, he’s won at least eight games every season but one. The Cardinals have some key pieces to replace for 2015, but the program is in good shape for the long haul with Petrino in control.

 

13. Todd Graham, Arizona State

Record at Arizona State: 28-12 (3 years)

Career Record: 77-41 (9 years)

 

It’s a close call between Graham and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez for the No. 1 spot among current Pac-12 coaches. The Sun Devils enter 2015 as one of the favorites for the conference title, and Graham has guided the program to 28 wins over the last three seasons. The Sun Devils won the South Division in 2013 and tied for second in '12 and '14. Under Graham’s watch, Arizona State has clearly removed the label of a program that struggles to reach expectations. And the Sun Devils are in the midst of a stadium renovation that will only help Graham and this staff sell a program that has inked back-to-back top-25 signing classes. Graham’s success isn’t just limited to Arizona State, as he helped Rice make a six-game improvement in the win column in 2006, won 36 games in four years at Tulsa and went 6-6 in his only season at Pittsburgh.

 

Related: Arizona State is a Team on the Rise in 2015

 

14. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

Record at Arizona: 26-14 (3 years)
Career Record: 146-98-2 (21 years)

 

Rodriguez is in the process of elevating Arizona into a yearly contender for the Pac-12 title. The Wildcats claimed the South Division championship last season with a 7-2 conference record and won double-digit games (10) for the first time since 1998. Additionally, the 10 wins last year was only the third time in program history that Arizona has won more than nine in a season. Rodriguez only went 15-22 in three years at Michigan, but he won 60 games in seven seasons at West Virginia and guided the program to three finishes in the final Associated Press poll from 2005-07. The bad news for the rest of the Pac-12: Rodriguez is really just getting started and this program is only going to get better in the coming years.

 

Related: Pac-12 2015 Predictions

 

15. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

Record at Notre Dame: 45-20 (5 years)

Career Record: 216-77-2 (24 years)

 

Kelly hasn’t quite returned Notre Dame to national prominence since he took over in 2010, but the Fighting Irish are 45-20 under his watch and has one appearance in the national championship game (2012). Outside of 2012, Notre Dame has won at least eight games every season under Kelly and has two top 25 finishes in the final Associated Press poll. Prior to Notre Dame, Kelly went 34-6 at Cincinnati – including a 12-0 record in the 2009 regular season – 19-16 at Central Michigan from 2004-06 and a 118-35-2 mark at Division II Grand Valley State from 1991-2003.   

 

16. Mark Richt, Georgia

Record at Georgia: 136-48 (14 years)

Career Record: 136-48 (14 years)

 

Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005, but the Bulldogs usually rank near the top of the conference. Richt has guided Georgia to three double-digit win seasons over the last four years, and the Bulldogs finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. The talent level certainly isn’t an issue for Georgia, as the program owns the No. 3 roster in the SEC over the last five seasons. And with a 7.6 national average, the talent level is in place for the Bulldogs to contend for a national title. Under Richt’s direction, Georgia has never finished lower than third in the East and has lost more than two games in SEC play only five times over the last 14 years.

 

17. Gary Pinkel, Missouri

Record at Missouri: 113-66 (14 years)

Career Record: 186-104-3 (24 years)

 

Pinkel has been a consistent winner throughout his tenure at Missouri. The Tigers average 8.1 wins a season under Pinkel and have claimed back-to-back East Division titles after a 5-7 record in their SEC debut. Prior to joining the SEC, Missouri posted seven consecutive winning campaigns from 2005-11, including a 12-2 mark and a No. 4 finish in the final Associated Press poll in 2007. Pinkel’s success isn’t limited to just Missouri, as he went 73-37-3 in 10 years at Toledo. Despite a national recruiting rank of 39th nationally over the last five years, the Tigers won the SEC East in back-to-back years and will begin 2015 as one of the favorites in the division once again. That’s a huge credit to Pinkel and his staff’s ability to find and develop talent every year. 

 

18. David Cutcliffe, Duke

Record at Duke: 40-48 (7 years)

Career Record: 84-77 (13 years)

 

Cutcliffe has elevated Duke into an annual bowl team in the ACC, and after winning the Coastal Division title in 2014, the Blue Devils finished second last season. How big of a difference has Cutcliffe made with Duke since 2008? The 10-win 2013 campaign, and the 19 victories in a two-year span are the best marks in school history. Cutcliffe is regarded for his work with offenses and quarterbacks, but he deserves more credit for his work as a head coach, especially at a program like Duke where it’s not easy to maintain success.  

 

19. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Record at Mississippi State: 46-31 (6 years)

Career Record: 46-31 (6 years)

 

Mullen is the perfect example of why job hierarchy within a conference matters when ranking coaches. Mississippi State is the toughest job in the SEC West, and this program’s 27.4 finish nationally over the last five years in recruiting ranks No. 7 within its own division. However, the Bulldogs are 46-31 under Mullen and are coming off just the third double-digit win season in program history. Last season, Mississippi State climbed as high as No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time and finished No. 11 in the final ranking – the second-highest mark in school history. Since a 5-7 mark in Mullen’s debut, Mississippi State has recorded a winning record in five consecutive years and is 22-26 in the SEC. Even though the Bulldogs suffered some heavy personnel losses this offseason, Mullen has elevated this program and the talent level has improved to ensure a quick rebuild.

 

Related: Mississippi State's Dak Prescott ranks as the SEC's No. 1 QB for 2015

 

20. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

Record at Ole Miss: 24-15 (3 years)

Career Record: 54-22 (6 years)

 

Ole Miss has made steady improvement under Freeze, including a nine-win campaign in 2014. The Rebels have made a bowl game in all three of Freeze’s seasons in Oxford and went as high as No. 3 in the Associated Press poll in 2014. And if injuries didn’t take a toll on the 2014 team, Ole Miss easily could have won 10 games for the first time since '03. While Freeze doesn’t have the track record of some of the coaches in this league, he’s already a proven winner at three different jobs. In addition to the 24 wins at Ole Miss, he went 20-5 at Lambuth from 2008-09 and 10-2 at Arkansas State in '11. As we mentioned in the introduction, it’s not a list of career accomplishments. Based upon what Freeze inherited and has done in three years at Ole Miss, his career trajectory is higher than several names on this list.

 

21. David Shaw, Stanford

Record at Stanford: 42-12 (4 years)

Career Record: 42-12 (4 years)

 

For the first time in Shaw’s tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal are coming off a season with fewer than 11 wins. After winning 34 games through Shaw’s first three years, Stanford regressed to 8-5 but still finished second in the North with a 5-4 conference record. Under Shaw’s direction, the Cardinal has finished inside of the top 11 of the final Associated Press poll three times and played for the conference title in back-to-back years (2012-13). Additionally, Shaw and his staff continue to do an excellent job on the recruiting trail, signing top-25 classes in four out of the last five years. The biggest challenge for Shaw in 2015 will be improving an offense that averaged only 23.8 points per game in conference play last year (11th in the Pac-12). Even with significant departures on defense, Stanford can push Oregon in the North if Shaw is able to find the right answers on offense.

 

22. James Franklin, Penn State

Record at Penn State: 7-6 (1 year)

Career Record: 31-21 (4 years)

 

Franklin will return Penn State back to contention for the Big Ten title and as a consistent top-25 team – it just may take a little longer than we anticipated. High expectations surrounded the Nittany Lions last year, but Franklin’s team finished 7-6 and won only two games in Big Ten play. Fixing the offensive line is Franklin’s top priority in 2015, and there’s hope for improvement with one of the nation’s top assistants (Herb Hand) leading this group. Franklin went 24-15 in three years with Vanderbilt and recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons in 2012-13. Considering what Franklin managed to accomplish at Vanderbilt – the SEC’s toughest job – combined with the success on the recruiting trail, it’s only a matter of time before Penn State wins again at a high level.

 

Related: Penn State 2015 Schedule Analysis

 

23. Chris Petersen, Washington

Record at Washington: 8-6 (1 year)

Career Record: 100-18 (9 years)

 

After one of the most successful stints by a coach during the BCS era, Petersen decided to make the jump to a Power 5 job and replaced Steve Sarkisian at Washington. Petersen went 92-12 at Boise State and led the Broncos to double-digit win seasons in seven out of his eight years. But Petersen didn’t quite find the same success in his first year with the Huskies. Washington’s defense had three first-team All-Pac-12 selections on defense, but a struggling secondary and offense dropped Petersen’s first team to just 8-6 overall and 4-5 in Pac-12 play. Petersen and his staff will be tested even more in 2015, as Washington returns only nine starters, loses standout defenders Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha, and could have a true freshman start at quarterback. 

 

Related: Washington safety Budda Baker is a Player on the Rise for 2015

 

24. Les Miles, LSU

Record at LSU: 103-29 (10 years)

Career Record: 131-50 (14 years)

 

2015 is shaping up to be one of the most interesting years of Miles’ tenure at LSU. The Tigers have slipped in the SEC pecking order over the last three seasons and last year finished outside of the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since 2008. LSU’s 4-4 mark in SEC play in 2014 was the first non-winning record in conference games in six seasons. Additionally, Miles lost top assistant and defensive coordinator John Chavis to rival Texas A&M, and the offense ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring last year. Plenty of question marks surround LSU for 2015, but Miles has showed before he’s capable of getting the program back among the best in the SEC. The Tigers went 17-9 from 2008-09, yet rebounded with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2010-13. LSU has averaged a 6.8 finish nationally in recruiting rankings over the last five years. With that type of talent in place, the Tigers have the necessary pieces in place to get back to the top of the SEC.

 

25. Butch Jones, Tennessee

Record at Tennessee: 12-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 62-40 (8 years)

 

The arrow on Tennessee’s program under Jones' leadership is clearly pointing up entering 2015. The Volunteers went 5-7 in Jones’ first season but improved to 7-6 and returned to a bowl for the first time since 2010. Upgrading the talent on Tennessee’s roster has been a priority for Jones, and the coaching staff has inked back-to-back top-10 signing classes. With the talent on the rise, a solid core of personnel in place, and a team that won four out of its final five games, Tennessee is poised to take another step forward in 2015. Prior to Tennessee, Jones guided Central Michigan to a 27-13 record in three years (2007-09) and led Cincinnati to a 23-14 mark from 2010-12.

 

Related: Tennessee is a Team on the Rise for 2015

 

26. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

Record at Texas A&M: 28-11 (3 years)

Career Record: 63-28 (7 years)

 

Texas A&M has made a successful transition to the SEC under Sumlin’s watch. In addition to fielding an explosive offense, the Aggies are 28-11 over the last three years and have a 13-11 record in SEC play in that span. With the program entrenched in the nation’s toughest conference, along with facility upgrades to compete with the SEC’s elite, Sumlin will be looking to push Texas A&M even higher in the conference standings. The Aggies’ win total in SEC games has declined from six (2012) to four (2013) to three (2014). While the offense has been among the league’s best since 2012, the defense has struggled mightily. But Sumlin took a big step in fixing that side of the ball by hiring John Chavis away from LSU. Prior to the last three seasons at Texas A&M, Sumlin guided Houston to a 35-17 record in four years from 2008-11. 

 

27. Bret Bielema, Arkansas

Record at Arkansas: 10-15 (2 years)

Career Record: 78-39 (9 years)

 

The overall coaching depth in the SEC is on display when Bielema ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. Arkansas has showed marked improvement under Bielema in the last two years, and the Razorbacks are poised to take another step forward in 2015. After a 3-9 mark and a winless record in SEC play in 2013, Arkansas finished 7-6 and lost four games by a touchdown or less last fall. The Razorbacks closed 2014 by winning four out of their final six games, including a 31-7 destruction of Texas in the Texas Bowl. Prior to Arkansas, Bielema went 68-24 at Wisconsin and led the Badgers to four seasons of double-digit wins. The Razorbacks are clearly headed in the right direction, and Bielema’s physical style of play fits right at home in the SEC.

 

Related: Arkansas Razorbacks 2015 Schedule and Analysis

 

28. Jerry Kill, Minnesota

Record at Minnesota: 25-26 (4 years)

Career Record: 152-99 (21 years)

 

As we mentioned above, college football coaches can’t be judged strictly on wins and losses. Kill is a perfect example of why record isn’t the best indicator of coaching ability, as he’s only 25-26 in four years with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have made significant improvement under his watch, going from 3-9 in his first year to three consecutive bowl games. And Minnesota is coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons and finished 5-3 in Big Ten play last year – the first winning mark in conference play since 2003. Kill is a proven winner at four other coaching stops in his career, including a 23-16 record at Northern Illinois and a 55-32 mark at Southern Illinois.

 

29. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

Record at Oklahoma State: 84-44 (10 years)

Career Record: 84-44 (10 years)

 

Oklahoma State took a step back in the win column in 2014, needing a late punt return for a touchdown to beat Oklahoma and secure bowl eligibility for the ninth consecutive season. The win over Washington in the Cactus Bowl gave Oklahoma State its ninth winning season in Gundy’s 10 years. The Cowboys have won at least 10 games in three out of the last five seasons and finished No. 3 nationally in 2011. Gundy consistently has Oklahoma State finishing in the top half of the Big 12, and the Cowboys are poised to return to the top 25 after last year’s 7-6 mark. Gundy’s name popped up in the rumor mill for other jobs over the last three offseasons, but the former Oklahoma State quarterback seems to be reenergized headed into 2015. 

 

Related: Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph is a Player on the Rise for 2015

 

30. Charlie Strong, Texas

Record at Texas: 6-7 (1 year)

Career Record: 43-23 (5+ years)

 

As expected, Strong had to reset the foundation at Texas. The Longhorns finished 6-7 last year and won five games in Big 12 action. However, Texas beat only two teams with a winning record and was thoroughly dominated by TCU and Arkansas in the final two games of 2014. The Longhorns only went 16-11 in Big 12 games over Mack Brown’s final three years and recorded just one finish in the final Associated Press poll in that span. The program clearly slipped in Brown’s final four years, and Strong needs a little time to rebuild the talent and get Texas back into contention for Big 12 championships. It’s only a matter of time before that happens, as Strong went 37-15 in four years at Louisville, including a 23-3 record from 2012-13. 

 

Related: Texas Ranks as the No. 1 Coaching Job in the Big 12

 

31. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Record at Georgia Tech: 58-35 (7 years)

Career Record: 165-74 (18 years)

 

2014 wasn’t necessarily a make-or-break year for Johnson at Georgia Tech, but it was fair to wonder where the program was headed after a 14-13 mark from 2012-13. The Yellow Jackets entered 2014 with low expectations and delivered with a surprising 11-3 season and a Coastal Division title. In Johnson’s seven seasons in Atlanta, Georgia Tech has never finished under .500 in conference play. Additionally, the Yellow Jackets have played for the ACC Championship three times. 

 

32. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Record at Utah: 85-43 (10 years)

Career Record: 85-43 (10 years)

 

Whittingham has successfully transitioned Utah from a Mountain West team to a solid Pac-12 program in just four years. The Utes don’t have the resources or recruiting base of a UCLA or USC, but Whittingham’s team knocked off both programs last year as well as Stanford and Michigan en route to a 9-4 record. Utah also finished No. 21 in the final Associated Press poll – it’s first top-25 finish since 2009 – and claimed its first winning mark in Pac-12 play (5-4). In his 10-year tenure in Salt Lake City, Whittingham is 85-43 overall and has led his team to eight bowl games. 

 

33. Gary Andersen, Oregon State

Record at Oregon State: First Year

Career Record: 49-38 (7 years)

 

Andersen’s move from Wisconsin to Oregon State came as a surprise, but the Utah native is a great hire for this program. In two seasons at Wisconsin, Andersen went 19-7 and guided the Badgers to a Big Ten West Division title in 2014. Prior to Wisconsin, Andersen guided Utah State to a 26-24 record in four years. To show how big of an impact Andersen had on the Aggies – in the four years prior to his arrival in Logan, Utah State won only nine games. Utah State won 26 during Andersen’s four years, including 18 over the last two. Andersen is a proven winner at two different jobs and was a successful assistant at Utah prior to becoming a head coach. Oregon State is rebuilding in 2015, but Andersen’s hire will pay big dividends for the Beavers.

 

Related: Gary Andersen is one of the top coaching hires for 2015

 

34. Mark Helfrich, Oregon

Record at Oregon: 24-4 (2 years)

Career Record: 24-4 (2 years)

 

Helfrich is the only current Pac-12 coach to play for the national championship and has picked up where Chip Kelly left off by guiding Oregon to a 24-4 record over the last two years. The Ducks finished No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll after a loss to Ohio State in college football’s national championship in January. Helfrich and his staff navigated several injuries and overcame an early loss against Arizona to win the Pac-12 title and finish 13-2 overall. Prior to his promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach with the Ducks, Helfrich was an assistant at Arizona State, Colorado and Boise State. Helfrich won’t have Marcus Mariota in 2015, but the third-year coach has this program in great shape and poised to continue finishing near the top of the Pac-12. 

 

Related: Oregon is the No. 2 Coaching Job in the Pac-12

 

35. Jim Mora, UCLA

Record at UCLA: 29-11 (3 years)

Career Record: 29-11 (3 years)

 

A case could be made Mora should be higher among his conference peers. In three seasons at UCLA, the Bruins are 29-11 under his watch and have won six Pac-12 games each year. Mora guided UCLA to the Pac-12 South title in 2012 and finished (or tied) for second in the other two seasons. High expectations surrounded this program last year, but the Bruins were easily handled by Oregon in mid-October and on Nov. 28 lost to Stanford 31-10 with a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game up for grabs. Mora has recruited four consecutive top-20 classes, so talent isn’t an issue for this program. Contending for the South Division in 2015 should be a reasonable expectation, but the Bruins have to replace quarterback Brett Hundley.

 

36. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

Record at Virginia Tech: 231-115-2 (28 years)

Career Record: 273-138-4 (34 years)

 

Beamer is college football’s longest-tenured coach entering the 2015 season. Virginia Tech has won 231 games under Beamer’s watch, which includes a streak of eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins from 2004-11. While Beamer’s longevity deserves plenty of consideration here, it’s also worth noting Virginia Tech is just 22-17 over the last three seasons and has not finished in the final Associated Press poll in that span after recording 12 top-25 finishes in 13 years from 1998-2011. The Hokies tied for second in the Coastal Division in 2013 but slipped to fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2014. Can Beamer return this program back to the top of the Coastal in 2015? 

 

37. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

Record at Northwestern: 60-53 (9 years)

Career Record: 60-53 (9 years)

 

Northwestern is coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time under Fitzgerald and is 4-12 in Big Ten play over the last two years. While it’s easy to only judge coaches by recent history, this is not an easy job and Fitzgerald has won 60 games since 2006. Additionally, the Wildcats went to five consecutive bowl games from 2008-12, including a 10-win campaign in '12, concluding with just the program’s second postseason victory. Considering what Fitzgerald has accomplished at one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, what could he do at a program with more resources?

 

38. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

Record at Clemson: 61-26 (7 years)

Career Record: 61-26 (7 years)

 

Swinney has helped Clemson football reach its potential with four consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories. The Tigers have not lost more than two games in ACC play during that span and finished No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll in 2013. Swinney is also regarded for his work on the recruiting trail, as Clemson has averaged a 13.2 finish – including two top-10 classes – among all 128 teams over the last five seasons. It’s no secret the Tigers invested heavily in their coordinators – Chad Morris (now at SMU) and defensive play-caller Brent Venables – to allow Swinney to focus on being the program CEO. What type of impact will Morris leaving have on the offense? That’s the big question facing Clemson in 2015 and beyond.

 

Related: Clemson's Deshaun Watson is the ACC's No. 1 QB in 2015

 

39. Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette

Record at UL Lafayette: 36-16 (4 years)

Career Record: 102-37 (11 years)

 

Hudspeth has been a home-run hire for UL Lafayette, and it won’t be long before Power 5 programs inquire if he’s interested in moving to a bigger job. In each of Hudspeth’s four seasons, the Ragin’ Cajuns have won nine games and claimed a bowl victory. Prior to the last four years at UL Lafayette, Hudspeth went 66-21 at North Alabama from 2002-08 and also worked as an assistant at Mississippi State. Hudspeth is one of college football’s top rising stars in the coaching ranks.

 

40. Mike Riley, Nebraska

Record at Nebraska: First Year

Career Record: 93-80 (14 years)

 

Nebraska’s hire of Riley came as a surprise, but the Idaho native seems to be the right coach at the right time. The Cornhuskers won at least nine games in each of Bo Pelini’s seven seasons, yet never finished higher than 14th in the Associated Press poll or claimed a conference title. That’s the challenge for Riley in 2015 and beyond. Can he elevate Nebraska back into contention for a national title or compete with Ohio State and Michigan for Big Ten championships? Oregon State is a challenging job, yet Riley won 93 games in 14 seasons and guided the Beavers to a winning conference record in six of those years. Another mark in favor of Riley’s hire is his experience in recruiting and finding talent in Texas and California. Also, Riley and his staff did a good job of developing talent while in Corvallis. If Nebraska can’t beat Ohio State or Michigan for five-star recruits, it needs to develop three-star talent into five-star players.

 

Related: Big Ten 2015 Predictions

 

41. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

Record at Cincinnati: 18-8 (2 years)

Career Record: 148-86 (19 years)

 

Tuberville is a proven winner at four different stops and is off to a strong start at Cincinnati with an 18-8 mark in two years. The Bearcats claimed a share of the conference title in 2014 and is considered the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference this fall. Prior to taking over at Cincinnati, Tuberville went 20-17 at Texas Tech, 85-40 at Auburn and 25-20 at Ole Miss. In 19 years as a head coach, Tuberville has posted only four losing seasons.

 

Related: American Athletic Conference 2015 Predictions

 

42. Justin Fuente, Memphis

Record at Memphis: 17-20 (3 years)

Career Record: 17-20 (3 years)

 

Fuente is one of the nation’s top rising stars in the head coach ranks. The Oklahoma native worked as an assistant at Illinois State and TCU before replacing Larry Porter at Memphis in 2012. Fuente inherited a program that went 3-21 from 2010-11 and the Tigers showed immediate progress in Year One, finishing with a 4-8 mark in 2012. Memphis finished 3-9 in its debut in the American Athletic Conference but went 10-3 and finished No. 25 in the final Associated Press poll in 2014. With Memphis among the contenders to win the AAC in 2015, Fuente could be pursued by bigger programs this offseason.

 

43. Steve Addazio, Boston College

Record at Boston College: 14-12 (2 years)

Career Record: 27-23 (4 years)

 

Even though he’s won only 14 games in two seasons at Boston College, Addazio is off to an impressive start with the Eagles. In the two years prior to Addazio’s tenure, Boston College went 6-18 and missed out on a bowl appearance in both seasons. But Addazio has made the Eagles a tough out in the ACC once again, and the program is coming off back-to-back bowl appearances. Addazio’s tenure is even more impressive when you consider he was able to mesh his systems with the returning talent in 2013, as well as recruit a graduate transfer (Tyler Murphy) at quarterback with a slightly different approach on offense. With only nine returning starters, Addazio has a tough assignment just getting Boston College back to a bowl in 2015. However, the track record suggests the Eagles will be pushing for a winning record once again. 

 

44. Matt Wells, Utah State

Record at Utah State: 19-9 (2 years)

Career Record: 19-9 (2 years)

 

Despite a few major injuries to key players over the last two seasons, Wells has navigated Utah State to a 19-9 record and a 13-3 mark in conference play in that span. The Aggies played for the 2013 Mountain West title and have back-to-back bowl victories under Wells’ direction. Even though Wells inherited plenty of talent from former coach Gary Andersen, his coaching ability has been on full display with the key injuries this team has been forced to overcome over the last two years.

 

45. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU

Record at BYU: 90-39 (10 years)

Career Record: 90-39 (10 years)

 

Mendenhall has been a consistent winner during his 10 years in Provo and has guided the program into FBS independence after BYU left the Mountain West at the end of the 2010 season. The Cougars finished in the final Associated Press poll in four consecutive years from 2006-09 and won 22 games from 2006-07. BYU went 10-3 in its debut as an independent in 2011 and has finished 8-5 in three consecutive seasons. A challenging schedule awaits the Cougars in 2015, but Mendenhall’s team will be a tough opponent for the four Power 5 teams on their schedule, along with matchups against Boise State and Utah State. 

 

46. Steve Sarkisian, USC

Record at USC: 9-4 (1 year)

Career Record: 43-33 (6 years)

 

By this time next year, Sarkisian could rank higher on this list – if USC ends up winning the Pac-12 as the early odds for 2015 suggest. Sarkisian’s first year with the Trojans had its share of ups and downs. USC beat Stanford 13-10 in Week 2 but lost 37-31 at Boston College the following Saturday. The Trojans lost on the last play of the game to Arizona State and in the final seconds to Utah. With better depth due to the end of NCAA scholarship sanctions, USC should have the manpower needed to close the door in tight games. Prior to taking over at USC, Sarkisian went 35-29 at Washington and guided the Huskies to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-13. The challenge for Sarkisian is simple: Get USC back among the nation’s elite and contend for national championships. Is he the right coach to do so?

 

Related: USC's Cody Kessler Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 1 QB for 2015

 

47. Mike Leach, Washington State

Record at Washington State: 12-25 (3 years)

Career Record: 96-68 (13 years)

 

Entering his fourth year in Pullman, Leach is still looking to elevate Washington State into a consistent winner and a bowl team every season. At Texas Tech, Leach guided the Red Raiders to an 84-43 record in 10 years and never finished a season with fewer than seven victories. But winning at a high level has been much tougher at Washington State. The Cougars are 12-25 over the last three years, and a 6-7 team from 2013 is bookended by 3-9 records in '12 and '14. Offense is Leach’s specialty, and Washington State has ranked in the top 10 nationally of passing offense from 2012-14. But fixing the defense has to be a priority after allowing at least 36 points in Pac-12 games in each of the last three years.

 

48. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia

Record at West Virginia: 28-23 (4 years)

Career Record: 28-23 (4 years)

 

Under Holgorsen’s direction over the last four years, West Virginia has made the successful transition from the Big East to the Big 12. The Mountaineers won the Big East title in Holgorsen’s first season and finished 7-6 in their Big 12 debut in 2012. After stumbling to a 4-8 record in 2013, West Virginia rebounded with a 7-6 record in 2014 and claimed its first winning mark in conference play since joining the Big 12. And with 15 starters back for 2015, West Virginia should have a good chance to improve on last year’s record. Holgorsen is a highly regarded offensive mind and is settling into his role as the head coach. With Holgorsen stabilizing the program and competing in the Big 12, the future looks bright in Morgantown. 

 

49. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

Record at Wyoming: 4-8 (1 year)

Career Record: 108-40 (12 years)

 

Bohl’s first season at Wyoming resulted in a 4-8 mark, but that record wasn’t unexpected. Most anticipated 2014 and ‘15 would be rebuilding years for the Cowboys, but Bohl’s team should show progress throughout the course of the upcoming season. In 11 years at North Dakota State, Bohl went 104-32 and claimed three consecutive FCS national championships from 2011-13. Give Bohl a couple of years and Wyoming will be a consistent winner in the Mountain West.

 

50. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

Record at Boise State: 12-2 (1 year)

Career Record: 19-7 (2 years)

 

Harsin is a coach on the rise entering the 2015 season. After a 7-5 mark in 2013 as Arkansas State’s head coach, Harsin left Jonesboro to replace Chris Petersen at Boise State. The former Bronco quarterback went 12-2 in his debut and guided the program to a win in the Fiesta Bowl. Expect Harsin to climb higher in these rankings over the next few years.

 

51. Sonny Dykes, California

Record at California: 6-18 (2 years)

Career Record: 28-33 (5 years)

 

The depth of the Pac-12’s coaching prowess is on full display when Sonny Dykes ranks as the No. 11 coach on this list. After a successful 22-15 stint at Louisiana Tech from 2010-12, Dykes is 6-18 in two seasons at California. The Golden Bears went 1-11 in 2013, but showed marked improvement last fall. California finished 5-7 overall and lost four games by eight points or less. Dykes has this program trending in the right direction, and the offense should be among the nation’s best in 2015. If Dykes can solve the defensive woes, California will make a bowl game this year.

 

Related: California's Jared Goff Ranks as the Pac-12's No. 2 QB for 2015

 

52. George O’Leary, UCF

Record at UCF: 81-60 (11 years)

Career Record: 133-93 (18 years)

 

The Knights have averaged 10.3 wins over the last three years, and O’Leary has led UCF to four double-digit win seasons since taking over the program in 2004. The Knights also have three consecutive bowl appearances and finished No. 10 nationally in the final 2013 Associated Press poll. Prior to UCF, O’Leary coached at Georgia Tech (1994-01) and led the Yellow Jackets to a 52-33 mark in eight years.

 

53. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

Record at Navy: 57-35 (7 years)

Career Record: 57-35 (7 years)

 

Navy is set to transition to the American Athletic Conference in 2015, and Niumatalolo is the right coach to guide this program into a new era. The Midshipmen are 57-35 under Niumatalolo’s direction, including six seasons of at least eight wins in the last seven years. Navy also has a bowl appearance in six of Niumatalolo’s seasons, and the 10-win campaign in 2009 was only the third year of double-digit wins in program history.

 

54. Jim McElwain, Florida

Record at Florida: First Year

Career Record: 22-16 (3 years)

 

After three seasons at Colorado State, McElwain was tapped as the replacement for Will Muschamp at Florida. Although Muschamp guided the Gators to an 11-2 mark in 2012, this program underachieved over the last four years with a 29-21 record. McElwain seems like the right coach to get the program back on track after a 22-16 record with the Rams, as well as a previous stint as an offensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2008-11. Colorado State improved its win total in each of McElwain’s three years, including a 10-win mark in 2014. Prior to calling the plays at Alabama, McElwain made stops as an assistant at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders. His offensive background will pay dividends for a program that has struggled mightily on that side of the ball in recent years.

 

55. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 115-85 (16 years)

Career Record: 127-106 (19 years)

 

Ferentz enters 2015 as the nation’s third-longest tenured coach. Over the last 16 seasons, Ferentz’s tenure with the Hawkeyes has experienced its share of ups and downs. And entering 2015, it’s fair to wonder where this program is headed after a 9-7 mark in Big Ten play over the last two years. Iowa has won 10 games at least four times under Ferentz but has not finished better than 8-5 since 2010. Maintaining success at a program for a long period isn’t easy, and as the nation’s ninth highest-paid coach in 2014, Ferentz is drawing plenty of criticism from the Iowa fanbase. In Athlon’s recent expert poll, Iowa tied with Maryland as the No. 7 coaching job in the Big Ten. This program has its share of challenges (in-state talent in recruiting), but there's really no reason why the Hawkeyes can't contend for the Big Ten West Division title each year.

 

56. Randy Edsall, Maryland

Record at Maryland: 20-30 (4 years)

Career Record: 94-100 (16 years)

 

Edsall’s tenure at Maryland got off to a rocky start with a 2-10 record in 2011. But since that two-win campaign, the Terrapins are 18-20 over the last three seasons and finished their first year in the Big Ten with a 7-6 record and a 4-4 mark in conference play. Prior to Maryland, Edsall went 74-70 at UConn, guiding the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl and a share of the Big East title in 2010. After earning back-to-back bowl appearances, Edsall’s next challenge is to elevate Maryland into the Big Ten East Division’s top tier, which includes Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State. That’s not an easy task, but with the talent available in the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area, Edsall should be able to keep some of those players at home. This fall looks like a rebuilding season for Maryland, but Edsall should have this team in contention for a bowl.

 

57. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern

Record at Georgia Southern: 9-3 (1 year)

Career Record: 185-70-1 (21 years)

 

Fritz was one of the top coaching hires from 2014, as he guided Georgia Southern to a 9-3 record and a perfect 8-0 mark in Sun Belt play. Adding to the impressive 2014 season was the fact it was Georgia Southern’s debut on the FBS level. Fritz’s success isn’t just limited to Georgia Southern either, as he went 40-14 in four years at Sam Houston State and 97-47 at Central Missouri. 

 

58. Al Golden, Miami

Record at Miami: 28-22 (4 years)

Career Record: 55-56 (9 years)

 

2015 is a critical season for Golden at Miami. The Hurricanes are just 16-16 in four years of ACC play under Golden and 28-22 overall. For a program that has the ability to recruit at a top 10-15 level, a .500 mark in conference games is a troubling sign. Golden did inherit some obstacles when he took over the program, including the Nevin Shapiro scandal and NCAA investigation, which was a cloud hanging over the program for over two years. Prior to taking over at Miami, Golden went 27-34 at Temple, which included a 17-8 record over the final two years (2009-10). With one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in Brad Kaaya, Miami has the potential to challenge for the Coastal Division title. But potential has been the key word surrounding this program for a few years. It’s time for Golden to deliver.  

 

59. Dave Doeren, NC State

Record at NC State: 11-14 (2 years)

Career Record: 34-18 (4 years)

 

If NC State picks up in 2015 where it left off last season, it’s a safe bet Doeren will rank higher on this list next year. The Wolfpack showed marked improvement in Doeren’s second season, going from a 3-9 and winless team in the ACC in 2013 to an 8-5 squad in 2014. NC State also finished 3-5 in ACC games and won four out of its final five games, including a 35-7 rout over rival North Carolina. Prior to NC State, Doeren went 23-4 at Northern Illinois and guided the Huskies to an appearance in the Orange Bowl in the 2012 season. Recruiting at NC State is on the rise too, as the Wolfpack have signed back-to-back top-35 classes after not finishing higher than 54th from 2011-13.

 

60. Pete Lembo, Ball State

Record at Ball State: 30-20 (4 years)

Career Record: 109-56 (14 years)

 

Ball State went 5-7 in a rebuilding year last season, but it won’t be long before the Cardinals are back in contention for a bowl or the MAC title. Under Lembo’s watch, Ball State is 30-20 and has won 21 of 32 conference matchups over the last four years. Additionally, Lembo guided the Cardinals to back-to-back bowl games from 2012-13. Lembo’s success isn’t limited to just Ball State. He went 35-22 in five years at Elon and 44-14 in five seasons at Lehigh.

 

61. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

Record at Air Force: 59-44 (8 years)

Career Record: 59-44 (8 years)

 

Calhoun is the longest-tenured Mountain West coach at his current job. Over the last eight years, Calhoun has led Air Force to 59 wins and seven bowl appearances. After a 2-10 mark in 2013, the Falcons rebounded with their best season under Calhoun with a 10-3 record in ‘14. 

 

62. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado

Record at Colorado: 6-18 (2 years)

Career Record: 22-39 (5 years)

 

MacIntyre didn’t inherit much to work with when he replaced Jon Embree after the 2012 season. The Buffaloes are 6-18 over the last two years and have won only one contest in conference play. While the overall record isn’t pretty, MacIntyre has this program on the right track. Colorado lost four Pac-12 games by five points or less last season, and with an experienced roster returning in 2015, the Buffaloes should show progress in the win column. Prior to Colorado, MacIntyre went 16-21 at San Jose State, including a 15-9 mark over the final two years. MacIntyre should move up this list in the coming seasons.

 

63. Kevin Wilson, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 14-34 (4 years)

Career Record: 14-34 (4 years)

 

Indiana is one of the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, but Wilson has this program moving in the right direction. The Hoosiers won only one game in Wilson’s first year (2011), improved to 4-8 in 2012 and just missed on a bowl game in '13 by finishing 5-7. Bad luck hit Indiana last season, as this program was poised to hit six wins but starting quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost midway through the year with a shoulder injury. Sudfeld is back in 2015, giving the Hoosiers an opportunity to push for six wins once again. Considering Wilson’s background on offense, along with Indiana’s production on that side of the ball over the last four years, scoring points won’t be a problem. However, the defense has allowed six yards per play in Big Ten games in five consecutive seasons. That must be addressed for this program to move forward.

 

64. Larry Fedora, North Carolina

Record at North Carolina: 21-17 (3 years)

Career Record: 55-36 (7 years)

 

The ongoing NCAA investigation/uncertainty at North Carolina certainly isn’t helping Fedora’s tenure in Chapel Hill. However, the Tar Heels have regressed in wins since posting an 8-4 record in 2012. North Carolina finished 7-6 in 2013 and slipped to 6-7 in 2014. Aside from the regression in the win column, the biggest concern for Fedora has to be fixing a defense that ranked 14th in the ACC in yards per play allowed. The hire of Gene Chizik as the team’s coordinator should address that side of the ball, and North Carolina has one of the league’s most talented offenses in place. Could 2015 be the best year of Fedora’s tenure with the Tar Heels?

 

65. Paul Chryst, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: First Year

Career Record: 19-19 (3 years)

 

Gary Andersen surprisingly departed Wisconsin for Oregon State this offseason, but the Badgers were able to turn to a familiar name in Chryst. After three years as Pittsburgh’s head coach, Chryst is coming back to Madison to guide a program that has won at least 10 games in four out of the last six seasons. In addition to being a Madison native, Chryst played quarterback for the Badgers and served as an assistant with the program in 2002 and again from 2005-11. There’s no denying that Chryst is an excellent fit at Wisconsin. However, he was only 19-19 in three seasons with the Panthers.  

 

Related: Wisconsin RB Corey Clement is a Player on the Rise for 2015

 

66. Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

Record at Wake Forest: 3-9 (1 year)

Career Record: 93-88 (15 years)

 

Prior to taking over at Wake Forest, Clawson was a successful head coach at three previous stops. From 1999-2003, Clawson went 29-29 at Fordham, with 19 of those victories coming in the final two seasons. After five years with the Rams, Clawson went 29-20 with two FCS playoff appearances at Richmond, followed by a 32-30 mark at Bowling Green from 2009-13. Clawson didn’t inherit a loaded roster and finished 3-9 with just one of those wins coming in conference play. However, Clawson seems to have Wake Forest moving in the right direction with a talented, young core in place for 2015 and '16.  

 

67. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois

Record at Northern Illinois: 23-6 (2 years)

Career Record: 23-6 (2 years)

 

Carey has continued to keep Northern Illinois at the top of the MAC in his two years in DeKalb. The Wisconsin native inherited a loaded team from former coach Dave Doeren and guided the Huskies to a 12-2 mark in 2013. Northern Illinois finished 7-1 in conference play last season and claimed the MAC Championship with a blowout 51-17 win over Bowling Green. In two years, Carey has won 23 games and has lost only once in MAC play.

 

68. Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh

Record at Pittsburgh: First Season

Career Record: First Season

 

If we are buying stock in coaches for 2016 and beyond, Narduzzi is on the must-have list. The former Michigan State coordinator is ready to be a head coach after leading one of the nation’s top defenses from 2007-14. The Spartans ranked in the top five nationally for fewest yards per play and points allowed per game from 2011-13. Narduzzi’s defense was a big reason why Michigan State won at least 11 games in four out of the last five years. Pittsburgh is on its fourth coach in six seasons. However, Narduzzi seems like the right coach at the right time for the Panthers. 

 

Related: Grading College Football's New Coaching Hires for 2015

 

69. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan

Record at Western Michigan: 9-16 (2 years)

Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)

 

Western Michigan showed marked improvement in Fleck’s second season, and the Broncos will be picked near the top of the MAC once again in 2015. After a seven-win jump from 2013 to ‘14, Fleck has proven he is not just an ace recruiter. Western Michigan has recorded the top signing class in back-to-back years and is coming off a solid 8-5 record. The arrow on Fleck and this program is clearly pointing up going into 2015.

 

70. Matt Rhule, Temple

Record at Temple: 8-16 (2 years)

Career Record: 8-16 (2 years)

 

Temple is trending in the right direction entering Rhule’s third season. The Owls went 2-10 in Rhule’s debut (2013), but lost seven games by 10 points or less. Temple took a step forward last year by improving to 6-6 and winning games against Vanderbilt and East Carolina. Prior to taking over as Temple’s head coach, Rhule was an assistant with the New York Giants and worked with the Owls as an assistant from 2006-11. The 2015 version of Rhule’s team should be his best yet.

 

71. Tom Herman, Houston

Record at Houston: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

After a successful run as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator (2012-14), Herman is ready for his opportunity to run a program. The Ohio native lands at a solid program too, as Houston as the resources to be one of the top contenders in the American Athletic Conference on an annual basis. Prior to the last three years with the Buckeyes, Herman spent time as an offensive coordinator at Iowa State (2009-11), Rice (2007-08) and Texas State (2005-06).

 

72. Chad Morris, SMU

Record at SMU: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Morris is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. After a one-year stint as Tulsa’s play-caller in 2010, Morris was hired to coordinate Clemson’s offense and was a key piece of the Tigers’ recent success over the last four years. The Tigers averaged at least 30 points in each of Morris’ four seasons, including back-to-back years of at least 40 points (2012-13). This is Morris’ first opportunity to be a head coach on the collegiate level, but he was a successful high school coach from 1994-2009. As a Texas native and with connections to the high school level, Morris should have no trouble recruiting to SMU. This should be a great hire for the Mustangs. 

 

73. Mark Stoops, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 7-17 (2 years)

Career Record: 7-17 (2 years)

 

Kentucky is making progress under Stoops, making the jump from two wins in 2013 to five in '14. The Wildcats also went 2-6 in SEC play last year, equaling the amount of conference victories recorded from 2012-13. Kentucky was close to bowl eligibility in 2014, losing to Florida by six in three overtimes and by four to Louisville in the regular-season finale. The overall talent level and direction of this program have each improved since Stoops took over after the 2012 season. The next challenge is getting Kentucky to the postseason. With 12 starters back, that could happen this fall.

 

74. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina

Record at East Carolina: 37-27 (5 years)

Career Record: 38-27 (5+ years)

 

McNeill has successfully transitioned East Carolina from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference, and the Pirates will remain a factor in the league despite the departure of quarterback Shane Carden and receiver Justin Hardy. McNeill is a former ECU player, and before taking the head coaching job, he spent one year as an assistant with the program in 1992. McNeill is 37-27 over the last five years in Greenville, with the Pirates winning 26 games over the last three seasons.

 

75. Frank Solich, Ohio

Record at Ohio: 72-56 (10 years)

Career Record: 130-75 (16 years)

 

Solich is the MAC’s longest-tenured coach, entering his 11th season at the helm. Ohio has won at least four games in each of Solich’s 10 years and has played in six bowls. The Bobcats went 10-4 in 2011 and won nine games in ‘12. And entering the 2015 season, Ohio has a streak of six years without a losing overall record.

 

76. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

Record at Louisiana Tech: 13-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 101-84 (15 years)

 

Holtz is coaching at his fourth FBS program and eclipsed 100 wins in his career in 2014. After a 16-21 three-year stint at USF, Holtz landed at Louisiana Tech and guided the Bulldogs to a Conference USA West Division title last season. Holtz also has successful stops on his resume from UConn (34 wins) and East Carolina (38 victories).

 

77. Terry Bowden, Akron

Record at Akron: 11-25 (3 years)

Career Record: 151-87-2 (21 years)

 

Improvement has been noticeable for Akron under Bowden’s watch. After a 1-11 mark in 2012, the Zips have recorded back-to-back five-win campaigns. But Akron is still looking to take the next step and reach a bowl. With 10 starters and a few transfers from Power 5 teams, the Zips should have a good chance to reach six wins in 2015. Bowden was successful at previous stops at Auburn and North Alabama. It shouldn’t be much longer before Akron takes a step forward and becomes a consistent bowl team.

 

78. Matt Campbell, Toledo

Record at Toledo: 26-13 (3+ years)

Career Record: 26-13 (3+ years)

 

Campbell is one of college football’s youngest head coaches at 35 years old, and through three full seasons, the former Mount Union defensive lineman has guided Toledo to 26 wins. The Rockets tied for the MAC West title in 2014 but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with Northern Illinois. Campbell is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and with running back Kareem Hunt returning for 2015, Toledo should be among the favorites to win the conference this year.

 

79. David Bailiff, Rice

Record at Rice: 48-53 (8 years)

Career Record: 69-68 (11 years)

 

Bailiff has quietly transformed Rice into a consistent winner during his eight years with the program. The Owls won 25 games and appeared in three consecutive bowl matchups from 2012-14 and are one of the frontrunners to win the West Division in 2015. Rice is not an easy job, but Bailiff has won 48 games over the last eight years and the 2013 Conference USA Championship.

 

80. Doc Holliday, Marshall

Record at Marshall: 40-25 (5 years)

Career Record: 40-25 (5 years)

 

Holliday was known as an ace recruiter when he was hired at Marshall in 2010, but the West Virginia native has proven he’s more than just a Signing Day specialist. The Thundering Herd has won 40 games under Holliday’s watch and has played in back-to-back Conference USA Championship games. Also, Marshall has 23 wins over the last two seasons and finished No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll in 2014.

 

81. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

Record at Texas Tech: 12-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 12-13 (2 years)

 

Kingsbury was one of the nation’s top assistants when he was tapped to replace Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech in 2013. And the Red Raiders started Kingsbury’s tenure on a high note, winning their first seven games and jumping as high as No. 16 in the Associated Press poll. But Texas Tech lost its last five regular season games and used a bowl victory over Arizona State to finish 8-5. 2014 was a step back for Kingsbury, as the Red Raiders slipped to 4-8 and recorded three wins by seven points or less against Central Arkansas, UTEP and Iowa State. There’s no doubt Kingsbury is one of the Big 12’s top offensive minds and will have his unit performing at a high level. However, fixing the defense has to be a priority after allowing 42.8 points in Big 12 games in 2014. Hiring David Gibbs should pay dividends for the defense, which should allow Texas Tech to return to the postseason in 2015.

 

Related: Texas Tech Needs David Gibbs to Reverse Defensive Woes

 

82. Dino Babers, Bowling Green

Record at Bowling Green: 8-6 (1 year)

Career Record: 27-13 (3 years)

 

Babers turned in a solid 8-6 record in his debut at Bowling Green last season. The Falcons managed to overcome the loss of starting quarterback Matt Johnson in the season opener to claim the MAC East title. Babers came to Bowling Green after a 19-7 record in two years at Eastern Illinois. With Johnson back under center, along with a standout core of offensive talent, Babers’ “Falcon Fast” offense should take flight in 2015.

 

83. Rocky Long, San Diego State

Record at San Diego State: 32-20 (4 years)

Career Record: 97-89 (15 years)

 

Long enters his fifth season at San Diego State with 32 wins over the last four years, and the Aztecs begin 2015 as the frontrunner to win the Mountain West’s West Division. Long has led the program to four consecutive bowl appearances, and his success in the Mountain West also extends to his tenure at New Mexico. Long was the head coach in Albuquerque from 1998-2008, during which he won 65 games. Long is a steady winner with a proven track record in the Mountain West.

 

84. Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State

Record at Fresno State: 26-14 (3 years)

Career Record: 27-14 (3+ years)

 

DeRuyter enters his fourth season at Fresno State looking to rebound after a 6-8 campaign. In DeRuyter’s first two years, the Bulldogs went 20-6 and claimed at least a share of the Mountain West title in both seasons. The program took a step back in 2014 without quarterback Derek Carr but still managed to win the West Division title with a 5-3 record in conference play. One mark for DeRuyter to improve on in 2015: Getting Fresno State a bowl victory. The Bulldogs are 0-3 in the postseason under DeRuyter and lost each game by at least 20 points.

 

85. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

Record at Iowa State: 29-46 (6 years)

Career Record: 29-46 (6 years)

 

Iowa State is one of the nation’s toughest Power 5 jobs. The in-state recruiting base is small, the Big 12 slate isn’t easy and you have to be good at developing talent or mining the junior college ranks for quick fixes. As an Iowa native, Rhoads knows all about the challenges of coaching in Ames. He also served as an assistant with the Cyclones in 1995-99. In six years as the program’s head coach, Rhoads is 29-46 overall with three bowl appearances. Iowa State has slipped after earning back-to-back bowl bids in 2011-12 with a 5-19 mark over the last two years. Rhoads is a good coach that can squeeze the most out of his roster. However, after a winless record in Big 12 play, Rhoads needs to get the program back to qualifying for a bowl game.

 

86. Rick Stockstill, MTSU

Record at MTSU: 57-55 (9 years)

Career Record: 57-55 (9 years)

 

Stockstill is the dean of Conference USA coaches. In nine years with MTSU, Stockstill has guided the program to four bowl appearances and has only one losing record in the last four seasons. The Blue Raiders also have a winning mark in C-USA play in each of the last three years. Stockstill’s best season at MTSU took place in 2009, as the Blue Raiders finished 10-3 and claimed a victory in the New Orleans Bowl.

 

87. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion

Record at Old Dominion: 52-20 (6 years)

Career Record: 52-20 (6 years)

 

Wilder has guided Old Dominion from start-up program to a bowl contender in the FBS ranks. The Monarchs restarted football in 2009 and went 17-5 as a FCS independent from 2009-10. Wilder guided ODU to playoff appearances in 2011-12, with a program-best 11-2 record in ‘12. And in the Monarchs’ first season at the FBS level, Old Dominion finished 6-6 and went .500 in C-USA play. Wilder is a coach on the rise and will be a name to remember for coaching searches at Power 5 jobs if the program continues to progress.

 

88. Tim Beckman, Illinois

Record at Illinois: 12-25 (3 years)

Career Record: 33-41 (6 years
 

Beckman enters 2015 facing a make-or-break year at Illinois. The Fighting Illini have showed some improvement in Beckman’s tenure by increasing their win total by two games in each year after a 2-10 mark in 2012. Illinois finished 4-8 in 2013 and improved to 6-7 with a 3-5 mark in Big Ten play in 2014. While improvement has been noticeable in the overall win column, this program is just 4-20 in Big Ten games over the last three years and has not finished higher than fifth in its division. Beckman’s tenure got off to a rough start, but things have stabilized over the last two years. A few more wins this fall would help Beckman ensure a fifth season.

 

89. Kyle Flood, Rutgers

Record at Rutgers: 23-16 (3 years)

Career Record: 23-16 (3 years)

 

Rutgers was one of the Big Ten’s biggest surprises last year. In the Scarlet Knights’ debut in their new conference, Flood guided the program to an 8-5 record and a 3-5 mark in Big Ten play. Rutgers improved late in the season and finished with wins in three out of their last four games, including a 40-21 victory over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl. The 8-5 record in 2014 was the second winning mark during Flood’s tenure, as he finished 9-4 in his debut (2012) and finished 2013 with a 6-7 mark. Keeping Rutgers in bowl contention in the Big Ten East will be a challenge in 2015. And Flood’s task was made even more difficult when Ralph Friedgen decided not to return to his staff in 2015. Flood was on the hot seat entering 2014, but a solid 8-5 record in the first season of Big Ten play has reduced some of the pressure on him.

 

90. Joey Jones, South Alabama

Record at South Alabama: 37-28 (6 years)

Career Record: 40-35 (7 years)

 

Jones started the South Alabama program from scratch and has guided the Jaguars to five seasons of at least six wins. And South Alabama is trending up after making the program’s first bowl appearance last year. Jones has plenty of roots within the state of Alabama, playing for the Crimson Tide under Bear Bryant and spending time as a high school head coach at Dora and Mountain Brook. The Jaguars return only five starters for 2015, but Jones should keep this team in contention for another bowl.

 

91. Dennis Franchione, Texas State

Record at Texas State: 36-34 (6 years)

Career Record: 210-126-2 (29 years)

 

Texas State has been on the cusp of reaching the program’s first bowl appearance under Franchione. Can the Bobcats take the next step in 2015? Franchione has guided the program to at least six wins in three out of the last four seasons, including a 7-5 mark in 2014. While Franchione has been solid at Texas State, he’s better known for his stops at Alabama (2001-02), Texas A&M (2003-07) and TCU (1998-00). In his 29-year coaching career, Franchione has recorded 210 wins.

 

92. Todd Berry, ULM

Record at ULM: 27-34 (5 years)

Career Record: 56-93 (13 years)

 

ULM is not an easy job, but Berry has been able to transform the Warhawks into a consistent threat for bowl appearances. ULM has won at least four games in each of Berry’s five years and won 14 contests from 2012-13, which included a bowl appearance in ‘12. With a 13-game slate and uncertainty at quarterback, reaching a bowl this season won’t be easy for ULM. However, Berry has a solid defense, and the Warhawks will be a tough out once again in the Sun Belt.

 

93. Mark Whipple, UMass

Record at UMass: 52-35 (7 years)

Career Record: 124-68 (17 years)

 

Whipple returned to UMass after a 10-year absence and guided the Minutemen to a 3-9 record in his debut. While the 3-9 mark might not seem like much, UMass was significantly more competitive than under Charley Molnar and the three wins was more than the program recorded from 2012-13 combined. Whipple has won 52 games in seven years as the head coach at UMass, including a FCS Championship in 1998.With 18 starters returning, the Minutemen could challenge for a bowl in 2015.

 

94. Dan McCarney, North Texas

Record at North Texas: 22-27 (4 years)

Career Record: 78-112 (16 years)

 

McCarney enters his fifth season at North Texas still looking to push the program into consistent C-USA West contender status. The Mean Green has one bowl appearance (2013) under McCarney’s direction, but has three losing seasons as well. McCarney also coached from 1996-2006 at Iowa State, guiding the Cyclones to five bowl appearances over his final seven years in Ames. 

 

95. Larry Coker, UTSA

Record at UTSA: 23-23 (4 years)

Career Record: 83-38 (10 years)

 

UTSA has made the successful transition from FCS to the FBS ranks. Now, Coker has the difficult task of rebuilding a roster that returns just three starters for 2015 and loses several other key contributors. The Roadrunners are 23-23 under Coker’s direction and won 15 games from 2012-13. However, UTSA underachieved at 4-8 last year and won its three games in conference play by seven points or less. Coker has a national championship on his resume from six years at Miami and has been instrumental in getting UTSA’s program off of the ground.

 

96. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State

Record at Appalachian State: 11-13 (2 years)

Career Record: 11-13 (2 years)

 

Satterfield is a coach on the rise. The former Appalachian State quarterback had the tough assignment of replacing Jerry Moore in 2013, and the Mountaineers went 4-8 in his debut. The program transitioned to the FBS ranks last season, and Satterfield’s team finished with a 7-5 mark, including a 4-4 record in the Sun Belt. With 20 starters returning, Appalachian State should be one of the favorites to win the conference in 2015.

 

97. Sean Kugler, UTEP

Record at UTEP: 9-16 (2 years)

Career Record: 9-16 (2 years)

 

UTEP showed considerable progress in Kugler’s second season after a 2-10 mark in 2013. The Miners finished 7-6 and played in the New Mexico Bowl – the program’s first postseason appearance since 2010. As a former offensive line coach, it’s no surprise Kugler emphasizes the running game and toughness. UTEP should be in the mix for a bowl once again in 2015.

 

98. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky

Record at WKU: 8-5 (1 year)

Career Record: 8-5 (1 year)

 

Brohm is a coach that could easily climb this list by the end of the 2015 season. WKU finished 8-5 in Brohm’s debut, which included a thrilling 49-48 victory over Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl. Behind prolific quarterback Brandon Doughty, WKU is the frontrunner to win Conference USA in 2015. Judging by Brohm’s first season and what’s to come next year, this program is in good hands for the foreseeable future.

 

99. Willie Taggart, USF

Record at USF: 6-18 (2 years)

Career Record: 22-38 (5 years)

 

Taggart was considered one of the top coaching hires in 2013, but USF is only 6-18 in his first two years. Taggart enters 2015 squarely on the hot seat, and the Florida native hopes a revamped offensive style and staff helps to push the program in the right direction. Taggart has recruited well, so there’s no shortage of talent in place. How quickly will the talent and unproven players mesh with the scheme? Prior to USF, Taggart went 16-20 at Western Kentucky, including a 14-10 mark over the final two years.

 

100. Darrell Hazell, Purdue

Record at Purdue: 4-20 (2 years)

Career Record: 20-30 (4 years)

 

After guiding Kent State to a 16-10 record in two years, including an impressive 11-3 mark in 2012, Hazell appeared to be the right coach for Purdue. After two years with the Boilermakers, however, it's apparent that there’s still a lot of work ahead for Hazell. Purdue is only 4-20 over the last two seasons and has won only one game in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers had two losses in conference play by seven points or less, but lost three out of their last four games by 15 points or more. Hazell has made small gains through his first two years. However, plenty of work remains going into 2015, and Hazell needs to show progress in year three.

 

101. Lance Leipold, Buffalo

Record at Buffalo: First Year

Career Record: 109-6 (8 years)

 

Leipold was one of the top coaching hires this offseason, as he heads to Buffalo after eight successful years at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks won 109 games and six national championships under Leipold’s watch. The Bulls could be a dark horse to contend in the MAC East this year, as Leipold inherits a talented offense (his specialty) and senior quarterback Joe Licata.

 

102. Mike London, Virginia

Record at Virginia: 23-38 (5 years)

Career Record: 47-43 (7 years)

 

London entered 2014 on the hot seat but managed to earn another season in Charlottesville after the Cavaliers finished 5-7 and lost five games by eight points or less. London enters 2015 in the same situation, as his contact expires at the end of 2016 and there’s pressure to get Virginia back into a bowl game after three consecutive losing seasons. Recruiting has been a strength for London and his staff, with the Cavaliers averaging a 31.8 finish nationally since 2011. The 31.8 mark ranks No. 6 among ACC teams, ahead of three other Coastal Division teams in Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Duke. But despite the success on the recruiting trail, Virginia has won only five games in ACC play over the last three seasons. 2015 is a make-or-break year for London.

 

103. Scott Shafer, Syracuse

Record at Syracuse: 10-15 (2 years)

Career Record: 10-15 (2 years)

 

Shafer went 7-6 in his first season at Syracuse (2013), but the Orange regressed to 3-9 last season. The four-win decline had a lot to do with injuries to key players, including quarterback Terrel Hunt. Improving the offense has to be a priority for Shafer and coordinator Tim Lester, especially since the Orange managed only 24 points in their final three games. Prior to Shafer’s promotion to head coach, he worked as a defensive coordinator with the Orange from 2009-12. Additionally, he made stops as an assistant at Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Illinois and Northern Illinois. Syracuse seemed to be trending in the right direction after 2013. But after a three-win campaign last year, can Shafer get the program back into contention for a bowl? With a new athletic director coming, the pressure is on Shafer to produce.

 

104. Mike Bobo, Colorado State

Record at Colorado State: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Bobo has spent most of his life in the state of Georgia, so moving to Colorado will be a definite change of scenery for the former SEC quarterback. After spending 1993-97 under center for the Bulldogs, Bobo worked as a coach with the program from 1998-99 and again from 2001-14. Bobo was promoted to call the plays for Georgia in 2007 and coordinated an offense that led the SEC last season by averaging 41.3 points per game. Bobo has never been a college head coach. However, this seems like a good hire for a program like Colorado State.

 

105. Blake Anderson, Arkansas State

Record at Arkansas State: 7-6 (1 year)

Career Record: 7-6 (1 year)

 

The arrow on Anderson’s coaching career is pointing up. Arkansas State went 7-6 in Anderson’s debut, but the Red Wolves are among the favorites to win the Sun Belt in 2015. Prior to taking the job in Jonesboro, Anderson was an assistant at North Carolina, Southern Miss, UL Lafayette, MTSU and New Mexico. Last year, Anderson represented the fifth coach at Arkansas State in five years, and the stability of the coaching staff for 2015 should pay dividends.

 

106. Curtis Johnson, Tulane

Record at Tulane: 12-25 (3 years)

Career Record: 12-25 (3 years)

 

As a New Orleans native and former assistant with the Saints, Johnson is familiar with Tulane and what it takes to win in the Big Easy. The job is a challenging one, but an on-campus stadium should help Johnson recruit and rebuild this program. The Green Wave went 2-10 in Johnson’s first year (2012) but rebounded into the postseason with a 7-6 mark in 2013. Tulane finished 3-9 in 2014, and there’s hope for a turnaround in 2015 with 13 returning starters.  

 

107. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Record at Vanderbilt: 
3-9 (1 year)
Career Record: 3-9 (1 year)

 

James Franklin left big shoes to fill in Nashville after leading the Commodores to three consecutive bowl appearances. While repeating that success in the first year was going to be tough for Mason, Vanderbilt slipped to 3-9 and went winless in SEC play for the first time since 2009. The Commodores also lost four conference games by 20 or more points, and two of their three wins came by less than three points. Mason plans on taking over the defensive play-calling duties in 2015 and a staff overhaul should help the offense improve after averaging only 12.8 points per game in SEC contests. Mason had plenty of success as a coordinator at Stanford. Will the Commodores show big improvement in year two?

 

108. Brian Polian, Nevada

Record at Nevada: 11-14 (2 years)

Career Record: 11-14 (2 years)

 

Nevada made steady progress in Polian’s second year. After a 4-8 record in his 2013 debut, the Wolf Pack finished 7-6 and 4-4 in conference play last season. Nevada also returned to the postseason after a one-year absence with a trip to the New Orleans Bowl, defeated one Power 5 opponent (Washington State), while losing by just seven points to another (Arizona). Polian has Nevada moving in the right direction. However, improving on the win total in 2015 could be difficult without quarterback Cody Fajardo. 

 

109. Chuck Martin, Miami (Ohio)

Record at Miami (Ohio): 2-10 (1 year)

Career Record: 76-17 (7 years)

 

Miami (Ohio) won only two games in Martin’s first season, but the RedHawks were more competitive and there’s a promising outlook for this program headed into 2015. The former Notre Dame assistant took over in Oxford after spending four years under Brian Kelly at Notre Dame and worked from 2004-09 as the head coach at Grand Valley State. The Lakers went 74-7 with two Division II championships under Martin’s watch. It may take another year or two for Miami to get back to a bowl, but Martin has this program trending in the right direction.

 

110. Jeff Monken, Army West Point

Record at Army: 4-8 (1 year)

Career Record: 42-24 (5 years)

 

Army West Point is one of college football’s toughest coaching jobs, and Monken has plenty of work to do with just six returning starters in 2015. The Black Knights went 4-8 in Monken’s debut last season but also suffered a surprising 49-43 loss at Yale in late September. Prior to the 2014 season at Army, Monken went 38-16 in four years at Georgia Southern. Monken is a good fit at West Point, but he needs more time to rebuild a program that has only one winning record since 1997.

 

111. Bob Davie, New Mexico

Record at New Mexico: 11-26 (3 years)

Career Record: 46-51 (8 years)

 

Davie inherited a major rebuilding project in 2012, and the Lobos have made noticeable improvement over the last three years. New Mexico is only 11-26 under Davie’s watch, but the Lobos just missed on a bowl last year after losing three games by seven points or less. With 11 returning starters and more overall depth in the program, 2015 will be a critical year for Davie and the Lobos.

 

112. Bob Diaco, UConn

Record at UConn: 2-10 (1 year)

Career Record: 2-10 (1 year)

 

Diaco was regarded as one of the nation’s rising stars in the assistant ranks after coordinating Notre Dame’s defense from 2010-13. Under Diaco’s watch, the Fighting Irish finished No. 2 nationally in scoring defense in 2012. But Diaco’s first year guiding the UConn program was a struggle, as the Huskies finished 2-10 and lost the final four games of 2014.

 

113. Todd Monken, Southern Miss

Record at Southern Miss: 4-20 (2 years)

Career Record: 4-20 (2 years)

 

Southern Miss has fallen on hard times recently, as the Golden Eagles were once one of the annual contenders in Conference USA but has failed to record a winning record since 2011. Monken has a tough job and needs a few years to rebuild the talent and overall depth of the roster. Southern Miss did improve its win total by two games in Monken’s second year. The Golden Eagles are on the right path. 

 

114. Trent Miles, Georgia State

Record at Georgia State: 1-23 (2 years)

Career Record: 21-59 (7 years)

 

Georgia State is struggling to put all of the pieces together since reaching the FBS level, and Miles is just 1-23 with the Panthers over the last two years. But prior to Georgia State, Miles turned around Indiana State’s struggling program, guiding the Sycamores to three winning records from 2010-12. There’s a lot of work ahead for Miles in Atlanta.

 

115. Neal Brown, Troy

Record at Troy: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Brown is one of the nation’s youngest head coaches (35) and has the tough assignment of following Larry Blakeney after the long-time coach retired at the end of last season. Brown is known for his offensive background and has stops as an assistant in his career at Texas Tech and Kentucky. Brown previously worked at Troy as an assistant from 2006-09. The Kentucky native is unproven, but he should be a good hire for the Trojans.

 

116. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa

Record at Tulsa: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Montgomery is tasked with turning around a Tulsa program that slipped to a 5-19 record in the final two years under Bill Blankenship. Montgomery has never been a head coach on the collegiate level, but he worked under Art Briles at Baylor from 2006-14 and Houston from 2003-05. Montgomery’s background on offense should be a good fit for Tulsa.

 

117. Ron Caragher, San Jose State

Record at San Jose State: 9-15 (2 years)

Career Record: 53-37 (8 years)

 

Caragher had the tough assignment of following Mike MacIntyre, who left for Colorado at the end of the 2012 season. And after two years with the program, Caragher is starting to feel a little heat. The Spartans finished just 6-6 in 2013 with standout quarterback David Fales at the helm and slipped to 3-9 last season. There is optimism at San Jose State in 2015, as the program returns 12 starters and inked one of the Mountain West’s top signing classes this year.

 

118. David Beaty, Kansas

Record at Kansas: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Beaty is a former Kansas assistant and comes to Lawrence after a three-year stint at Texas A&M. He has never been a head coach, but the Jayhawks hope his recruiting ties to Texas and previous experience at Kansas help to turn around a program that has not won more than three games in each of the last five years. Beaty retained last year’s interim coach Clint Bowen but isn’t inheriting much to work with going into 2015 and just getting to three or four wins would be a good year for the Jayhawks. With a lack of head coaching experience and only two years as a coordinator on the collegiate level, Beaty is still largely an unknown.

 

119. Paul Haynes, Kent State

Record at Kent State: 6-17 (2 years)

Career Record: 6-17 (2 years)

 

Haynes is a Kent State alumnus and came to the program after working as an assistant at Ohio State and Arkansas. However, the Ohio native has struggled in his two years as Kent State’s head coach. The Golden Flashes are just 6-17 during that span and finished 2-9 last year. With the addition of Don Treadwell as the team’s offensive play-caller, Haynes hopes to jumpstart an offense that averaged only 16.4 points per game last season. The seat is starting to warm just a bit for Haynes as he enters Year 3.

 

120. Chris Creighton, Eastern Michigan

Record at Eastern Michigan: 2-10 (1 year)

Career Record: 142-56 (18 years)

 

Eastern Michigan might be the toughest place to coach in the FBS ranks. Needless to say, Creighton has a tough assignment ahead, as EMU has not recorded a winning season since 1995. The Eagles went 2-10 in Creighton’s debut but has a more manageable schedule to show improvement in 2015. Prior to taking over in Ypsilanti, Creighton went 42-22 at Drake, 63-15 at Wabash and 32-9 at Ottawa.

 

121. Doug Martin, New Mexico State

Record at New Mexico State: 4-20 (2 years)

Career Record: 33-73 (9 years)

 

Similar to Idaho’s Paul Petrino, Martin walked into a difficult job and needs more time to be evaluated. Martin is just 4-20 through two years with the Aggies, and he went 29-53 in seven seasons as Kent State’s coach from 2004-10.

 

122. Paul Petrino, Idaho

Record at Idaho: 2-21 (2 years)

Career Record: 2-21 (2 years)

 

Idaho is a tough job, and Petrino took over in Moscow with some uncertainty about the program’s conference home. The Vandals landed in the Sun Belt and struggled in their return to the conference (1-10 in 2014). Petrino inherited a rebuilding project, and through two seasons, there’s still plenty of work to do.

 

123. Ron Turner, FIU

Record at FIU: 5-19 (2 years)

Career Record: 47-80 (11 years)

 

FIU showed small signs of life in Turner’s second season. After a 1-11 record in 2013, the Panthers finished 4-8 in 2014 and defeated rival FAU 38-10. Turner was a curious hire for this program, and there’s still plenty for this coaching staff to prove in 2015. However, there’s a good core of young talent in place and one of the conference’s best defenses for Turner to build around.

 

124. Charlie Partridge, FAU

Record at FAU: 3-9 (1 year)

Career Record: 3-9 (1 year)

 

Partridge is known for his recruiting ability, so it’s no surprise FAU reeled in the No. 2 signing class in Conference USA from 2015. However, the Owls went 3-9 in Partridge’s first season and won only two games in conference play. With 11 returning starters and standout quarterback Jaquez Johnson back in the mix, Partridge has a good opportunity to take this program a step forward in 2015.

 

125. Norm Chow, Hawaii

Record at Hawaii: 8-29 (3 years)

Career Record: 8-29 (3 years)

 

After winning just eight games in three years, there’s a ton of pressure on Chow to push Hawaii up in the Mountain West standings in 2015. The Rainbow Warriors have failed to win more than four games in a season under Chow’s watch, but are coming off their best showing in Mountain West play (3-5). With 12 returning starters and USC transfer Max Wittek at quarterback, Chow has plenty of reasons to expect improvement. However, if Hawaii finishes its fourth consecutive year with at least nine losses, Chow will have a tough time making a case to return in 2016.

 

126. Tony Sanchez, UNLV

Record at UNLV: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Hiring a head coach from the high school ranks is a risky move, but Sanchez is worth the gamble for UNLV. The Rebels have only two seasons of more than five wins since 2001 and have four years of double-digit losses over the last five seasons. Sanchez has only one year of collegiate coaching experience (1996 at New Mexico State), but the California native was one of the nation’s top high school coaches, going 85-5 at Las Vegas prep powerhouse Bishop Gorman from 2009-14. Sure, Sanchez is unproven and risky. But there’s also something to like about UNLV thinking outside of the box for this hire. 

 

127. Brad Lambert, Charlotte

Record at Charlotte: 10-12 (2 years)

Career Record: 10-12 (2 years)

 

Lambert has a difficult assignment for the next few years. The former Wake Forest defensive coordinator is trying to follow the path of fellow C-USA members UTSA and Old Dominion in transitioning from the FCS level to the FBS ranks. The 49ers are 10-12 since starting their football program, but have yet to beat a team from the FBS level.

 

128. John Bonamego, Central Michigan

Record at Central Michigan: First Year

Career Record: First Year

 

Bonamego takes over at Central Michigan after Dan Enos left to be the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. Bonamego is no stranger to Central Michigan, as he played quarterback and wide receiver for the Chippewas. While the familiarity is important, Bonamego has never been a head coach, let alone an offensive or defensive coordinator at the FBS level. Bonamego was the Detroit Lions’ special teams coordinator when he was hired to replace Enos and previously worked with the Jaguars, Saints, Packers and Dolphins in a similar role.

Teaser:
Ranking All 128 College Football Head Coaches for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2015-all-conference-team
Body:

The Mountain West hopes for a repeat of 2014 this year, as Boise State was the top Group of 5 team and played in one of college football’s biggest bowl games. The Broncos are the favorite to reach that mark once again this season, and there’s depth in the Mountain West with Utah State, Colorado State and San Diego State.

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the Mountain West last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

Related: 2015 Mountain West Predictions

 

Mountain West Conference 2015 Team Previews
Mountain Division
 
National
Rank:
832571965195
West Division
 
National
Rank:
1011149168110122

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

Athlon's 2015 All-Mountain West Team
 First-Team
Offense
Second-Team
Offense
Third-Team
Offense
Fourth-Team
Offense
QBChuckie Keeton
Utah State 
Ryan Finley
Boise State 
Nick Stevens
Colorado State 
Nate Romine
Air Force 
RBDonnel Pumphrey
SDSU 
Shaun Wick
Wyoming 
James Butler
Nevada 
Dalyn Dawkins
Colorado State 
RBMarteze Waller
Fresno State 
Jhurell Pressley
New Mexico 
Don Jackson
Nevada 
LaJuan Hunt
Utah State 
APJoJo Natson*
Utah State 
Jacobi Owens (RB)
Air Force 
Tyler Ervin (RB)
SJSU 
Brian Hill (RB)
Wyoming 
WRRashard Higgins
Colorado State    
Tyler Winston
SJSU 
Hasaan Henderson
Nevada 
Jerico Richardson
Nevada 
WRThomas Sperbeck
Boise State 
Hunter Sharp
USU  
Marcus Kemp
Hawaii 
S. Williams-Rhodes
Boise State 
TEDevonte Boyd (WR)
UNLV 
Jalen Robinette (WR)
Air Force 
Steven Walker
Colorado State 
Jake Roh
Boise State 
CMarcus Henry
Boise State 
Austin Stephens
Utah State 
Ben Clarke
Hawaii 
Bo Bonnheim
Fresno State 
OGFred Zerblis
Colorado State 
Darrell Greene
SDSU 
Travis Averill
Boise State 
Jake Bennett (C)
Colorado State 
OGAndrew Ruechel
Air Force 
Jake Roullier
Wyoming 
Mario Yakoo
Boise State  
Matt Rochell (OT)
Air Force 
OTAlex Fifita
Fresno State 
Sam Carlson
Colorado State 
Reno Henderson
New Mexico 
Wes Schweitzer
SJSU  
OTRees Odhiambo
Boise State 
Jake Simonich
Utah State 
Justin Northern
Fresno State 
Austin Corbett
Nevada 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DLKamalei Correa
Boise State 
Alex Barrett
SDSU 
Rykeem Yates
Nevada 
Todd Hunt
Fresno State  
DLJordan Nielsen
Utah State 
Alex Hansen
Air Force 
Lenny Jones
Nevada 
Jon Sanchez
SDSU  
DLIan Seau
Nevada 

Travis Seefeldt

Utah State 

Joe Kawulok
Colorado State 
Nik D'Avanzo
New Mexico 
DLEddie Yarbrough
Wyoming 
Kennedy Tulimasealii
Hawaii 
Armand Nance
Boise State 
Connor Healy
Air Force 
LBKyler Fackrell
Utah State 
Dakota Cox
New Mexico 
Tau Lotulelei 
UNLV 
Jake Fely
SDSU                 
LBNick Vigil
Utah State 
Cory James
Colorado State 
Kyrie Wilson
Fresno State 
Ben Weaver
Boise State 
LBTanner Vallejo
Boise State 
Calvin Munson
SDSU 
Christian Tago
SJSU 
Jordan Dobrich
Nevada 
CBDonte Deayon
Boise State 
Cleveland Wallace III
SJSU 
Jalen Davis
Utah State 
Ne'Quan Phillips
Hawaii   
CBDamontae Kazee
SDSU 
J.J. Whittaker
SDSU  
Jimmy Pruitt
SJSU 
Charles Washington
Fresno State  
SWeston Steelhammer
Air Force 
Trent Matthews
Colorado State 
Devin Centers
Utah State  
Malik Smith
SDSU 
SDarian Thompson
Boise State 
Peni Vea
UNLV 
Kevin Pierre-Louis
Colorado State 
Trayvon Henderson
Hawaii 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KDonny Hageman
SDSU 
Brent Zuzo
Nevada 
Austin Lopez
SJSU  
Jake Thompson
Utah State  
PAlex Boy
Nevada 
Hayden Hunt
Colorado State 
Garrett Swanson
Fresno State  
Sean Wale
Boise State  
KRDeionte Gaines
Colorado State 
Ridge Jones
New Mexico 
S. Williams-Rhodes
Boise State  
Rashaad Penny
SDSU 
PRJoJo Natson*
Utah State 
Lloyd Mills
SDSU 

Tyler Ervin
SJSU 

S. Williams-Rhodes
Boise State 
Related: 2015 Mountain West Predictions

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 All-Mountain West Team

 FirstSecondThirdFourth

Air Force

Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 

Boise State

Offense: 3
Defense: 4
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0 
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 2

Colorado State

Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 

Fresno State

Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0 

Hawaii

Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 2 
​Sp. Teams: 0

Nevada

Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 3 
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 

New Mexico

Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 1 
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 1 
Defense: 0 
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 

SDSU

Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1 
Offense: 1
Defense: 3 
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1 

SJSU

Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 2 
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 

UNLV

Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 

Utah State

Offense: 2
Defense: 3
​Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 3
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 1 

Wyoming

Offense: 0
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 0
Defense: 0 
​Sp. Teams: 0 
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
​Sp. Teams: 0 

* All-conference teams were selected before Natson's dismissal in late June.

Teaser:
Mountain West Football 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2015-all-conference-team
Body:

The Pac-12 has emerged as college football’s No. 2 conference over the last few seasons, and there’s no shortage of talent returning to the league in 2015. This conference is known for its offense, but the Pac-12 has a good core of proven talent returning on defense.

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the Pac-12 last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

Related: 2015 Pac-12 Predictions, Projected Records and Awards

 

Pac-12 2015 Team Previews

North Division
 
National
Rank: 
47873244666
South Division
 
National
Rank:
30136723631

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 Pac-12 Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 12 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

Athlon's 2015 All-Pac-12 Team
 First-Team
Offense
Second-Team
Offense
Third-Team
Offense
Fourth-Team
Offense
QBCody Kessler
USC 
Jared Goff
California 
Anu Solomon
Arizona 
Vernon Adams
Oregon 
RBDevontae Booker
Utah 
Royce Freeman
Oregon 
Daniel Lasco
California 
Thomas Tyner
Oregon 
RBPaul Perkins
UCLA 
Nick Wilson
Arizona 
Demario Richard
Arizona State 
Storm Woods
Oregon State 
APD.J. Foster 
Arizona State 
Christian McCaffrey
Stanford 
Charles Nelson
Oregon 
Dwayne Washington (RB)
Washington 
WRJuJu Smith
USC 
Jordan Payton
UCLA 
Devon Cajuste
Stanford 
Victor Bolden
Oregon State 
WRNelson Spruce
Colorado 
Kenny Lawler
California 
River Cracraft
Wazzu 
Gabe Marks
Wazzu 
WRCayleb Jones
Arizona 
Byron Marshall
Oregon 
Austin Hooper (TE)
Stanford 

Thomas Duarte (TE)
UCLA 

CMax Tuerk
USC 
Jake Brendel
UCLA 
Nick Kelly
Arizona State 
Alex Kelley
Colorado 
OGToa Lobendahn
USC 
Christian Westerman
Arizona State 
Dexter Charles
Washington 
Vi Teofilo
Arizona State 
OGJoshua Garnett
Stanford 

Viane Talamaivao
USC 

Chris Borrayo
California 
Isaac Seumalo
Oregon State 
OTKyle Murphy
Stanford 
Joe Dahl
Wazzu 

Tyrell Crosby
Oregon 

Freddie Tagaloa
Arizona 
OTTyler Johnstone
Oregon 
Stephane Nembot
Colorado 
Conor McDermott
UCLA 
J.J. Dielman
Utah 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DEDeForest Buckner
Oregon 
Lowell Lotulelei (DT)
Utah 
Reggie Gilbert
Arizona 
Delvon Simmons
USC 
DEHunter Dimick
Utah 
Tashon Smallwood (DT)
Arizona State 
Josh Tupou (DT)*
Colorado 
Kache Palacio
Wazzu 
DTKenny Clark
UCLA 
Antwaun Woods
USC 
Mustafa Jalil
California 
Elijah Qualls
Washington 
DLEddie Vanderdoes
UCLA 
Peter Kalambayi (LB)
Stanford 
Gionni Paul (LB)
Utah 
Christian French (LB)
Oregon 
LBSu'a Cravens
USC 
Blake Martinez
Stanford 
Jared Norris
Utah 
Kevin Anderson
Stanford 
LBMyles Jack
UCLA 
Addison Gillam
Colorado 
Deon Hollins
UCLA 
Michael Barton
California 
LBScooby Wright
Arizona 
Viliami Moeakiola
Arizona State 
Tyson Coleman
Oregon 
Travis Feeney
Washington 
CBAdoree' Jackson
USC 
Lloyd Carrington
Arizona State 
Kevon Seymour
USC 
Larry Scott
Oregon State            
CBIshmael Adams
UCLA 
Fabian Moreau
UCLA 

Kenneth Crawley

Colorado 

Kweishi Brown
Arizona State 
SBudda Baker
Washington 
Reggie Daniels
Oregon 
Tevin Carter
Utah 
Zach Hoffpauir*
Stanford 
SJordan Simone
Arizona State 
William Parks
Arizona 
Chidobe Awuzie
Colorado 
Jaleel Wadood
UCLA 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KAndy Phillips
Utah 
Zane Gonzalez
Arizona State 

Cameron Van Winkle
Washington 

Ka'imi Fairbairn
UCLA 
PTom Hackett
Utah 
Drew Riggleman
Arizona 
Korey Durkee
Washington 
Matt Haack               
Arizona State 
KRAdoree' Jackson
USC 
Trevor Davis
California 
Ishmael Adams
UCLA 
Phillip Lindsay
Colorado 
PRCharles Nelson
Oregon 
Christian McCaffrey
Stanford  
Dante Pettis
Washington 
DaVonte' Neal
Arizona 
 
Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 All-Pac-12 Team
 FirstSecondThirdFourth
Arizona

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Arizona State

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams:  1

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

California

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Colorado

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 3 

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 1 

Oregon

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 2 

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Oregon State

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 3

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Stanford

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 2

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 2 

Sp. Teams: 0

UCLA

Offense: 1

Defense: 4

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 2

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 1 

USC

Offense: 4

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 1 

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0

Utah

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 2

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 3

Sp. Teams: 0

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Washington

Offense: 0

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 3 

Offense: 1

Defense: 2

Sp. Teams: 0 

Washington State

Offense: 0

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 0

Sp. Teams: 0 

Offense: 1

Defense: 1

Sp. Teams: 0 

* Tupou was selected for the team prior to his suspension for the 2015 season. Hoffpauir was selected to the team prior to his decision to play professional baseball.

Teaser:
Pac-12 Football 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Tuesday, June 9, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/acc-football-2015-all-conference-team
Body:

The ACC loses some of its star power from 2014, but the league still returns plenty of household names and players ready to challenge for All-America honors. And even though the 2015 college football season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to project what could happen this year.

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the ACC last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

Related: 2015 ACC Predictions, Projected Records and Awards

 

 

ACC 2015 Team Previews

Atlantic Division
   
National
Rank:
5614938398582
Coastal Division
 
National
Rank: 
52184342416135

 

Athlon's All-ACC Team for 2015

 First-Team OffenseSecond-Team
Offense
Third-Team OffenseFourth-Team Offense
QBDeshaun Watson
Clemson 
Brad Kaaya
Miami 
Justin Thomas
Georgia Tech 
Marquise Williams
North Carolina 
RBJames Conner
Pittsburgh 
Jon Hilliman
Boston College  
Brandon Radcliff
Louisville 
T.J. Logan
North Carolina 
RBDalvin Cook
Florida State 
Joseph Yearby
Miami 
Wayne Gallman
Clemson 
J.C. Coleman
Virginia Tech 
APRyan Switzer (WR)
North Carolina 
Shadrach Thornton (RB)
NC State 
Taquan Mizell (RB)
Virginia 
Sherman Alston (WR)
Boston College 
WRTyler Boyd
Pittsburgh 
Travis Rudolph
Florida State 
James Quick
Louisville 
Quinshad Davis
North Carolina 
WRArtavis Scott
Clemson 
Mike Williams
Clemson 
Isaiah Ford
Virginia Tech 
Mack Hollins
North Carolina 
TEBucky Hodges
Virginia Tech 
Cam Serigne
Wake Forest 
Braxton Deaver
Duke 
David Grinnage
NC State 
CMatt Skura
Duke 
Freddie Burden
Georgia Tech 
Ryan Norton
Clemson 
Lucas Crowley
North Carolina 
OGWyatt Teller
Virginia Tech 
Dorian Johnson
Pittsburgh 
Trey Braun
Georgia Tech 
Ross Burbank
Virginia 
OGLandon Turner
North Carolina 
Joe Thuney
NC State 
Kareem Are
Florida State 
Harris Williams
Boston College 
OTAdam Bisnowaty
Pittsburgh 
Bryan Chamberlain
Georgia Tech 
Jon Heck
North Carolina 
Isaiah Battle*
Clemson 
OTRoderick Johnson
Florida State 
Jonathan McLaughlin
Virginia Tech 
Eric Smith
Virginia 
Ivan Foy
Syracuse 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DEKen Ekanem
Virginia Tech 
Sheldon Rankins
Louisville 
KeShun Freeman
Georgia Tech 
Kevin Kavalec
Boston College  
DEDadi Nicolas
Virginia Tech 
Shaq Lawson
Clemson 
DeMarcus Walker
Florida State 
Ron Thompson
Syracuse                
DTAdam Gotsis
Georgia Tech 
N. Lawrence-Stample
Florida State 
Connor Wujciak
Boston College 
Josh Banks
Wake Forest 
DTLuther Maddy
Virginia Tech 
Corey Marshall
Virginia Tech 
David Dean
Virginia 
Nazair Jones
North Carolina 
LB

Brandon Chubb
Wake Forest  

Deon Clarke
Virginia Tech 
Kelby Brown*
Duke 
Reggie Northrup
Florida State 
LBKeith Kelsey
Louisville 
Steven Daniels
Boston College 
James Burgess
Louisville 
Jerod Fernandez
NC State 
LBTerrance Smith
Florida State 
P.J. Davis
Georgia Tech 
Marquel Lee
Wake Forest 
Jermaine Grace
Miami 
CBKendall Fuller
Virginia Tech 
Mackensie Alexander
Clemson 
Jack Tocho
NC State 
Demetrious Nicholson
Virginia 
CBJalen Ramsey
Florida State 
Maurice Canady
Virginia 
D.J. White
Georgia Tech 
Chuck Clark (CB/S)
Virginia Tech 
SQuin Blanding
Virginia 
Deon Bush
Miami 
DeVon Edwards
Duke 
Ryan Janvion
Wake Forest 
SJeremy Cash
Duke 
Jamal Golden
Georgia Tech 
Josh Harvey-Clemons
Louisville 
Artie Burns (CB)
Miami 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KRoberto Aguayo
Florida State 
Ross Martin
Duke 
Ammon Lakip
Clemson 
Ian Frye
Virginia 
PAlex Kinal
Wake Forest 
Will Monday
Duke 
Riley Dixon
Syracuse 
Justin Vogel
Miami 
KRMyles Willis
Boston College 
DeVon Edwards
Duke 
Tyler Boyd
Pittsburgh 
Kermit Whitfield
Florida State 
PRTyler Boyd
Pittsburgh 
Ryan Switzer
North Carolina 
Greg Stroman
Virginia Tech 
Sherman Alston
Boston College 

 

Team-by-Team Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 All-ACC Team
 FirstSecondThirdFourth
Boston College
Offense: 0
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1 
Defense: 1 
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1 
​Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
​Sp. Teams: 1
Clemson
Offense: 2
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1 
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2 
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 0
Duke
Offense: 1
Defense: 1 
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 3
Offense: 1 
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 0
Florida State
Offense: 2 
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1 
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams:  0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Georgia Tech
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2 
Defense: 2 
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Louisville
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Miami
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
North Carolina
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1 
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 5
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
NC State
Offense: 0 
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Pittsburgh
Offense: 3
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Syracuse
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0 
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Virginia
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Virginia Tech
Offense: 2
Defense: 4
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Wake Forest
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0

* Player selections were done before Clemson's Isaiah Battle left for the supplemental draft and Duke's Kelby Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Teaser:
ACC Football 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Monday, June 8, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/american-athletic-2015-all-conference-team
Body:

The American Athletic Conference should have a contender (or two) for the top spot among Group of 5 leagues for the right to play in one of college football’s top bowl games. And this league has added stability with the addition of Navy, giving the conference two six-team divisions and a conference championship in 2015.

 

The 2015 college football season is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to project what could happen this year.

 

Athlon Sports released its full predictions for the American Athletic Conference last week. Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2015.

 

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2015. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2015 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

 

Related: 2015 American Athletic Predictions, Preview and Awards

 

American Athletic Conference 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank: 
4010972996263
West Division
 
National 
Rank:
505954102104106

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 


 

Athlon's American Athletic All-Conference Team for 2015
 First-Team
Offense
Second-Team
Offense
Third-Team
Offense
Fourth-Team
Offense
QBGunner Kiel
Cincinnati 
Keenan Reynolds
Navy 
Paxton Lynch
Memphis 
Greg Ward
Houston  
RBMarlon Mack
USF 
William Stanback
UCF 
Sherman Badie
Tulane 
Chris Hairston
East Carolina 
RBKenneth Farrow
Houston 

Chris Swain
Navy   

Hosey Williams
Cincinnati 
Zaire Williams
Temple 
APIsaiah Jones (WR)
East Carolina 
Keyarris Garrett (WR)
Tulsa 
Mike Boone (RB)
Cincinnati 
Rodney Adams (WR)
USF 
WRKeevan Lucas
Tulsa 
Shaq Washington
Cincinnati 
Darius Joseph
SMU 
Chris Moore
Cincinnati 
WRMekale McKay
Cincinnati 
Demarcus Ayers
Houston 
Mose Frazier
Memphis 
Jamir Tillman
Navy 
TEAlan Cross
Memphis 
Bryce Williams
East Carolina 
Charles Jones
Tulane 
Colin Thompson
Temple 
CKyle Friend
Temple 
Deyshawn Bond
Cincinnati 
Taylor Lasecki
SMU 
Gabe Kuhn
Memphis 
OGJ.T. Boyd
East Carolina 
B. Gudmundsson
USF 
Joey Grant
UCF 
Thor Jozwiak
USF 
OGE.K. Binns
Navy 
Quincy McKinney
East Carolina 
Chris Wallace
Tulsa 
Zach Johnson (OT)
Houston 
OTParker Ehinger
Cincinnati 
Garrett Stafford
Tulsa 
Alex Cooper
Houston 
Chavis Dickey
UCF 
OTIke Harris
East Carolina 
Taylor Fallin
Memphis 
Kris Weeks
SMU 
Arturo Uzdavinis
Tulane 
 First-Team
Defense
Second-Team
Defense
Third-Team
Defense
Fourth-Team
Defense
DLThomas Niles
UCF 
Derrick Alexander
Tulsa 
B.J. Singleton
Houston 
Terrell Stanley
East Carolina 
DLPraise-Martin
Oguike,
Temple 
Royce LaFrance
Tulane 
Derrick Calloway
USF  
Zach Wood
SMU 
DLSilverberry Mouhon
Cincinnati 
Bernard Sarra
Navy 
Derrick Luetjen
Tulsa 
Tanzel Smart
Tulane 
DLMatt Ioannidis
Temple 
Jamiyus Pittman
UCF 
Will Anthony
Navy 
Julian Campenni
UConn 
LBTyler Matakevich
Temple 
Nico Marley
Tulane  
Jackson Dillon
Memphis 
Jonathan Yenga
SMU 
LBZeek Bigger
East Carolina 
Graham Stewart
UConn 
Steven Taylor
Houston 
Marquise Vann
UConn 
LBNigel Harris
USF 
Montese Overton
East Carolina 
Craig Suits
Tulsa 
Nate D. Smith
Temple 
CBWilliam Jackson
Houston 
Parry Nickerson
Tulane 
Brendon Clements
Navy 
Sean Chandler
Temple 
CBJosh Hawkins
East Carolina 
Tavon Young
Temple 
Jhavon Williams
UConn 
Alex Wells (S)
Temple 
SZach Edwards
Cincinnati 
Trevon Stewart
Houston 
Jamie Byrd
USF 
Andrew Adams
UConn 
SAdrian McDonald
Houston 
Darion Monroe
Tulane 
Michael Mudoh
Tulsa 
Obi Melifonwu
UConn 
 First-Team
Specialists
Second-Team
Specialists
Third-Team
Specialists
Fourth-Team
Specialists
KJake Elliott
Memphis 
Andrew Gantz
Cincinnati 
Kyle Bullard
Houston 
Austin Grebe
Navy 
PMattias Ciabatti
USF  
Dalton Parks
Tulsa 
Worth Gregory
East Carolina 
Spencer Smith
Memphis 
KRDeion Sanders Jr.
SMU 
D'Angelo Brewer
Tulsa 
Johnny Holton
Cincinnati 
Jordan Akins
UCF 
PRTrevon Brown
East Carolina 
Shaq Washington
Cincinnati 
Hassan Childs
USF 
Conner Floyd
Tulsa 

 

2015 American Athletic Conference Predictions, Preview and Season Awards

 

Breakdown of Athlon's 2015 American Athletic All-Conference Team

 FirstSecondThirdFourth
Cincinnati
Offense: 3
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Connecticut
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 4
Sp. Teams: 0
East Carolina
Offense: 3
Defense: 2 
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Houston
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Memphis
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1 
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1 
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Navy
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
SMU
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 3
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 0
South Florida
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 2
Sp. Teams: 1
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Temple
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Tulane
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 4
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Tulsa
Offense: 1 
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 2
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 2
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 0
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1
UCF
Offense: 0
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 1
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 0
Offense: 1
Defense: 0
Sp. Teams: 1

 

Teaser:
American Athletic 2015 All-Conference Team
Post date: Monday, June 8, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/penn-state-coach-james-franklin-gets-sweet-office-upgrade
Body:

Penn State coach James Franklin has a new and rather interesting addition to his office. On Friday, a fan gave Franklin a taxidermied Nittany Lion.

 

The school’s official Twitter account provided a few images, and Franklin seems to be pretty fired up about the unique addition to his office.

 

It’s been an interesting week for college football coaches and animals. First, it was Charlie Strong hanging out with Tiger cubs at Texas, and Franklin now has a stuffed Nittany Lion in his office.

 

Teaser:
Penn State Coach James Franklin Gets a Sweet Office Upgrade
Post date: Friday, June 5, 2015 - 16:29
Path: /college-football/arkansas-state-holder-uses-tongue-hold-ball-field-goal-attempt
Body:

Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone recently set the standard for new trick shots by kickers by attempting a field goal while his holder kept the ball upright with his nose.

 

And now, Arkansas State’s Luke Ferguson is taking this to a different level. The senior posted a video attempting a field goal while his holder held the ball with his tongue.

 

Yes, that’s right. His tongue. 

Teaser:
Arkansas State Holder Uses Tongue to Hold Ball on Field Goal Attempt
Post date: Friday, June 5, 2015 - 12:54
Path: /college-football/sun-belt-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The Sun Belt has seen its share of membership changes due to conference realignment in recent years. But as the 2015 season approaches, the Sun Belt has some stability with its 11-team membership.

 

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern combined for a 16-8 record in their FBS debut in 2014, and the league had six teams reach bowl eligibility.

 

UL Lafayette and Arkansas State have been the teams to beat in recent years, but the addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern has strengthened the top of the league. Additionally, South Alabama and Texas State continue to develop as FBS programs and should be in the mix for a bowl in 2015.

 

Here are 5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Sun Belt in 2015

 

1. UL Lafayette, Arkansas State the Teams to Beat Once Again?

UL Lafayette and Arkansas State have been the Sun Belt’s top programs in recent years, and both teams are coming off four consecutive bowl appearances. The Ragin’ Cajuns and Red Wolves are among the favorites once again, but these two programs will be pushed by Georgia Southern and Appalachian State for the league crown. Arkansas State will have no trouble scoring points behind dynamic quarterback Fredi Knighten. But the defense returns only four starters and improving the run defense is a priority. UL Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth is a rising star in the coaching ranks, and the Ragin’ Cajuns will be tested with just eight returning starters. Junior Brooks Haack is slated to replace Terrance Broadway at quarterback, but the biggest concern is on defense on the line. Will both teams find the right answers on defense early in the year? Or will the defensive woes push Appalachian State and Georgia Southern to the top spots?

 

2. Will Appalachian State Pick Up Where it Left Off?

Recapturing the momentum or energy from a previous season is no easy task for any team. The Mountaineers won their final six games last year, which included victories over UL Lafayette and Arkansas State. While it may not be easy to replicate the momentum from the end of 2014, Appalachian State is in a good position to challenge for the league title in 2015 with 20 returning starters. Scott Satterfield’s team is headlined by an explosive offense, and the defense held opponents to a respectable 27.3 points per game in 2014. Sophomore quarterback Taylor Lamb is one of the Sun Belt’s top rising stars to watch, and his development could be the difference in the conference title picture. Even if the Mountaineers don’t pickup exactly where they left off, this team is still capable of winning the Sun Belt title in 2015.

 

3. Georgia Southern’s Encore

It was hard to script a better start to FBS play for Georgia Southern. The Eagles thrived under first-year coach Willie Fritz, finishing with a 9-3 overall record and a perfect 8-0 mark in conference play. The Eagles also came close to victories over Power 5 teams Georgia Tech and NC State last season. Can Georgia Southern finish with a perfect mark in conference play again? Fritz’s team has a favorable schedule by missing Arkansas State and UL Lafayette, but road tests at Appalachian State and ULM will be tough. Quarterback Kevin Ellison and running back Matt Breida are back to anchor the offense, and six starters form an experienced core on defense. The biggest question mark for Fritz’s team is an offensive line that returns only one starter.

 

4. South Alabama’s Rebuilding Effort

The Jaguars were one of the team’s hit hardest by personnel departures from 2014. South Alabama returns only five starters, but there’s help on the way in the form of a handful of UAB transfers. Quarterback Cody Clements and guard Cameron Blankenship should have the biggest impact for coach Joey Jones’ team, and former UAB offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent will call the plays for the Jaguars in 2015. South Alabama has a good core of talent but a lot of inexperience and new players attempting to mesh with the current roster. How quickly will Jones find the right answers on both sides of the ball?

 

5. Can Texas State Take the Next Step?

Over the last four years under coach Dennis Franchione, the Bobcats have recorded three seasons of at least a .500 record. Texas State is coming off its best mark in that span (7-5), but the program is still looking for its first bowl appearance. Can the Bobcats take the next step and reach the postseason in 2015? The offense should be in good shape with the return of quarterback Tyler Jones, while the defense must find replacements for standouts David Mayo (LB), Craig Mager (CB) and end Michael Odiari. The schedule doesn’t provide many breaks for Franchione’s team, as Texas State catches three out of the league’s projected top four and also has road trips to Florida State and Houston in non-conference play. There’s enough returning talent on offense to carry the team until the defense finds replacements for its departed standouts. How far will Jones elevate this team in 2015? A bowl is a reasonable expectation, but the Bobcats have to improve on defense to push the top four teams in the league.  

 

2015 Sun Belt Team Previews

       
 
National
Rank:
90767712612587
  
National
Rank:
11512410893118 

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Sun Belt 2015 Football Predictions

     
RankTeam Projected Sun Belt RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Arkansas State

(No. 76)

7-18-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arkansas State for 2015.
2

Georgia Southern

(No. 77)

6-28-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Georgia Southern for 2015.
3

UL Lafayette

(No. 87)

6-28-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of UL Lafayette for 2015.
4

Appalachian State

(No. 90)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Appalachian State for 2015.
5

Texas State

(No. 93)

 

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Texas State for 2015.
6

South Alabama

(No. 108)

4-45-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of South Alabama for 2015.
7

ULM

(No. 115)

4-45-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of ULM for 2015.
8

Troy

(No. 118)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Troy for 2015.
9

New Mexico State

(No. 124)

2-62-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of NMSU for 2015.
10

Idaho

(No. 125)

1-72-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of Idaho for 2015.
11

Georgia State

(No. 126)

1-73-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Georgia State for 2015.

Sun Belt 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615
Offensive POYFredi Knighten
QB, ASU
Matt Breida
RB, Ga. Southern
Fredi Knighten
QB, ASU
Elijah McGuire
RB, ULL
Defensive POYGerrand Johnson
DL, ULM
Mitch Lane
DB, ULM
John Law
LB, Appalachian State
Michael Johnson
LB, ULM
Coach of the YearScott Satterfield
Appalachian State
Blake Anderson
Arkansas State
Willie Fritz
Georgia Southern
Scott Satterfield
Appalachian State
Coach on Hot SeatDoug Martin
NMSU
Doug Martin
NMSU
Doug Martin
NMSU
Doug Martin
NMSU
Top NewcomerCody Clements
QB, USA
Cody Clements
QB, USA
Cody Clements
QB, USA
Cody Clements
QB, USA
Sleeper TeamTroyULMAppalachian StateTroy
Top Coordinator HireBryant Vincent
OC, USA
Bryant Vincent
OC, USA
Vic Koenning
DC, Troy
Bryant Vincent
OC, USA
Key Position to WatchGeorgia Southern OLGeorgia Southern OLULL QBGeorgia Southern OL
Hardest to EvaluateSouth AlabamaSouth AlabamaSouth AlabamaULM
Coach on the RiseWillie Fritz
Georgia Southern
Willie Fritz
Georgia Southern
Blake Anderson
Arkansas State
Willie Fritz
Georgia Southern
Must-See GameULL at 
Arkansas State
ULL at
Arkansas State
Arkansas State at 
Appalachian State
ULL at
Arkansas State
Breakout PlayerTaylor Lamb
QB, Appalachian State
D.J. Vinson
WR, USA
Taylor Lamb
QB, Appalachian State
Brandon Silvers
QB, Troy
Comeback PlayerDezmon Epps
WR, Idaho
Dezmon Epps
WR, Idaho
J.D. McKissic 
WR, Ark. State
J.D. McKissic
WR, Ark. State

Ranking the Sun Belt's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Mark Hudspeth, UL Lafayette

2. Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern

3. Joey Jones, South Alabama

4. Dennis Franchione, Texas State

5. Todd Berry, ULM

 

Ranking the Sun Belt's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State

2. Kevin Ellison, Georgia Southern

3. Tyler Jones, Texas State

4. Taylor Lamb, Appalachian State

5. Nick Arbuckle, Georgia State

 

Ranking the Sun Belt's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Elijah McGuire, UL Lafayette

2. Matt Breida, Georgia Southern

3. Marcus Cox, Appalachian State

4. Michael Gordon, Arkansas State

5. Larry Rose III, New Mexico State

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Bryant Vincent, Offensive Coordinator, South Alabama

2. Mike Breske, Defensive Coordinator, Idaho

3. Charlie Harbison/Melvin Smith, Co-Defensive Coordinators, UL Lafayette

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Dion Ray, QB, UL Lafayette

2. Mario Osborne, DL, UL Lafayette

3. Jalen Thompson, DB, South Alabama

4. D.J. Pearson, QB, Arkansas State

5. Keenan Barnes, ATH, UL Lafayette

6. Markeis Hallback, RB, Georgia Southern

7. Gary Haynes, ATH, UL Lafayette

8. Cortez Sisco, DB, ULM

9. Daniel David, QB, Appalachian State

10. Joshua Moon, DB, Georgia Southern

Teaser:
Sun Belt Football 2015 Predictions
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The Big 12 ended 2014 with a debate about whether or not Baylor or TCU was the league’s best team. That conversation will continue into 2015, as the Bears and Horned Frogs are the favorites to win the league this season, and both teams are also in the mix to claim a playoff spot.

 

The depth of the Big 12 will be a storyline to watch in 2015 with Texas and Oklahoma each facing key question marks. The Sooners and Longhorns are picked to finish in the top half of the league, but West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas State or Texas Tech could easily push their way into the top tier.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Big 12 in 2015

 

1. Baylor vs. TCU

As mentioned above, this has been the top storyline in this league since last season. And very little separates Baylor and TCU once again in 2015, which means this battle will go down to the wire or the league title could be decided on Nov. 27 when these two teams play in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs have a clear edge at quarterback with Trevone Boykin returning, but the Bears always seem to find the right answers under center since Art Briles was hired in Waco. New Baylor quarterback Seth Russell has experience, and the junior inherits one of the nation’s top supporting casts, which includes a deep receiving corps and all five starters on the line. Defense could play a major role in how these two teams are separated in 2015. TCU – which usually rebuilds with ease on defense under coach Gary Patterson – must reload in the back seven. Baylor returns more in the way of proven talent on defense (nine starters) but improvement is needed on the stat sheet. Each team has personnel concerns to address. However, adding to the intrigue to this battle is the personnel issues (Baylor – quarterback, TCU – defense) are usually the strength of these programs under the current coaching staffs.

 

2. Oklahoma’s Offense

Oklahoma has lost six games in Big 12 action over the last two seasons, which is the most in a two-year stretch under coach Bob Stoops. Last year’s 8-5 final record also snapped a streak of four consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins, and the Sooners finished unranked for the first time since 2009. Winning at a high level over an extended period of time is never easy, and Stoops heads into 2015 looking to steer the program back among the top 10 in the nation and into conference title consideration. The offense will be under the direction of new coordinator Lincoln Riley, and Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield is expected to start at quarterback. Even though the Sooners are shifting offensive schemes, running back Samaje Perine will see plenty of opportunities after leading the team with 1,713 yards in 2014. Perine isn’t the only option in the backfield, as redshirt freshman Joe Mixon and junior Alex Ross help to form one of the nation’s top running back corps. Quarterback play is garnering all of the offseason attention in Norman, but Oklahoma must replace four starters on its offensive line. The Sooners still have plenty of talent. If all of the pieces fall into place, Oklahoma could easily exceed our projected final ranking (No. 17 nationally).

 

3. Year 2 for Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong essentially hit the reset button when he took over in Austin. The Longhorns are still in the process of overturning the roster and restocking both sides of the ball with talent, but Texas is trending in the right direction. However, even though Strong’s second season should be better, improvement may be minimal in the win column. The quarterback battle between Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard will continue into the fall, there’s a lack of proven options at receiver, and line coach Joe Wickline is still looking for the right combination up front. Texas should be strong on defense once again, but standout tackle Malcom Brown will be missed, and the Longhorns could start two freshmen – albeit very talented players – at linebacker. Combine personnel question marks with road tests at West Virginia, Baylor and TCU and non-conference dates against California and Notre Dame, getting to 7-5 or 8-4 would be a good second season for Strong.

 

4. Oklahoma State on the Rise

It was no surprise Oklahoma State took a step back in 2014. After all, the Cowboys lost nearly 30 seniors from the 2013 team and entered last season with less than 10 returning starters. The outlook on Oklahoma State was altered at the end of 2014, with talented quarterback Mason Rudolph making his first appearance for the Cowboys. Rudolph went 2-1 as the starter, which included a 38-35 win over rival Oklahoma (largely due to a late punt return for a touchdown by former Cowboy Tyreek Hill). With Rudolph at the controls for a full year and proven talent returning on both sides of the ball, Oklahoma State could push for a top 25 spot. Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah is underrated nationally after recording 11 sacks in 2014, and the Cowboys should have one of the Big 12’s top defensive backfields and linebacking corps in 2015. With Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU visiting Stillwater, Oklahoma State could have a huge role in determining the Big 12 champion in 2015.

 

5. Texas Tech Searches for Answers on Defense

Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Texas Tech under coach Kliff Kingsbury. But the other side of the ball has been an issue for the Red Raiders. In 2014, Texas Tech allowed over 500 yards per game and gave up 41.3 points per contest. Kingsbury’s hire of David Gibbs as the team’s new defensive coordinator should pay dividends in 2015. Gibbs arrives in Lubbock after a successful two-year stint as Houston’s defensive coordinator and inherits a unit that has some promising players at each level. End Pete Robertson recorded 12 sacks in 2014, Ohio State transfer Mike Mitchell is expected to play a key role at linebacker, and there’s a promising core of talent in the secondary. If Gibbs makes an impact as expected, Texas Tech should return to the postseason after a disappointing 4-8 mark last year.

 

Other Key Storylines to Watch: David Beaty rebuilds at Kansas, Kansas State reloads on offense without quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett and West Virginia looks to replace receiver Kevin White.

 

Big 12 Team Previews for 2015
      
 
National
Rank:
3741034417
 
National
Rank:
285334836

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 Big 12 Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 10 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 
 

Big 12 Predictions for 2015

     
RankTeam Projected Big 12 RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Baylor

(No. 3)

8-111-1
Read the full, in-depth preview of Baylor for 2015.
2

TCU

(No. 5)

7-210-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of TCU for 2015.
3

Oklahoma

(No. 17)

6-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Oklahoma for 2015.
4

Oklahoma State

(No. 28)

5-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Oklahoma State for 2015.
5

Texas

(No. 33)

5-47-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Texas for 2015.
6

West Virginia

(No. 36)

5-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of West Virginia for 2015.
7

Kansas State

(No. 44)

4-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Kansas State for 2015.
8

Texas Tech

(No. 48)

4-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Texas Tech for 2015.
9

Iowa State

(No. 74)

1-83-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Iowa State for 2015.
10

Kansas

(No. 103)

0-91-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of Kansas for 2015.

Big 12 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@BradenGall@DavidFox615
Offensive POYTrevone Boykin
QB, TCU
Shock Linwood
RB, Baylor
Trevone Boykin
QB, TCU
Trevone Boykin
QB, TCU
Samaje Perine
RB, Oklahoma
Defensive POYShawn Oakman
DE, Baylor
Shawn Oakman
DE, Baylor
Eric Striker
LB, Oklahoma
Emmanuel Ogbah
DE, Okla. State
Shawn Oakman
DE, Baylor
Coach of the YearArt Briles
Baylor
Art Briles
Baylor
Art Briles
Baylor
Art Briles
Baylor
Art Briles
Baylor
Coach on Hot SeatPaul Rhoads
Iowa State
Paul Rhoads
Iowa State
Paul Rhoads
Iowa State
Kliff Kingsbury
Texas Tech
Paul Rhoads
Iowa State
Top FreshmanMalik Jefferson
LB, Texas
Joe Mixon
RB, Oklahoma
Malik Jefferson
LB, Texas
Malik Jefferson
LB, Texas
Malik Jefferson
LB, Texas
Top NewcomerDede Westbrook
WR, Oklahoma
Chris Carson
RB, OSU
Chris Carson
RB, OSU

Jordan Burton

LB, OSU

Baker Mayfield
QB, Oklahoma
Sleeper TeamOklahoma StateOklahomaOklahoma StateKansas StateKansas State
Top Coordinator HireDavid Gibbs
DC, TTU
David Gibbs
DC, TTU
Lincoln Riley
OC, Oklahoma
Lincoln Riley
OC, Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley
OC, Oklahoma

Key Position to WatchTCU DBTCU LBOklahoma QBTCU DBTexas DB
Hardest to EvaluateTexasTexasTexasTexasOklahoma State
Coach on the RiseDoug Meacham
OC, TCU
Lincoln Riley
OC, Oklahoma
Doug Meacham
OC, TCU
Charlie Strong
Texas
Doug Meacham
OC, TCU
Must-See GameBaylor at
TCU
Baylor at 
TCU
Baylor at 
TCU
Baylor at 
TCU
Baylor at
TCU
Breakout PlayerMason Rudolph
QB, OSU
Seth Russell
QB, Baylor
Mason Rudolph
QB, OSU
Seth Russell
QB, Baylor
Seth Russell
QB, Baylor
Comeback PlayerQuenton Bundrage
WR, ISU
Shaun Nixon
RB, TCU
Quenton Bundrage
WR, ISU
Quenton Bundrage
WR, ISU
Quenton Bundrage
WR, ISU
Ranking the Big 12's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Art Briles, Baylor

2. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

3. Gary Patterson, TCU

4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

 

Click here to view the full Big 12 Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Big 12's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Trevone Boykin, TCU

2. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

3. Seth Russell, Baylor

4. Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

5. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

 

Click here to view the full Big 12 Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Big 12's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

2. Shock Linwood, Baylor

3. DeAndre Washington, Texas Tech

4. Aaron Green, TCU

5. Johnathan Gray, Texas

 

Click here to view the full Big 12 Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The Big 12's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

2. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

3. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor

4. Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State

5. Dravon Henry, S, West Virginia

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Oklahoma at Tennessee - Sept. 12

2. Texas at Notre Dame - Sept. 5

3. TCU at Minnesota - Sept. 3

4. Texas Tech at Arkansas - Sept. 19

5. Maryland at West Virginia - Sept. 26

 

Related: Complete Big 12 Schedule Analysis for 2015

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Lincoln Riley, Offensive Coordinator, Oklahoma

2. David Gibbs, Defensive Coordinator, Texas Tech

3. Kendal Briles, Offensive Coordinator, Baylor

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

2. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Baylor

3. Breiden Fehoko, DL, Texas Tech

4. Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma

5. Anthony Wheeler, LB, Texas

6. Chris Warren III, RB, Texas

7. Holton Hill, DB, Texas

8. Ricky DeBerry, DL, Oklahoma

9. Kris Boyd, DB, Texas

10. Patrick Vahe, OL, Texas

11. P.J. Mbanasor, DB, Oklahoma

12. John Burt, WR, Texas

13. Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

14. Jovon Durante, WR, West Virginia

15. Will Sunderland, DB, Oklahoma

Teaser:
Big 12 Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Friday, June 5, 2015 - 10:00
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Body:

The Big Ten is a conference on the rise. Ohio State is the defending national champion, Michigan State has won at least 11 games in four out of the last five seasons, and with new coaches at Penn State (James Franklin) and Michigan (Jim Harbaugh) it won’t be long before both programs are back among the top 25 on an annual basis.

 

In a prediction that should surprise no one, Ohio State is Athlon’s projected Big Ten champion for 2015. The Buckeyes are also Athlon’s predicted national champion. Michigan State is a close No. 2 in the East, but the Spartans must replace standout coordinator Pat Narduzzi and reload in the secondary. Wisconsin is Athlon’s pick to win the West.

 

Here are a few key storylines to watch for the Big Ten in 2015, followed by complete predictions and season projections.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Big Ten in 2015

 

1. Ohio State’s Quest for a Repeat

Ohio State will be fighting history in its quest to go back-to-back as college football’s national champion. Only one team since 1998 (Alabama) was able to go back-to-back, and it’s never easy to make it through a season with a loss, key injury or simply bad luck in a game. While history isn’t on their side, the Buckeyes have few holes and a favorable path to a playoff bid. Sure, there’s uncertainty at quarterback, but coach Urban Meyer isn’t hurting for proven options. Replacing receiver Devin Smith and right tackle Darryl Baldwin are the biggest question marks on offense, while the defense needs to develop more depth in the trenches and fill the void left behind at cornerback by Doran Grant. Will Michigan State push Ohio State for the Big Ten title? Could rival Michigan play spoiler in the final week of November? Those scenarios are possible, but it’s going to be tough for any team to beat the Buckeyes in 2015.

 

2. Jim Harbaugh’s Impact at Michigan

There’s no doubt Michigan will show improvement in the first season under new coach Jim Harbaugh. But how high can the Wolverines climb in the East Division? Third place seems to be the ceiling for Harbaugh’s team. While Michigan is poised to make gains in the win column, this team still has a few glaring concerns. Quarterback is the biggest question mark for Harbaugh, but Iowa transfer Jake Rudock provides an experienced option. The offensive line has been the biggest issue for Michigan over the last two seasons and returns four starters for 2015. The Wolverines also need to generate better production on the ground and find a go-to receiver. The strength of Harbaugh’s team will be on defense after limiting opponents to 22.4 points per game in 2014. Eight wins is a reasonable expectation for Michigan. But reaching eight or nine victories will require improvement on offense. How quickly will Harbaugh find the right answers in his return to Ann Arbor?

 

3. Wisconsin vs. Nebraska in the West

Anchored by defending national champion Ohio State and Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans, the balance of power in the Big Ten is clearly in the East. In addition to Ohio State and Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan should show improvement in 2015. The West Division has only one team (Wisconsin) in Athlon’s projected top 25 for 2015. Even with a new coach (Paul Chryst), the Badgers’ formula for success won’t change. Melvin Gordon will be missed, but Corey Clement is the next star at running back. And Wisconsin’s defense should be among the best in the Big Ten with seven returning starters. While the Badgers will be a popular pick to win the West, Nebraska isn’t far behind. New coach Mike Riley is changing the schemes on both sides of the ball, so there will be a transition period for this team. However, if quarterback Tommy Armstrong settles into the new pro-style attack, the Cornhuskers have the necessary pieces in place to win the West. Wisconsin is the favorite, but the gap between the Badgers and Nebraska might be smaller than most believe.

 

4. Year 2 for James Franklin at Penn State, Michigan State Defense

James Franklin’s Penn State debut had its share of ups and downs. The Nittany Lions finished 7-6 but closed the year with a win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl. The defense ranked near the top nationally in the four major statistical categories and should be strong once again with seven starters back. However, for Franklin’s team to finish in the top 25, the offense has to take a step forward. The offensive line struggled in 2014, but there’s signs of optimism in 2015. And if the line is able to provide better protection for quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the offense will easily surpass last year’s totals. The talent is there to push for nine wins in 2015. Getting there requires improved play up front and a better year from Hackenberg (15 TDs, 12 INTs in 2014). For Michigan State, the Spartans have emerged as one of the Big Ten’s top programs over the last five seasons. Coach Mark Dantonio’s team won’t slip too far in the standings in 2015, but the defense may take a step back without Pat Narduzzi calling the plays. While the front seven is rock solid for new co-coordinators Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the secondary. How quickly Michigan State reconfigures on defense will dictate whether or not it can challenge Ohio State.

 

5. On the Hot Seat?

Could this be a make-or-break year for a couple of coaches in the Big Ten? Kirk Ferentz’s oft-mentioned contract will continue to be a point of discussion around the Big Ten, especially if the Hawkeyes finish close to the .500 mark once again. Iowa is just 19-19 over the last three years, and Ferentz has to push for improvement with a team that returns just 10 starters in 2015. Despite a bowl appearance in 2014, Illinois’ Tim Beckman is on the hot seat. Allegations of player mistreatment this offseason have only added to the pressure on this program, and the Fighting Illini are looking to take a step forward after losing all seven games by at least 10 points last year. Making matters worse for Beckman, top receiver Mike Dudek suffered a torn ACL in the spring and may miss all of the 2015 season. Rutgers is also coming off a bowl game, but how much will this team miss offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen? In the Hoosier State, Indiana and Purdue combined for a 7-17 mark last season. There’s more reason for optimism for Kevin Wilson’s Hoosiers, especially with the return of quarterback Nate Sudfeld from injury. The Boilermakers are young and showed signs of progress in coach Darrell Hazell’s second year. However, the Boilermakers struggled to be competitive in Big Ten play and more progress is needed.  

 

Big Ten Team Previews for 2015

East Division
 
National
Rank:
605734713265
West Division
 
National
Rank:
64534529588419

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 Big Ten Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 14 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 
 

 

Big Ten Football 2015 Predictions

     
East Division
RankTeam Projected Big Ten RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Ohio State

(No. 1)

8-013-0
Read the full, in-depth preview of Ohio State for 2015.
2

Michigan State

(No. 7)

6-210-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of Michigan State for 2015.
3

Penn State

(No. 32)

4-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Penn State for 2015.
4

Michigan

(No. 34)

4-47-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Michigan for 2015.
5

Maryland

(No. 57)

3-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Maryland for 2015.
6

Indiana

(No. 60)

2-66-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Indiana for 2015.
7

Rutgers

(No. 65)

1-75-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Rutgers for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected Big Ten RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Wisconsin

(No. 19)

6-29-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Wisconsin for 2015.
2

Nebraska

(No. 29)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Nebraska for 2015.
3

Minnesota

(No. 45)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Minnesota for 2015.
4

Iowa

(No. 53)

4-47-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Iowa for 2015.
5

Northwestern

(No. 58)

4-46-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Northwestern for 2015.
6

Illinois

(No. 64)

3-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Illinois for 2015.
7

Purdue

(No. 84)

1-73-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Purdue for 2015.
     
Big Ten Championship
  Ohio State over Wisconsin  

 

Big Ten 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@BradenGall@DavidFox615
Offensive POYEzekiel Elliott
RB, OSU
Ezekiel Elliott
RB, OSU
Ezekiel Elliott
RB, OSU
Connor Cook
QB, MSU
Ohio State QB
Defensive POYJoey Bosa
DE, OSU
Joey Bosa
DE, OSU
Joey Bosa
DE, OSU
Darron Lee
LB, OSU
Joey Bosa
DE, OSU
Coach of the YearUrban Meyer
Ohio State
Urban Meyer
Ohio State
Urban Meyer
Ohio State
Urban Meyer
Ohio State
Jim Harbaugh
Michigan
Coach on Hot SeatTim Beckman
Illinois
Tim Beckman
Illinois
Kevin Wilson
Indiana
Tim Beckman
Illinois
Tim Beckman
Illinois
Top FreshmanJabrill Peppers
DB, Michigan
Jabrill Peppers
DB, Michigan
LJ Scott
RB, MSU
Jabrill Peppers
DB, Michigan
Jabrill Peppers
DB, Michigan
Top NewcomerJordan Howard
RB, Indiana
Jordan Howard
RB, Indiana
Jordan Howard
RB, Indiana
Jake Rudock
QB, Michigan
Paris Palmer
OT, PSU
Sleeper TeamNebraskaIndianaPenn StateNebraskaNorthwestern
Top Coordinator HireD.J. Durkin
DC, Michigan
D.J. Durkin
DC, Michigan
D.J. Durkin
DC, Michigan
D.J. Durkin
DC, Michigan
Danny Langsdorf
OC, Nebraska
Key Position to WatchPenn State OLPenn State OLOhio State QBMichigan State DBPenn State OL
Hardest to EvaluateMichiganMichiganMichiganNebraskaMinnesota
Coach on the RiseDave Aranda
DC, Wisconsin
Dave Aranda
DC, Wisconsin
Bob Shoop
DC, PSU
Dave Aranda
DC, Wisconsin
Bob Shoop
DC, PSU
Must-See GameMich. State at
Ohio State
Ohio State at 
Michigan
Mich. State at
Ohio State
Ohio State at
Michigan
Ohio State at
Michigan
Breakout PlayerRaekwon McMillan
LB, OSU
Jalin Marshall
WR, OSU
Rodrick Williams
RB, Minnesota
De'Mornay Pierson-El
WR, Nebraska
Corey Clement
RB, Wisconsin
Comeback PlayerNate Sudfeld
QB, Indiana
Nate Sudfeld
QB, Indiana
Jabrill Peppers
DB, Michigan
Braxton Miller
QB, OSU
Nate Sudfeld
QB, Indiana

Ranking the Big Ten's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State

2. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan

3. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State

4. James Franklin, Penn State

5. Jerry Kill, Minnesota

 

Click here to view the full Big Ten Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Big Ten's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Ohio State: Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones

2. Connor Cook, Michigan State

3. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

4. Wes Lunt, Illinois

5. Nate Sudfeld, Indiana

 

Click here to view the full Big Ten Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Big Ten's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State

2. Corey Clement, Wisconsin

3. Justin Jackson, Northwestern

4. Jordan Howard, Indiana

5. Akeel Lynch, Penn State

6. Josh Ferguson, Illinois

 

Click here to view the full Big Ten Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The Big Ten's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan

2. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

3. Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin

4. Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska

5. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

The Big Ten's Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Oregon at Michigan State - Sept. 12

2. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Arlington) - Sept. 5

3. Ohio State at Virginia Tech - Sept. 7

4. TCU at Minnesota - Sept. 3

5. Nebraska at Miami - Sept. 19

 

Related: Big Ten 2015 Schedule Analysis

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. D.J. Durkin, Defensive Coordinator, Michigan

2. Danny Langsdorf, Offensive Coordinator, Nebraska

3. Tim Beck, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Justin Hilliard, LB, Ohio State

2. L.J. Scott, RB, Ohio State

3. Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State

4. Brian Cole, WR, Michigan

5. Torrence Gibson, QB, Ohio State

6. Michael Weber, RB, Ohio State

7. Jashon Cornell, DL, Ohio State

8. Eric Glover-Williams, DB, Ohio State

9. Isaiah Prince, OL, Ohio State

10. Matthew Burrell, OL, Ohio State

11. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

12. Adam McLean, DL, Maryland

13. Garrett Taylor, DB, Penn State

14. John Reid, DB, Penn State

15. Eric Lee Jr., DB, Nebraska

Teaser:
Big Ten Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 10:30
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The MAC is known for its high-scoring offenses and midweek games, but more attention should be paid to the depth of this league for 2015.

 

Northern Illinois has dominated the MAC in recent years, claiming five consecutive appearances in the conference championship. The Huskies are once again among the league’s best, but Bowling Green, Toledo and Western Michigan will push Rod Carey’s team this season. UMass is also expected to improve in coach Mark Whipple’s season year, and Ball State will rebound after a 5-7 mark in 2014.

 

Three of the four top teams in the league hail from the West Division, while the Falcons are the clear pick in the East.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the MAC in 2015

 

1. Matt Johnson’s Return at Bowling Green

Bowling Green’s offense was dealt a significant setback last season, as quarterback Matt Johnson was lost for the year after a hip injury in the opener against Western Kentucky. After throwing for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2013, Johnson was among the preseason favorites to win MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors last season. But despite Johnson’s absence, Bowling Green won the East and finished 8-6 overall. With Johnson back in the lineup, the Falcons are the pick to repeat as East champs. But is Johnson’s return enough to lift coach Dino Babers’ team to the MAC title? The offense will have no trouble scoring points. However, a defense that allowed 33.5 points per game in 2014 has to improve.

 

2. Toledo vs. NIU vs. WMU

It’s a close call at the top of the West Division. Athlon Sports is picking Toledo, but a strong case could be made for Northern Illinois or Western Michigan. Provided the line is a quick rebuild after losing all five starters, the Rockets will be explosive on offense. Quarterback Phillip Ely returns after missing most of 2014 due to injury, and Kareem Hunt is one of the top running backs in the nation. Coach Matt Campbell’s defense also gets a boost with the return of cornerbacks Cheatham Norrils and Cameron Cole. Western Michigan was one of the nation’s most-improved programs last year and returns 16 starters for 2015. But the Broncos have a tough schedule, including back-to-back games at Northern Illinois and Toledo to close the regular season. Northern Illinois returns a strong core, and quarterback Drew Hare will be better with another offseason to work as the starter. However, the Huskies have a few personnel issues, as first-team All-MAC end Jason Meehan and standout safety Dechane Durante must be replaced. Additionally, three starters on the offensive line are gone. Expect the West Division to go down to the final week.

 

3. UMass…Potential MAC East Contender?

After winning just two games from 2012-13, UMass improved to 3-9 in coach Mark Whipple’s return to Amherst. But the Minutemen were much closer to .500 than the final record indicated. UMass lost by three points in matchups against Vanderbilt and Colorado and was suffered three defeats by a touchdown or less in MAC games. The Minutemen are departing the conference after 2015, and it’s critical for the program to show progress with a handful of seniors – including star quarterback Blake Frohnapfel – out of eligibility at the end of this season. While UMass has a road date at Bowling Green, it misses Ohio in conference action and doesn’t play Western Michigan or Northern Illinois. A winning record wouldn’t be a surprise for Whipple’s team in 2015.

 

4. Buffalo and Akron use Different Methods to Find Improvement

The “wild card” tag would be appropriate when examining the prospects of Akron and Buffalo in 2015. The Bulls should be explosive on offense behind quarterback Joe Licata and running back Anthone Taylor. And new coach Lance Leipold was one of the offseason’s top hires, which should help the program take a step forward after a 5-6 mark in 2014. Buffalo does have question marks on defense and on the offensive line, but a good quarterback and coach can mask some of the issues in a league like the MAC. While the Bulls are turning to a new coach for improvement, Akron is dipping in the transfer market for talent upgrades after a 5-7 record in 2014. The Zips won at Pittsburgh in late September but did not beat a team with a winning record in MAC games. How will transfers Tra’Von Chapman (QB), Rodney Coe (DT), Jamal Marcus (DE) and Larry Hope (Miami) blend with the returning talent? Akron has enough pieces to get to a bowl if coach Terry Bowden is able to improve an offense that finished ninth in the MAC in scoring last year.

 

5. Signs of Progress at EMU, Miami (Ohio) and Kent State?

Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Michigan rank at the bottom of Athlon’s 128 power rankings and the MAC for 2015. However, there’s reason for optimism at all three programs. The Eagles return promising sophomore quarterback Reginald Bell and tackling machine Great Ibe at linebacker. There’s also a favorable home slate in 2015, which should allow coach Chris Creighton’s team to take a step forward. Miami (Ohio) loses standout quarterback Andrew Hendrix, but the RedHawks are trending in the right direction in coach Chuck Martin’s second year. Kent State has won only six games in coach Paul Haynes’ two seasons. With the addition of coordinator Don Treadwell and the return of running back Trayion Durham, the Golden Flashes could double their win total from 2014 (two).

 

MAC 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank:
97781051191219892
West Division
 
National
Rank:
94111127807581

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

MAC Football 2015 Predictions

     
East Division
RankTeam Projected MAC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Bowling Green

(No. 78)

7-18-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Bowling Green for 2015.
2

UMass

(No. 92)

5-36-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of UMass for 2015.
3

Akron

(No. 97)

5-36-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Akron for 2015.
4

Ohio

(No. 98)

4-47-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Ohio for 2015.
5

Buffalo

(No. 105)

3-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Buffalo for 2015.
6

Kent State

(No. 119)

1-72-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of Kent State for 2015.
7

Miami (Ohio)

(No. 121)

1-72-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of Miami (Ohio) for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected MAC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Toledo

(No. 75)

6-29-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Toledo for 2015.
2

Northern Illinois

(No. 80)

6-28-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Northern Illinois for 2015.
3

Western Michigan

(No. 81)

6-27-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Western Michigan for 2015.
4

Ball State

(No. 94)

4-46-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Ball State for 2015.
5

Central Michigan

(No. 111)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Central Michigan for 2015.
6

Eastern Michigan

(No. 127)

1-71-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of Eastern Michigan for 2015.
     
MAC Championship
 Toledo over Bowling Green 

 

MAC 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615
Offensive POYKareem Hunt
RB, Toledo
Blake Frohnapfel
QB, UMass
Kareem Hunt
RB, Toledo
Jarvion Franklin
RB, WMU
Defensive POYJatavis Brown
LB, Akron
Paris Logan
CB, NIU
Trent Voss
DE, Toledo
Quentin Poling
LB, Ohio
Coach of the YearMark Whipple
UMass
Mark Whipple
UMass
Matt Campbell
Toledo
Pete Lembo
Ball State
Coach on Hot SeatPaul Haynes
Kent State
Paul Haynes
Kent State
Terry Bowden
Akron
Matt Campbell
Toledo
Top FreshmanGus Ragland
QB, Miami (Ohio)
Gus Ragland
QB, Miami (Ohio)
Justin Tranquill
S, WMU
James Gilbert
RB, Ball State
Top NewcomerRodney Coe
DL, Akron
Rodney Coe
DL, Akron
Rolan Milligan
S, Toledo
Jamal Marcus
DL, Akron
Sleeper TeamBuffaloUMassWestern MichiganBall State
Top Coordinator HireDon Treadwell
OC, Kent State
Brian Ward
DC, BGSU
Brian Ward
DC, BGSU
Don Treadwell
OC, Kent State
Key Position to WatchToledo OLUMass OLUMass RBToledo OL
Hardest to EvaluateCentral MichiganBuffaloNorthern IllinoisAkron
Coach on the RiseLance Leipold
Buffalo
Lance Leipold
Buffalo
P.J. Fleck
WMU
P.J. Fleck
WMU
Must-See GameToledo at 
BGSU
Toledo at
BGSU
Toledo at
BGSU
Toledo at 
BGSU
Breakout PlayerReginald Bell
QB, EMU
Phillip Ely
QB, Toledo
A.J. Ouellette
RB, Ohio
A.J. Ouellette
RB, Ohio
Comeback PlayerMatt Johnson
QB, BGSU
Matt Johnson
QB, BGSU
Trayion Durham
RB, Kent State
Matt Johnson
QB, BGSU
Ranking the MAC's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Pete Lembo, Ball State

2. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois

3. Frank Solich, Ohio

4. Terry Bowden, Akron

5. Matt Campbell, Toledo

6. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan

 

Ranking the MAC's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Blake Frohnapfel, UMass

2. Matt Johnson, Bowling Green

3. Zach Terrell, Western Michigan

4. Joe Licata, Buffalo

5. Cooper Rush, Central Michigan

6. Drew Hare, Northern Illinois

 

Ranking the MAC's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Kareem Hunt, Toledo

2. Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan

3. Travis Greene, Bowling Green

4. Anthone Taylor, Buffalo

5. A.J. Ouellette, Ohio

 

MAC's Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Michigan State at Western Michigan - Sept. 4

2. Northern Illinois at Ohio State - Sept. 19

3. Toledo at Arkansas - Sept. 12

4. Western Michigan at Ohio State - Sept. 26

5. UMass at Notre Dame - Sept. 26

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Don Treadwell, Offensive Coordinator, Kent State

2. Brian Ward, Defensive Coordinator, Bowling Green

3. Brian Borland, Defensive Coordinator, Buffalo

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. James Morgan, QB, Bowling Green

2. Justin Tranquill, DB, Western Michigan

3. Deontai Williams, DB, Ohio

4. Spencer Tears, WR, Northern Illinois

5. LeVante Bellamy, WR, Western Michigan

6. Juantez McRae, DB, Kent State

7. Aaron Covington, DB, Toledo

8. Chris Green, LB, Toledo

9. Brandon Childress, WR, Central Michigan

10. Jeff Christian, DB, Ohio

Teaser:
MAC Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/wisconsin-kicker-rafael-gaglianone-attempts-field-goal-holders-nose
Body:

Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone is taking trick shots by kickers to a new level. On Wednesday, the Badgers kicker posted a video attempting a field goal, while his holder keeps the ball upright by using his nose.

 

Needless to say, perfection is critical here. If Gaglianone just misses, the holder is going to be in a little of bit of pain.

 

Whether it’s in the NFL or college football, kickers are always under the spotlight. Miss a field goal or extra point and it might cost a team a victory.

 

In Gaglianone’s case, attempting a field goal while your holder uses his nose to keep the ball upright requires perfection and timing – this is why he’s one of the best kickers in the Big Ten.

 

 

Teaser:
Wisconsin Kicker Rafael Gaglianone Attempts Field Goal Off Holder's Nose
Post date: Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/sec-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The SEC is in a two-year drought for national championships, but this league still holds the top spot among college football conferences. Nine SEC teams appear in Athlon’s top 25 projections for 2015, including all seven teams from the West Division. Georgia is the favorite in the East, while Alabama gets a slight edge over Auburn in the West. 

 

Here are five storylines to watch in the SEC for 2015, followed by a full preview and predictions for the upcoming year.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the SEC in 2015

 

1. Alabama vs. Auburn

Once again, the stakes and intensity should be high when Alabama and Auburn meet in the annual Iron Bowl. The Crimson Tide won an entertaining 55-44 matchup over the Tigers last season, and this season’s meeting could decide the West Division and a spot in college football’s playoff. Auburn must replace standout center Reese Dismukes and quarterback Nick Marshall, but the Tigers shouldn’t miss a beat on offense. New quarterback Jeremy Johnson should provide a seamless transition under center, and the supporting cast is among the best in the SEC. Defense is where Auburn has struggled in recent years, but coach Gus Malzahn addressed this unit by hiring Will Muschamp as coordinator. Alabama has its share of question marks with only two returning starters on offense and holes to fill at quarterback and receiver. However, Nick Saban has recruited an abundance of talent, and the Crimson Tide will have an elite defense if the secondary finds a few answers this fall. Until the quarterback and receiver situation stabilizes, Alabama can lean on its rushing attack and defense. With 11 games to find the right answers, the Crimson Tide's offense should be at full strength by the Iron Bowl.

 

2. New Faces at Quarterback

The SEC enters 2015 with a significant amount of uncertainty at quarterback. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott headlines the returning crop of signal-callers after earning first-team All-SEC honors last season. Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson is should have a breakout year, and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs and Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen are two additional rising stars. But Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, LSU and Ole Miss enter the fall with inexperience or uncertainty under center. Additionally, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Arkansas’ Brandon Allen will be looking to take the next step in their development. It’s no secret quarterback play is a huge part of how the season will play out. Considering the overall uncertainty of this position, there’s an extra layer of intrigue surrounding the quarterbacks in 2015.

 

3. New Coordinator Impact

Only two SEC teams (Alabama and Ole Miss) did not have a change in the coordinator ranks this offseason. With coaching changes at some of the SEC’s title contenders, how quickly the new coordinators make an impact will have a key role in the division title picture. Can John Chavis (Texas A&M) and Will Muschamp (Auburn) provide a quick fix for struggling defenses? Will Brian Schottenheimer keep Georgia’s offense among the best in the SEC? Will Jon Hoke turn around South Carolina’s defense in just one offseason? Several of the new coordinator hires should have a huge impact in 2015 – which one could alter how the divisions are decided?

 

4. Tennessee on the Rise

Entering Butch Jones’ third season on Rocky Top, Tennessee is poised to take another step forward in the East Division in 2015. The Volunteers improved by two games from 2013 to 2014 and closed last year by winning four out of the last five contests. Jones continues to elevate the talent level in Knoxville, and Tennessee returns 17 starters from last season’s 7-6 team. With a full year from quarterback Joshua Dobbs, combined with better play from the offensive line, the Volunteers should easily improve off last season's scoring mark (28.9). Tennessee’s defense is also poised to take a step forward. End Derek Barnett is one of the nation’s best, and cornerback Cam Sutton should be in the mix for first-team All-SEC honors. This unit is where recruiting has paid big dividends for Jones, especially with freshmen Kahlil McKenzie (DT) and Kyle Phillips (DE) adding to a good core of linemen for 2015. 

 

5. Sleeper Teams to Watch

Looking for teams that could spoil the division title hopes of favorites Georgia and Alabama? It’s hard to call Missouri a sleeper since coach Gary Pinkel’s team has won the East in back-to-back years. However, the Tigers suffered heavy losses at receiver and defensive end and begin 2015 under the radar. Florida has talent, but new coach Jim McElwain has major issues to address up front with a thin offensive line and at quarterback. In the West, Arkansas was one of the hottest teams in the SEC at the end of 2014. The Razorbacks will be a tough out once again and could improve their win total by two games if quarterback Brandon Allen improves under new coordinator Dan Enos. But the biggest wild card team to watch in the West is LSU. The Tigers have recruited as well as any team, yet is just 9-7 in SEC play over the last two years. Both sides of the ball are under the microscope for coach Les Miles this season. The quarterback play must improve, and the defense lost coordinator John Chavis to Texas A&M. Also, we can't forget Mississippi State's effort to reload on both sides of the ball after a 10-win campaign in 2014, along with in-state rival Ole Miss. The Rebels boast one of the SEC's top defenses, but will coach Hugh Freeze find a quarterback?

 

SEC 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank:
26105527372279
West Division
 
National
Rank:
216415211120

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 SEC Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 14 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 
 

SEC Football 2015 Predictions

     
East Division    
RankTeam Projected SEC RecordProjected Overall Record
1Georgia
(No. 10)
6-210-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Georgia for 2015.
2Tennessee
(No. 22)
5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Tennessee for 2015.
3

Florida

(No. 26)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Florida for 2015.
4

Missouri

(No. 27)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Missouri for 2015. 
5

South Carolina

(No. 37)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of South Carolina for 2015.
6

Kentucky

(No. 55)

2-66-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Kentucky for 2015.
7

Vanderbilt

(No. 79)

0-83-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Vanderbilt for 2015.
     
West Division    
RankTeam Projected SEC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Alabama

(No. 2)

7-112-1
Read the full, in-depth preview of Alabama for 2015.
2

Auburn

(No. 4)

6-210-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of Auburn for 2015.
3

Ole Miss

(No. 11)

5-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Ole Miss for 2015.
4LSU
(No. 15)
4-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of LSU for 2015.
5Arkansas
(No. 16)
4-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arkansas for 2015.
6

Texas A&M
(No. 20)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Texas A&M for 2015.
7Mississippi State
(No. 21)
3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Mississippi State for 2015.
     
SEC Championship
 Alabama over Georgia 

 

SEC 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@BradenGall@DavidFox615
Offensive POYNick Chubb
RB, UGA
Nick Chubb
RB, UGA
Nick Chubb
RB, UGA
Dak Prescott
QB, MSU
Nick Chubb
RB, UGA
Defensive POYDerek Barnett
DE, Tennessee
Derek Barnett
DE, Tennessee
Vernon Hargreaves
CB, Florida
Robert Nkemdiche
DL, Ole Miss
Myles Garrett
DE, TAMU
Coach of the YearButch Jones
Tennessee
Mark Richt
Georgia
Butch Jones
Tennessee
Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss
Gary Pinkel
Missouri
Coach on Hot SeatDerek Mason
Vanderbilt
Les Miles
LSU
Derek Mason
Vanderbilt
Derek Mason
Vanderbilt

Les Miles
LSU

Top FreshmanMartez Ivey
OL, Florida
Kahlil McKenzie
DT, Tennessee
Kevin Tolliver II
CB, LSU
Kahlil McKenzie
DT, Tennessee
Will Grier
QB, Florida
Top NewcomerMarquavius Lewis
DL, SC
Jovon Robinson
RB, Auburn
Jovon Robinson
RB, Auburn
Marquavius Lewis
DL, SC
Alvin Kamara
RB, Tennessee
Sleeper TeamTexas A&MTexas A&MKentuckyOle MissTexas A&M
Top Coordinator HireWill Muschamp
DC, Auburn
Will Muschamp
DC, Auburn

John Chavis
DC, TAMU

Will Muschamp
DC, Auburn
John Chavis
DC, TAMU
Key Position to WatchAlabama DBAlabama DBAlabama QBLSU QBMissouri DL
Hardest to EvaluateLSUMissouriLSUTennesseeArkansas
Coach on the RiseBarry Odom
DC, Missouri
Barry Odom
DC, Missouri
Mark Stoops
Kentucky
Butch Jones
Tennessee
Barry Odom
DC, Missouri
Must-See GameAlabama at 
Auburn
Alabama at
Auburn
Alabama at
Georgia
Alabama at
Auburn
Alabama at
Auburn
Breakout PlayerJeremy Johnson
QB, Auburn
Robert Foster
WR, Alabama
Boom Williams
RB, Kentucky
Jeremy Johnson
QB, Auburn
Jeremy Johnson
QB, Auburn
Comeback PlayerCarl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn
Carl Lawson
DE, Auburn

 

Ranking the SEC's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Nick Saban, Alabama

2. Gus Malzahn, Auburn

3. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina

4. Mark Richt, Georgia

5. Gary Pinkel, Missouri

 

Click here to view the full SEC Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the SEC's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

2. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn

3. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee

4. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M

5. Maty Mauk, Missouri

 

Click here to view the full SEC Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the SEC's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Nick Chubb, Georgia

2. Leonard Fournette, LSU

3. Derrick Henry, Alabama

4. Jonathan Williams, Arkansas

5. Alex Collins, Arkansas

 

Click here to view the full SEC Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The SEC's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn

2. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

3. Harold Brantley, DT, Missouri

4. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

5. Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Texas A&M vs. Arizona State (Houston) - Sept. 5

2. Auburn vs. Louisville (Atlanta) - Sept. 5

3. Oklahoma at Tennessee - Sept. 12

4. Georgia at Georgia Tech - Nov. 28

5. Florida State at Florida - Nov. 28

6. Clemson at South Carolina - Nov. 28

7. Wisconsin vs. Alabama (Dallas) - Sept. 5

8. South Carolina vs. North Carolina (Charlotte) - Sept. 3

9. Louisville at Kentucky - Nov. 28

10. Missouri vs. BYU (Kansas City) - Nov. 14

 

Related: SEC Schedule Analysis: East | West
 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Will Muschamp, Defensive Coordinator, Auburn

2. John Chavis, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M

3. Barry Odom, Defensive Coordinator, Missouri

4. Geoff Collins, Defensive Coordinator, Mississippi State

5. Dan Enos, Offensive Coordinator, Arkansas

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Trent Thompson, DL, Georgia

2. Martez Ivey, OT, Florida

3. Byron Cowart, DL, Auburn

4. Kahlil McKenzie, DL, Tennessee

5. CeCe Jefferson, DL, Florida

6. Kevin Toliver II, DB, LSU

7. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

8. Terry Beckner Jr., DL, Missouri

9. Daylon Mack, DL, Texas A&M

10. Kendall Sheffield, DB, Alabama

11. Blake Barnett, QB, Alabama

12. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

13. Tyron Johnson, WR, LSU

14. Terry Godwin, ATH, Georgia

15. Daron Payne, DL, Alabama

Teaser:
SEC Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/conference-usa-football-2015-predictions
Body:

Conference USA is a slightly behind the Mountain West and American Athletic in the pecking order for Group of 5 conferences. However, Conference USA had a team (Marshall) in the running for one of college football’s top bowl games last year, and the league could have another in 2015.

 

WKU will be a team to watch behind quarterback Brandon Doughty, as the Hilltoppers return seven starters from an offense that averaged 44.4 points per game in 2014. Coach Jeff Brohm’s team also has opportunities to score big-time wins, including games against Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana.

 

WKU is Athlon’s pick to win Conference USA, with Marshall and Louisiana Tech up next in the league power rankings.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape C-USA in 2015

 

1. WKU vs. Marshall in the East

The balance of power in Conference USA is tipped in favor of the East Division in 2015. Marshall and WKU rank as the top teams in Athlon’s power rankings for the upcoming year, and the meeting between the Thundering Herd and Hilltoppers on Nov. 27 could decide the division crown. WKU gets a slight edge in Athlon’s East projections, as coach Jeff Brohm’s team returns standout senior quarterback Brandon Doughty, a deep group of receivers and a defense that should be improved with seven starters back. Marshall has a favorable schedule by missing Louisiana Tech, UTEP and Rice in crossover play with the West. However, the Thundering Herd must replace quarterback Rakeem Cato and receiver Tommy Shuler. It’s a close call in the East. But an edge goes to WKU with Doughty at the controls.

 

2. Will any team catch Louisiana Tech in the West?

Louisiana Tech enters 2015 as the clear favorite in the West Division. The Bulldogs have a few holes to fill, but coach Skip Holtz’s team returns 13 starters and can ride running back Kenneth Dixon until the passing game settles with Florida transfer Jeff Driskel at quarterback. Louisiana Tech is projected to finish 6-2 in league play, with Rice (5-3) and UTEP (4-4) just behind. On paper, there is a significant gap between the Bulldogs and the Miners and Owls. However, UTEP hosts Louisiana Tech and does not play Marshall or WKU from the East. Rice returns standout quarterback Driphus Jackson, but the Owls must rebuild on defense. Will either team put all of the pieces together to push Louisiana Tech?

 

3. Looking for a Sleeper Team

The top six teams in Conference USA seem clear for 2015. WKU, Marshall and MTSU headline the East, while Louisiana Tech, Rice and UTEP anchor the top of the West. But will a surprise team emerge from the next group? FAU is a team to watch, as the Owls return quarterback Jaquez Johnson and standout defensive tackle Brandin Bryant is back from a knee injury. The Owls also host swing games against FIU and MTSU. In the West Division, Southern Miss and North Texas have potential to climb the standings. The Golden Eagles are still struggling to get back to the top of Conference USA, but there has been improvement in two years under coach Todd Monken. The Mean Green has a solid group of talent returning on defense and can lean on the talented one-two punch of running backs Antoinne Jimmerson and Jeffrey Wilson. But will coach Dan McCarney find a quarterback?

 

4. Old Dominion Replaces Taylor Heinicke

In its first full season as a FBS member, Old Dominion finished 6-6 and recorded a .500 (4-4) mark in Conference USA play. The Monarchs are trending up under coach Bobby Wilder and return 11 starters for 2015. However, there’s one glaring departure. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke has expired his eligibility, leaving redshirt freshman Shuler Bentley at the controls of coach Bobby Wilder’s high-powered offense. With three winnable games in September, combined with home dates against Charlotte, UTEP and FAU, there may be just enough favorable games on ODU’s slate for Wilder to take the Monarchs to a bowl in 2015.

 

5. Charlotte Joins Conference USA

The 49ers are the newest FBS member, joining Conference USA in just their third season of play since the program started a football team in 2013. Coach Brad Lambert is 10-12 over the last two years, but Charlotte has yet to beat a FBS program. There’s no doubt many challenges are ahead for Lambert as this program gets off the ground and is able to challenge for bowl games and winning records in Conference USA. But the 49ers will be a team to watch in 2015, as running back Kalif Phillips and receiver Austin Duke are two talented playmakers for an offense that averaged 38.8 points per game in 2014.    

 

Conference USA 2015 Team Previews

East Division
 
National
Rank:
128107112708811369
West Division
 
National
Rank:
8611789116100123

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Conference USA Predictions for 2015

     
East Division
RankTeam Projected C-USA RecordProjected Overall Record
1

WKU

(No. 69)

7-19-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of WKU for 2015.
2

Marshall

(No. 70)

6-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Marshall for 2015.
3

MTSU

(No. 88)

6-27-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of MTSU for 2015.
4

FAU

(No. 107)

5-35-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of FAU for 2015.
5

FIU

(No. 112)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of FIU for 2015.
6

Old Dominion

(No. 113)

3-55-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of ODU for 2015.
7

Charlotte

(No. 128)

0-81-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of Charlotte for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected C-USA RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Louisiana Tech

(No. 86)

6-28-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Louisiana Tech for 2015.
2

Rice

(No. 89)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Rice for 2015.
3

UTEP

(No. 100)

4-46-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of UTEP for 2015.
4

Southern Miss

(No. 116)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Southern Miss for 2015.
5

North Texas

(No. 117)

2-63-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of North Texas for 2015.
6

UTSA

(No. 123)

2-62-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of UTSA for 2015.
     
Conference USA Championship
 WKU over Louisiana Tech 

C-USA 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615
Offensive POYBrandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Brandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Brandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Brandon Doughty
QB, WKU
Defensive POYXavier Woods
S, La. Tech
Xavier Woods
S, La. Tech
Kevin Byard
S, MTSU
Xavier Woods
S, La. Tech
Coach of the YearJeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Coach on Hot SeatRon Turner
FIU
Larry Coker
UTSA
Ron Turner
FIU
Dan McCarney
North Texas
Top FreshmanShuler Bentley
QB, ODU
Brent Stockstill
QB, MTSU
Blake Bogenschutz
QB, UTSA
Shuler Bentley
QB, ODU
Top NewcomerMichael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Michael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Michael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Jeff Driskel
QB, La. Tech
Sleeper TeamOld DominionUTEPUTEPSouthern Miss
Top Coordinator HireMatt Wallerstedt
DC, Charlotte
Matt House
DC, FIU
Matt Wallerstedt
DC, Charlotte
Matt Wallerstedt
DC, Charlotte
Key Position to WatchRice DLWKU OLLa. Tech QBRice DL
Hardest to EvaluateFAUFAUMTSUMTSU
Coach on the RiseBobby Wilder
Old Dominion

Jeff Brohm
WKU

Jeff Brohm
WKU
Jeff Brohm
WKU
Must-See GameMarshall at
WKU
La. Tech at
WKU
Marshall at 
WKU
Marshall at
WKU
Breakout PlayerDeon-Tay McManus
WR, Marshall
Jowan Davis
RB, Rice
Autrey Golden
WR, UTEP
Michael Birdsong
QB, Marshall
Comeback PlayerEvan McKelvey
LB, Marshall
Brandin Bryant
DT, FAU
Evan McKelvey
LB, Marshall
Anthon Samuel
RB, FIU

Ranking the Conference USA Coaches for 2015

 

1. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech

2. David Bailiff, Rice

3. Doc Holliday, Marshall

4. Rick Stockstill, MTSU

5. Bobby Wilder, ODU

 

Ranking the Conference USA Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Brandon Doughty, WKU

2. Driphus Jackson, Rice

3. Jaquez Johnson, FAU

4. Austin Grammer, MTSU

5. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech

 

Ranking the Conference USA Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech

2. Devon Johnson, Marshall

3. Leon Allen, WKU

4. Aaron Jones, UTEP

5. Ray Lawry, ODU

 

Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. WKU at LSU - Oct. 24

2. WKU at Vanderbilt - Sept. 5

3. Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State - Oct. 17

4. Purdue at Marshall - Sept. 6

5. WKU at Indiana - Sept. 19

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Matt Wallerstedt, Defensive Coordinator, Charlotte

2. Blake Baker, Defensive Coordinator, Louisiana Tech

3. Chris Cosh, Defensive Coordinator, North Texas

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Trae Meadows, DB, MTSU

2. Von Davis, DB, Marshall

3. Johnny Shaw, DB, Louisiana Tech

4. Zach Abercrumbia, DT, Rice

5. Reese Ryan, QB, WKU

6. Kevin Dillman, TE, North Texas

7. Ruben Garnett, RB, MTSU

8. Tarrick Thomas, OL, FAU

9. Rhashid Bonnette, WR, Louisiana Tech

10. J'Mar Smith, QB, Louisiana Tech

Teaser:
Conference USA Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/mountain-west-football-2015-predictions
Body:

It’s a new year, but there’s a similar theme for the Mountain West in 2015. Boise State is once again the favorite to win the league crown, as the Broncos have a good chance to run the table and finish unbeaten this year. But Boise State will have competition from Utah State, Colorado State and San Diego State.

 

The balance of power in the Mountain West is clearly in the Mountain Division this season, with San Diego State the frontrunner from the West Division. All six of the teams from the Mountain Division rank inside of the top 100 of Athlon’s final 128 projections for 2015. However, on the other side, the West Division has only two teams ranked inside of the top 100.

 

Athlon projects a San Diego State-Boise State matchup in the 2015 Mountain West Championship. Below are five storylines to watch, followed by full conference predictions for this season.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Mountain West in 2015

 

1. How Will Boise State Reload at QB and RB?

The Broncos usually have little trouble finding the next standouts at quarterback and running back. But these positions could make-or-break Boise State’s run at an appearance in one of college football’s top bowl games. Ryan Finley exited the spring as the frontrunner to replace Grant Hedrick at quarterback, while Jeremy McNichols and Cory Young are slated as the favorites to replace Jay Ajayi at running back. Stanford transfer Kelsey Young will also factor into the mix at running back, while Finley will be pushed in the fall by Thomas Stuart and Brett Rypien for the starting quarterback spot. How fast will coach Bryan Harsin develop the right answers at two critical positions?

Related: Complete No. 1 to 128 College Football Rankings for 2015

 

2. Transfer Quarterbacks

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding quarterback play in the Mountain West for the 2015 season. Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton is one of the few proven options in this league, as Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Nevada and Fresno State will have a new starting quarterback in 2015. The uncertainty extends to the teams projected to finish at the bottom of the Mountain West, as Hawaii, San Jose State and UNLV are looking for answers under center. Help is on the way in the form of transfers for some teams, as Wyoming (Cameron Coffman, Indiana), Hawaii (Max Wittek, USC) and San Diego State (Maxwell Smith, Kentucky) left Power 5 programs for a chance to start.

 

3. Back from Injury at Utah State

Utah State has been hit hard by injuries over the last two seasons, but the Aggies are an impressive 19-9 under Matt Wells. Getting quarterback Chuckie Keeton and linebacker Kyler Fackrell back to full strength will be huge for Utah State in 2015. Assuming Keeton and Fackrell are at 100 percent this fall, the Aggies should be Boise State’s top competition in the Mountain West. Keeton completed 51 of 92 passes for 426 yards and two scores in three games last season before missing the rest of 2014 with a leg injury. Fackrell suffered a torn ACL in the opener against Tennessee and did not return last year. Getting both players back is a huge boost for Utah State's Mountain West title hopes.

 

4. New Coaches

Two new coaches join the league for 2015, as Colorado State hired Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to replace Jim McElwain (left for Florida), and UNLV replaced Bobby Hauck with successful high school coach Tony Sanchez. Bobo was one of the SEC’s top coordinators during his stint in Athens and should be a solid hire for the Rams. His top priority this fall will be finding a quarterback to replace Garrett Grayson, but Bobo inherits a solid offensive line and All-American receiver Rashard Higgins. The job is much tougher for Sanchez, as the first-year coach inherits a UNLV program that went 2-11 last season and returns just seven starters. Sanchez is going to need a few years to recruit and rebuild the talent level in the program, but two veteran coordinators (Kent Baer and Barney Cotton) should help his transition from the high school ranks to the FBS level.

 

5. Coaches on the Hot Seat

Is this a make-or-break year for Ron Caragher (SJSU) and Norm Chow (Hawaii)? Both Hawaii and San Jose State have the talent level to exceed last year’s win total, but both teams enter 2015 with plenty of uncertainty. The Spartans led the nation in pass defense in 2014 and third in the conference in yards allowed. However, the offense recorded only 19.3 points per game. The quarterback position is up for grabs this offseason, and the offense needs more punch from a rushing attack ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West. Hawaii hopes USC transfer Max Wittek is the answer under center, but there’s question marks about the offensive line and concerns up front on defense. 

 

Mountain West Conference 2015 Team Previews
Mountain Division
 
National
Rank:
832571965195
West Division
 
National
Rank:
1011149168110122

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Mountain West Conference Predictions for 2015

     
Mountain Division
RankTeam Projected MW RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Boise State

(No. 25)

8-012-1
Read the full, in-depth preview of Boise State for 2015.
2

Utah State

(No. 51)

7-18-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Utah State for 2015.
3

Colorado State

(No. 71)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Colorado State for 2015.
4

Air Force

(No. 83)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Air Force for 2015.
5

Wyoming

(No. 95)

3-55-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Wyoming for 2015.
6

New Mexico

(No. 96)

1-74-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of New Mexico for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected MW RecordProjected Overall Record
1

San Diego State

(No. 68)

6-28-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of San Diego State for 2015.
2

Nevada

(No. 91)

5-36-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Nevada for 2015.
3

Fresno State

(No. 101)

4-45-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Fresno State for 2015.
4

San Jose State

(No. 110)

3-54-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of San Jose State for 2015.
5

Hawaii

(No. 114)

1-73-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of Hawaii for 2015.
6

UNLV

(No. 122)

0-81-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of UNLV for 2015.
     
Mountain West Conference Championship
 Boise State over San Diego State 

Mountain West 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
David
Fox
Mark
Ross
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@DavidFox615@AthlonMarkR
Offensive POYDonnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Defensive POYKamalei Correa
DL, Boise State
Kyler Fackrell
LB, USU
Calvin Munson
LB, SDSU
Nick Vigil
LB, USU
Coach of the YearBryan Harsin
Boise State
Rocky Long
SDSU
Matt Wells
Utah State
Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Coach on Hot SeatNorm Chow
Hawaii
Norm Chow
Hawaii
Ron Caragher
SJSU
Norm Chow
Hawaii
Top FreshmanCory Young
RB, Boise State
Kanya Bell
WR, SJSU
Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Top NewcomerMaxwell Smith
QB, SDSU
Maxwell Smith
QB, SDSU
Dalyn Dawkins
RB, CSU
Dalyn Dawkins
RB, CSU
Sleeper TeamNew MexicoSan Jose StateWyomingSan Jose State
Top Coordinator HireKevin Clune
DC, USU
Kent Baer
DC, UNLV
Barney Cotton
OC, UNLV
Tyson Summers
DC, CSU
Key Position to WatchBoise State QB/RBBoise State RBBSU backfieldBoise State QB/RB
Hardest to EvaluateFresno StateColorado StateNevadaColorado State
Coach on the RiseMatt Wells
Utah State
Matt Wells
Utah State
Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Matt Wells
Utah State
Must-See GameBoise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Breakout PlayerDylan
Sumner-Gardner
S, Boise State
Cameron Coffman
QB, Wyoming
LaJuan Hunt
RB, USU
Tyler Ervin
WR/KR, SJSU
Comeback PlayerChuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Kyler Fackrell
LB, USU

Ranking the Mountain West Coaches for 2015

 

1. Matt Wells, Utah State

2. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

4. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

5. Rocky Long, San Diego State

 

Five QB Battles to Watch for 2015

 

1. Boise State
Ryan Finley vs. Brett Rypien and Thomas Stuart

 

2. Colorado State
Nick Stevens vs. Coleman Key 

 

3. Fresno State
Zack Greenlee vs. Kilton Anderson and Chason Virgil

 

4. Nevada
Tyler Stewart vs. Dante Mayes and Hunter Fralick

 

5. San Diego State 
Maxwell Smith vs. Christian Chapman and Jake Rodrigues

 

Ranking the Mountain West Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

2. Marteze Waller, Fresno State

3. Jhurell Pressley, New Mexico 

4. Shaun Wick, Wyoming

5. Jacobi Owens, Air Force

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Washington at Boise State - Sept. 4

2. Utah State at Utah - Sept. 11

3. Air Force at Navy - Oct. 3

4. Boise State at BYU - Sept. 12

5. Utah State at Washington - Sept. 19

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Kevin Clune, Defensive Coordinator, Utah State

2. Tyson Summers, Defensive Coordinator, Colorado State

3. Eliah Drinkwitz, Offensive Coordinator, Boise State

4. Kent Baer, Defensive Coordinator, UNLV

5. Al Borges, Offensive Coordinator, San Jose State

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. DeSean Holmes, WR, San Diego State

2. Kanya Bell, WR, San Jose State

3. Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State

4. Kyahva Tezino, LB, San Diego State

5. Tae'on Mason, ATH, San Jose State

6. Chason Virgil, QB, Fresno State

7. Jeremy Kelly, DB, San Jose State

8. Drew Berger, LB, Boise State

9. Akilan Butler, WR, Boise State

10. John Carroll, ATH, San Diego State

Teaser:
Mountain West Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/pac-12-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The Pac-12 has closed the gap on the SEC in recent years, but the conference is looking for its first national championship since 2004. 2015 will be an interesting setup in the Pac-12, as Oregon and USC will be national title contenders, but no team from this league ranked inside of the top five in Athlon’s projected 128 rankings.

 

Will one team emerge as the dominant clear favorite in 2015? Or will this league see several teams finish 10-2 or 9-3?

 

Despite the departure of quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon is the favorite in the North. If the offense takes a step forward under senior quarterback Kevin Hogan, Stanford could improve off last year’s 8-5 mark and challenge the Ducks for the division crown.

 

While USC is the early frontrunner to win the South, Arizona State, UCLA, Arizona and Utah aren’t far behind.

 

Here’s a look at five things to watch in the Pac-12 in 2015, followed by Athlon’s predictions.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Pac-12 in 2015

 

1. Replacing Marcus Mariota

It won’t be easy for Oregon coach Mark Helfrich to replace Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. While the Ducks may not match Mariota’s production at quarterback in 2015, they may not suffer much of a drop with Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams at the controls. Adams was a dynamic player on the FCS level, but he needs time to adjust to FBS play. With a game against Michigan State in early September, Adams will be tested right away. Helping his transition will be a deep backfield and receiving corps, along with an offensive line that regains the services of tackle Tyler Johnstone. With Washington rebuilding, California looking for the right answers on defense, and Stanford entering 2015 with question marks on both sides of the ball, Oregon is the clear No. 1 pick in the North. Just how high the Ducks finish nationally will be determined by Adams’ development under center.

Related: Complete College Football Rankings for 2015: No. 1 to 128

 

2. USC Back Among the Nation’s Elite?

The Trojans are still recovering from scholarship sanctions, but coach Steve Sarkisian has the necessary pieces in place to challenge for a playoff bid. USC closed 2014 by scoring 40 points in back-to-back games, and the offense will remain one of the best in the Pac-12 behind senior quarterback Cody Kessler, a talented group of receivers and an improving line. But for USC to challenge for a playoff bid, its defense will be under the spotlight. The back seven should be in good shape with the return of linebacker Su’a Cravens and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. However, the line must replace end Leonard Williams and more overall depth is needed to close out games in the second half. Sarkisian’s first year had its share of ups and downs. Can Sarkisian elevate this program back into national title contention?

 

3. The South Division Outside of USC

USC is the favorite to win the South, but there’s little separating the Trojans from the rest of the division. Arizona State and UCLA ranked among Athlon’s projected top 25 teams for this season, with Arizona close behind. Is one of these teams capable of challenging USC? For all three teams, quarterback play will be crucial to catching USC, and each squad has promise under center. Arizona State will turn to Mike Bercovici to replace Taylor Kelly, the Bruins have talented (but unproven) freshman Josh Rosen, and Arizona expects Anu Solomon to take a step forward in his second year under center. But there are other positions to watch outside of the quarterbacks. How Will UCLA’s offensive line develop? Is Arizona’s defense ready to take a step forward? Can Arizona State get enough production from its wide receivers to replace Jaelen Strong?

 

4. Chris Petersen’s Second Year at Washington

Chris Petersen had high expectations for his debut at Washington, but the Huskies only finished 8-6 and 4-5 in league play. One year does not determine how a coaching tenure will play out, and Petersen should be a good fit in Seattle for the long haul. However, just getting to a bowl game would be a good year for Petersen in 2015. The Huskies return only nine starters, feature uncertainty at quarterback and lose three standout defenders from last year’s unit. Petersen’s team is in rebuild mode for 2015, and non-conference games against Boise State and Utah State won’t make a winning record an easy assignment. How much will this team improve throughout the year? If the quarterback position remains an issue all year, California could easily pass Washington in the North.

 

5. Stanford Rebuilds on Defense…Searches for Offense

For the first time under coach David Shaw, Stanford did not win at least 11 games in a season. Shaw set the bar high in his first three years, and the Cardinal must reload to get back in contention in the North. The defense is Stanford’s biggest concern. Only four starters from last year’s dominant group returns, but there’s a solid core of players ready to step up and replace some of the lost production. The line is arguably Shaw’s biggest concern, and California graduate transfer Brennan Scarlett will help this group right away in 2015. While the defense is rebuilding, Stanford won’t challenge for 10 wins once again without improvement on offense. Taking the next step on offense falls on the right arm of quarterback Kevin Hogan, who hopes to build off a solid three-game finish to 2014. Hogan should have plenty of help though, as Stanford’s line is one of the best in the Pac-12, and sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey is a player on the rise.

 

Pac-12 2015 Team Previews

North Division
 
National
Rank: 
47873244666
South Division
 
National
Rank:
30136723631

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 Pac-12 Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 12 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Pac-12 Predictions for 2015

     
North Division
RankTeam Projected Pac-12 RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Oregon

(No. 8)

8-110-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Oregon for 2015.
2

Stanford

(No. 24)

5-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Stanford for 2015.
3

Washington

(No. 46)

4-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Washington for 2015.
4

California

(No. 47)

4-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of California for 2015.
5

Washington State

(No. 66)

2-74-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Washington State for 2015.
6

Oregon State

(No. 73)

1-83-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Oregon State for 2015.
 
South Division
RankTeam Projected Pac-12 RecordProjected Overall Record
1

USC

(No. 6)

7-211-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of USC for 2015.
2

Arizona State

(No. 13)

7-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arizona State for 2015.
3

UCLA

(No. 23)

6-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of UCLA for 2015.
4

Arizona

(No. 30)

5-48-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Arizona for 2015.
5

Utah

(No. 31)

4-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Utah for 2015.
6

Colorado

(No. 67)

1-85-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Colorado for 2015.
Pac-12 Championship
USC over Oregon 

 

Pac-12 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
Mark
Ross
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@BradenGall@DavidFox615@AthlonMarkR
Offensive POYCody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Cody Kessler
QB, USC
Defensive POYScooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Scooby Wright
LB, Arizona
Coach of the YearTodd Graham
Arizona State
Steve Sarkisian
USC
David Shaw
Stanford
Sonny Dykes
California
Steve Sarkisian
USC
Coach on Hot SeatMike Leach
Wazzu
Mike Leach
Wazzu
Mike MacIntyre
Colorado
Kyle Whittingham
Utah
Mike Leach
Wazzu
Top FreshmanJosh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen
QB, UCLA
Iman Marshall
DB, USC
Top NewcomerVernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Vernon Adams
QB, Oregon
Sleeper TeamCaliforniaCaliforniaStanfordArizonaCalifornia
Top Coordinator HireKalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Kalani Sitake
DC, Oregon State
Key Position to WatchUSC DLUSC RBStanford DLOregon DBUCLA QB
Hardest to EvaluateUCLAUCLAUCLAUCLAWashington
Coach on the RiseMike Norvell
OC, Arizona State
Scott Frost
OC, Oregon
Sonny Dykes
California
Mike Norvell
OC, Arizona State
Mike Norvell
OC, Arizona State
Must-See GameUSC at Oregon USC at OregonUSC at OregonUSC at OregonUSC at Oregon
Breakout PlayerJuJu Smith
WR, USC
Christian McCaffrey
RB, Stanford
Peter Kalambayi
LB, Stanford
Budda Baker
S, Washington
Christian McCaffrey
RB, Stanford
Comeback PlayerTyler Johnstone
OL, Oregon
Bralon Addison
WR, Oregon
Bralon Addison
WR, Oregon
Kevin Hogan
QB, Stanford
Bralon Addison
WR, Oregon

Ranking the Pac-12's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Todd Graham, Arizona State

2. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

3. David Shaw, Stanford

4. Chris Petersen, Washington

5. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

 

Click here to view the full Pac-12 Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Cody Kessler, USC

2. Jared Goff, California

3. Anu Solomon, Arizona

4. Vernon Adams, Oregon

5. Mike Bercovici, Arizona State

 

Click here to view the full Pac-12 Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the Pac-12's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Devontae Booker, Utah

2. Paul Perkins, UCLA

3. Royce Freeman, Oregon

4. Nick Wilson, Arizona

5. Daniel Lasco, California

 

Click here to view the full Pac-12 Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The Pac-12's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Adoree' Jackson, CB/WR, USC

2. JuJu Smith, WR, USC

3. Budda Baker, S, Washington

4. Christian McCaffery, RB, Stanford

5. Demario Richard, RB, Arizona State

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Oregon at Michigan State - Sept. 12

2. USC at Notre Dame - Oct. 17

3. Texas A&M vs. Arizona State (Houston) - Sept. 5

4. Notre Dame at Stanford - Nov. 28

5. Washington at Boise State - Sept. 4

 

Related: Complete Pac-12 Schedule Analysis for 2015

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Kalani Sitake, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon State

2. Tom Bradley, Defensive Coordinator, UCLA

3. Jim Leavitt, Defensive Coordinator, Colorado

4. Dave Baldwin, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon State

5. Aaron Roderick, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Utah

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Iman Marshall, DB, USC

2. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

3. Canton Kaumatule, DL, Oregon

4. Keisean Lucier-South, LB, UCLA

5. Rasheem Green, DL, USC

6. Chuma Edoga, OL, USC

7. Soso Jamabo, RB, UCLA

8. Osa Masina, LB, USC

9. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

10. Porter Gustin, LB, USC

Teaser:
Pac-12 Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/uab-reinstates-football-team
Body:

Just six months after UAB announced its football team would be disbanded following the 2014 season, the Blazers are set to return to FBS competition.

 

School president Ray Watts announced the decision to reinstate the football program on Monday afternoon, but it’s uncertain when UAB will return to the gridiron.

 

Since the decision to eliminate the football team in December, UAB’s fanbase and the city of Birmingham stepped up with donations and overall support to help the program return.

 

With UAB keeping its football program, the Blazers will be allowed to remain in Conference USA.

 

It’s anticipated UAB will hit the field again in 2016, but many questions remain for the program. Bill Clark did an outstanding job in leading the Blazers to a 6-6 mark in 2014 and will return as the head coach. But UAB is also starting from scratch in terms of players and talent and it will take time to rebuild the roster.

 

Also, there’s the question of facilities. UAB plays in antiquated Legion Field and an on-campus facility or improved stadium is needed. The program is also raising to funds to improve the practice fields and invest in the overall facilities.

 

All of the questions surrounding the disbanding and resinstating of the program weren’t answered on Monday. However, thanks to the #FreeUAB movement on Twitter and some leaders in Birmingham and in the state of Alabama, the Blazers will be back on the gridiron in the near future. 

Teaser:
UAB Reinstates Football Team for 2016
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 17:52
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The American Athletic Conference has seen its share of changes recently, but this league should have more stability entering 2015. There’s a solid 12-team lineup in place with the addition of Navy, and the American Athletic Conference will have a title game in December at the home site of the divisional champion with the best record in league contests.

 

The winner of this league also has a good chance to claim the Group of 5 spot among college football’s biggest games.

 

Cincinnati and Houston are Athlon’s picks to win the divisions and meet in the American Athletic Conference title game. Here are a few storylines to watch in 2015, followed by Athlon’s full predictions.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the AAC in 2015

 

1. Defensive Concerns at Cincinnati and Memphis

Behind explosive and productive offenses, Cincinnati and Memphis are two of the league’s top contenders in 2015. But winning the conference championship for both programs will largely depend on the development of defense. Cincinnati allowed 27.2 points per game last season and gave up 33 plays of 30 yards or more. Coach Tommy Tuberville handed play-calling duties to Steve Clinkscale, and the new coordinator inherits five returning starters and question marks about the front seven. At Memphis, coach Justin Fuente lost rising star Barry Odom at coordinator and only return only three starters from a unit that held opponents to just 19.5 points per game in 2014. The development of defenses at Memphis and Cincinnati will have a huge impact on the battle to win the American Athletic Conference.

 

2. New Coaches, Big Impact

The American Athletic Conference welcomes three new coaches in its West Division for 2015. While none of the three are proven as a head coach in the collegiate ranks, all three programs received high marks for their offseason hire. Tom Herman comes to Houston after coordinating Ohio State’s offense, and the Cougars are Athlon’s pick to win the West Division in 2015. Chad Morris takes over at SMU after a stint as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. The Mustangs went 1-11 last year and should show big improvement in Morris’ debut. Tulsa hired Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, and the Texas native’s background on offense should pay dividends for the Golden Hurricane in 2015.

 

3. East Carolina Reloads on Offense

The Pirates were one of the top storylines at the start of 2014, as quarterback Shane Carden guided the program to wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina. But East Carolina lost four out of its last six games, and coach Ruffin McNeill’s team enters 2015 with question marks on offense. Carden and record-setting receiver Justin Hardy have expired their eligibility, and offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley now calls the plays at Oklahoma. Sophomore Kurt Benkert has the difficult task of replacing Carden, but the Pirates have a solid offensive line and deep receiving corps to ease his transition into the lineup. With a schedule featuring matchups against Florida, Virginia Tech, BYU and a crossover game against Navy, East Carolina will be challenged to match last year’s 8-5 mark.

 

4. Navy Joins the American Athletic Conference

Navy leaves the Independent ranks to join the American Athletic Conference in 2015. The Midshipmen should be one of the top contenders for the league crown this year, as quarterback Keenan Reynolds returns after accounting for 29 scores in 2014. Under coach Ken Niumatalolo’s direction, Navy has won at least eight games in six out of the last seven years. While the Midshipmen have to travel to Memphis and Houston, Niumatalolo’s team misses Cincinnati, UCF and Temple from the East in crossover play. Navy’s style of play will be a challenge for the rest of the league. The Midshipmen also have the element of surprise in their conference debut.

 

5. Changes at South Florida

Is 2015 a make-or-break year for Taggart at South Florida? Taggart was a good hire after guiding Western Kentucky to 14 victories in his final two seasons (2011-12). But in two years, the Bulls are just 6-18 under Taggart’s watch, and the third-year coach made a handful of changes this offseason in an effort to spark the program. South Florida has a new up-tempo, spread offense, as well as a new defensive play-caller in Tom Allen. Taggart has recruited well, but the pressure is building to produce a winner. Will the Bulls take a step forward? Or will the quarterback and offensive line concerns be too much to overcome?

 

American Athletic Conference 2015 Team Previews
East Division
 
National
Rank: 
4010972996263
West Division
 
National 
Rank:
505954102104106

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

American Athletic Conference Predictions for 2015

     
East Division
RankTeam Projected AAC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Cincinnati

(No. 40)

6-29-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Cincinnati for 2015.
2

Temple

(No. 62)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Temple for 2015.
3

UCF

(No. 63)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of UCF for 2015.
4

East Carolina

(No. 72)

5-36-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of East Carolina for 2015.
5

South Florida

(No. 99)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of USF for 2015.
6

UConn

(No. 109)

1-73-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of UConn for 2015.
     
West Division
RankTeam Projected AAC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Houston

(No. 50)

6-29-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Houston for 2015.
2

Navy

(No. 54)

6-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Navy for 2015.
3

Memphis

(No. 59)

6-28-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Memphis for 2015.
4

SMU

(No. 102)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of SMU for 2015.
5

Tulane

(No. 104)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Tulane for 2015.
6

Tulsa

(No. 106)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Tulsa for 2015.
     
American Athletic Conference Championship
Cincinnati over Houston 

 

American Athletic 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615
Offensive POYKeenan Reynolds
QB, Navy
Keenan Reynolds
QB, Navy
Gunner Kiel
QB, Cincinnati
Keenan Reynolds
QB, Navy
Defensive POYTyler Matakevich
LB, Temple
Tyler Matakevich
LB, Temple
Tyler Matakevich
LB, Temple
Zeek Bigger
LB, ECU
Coach of the YearTom Herman
Houston
Tom Herman
Houston
Ken Niumatalolo
Navy
Matt Rhule
Temple
Coach on Hot SeatWillie Taggart
USF
Willie Taggart
USF
Willie Taggart
USF
Willie Taggart
USF
Top FreshmanTre'Quan Smith
WR, UCF
Tyreik Gray
RB, Houston
Tristan Payton
WR, UCF
Tre'Quan Smith
WR, UCF
Top NewcomerRyan Mack
OL, Memphis
Chance Allen
WR, Houston
Bryant Shirreffs
QB, UConn
Jae'Lon Oglesby
WR, Memphis
Sleeper TeamTempleSMUMemphisTulane
Top Coordinator HireTodd Orlando
Co-DC, Houston
Tom Allen
DC, USF
Major Applewhite
OC, Houston
Bill Young
DC, Tulsa
Key Position to WatchMemphis DL/LBCincinnati DLHouston QBCincinnati DL/LB
Hardest to EvaluateUSFEast CarolinaEast CarolinaNavy
Coach on the RiseJustin Fuente
Memphis
Tom Herman
Houston
Chad Morris
SMU
Justin Fuente
Memphis
Must-See GameCincinnati at
Houston
Cincinnati at
Houston
SMU at
Houston
UCF at
Cincinnati
Breakout PlayerMatt Davis
QB, SMU
Matt Davis
QB, SMU
William Stanback
RB, UCF
Greg Ward
QB, Houston
Comeback PlayerTerrell Stanley
DL, ECU
Zaire Williams
RB, Temple
Zaire Williams
RB, Temple
Zach Johnson
OT, Houston
Ranking the American Athletic Coaches for 2015

 

1. Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

2. Justin Fuente, Memphis

3. George O'Leary, UCF

4. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy

5. Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina

 

Ranking the American Athletic Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati

2. Keenan Reynolds, Navy

3. Paxton Lynch, Memphis

4. Greg Ward, Houston

5. Justin Holman, UCF

 

Ranking the American Athletic Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Marlon Mack, USF

2. Kenneth Farrow, Houston

3. William Stanback, UCF

4. Sherman Badie, Tulane

5. Mike Boone, Cincinnati

 

The American Athletic's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Greg Ward, QB, Houston

2. Tre'Quan Smith, WR, UCF

3. Matt Davis, QB, SMU

4. Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane

5. Noel Thomas, WR, UConn

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Cincinnati at BYU - Oct. 17

2. Houston at Louisville - Sept. 12

3. Navy vs. Army (Philadelphia) - Dec. 12

4. Navy at Notre Dame - Oct. 10

5. Ole Miss at Memphis - Oct. 12

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Todd Orlando, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Houston

2. Bill Young, Defensive Coordinator, Tulsa

3. Tom Allen, Defensive Coordinator, USF

4. Brent Key, Offensive Coordinator, UCF

5. Van Malone, Defensive Coordinator, SMU

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Tristan Payton, WR, UCF

2. Chad President, QB, Tulsa

3. Tyreik Gray, RB, Houston

4. T.J. Simmons, RB, Temple

5. Kareem Ali Jr., DB, Temple

6. Ross Trail, QB, Cincinnati

7. Rashard Causey, DB, UCF

8. James Proche, WR, SMU

9. Khalid McGee, DB, USF

10. Luke Hiers, OL, UCF

Teaser:
American Athletic Conference 2015 Football Predictions
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/acc-football-2015-predictions
Body:

The ACC enters 2015 as a league in transition. No team from this conference was projected to make the college football playoff in Athlon Sports’ rankings for the upcoming season, and there’s a loss of star power with the departure of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley and Miami running back Duke Johnson.

 

In 2014, 13 out of the ACC’s 14 programs lost at least two games in league play. Florida State was the only exception, finishing with a perfect 8-0 mark. The Seminoles are the favorites to win the ACC for the fourth consecutive year. But the gap between Florida State and the rest of the league has decreased in 2015.

 

While the ACC is in transition, there’s no shortage of intrigue in the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions. Here’s a look at five things to watch in the ACC for 2015, followed by Athlon’s predictions. 

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the ACC in 2015

 

1. Jimbo Fisher Rebuilds (Reloads?) at Florida State

Florida State is coming off one of the best two-year runs by a program in recent memory. The Seminoles went 27-1 during that span and claimed the 2013 national championship. Fisher has returned this program back to the nation’s elite and enters 2015 with a rebuilding effort on his hands. Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson and Sean Maguire will compete to replace Jameis Winston, but the bigger question mark on this team is on defense after giving up 5.5 yards per play last year. With the departures of end Mario Edwards Jr. and tackle Eddie Goldman, along with a thin linebacking corps, the Seminoles are searching for answers on this side of the ball. Talent certainly isn’t an issue. How quickly does Florida State reload in 2015? If all of the young talent emerges, another playoff run is within reach. 

 

2. Offense and Defense Question Marks at Clemson

Clemson’s defense was arguably the best in the nation last season, limiting opponents to 16.7 points per game and just four yards per play. Coordinator Brent Venables has a lot of work to do this offseason, as the Tigers return just two starters and suffered big losses at each level. The good news for Venables? There’s plenty of talent ready to emerge. But until the defense is stabilized, the offense may have to carry this team. Just like the defense, there’s question marks, but also a lot of promising talent. Sophomore Deshaun Watson is the ACC’s top quarterback, and the Tigers are loaded at the skill positions. The offense should remain one of the best in the conference, but how much will this unit miss coordinator Chad Morris? He left to be the head coach at SMU, and coach Dabo Swinney promoted Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott to the co-coordinator level.

 

3. Coastal Division Uncertainty

It seems to be an annual storyline in recent years, but the Coastal Division is a wide open race once again. Georgia Tech should be the favorite with the return of quarterback Justin Thomas and an improving defense. However, coach Paul Johnson’s team loses seven of the top 10 rushers from last year, along with receiver DeAndre Smelter. Additionally, Georgia Tech plays crossover games against Clemson and Florida State. But if the Yellow Jackets stumble, which team will emerge? Virginia Tech has the top defense in the ACC. However, question marks remain on offense. Is Miami ready to contend in Al Golden’s fifth year? Will North Carolina’s defense improve? Or is this the year where a surprise team like Pittsburgh or Duke wins the division? Questions abound in the Coastal in 2015. 

 

4. Louisville, Pittsburgh and NC State – Sleepers to Watch?

With the three projected top 25 teams for 2015 all suffering key losses from last season, there’s plenty of room for a sleeper to emerge. The gap between the top and the middle of the ACC has closed a bit with the losses at the top three programs, but which team will take advantage? Is it Louisville? The Cardinals need to settle on a quarterback and rebuild the offensive line, but the defense should be stout once again. Pittsburgh has a favorable crossover by missing three of the top four teams in the Atlantic and returns two of the ACC’s top players in running back James Conner and receiver Tyler Boyd. How much will the defense improve in Pat Narduzzi’s first year? NC State closed 2014 by winning four out of its last five. The Wolfpack return 14 starters, including quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Another step forward in the win column wouldn’t be a surprise.

 

5. Pressure Building at Miami and Virginia

2015 could be a make-or-break year for Virginia’s Mike London and Miami’s Al Golden. London is 23-38 in five years with the Cavaliers and has not played in a bowl since 2011. After showing progress last season with five victories, London needs to get Virginia back into the postseason in 2015. For Miami, the Hurricanes are still looking for the first appearance in the ACC Championship. Miami showed signs of progress with a 9-4 record in 2013 but has just one season of more than seven wins under Golden. After going 6-7 last year, the pressure is building at Miami. Adding to Golden’s challenge in 2015 will be a rebuilt offensive line, the loss of running back Duke Johnson and the departure of standout linebacker Denzel Perryman. 

 

ACC 2015 Team Previews

Atlantic Division
   
National
Rank:
5614938398582

 

Coastal Division
 
National
Rank: 
52184342416135

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 ACC Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 14 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

 

ACC Predictions for 2015

     
Atlantic Division  
RankTeam Projected ACC RecordProjected Overall Record
1Florida State
(No. 9)

 
6-211-2
Read the full, in-depth preview of Florida State for 2015.
2

Clemson

(No. 14)

6-29-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of Clemson for 2015.
3

Louisville

(No. 38)

5-37-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Louisville for 2015.
4

NC State

(No. 39)

5-39-3
Read the full, in-depth preview of NC State for 2015.
5

Boston College

(No. 56)

3-56-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Boston College for 2015.
6

Wake Forest

(No. 82)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Wake Forest for 2015.
7

Syracuse

(No. 85)

1-73-9
Read the full, in-depth preview of Syracuse for 2015.
     
Coastal Division    
RankTeam Projected ACC RecordProjected Overall Record
1

Georgia Tech

(No. 18)

6-28-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Georgia Tech for 2015.
2

Virginia Tech

(No. 35)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Virginia Tech for 2015.
3

Pittsburgh

(No. 41)

5-38-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Pittsburgh for 2015.
4

North Carolina

(No. 42)

4-47-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of North Carolina for 2015.
5

Miami

(No. 43)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Miami for 2015.
6

Duke

(No. 52)

3-57-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Duke for 2015.
7

Virginia

(No. 61)

2-64-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of Virginia for 2015.
ACC Championship
 Florida State over Georgia Tech 

 

ACC 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
Braden
Gall
 @AthlonSteven@AthlonMitch@AthlonMarkR@DavidFox615@BradenGall
Offensive POYJames
Conner, RB
Pittsburgh
Dalvin
Cook, RB
FSU
Deshaun
Watson, QB
Clemson
Dalvin
Cook, RB
FSU
Deshaun
Watson, QB
Clemson
Defensive POYJalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Jalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Kendall Fuller
CB, Va. Tech
Jalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Jalen Ramsey
DB, FSU
Coach of the YearJimbo Fisher
Florida State
Jimbo Fisher
Florida State
Dave Doeren
NC State
Pat Narduzzi
Pittsburgh
Bobby Petrino
Louisville
Coach on Hot SeatMike London
Virginia
Mike London
Virginia
Mike London
Virginia
Al Golden
Miami
Larry Fedora
UNC
Top FreshmanDerwin James
S, FSU
Deon Cain
WR, Clemson
C.J. Stalker
LB, Virginia
Chris Taylor
WR, Duke
George Campbell, WR, FSU
Top NewcomerEverett Golson
QB, FSU
Devonte Fields
DL/LB, Louisville
Josh
Harvey-Clemons
S, UL
Devonte Fields
DL/LB, Louisville
Josh
Harvey-Clemons
S, UL
Sleeper TeamNC StateNC StateNC StateDukeMiami
Top Coordinator HireGene Chizik
DC, UNC
Josh Conklin
DC, Pittsburgh
Gene Chizik
DC, UNC
Jim Chaney
OC, Pittsburgh
Gene Chizik
DC, UNC
Key Position to WatchFlorida State DLVirginia Tech OLFlorida State OLClemson
LB
Florida State OL
Hardest to EvaluateMiamiMiamiMiamiNorth CarolinaMiami
Coach on the RiseJosh Conklin
DC, Pittsburgh
Scottie Montgomery
OC, Duke
Dave Doeren
NC State
Charles Kelly
DC, FSU
Dave Doeren
NC State
Must-See GameFSU at ClemsonFSU at
Clemson
FSU at ClemsonFSU at ClemsonFSU at Clemson
Breakout PlayerShaq Lawson
DE, Clemson
Joe Yearby
RB, Miami
Joe Yearby
RB, Miami
Joe Yearby
RB, Miami
Artavis Scott
WR, Clemson
Comeback PlayerLuther Maddy
DT, Va. Tech
Trey Edmunds
RB, Va. Tech
Kelby Brown
LB, Duke
Everett Golson
QB, FSU
Jabari Hunt-Days
DL, GT
 
Ranking the ACC's Coaches for 2015

 

1. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

2. Bobby Petrino, Louisville

3. David Cutcliffe, Duke

4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

5. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

 

Click here to view the full ACC Coach Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the ACC's Quarterbacks for 2015

 

1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

2. Brad Kaaya, Miami
3. Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
4. Marquise Williams, North Carolina
5. Jacoby Brissett, NC State

Click here to view the full ACC Quarterback Rankings for 2015

 

Ranking the ACC's Running Backs for 2015

 

1. James Conner, Pittsburgh

2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State

3. Jon Hilliman, Boston College

4. Joseph Yearby, Miami

5. Shadrach Thornton, NC State

 

Click here to view the full ACC Running Back Rankings for 2015

 

The ACC's Top 5 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

3. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

4. Rod Johnson, OT, Florida State

5. Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech

 

Related: College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Notre Dame at Clemson (Oct. 3)

2. Florida State at Florida (Nov. 28)

3. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (Sept. 19)

4. Louisville vs. Auburn (Atlanta (Sept. 5)

5. Georgia at Georgia Tech (Nov. 28)

 

Related: Complete ACC Schedule Analysis for 2015

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Gene Chizik, Defensive Coordinator, North Carolina

2. Josh Conklin, Defensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh

3. Jim Chaney, Offensive Coordinator, Pittsburgh

4. Tony Elliott/Jeff Scott, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Clemson

5. Todd Fitch, Offensive Coordinator, Boston College

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. Derwin James, S, Florida State

2. Josh Sweat, DL, Florida State

3. Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State

4. Deon Cain, WR, Clemson

5. George Campbell, WR, Florida State

6. Mitch Hyatt, OL, Clemson

7. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson

8. Jacques Patrick, RB, Florida State

9. Jalen Dalton, DL, North Carolina

10. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Teaser:
ACC Football 2015 Predictions
Post date: Monday, June 1, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/urban-meyer-says-braxton-miller-will-return-ohio-state-2015
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Braxton Miller’s future at Ohio State has been a hot topic since the end of the 2014 season. But according to coach Urban Meyer, Miller will be playing for the Buckeyes in 2015. 

 

Meyer told reporters on Friday that Miller is “playing for Ohio State this fall.”

 

Additionally, Meyer mentioned Miller’s rehab is going well from shoulder surgery and is now throwing 35-yard passes.

 

Ohio State has three proven quarterbacks entering fall practice and plenty of uncertainty about which passer takes the first snap.

 

Here’s a quick take on each quarterback:

 

Cardale Jones

Jones entered the year as the third-string quarterback but finished as the team’s No. 1 after injuries to Miller and J.T. Barrett. Jones guided Ohio State to the national championship and was the only healthy quarterback out of this trio in the spring. He should be the favorite to take the first snap.

 

Braxton Miller

With Meyer’s comments on Friday, it’s safe to assume Miller will be back at Ohio State for 2015. Returning from a shoulder injury is no easy task for a quarterback. Could he play another position in 2015?

 

J.T. Barrett

Before suffering a season-ending leg injury against Michigan, Barrett threw for 34 touchdowns and 2,834 yards. There’s a lot of upside with Barrett, and he could work as the team’s No. 2 quarterback if Miller shifts to a different position. Assuming Barrett is at full strength, he should see playing time in 2015.

Teaser:
Urban Meyer Says Braxton Miller Will Return to Ohio State in 2015
Post date: Friday, May 29, 2015 - 12:31
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, College Football, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/baylor-unveils-new-gray-uniforms-2015
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Art Briles has transformed Baylor into one of college football’s top programs in recent years, and the Bears are expected to be one of the leading contenders for a spot in the four-team playoff this season.

 

And in the process of competing for the Big 12 title once again, Baylor will have a new set of gray uniforms for 2015.

 

The uniforms were tweeted by Briles on Friday morning and are a sharp design for the Bears. Needless to say, we like this scheme for Baylor:

 

Teaser:
Baylor Unveils New Gray Uniforms for 2015
Post date: Friday, May 29, 2015 - 12:10
Path: /college-football/ranking-college-footballs-graduate-transfer-qbs-2015
Body:

Transfers are a big part of any college football season. And over the last few seasons, graduate transfers have become a bigger part of the offseason player movement landscape.

 

However, taking a transfer (graduate or four-year) isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. Graduate transfer quarterbacks were a mixed bag of success in 2014, as Cody Sokol (Louisiana Tech), Tyler Murphy (Boston College), Jameill Showers (UTEP), Andrew Hendrix (Miami, Ohio) and Blake Frohnapfel (UMass) turned in solid seasons. However, on the other side, Jake Heaps (Miami), Matt Joeckel (TCU), Brandon Connette (Fresno State), Jake Coker (Alabama) and Stephen Rivers (Vanderbilt) didn’t have much of an impact. And some quarterbacks (Virginia Tech’s Michael Brewer) fall into the wait and see category.

 

Just because a team lands a transfer doesn’t equal success for the upcoming year. However, graduate transfer quarterbacks can have an instant impact for teams needing a new starter under center. How do the 12 graduate transfer quarterbacks stack up for 2015? Here’s a ranking of the passers based upon likely impact.

 

Note: This only includes quarterbacks landing at a new team for 2015.

 

Ranking College Football’s Graduate Transfer QBs for 2015

 

1. Vernon Adams, Oregon (from Eastern Washington)

 

Marcus Mariota leaves big shoes to fill in Eugene. Regardless of whether Adams or Jeff Lockie gets the nod under center, the Ducks will have a hard time replicating Mariota’s production in 2015. But even if there’s a slight drop in performance, Oregon’s offense is still going to be among the best in the nation. Adams was a dynamic player at Eastern Washington, throwing for 10,438 yards and 110 touchdowns and adding 1,232 yards and 11 scores on the ground. It may take Adams a few games to adjust, but he has the talent to rank among the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks by the end of 2015.

 

Related: Oregon Ranks No. 8 in Athlon's Top 25 for 2015

 

2. Everett Golson, Florida State (from Notre Dame)

 

Jimbo Fisher is three-for-three in starting quarterbacks at Florida State going in the first round of the NFL Draft. Golson probably won’t extend that streak to four, but the South Carolina native is a key addition as the Seminoles continue the process of replacing Jameis Winston this fall. Golson threw for 5,850 yards and 41 touchdowns and added 14 rushing scores during his two-year stint as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. Sean Maguire has the edge in experience in Florida State’s offense, but Golson is already a proven quarterback on the Power 5 Conference/FBS level. 

 

Related: Florida State Ranks No. 9 in Athlon's Top 25 for 2015

 

3. Jake Rudock, Michigan (from Iowa)

 

Jim Harbaugh’s arrival should help Michigan’s offense take a step forward in 2015. The Wolverines can only go up after averaging only 20.9 points per game in 2014, and there’s a clear identity and direction now with Harbaugh at the helm. Rudock is a rare intra-conference transfer, as he left Iowa to use his final season of eligibility in Ann Arbor. The Florida native threw for 4,819 yards and 34 scores with the Hawkeyes and should start over Shane Morris in 2015.

 

Related: Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 Coaching Hire for 2015

 

4. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech (from Florida)

 

Louisiana Tech went the graduate transfer route last year and had success with former Iowa passer Cody Sokol. Driskel was regarded as a five-star recruit in the 2011 signing class and finished his Florida career with 3,411 passing yards and 23 scores. He also rushed for 552 yards and 23 touchdowns in four seasons of playing time with the Gators. Driskel didn’t quite match his recruiting hype at Florida, but he’s landed in a good situation at Louisiana Tech for the 2015 season.

 

5. Maxwell Smith, San Diego State (from Kentucky)

 

Shoulder injuries sidelined Smith’s career at Kentucky, but the California native has a good opportunity to thrive at San Diego State in 2015. In three years with the Wildcats, Smith threw for 3,070 yards and 21 scores to just nine interceptions. The senior finished spring at the top of San Diego State’s quarterback depth chart.

Related: San Diego State Ranks No. 68 in Athlon's 2015 College Football Rankings

 

6. Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh (from Tennessee)

 

Chad Voytik was solid in his first full year as the starter in 2014, throwing for 2,233 yards and 16 scores to just seven interceptions. He also rushed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. Peterman transferred to Pittsburgh after three years at Tennessee and was recruited by Panthers’ offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to Knoxville in 2012. Peterman’s familiarity in this scheme should help, but Voytik has the edge to start.

 

7. Daxx Garman, Maryland (from Oklahoma State)

 

Maryland is the third stop in Garman’s collegiate career. The Texas native redshirted in his only season at Arizona (2011) and spent the next three years at Oklahoma State. Garman played in nine games for the Cowboys in 2014, throwing for 2,041 yards and 12 scores. Garman has a strong arm and connected on 19 passing plays of 30 yards or more last season. With likely starter Caleb Rowe returning from injury, Garman is a good backup plan for coach Randy Edsall.

Related: Maryland Ranks No. 57 in Athlon's 2015 College Football Rankings

 

8. Adam Schulz, Houston (from Utah)

 

New coach Tom Herman should feel good about his starter (Greg Ward), but Schulz is a nice insurance option. The Wisconsin native played in eight games at Utah and started three contests in 2013. Schulz threw for 1,008 yards and six scores that season, including a 347-yard performance against Washington State.

 

Related: Houston Ranks No. 50 in Athlon's 2015 College Football Rankings

 

9. Trey Anderson, FIU (from Pittsburgh)

 

FIU’s offense is looking for a spark after ranking 98th nationally in scoring last year. Youth at the quarterback spot had a lot to do with the offensive woes, but there’s hope for improvement with Alex McGough having another offseason under his belt. Anderson played in eight games during his Pittsburgh career and completed 25 of 53 passes for 263 yards and one touchdown to three interceptions.

 

10. Greyson Lambert, Virginia to ?

 

Lambert could move a few spots up on this list depending on his transfer destination. In two years with the Cavaliers, he threw for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns but also tossed 13 interceptions and completed 55.7 percent of his throws. Lambert started nine of Virginia’s 12 games in 2014.

 

11. Russell Bellomy, UTSA (from Michigan)

 

Bellomy played sparingly in his Michigan career and made only one appearance in 2014. The Texas native was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and will compete with Blake Bogenschutz and Austin Robinson for the starting job. Bellomy is a dual-threat option for coordinator Kevin Brown.

 

12. Josh Grady, Florida (from Vanderbilt)

 

Grady completed only 3 of 7 pass attempts for 27 yards during his three years of playing time at Vanderbilt. The Florida native also received snaps at receiver and finished his career in Nashville with seven catches for 89 yards. The Gators need depth at the quarterback spot, and first-year coach Jim McElwain plans to use the Florida native under center – and not at receiver – in 2015. Grady is likely slated to be the No. 3 quarterback for McElwain this year.

Teaser:
Ranking College Football's Graduate Transfer QBs for 2015
Post date: Friday, May 29, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/sec-win-total-projections-2015
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The 2015 college football season is still a few months away. However, the news cycle never stops, and there’s plenty to keep the conversation going this summer.

 

Athlon Sports is counting down its rankings for 2015, while 5Dimes Sportsbook has released some early win total over/under odds for the upcoming season.

 

5Dimes’ win totals featured some interesting projections for Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama. Auburn was only 8.5, while the Crimson Tide is listed at 9.5 on the sportsbook.

 

With the win totals released, Athlon Sports is taking a look at all 14 of the SEC teams and whether we would take the over, under or push on the projections for 2015.

 

SEC Win Total Projections: Over, Under or Push

 

East Division

 

Florida: 7.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

Jim McElwain alone adds a win or two for this offense, and this team was WAY closer to winning the East than folks remember last year.

 

Steven Lassan: Under

I like the Jim McElwain hire, and the defense should be strong once again. However, the offensive line is a major issue, and a redshirt freshman (Will Grier) is likely to start at quarterback.

 

Mitch Light: Under

The defense should be stout, but there are too many issues on offense to expect this team to contend in the East.

 

Georgia: 9

 

Braden Gall: Over

The Dawgs are the clear-cut frontrunner in the East and get a bunch of big games at home. This is the most complete team in the easier division.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

The passing game is still a question mark, but the Bulldogs have the best backfield and one of the top defenses in the SEC. Outside of games against Alabama and Auburn, I don’t see a loss on this schedule.

 

Mitch Light: Over

The conference schedule is very tough — Georgia plays both Alabama and Auburn — but Mark Richt has the most complete team in the SEC.

 

Related: Georgia's Nick Chubb is the SEC's Top Running Back for 2015

 

Kentucky: 6

 

Braden Gall: Under

This team is improving under Coach Stoops, and Patrick Towles could will them to a push. But I'm going under with that schedule.

 

Steven Lassan: Push

I might be too optimistic on Kentucky, but a bowl seems reasonable for the Wildcats in 2015. Boom Williams is a breakout candidate at running back, and the talent level has improved on the recruiting trail. The finale against Louisville could be a must-win game to get to six.

 

Mitch Light: Over

Mark Stoops talented young core is a year older and should break through with the school’s first winning season since 2009.

 

Missouri: 7.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

When in doubt, take the over with Gary Pinkel. The defensive line is starting to become a concern, but Maty Mauk should improve and keep the Tigers in the East race.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

Never count out Missouri in the SEC East under Gary Pinkel’s watch. While I don’t think this team will win the division again, reaching eight wins is reasonable – if quarterback Maty Mauk plays better in SEC games.

 

Mitch Light: Under

We’ve been wrong about Missouri in the past, but this could be the year the Tigers take a step back in the East.

 

South Carolina: 7

 

Braden Gall: Push

Run as far away from this one as possible. South Carolina should be better on defense but is lacking in star power.

 

Steven Lassan: Push

South Carolina’s defense can’t be any worse than it was in 2014. That’s the good news. The bad news? There’s uncertainty at quarterback, two key starters gone from the offensive line and a lack of proven receivers outside of Pharoh Cooper. Additionally, crossover games against LSU and Texas A&M are tough.

 

Mitch Light: Push

Other than Pharoh Cooper, the Gamecocks don’t have many (or any) difference makers on offense.

 

Tennessee: 7.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

There are some key swing games — Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri — that could result in a push. I think they get over the hump in one of those.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

Tennessee is Georgia’s top challenger in the East. Yes, the schedule is tough, but the talent level is improving, Josh Dobbs is back for a full year under center, and the defense is trending up.

 

Mitch Light: Over

The Vols boast some of the top young talent in the league. As long as Josh Dobbs stays healthy, this is an eight-win team.

 

Related: Tennessee Ranks No. 22 in Athlon's Top 25 for 2015

 

Vanderbilt: 3

 

Braden Gall: Over

There aren't a lot of wins there but this defense should be legit. One SEC win gets you the over.

 

Steven Lassan: Push

The Commodores will be better in coach Derek Mason’s second season. But games against Western Kentucky and Houston aren’t guaranteed wins, and it’s tough to find a win in SEC play.

 

Mitch Light: Over

The Commodores’ non-conference schedule is tricky, but Derek Mason’s club will find a way to win at least four games.

 

West Division

 

Alabama: 9.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

This may not be a national title-type team at Bama but losing three times in the regular season seems highly unlikely with that talent and Nick Saban calling the shots.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

Alabama has won at least 10 games in each of the last seven seasons. There are some concerns – quarterback, receiving corps and secondary – but the Crimson Tide isn’t short on talent. Nick Saban will keep this team among the nation’s best in 2015.

 

Mitch Light: Over

This is far from a perfect team, but Alabama still has fewer weaknesses than 99 percent of the teams in the nation.

 

Related: Alabama Ranks No. 2 in Athlon's Top 25 for 2015

 

Arkansas: 8.5

 

Braden Gall: Under

I love what Bret Bielema has done and this team will be in every game it plays. But it needs balance against an elite schedule to win nine games.

 

Steven Lassan: Under

This is one of the toughest picks on the board. Arkansas is due for better luck in close games and has two swing contests against Tennessee and Missouri from the East. If Dan Enos helps the passing attack improve, the Razorbacks could hit nine victories.

 

Mitch Light: Under

The Hogs are a top-20 team, but a brutal schedule will prevent them from winning nine or 10 games.

 

Related: Arkansas Ranks No. 16 in Athlon's Top 25 for 2015

 

Auburn: 8.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

Take the over and run. This is the best bet on this SEC board. Athlon Sports has the Tigers making the playoff, so 11 wins is essentially a must for that to happen. And it could easily.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

Easiest pick among the SEC teams. Take the over. Auburn is due to rebound back into the national title conversation this year. The offense is explosive behind quarterback Jeremy Johnson, and the defense will improve with Will Muschamp calling the plays.

 

Mitch Light: Over

The Auburn offense, led by QB Jeremy Johnson, will be explosive. This is a legitimate national title contender.

 

LSU: 8

 

Braden Gall: Under

Like Carolina in the East, there are just too many questions to bet on LSU in anyway. I'd punt this one with anything from six to 10 wins possible for the Tigers.

 

Steven Lassan: Push

LSU is the hardest team to figure out in the SEC this season. Talent isn’t the issue, but there’s massive uncertainty at quarterback and a new scheme (and personnel concerns) on defense. If all of the pieces fall into place, the Tigers could finish 9-3 or 10-2. However, matching last year’s win total seems more realistic.

 

Mitch Light: Push

It wouldn’t surprise me if this team went 10–2 or 6–6. Let’s split the difference.

 

Mississippi State: 7

 

Braden Gall: Over

They may not finish in the top half of the West but last place could easily win seven games. I'll give Dak Prescott credit for one extra win somewhere.

 

Steven Lassan: Push

Another tough call. Mississippi State is losing a lot, but there’s also talent waiting to step into the lineup. The Bulldogs will get better as the season goes along, and senior quarterback Dak Prescott could pull off an upset late in the year to push Mississippi State to eight wins.

 

Mitch Light: Push

The Bulldogs have a star at quarterback in Dak Prescott but suffered heavy personnel losses elsewhere.

 

Related: Mississippi State Ranks No. 21 in Athlon's Top 25 for 2015

 

Ole Miss: 8.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

This team is a QB away from being a national title contender and still could be without one. The Rebels are closer to Bama/Auburn territory than LSU.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

Even with the losses in the secondary, Ole Miss should have one of the nation’s top defenses. While the quarterback spot and rushing attack is a concern, the talent at receiver is better, and the offensive line is improving. I think Ole Miss could go 10-2 in 2015.

 

Mitch Light: Over

The Rebels are my sleeper pick to flirt with a spot in the College Football Playoff.

 

Texas A&M: 7.5

 

Braden Gall: Over

There is a lot of upside here in terms of talent and coaching. However, it's very young or new to campus. If I had to bet, I'd take the over but I'd stay away from the volatile Aggies.

 

Steven Lassan: Over

One team is going to exceed preseason expectations in the West. Texas A&M is a good sleeper pick, as the Aggies are dynamic once again on offense, and the defense will be better under John Chavis. A crossover schedule with Vanderbilt and South Carolina certainly helps.

 

Mitch Light: Under

The Aggies are loaded with talent, but do the math: Not every team can win eight in the SEC West. 

 

Related: Texas A&M's Kyle Allen Ranks No. 4 Among SEC QBs for 2015

 

 

Teaser:
SEC Win Total Projections for 2015
Post date: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-offensive-triplets-2015
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Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers are glamour positions in college football. While offensive linemen and defensive players are just as important to winning a title, it’s no secret the skill players and quarterbacks grab the attention and headlines. With that in mind, Athlon has ranked the top 25 triplets in