College football

College Football Preview: 100-91

#100: Utah State | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
Utah State's Matt Wells is looking to rebound after last year's 3-9 campaign. The three-win season snapped a string of five consecutive bowl berths for the Aggies. However, this program lost four games by seven points or less, suggesting some quick improvement is there for the taking in 2017. The addition of new coordinator David Yost should help quarterback Kent Myers in his development, and the secondary is among the best in the Mountain West. The top concern for Wells rests at the line of scrimmage. Both sides of the ball are undergoing renovations in the trenches - how quickly will the right answers emerge? A tough schedule also limits Utah State's hopes for improvement. The Aggies must play Wisconsin, Wake Forest and BYU in non-conference play, while catching swing games against UNLV, New Mexico and Air Force on the road.

#99: Texas El Paso | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
The passing game is still a major question mark, and over on defense the secondary could spell trouble. The running game has potential. Too many holes to plug will make for a long season for the Miners.

#98: Eastern Michigan | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
Eastern Michigan was the biggest surprise in the MAC last year. After a 3-21 start under coach Chris Creighton, the Eagles showed marked improvement in 2016. The program earned its first bowl trip since 1987 and finished with seven victories. Can Creighton guide the program to another postseason bid in 2017? Eastern Michigan's hopes of a winning record rest with a dynamic offense and quarterback Brogan Roback. The Eagles will have to break in a couple of new starters in the trenches, and tight end Nigel Kilby won't return to the team after catching 34 passes in 2016. While the personnel is certainly there to go bowling once again, Eastern Michigan's schedule isn't friendly.

#97: Arizona | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
The Wildcats are coming off their first losing season under Rich Rodriguez and open 2017 offseason workouts with several question marks. The offense averaged only 24.8 points per game last year and was hit hard by injuries at the quarterback position. Three passers received significant snaps, including Brandon Dawkins (1,345 passing yards and 944 rushing yards). Dawkins is the likely frontrunner to take the first snap in 2017, but he will face competition from Khalil Tate. Dawkins needs to show more consistency as a passer after completing 53.6 percent of his throws in 2016. When healthy, Nick Wilson and J.J. Taylor form an effective one-two punch at running back. Three of Arizona's top four receivers are gone from last season, with Shun Brown (521 yards) the team's most-established target returning in 2017. Despite an overhaul on the staff prior to the season, Arizona's defense struggled once again in 2016. The Wildcats gave up 38.3 points a game and 6.1 yards per play. This unit did not have a player receive all-conference or honorable mention honors last season and must replace arguably its top two performers last year in linebackers Michael Barton and Paul Magloire.

#96: Texas San Antonio | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
UTSA took a step forward under coach Frank Wilson last season and finished 6-7 with a trip to the program's first bowl game. The Roadrunners are recruiting well, so the future outlook for this team is bright under Wilson's direction. For 2017, UTSA returns 13 starters, including one of the league's top defenders in sophomore linebacker Josiah Tauaefa and quarterback Dalton Sturm. The offense needs to throw the ball with more consistency and develop better play from the line. But the pieces are in place on the skill positions and on defense to finish second in the West.

#95: Vanderbilt | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
The Commodores took a step forward in coach Derek Mason's third season and earned the program's first bowl trip since the 2013 campaign. Improving upon the six-win mark from 2016 won't be easy, especially with a schedule that features a non-conference game against Kansas State, road trips to Ole Miss and South Carolina, along with a visit from Alabama in late September. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur struggled in the Independence Bowl but finished the regular season by torching Tennessee for 416 yards. If Shurmur can build off a solid month of November, the Commodores should easily improve off the 23 points a game total this unit posted in 2016. Running back Ralph Webb returns after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, and the receiving corps returns largely intact. Vanderbilt tied for fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (24.0 ppg) last season and should one of the better units in the conference once again. However, Mason has to replace standout linebacker Zach Cunningham, cornerback Torren McGaster and lineman Adam Butler.

#94: Texas | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
New coach Tom Herman should help this program take a significant step forward next fall. However, just how high can this team climb? Talent certainly isn't an issue for Herman. Quarterback Shane Buechele headlines an offense that averaged over 30 points per game (31.9) for the first time since 2012 last fall. Running back D'Onta Foreman departed for the NFL after a 2,000-yard season in 2016. However, Chris Warren is back from injury, and Kyle Porter is another option to handle the ground game. Anchored by tackle Connor Williams, guard Patrick Vahe and center Zach Shackelford, the Longhorns have a promising trio in the trenches and should be one of the better lines in the Big 12 next fall. New defensive coordinator Todd Orlando inherits a depth chart full of talent, but Texas has to improve on defense after surrendering 31.5 points per game in 2017. Linebacker Malik Jefferson, end Bryce Cottrell and hybrid end/linebacker Breckyn Hager are a key trio for Orlando to build around this spring. The Longhorns have a favorable path to a finish among the top three teams in the Big 12, as Oklahoma State and Kansas State visit Austin next fall.

#93: Central Florida | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
Behind first-year coach Scott Frost, UCF was one of the nation's most-improved teams last fall. The Knights went from 0-12 in 2015 to 6-7 in 2016, and Frost should be able to build on his debut thanks to nine returning starters on offense. Sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton needs to take the next step in his development, but UCF is loaded at the skill positions, and the line should improve with three returning starters. UCF's defense is also in rebuild mode. The Knights return only four starters - all in the front seven. Alabama transfer Shawn Burgess-Becker is a name to watch in the secondary.

#92: Texas Tech | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
It's no secret 2017 is a critical year for coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Red Raiders are 7-11 in Big 12 play over the last two seasons and have missed on a bowl in two out of the last three years. As usual, scoring points hasn't been a problem for Texas Tech. However, the defense has surrendered at least 40 points per game (on average) over each of the last three seasons. Can this unit take a step forward next fall? Coordinator David Gibbs returns a good chunk of the depth chart, including linebacker Jordyn Brooks and end Kolin Hill. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leaves big shoes to fill after deciding to enter the NFL Draft. Nic Shimonek is the frontrunner to start at quarterback after throwing for 464 yards and six scores in four games in 2016. Shimonek won't be hurting for options at receiver, as Jonathan Giles (69 catches), Keke Coutee (55), Cameron Batson (61) and Dylan Cantrell (57) return for 2017.

#91: Akron | ROSTER | SCHEDULE
The Zips aren't without their share of question marks and face a brutal crossover slate (Toledo and Western Michigan). Quarterback Thomas Woodson had offseason shoulder surgery and is hoping to return to full strength in time for the 2017 campaign. If Woodson is limited, junior college transfer Nick Johns will start at quarterback. With four returning starters up front, and the return of running back Warren Ball from injury, the quarterback should have a solid supporting cast in place. Akron must find a few answers on a defense that gave up over 460 yards and surrendered 33.6 points per game last fall.

2017 Preseason Ranking

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