Potential BCS Busters
After winning five straight WAC titles, the Broncos will try to reclaim the crown they relinquished to Hawaii last season. Despite returning senior tailback Ian Johnson, there are major questions on offense, such as who will be the quarterback and how will the team replace four starting linemen?
The Falcons should light up scoreboards with quarterback Tyler Sheehan, multi-dimensional running back Anthony Turner (17) and wide receiver Freddie Barnes -- that is if a line that is replacing three fifth-year seniors can find its footing. The offense may have to score in bunches if BG doesn't improve on a defense that ranked 94th in total defense a year ago.
The Cougars own the nation's longest winning streak at 10 games and have won 16 consecutive Mountain West contests. The offense returns eight starters, including MWC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Max Hall, though questions remain on a defense that must replace eight starters.
The Chippewas have their sights on a third straight MAC title behind dual threat quarterback Dan LeFevour, who had 46 combined touchdowns on the ground and in the air in '07. Defense, though, is this team's biggest obstacle, having ranked 109th in total defense last season.
The Pirates will have one of the best defenses in the mid-major ranks behind strong safety Van Eskridge (4), who had 104 tackles, and a front seven that has six starters returning. The offense is bound to take a hit without Chris Johnson, but the drastic differences in the games of quarterbacks Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkey gives it some unpredictability.
The WAC's best shot at another BCS berth, the Bulldogs and coach Pat Hill's ''anyone, anytime, anywhere'' credo have Fresno State playing Rutgers, Wisconsin and UCLA in non-conference games. Hill's offense will be tough to corral with tight end Bear Pascoe (85), a veteran line and a dangerous running game that features Ryan Mathews, Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding.
First-year coach Larry Fedora has to find a quarterback to run his no-huddle spread offense but there's enough star power here to ease the transition for whoever takes the keys. The Golden Eagles boast C-USA's offensive and defensive players of the year in running back Damion Fletcher (25) and linebacker Gerald McRath.
The Horned Frogs return a dangerous tailback tandem in senior Aaron Brown (23) and junior Joseph Turner and boast the MWC's defensive player of the year in senior linebacker Jason Phillips. TCU's season will likely be determined by whether Andy Dalton can improve on his 10-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2007.
The Golden Hurricanes return much of the firepower from last year's offense that was No. 3 in the nation in passing -- except for the quarterback. Still, wide receivers Trae Johnson (83) and Brennan Moore, who each had over 1,000 yards, and 1,200-yard rusher Tarrion Adams should keep this team in the C-USA race.
Quarterback Brian Johnson (3) and wide receiver Brent Casteel give Utah plenty of firepower -- if the team can stay healthy. Johnson played much of last season with a shoulder injury and Casteel was knocked out with an ACL tear. The defense could be dominant, returning seven starters from a group that was fifth in points allowed and first in pass efficiency defense.