1. Louisville: The Cardinals did nothing this spring that would have warranted a move out of the top spot. With Teddy Bridgewater and a majority of their starters back, you see why expectations are rising.
2. Cincinnati: The Bearcats should be excellent at linebacker and on the offensive line, two big reasons why they should again be one of the best in the league.
3. Rutgers: The improvement Gary Nova showed this spring should allow Rutgers to remain one of the top teams in the league, even as the defense rebuilds.
5. USF: The next four teams fall under the same category. The Bulls have a chance to rebound under Willie Taggart thanks to what should be a much-improved front seven. Offensive issues remain.
6. Houston: The Cougars have some stout receivers, a great running back in Charles Sims and just about everybody back on defense. But about the quarterback …
7. SMU: Though the Mustangs lost more starters than anybody in the league, they should be able to run the ball again behind Traylon Shead and Prescott Line. The addition of Hal Mumme should help quarterback Garrett Gilbert, too.
8. Connecticut: The Huskies dropped another spot because there are more questions on this team than just about any in the league. Will the offensive line be better? Will Chandler Whitmer improve? Where is the depth at running back? And how does the defense deal with losing four NFL picks?
9. Temple: We believe coach Matt Rhule will get the Owls back in the win column, but the forecast for Year 1 is murky due to a complete revamp in scheme and offensive philosophy.
10. Memphis: The Tigers built momentum in the second half of last season, but they are not going to have the depth or physicality to challenge right out of the gate in their first year in a new league.