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Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Non-BCS power rankings


Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Below are my preseason power rankings. These are based on a scientific formula that involves a lot of complex math, a slew of preseason information, a coin, a team of highly trained monkeys, and a dartboard. I kid. Kinda.

I believe these rankings are representative of the non-BCS heading into the season. I expect a ton of turnover after the first week, especially with a ton of high-level BCS matchups, but BYU should remain in the top spot at least until Week 3.

I know I've written it 100 times, but I really like Tulsa as the sleeper and TCU can never be counted out.

Non-BCS Power Rankings
RankTeamAnalysis
1.It's hard to argue top billing when the Cougars are ranked higher in the preseason coaches' poll than any other non-BCS team. The nonconference schedule isn't too tough, but they have to play at TCU and at Utah if the Cougars want to win the Mountain West and make a BCS game.
2.The Bulldogs have a tough nonconference schedule, but if they make it through, they will be one of the top teams to break into the BCS this year. With 17 returning starters, it's going to be tough to keep the Bulldogs quiet.
3.If there's one team that could quietly sneak onto the national stage it's the Golden Hurricane. They're coming off their first 10-win season since 1991 and have the nation's most dynamic offense. Although they're breaking in a new quarterback, the offense shouldn't miss a step. The defense, well, that's another story.
4.The Utes sneak into the fourth spot because of the experience and depth it has returning. The pass defense was one of the best in the country and the offense will be better with all its starters healthy. But the Utes open on the road at Michigan, which could bust their season early.
5.The only thing that kept the Broncos out of the No. 4 spot is experience. Boise State lost a lot of talent from last season, especially on offense. But this is a team that is known for its ability to reload; just not sure it can push Fresno State off the WAC pedestal.
6.The Irish will, no doubt, move up as the season progresses, but for right now they're an unknown coming off a 3-9 season. There are at least nine wins on a schedule that's easier than past seasons. San Diego State should be a gimme, but the back-to-back games against Michigan and Michigan State could be the Irish's undoing.
7.The Owls sneak in as the best team no one is talking about. Yes, it's a relatively new program, but it upset Minnesota last season, beat a talented Troy team for the Sun Belt title and then trounced Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl. Quarterback Rusty Smith is on the Davey O'Brien watch list after throwing for almost 3,700 yards.
8.The Chippewas return all-everything quarterback Dan LeFevour, but he's yet to take this team to the next step against a BCS opponent. That's not all his fault, the CMU defense has been a weak spot for a couple years. LeFevour will have a golden opportunity against Georgia and then two weeks later against a Purdue team it should have beaten in the Motor City Bowl last season.
9.Everyone is talking about BYU and Utah, but the Horned Frogs have just as good a chance of taking the Mountain West title. The eight-win season was an anomaly last year and with the off-field problems behind it, look for TCU to make a run, especially if it can beat New Mexico in the season opener.
10.This was a tough choice because the Pirates are going to get beaten up during the nonconference schedule with games against four high-level BCS teams. But if the Pirates can come out of non-conference at least 2-2, they'll be riding a huge wave of confidence heading into the C-USA season.
Others re
ceiving votes:
Bowling Green, Nevada, Troy, Ball State, Western Michigan.