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June 22, 2010

Preseason Top 120 Countdown: Nos. 95-91

Here is the sixth part of Rivals.com's 1-120 countdown for 2010; today, we look at teams ranked 91st through 95th.

We're starting at the bottom, and the first two weeks of rankings will be in groups of five. We'll do a daily countdown from 50th to first, with our No. 1 team to be unveiled Aug. 19 -- two weeks from the beginning of the season.

The team rankings were compiled by football writers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee. They look forward to your emails.

Top 120 countdown
No. 95 Army
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OFFENSE
QB Trent Steelman (6-8/185, Soph.)
RB Jameson Carter (5-11/187, Sr.)
RB Patrick Mealy (5-8/203, Sr.)
FB Jared Hassin (6-3/218, Soph.)
WR Austin Barr (6-4/203, Jr.)
WR Davyd Brooks (6-3/200, Jr.)
T Anees Merzi (6-3/283, Sr.)
T Jason Johnson (6-3/257, Sr.)
G Frank Allen (6-4/275, Soph.)
G Seth Reed (6-1/275, Sr.)
C Zachary Peterson (6-1/267, Sr.)
DEFENSE
E Marcus Hilton (6-0/247, Soph.)
T Mike Gann (6-2/275, Sr.)
E Josh McNary (6-1/225, Sr.)
LB Nate Combs (6-3/207, Soph.)
LB Andrew Rodriguez (6-3/210, Jr.)
LB Stephen Anderson (5-10/229, Sr.)
LB Steve Erzinger (6-1/215, Jr.)
CB Antuan Aaron (5-9/193, Jr.)
CB Richard King (5-11/188, Sr.)
FS Donovan Travis (6-1/190, Sr.)
SS Donnie Dixon (6-0/196, Sr.)
SPECIALISTS
K Alex Carlton (6-0/186, Jr.)
P Jonathan Bulls (6-1/217, Sr.)
KR Patrick Mealy (5-8/203, Sr.)
PR Josh Jones (6-1/187, Jr.)
COACH: Rich Ellerson (5-7, second season; 65-48, 11th season overall).
LAST SEASON: 5-7
FINAL 2009 RIVALS.COM RANKING: 98th
KEEP AN EYE ON: After transferring from Air Force, FB Jared Hassin, a 6-foot-3, 218-pound bruiser, should take some of the pressure off sophomore QB Trent Steelman. Hassin is expected to make enough of an impact that Army moved incumbent starting FB Kingsley Ehie to linebacker.
STRENGTHS: Steelman was the first true freshman to start at quarterback at Army in the modern era, and he didn't disappoint in reaching that milestone. After leading Army with 706 rushing yards, he should continue to improve after adding weight during the offseason. He'll play behind a veteran line that returns four seniors with starting experience. Despite losing T Victor Ugenyi, the line should anchor the defense. E Josh McNary entered West Point's record books by recording a season-record 12.5 sacks. Army returns three of four starting linebackers and three starters in the secondary to a top-20 defense.
WEAKNESSES: Like the other service academies, Army won't have big passing numbers out of the triple option. Taking that into consideration, Army's passing game still was lacking. The Black Knights ranked last in the country in passing, and Steelman completed fewer than half his passes. At receiver, Army does not return a player who caught more than four passes last season, though the Knights have high hopes for Davyd Brooks. On defense, the health of LB Stephen Anderson could be a concern. He recorded 83 total tackles and nine tackles for loss before missing the last three games and all of the spring with torn knee ligaments. A healthy Anderson would be a major boost to a run defense that allowed 151.8 yards per game.
BUZZ: By going 5-7 and staying in bowl contention until a season-ending loss to Navy, Army enjoyed its best season since going 10-2 in 1996. Ellerson has Army on the right track, but the Cadets still have a long way to go to catch up to rivals Navy and Air Force. The five teams Army defeated last season were awful -- Eastern Michigan (0-12), Ball State (2-10), Vanderbilt (2-10), FCS member VMI (2-9) and North Texas (2-10). Lucky for Army, the Knights get to play some of those teams again in their bid to reach their first bowl since '96.

-- DAVID FOX

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Top 120 countdown
No. 94 Central Michigan
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OFFENSE
QB Ryan Radcliff (6-2/202, Soph.)
RB Paris Cotton (5-9/188, Jr.)
WR Jerry Harris (6-3/184, Soph.)
WR Kito Poblah (6-2/203, Sr.)
WR Cody Wilson (5-10/182, Soph.)
TE David Blackburn (6-3/233, Jr.)
T Jake Olson (6-8/282, Soph.)
T Rocky Weaver (6-6/272, Jr.)
G Darren Keyton (6-3/298, Soph.)
G Jeff Maddux (6-5/315, Sr.)
C Colin Miller (6-3/292, Sr.)
DEFENSE
E Kashawn Fraser (6-3/226, Jr.)
T Sean Murnane (6-1/266, Sr.)
T John Williams (6-0/280, Jr.)
E Caesar Rodriguez (6-2/224, Soph.)
LB Nick Bellore (6-1/241, Sr.)
LB Matt Berning (6-0/232, Sr.)
LB Armond Staten (6-1/211, Jr.)
CB Vince Agnew (5-10/198, Sr.)
CB Lorenzo White (6-0/179, Soph.)
FS Bobby Seay Jr. (5-11/186, Sr.)
SS Dannie Bolden (5-11/197, Jr.)
SPECIALISTS
K Richie Hogan (6-1/190, R-Fr.)
P Brett Hartmann (6-4/229, Sr.)
KR Jahleel Addae (5-9/193, Soph.)
PR Cody Wilson (5-10/182, Soph.)
COACH: Dan Enos (first season).
LAST SEASON: 12-2, 8-0 (1st in MAC West); beat Troy in GMAC Bowl
FINAL 2009 RIVALS.COM RANKING: 33rd
KEEP AN EYE ON: Ryan Radcliff, who was drafted out of Sherwood (Ohio) Fairview High as a catcher by the Colorado Rockies, is the front-runner to replace QB Dan LeFevour, who left as one of the best MAC players of all time. The Chippewas have posted five winning seasons in a row and have gone to bowls in each of the past four seasons. But unless Radcliff adjust quickly, those streaks are going to end. He was 10-of-21 passing for 115 yards in seven games last season.
STRENGTHS: The offensive line should be good with four starters back; C Colin Miller and LG Jeff Maddux will be four-year starters and have all-league potential. The middle of the defense will be strong with LBs Nick Bellore and Matt Berning returning; each had more than 100 tackles last season. Sean Murnane and John Williams form the foundation for a strong interior to the defensive line. CMU's punt-coverage team was excellent last season.
WEAKNESSES: Problem No. 1 is replacing LeFevour, who also was the team's top rusher. Making matters stickier for the new quarterback is that there's a lack of depth at receiver with stalwarts Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown gone. The running back situation also bears watching after Bryan Schroeder, who ran for 559 yards last season, decided to give up football. Myriad holes loom on defense. The search is on for some ends with Larry Knight, Sam Williams and Frank Zombo gone. The secondary also is being overhauled, as three of the four starters are gone. What's it all mean? Don't expect Central Michigan to have the MAC's top scoring defense (18.9 ppg), like it did last fall. There also are myriad questions on special teams, including finding a return man, breaking in a new kicker and improving kickoff coverage.
BUZZ: With Butch Jones off to coach Cincinnati, Enos -- who was running backs coach at Michigan State, his alma mater -- is charged with keeping this program on top. But he may have a tough time keeping things humming. Enos has many big holes to fill and faces a rugged schedule. Four of the first six games are on the road, including Temple, Northwestern and Virginia Tech. Later in the season there's a game at Navy.

-- TOM DIENHART

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Top 120 countdown
No. 93 Duke
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OFFENSE
QB Sean Renfree (6-3/210, Soph.)
RB Desmond Scott (5-10/185, Soph.)
WR Austin Kelly (6-2/200, Sr.)
WR Donovan Varner (5-9/170, Jr.)
WR Conner Vernon (6-2/195, Soph.)
TE Brett Huffman (6-4/240, Sr.)
T Kyle Hill (6-6/285, Jr.)
T Jon Needham (6-7/305, Jr.)
G Brandon Harper (6-3/305, Sr.)
G Brian Moore (6-3/275, Soph.)
C Bryan Morgan (6-3/255, Sr.)
DEFENSE
E Patrick Egboh (6-6/245, Sr.)
T Charlie Hatcher (6-3/285, Jr.)
T Curtis Hazelton (6-2/260, Soph.)
E Wesley Oglesby (6-6/255, Sr.)
LB Abraham Kromah (6-1/225, Sr.)
LB Kevin Rojas (6-3/215, R-Fr.)
LB Damian Thornton (6-2/240, Sr.)
CB Ross Cockrell (6-0/170, R-Fr.)
CB Chris Rwabukamba (5-10/175, Sr.)
FS Matt Daniels (6-1/200, Jr.)
SS Lee Butler (5-10/185, Jr.)
SPECIALISTS
K Will Snyderwine (5-11/185, Jr.)
P Kevin Jones (6-2/200, Sr.)
KR Johnny Williams (5-10/185, Jr.)
PR Johnny Williams (5-10/185, Jr.)
COACH: David Cutcliffe (9-15, third season; 53-44, 10th season overall).
LAST SEASON: 5-7, 3-5 (5th in ACC Coastal)
FINAL 2009 RIVALS.COM RANKING: 76th
KEEP AN EYE ON: It will be interesting to see whether a change at defensive coordinator results in any strategic alterations. Duke hired former Cornell coach Jim Knowles to serve as co-coordinator with Marion Hobby after Mike MacIntyre left to take over as San Jose State's coach.
STRENGTHS: Just about any team in the ACC would love to have Duke's receivers. Donovan Varner caught 65 passes for 1,047 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the ACC in receiving last season, and he was just one of three Blue Devils with at least 50 catches. Conner Vernon caught 55 passes for 746 yards and three touchdowns, while Austin Kelly had 54 receptions for 625 yards and four touchdowns. Duke has enough depth in the receiving corps that it felt comfortable moving former WR Johnny Williams to cornerback. Duke also has a reliable kicker in Will Snyderwine, who went 17-of-20 on field-goal attempts last season.
WEAKNESSES: Who's going to be throwing to those receivers? Now that four-year starter Thaddeus Lewis has ended his prolific career, uncertainty has replaced stability at quarterback. The most likely candidate to replace Lewis is Sean Renfree, who sat out spring practice after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last November. Other options include redshirt freshman Sean Schroeder and true freshman Brandon Connette. The Devils need to throw effectively because history shows they can't run. Duke hasn't produced a single 500-yard rusher since 2003, though Desmond Scott and Jay Hollingsworth will try to end that drought. Duke has plenty of holes to fill defensively after losing five players (T Vince Oghobaase, E Ayanga Okpokowuruk, LB Vince Rey, CB Leon Wright and FS Catron Gainey) who made a combined 170 career starts. The Blue Devils must upgrade their coverage units.
BUZZ: Cutcliffe has Duke moving forward for the long haul, but don't be surprised if the Blue Devils take a small step backward this season. Duke has plenty of holes to fill on defense and won't be quite as explosive on offense this season without Lewis. Duke also has non-conference games with Navy and defending national champion Alabama to go along with its ACC slate. If the Blue Devils match last year's win total, it would represent a major achievement. They'll probably have to settle for three or four wins instead.

-- STEVE MEGARGEE

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Top 120 countdown
No. 92 Maryland
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OFFENSE
QB Jamarr Robinson (6-0/195, Jr.)
RB Da'Rel Scott (5-11/200, Sr.)
FB Taylor Watson (6-2/240, Jr.)
WR Adrian Cannon (6-2/204, Sr.)
WR Torrey Smith (6-1/200, Jr.)
TE Devonte Campbell (6-2/255, Soph.)
T R.J. Dill (6-7/300, Soph.)
T Justin Gilbert (6-6/300, Soph.)
G Bennett Fulper (6-4/295, Soph.)
G Andrew Gonnella (6-5/305, Jr.)
C Paul Pinegar (6-4/290, Sr.)
DEFENSE
E Derek Drummond (6-4/245, Jr.)
T A.J. Francis (6-4/295, Soph.)
T Joe Vellano (6-2/285, Soph.)
E Justin Anderson (6-5/265, Soph.)
LB Demetrius Hartsfield (6-2/235, Soph.)
LB Adrian Moten (6-2/230, Sr.)
LB Alex Wujciak (6-3/255, Sr.)
CB Cameron Chism (5-10/190, Jr.)
CB Trenton Hughes (5-11/185, Jr.)
FS Antwine Perez (6-1/210, Sr.)
SS Kenny Tate (6-4/220, Jr.)
SPECIALISTS
K Nick Ferrara (6-0/200, Soph.)
P Travis Baltz (6-3/210, Sr.)
KR Torrey Smith (6-1/200, Jr.)
PR Tony Logan (5-10/180, Jr.)
COACH: Ralph Friedgen (66-46, 10th season).
LAST SEASON: 2-10, 1-7 (6th in ACC Atlantic)
FINAL 2009 RIVALS.COM RANKING: 101st
KEEP AN EYE ON: Jamarr Robinson enters his first full season as the Terrapins' starting quarterback after replacing an injured Chris Turner in the final four games of the 2009 season. Robinson went 46-of-85 for 459 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions last season, and he also rushed for 129 yards against Virginia Tech. His mobility makes him more versatile than most recent Maryland quarterbacks.
STRENGTHS: Maryland is loaded at linebacker. Alex Wujciak, who has made more than 130 tackles in each of the past two seasons, headlines a linebacker corps that also returns Adrian Moten and Demetrius Hartsfield. The Terps also have a couple of quality running backs in Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. Scott rushed for 1,133 yards and earned first-team All-ACC honors two years ago before injuries limited him to 425 yards on 88 carries last season. WR Torrey Smith is an exceptional kick returner. K Nick Ferrara returns after going 18-of-25 on field-goal attempts, with a long of 50, and P Travis Baltz is solid.
WEAKNESSES: The Terps must upgrade their offense after ranking 11th in the ACC in scoring last season. The offensive line showed signs of progress during spring practice, but a unit that could feature three sophomore starters remains a major concern. The Terps need a breakthrough season from T R.J. Dill and a successful transition to center by former G/T Paul Pinegar. Maryland has only one returning starter (NT A.J. Francis) on the defensive line and only one returning starter (CB Cameron Chism) in the secondary. The punt coverage was horrible last season.
BUZZ: After winning just one game against an FBS opponent last season, Maryland has nowhere to go but up. But the Terps still might not rise out of the ACC Atlantic Division cellar. The Terps have enough quality skill-position players on offense to produce a few more points per game, so maybe a few of their close losses from last season become wins this season. But it's tough to imagine this team winning more than four or five games.

-- STEVE MEGARGEE

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Top 120 countdown
No. 91 Louisville
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OFFENSE
QB Adam Froman (6-4/227, Sr.)
RB Victor Anderson (5-10/190, Jr.)
WR Doug Beaumont (5-9/187, Sr.)
WR Josh Chichester (6-9/250, Jr.)
WR Troy Pascley (6-3/203, Jr.)
TE Cameron Graham (6-4/253, Sr.)
T Jeff Adams (6-8/305, Sr.)
T Greg Tomczyk (6-6/298, Sr.)
G Joe Evinger (6-6/330, Sr.)
G Mark Wetterer (6-5/309, Sr.)
C Mario Benavides (6-4/300, Soph.)
DEFENSE
E William Savoy (6-1/240, Jr.)
T Greg Scruggs (6-5/270, Jr.)
T Tim High (6-2/310, Sr.)
E Malcolm Tatum (6-3/255, Sr.)
LB Antwon Canady (6-0/244, Sr.)
LB Brandon Heath (6-1/220, Sr.)
LB Dexter Heyman (6-3/238, Jr.)
CB Bobby Burns (5-11/180, Sr.)
CB Johnny Patrick (6-0/186, Sr.)
FS Shenard Holton (6-1/195, Soph.)
SS Terence Simien (6-2/210, Sr.)
SPECIALISTS
K Chris Philpott (6-0/190, Jr.)
P Jon Payne (5-10/182, Sr.)
KR Victor Anderson (5-10/190, Jr.)
PR Doug Beaumont (5-9/187, Sr.)
COACH: Charlie Strong (first season).
LAST SEASON: 4-8, 1-6 (T-7th in Big East)
FINAL 2009 RIVALS.COM RANKING: 88th
KEEP AN EYE ON: Senior WR Doug Beaumont has caught a combined 100 passes in the past two seasons -- but none for touchdowns. Poor quarterback play contributed to a dip in his production last season, but Beaumont is the kind of receiver who could put up big numbers in the Cardinals' new spread offense. He is one of the playmakers Louisville will need to get going if the offense is going to improve.
STRENGTHS: Louisville has depth at running back, but the Cardinals still need their top two options -- Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell -- to stay healthy. Both were limited at the end of last season by injuries. Anderson had a standout freshman season in 2008, when he rushed for 1,047 yards and eight touchdowns. He and Powell will run behind a line that returns four starters; sophomore C Mario Benavides could become one of the best linemen in the league. The Cardinals must rebuild on defense, but they at least have a couple of key cogs. E Malcolm Tatum and T Greg Scruggs have the most experience on the line, while CB Johnny Patrick enters the season as Louisville's best -- and maybe only -- All-Big East candidate.
WEAKNESSES: Three quarterbacks started for Louisville last season because of injuries, but none was particularly effective. Senior Adam Froman likely wins the job, but Justin Burke, Will Stein and freshmen Luke Woodley and Dominique Brown also are in the mix. Froman can run a little bit, so he might be a good fit in coordinator Mike Sanford's system. The defense was nearly as bad as the offense last season, and it will miss LBs Jon Dempsey and Chris Campa. Veteran LBs Brandon Heath and Antwon Canady are experienced but haven't become leaders. RB Darius Ashley moved to the secondary to add depth at corner. Terence Simien could be a standout safety, but he missed all of last season with a lacerated kidney. The kickoff coverage was pitiful last season, ranking 114th in the nation.
BUZZ: Strong has waited a long time for a head-coaching gig, but he'll probably have to wait at least year or so to coach a winning team. A year after Louisville won one Big East game by a single point (10-9 over Syracuse), Strong has to hope his intensity will be contagious. Strong was part of two national championship staffs at Florida, in addition to stints at Notre Dame and South Carolina. All told, he has worked for three national championship coaches (Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier and Lou Holtz).

-- DAVID FOX

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