Here it is – The Best College Football DiRT

It is almost college football time and below you will find the DiRT you need – my apologies if your favorite team plays in the Sunbelt – I only have so much time...No post tomorrow as I will be watching as much college football as I can and making sure I #win some fresh lettuce for Labor Day.  I have put together a schedule of games and the ACTION on them – message me if you have some questions on where to LEAN – I like to TEASE, so think about that when you look it over:

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Yesterday’s #DraftKings #MLB perfect lineup was posted earlier on twitter today – here it is if you don’t follow us  – but really, what are you waiting for?!

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Thank you to all of you for the enormous response we have received on our new site – if you have yet to sign up, do it here: http://www.thedirtcanon.com/promo.php and enter to win 1 of 5, $100 VISA Gift Cards, if you sign up before Sept. 13, 2015 – Stay tuned!


INDEPENDENTS

ARMY Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 4 There will be plenty of new faces in the triple option this season. Senior QB A.J. Schurr (8.6 YPA; 7.1 YPC) is the likely starter with QB Angel Santiago gone, and will operate behind a senior-laden O-Line. Five-foot-6 FB Aaron Kemper (6.3 YPC) and T-Back Joe Walker (4.2 YPC) are the main rushers. WLB Jeremy Timpf (117 tackles, 3 INT) and MLB Andrew King (5 sacks) shine in a weak front seven, while CB Josh Jenkins (4 INT) is the unit’s playmaker.

BRIGHAM YOUNG Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The Cougars will be much more effective on the ground with RB Jamaal Williams (518 rush yds, 4.8 YPC, 4 TD) and QB Taysom Hill (460 rush yds, 5.3 YPC, 8 TD) back from knee and leg injuries, respectively. Hill (7.4 cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.pngYPA) also has his No. 1 target back in 6-foot-6 WR Mitch Mathews (922 rec yds, 9 TD). BYU stuffed the run effectively last year (121.8 rush YPG, 20th in FBS) and returns DE Bronson Kaufusi (7 sacks) and WLB Sione Takitaki (3 sacks) to pressure QBs. BYU allowed 6.7 YPA (26th in FBS) and has high hopes for sophomore CBs Jordan Preator (9 PBU) and Michael Davis (43 tackles).

NOTRE DAME Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 10 QB Everett Golson is gone, but new Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford (Boise State OC) loves the skillset of new starting QB Malik Zaire (21- 35, 266 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT). With a 6-foot-2, 222-pound frame, the left-handed signal caller can produce yards in bunches with both his arm and his legs. Zaire tallied 192 total yards and 2 TD in the Music City Bowl win versus LSU, and has plenty of weapons with WRs William Fuller (1,094 rec yds, 15 TD), Chris Brown (548 rec yds, 1 TD) and 6-foot-4 Corey Robinson (539 rec yds, 5 TD), who are all upperclassmen. The ground game is in great shape with RB Tarean Folston (889 rush yds, 5.1 YPC, 6 TD). After surrendering a robust 29.2 PPG last year (82nd in nation) and 404.2 total YPG (71st in FBS), the Irish expect to respond in a big way with 10 defensive starters returning. LB Jaylon Smith (112 tackles) anchors the front seven that needs to produce more than its 2.0 sacks per game from last season (T-74th in nation). The secondary will be stronger with CB KeiVarae Russell (51 tackles in 2013) back from suspension to join playmaker CB Cole Luke (4 INT).


ACC

BOSTON COLLEGE Offense: Starters returning – 3; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Sophomore QB Darius Wade is tasked with replacing Tyler Murphy, and will frequently hand off to RB Jon Hilliman (860 rush yds, 13 TD). BC will again be hard to run on with a front seven featuring MLB Steven Daniels (72 tackles, 7 TFL).

CLEMSON Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB DeShaun Watson (14 TD, 2 INT) has recovered from his torn ACL and will heavily target WRs Mike Williams (1,030 rec yds) and Artavis Scott (965 rec yds). The defense lost a ton of top-notch starters, including Vic Beasley.

DUKE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Duke’s passing game has all new starters, most notably QB Thomas Sirk (10- 14, 67 yds, 3 TD). But the rushing attack is in great shape, as are the secondary and special teams. The depleted front seven is questionable though.

FLORIDA STATE Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Jameis Winston’s old job should go to QB Everett Golson (29 TD at N.D.), who has a deep receiving corps. RB Dalvin Cook (1,008 rush yds) shined as a freshman. The secondary is the strength of yet another elite FSU defense.

GA TECH Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 The triple-option will remain lethal with QB Justin Thomas (1,086 rush yds) and A-back Broderick Snoddy (10.1 YPC). The defense should improve with LB P.J. Davis (119 tackles), S Jamal Golden (3 FF) and CB D.J. White (4 INT) returning.

LOUISVILLE Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 4 Junior RB Brandon Radcliff (12 rush TD) should take the pressure off QB Will Gardner (12 TD, 3 INT), who has a lingering knee injury. The defense lost a boatload of players, but returning DE Sheldon Rankins (9 sacks) is a star.

MIAMI Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The ‘Canes will miss Duke Johnson, but RB Joseph Yearby (509 rush yds) can fly. QB Brad Kaaya (26 TD, 12 INT) doesn’t have a true go-to receiver. S Deon Bush (5 FF) leads a top-notch secondary, but the front seven is green.

north carolina Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 7 This nearly-intact offense revolves around dual-threat QB Marquise Williams (3,856 total yds, 34 total TD). New DC Gene Chizik’s 4-3 set should allow LB Jeff Schoettmer (74 tackles) and CB Des Lawrence (71 tackles) to shine.

NC STATE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Talent abounds with QB Jacoby Brissett (23 TD, 5 INT) and RB Shadrach Thornton (907 rush yds) pacing the offense. MLB Jerod Fernandez (78 tackles) and FS Hakim Jones (80 tackles) shine brightest in this quality NC State defense.

PITT Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New head coach Pat Narduzzi (MSU DC) inherits stars RB James Conner (1,765 rush yds, 26 TD) and WR Tyler Boyd (1,261 rec yds), and reliable QB Chad Voytik (16 TD, 7 INT). New DC Josh Conklin (FIU) is tasked with forcing more turnovers.

SYRACUSE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 3 The inept Orange offense should improve with senior QB Terrell Hunt (6.8 YPA) back from injury, but the best skill player is WR Steve Ishmael (415 rec yds). The defense was strong in 2014, but needs to replace eight starters.

VIRIGINIA Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 7 QBs Greyson Lambert (6.3 YPA) and Matt Johns (6.9 YPA) will compete to orchestrate a talent-deficient offense. The defense is also suspect with all three starting linebackers leaving, but FS Quin Blanding (122 tackles, 3 INT) is excellent.

VA TECH Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Key components remain with QB Michael Brewer (18 TD, 15 INT), RB J.C. Coleman (533 rush yds) and WR Isaiah Ford (709 rec yds). DEs Ken Ekanem (9.5 sacks) and Dadi Lhomme Nicolas (9 sacks) lead a top-notch defense.

WAKE FOREST Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Wake has a QB controversy and a ground game that posted an FBS-low 1.3 YPC last year. LBs Marquel Lee (101 tackles) and Brandon Chubb (109 tackles) excel, but Ryan Janvion (115 tackles) is the lone returning DB starter.


BIG 12

BAYLOR Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 The likely replacement for departed Bryce Petty is 6-foot-3 junior QB Seth Russell (804 pass yds, 9.5 YPA, 8 TD, 1 INT) who has a pair of 1,000-yard receivers at his disposal in WR Corey Coleman (1,119 rec yds) and WR KD Cannon (1,030 rec yds). Baylor also runs well with RB Shock Linwood (1,252 rush yds, 16 TD). The 4-2-5 defensive set is loaded with stars like DE Shawn Oakman (11 sacks), DS Orion Stewart and CB Xavien Howard (4 INT each).

IA STATE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 ISU will be pass-happy again with inconsistent QB Sam B. Richardson (2,669 pass yds, 5.9 YPA, 18 TD, 9 INT) as the team’s best rusher (421 yds). He has a trio of experienced receivers in WRs Quenton Bundrage (676 rec yds, 9 TD), D’Vario Montgomery (605 rec yds) and Allen Lazard (593 rec yds). Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year FS Kamari Cotton-Moya (77 tackles, 8 PBU) is the lone standout in a pathetic defense (FBS-worst 528.9 YPG allowed).

KANSAS Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 2 The Jayhawks will struggle again with some potentially devastating absences. It’s not clear when top QB Michael Cummings (1,715 pass yds, 7.0 YPA, 9 TD, 6 INT) will return from a knee injury suffered in the spring game, while top RB Corey Avery (631 rush yds) and top WR Rodriguez Coleman were both dismissed from the team in June. DE Ben Goodman (1 sack) and WLB Courtney Arnick (45 tackles) are the only returning defensive starters.

K-STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Junior QB Joe Hubener (9-17, 235 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) and explosive WR Deante Burton (171 rec yds) have large shoes to fill with QB Jake Waters and WRs Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton gone. RB Charles Jones (540 rush yds, 13 TD) fizzled in Big 12 play, but has four senior O-Linemen to run behind. Seniors SS Dante Barnett and CB Morgan Burns (3 INT each) lead a talented secondary, while DE Jordan Willis (4 sacks) and OLB Elijah Lee (4.5 sacks) are standouts on a front seven that will miss leading tackler Jonathan Truman.

OKLAHOMA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The Sooners have a well-balanced offense with stud RB Semaje Perine (1,713 rush yds, 21 TD) and a stacked receiving corps led by WR Sterling Shepard (970 rec yds, 5 TD). QB Baker Mayfield (2,315 pass yds, 6.8 YPC, 12 TD, 9 INT in 2013 at Texas Tech) is expected to beat out fellow junior QB Trevor Knight (2,300 pass yds, 7.3 YPA, 14 TD, 12 INT). Oklahoma’s stout defense is headlined by LBs Eric Striker (9 sacks, 17 TFL) and Dominique Alexander (107 tackles). CB Zack Sanchez (6 INT) is an incredible athlete.

OK STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 The Cowboys offense has a shoddy running game (3.51 YPC, 106th in nation) and green QB Mason Rudolph (853 pass yds, 9.9 YPA, 6 TD, 4 INT), but three quality receivers remain with WRs Brandon Sheperd (737 rec yds), David Glidden (598 rec yds) and James Washington (6 rec TD). OSU’s front seven is fierce — especially DE Emmanuel Ogbah (11 sacks) and LB Ryan Simmons (96 tackles) — but the secondary is awful (269.2 passing YPG, 110th in FBS).

TCU Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 5 TCU’s national title aspirations start with do-it-all QB Trevone Boykin (4,608 total yds, 41 total TD) and WR Josh Doctson (1,018 rec yds, 11 TD). Senior RB Aaron Green (922 rush yds, 7.1 YPC, 9 TD) is also outstanding. The Frogs were nasty up front (FBS-low 2.78 YPC; 8.6 TFL per game, 2nd in nation) and return DEs James McFarland and Terrell Lathan (12.5 sacks combined). The secondary still needs work, but FS Derrick Kindred (4 INT) can play.

TEXAS Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Athletic QB Tyrone Swoopes (13 TD, 11 INT) will run an up-tempo offense to boost scoring (21.4 PPG, 106th in FBS). Senior WR Marcus Johnson (313 rec yds) is a so-so top target, but RB Jonathan Gray (637 rush yds, 7 TD) is a capable No. 1 back. The front seven lost a ton, but 320-pound DT Hassan Ridgeway (6 sacks) and freshman LB Malik Jefferson are emerging stars. CB Duke Thomas (3 INT) and S Dylan Haines (4 INT) lead a strong secondary.

TEXAS TECH Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Whoever wins the starting job between QB Davis Webb (7.4 YPA, 24 TD, 13 INT) and QB Patrick Mahomes (8.4 YPA, 16 TD, 4 INT) will have plenty of weapons in the Air Raid offense, such as WRs Jakeem Grant (938 rec yds) and Devin Lauderdale (7 rec TD). RB DeAndre Washington (1,103 rush yds) also oozes with talent. New DC David Gibbs is tasked with producing more takeaways, and has the personnel to do so in DE Pete Robertson (12 sacks), Ohio State transfer WLB Mike Mitchell and CB Justis Nelson (16 PBU).

WEST VIRGINIA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Clint Trickett and Kevin White are gone, but junior QB Skyler Howard (7.5 YPA, 8 TD, 0 INT) still has WR Jordan Thompson (598 rec yds) and Kevin White’s brother, freshman WR Ka’Raun White. Junior RBs Rushel Shell (788 rush yds, 7 TD) and Wendell Smallwood (722 rush yds) could also have a bigger role. The D-Line will likely struggle again, but SAM Nick Kwiatkoski (103 tackles) is one of four senior starters at linebacker. The secondary is excellent, headlined by S Karl Joseph (92 tackles) and CB Daryl Worley (3 INT).


BIG (not)10

ILLINOIS Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 QB Wes Lunt (7.3 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT) will be without top WR Mike Dudek (1,036 rec yds) until October, but RB Josh Ferguson (735 rush yds) remains. LBs Mason Monheim (111 tackles) and T.J. Neal (98 tackles) lead a subpar Illini defense.

INDIANA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 QB Nate Sudfeld (6.9 YPA) is back healthy to run the spread, but with a green receiving corps. UAB transfer RB Jordan Howard (1,587 rush yds) is the offensive key. The defense is too generous, especially through the air.

IOWA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Junior QB C.J. Beathard (7.0 YPA) will often target WR Tevaun Smith (596 rec yds), because the Iowa ground game is so weak. DE Drew Ott (8 sacks) is the line leader, while FS Jordan Lomax (92 tackles) highlights an elite secondary.

MARYLAND Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 4 The Terps will miss WR Stefon Diggs, WR Deon Long and QB C.J. Brown, but really like 6-foot-3 senior QB Caleb Rowe (9.1 YPA). A thin O-Line won’t help RB Brandon Ross (419 rush yds). New DC Keith Dudzinski has little to work with.

MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Once new head coach Jim Harbaugh chooses a starter between QBs Jake Rudock (16 TD, 5 INT), Shane Morris (0 TD, 3 INT) and freshman Alex Malzone, the pro-style offense should flourish. New DC D.J. Durkin has an experienced unit.

MICHIGAN STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Senior QB Connor Cook (24 TD, 8 INT) is outstanding, but the team’s top two skill players are gone (RB Jeremy Langford, WR Tony Lippett). DE Shilique Calhoun (8 sacks) and LB Ed Davis (7 sacks) lead an ultra-stingy defense.

MINNESOTA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 More is needed from QB Mitch Leidner (11 TD, 8 INT) now that star RB David Cobb is gone. All five starting O-Linemen return. CB Eric Murray (69 tackles) paces an uber-talented secondary, and the front seven is above average.

NEBRASKA Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 QB Tommy Armstrong Jr. (7.8 YPA, 53% comp.) must improve for new head coach Mike Riley’s pro-style offense to work. New DC Mark Banker will implore DE Greg McMullen (4 sacks) and S Nate Gerry (5 INT) to increase takeaways.

NORTHWESTERN Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 One of three players will replace QB Trevor Siemian, but RB Justin Jackson (1,187 rush yds) is the offensive star. The front seven needs work, but two top-flight CBs remain in Matthew Harris and Nick VanHoose (2 INT each).

OHIO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The starting stud QB (Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett) will frequently feed RB Ezekiel Elliott (1,878 rush yds). This defense is loaded with DE Joey Bosa (13.5 sacks), LB Darron Lee (2 TD) and S Vonn Bell (6 INT).

PENN STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 7 QB Christian Hackenberg (6.2 YPA, 12 TD, 15 INT) needs a bounce-back season and has a veteran WR corps and RB Akeel Lynch (678 rush yds) at his disposal. DT Anthony Zettel (8 sacks) shines brightest in a stellar defense.

PURDUE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The offense lacks stars, but will play an up-tempo style in 2015. Either QB Austin Appleby (5.3 YPA) or freshman QB David Blough will target top WR Danny Anthrop (616 rec yds). CB Frankie Williams (3 INT) leads a mediocre defense.

RUTGERS Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Stud WR Leonte Carroo (1,086 rec yds) will catch passes from LSU transfer Hayden Rettig or Chris Laviano. RB Paul James (5.8 YPC) will carry the mail. The defense has stars DT Darius Hamilton (6 sacks) and LB Steve Longa (102 tackles).

WISCONSIN Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 New head coach Paul Chryst will rely heavily upon RB Corey Clement (949 rush yds) and QB Joel Stave (9 TD, 10 INT). The defense should remain topnotch with LB Vince Biegel (16.5 TFL) and S Michael Caputo (106 tackles).


CONFERENCE USA

CHARLOTTE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 The success of Charlotte’s first FBS season will be due largely to QB Matt Johnson (8.6 YPA), WR Austin Duke (1,373 rec yds) and RB Kalif Phillips (1,436 rush yds). The 49ers have a tough run defense, but their secondary is poor.

FAU Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The Owls should put up points with heady QB Jaquez Johnson (17 TD, 5 INT) and a productive ground game. But their defense is awful (34.4 PPG, 108th in nation), especially the run-stop unit (5.5 YPC allowed, 116th in FBS).

FIU Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 FIU struggles to score (23.0 PPG) with QB Alex McGough (50.4% comp.), but TE Jonnu Smith (710 rec yds) and RB Anthon Samuel (582 rush yds) are solid. FIU’s defense features CB Richard Leonard (3 TD) and DE Michael Wakefield (8 sacks).

LA TECH Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Florida transfer QB Jeff Driskel (5.4 YPA) has great skill players in RB Kenneth Dixon (1,299 rush yds, 22 TD) and WR Trent Taylor (834 rec yds). The Bulldogs led the nation with 42 takeaways, but no starting linebackers return on defense.

MARSHALL Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 JMU transfer QB Michael Birdsong takes over for Rakeem Cato and has a deep receiving corps. TE-turned-RB Devon Johnson (1,767 rush yds) is huge. The defense is thin up front but S Taj Letman and S A.J. Leggett (4 INT each) can play.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Junior QB Austin Grammer (7.6 YPA) has a decent supporting cast with WR Ed’Marques Batties (474 rec yds) and RB Jordan Parker (546 rush yds). However, the defense is subpar, especially its 269.7 passing YPG allowed last year.

NORTH TEXAS Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 UNT’s offense had only 326 total YPG (12th-worst in FBS) with QB Andrew McNulty (6 TD, 7 INT) underachieving. WR Carlos Harris (863 rec yds) is a quality top target. The green defense poses a major problem in 2015.

OLD DOMINION Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 5 Taylor Heinicke will be replaced by either freshman QB Shuler Bentley or JUCO transfer QB Joey Verhaegh. RB Ray Lawry (947 rush yds) and WR Zach Pascal (743 rec yds) will touch the pigskin most often. The Monarchs’ D-Line is weak, but LB TJ Ricks (4 FF) and SS Fellonte Misher (79 tackles) make plenty of plays.

RICE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 3 The Owls don’t have elite receivers, but underrated QB Driphus Jackson (24 TD, 8 INT) will find a way to score. Handing off to junior RBs Jowan Davis (956 rush yds) and Darik Dillard (11 rush TD) are great options. The defense is pretty lackluster other than SLB Alex Lyons (71 tackles, 3 sacks).

SOUTHERN MISS Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB Nick Mullens (12 TD, 9 INT) made great strides last year and has two quality targets with WRs Michael Thomas (592 rec yds) and Casey Martin (531 rec yds). USM also has all five starting O-Linemen back. Expect another dismal season on defense in all aspects (35.4 PPG, 451 YPG, 14 sacks).

UTSA Offense: Starters returning – 2; Defense: Starters returning – 4 UTSA’s atrocious offense (17.1 PPG and 298 YPG allowed, both 7th-worst in FBS) has to replace nine offensive starters. The defense also lost a lot, but still has key remaining pieces to be respectable again in DE Jason Neill (4 sacks), LB Drew Douglas (71 tackles) and S Mauricio Sanchez (46 tackles).

UTEP Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Stud RB Aaron Jones (1,231 rush yds, 14 total TD) will get 30 touches per game behind a stout O-Line. But opponents will stack the box to force UTEP to throw with one of three unproven QBs. The defense has many holes, but WLB Alvin Jones (9 TFL) and DB Devin Cockrell (52 tackles) are productive.

WESTERN KENTUCKY Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 WKU’s offense has no equal in C-USA with QB Brandon Doughty (4,830 pass yds, 49 TD, 10 INT) through the air and RB Leon Allen (1,542 rush yds, 13 TD) on the ground. Although the defense allowed 39.9 PPG and 6.66 yards per play last year (both 5th-worst in nation), most starters return, including standouts LB Nick Holt (111 tackles) and CB Wonderful Terry (3 def. TD).


MAC

AKRON Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The offense struggled to score in 2014 (22.6 PPG, 101st in FBS), but still has seniors QB Kyle Pohl (5.7 YPA) and RB Conor Hundley (540 rush yds). The Zips make up for an average secondary with an excellent run defense.

BALL STATE Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 8 QBs Ozzie Mann (10 TD, 2 INT) and Jack Milas (9 TD, 5 INT) will again battle for the right to throw to WR Jordan Williams (753 rec yds). The defense isn’t good, but LBs Zack Ryan and Ben Ingle (178 tackles combined) are solid.

BOWLING GREEN Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB Matt Johnson (25 TD, 7 INT in 2013) returns healthy to join star WR Roger Lewis (1,093 rec yds) and RB Travis Greene (949 rush yds). The defense is in dire straits, especially if top CB Nick Johnson (5 INT) stays suspended.

BUFFALO Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 4 New head coach Lance Leipold inherits great talents in QB Joe Licata (2,647 pass yds, 29 TD, 11 INT), RB Anthone Taylor (1,403 rush yds, 12 TD) and WR Ron Willoughby (771 rec yds, 9 TD). The Bulls defense is fast, but lacks experience and productivity, tallying a pathetic two interceptions in 2014.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Junior QB Cooper Rush (3,157 pass yds, 27 TD, 13 INT) has added pressure with the losses of RB Thomas Rawls and WR Titus Young. The defense also lost its two best players (NG Leterrius Walton and LB Justin Cherocci), but DE Blake Serpa (4 sacks) and S Tony Annese (3 INT) are both productive.

EASTERN MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Dual-threat QB Reggie Bell (7.0 YPA, 562 rush yds) is not surrounded by proven skill players. The defense stunk (40.9 PPG, 4th-most in FBS) despite the efforts of DT Pat O’Connor (7.5 sacks) and LB Great Ibe (133 tackles).

KENT STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 New OC Don Treadwell hopes RB Trayion Durham (766 rush yds in 2013) is healthy after missing 2014 (foot injury). QB Colin Reardon (16 INT) needs to improve. S Nate Holley (137 tackles) headlines a subpar KSU defense.

UMASS Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 9 All-MAC first teamers QB Blake Frohnapel (23 TD, 10 INT) and WR Tajae Sharpe (1,281 rec yds) are tough to slow down. ILB Jovan Santos-Knox (143 tackles, 3 FF) and CB Randall Jette (4 INT) star in an improving defense.

MIAMI-OH Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Senior QB Drew Kummer (5.5 YPA career) and freshman Gus Ragland will compete for the starting job working with WR Rokeem Williams (682 rec yds). Talented CB Quinten Rollins (7 INT) makes the defense respectable.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Dual-threat QB Drew Hare (18 pass TD; 900 rush yds, 8 TD) shines among NIU’s deep offensive skill positions. The D-Line needs work, but LB Boomer Mays (9 TFL) and CB Paris Logan (15 PBU) propel a solid back seven.

OHIO Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 RB A.J. Ouellette (785 rush yds) will take handoffs from both dual-threat QBs Derrius Vick (7.2 YPA) and JD Sprague (6.1 YPA). The defense is strong, with LB Jovon Johnson (10.5 TFL) and CB Ian Wells (12 PBU) leading the way.

TOLEDO Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Toledo has two able QBs (Phillip Ely, Logan Woodside) but prefer to run with RBs Kareem Hunt (1,631 rush yds, 16 TD) and Terry Swanson (732 rush yds). The defense remains a work in progress, most notably the secondary.

WESTERN MICHIGAN Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 RB Jarvion Franklin (1,551 rush yds, 24 TD) is explosive and QB Zach Terrell (26 TD, 10 INT) and WR Corey Davis (1,408 rec yds, 15 TD) are a lethal duo. The defense can also play, especially CB Ronald Zamort (4 INT, 17 PBU).


MOUNTAIN WEST

AIR FORCE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 4 Junior QB Nate Romine (6.9 YPA; 205 rush yds, 3 TD) takes over for Kale Pearson in the potent triple-option (273.1 rush YPG, 6th in FBS). Top RB Jacobi Owens (1,054 rush yds in 10 G) remains the focal point of the attack. The defense lost seven starters, but DE Alex Hansen (3.5 sacks) and S Weston Steelhammer (6 INT) will mentor a young unit with considerable talent.

BOISE STATE Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Departed RB Jay Ajayi and QB Grant Hedrick are not easy to replace. But RB Devin Demas (6.9 YPC) is elusive and sophomore QB Ryan Finley (6.0 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT) can operate the spread effectively with WR Thomas Sperbeck (877 rec yds) and TE Jake Roh (408 rec yds). The defense should be excellent with stars OLB Kamalei Correa (12 sacks) and S Darian Thompson (7 INT).

COLORADO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 7 New head coach Mike Bobo will likely pick sophomore QB Nick Stevens to replace departed star Garrett Grayson in his up-tempo offense. Top RB Dee Hart is also gone, setting up a committee running approach. New DC Tyson Summers (UCF DC) will run a 4-3 set headlined by LBs Aaron Davis (118 tackles) and Max Morgan (105 tackles) and athletic S Trent Matthews (3 INT).

FRESNO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 6 With senior RB Marteze Waller (1,368 rush yds, 11 TD) as the bell-cow back, the biggest concern for the Bulldogs is whether QB Zack Greenlee (5.2 YPA) will improve with a green, but deep, receiving corps. The defense has holes after losing its five best defenders, but a lot of young talent exists.

HAWAII Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New OC Don Bailey (Idaho St.) is bringing back the run-and-shoot to allow likely starting QB Max Wittek (USC transfer) and WRs Marcus Kemp (797 rec yds) and Quinton Pedroza (674 rec yds) to thrive. New DC Tom Mason (SMU) inherits a lean front seven, but has a top-notch secondary to work with.

NEVADA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 5 The race to replace Cody Fajardo is wide open between junior QB Tyler Stewart, sophomore QB Dante Mayes and freshman QB Hunter Fralick. RB Don Jackson (957 rush yds, 7 TD) will be the offensive focal point. Plenty of experience returns to the front seven, including DE Ian Seau (8.5 sacks) and LB Jordan Dobrich (85 tackles), to help out Nevada’s subpar secondary.

NEW MEXICO Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 UNM’s powerful triple option (310.4 rush YPG, 4th in nation) will thrive again with RBs Jhurell Pressley (1,083 rush yds, 9.5 YPC, 12 TD) and Teriyon Gipson (809 rush yds, 8 TD). QB Lamar Jordan (8.0 YPA; 612 rush yds) can also run. The woeful defense (519 YPG, 2nd-most in FBS) hopes a new 3-3-5 set will greatly help. MLB Dakota Cox (116 tackles) is the lone standout.

SAN DIEGO STATE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 New OC Jeff Horton (RB coach) will run a pro-style offense around stud RB Donnel Pumphrey (1,867 rush yds, 20 TD). Kentucky transfer QB Maxwell Smith or Oregon transfer QB Jake Rodrigues will get to throw to WR Eric Judge (19.6 rec. avg.). Do-it-all OLB Calvin Munson (78 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 INT) and S Damontae Kazee (13 PBU) lead an above-average Aztecs defense.

SAN JOSE STATEe Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New OC Al Borges (Michigan) prefers a West Coast offense, but senior QB Joe Gray (7.0 YPA, 11 TD, 9 INT) could lose his job to JUCO QBs Kenny Potter or Malik Watson. RB Tyler Ervin (888 rush yds) and WR Tyler Winston (694 rec yds) are top-notch skill players. The secondary will shine again (FBS-best 111.8 pass YPG allowed), but the front seven remains a work in progress.

UNLV Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 New head coach Tony Sanchez makes the jump from high school and inherits an offense with only one star (WR Devonte Boyd 980 rec yds), an erratic QB Blake Decker (15 TD, 18 INT) and RB committee. New DC Kent Baer (Colorado) has little to be excited about besides S Peni Vea (88 tackles).

UTAH STATE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New OC Josh Heupel (Oklahoma) inherits great skill players in oft-injured QB Chuckie Keeton (58 TD, 17 INT career), WR Hunter Sharp (939 rec yds) and RB LaJuan Hunt (540 rush yds). New DC Kevin Clune (Hawaii) has a strong front seven, but S Devin Centers (11 PBU) is the only returning DB starter.

WYOMING Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 5 The offense should improve with Indiana transfer QB Cameron Coffman (6.6 YPA, 15 TD, 12 INT career) throwing to a solid group of receivers and handing off to RB Brian Hill (796 rush yds, 7 TD) and Shaun Wick (753 rush yds, 6 TD). The defense could struggle again with no returning LBs, a suspect secondary and only one decent pass rusher in DE Eddie Yarbrough (4 sacks).


PAC 12

ARIZONA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The Wildcats are loaded with young and talented skill players, namely junior WR Cayleb Jones (1,019 rec yds) and sophomores QB Anu Solomon (28 TD, 9 INT) and RB Nick Wilson (1,375 rush yds, 16 TD). The defense took its lumps last year, but stud LB Scooby Wright (6 FF, 14 sacks, 29 TFL) returns.

ARIZONA STATE Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 9 With a stacked backfield, former RB D.J. Foster (1,081 rush yds, 9 TD; 688 rec yds, 3 TD) will now wreak havoc as a slot receiver catching passes from senior QB Mike Bercovici (7.8 YPA, 12 TD, 4 INT). ASU lost its two best defensive players, but still have LB Antonio Longino (94 tackles) and CB Kweishi Brown (3 INT).

CALIFORNIA Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 9 Cal may improve its 38.3 PPG (10th in FBS) with QB Jared Goff (35 TD, 7 INT), WR Kenny Lawler (9 rec TD), TE Stephen Anderson (661 rec yds) and RB Daniel Lasco (1,115 rush yds). The front seven is serviceable, but the secondary allowed an FBS-worst 367.2 passing YPG and 42 passing TD last year.

COLORADO Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 9 Colorado’s offense is on the rise with QB Sefo Liufau (28 TD, 15 INT), WR Nelson Spruce (106 rec, 1,198 yds, 12 TD) and a slew of capable ball carriers. New DC Jim Leavitt (49ers) has a complex defense that will blitz early and often to take pressure off a weak Buffs secondary.

OREGON Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Heisman QB Marcus Mariota is gone, but the Ducks are loaded with talent like RB Royce Freeman (1,365 rush yds, 18 TD) and WRs Byron Marshall (1,003 rec yds, 6 TD) and Devin Allen (684 rec yds, 7 TD). DE DeForest Buckner (4 sacks, 12.5 TFL), OLB Christian French (6.5 sacks) and S Reggie Daniels (83 tackles, 9 PBU) are the heart and soul of an above-average defense.

OREGON STATE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 2 New head coach Gary Andersen will run a spread, and often utilize RB Storm Woods (766 rush yds) and WR Victor Bolden (798 rec yds). It’s not clear which freshman QB (Nick Mitchell or Seth Collins) will replace Sean Mannion. New DC Kalani Sitake’s 3-4 set will break in nine new starters.

southern california Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Star QB Cody Kessler (3,826 pass yds, 39 TD, 5 INT) has playmakers like WR JuJu Smith (724 rec yds), RB Justin Davis (595 rush yds) and now-healthy RB Tre Madden (703 rush yds in 2013). The ultra-talented defense is strongest in the back seven with OLB Su’a Cravens (5 sacks) and CB Kevon Seymour (13 PBU).

STANFORD Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 3 The Cardinal will continue to pound the football with a gaggle of backs, including RB Remound Wright (601 rush yds, 11 TD) and Barry Sanders (315 rush yds). QB Kevin Hogan (19 TD, 8 INT) rarely makes mistakes. Other than ILB Blake Martinez (102 tackles), not much remains from this elite defense.

UCLA Offense: Starters returning – 10; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Brett Hundley’s replacement — QBs Jerry Neuheisel (5.0 YPA) or freshman Josh Rosen — will work with 10 returning starters, including RB Paul Perkins (1,575 rush yds) and WR Jordan Payton (954 rec yds). New DC Tom Bradley inherits a talent-rich unit with LBs Deon Hollins (9 sacks) and Myles Jack (88 tackles).

UTAH Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The offense revolves around senior RB Devontae Booker (1,512 rush yds, 10 TD), especially due to a subpar air attack with QB Travis Wilson (18 TD, 5 INT). New DC John Pease will need DE Hunter Dimick (10 sacks), NT Lowe Lotulelei (4 sacks) and LB Jared Norris (116 tackles) to seriously help a weak secondary.

WASHINGTON Offense: Starters returning – 6; Defense: Starters returning – 4 The Huskies need to find a starter between junior QB Jeff Lindquist (5.4 YPA) and freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels, but still have WR Jaydon Mickens (617 rec yds) and RBs Dwayne Washington (697 rush yds, 9 TD) and Lavon Coleman (565 rush yds). The defense lost 43 senior sacks, and returns little experience around LB Travis Feeney (60 tackles) and S Budda Baker (80 tackles).

WAZZU Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Either sophomore QB Luke Falk (7.7 YPA) or freshman Peyton Bender will run the Air Raid offense with a deep receiving corps led by WR River Cracraft (771 rec yds in 9 G). The defense (38.6 PPG allowed) can only improve with LB Jeremiah Allison (78 tackles) and CB Charleston White (13 PBU) back.


SEC

ALABAMA Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The top three skill players left, but QB Jake Coker (6.8 YPA) and RB Derrick Henry (990 rush yds, 11 TD) will make this offense thrive. The defense is loaded with stars like NT A’Shawn Robinson (49 tackles) and ILB Reggie Ragland (10.5 TFL).

ARKANSAS Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 The power run game returns two 1,000-yard backs (RBs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) and QB Brandon Allen (20 TD, 5 INT) is solid. Many stars departed the front seven, and the secondary struggled in SEC play (226 pass YPG).

AUBURN Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Nick Marshall left, but QB Jeremy Johnson (9 TD, 2 INT career) is a better passer in the spread offense. The RB stable is deep. New DC Will Muschamp has tackling machine LB Cassanova McKinzy (91) and star CB Jonathan Jones (6 INT).

FLORIDA Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 6 New head coach Jim McElwain is leaning towards freshman QB Will Grier to start. WR Demarcus Robinson (821 rec yds) and RB Kelvin Taylor (565 rush yds) are productive. New DC Geoff Collins (Miss St) inherits an excellent defense.

GEORGIA Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 QB Brice Ramsey (8.5 YPA) should start for new OC Brian Schottenheimer, who will rely heavily on RB Nick Chubb (1,547 rush yds, 14 TD). OLB Leonard Floyd (6 sacks) and S Quincy Mauger (4 INT) headline a strong defense.

KENTUCKY Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 7 New OC Shannon Dawson (WVU) will keep the offense pass-happy with QB Patrick Towles (6.9 YPA). RB Boom Williams (6.6 YPC) is a future star. Despite LB Josh Forrest (110 tackles) and S A.J. Stamps (4 INT), the defense needs work.

LSU Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 6 LSU’s offense will go only as far as RB Leonard Fournette (1,034 rush yds, 10 TD) goes. New DC Kevin Steele (Alabama) isn’t blessed with front-seven stars, but the depth is excellent. CB Tre’Davious White (2 INT) leads a stellar secondary.

OLE MISS Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 7 The starting QB job will be one of three players (Ryan Buchanan, DeVante Kincade, Chad Kelly) to target now-healthy WR Laquon Treadwell (632 rec yds). DT Robert Nkemdiche (35 tackles) leads an outstanding 4-2-5 defense.

MISS STATE Offense: Starters returning – 5; Defense: Starters returning – 4 QB Dak Prescott (3,449 pass yds, 27 TD; 986 rush yds, 14 TD) is the star of an offense stacked with capable skill players. The front seven lost plenty, but shutdown CBs Taveze Calhoun (9 PBU) and Will Redmond (3 INT) remain.

MIZZOU Offense: Starters returning – 7; Defense: Starters returning – 6 Inconsistent QB Maty Mauk (6.4 YPA) lost his top four receivers, but has RB Russell Hansbrough (1,084 rush yds) to rush the ball. Missouri’s D-Line is weak, but the back seven is strong, headlined by LB Kentrell Brothers (122 tackles).

SOUTH CAROLINA Offense: Starters returning – 4; Defense: Starters returning – 8 WR Pharoh Cooper (1,136 rec yds) will likely catch balls from sophomore QB Connor Mitch. RB Brandon Wilds (5.4 YPC) will carry the mail. LB Skai Moore (93 tackles) and 325-pound DT Gerald Dixon propel a rising defense.

TENNESSEE Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 8 Dual-threat QB Joshua Dobbs (1,675 total yds in 6 G) loves WR Pig Howard (618 rec yds) and RB Jalen Hurd (1,120 total yds). The defense will be tough again with LB/DL Curt Maggitt (11 sacks) and CB Cameron Sutton (13 PBU) returning.

TEXAS A+M Offense: Starters returning – 8; Defense: Starters returning – 7 Whoever starts between QBs Kyle Allen (16 TD, 7 INT) and Kyler Murray will have great weapons like WR Josh Reynolds (842 rec yds, 13 TD) and RB Tra Carson (4.7 YPC). New DC John Chavis (LSU) inherits a defense with plenty of upside.

VANDERBILT Offense: Starters returning – 9; Defense: Starters returning – 9 RB Ralph Webb (907 rush yds) and TE Steven Scheu (525 rec yds) shine within a putrid offense (288 YPG, 4th-worst in FBS) led by subpar QBs Patton Robinette and Johnny McCray. The 3-4 defense (33.3 PPG) is void of stars.