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Conferences at a glance
By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006
1. Florida (9-3): Gators hope for second-year surge under Urban Meyer, right.
2. Tennessee (5-6): DT Justin Harrell anchors a defense that must replace six of seven up front.
3. Georgia (10-3): Loaded at RB with Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin, Danny Ware.
4. South Carolina (7-5): QB Blake Mitchell, 1,000-yard receiver Sidney Rice and RB Mike Davis are back.
5. Kentucky (3-8): Coach Rich Brooks is on hot seat.
6. Vanderbilt (5-6): Must replace NFL first-round QB Jay Cutler.
1. Auburn (9-3): Only one wide receiver has more than 13 career catches.
2. LSU (11-2): Nation's No. 3 defense is led by FS LaRon Landry and LB Ali Highsmith.
3. Alabama (10-2): LB Juwan Simpson and CB Ramzee Robinson lead nation's top scoring defense.
4. Arkansas (4-7): Top QB signee Mitch Mustain could compete for job.
5. Mississippi (3-8): Former Vol Brent Schaeffer takes over at QB.
6. Mississippi State (3-8): Sophomore QB Michael Henig is unquestioned No. 1 on team with 17 returning starters.
NOTABLE: League had four of the top 10 scoring defenses last season. ... Auburn QB Brandon Cox and RB Kenny Irons led the league's top scoring and overall offense last season. The Tigers are projected to start 12 seniors. Their toughest opponents - LSU, Florida and Georgia - are all visiting Jordan-Hare Stadium. ... Georgia will have a new starter at QB for second year in a row. More SEC, page 6X
1. Ohio State (10-2): Defense returns just two starters and loses ferocious LB A.J. Hawk. Offense includes RB Antonio Pittman, right.
2. Michigan (7-5): Last season was worst in Lloyd Carr's tenure beginning in '95.
3. Iowa (7-5): Return RB Albert Young, who rushed for 1,334 yards, and QB Drew Tate, who threw 22 TDs.
4. Wisconsin (10-3): Return eight defensive starters, including all-league OT Joe Thomas.
5. Purdue (5-6): Ex-UF assistant Ed Zaunbrecher shares offensive coordinator job with Bill Legg.
6. Penn State (11-1): Must replace 13 starters lost from offense and defense.
7. MICHIGAN STATE (5-6): Lost six of final seven last season and dropped four of last five in 2004.
8. Minnesota (7-5): Return 17 starters, including all-league TE Matt Spaeth.
9. Indiana (4-7): Surrendered more than 40 points in five of the final six games.
10. Northwestern (7-5): Opens at Miami (Ohio), alma mater of late coach Randy Walker.
11. Illinois (2-9): Ron Zook's first season led to an 0-8 league mark, nine straight losses.
NOTABLE: Nine of the league's starting quarterbacks return. Only Northwestern and Penn State are without them. ... Michigan RB Mike Hart, as a freshman two years ago, led the league in rushing. He was injured last season.
1. West Virginia (11-1): Aiming for national title.
2. Louisville (9-3): RB Michael Bush led the nation with 24 TDs.
3. Pittsburgh (5-6): Lowell Robinson, who returned three of seven interceptions for TDs in 2005, has moved to WR.
4. USF (6-6): Bulls return 15 starters from first bowl team.
5. Rutgers (7-5): Sophomore Mike Teel is expected to take over for QB Ryan Hart.
6. Cincinnati (4-7): Plays seven teams that went to bowls in 2005.
7. Connecticut (5-6): Junior LB Danny Lansanah leads the league's stingiest defense at 297 yards per game.
8. Syracuse (1-10): Suffered the first 10-loss season in 116 years of football.
NOTABLE: West Virginia's weak schedule has only three teams with winning records from 2005. The biggest obstacle facing the Mountaineers and QB Pat White, left, appears to be Nov. 2 at Louisville. ... Louisville QB Brian Brohm is returning from a right knee injury that ended his season in November. ... The Cardinals' Bush needs 819 yards and eight rushing TDs to set school records. ... UConn recently opened new practice facilities, replacing a small 50-year-old building and a doublewide trailer that acted as a coaches' meeting room. More Big East, page 6Z
1. USC (12-1): Who replaces Reggie Bush, LenDale White?
2. California (8-4): Bears believe this is their year to knock off Trojans.
3. Oregon (10-2): Open with three of five on the road, including trips to Fresno State and Cal.
4. Arizona (3-8): QB Willie Tuitama (1,105 yards, nine TDs) started final 4 games as freshman.
5. UCLA (10-2): Tough stretch in October at Oregon and Notre Dame.
6. Arizona State (7-5): Question is on defense, where team allowed 29.9 ppg and 465.8 ypg.
7. Stanford (5-6): Offense returns 10 starters, led by QB Trent Edwards.
8. Washington State (4-7): 5 of 7 league losses came by four points or fewer.
9. Oregon State (5-6): K Alexis Serna was 23-for-28, won Lou Groza Award.
10. Washington (2-9): Nonconference games at Oklahoma and vs. Fresno.
NOTABLE: With the NCAA adding a 12th game to the season, the Pac-10 decided to go to a full round robin and add a ninth conference game. ... USC won't travel the last four weeks of the season, but that doesn't mean it will be easy. The Trojans end with home games against Oregon, California and Notre Dame, followed by a trip to UCLA. Offense features WR Dwayne Jarrett, right. ... Cal features the nation's best running back duo in Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, a defense that returns first-team all-conference DT Brandon Mebane, first-team CB Daymeion Hughes plus five other starters. ... Oregon returns its entire offensive line and QBs Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf from a team that averaged 34.5 points last season.
1. Nebraska (8-4): Worst rushing average in Big 12 last season.
2. Iowa State (7-5): Two starters back from North's top scoring defense.
3. Colorado (7-6): New coach Dan Hawkins' son competing for QB job.
4. Kansas (7-5): Doesn't play Oklahoma or Texas this year.
5. Missouri (7-5): Coming off second bowl win in 24 years.
6. Kansas State (5-6): Ron Prince tries to work Bill Snyder magic.
1. Texas (13-0): Won 20 in a row, and seeks national title repeat.
2. Oklahoma (8-4): Adrian Peterson is within 1,086 yards of school record.
3. Texas Tech (9-3): Red Raiders switched from AstroTurf to FieldTurf.
4. Texas A&M (5-6): New defensive coordinator is ex-Florida interim coach Gary Darnell.
5. Baylor (5-6): Two OT losses prevented Bears from having a winning record for first time in Big 12.
6. Oklahoma STATE (4-7): Defense calls itself "The Regulators."
NOTABLE: Years of highly ranked recruiting classes have left Texas loaded with talent. Coach Mack Brown has 16 returning starters, including sophomore RB Jamaal Charles, right. ... Senior QB Paul Thompson will start his second straight opener for Oklahoma. Rhett Bomar replaced him in Week 2, and Thompson was later moved to receiver. But Bomar was kicked off the Sooners for violating NCAA rules.
1. Florida State (8-5): Must replace 14 starters, including 3 on defense among first 14 NFL picks.
2. Clemson (8-4): Early games against BC, FSU are key.
3. Boston College (9-3): QB Matt Ryan was 5-0 as a starter last season.
4. Maryland (5-6): Four returning starters on OL could be key for QB Sam Hollenbach.
5. Wake Forest (4-7): Most returning starters (18) in the league.
6. N.C. State (7-5): QB Marcus Stone took over as the starter and helped Wolfpack finish 5-1.
1. Miami (9-3): S Brandon Meriweather, far right, LB Jon Beason lead defense ranked among the nation's best in '05.
2. Virginia Tech (11-2): Either Sean Glennon or Cory Holt should replace QB Marcus Vick.
3. Georgia Tech (7-5): WR Calvin Johnson is 275 yards shy of the career 2,000-yard mark.
4. Virginia (7-5): CB Marcus Hamilton led the ACC with six interceptions last season.
5. North Carolina (5-6): Heels visit Clemson, Miami, Virginia, Duke and Notre Dame this season.
6. Duke (1-10): Blue Devils have been under .500 for 11 consecutive seasons and are 3-45 in league since 2000.
NOTABLE: Georgia Tech may have more experience on offense than any team in the ACC, with preseason league player of the year WR Calvin Johnson, QB Reggie Ball and four offensive linemen among eight returning starters. ... FSU QB Drew Weatherford was the first freshman in league history to lead the ACC in total offense and topped all rookies nationally in passing yards (3,208) and touchdown passes (18). More ACC, page 4Y