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Many teams have tough acts to follow in 2008

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Getting to the top isn't as tough as staying on top, or so the saying goes.

These 10 teams will find out the hard way this season. For instance, LSU has several challenges it must face if it is to repeat as national champions.

Jeff Jagodzinski won't have Matt Ryan making life easier for him at Boston College next season.

Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois went to BCS bowls last year, but the deck may be stacked against them in 2008.

Key personnel losses mean Cincinnati and UCF likely struggle to reach the 10-win plateau they reached last year.


CINCINNATI (10-3 overall, 4-3 in the Big East)

Even if quarterback Ben Mauk receives a sixth year of eligibility (hey, the process could drag on until Christmas), reaching double-digit wins will be difficult. Consider that Cincinnati hadn't won 10 games since 1951 and never had finished a season ranked. Then there's the schedule: seven road games, including trips to Oklahoma, Connecticut, West Virginia and Hawaii. It appears coach Brian Kelly isn't enthused about his options at quarterback. Tony Pike and Dustin Grutza are continuing to compete for the starting job, and reports indicate Kelly will tone down the offense. The Bearcats have a veteran defense, though, meaning the same conference record is an achievable goal.

CONNECTICUT (9-4 overall, 5-2 in the Big East)

It's hard to believe Connecticut started 8-1 last season and won a share of the Big East title. This season, the Huskies have been predicted to finish sixth in the league and aren't ranked in either major media preseason poll. The Huskies got to nine victories last season thanks to a soft non-conference schedule that included wins over Duke, Maine and Temple. Plus, UConn received an assist from the refs in a 21-17 win over Louisville when Larry Taylor illegally feigned a fair catch on a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. In the de facto Big East title game, Connecticut didn't put up a fight in a 66-21 loss to West Virginia. This season's non-conference schedule isn't that tough – Hofstra, Temple, Virginia, Baylor and North Carolina. While eight or nine wins is possible, national recognition isn't a given.

KANSAS (12-1 overall, 7-1 in the Big 12)

Anyone wanting to find out if Kansas has any staying power will find out this season. Last season, the Jayhawks' schedule wasn't that tough, ranking 72nd by the NCAA's reckoning. There will be few complaints of a light schedule this season. Kansas traded Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State for the Big 12 South's top three contenders: Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. There's also a road trip to USF. The Jayhawks face the tougher schedule without defensive coordinator Bill Young and All-Americas Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins. We'll find out how many under-the-radar recruits Mark Mangino has turned into big-time players once again.

UCF (10-4 overall, 8-1 in Conference USA)

The reigning Conference USA champions are no locks to repeat. UCF hasn't had consecutive winning seasons since 2001-02, when the Knights went 6-5 and 7-5, respectively. And after initially saying he would stay in school, star tailback Kevin Smith (2,567 yards, 29 TDs) declared for the NFL Draft. There is no tailback on the roster with a college carry. The Knights also are replacing three starting linemen and the starting quarterback. They also have to continue to deal with the offseason death of wide receiver Ereck Plancher, who died during a team workout.

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UCF definitely lacks the experience this year but will get 8 minimum due to mid-major/weak conference.  Tulsa is going to catch the championship in USA.

I see Cincy as a "dark horse" in the BE.  They usually find a way to get things done.  They capitalize on turnovers, have decent size (actually pretty good size) on both defense and offense.  I agree with 8 b/c USF will take them this year and so will Syracuse.  Still good enough to make top 25 this year.

Kansas - they will definitely be 8 wins (maybe 9) b/c they are not in the same situation.  USF and 3 other conference teams will steal them by 7-10 points.

All in all these teams will fall below 10.

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