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Posted: Thursday August 19, 2004 12:37PM; Updated: Thursday August 19, 2004 12:37PM
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  Conference USA Preview

   Stewart Mandel's Projected Standings (Projected overall record in parentheses)
1
  Memphis
   7-1  
(9-2)
QB Danny Wimprine and star RB DeAngelo Williams are two of 11 starters returning from the nation's No. 16 offense.
2
  TCU
   6-2  
(8-3)
The Horned Frogs, coming off an 11-2 season, have more QBs and RBs than they know what to do with.
2
  Louisville
   6-2  
(8-3)
Stefan LeFors and the offense will be able to score points in bunches, and the experienced D should be respectable.
4
  Southern Miss
   6-2  
(6-5)
The defending C-USA champions will be hard-pressed to survive a schedule that includes Nebraska, Cal and Alabama.
5
  UAB
   4-4  
(6-5)
Underrated QB Darrell Hackney needs to stay healthy, but the defense should be among the best in the conference.
5
  Houston
   4-4  
(6-5)
Kevin Kolb, last season's top freshman QB, needs to find a new target to replace prolific deep threat Brandon Middleton.
7
  USF
   4-4  
(5-6)
The Bulls' once-mighty offense faltered last season, and the defense, while still talented, loses its three best players.
7
  Cincinnati
   4-4  
(5-6)
New coach Mark Dantonio's veteran team is led by QB Gino Guidugli, but faces a brutal conference schedule.
9
  Tulane
   2-6  
(4-7)
The defense was horrendous a year ago, and replacing star QB J.P. Losman and RB Mewelde Moore won't be easy.
10
  East Carolina
   1-7  
(1-10)
John Thompson faces an uphill climb rebuilding the Pirates, who have gone from annual contenders to rock bottom.
11
  Army
   0-8  
(1-10)
Ex-Chargers and Lions coach Bobby Ross looks to resuscitate the Knights by reverting to a tough, run-first style.
Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Cream of the Crop

2004 Preview
Myths, realities of title teams
What does it really take to win a national championship?
By Stewart Mandel
Applying the formula
Five teams that fit the mold in 2004, and three "contenders" that don't.
By Stewart Mandel
Profile of a Champion: A statistical breakdown of the 12 national champions from the past 10 years.
Athlon 2004 Previews: All 117 I-A teams
TV Guide: 10 games to watch in '04
National TV schedule | '04-'05 bowl schedule
 And much more ...
8/5  Return of the RBs
8/6  The true freshmen
8/10  SI's Top 25
8/11  ACC preview
8/12  Big 12 preview
8/13  Big East preview
8/16  Big Ten preview
8/17  Pac-10 preview
8/18  SEC preview
8/19  C-USA, Mt. West, MAC
8/20  Inds., WAC, Sun Belt
8/23  SI's All-Americans
8/24  SI's Heisman Preview
8/25  Bowl Projections
8/26  SI.com's Crystal Ball
8/30  Power Rankings
 

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis: The electrifying runner/return man led the nation in all-purpose yardage last season (192.1 yards per game).

Michael Bolley, LB, Southern Miss: Carrying on the Eagles' great linebacker tradition, he had 150 tackles, 11 sacks and three forced fumbles last year.

Kevin Kolb, QB, Houston: A true freshman last season, Kolb was one of the nation's most efficient passers, throwing for 3,131 yards with just six interceptions.

Others Stefan LeFors, QB, Louisville; Danny Wimprine, QB, Memphis; Mark Walker, CB, TCU; Trent Cole, DE, Cincinnati; J.R. Russell, WR, Louisville.

Poised for a Breakout

Andre Hall, RB, USF: A junior college All-America last season who ran for 1,488 yards, Hall could provide a spark for the Bulls' punchless offense.

Others: Carlton Baker, LB, Memphis; Montrell Jones, WR, Louisville; Jamison Newby, DE, TCU.

.

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