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Posted: Friday August 20, 2004 11:10AM; Updated: Friday August 20, 2004 11:10AM
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  WAC Preview
   Stewart Mandel's Projected Standings (Projected overall record in parentheses)
1
  Fresno State
   7-1  
(9-2)
Pat Hill's best team since the 2001 David Carr squad has multiple offensive weapons and a promising pass defense.
2
  Boise State
   6-2  
(9-2)
The Broncos, winners of 25 games the past two seasons, face uncertainty at quarterback and running back.
3
  Tulsa
   6-2  
(8-4)
Steve Kragthorpe's Hurricanes return the bulk of a team that improved by seven wins, including QB James Kilian.
4
  Hawaii
   5-3  
(8-4)
QB Timmy Chang returns to put up more gaudy passing numbers, but the defense must be completely rebuilt.
5
  Rice
   5-3  
(5-6)
The Owls improved mightily over the course of last season but will fall just short of the league's upper echelon.
6
  Louisiana Tech
   4-4  
(5-7)
The Bulldogs, long known as a gunslinging spread passing team, will rely more heavily on RB Ryan Moats.
7
  UTEP
   3-5  
(5-6)
Mike Price makes his El Paso debut with the help of QB Jordan Palmer -- Carson Palmer's younger brother.
8
  Nevada
   2-6  
(4-8)
Hall of Fame Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault left his athletics director post to return to the sideline.
9
  SMU
   2-6  
(4-9)
The Mustangs, 0-12 a year ago, should be improved on defense but could continue struggling to score.
10
  San Jose State
   0-8  
(1-11)
With nearly the entire offense wiped out by graduation, this could be a long year for Fitz Hill's team.

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
 

Timmy Chang, QB, Hawaii: The fourth-year starter enters the season with 12,814 yards, 2,218 shy of Ty Detmer's NCAA career record.

Ryan Moats, RB, Louisiana Tech: As a sophomore last season he emerged as a workhorse, gaining 199 or more yards three times.

Chance Kretschmer, RB, Nevada: The 2001 national rushing leader (1,732 yards) rebounded from an ACL injury to gain 1,162 yards as a junior.

Others: Andy Avalos, LB, Boise State; Chad Owens, WR, Hawaii; James Sanders, S, Fresno State.

Poised for a Breakout

Foy Munlin, RB, SMU: The Texas Tech transfer will be counted on to replace departed star Keylon Kincade, who ran for 1,280 yards in '03.

Others: Bryson Sumlin, RB, Fresno State; J.J. Milan, DE, Nevada; Andrew Pearman, WR, Hawaii.

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