SI Vault
August 31, 1987
Conference membership may have its privileges, but some of the best teams in the nation are wild cards; so don't be surprised to find Pitt and South Carolina joining Penn State, Miami, Florida State and Notre Dame in the Top 20 by season's end.
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August 31, 1987

The Independents

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Run-and-shoot is coach Art Baker's offense of choice at East Carolina, but after two straight 2-9 seasons the fans are getting restless. Patience. This year, the Pirates could actually improve. Quarterback Travis Hunter is just a sophomore, but the running backs are graybeards, and the blockers are big and fast.

Cincinnati can brag about senior quarterback Danny McCoin (2,831 passing yards and 64% in '86) and some talented targets, including wideout Joe Hice, but not much else. Army's Tory Crawford, the nation's top rushing quarterback, should again dominate the Cadet wishbone, but only three starters return on defense. Nevertheless, count on Army to beat Navy again in Philly. The Middies don't return anybody on D.

What's holding you up, Howard? Louisville's Schnellenberger, 5-17 over two seasons, has failed to duplicate his Miami magic. Running back Deon Booker and a soft schedule should help, but the Cardinals still aren't off the ground.

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