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January 12, 2011
Ranking them all: Final Rivals 120 of 2010
Here are the final Rivals.com 2010 rankings.
Look for an early look at the 2011 season -- a real early look -- on Thursday.
On to the rankings:
Mike Huguenin's final Rivals 120 of 2010
1. Auburn (14-0)
BUZZ: QB Cameron Newton had a season for the ages. Then, the defense took over in the national title game. DT Nick Fairley was a man all season.
2. Oregon (12-1)
BUZZ: The oft-criticized Ducks defense did its job in the BCS national championship game. The much-praised offense, alas, did not. Still, with two minutes left, the Ducks were tied and had a chance to win the game.
3. TCU (13-0)
BUZZ: The Horned Frogs' defense was able to hold up -- just barely -- against big, bad Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. They are losing some key players, but this is a program that looks to be built for the long haul.
4. Stanford (12-1)
BUZZ: Stanford's second-half performance against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl was the best half any team played in this postseason -- and, heck, maybe the entire season.
5. Ohio State (12-1)
BUZZ: The Buckeyes got the "SEC teams in bowls" monkey off their backs. This was their sixth consecutive season with at least 10 wins.
6. Boise State (12-1)
BUZZ: The Broncos' defense played one bad half of football this season, and that bad half in the loss to Nevada almost certainly kept Boise out of the Rose Bowl. Rebuilding the secondary and the receiving corps will be the highest spring priorities.
7. Oklahoma (12-2)
BUZZ: Oklahoma looked good in finally winning another BCS game. Coach Bob Stoops received more good news when WR Ryan Broyles and LB Travis Lewis said they were staying in school.
8. LSU (11-2)
BUZZ: The Tigers certainly looked good in whipping Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Les Miles' decision to stay at LSU and spurn Michigan led to mixed feelings among the fan bases on both sides.
9. Oklahoma State (11-2)
BUZZ: The Cowboys may have been the biggest surprise of the season. Picked to finish last in the Big 12 South, they instead tied for the division title thanks to one of the nation's most potent offenses.
10. Alabama (10-3)
BUZZ: At most places, a 10-3 record and a dominating bowl victory would mean a great season. But not in 2010 with the Tide, who manhandled Big Ten tri-champ Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl.
11. Wisconsin (11-2)
BUZZ: Hmmm -- maybe all those huge victories came about because of lousy Big Ten competition. One notable aspect of the Rose Bowl was that TCU's wide receivers had a big day against the Badgers' secondary.
12. Arkansas (10-3)
BUZZ: The Ryan Mallett era is over, and the Hogs seem likely to take a half-step back in the SEC West. Still, the talent base is there for at least eight wins.
13. Michigan State (11-2)
BUZZ: The Spartans had a surprisingly successful season, finishing as tri-champs in the Big Ten. But the less said about the Capital One Bowl, the better.
14. Virginia Tech (11-3)
BUZZ: After two losses to open the season, the Hokies played 11.5 games of really good football. Then came the second half of the Orange Bowl, when they were run over by a Stanford stampede.
15. Missouri (10-3)
BUZZ: Mizzou seems to lack a killer instinct. They will need to find one now that QB Blaine Gabbert has decided to go pro.
16. Florida State (10-4)
BUZZ: Coach Jimbo Fisher's first real season at the helm was a good one, as he guided the Seminoles to the ACC Atlantic Division title. Now, of course, all he has to do in 2011 is lead the 'Noles to a repeat.
17. Nevada (13-1)
BUZZ: The Wolf Pack's second-half rally against Boise State will go down as one of the 2010 season's signature moments. They capped off the season with a strong defensive effort to beat Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
18. Utah (10-3)
BUZZ: The Utes averaged 34 points per game. But in their three losses, they scored 13 -- total. Now they move on to the Pac-10.
19. Texas A&M (9-4)
BUZZ: Coach Mike Sherman was said to be on the hot seat at midseason. After a strong finish, though, Sherman is in charge of a team that has a legit shot at the Big 12 title next season.
20. Mississippi State (9-4)
BUZZ: The Bulldogs' four losses came to teams ranked in the top 12 in our poll. They closed the season in fine fashion, feasting on Michigan in the Gator Bowl.
21. Nebraska (10-4)
BUZZ: The Huskers had high hopes heading into the season. But they were a mild disappointment. Frankly, they should be embarrassed by their "effort" in the Holiday Bowl.
22. N.C. State (9-4)
BUZZ: The Wolfpack capped off a surprising season by carving up West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl. Now, if only QB Russell Wilson would stay for his senior season …
23. South Carolina (9-5)
BUZZ: While the season ended on a down note -- losses to Auburn in the SEC title game and to Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl -- the Gamecocks won the SEC East, their first title of any kind since 1969.
24. UCF (11-3)
BUZZ: The Knights beat Georgia in the Liberty Bowl to cap the best season in school history. Still, of their 11 wins, none was over a team that finished with a winning record.
25. San Diego State (9-4)
BUZZ: Coach Brady Hoke did a nice job turning the program around in just two seasons. Although Hoke is off to Michigan, SDSU QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman should be in line for national honors next season.
26. Air Force (9-4)
BUZZ: Victories over Army and Navy. A bowl win over a Big Six school. All in all, we'd say this was a darned good season for the Falcons.
27. Iowa (8-5)
BUZZ: The Hawkeyes had an admirable showing in the Insight Bowl, upsetting Missouri despite being without their leading rusher and best receiver. Still, overall, the Hawkeyes underachieved this season.
28. Notre Dame (8-5)
BUZZ: Brian Kelly deserves credit for getting the Irish to eight wins in his inaugural season. The defense came around, and the Irish showed some fight after a midseason swoon.
29. Northern Illinois (11-3)
BUZZ: An 11-win season is something to savor. Still, a loss in the MAC title game hurts, as does coach Jerry Kill leaving for Minnesota.
30. Maryland (9-4)
BUZZ: The Terps were a pleasant surprise in the ACC and went to their seventh bowl in 10 seasons. Coach Ralph Friedgen's reward? A pink slip.
31. West Virginia (9-4)
BUZZ: The defense, which had carried the team for much of the season, broke down in the Champs Sports Bowl loss to NC State. The coaching situation is a delicate one, and spring practice should be mighty interesting in Morgantown.
32. USC (8-5)
BUZZ: Monte Kiffin has some work to do with his defense, which was shredded at inopportune times this season. The next few seasons could be a bit lean for the Trojans.
33. Tulsa (10-3)
BUZZ: The Golden Hurricane overcame a 1-2 start in which the defense was abysmal to finish with 10 wins. The final victory was an impressive blowout of the host team in the Hawaii Bowl.
34. North Carolina (8-5)
BUZZ: UNC didn't have the great season that was expected. Still, given all the suspensions and the turmoil surrounding the program, winning eight games against a tough schedule is something of which the Tar Heels can be proud.
35. Florida (8-5)
BUZZ: The offense was a disaster area for much of the season. Still, Urban Meyer leaves a nice legacy in Gainesville -- two national titles in his six seasons.
36. Connecticut (8-5)
BUZZ: Randy Edsall may be gone, to Maryland, but he deserves a ton of credit for getting UConn -- which was a FCS program when he was hired in 1999 -- to a BCS game. Again, UConn was in a BCS game.
37. Pittsburgh (8-5)
BUZZ: The Panthers sure looked good in their bowl game. If they had played with that much passion and intensity during the regular season, they would've won the Big East and Dave Wannstedt still would be coach.
38. Arizona (7-6)
BUZZ: The Wildcats faded badly down the stretch. A 7-1 start led to talk about the Wildcats having a legit shot at their first Rose Bowl bid. Instead, there was a five-game losing streak to close out the season. The defense fell apart late in the season.
39. USF (8-5)
BUZZ: USF easily handled a tough Clemson defense in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The question for coach Skip Holtz is whether QB B.J. Daniels can play that well on a consistent basis in 2011.
40. Illinois (7-6)
BUZZ: The Illini surprised more than a few observers by finishing tied for fourth in the Big Ten. While they faded a bit down the stretch, they hammered Baylor in the Texas Bowl, their first bowl win since 1999.
41. Penn State (7-6)
BUZZ: Man, if we're not mistaken, QB Matt McGloin just threw another interception. To say the least, the Nittany Lions need to strive to become more consistent on offense next season.
42. Michigan (7-6)
BUZZ: The Rich Rodriguez experiment is over after just three seasons. The funny thing: There is no doubt his offense -- which was scoffed at -- works in the Big Ten. His pitiful defenses did him in.
43. Navy (9-4)
BUZZ: The Midshipmen couldn't handle San Diego State on its home field in the Poinsettia Bowl. But when you're a service academy, there's no need to apologize for a nine-win season.
44. Texas Tech (8-5)
BUZZ: The Red Raiders had a potent offense and a mediocre (at best) defense. While that sounds familiar to Tech fans, it certainly isn't the way coach Tommy Tuberville is used to winning games.
45. Miami (7-6)
BUZZ: There were more than a few people who proclaimed "The U. is back!" before the season. Alas, those people were way off, and coach Randy Shannon was fired.
46. Baylor (7-6)
BUZZ: Granted, the Bears made the postseason for the first time since 1994, which obviously is a huge plus. But a four-game losing streak to end the season in which the defense was shredded showed that there still is a lot of work to be done.
47. Hawaii (10-4)
BUZZ: The Warriors were easily handled by Tulsa in the Hawaii Bowl. Still, a 10-win season is nothing to scoff at.
48. Syracuse (8-5)
BUZZ: Syracuse looks to have turned it around under coach Doug Marrone, especially on defense. But the Pinstripe Bowl performance notwithstanding, the offense needs a makeover.
49. Kansas State (7-6)
BUZZ: Given how much attention coach Bill Snyder pays to the little things, it's shocking that the Wildcats were horrible against the run this season. Each of the last four opponents and six of the final seven ran for at least 213 yards.
50. Northwestern (7-6)
BUZZ: The Wildcats gave a valiant effort without starting QB Dan Persa in the TicketCity Bowl. Coach Pat Fitzgerald needs to toughen up his defense.
51. Georgia (6-7)
BUZZ: The Bulldogs couldn't overcome a 1-4 start that included an inexplicable loss to Colorado. The loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl, though, might have been the low point of a miserable season.
52. Boston College (7-6)
BUZZ: The Eagles had a big-time defense. As for the offense -- hmmm, did we mention the big-time defense?
53. Washington (7-6)
BUZZ: Coach Steve Sarkisian's second season has to be deemed a success, what with a bowl win over a heavily favored foe. Can the Huskies ride the bowl momentum to better things in 2011?
54. Miami of Ohio (10-4)
BUZZ: The RedHawks went 1-11 last season, and they became the first program in NCAA history to go from double-digit losses one season to double-digit wins the next. Coach Mike Haywood is gone, though.
55. Louisville (7-6)
BUZZ: Frankly, given the overall lack of talent, a 7-6 season is a wildly successful record in coach Charlie Strong's first season. But the Cardinals are going to miss RB Bilal Powell, who was the centerpiece of the team.
56. Georgia Tech (6-7)
BUZZ: The injury to QB Joshua Nesbitt hurt. But what really hurt was a defense that couldn't stop the run.
57. Southern Miss (8-5)
BUZZ: The Golden Eagles gave up 44.4 points per game in their five losses. Is this program really that much better off than it was before Larry Fedora was hired as coach?
58. Arizona State (6-6)
BUZZ: Four of the Sun Devils' losses came by a combined nine points. Coach Dennis Erickson will be on the hot seat going into the 2011 season.
59. BYU (7-6)
BUZZ: The Cougars won five of their final six games -- but none of their victims finished with a winning record. Still, QB Jake Heaps played well down the stretch and lends a ton of hope for the future.
60. Clemson (6-7)
BUZZ: The Tigers are proof positive that no matter how much talent you have on defense, you have to have some sort of clue on offense if you're to be successful.
61. Oregon State (5-7)
BUZZ: The injury to WR James Rodgers really hurt the Beavers' offense; now, they'll find out about life without RB Jacquizz Rodgers.
62. Tennessee (6-7)
BUZZ: The Vols lost two games this season they thought they had won. The Music City Bowl loss to North Carolina surely brought back memories of the regular-season setback against LSU.
63. Kentucky (6-7)
BUZZ: The Wildcats started 3-0 before not really doing much the rest of the season, though there was an upset of South Carolina in October. The defense got trampled in a bowl loss to Pitt.
64. Army (7-6)
BUZZ: The Black Knights went bowling for the first time since 1996, and they made it a successful appearance, beating SMU on the Mustangs' home field.
65. SMU (7-7)
BUZZ: The Mustangs won the C-USA West title in coach June Jones' third season, but the Mustangs' offense was anemic in an Armed Forces Bowl loss to Army.
66. Fresno State (8-5)
BUZZ: Fresno State ended the regular season in impressive fashion, beating Illinois. But the Bulldogs didn't fare so well against Northern Illinois in the Humanitarian Bowl.
67. California (5-7)
BUZZ: Coach Jeff Tedford and his staff need to find a quarterback who consistently makes plays next season. That is something Cal has been missing for the past few seasons.
68. Iowa State (5-7)
BUZZ: Coach Paul Rhoads took the Cyclones to a bowl in his first season, but couldn't turn the trick again this season. The offense has to get a lot better.
69. Texas (5-7)
BUZZ: Texas fell a long way this season -- a long way. That plunge has led to a staff makeover and should make things more interesting than usual in Austin for spring drills.
70. Florida International (7-6)
BUZZ: The Panthers' first bowl trip ended in memorable fashion, with K Jack Griffin nailing a winning field goal at the gun against Toledo. Coach Mario Cristobal deserves praise for getting this program on the right track.
71. Troy (8-5)
BUZZ: The Trojans' finished with the best overall record in the Sun Belt after a dominating performance in a New Orleans Bowl win over Ohio U.
72. Ohio U. (8-5)
BUZZ: The Bobcats had a couple of nice victories and looked poised to win the MAC East title, but a two-game losing streak to end the season leaves a bad taste in their mouths.
73. Temple (8-4)
BUZZ: The Owls were one of two bowl-eligible teams not to play in the postseason. To cap off a bad December, coach Al Golden left for Miami.
74. Toledo (8-5)
BUZZ: Coach Tim Beckman's second season was a success, even if it did end with a loss to FIU in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
75. East Carolina (6-7)
BUZZ: It's hard to fathom how easy it was to move the ball on the Pirates. They surrendered at least 42 points in each of their final six games and 10 times overall. They allowed at least 49 six times.
76. UCLA (4-8)
BUZZ: The offense was, in a word, pitiful. Coach Rick Neuheisel will reside squarely on the hot seat going into the 2011 season.
77. Colorado (5-7)
BUZZ: The Buffaloes played respectable football down the stretch after coach Dan Hawkins was fired. Now comes the Jon Embree era and a move to the Pac-10. Embree needs to find some playmakers.
78. Cincinnati (4-8)
BUZZ: From dizzying heights -- back-to-back BCS appearances under Brian Kelly -- the Bearcats fell back to earth with a thud, finishing seventh in the Big East.
79. Ole Miss (4-8)
BUZZ: The Jeremiah Masoli experiment didn't work all that well. Truth be told, though, the offense was good enough for a bowl bid; the defense, alas, was not.
80. Houston (5-7)
BUZZ: This was supposed to be a huge season for QB Case Keenum and the Cougars. Instead, a season-ending injury to Keenum -- and one to his backup, too -- left the Cougars extremely vulnerable at quarterback.
81. UTEP (6-7)
BUZZ: The Miners didn't play all that well in the second half of the season but still managed to receive a bowl bid. Unfortunately, they didn't play all that well in the bowl, either, and were hammered by BYU.
82. Louisiana Tech (5-7)
BUZZ: The Bulldogs underwent an offensive makeover under new coach Sonny Dykes and had an OK season. Consistency at quarterback is important for next season.
83. Marshall (5-7)
BUZZ: The Thundering Herd played their best football down the stretch, but the coaching staff has to do something to increase the offense's production.
84. Indiana (5-7)
BUZZ: New coach Kevin Wilson arrives from Oklahoma with an offense-minded reputation. That's fine and good, but offense hasn't been the problem for the Hoosiers.
85. Purdue (4-8)
BUZZ: Injuries at quarterback hurt the Boilermakers. They will lose their best player with DE Ryan Kerrigan being a senior.
86. Tulane (4-8)
BUZZ: The Green Wave had some young players who played key roles this season, and they should go into next season with legit bowl hopes.
87. Rutgers (4-8)
BUZZ: Going into the season, QB Tom Savage was seen as a star on the rise. Last week, he announced plans to transfer. The offense was a mess this season.
88. Virginia (4-8)
BUZZ: The Cavs beat Miami, one of the most confounding results of the season, considering their other three wins were against an awful Eastern Michigan team and two FCS opponents.
89. Idaho (6-7)
BUZZ: Idaho couldn't run the ball nor stop the run. That's not a good recipe, no matter what league you're in.
90. Minnesota (3-9)
BUZZ: The Golden Gophers got themselves a nice victory over Iowa, but wins were in short supply under coach Tim Brewster, who was canned during the season.
91. Middle Tennessee (6-7)
BUZZ: The Blue Raiders went bowling, but this season fell far short of what was expected. QB Dwight Dasher's four-game suspension hurt, as did his propensity to throw interceptions (18, against six TD passes).
92. Western Michigan (6-6)
BUZZ: The Broncos were one of two bowl-eligible teams not to be involved in the postseason. QB Alex Carder has the look of a future All-MAC performer.
93. Rice (4-8)
BUZZ: The offense got back on track, but the defense once again too often resembled a sieve.
94. Kent State (5-7)
BUZZ: The defense was strong, leading the nation in rushing defense for a good portion of the season. But the offense had all sorts of trouble, and coach Doug Martin stepped down.
95. Louisiana-Monroe (5-7)
BUZZ: The WarHawks overachieved a bit in new coach Todd Berry's first season. Redshirt freshman QB Kolton Browning is a guy Berry can build around.
96. Washington State (2-10)
BUZZ: Coach Paul Wulff will be back for a fourth season, even though the first three have been bad. The program he left, Eastern Washington, just won the FCS title.
97. UAB (4-8)
BUZZ: Once again, UAB showed it can move the ball. And, once again, the defense showed it will let opposing offenses move the ball.
98. Arkansas State (4-8)
BUZZ: The offense was productive, the defense not so much. And coach Steve Roberts was let go after the season.
99. Duke (3-9)
BUZZ: QB Sean Renfree looks like a guy coach David Cutcliffe can build his offense around. But will Duke ever be able to run the ball?
100. Utah State (4-8)
BUZZ: The Aggies' season highlight was a home upset of BYU. But not much else went right.
101. Kansas (3-9)
BUZZ: Turner Gill's first season had two incredible highs -- an upset of Georgia Tech, an unreal fourth-quarter comeback against Colorado -- but those highs were vastly overshadowed by some dreadful performances.
102. Ball State (4-8)
BUZZ: Coach Stan Parrish was let go after the season, just his second with the Cardinals. The offense was a problem all season.
103. Florida Atlantic (4-8)
BUZZ: The rushing attack was a big disappointment for the Owls, who open an on-campus stadium this fall.
104. Central Michigan (3-9)
BUZZ: The first season without QB Dan LeFevour was a long one, though Ryan Radcliff showed some talent as his replacement. The Chippewas lost five games by seven or fewer points.
105. Wake Forest (3-9)
BUZZ: Has Jim Grobe's magic worn off? The Demon Deacons' passing attack was awful this season and must improve. The defense has to get better, too.
106. Wyoming (3-9)
BUZZ: Dave Christensen's first season, in 2009, ended in a bowl. But the 2010 season was an offensive quagmire.
107. North Texas (3-9)
BUZZ: North Texas suffered through an inordinate amount of injuries this season, but new coach Dan McCarney -- hired off the staff at Florida -- has some talent with which to work.
108. Colorado State (3-9)
BUZZ: For the second season in a row, the Rams had trouble on offense. Coach Steve Fairchild will be in his fourth season this fall, and while the Rams went bowling in his first season, they have regressed since then.
109. Louisiana-Lafayette (3-9)
BUZZ: Coach Rickey Bustle never could get the Ragin' Cajuns over the hump and was let go at the end of the season. Good news for ULL is that quick turnarounds aren't that difficult in the Sun Belt.
110. Vanderbilt (2-10)
BUZZ: We don't envy new coach James Franklin, who arrives from Maryland to take over a bad program.
111. UNLV (2-11)
BUZZ: The first season in Vegas was a difficult one for coach Bobby Hauck. The Rebels needs to find some playmakers on both sides of the ball.
112. Bowling Green (2-10)
BUZZ: The Falcons' offense was atrocious, which you know bothered coach Dave Clawson, who has a solid offensive background.
113. Western Kentucky (2-10)
BUZZ: The Hilltoppers made some progress for first-year coach Willie Taggart, who was hired off Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford.
114. New Mexico State (2-10)
BUZZ: The Aggies need to find a way to jump-start their offense. They scored 22 or fewer points nine times, and both wins came by two points.
115. Eastern Michigan (2-10)
BUZZ: The Eagles had their moments on offense this season. But the defense continues to be a huge problem.
116. Akron (1-11)
BUZZ: The Zips won their final game of the season to head into the offseason with at least a little bit of momentum.
117. Buffalo (2-10)
BUZZ: This season was a bad one for new coach Jeff Quinn. But at least Bulls fans can take some solace in that former Buffalo star James Starks had a big game for the Packers in the first round of the NFL playoffs.
118. New Mexico (1-11)
BUZZ: Two seasons and two wins for coach Mike Locksley. If those numbers are three and three this time next year, the Lobos will have a new coach.
119. Memphis (1-11)
BUZZ: Coach Larry Porter's first season was a nightmare; he and his staff must find a way to rev up the offense.
120. San Jose State (1-12)
BUZZ: The Spartans were winless -- 0-11 -- against FBS schools this season. They're the only team that can make that dubious claim.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.