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Chris Dufresne ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Wow, the mighty have really fallen

August 02, 2008|Chris Dufresne

This is the fifth in a seven-part series on story lines to look for during the upcoming college football season:

Fresno State, Wake Forest, South Florida, Illinois and Brigham Young all cracked Friday's first USA TODAY coaches' top 25 poll.

Five schools that didn't make the cut: Notre Dame, Alabama, Nebraska, Miami and Florida State.

Wow, these are goofy times.

Let's stroll down muscle memory lane.

In 1989, Miami finished first in the final Associated Press poll, followed by Notre Dame and Florida State.

Alabama finished No. 9 and Nebraska was No. 11.

The teams' collective record that year was 53-8.

This Power Five, who have combined to win 25 AP national titles, last year finished a combined 27-35.

All have elected to field teams in 2008:

Notre Dame, 3-9 last season. AP national titles, 8.

Off-season news: Athletic Director Kevin White transferred to a school, Duke, where football might be on the upswing.

This is a big year for fourth-year Coach Charlie Weis -- and possibly for his real estate agent.

We count five wins (San Diego State, North Carolina, Stanford, Washington, Syracuse), three losses (at Michigan State, Boston College, at USC) and four swing games (Purdue, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Navy).

Alabama, 7-6. AP national titles, 6.

Second-year Coach Nick Saban's No. 1 recruiting class needs to start doing a number on Auburn, which has won six straight in the series, not that anyone is counting.

Get a load of this, though: An Aug. 30, neutral-turf opener against Clemson and Southeastern Conference road games at Georgia, Tennessee and Louisiana State.

At least Louisiana Monroe is off the schedule.

How does eight wins sound?

Nebraska, 5-7. AP national titles, 4.

The Cornhuskers thought giving up 49 points to USC last year was unforgivable until they gave up 76 to Kansas and 65 to Colorado, prompting a coaching change and the arrival of, duh, a defensive mind, former LSU coordinator Bo Pelini, who couldn't do worse if he fielded eight on defense.

There's a honeymoon period with home games against Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State, but after that it gets so serious that a 7-5 finish might be considered progress.

Miami, 5-7. AP national titles, 5.

Tearing down the decrepit Orange Bowl was a positive, and once you get past "at Florida" on Sept. 6, the schedule for second-year Coach Randy Shannon's team is not so scary.

Florida State, 7-6. AP national titles, 2.

The only thing worse than 7-6 in Tallahassee is two straight seasons of 7-6, yet this is the 21st century reality.

Bobby Bowden keeps saying he has one great run left in him, which might be a stretch.

It is possible, with seven home games and only the Atlantic Coast Conference to win, that Bowden might have one great "jog" left.

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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