Utah: The Utes have the best chance of any team to create controversy -- gasp -- in college football and attempt to sneak into the Bowl Championship Series picture. They can win every game on their 11-game schedule. They have a great coach in Urban Meyer, who was named national coach of the year by the Sporting News and who will get looks from other schools should he continue his success this season. Utah won 10 games and earned its first outright conference title in 46 years in 2003. It plays three BCS-conference teams, but two -- Texas A&M and North Carolina -- are at home and Arizona isn't exactly the class of the Pacific-10 even though it is now coached by Mike Stoops. The toughest stretch undoubtedly will be a road trip to San Diego State followed by a home date with Colorado State late in the season. Meyer called the conference the most balanced in the country.
West Virginia: One preseason magazine lists the Mountaineers as the nation's surprise team. Another publication ranks Coach Rich Rodriguez's team No. 5 in the country. This much is certain: They will have a successful season. They'll most likely win the Big East and claim a Bowl Championship Series berth. But the conference is diminished now that Miami and Virginia Tech have joined the ACC. Sure, West Virginia won seven straight to end the regular season. But it looked hapless against Maryland in the Gator Bowl. This year, West Virginia returns two-year starter Rasheed Marshall and the core of its offensive line. But the Mountaineers' strength of schedule is rated 81st in the country, according to the Sporting News. If West Virginia beats Maryland at home and Virginia Tech on the road, the Mountaineers could go undefeated. Only a November home date against Boston College would loom as a significant test. But by season's end, West Virginia might not be as good as its gaudy record.