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January 11, 2010
Ranking them all: Rivals.com 120 at 1:20
It's sad but true: The 2009 season is in the books, and we have to wait a bit less than eight months for the 2010 season to begin.
Here's one final look back at all 120 teams in our final 1-120 rankings of the '09 season.
Mike Huguenin's 120 at 1:20
1. Alabama (14-0)
BUZZ: Coach Nick Saban has the Tide back on top of the college football world in his third season in Tuscaloosa. They don't look as if they will leave that perch for a while.
2. Texas (13-1)
BUZZ: Longhorns fans always will look back on '09 and say "what if?" in regard to QB Colt McCoy's title-game injury.
3. Florida (13-1)
BUZZ: At times during the season, it looked as if the Gators were playing not to lose rather than playing to win. They let it all hang out in the Sugar Bowl and promptly dismantled Cincinnati.
4. Boise State (14-0)
BUZZ: Broncos coaches did a great job in the Fiesta Bowl, outcoaching their TCU counterparts. Boise has lost once - by one point - in the past two seasons.
5. TCU (12-1)
BUZZ: Don't let the Fiesta Bowl performance taint your view of the Horned Frogs. This is a strong program.
6. Ohio State (11-2)
BUZZ: The Buckeyes regained a lot of luster with their performance in the Rose Bowl.
7. Cincinnati (12-1)
BUZZ: A rebuilt defense fell apart in the second half of the season, and it finally caught up to the Bearcats in the Sugar Bowl.
8. Iowa (11-2)
BUZZ: The Hawkeyes rarely looked "pretty," but they got the job done this season. Their defensive performance in the Orange Bowl was a thing of beauty.
9. Oregon (10-3)
BUZZ: After that season-opening loss to Boise State, admit it: You gave up on the Ducks. QB Jeremiah Masoli and RB LaMichael James headed a strong offense.
10. Georgia Tech (11-3)
BUZZ: The triple-option offense proved too tough for ACC opponents, and the Jackets won the league title in coach Paul Johnson's second season.
11. Virginia Tech (10-3)
BUZZ: Redshirt freshman RB Ryan Williams has the look of a superstar. The defense was uneven at times, though.
12. Penn State (11-2)
BUZZ: The Nittany Lions played three "good" teams, and went 1-2 in those games.
13. Pittsburgh (10-3)
BUZZ: The Panthers' three losses came by 11 points. True freshman RB Dion Lewis had a monster season.
14. BYU (11-2)
BUZZ: Any team that wins 11 games deserves credit. But in their two losses, the Cougars were outscored by a combined 57 points.
15. Nebraska (10-4)
BUZZ: The Huskers rode their defense to a 10-win season. But the offense was a season-long problem, and it must improve next season.
16. Utah (10-3)
BUZZ: The Utes were close to a 12-win season. The only game they weren't in in the fourth quarter was a loss to TCU.
17. LSU (9-4)
BUZZ: Not to be mean, but the Tigers were inept on offense this season. Coach Les Miles will be feeling at least a bit of heat heading into next season.
18. Wisconsin (10-3)
BUZZ: Coach Bret Bielema was feeling some heat going into the season. That heat has dissipated after a 10-win campaign.
19. Miami (9-4)
BUZZ: UM made a lot of noise early, but the Hurricanes struggled at times in the second half of the season. Still, '09 was a lot better than '08.
20. Oregon State (8-5)
BUZZ: The Rodgers brothers again made things fun in Corvallis. But an inconsistent defense cost the Beavers at times this season.
21. Texas Tech (9-4)
BUZZ: The bizarre end of the Mike Leach era will be the lasting memory of this Red Raiders season.
22. Stanford (8-5)
BUZZ: RB Toby Gerhart became a national star. Coach Jim Harbaugh deserves a lot of credit for his rebuilding job with the Cardinal.
23. USC (9-4)
BUZZ: What looks to be the final season of the Pete Carroll era was a downer by the Trojans' recent standards. The question is whether they can regain their swagger without Carroll.
24. Arizona (8-5)
BUZZ: The embarrassing loss in the Holiday Bowl notwithstanding, the Wildcats had a good season and were a strong contender in the Pac-10.
25. Clemson (9-5)
BUZZ: The Tigers played in the ACC championship game in coach Dabo Swinney's first season. Now, what can he do for an encore?
26. Ole Miss (9-4)
BUZZ: The Rebels won the Cotton Bowl for the second season in a row. But while a Cotton win was a big deal last season, it was a letdown this season considering the Rebels' high hopes.
27. Oklahoma (8-5)
BUZZ: A season that began with national title hopes basically ended in the opener, a loss to BYU. But the Sooners, who had myriad injury issues, finished strong.
28. Oklahoma State (9-4)
BUZZ: The Cowboys began the season in the top 10. The offense was shut down by Oklahoma in the regular-season finale, then struggled again in the Cotton Bowl against Ole Miss.
29. West Virginia (9-4)
BUZZ: The Mountaineers started 6-1, but faded down the stretch. Still, there was a win over Pitt, and that always makes WVU fans happy.
30. North Carolina (8-5)
BUZZ: The Tar Heels' defense played well almost all season. The offense, though, never really could get it going. Until the offense improves, the Tar Heels can't legitimately contend in the ACC.
31. California (8-5)
BUZZ: The Golden Bears underachieved this season. QB Kevin Riley still lacks consistency, and the defense was overrun at times.
32. Boston College (8-5)
BUZZ: After a bizarre and unsettling offseason, BC fought back with a strong season on the field. First-year coach Frank Spaziani did a noteworthy job.
33. Central Michigan (12-2)
BUZZ: CMU cruised through the MAC unbeaten. Alas, record-setting QB Dan LeFevour is gone now.
34. Connecticut (8-5)
BUZZ: It's almost trite to say the Huskies showed great fortitude, considering what they went through with the death of star CB Jasper Howard.
35. Houston (10-4)
BUZZ: The offense-minded Cougars were riding high early with wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Ultimately, their sieve-like defense cost them.
36. Arkansas (8-5)
BUZZ: The Hogs' defense left a lot to be desired. But a strong passing attack helped them overcome their defensive problems.
37. Georgia (8-5)
BUZZ: The Bulldogs underachieved this season, and it cost three defensive assistants - including coordinator Willie Martinez - their jobs.
38. Auburn (8-5)
BUZZ: A 5-0 start had the Tigers riding high, but they returned to earth in the second half of the season. Still, an eight-win season exceeded expectations.
39. Navy (10-4)
BUZZ: The Midshipmen's strong triple-option attack led them to a rare 10-win season.
40. Northwestern (8-5)
BUZZ: The Wildcats quietly put together another good season under coach Pat Fitzgerald.
41. East Carolina (9-5)
BUZZ: ECU won Conference USA for the second season in a row, and coach Skip Holtz has built this into a solid program.
42. Air Force (8-5)
BUZZ: Coach Troy Calhoun again did a good job with the Falcons, who closed the season with a blowout of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.
43. Tennessee (7-6)
BUZZ: The Vols returned to the postseason after a one-year absence, and QB Jonathan Crompton developed into a solid player. But the defense had some problems against the run.
44. Rutgers (9-4)
BUZZ: The Scarlet Knights had a lot of young guys playing key roles this season, which should bode well for next season.
45. USF (8-5)
BUZZ: The dismissal of coach Jim Leavitt after the season for mistreating his players far overshadows anything the Bulls did on the field in 2009.
46. South Carolina (7-6)
BUZZ: Another season, another so-so record for the Gamecocks. At least the victory over archrival Clemson was memorable.
47. Florida State (7-6)
BUZZ: FSU played good offense but horrible defense. Coach Bobby Bowden went out a winner, though, with a Gator Bowl victory.
48. Missouri (8-5)
BUZZ: The Tigers had their moments this season. But their Texas Bowl loss wasn't one of them. They must get better defensively.
49. Kentucky (7-6)
BUZZ: Coach Rich Brooks guided the Wildcats to their fourth bowl appearance in a row - that's huge at UK - then retired after the season.
50. UCLA (7-6)
BUZZ: The Bruins made some progress in coach Rick Neuheisel's second season. Still, the offense needs to play a lot better next season.
51. Michigan State (6-7)
BUZZ: The Spartans' pass offense was surprisingly strong. But the rushing attack and the defense were way too inconsistent.
52. Notre Dame (6-6)
BUZZ: The Irish's offense was one of the most productive in the nation. The defense, though, was another matter, and that's why coach Charlie Weis was sent packing.
53. Troy (9-4)
BUZZ: The Trojans again won the Sun Belt title, thanks to a big season from QB Levi Brown.
54. Middle Tennessee (10-3)
BUZZ: The aggressive Blue Raiders made big plays on both sides of the ball all season and got their first bowl victory ever.
55. Temple (9-4)
BUZZ: The Owls were one of the nation's biggest surprises. True freshman RB Bernard Pierce had a great season, and the Owls look as if they can contend for a while in the MAC.
56. Ohio University (9-5)
BUZZ: The Bobcats played poorly in their bowl game, but that shouldn't overshadow their regular season, when they won the MAC East title.
57. Southern Miss (7-6)
BUZZ: The Golden Eagles were able to overcome the loss of starting QB Austin Davis to an injury, but they need to make some defensive improvement.
58. Mississippi State (5-7)
BUZZ: New coach Dan Mullen energized the rushing attack, but the Bulldogs need to improve their passing attack and their defense.
59. Washington (5-7)
BUZZ: The Huskies were winless in 2008, and new coach Steve Sarkisian put them on the right road this season. This is a young team that could make some noise next season.
60. UCF (8-5)
BUZZ: The defense did a nice job, and the offense made big strides after an awful 2008. Finding a quarterback will be the top priority in spring ball.
61. SMU (8-5)
BUZZ: The Mustangs won once in 2008, June Jones' first season as coach. This year, the Mustangs showed vast improvement, and they should be a C-USA West Division challenger next season.
62. Nevada (8-5)
BUZZ: The Wolf Pack became the first major-college team in history with three 1,000-yard rushers. But they need to do a lot of work with their pass defense.
63. Fresno State (8-5)
BUZZ: RB Ryan Mathews led the nation in rushing, and he helped the Bulldogs to another solid season.
64. Iowa State (7-6)
BUZZ: The Cyclones were a pleasant surprise under first-year coach Paul Rhoads. They made it into the postseason - and won - after winning just five games in the previous two seasons combined.
65. Minnesota (6-7)
BUZZ: The Golden Gophers made it into a bowl again. But always finishing around .500 got previous coach Glen Mason fired.
66. Kansas State (6-6)
BUZZ: The first season of Bill Snyder's second tenure was much better than expected. Still, the Wildcats didn't get into a bowl, and the future remains murky.
67. Wake Forest (5-7)
BUZZ: Wake lost a lot of close ones, leading to a disappointing finish. Plus, four-year starting QB Riley Skinner is gone.
68. Texas A&M (6-7)
BUZZ: QB Jerrod Johnson headed a good offense. But the defense too often was torched. If the defense improves, the Aggies could win eight or maybe even nine next season.
69. Kansas (5-7)
BUZZ: This was a lost season for Kansas, which fell apart in the second half of the season. Then, coach Mark Mangino was shown the door after allegations that he mistreated his players.
70. Arizona State (4-8)
BUZZ: The Sun Devils' defense did a great job. The offense? Well, it didn't even do a mediocre job.
71. Idaho (8-5)
BUZZ: Give it up for the Vandals. They were picked last in the WAC in the preseason coaches' poll but ended up winning a bowl on a two-point conversion on the last play of the game.
72. Wyoming (7-6)
BUZZ: The Cowboys beat one team with a winning record - but that came in a bowl game, which means coach Dave Christensen had a great first season.
73. Northern Illinois (7-6)
BUZZ: NIU made it into the postseason for the second season in a row. This is a team built on defense and the running game.
74. Bowling Green (7-6)
BUZZ: The Falcons made it into the postseason in their first season under coach Dave Clawson. WR Freddie Barnes set an NCAA single-season receptions record.
75. Marshall (7-6)
BUZZ: The Thundering Herd made it to a bowl game (and won it under an interim coach), but coach Mark Snyder still was let go.
76. Purdue (5-7)
BUZZ: First-year coach Danny Hope guided the Boilermakers to wins over Michigan and Ohio State, but only one of those was impressive. Still, he had a solid first season.
77. Michigan (5-7)
BUZZ: A hot start made it seem as if Michigan was back. Alas, it was a false alarm. Actually, there is some alarm over the direction of the program, and coach Rich Rodriguez better get the Wolverines into a bowl next season.
78. N.C. State (5-7)
BUZZ: The Wolfpack had wins over Pitt and North Carolina, but still ended up sitting at home in the postseason. The defense must get tougher.
79. Duke (5-7)
BUZZ: The Blue Devils again showed some incremental progress in their second season under David Cutcliffe. How much progress? There was bowl talk in early November in Durham.
80. Tulsa (5-7)
BUZZ: The Golden Hurricane stumbled badly in the second half of the season. They probably were the biggest disappointment in Conference USA.
81. Syracuse (4-8)
BUZZ: The Orange again had a losing season, but they showed some signs of life - which is a good sign for coach Doug Marrone.
82. Virginia (3-9)
BUZZ: The Cavs ended the season on a six-game losing streak, and coach Al Groh was shown the door. New coach Mike London needs to rev up the offense.
83. Indiana (4-8)
BUZZ: IU had its moments, but too often the defense got shredded.
84. Illinois (3-9)
BUZZ: The Illini again had a disappointing season. Coach Ron Zook made some staff changes after the season, and he likely will be coaching for his job next season.
85. Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6)
BUZZ: ULL's best win came over Kansas State. But the Ragin' Cajuns faltered late when they had a shot at a winning record.
86. Hawaii (6-7)
BUZZ: The Warriors started slow but finished well, and were in the bowl picture until the regular-season finale.
87. Baylor (4-8)
BUZZ: The Bears couldn't overcome the loss of QB Robert Griffin. Without him, the offense often bogged down.
88. Louisville (4-8)
BUZZ: A third consecutive losing season cost coach Steve Kragthorpe his job. The Cardinals just didn't have enough talent.
89. Toledo (5-7)
BUZZ: First-year coach Tim Beckman did a nice job with the Rockets, who still need a lot of improvement on defense.
90. Colorado (3-9)
BUZZ: The Buffs started poorly, played poorly in the middle of the season and finished on a downer, too. Coach Dan Hawkins is feeling the heat.
91. UNLV (5-7)
BUZZ: Coach Mike Sanford was let go after the season; UNLV didn't finish above .500 in any of his five seasons.
93. Buffalo (5-7)
BUZZ: The Bulls suffered a huge loss before the season even starter, when star RB James Starks was lost to an injury. Worse, coach Turner Gill left for Kansas after the season.
94. Louisiana-Monroe (6-6)
BUZZ: For the second time in three seasons, the Warhawks finished 6-6. Yet, for some reason, school officials decided it was time for coach Charlie Weatherbie to go.
95. Western Michigan (5-7)
BUZZ: A shaky defense cost the Broncos this season, making them the biggest disappointment in the MAC.
96. Kent State (5-7)
BUZZ: The Golden Flashes had a solid season, considering they used a freshman quarterback. They could challenge for a bowl bid next season.
97. UTEP (4-8)
BUZZ: The Miners might have been the most inconsistent team in Conference USA, which is saying a lot. Coach Mike Price is on the hot seat entering next season.
98. Army (5-7)
BUZZ: A win over Navy in the season finale would've meant a bowl bid for the Black Knights, who seem to be headed in the right direction under coach Rich Ellerson.
99. San Diego State (4-8)
BUZZ: First-year coach Brady Hoke probably got as much out of this team as he could. But losses to Wyoming and UNLV are going to stay with him for a while.
100. Utah State (4-8)
BUZZ: First-year coach Gary Andersen had been Utah's defensive coordinator. The funny thing: Utah State's offense was strong, its defense weak.
101. Maryland (2-10)
BUZZ: Other than a win over Clemson - as head-scratching an outcome as there was this season - there isn't anything good to remember from 2009.
102. Florida Atlantic (5-7)
BUZZ: The Owls played better in the second half of the season, but they couldn't overcome a 0-4 start.
103. Louisiana Tech (4-8)
BUZZ: The Bulldogs played a lot of good teams tough down the stretch, but they obviously need to work on pulling out some of those close games.
104. Vanderbilt (2-10)
BUZZ: Vandy created a buzz by winning its bowl game in 2008. But the Commodores reverted to form this season. The offense was pitiful.
105. Colorado State (3-9)
BUZZ: The Rams won their bowl game in 2008, then started 3-0 this season. After that, though, it went downhill quickly. The Rams need a consistent quarterback.
106. Florida International (3-9)
BUZZ: FIU played 17 freshmen this season, which should bode well for next season and beyond. The Golden Panthers need to find a way to improve their offensive line.
107. Rice (2-10)
BUZZ: The Owls lost a lot of talent off their bowl team in 2008, but this precipitous a drop was somewhat unexpected.
108. Tulane (3-9)
BUZZ: The Green Wave once again struggled, and the truly bad news is that their best players on offense were seniors.
109. Memphis (2-10)
BUZZ: Coach Tommy West was fired during the season, and new coach Larry Porter, who had been at LSU, better focus on bringing in some defensive talent.
110. Arkansas State (4-8)
BUZZ: The Red Wolves were one of the biggest disappointments in the nation. They were expected to contend for the Sun Belt title, but a poor offense cost them.
111. Akron (3-9)
BUZZ: The bad season cost coach J.D. Brookhart his job. New coach Rob Ianello, who had been an assistant at Notre Dame, has to find a way to spruce up the offense.
112. Ball State (2-10)
BUZZ: The Cardinals won 12 games in 2008; at one point, it looked as if they would lose 12 games this season.
113. Washington State (1-11)
BUZZ: The Cougars were the worst Big Six team in the nation and have to find a way to improve their offense.
114. New Mexico State (3-10)
BUZZ: The Aggies had the worst offense in the nation, mainly because the passing attack was pitiful.
115. North Texas (2-10)
BUZZ: The record was bad, but the Mean Green made some strides this season and should be much improved next season.
116. San Jose State (2-10)
BUZZ: Retired coach Dick Tomey had a solid career, but his final season didn't leave him with a fond memory.
117. New Mexico (1-11)
BUZZ: Suffice to say first-year coach Mike Locksley didn't expect things to be this bad. The Lobos lacked playmakers on offense and couldn't stop anybody on defense - not a good combination.
118. Miami University (1-11)
BUZZ: The RedHawks showed some signs of life down the stretch. Playing a freshman quarterback this season should pay off next season.
119. Eastern Michigan (0-12)
BUZZ: First-year coach Ron English had to suffer though a winless season, and his top priority is finding some talent.
120. Western Kentucky (0-12)
BUZZ: It was quite the first season as a full-fledged FBS member - the Hilltoppers finished winless and fired their coach.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.