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UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI | HURRICANES
PERFECT PAIR

CANES RUNNING BACKS GRAIG COOPER AND JAVARRIS JAMES ARE EAGER TO PROVE THAT LAST SEASON'S 5-7 RECORD WAS A FLUKE.


Randy Shannon likes to say he has forgotten the failures of last season, his first as UM's coach. Yet he openly offers this memory: "This team was kind of spread out when I took over." An indictment of predecessor Larry Coker? Probably. But it's just as much a statement on what has been missing from the UM roster for the past several seasons.

When linebacker Glenn Cook dislocated his first three toes and tore ligaments under the big toe on his left foot in August 2007, he hardly believed he would be standing on the University of Miami practice fields a year later. But when the Hurricanes open against Charleston Southern in their first regular-season home game at Dolphin Stadium, Cook is expected to start in the middle.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY | GOLDEN PANTHERS
 
The 2008 Golden Panthers secondary has the chance to be good, but whether the pass defense can crack the top 10 remains to be seen. After all, FIU ranked 80th last season and three members of that '05 secondary did not play in '07.
 
For those trying to figure out why Purdue led the Big Ten in offense the past two seasons, the answer points to new FIU new offensive coordinator Bill Legg. "We're thrilled to have him on staff," said FIU coach Mario Cristobal.
 
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  THE MIAMI HERALD'S PRESEASON POLL   BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME  
 
Miami Herald college football writer Jeff Shain breaks down the top 25 college football teams in the nation. Could this be the year Ohio State finally gets over the hump, or could a team from the Big East or ACC sneak their way into the BCS Championship game?
 
For 74 years, the Orange Bowl has been a headliner in South Florida's emergence as a big-event showcase. Fifteen national champions have been crowned on its field. This season brings the Orange Bowl's first double-hosting task, a soirée two years in the planning.
 

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA | GATORS
 
Tim Tebow is not perfect. Sure, Florida's quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, but not once last season did he lead a game-winning, fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Tebow had three chances to be the hero - and he stumbled every time.
 
Gators middle linebacker Brandon Spikes had no clue before the 2007 season. All he knew was that he was a starter and that's all that mattered. According to Florida coach Urban Meyer, that role might be the most important job on the team in 2008.
 
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FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY | SEMINOLES
 
Drew Weatherford doesn't take it personally. After all, he has been a focal point of Florida State football for the better part of three seasons now, having one more year to emboss a label on the timeline of only the second four-year starter under FSU coach Bobby Bowden.
 
A coach's whistle greets Dekoda Watson every time he peers into his Florida State locker these days. The whistle also serves a more serious purpose - a stone-cold reminder of Watson's role for the season's first three games. A coach. A mentor. But not a playmaker.
 
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  FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY | OWLS   UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA | BULLS  
 
Florida Atlantic University quarterback Rusty Smith propelled the Owls to their first Sun Belt championship last season, garnering several preseason accolades entering the team's season opener, has vowed not to leave after his junior season to pursue his NFL dreams.
 
For the 22 years Brouce Mompremier has been alive, the state's college football passions have revolved around the state's 'Big Three.' Miami, Florida, Florida State. Arrange however you wish. Hey, no one said it had to stop there. There's room for more, he says.
 
     

  UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA | KNIGHTS   CONFERENCE PREVIEWS  
 
It is safe to say UCF's offense was carried by Miami native Kevin Smith last season. So after departing for the NFL, having been drafted by the Lions in the third round, where does that leave UCF's offense? "It's not just a hole, it's the Grand Canyon," said Tim Salem.