Although most offseason chatter understandably revolves around teams that are strong contenders for national, conference or division titles, other teams could show significant improvement during the 2011 season.
The teams that follow here fit perfectly into this category. All five finished with losing records in 2010 -- and all five have a very good chance to go bowling this season. We evaluated their bounce-back potential by looking at five critical categories: (1) a high percentage of returning starters; (2) a favorable schedule (at least four games in which the team is even or favored); (3) an underrated strength; (4) an overrated weakness; and (5) an X factor.
4-8 overall record in 2010, 2-7 in Pac-10
Returning starters: offense 7, defense 8
Favorable matchups: at Houston (5-7 in 2010), vs. San Jose State (1-12), at Oregon State (5-7), vs. Washington State (2-10), vs. California (5-7), vs. Colorado (5-7)