Record at school: 17-16 (3 years)
2002 record: 7-5 (5-1 Ohio Valley)
Starters returning: 4 offense, 6 defense
Skinny: Murray, UK's first Division I-AA opponent since 1999, fills a schedule void created when a game with Florida Atlantic fell through. The Racers are coming off their first OVC title since 1996 but haven't fared well against I-A teams, losing big to Memphis, Mississippi, Wisconsin and BYU in recent years. The offense has a good leader in senior QB Stewart Childress, but his entire offensive line is new.
ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
(Sept. 13 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Coach: Mike Shula (Alabama '87)
Record at school: First year
2002 record: 10-3 (6-2 SEC)
Starters returning: 6 offense, 7 defense
Skinny: Shula has plenty of work ahead of him at Alabama, which is still riding out an NCAA probation and endured the Mike Price mess this spring. Alabama figures to once again win with its defense, which was the best in the SEC last season. The Crimson Tide is especially strong at OLB, where Cornelius Wortham and Brooks Daniels hold court. On offense, sophomore QB Brodie Croyle will probably put up plenty of passes in Shula's offense, and senior TB Shaud Williams provides a strong running threat.
(Sept. 20 at Bloomington, Ind.)
Coach: Gerry DiNardo (Notre Dame '75)
Record at school: 3-9 (1 year)
2002 record: 3-9 (1-7 Big Ten)
Starters returning: 7 offense, 7 defense
Skinny: After a season in which it had to sweat out wins over William & Mary and Central Michigan, ended the year on a six-game losing streak and gave up 37 points per game, Indiana is one step closer to becoming the Vanderbilt of the Big Ten. The Hoosiers are trying a new defense with an emphasis on stopping the run. On offense, talented WRs Courtney Roby and Glenn Johnson give new QB Matt LoVecchio, a Notre Dame transfer, two easy targets. There is also experience at RB with senior Brian Lewis and sophomore Yamar Washington.
(Sept. 27 at Lexington)
Coach: Ron Zook (Miami, Ohio, '76)
Record at school: 8-5 (1 year)
2002 record: 8-5 (6-2 SEC)
Starters returning: 6 offense, 3 defense
Skinny: The QB job is up for grabs, with freshman Chris Leak, the cream of arguably the country's best recruiting crop, expected to take the starting role eventually. There will be new starters at most other skill positions, too. And only three starters are back on defense, where the entire front seven from last season is gone.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
(Oct. 9 at Columbia, S.C.)
Coach: Lou Holtz (Kent State '59)
Record at school: 22-25 (4 years)
2002 record: 5-7 (3-5 SEC)
Starters returning: 3 offense, 6 defense
Skinny: The Gamecocks will probably be better than last year, as the loss of 13 starters from a team that dropped its last five games is probably a good thing. QB Dondrial Pinkins will try to rebound from a spring elbow injury and revive an offense ranked 103rd in the nation last year. WR Troy Williamson is the only skill player with extensive experience. Carolina's defense has a rising star in sophomore LB Lance Laury, but it also has a new defensive coordinator and a new 4-3 scheme.
(Oct. 18 at Lexington)
Coach: Brian Knorr (Air Force '86)
Record at school: 5-18 (2 years)
2002 record: 4-8 (4-4 Mid American Conference)
Starters returning: 4 offense, 8 defense
Skinny: Ohio made a small move forward last year after going 1-10 in its first year under Knorr, but the Bobcats would still seem to be an ideal homecoming opponent for UK. Still, they'll be interesting to watch on offense, where they employ the three-back attack made famous by Air Force, Knorr's alma mater. SB Stafford Owens is the top returning rusher and receiver, and senior Fred Ray returns at QB. Ohio's defense gave up 32 points per game last year.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
(Oct. 25 at Lexington)
Coach: Jackie Sherrill (Alabama '66)
Record at school: 73-65-2 (12 years)
2002 record: 3-9 (0-8 SEC)
Starters returning: 7 offense, 8 defense