Heres how Greg Jaklewicz of the Amarillo Globe News ranks the LSC before kickoff. His list and ours are dead on 1-5 and 10-13, with only 6-9 switched around a bit.
1. West Texas A&M: No indication the Buffs shouldn't compete for a fourth straight conference title. Talented at every skill position and eyeing national prominence, the Buffs are No. 1 until knocked off the throne.
2. Abilene Christian: ACU deserves all its preseason ink. This is the best Wildcats team in decades, one that could be playing into December if last year's porous defense can keep games from being offensive free-for-alls.
3. Tarleton State: Once again, the Texans will send a dandy team to battle but may be overshadowed by WT and ACU. Tarleton must play on the road against those two schools and at Midwestern.
4. Texas A&M-Commerce: One of the hottest teams in the LSC at season's end last year, the Terry Mayo-led Lions will cut the mustard in the North. And let's not forget running back Nabil El-Amin. Good year to strut stuff in Cotton Bowl game against East Central.
5. Midwestern State: The Mustangs will be good, no doubt. The defense always is tough. It's a matter of how good the offense will be now without Mr. Everything, Daniel Polk. Bet it's pretty good.
6. Southwestern Oklahoma State: Nine players return who earned all-LSC honors, including freshman of the year Jake Olivarez, an offensive lineman. Do the Bulldogs have enough bite to challenge A&M-Commerce?
7. Texas A&M-Kingsville: Javelinas have won 10 LSC games the past three years after winning 16 in 2003 and '04. A program with the tradition of Kingsville can't stay down too long.
8. Angelo State: WT plays at Kingsville and at San Angelo against the Rams. Neither game is a gimme by a long shot. Angelo could be a surprise this year with the maturing of young players and a big season from running back Daniel Thomas.
9. Southeastern Oklahoma State: This team did not perform up to expectations last year or its nickname, the Savage Storm. There may not be much momentum in Durant to start the year. 10. East Central: Quarterback Marcus Johnson will work behind an improved line, but there still are a lot of unknowns.
11. Northeastern State: Watch out for the RiverHawks. This team should be much improved from 2007, with projected defensive back Broderick Mondy leading the defense. Hopefully, he won't have to make so many tackles. Any team with Curtis Mayfield in the lineup has to be fly.
12. Central Oklahoma: Like Midwestern without Polk, UCO will move on from the Will Clewis era. UCO's first-half schedule is brutal, playing three ranked teams, one that should be and traveling almost to the Gulf of Mexico. Survive that boot camp and the Broncos and running back Ben Birmingham will be salty.
13. Eastern New Mexico: Here we are at the bottom and only one team is left. The Greyhounds may not be No. 13 at season's end, but only if the new passing game gels. ENMU will struggle against the deep talent of the South Division.