The 2011 season was supposed to be about the resurgence of Florida State and Notre Dame. Now the two teams are playing in the Champs Sports Bowl.
It seems as though every year the national media hypes up these teams, but neither has lived up to expectations in years.
So what can fans expect from these teams in 2012?
All signs are pointing to special seasons.
Both teams have played exceptional football all year but each has had its own problem that kept it out of being nationally relevant.
For Florida State, the offensive line was a huge problem. E.J. Manuel is a great quarterback and the Seminoles have a plethora of running backs, but no one could really showcase their abilities because the offensive line gave them no time.
It gave up three sacks per game and could only get the team 118 rushing yards per game. The defense gave up 15 points per game and the defensive line was incredible, but there are too many good linemen in the ACC to challenge for a title without a somewhat decent offensive line.
Notre Dame’s well documented problem has been turning the ball over, only three teams in the country had a worse turnover margin than the Irish.
But another problem they’ve had is on special teams.
They rank dead last in punt returns and 105th in punting. If you don’t win the turnover or field position battles, you won’t win many games. The defense was surprisingly good and the defensive front seven will only improve with time and the recruits Brian Kelly is bringing in.
Fix these problems and we could be seeing these teams next year playing in a BCS Bowl. If they can’t, it will be another disappointing year for both teams.
With a full offseason to get things right, odds are that these teams will be at the point where 2012 is actually the year the programs can be considered “back.”