College football 2011 is in the rearview mirror.
Just a short two weeks ago, Alabama was crowned national champion.
Today, we are months away from all the preseason speculation, all the hype. Now, we can only look back and wonder what some "experts" were thinking.
It happens every year. Teams rise from virtually nowhere to compete in BCS bowls (e.g., Clemson; Michigan). But for every team that rises, others falter. They simply don't live up to the hype. This is about the latter.
This is about the five most disappointing teams in 2011.
Arizona State came into 2011 with high hopes. The Sun Devils were the popular preseason pick to win the Pac-12 South.
But, as many teams on this list know, preseason picks mean nothing until the games are played.
Arizona State ran out of the gates, compiling a 5-1 record, including beating a ranked Mizzou squad at home and dropping a close one to Illinois in Champaign.
The Sun Devils then went to Eugene and lost to Oregon. Arizona State won the next weekend over Pac-12 newcomer Colorado. That would end up being their last win of the season.
The Sun Devils dropped the rest of their games, including a loss to in-state rival Arizona. The Sun Devils finished off the year with a blowout loss to Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
ASU went 6-7, ultimately costing Dennis Erickson his head coaching job.
If the season ended after playing just six games, the Illini would have been in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for Illinois, the second half of the season has to be played.
Illinois started out 6-0, climbing as high as 15th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. For a while, it looked as if Ron Zook would keep his job.
But like Arizona State, the second half of the season was not kind to the Fighting Illini. They dropped their next six games, to finish the regular season at .500.
Illinois' offense disappeared in the second half of the season, no doubt leading to their growing loss total and costing Ron Zook his job.
The Illini limped into a bowl matchup against Pac-12 South champion, UCLA. Illinois won the game, but a 7-6 record isn't enough to excite the folks in Champaign.
If Arizona State's and Illinois' seasons could be described as a tale of two seasons, then one could say Texas A&M's season was a tale of two halves.
In the preseason, the Aggies were considered the main opposition to stopping Oklahoma from capturing another Big 12 title, and they were even a dark horse national title contender.
The Aggies rose to eight in the polls before a Top 10 matchup against Oklahoma State. That's when A&M's second half miscues began rearing their ugly heads.
The same thing happened against Arkansas in a battle of former rivals. And again with Mizzou.
Then A&M went to Norman, a very difficult place to win. Despite that, the Aggies were only down by three at halftime. Again, however, Texas A&M allowed its opponent to outscore it in the second half.
Texas A&M then had to face a resurgent Kansas State squad on the road. The Aggies and Wildcats were tied at the half. And, at the end of regulation, the score was still tied. The game went all the way into a fourth overtime, when K-State took and held the lead and got the win.
But the ultimate heartbreaker occurred on Thanksgiving Day. That day, the Aggies hosted the rival Texas Longhorns. Again, the Aggies built a first half lead and again their opponent came back to win. The fact that it was Texas and the last game in the rivalry for the foreseeable future made the loss that much worse.
Instead of going 11-1 and earning a BCS berth, the Aggies were relegated to the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas against Northwestern. And, as you can probably already guess, the Wildcats outscored Texas A&M in the second half. The difference? The Aggies actually won by building a big lead in the first half.
A 7-6 season didn't sit too well with the people of College Station, and ultimately head coach Mike Sherman was let go.
After a 9-4 season and being named ACC coach of the year, Ralph Friedgen was unceremoniously shown the door.
Enter Randy Edsall. The former UConn coach who led the Huskies from Division I-AA to the FBS to an eventual BCS bid was hired to replace Friedgen.
Expectations weren't particularly high, but no one could have predicted the free fall that befell the Terrapins.
Maryland started off the 2011 season with a bang. But it wasn't their play that threw the nation into a frenzy, it was the team's uniforms. It would be the most attention Maryland would garner for the season.
The Terrapins finished 2-10, with some Maryland fans calling for Edsall's departure.
A season that began with high hopes for the Seminoles quickly took a turn for the worse.
Florida State came into 2011 as the odds-on favorite to win the ACC. And while the Seminoles didn't completely collapse like others in this article, they surely didn't live up to their No. 5 preseason ranking.
Florida State started the season 2-0, mainly because of the cupcakes it'd scheduled. Then, the Sooners came to Tallahassee. In a defensive battle, OU walked away the victor.
The Seminoles went on to lose their next two games to eventual ACC Champion Clemson and Wake Forest, a team that finished the regular season 6-6. As a result, the Seminoles plummeted from the polls.
Florida State recovered some of its mojo and reeled off five straight wins. The 'Noles then lost a close one to the Cavaliers of Virginia.
Florida State finished the season 9-4 with a victory over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.
And while a 9-4 season doesn't seem bad to some, one must remember that this is Tallahassee, where the fans are anxious to get back to the championship-caliber football of the Bowden era.