The Biggest Problem Facing Every BCS College Football Program Going into 2012
While some college football teams certainly have more problems than others, there is no question that no matter how good each team is, everybody has some type of issue heading into the 2012 season.
Whether it's a new head coach, replacing a lot of lost talent or dealing with a new conference, every team has some type of problem heading into the season.
Here is the biggest problem facing each college football team as they prepare for the start of the new season.
The Crimson Tide are never short on talent, and next year will be no different, as they have one of the top five teams in the country heading into 2012.
They will have to replace a ton of talent on defense, including some starters at every position, and that is the biggest problem for Alabama.
It should not take long for the youth to step in, but if the Crimson Tide are beatable it will be early, when the defense is young.
The Michigan offense should be quite a test for them.
Having a new head coach in Rich Rodriguez will certainly benefit the Wildcats, and there may be a little adjustment period, but the biggest problem facing the team will be having to replace so much offensive firepower.
Quarterback Nick Foles and running back Keola Antolin are gone, along with their top playmakers from the receiver position.
Finding some skill players will be the biggest issue for Arizona in 2012.
Similar to Arizona, Arizona State has a new head coach, but that is not the biggest dilemma facing the team.
The Sun Devils will have the task of trying to replace a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
The secondary and linebacker group were hit the hardest, as the defense lost their top six tacklers from the 2011 squad.
It is not going to be easy for new head coach Todd Graham in 2012.
Arkansas has a lot of talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and they are a sleeper to win the SEC West.
They will have to do it, however, with a new head coach in John L. Smith.
Smith took over after Bobby Petrino was forced out.
Finding a way to get over what has happened the past few months and deal with a new head coach is the biggest problem facing the Razorbacks heading into the season.
Auburn returns as many starters as almost anybody in the country, and if they can figure out their quarterback situation, they will be much better next season.
It is looking more and more like Kiehl Frazier will be the starting quarterback, but a lot can happen between now and the start of the season.
The other name in the running in Clint Moseley.
No matter who starts, this position could be a big problem for the Tigers next season.
Losing a quarterback like Robert Griffin III, no matter how good a team is, will certainly take a while to get over.
Just ask Auburn after Cam Newton left early.
Baylor, on the other hand, does not have the talent the Tigers did.
Finding a replacement for Griffin will not be easy, and the quarterback position will be a spot that could plague the Bears all season.
There is not a coach more entrenched on the hot seat than Frank Spaziani at Boston College.
The Eagles struggled mightily last season, and with the departure of star running back Montel Harris, it is not going to get any easier.
Look for Spaziani to be on his way out with another season like 2011, and this could be hanging over the program all year.
With so many explosive offenses in the Pac-12, it is necessary to have a defense with the ability to slow down some of these teams.
Cal was not bad last season, allowing just over 24 points a game, but they lost a ton of talent on that side of the ball, including five of their top six tacklers.
That poses a huge problem entering 2012.
They are going to have to answer some serious questions if they have any inclination to slow down the offenses that rule the conference.
A lot of teams lost as many players as Cincinnati, but few will have to replace the senior leadership that Cincinnati will, and that is the biggest problem for the Bearcats as the 2012 season approaches.
They not only lost the Big East offensive player of the year in Isaiah Pead as well as quarterback Zach Collaros, along with three linemen on offense, but they also lost talent on defense.
Senior defensive tackles Derek Wolfe and John Hughes have moved on to the NFL, along with senior linebacker and team leader J.K. Schaffer.
It will be tough to find that leadership next season.
Clemson has the talent to compete with anybody in the ACC, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
The question is: Can they get past the beat-down they suffered in the Orange Bowl at the hands of West Virginia?
In one of the most lopsided bowl games ever, the Tigers were manhandled, and getting over that will not be an easy task.
Entering the season, that loss still has to be on their minds.
Colorado was not good last season in the Pac-12, and while they may be better in 2012, they have an offensive problem heading into the season.
The Buffalo lost both of their top two receivers from a season ago, along with running back Rodney Stewart and quarterback Tyler Hansen.
They had one of the worst offenses in the country last season—don't expect it to be much better in 2012.
Connecticut nearly made a bowl game last season and discovered a talented running back in freshman Lyle McCombs.
That is about the end of the positives when it comes to the offense.
In 2012, they will have to answer the quarterback question if they plan on playing in a bowl game.
Johnny McEntee is the returning starter, but he will need to make drastic improvements for this team to be successful.
Duke has eight starters coming back on each side of the ball, but one position where they will be lacking talent is at wide receiver.
The Blue Devils lose two of their top three receivers, and while Conner Vernon will be back to anchor that group, he will need a little help.
Duke loves to throw the football around, but in 2012 they might not have too many targets to throw to.
Florida struggled last season under first-year head coach Will Muschamp and lost some firepower on the offensive side of the ball.
The biggest problem for the Gators entering 2012 is the quarterback position.
It looks as if Jacoby Brissett will be the starter.
He saw limited action last season when John Brantley was out with injury, and questions will surround this team on the offensive side of the ball.
Florida State is as talented as anybody in the country on defense and pretty solid on offense as well.
There is not much to complain about there.
The biggest problem for the Seminoles heading into the season is: Can they finally live up to the hype?
The past two seasons, Florida State has been severely overrated to start the year and could not live up to expectations.
Will that happen again this season?
Similar to Florida State, Georgia has a lot of talent.
The biggest problem for them this season will be getting over the SEC hump of LSU and Alabama.
If they can do that, they will be playing for a national championship.
There is plenty of talent for Georgia to do just that, and in the easier SEC East, things are looking up for the Bulldogs.
Georgia Tech loves to run the football, and they do it quite well.
While they dominate up front on offense, they have trouble up front on the defensive side of the ball.
Without question, the defensive line is the biggest problem for them entering the season.
There is not much coming back along that line, and this group will need to get better if they plan on another winning season.
Illinois has found themselves a very talented coach in Tim Beckman.
He will certainly have some success in Champaign.
There may, however, be a transition period during his first season that could take some getting used to for the players.
Once his system is in place, it will be smooth sailing for the Fighting Illini in the future.
There are a lot of problems surrounding the Indiana program, including the quarterback position.
Perhaps the biggest problem is head coach Kevin Wilson.
Wilson only won one game last season in his first campaign in Bloomington.
He will need to improve on that to keep his job. If not, his departure may be a good thing for the Hoosiers.
Iowa had a solid 2011 season and should be just as good in 2012, if they can figure out the running back position.
The tandem from last season of Marcus Coker and Adam Robinson have both been dismissed from the team, and they will need to find somebody to hand the ball to this year.
The B1G is a league where teams need to be able to run the football, and it is uncertain if the Hawkeyes can do that.
Everyone knows how good the Iowa State linebacker tandem of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott is, but their gigantic numbers are in trouble with how big of a drop-off the defensive line may take this season.
There is a lot to replace along the defensive front, and the linebacker group will be asked to do even more.
If the line does not play close to how they did last year, it could be a four- or five-win season for the Cyclones.
No team in the country allowed more points per game last season than the Kansas Jayhawks, and with an offensive mind like Charlie Weis coming in, they still have a lot of questions to answer on defense.
The team was also last in yards allowed in 2011.
Look for Kansas to be better this season, but this is clearly their biggest problem entering 2012.
Not many teams can run the football like Kansas State, and they are going to need to do an even better job of that this season with how weak the secondary is going to be.
They have to replace their top three players in the secondary and in a league like the Big 12, that is not an easy task.
There will certainly be some bumps in the road at that position for the Wildcats.
Kentucky has never been known as a football powerhouse, and while they have improved in recent years, they still struggle like a lot of other basketball schools.
This season, the biggest problem facing the team will be the offense.
The offensive situation all starts with the quarterback position, and there is not one good enough to successfully compete in the SEC.
That position will loom large for Kentucky next season.
Louisville has a lot of young talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The biggest question facing this team is how that talent will develop, particularly sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The Cardinals have an exciting team with a great young head coach in Charlie Strong.
If they can get a running game together and develop that talent, they will be a Top 25 team this season.
LSU has the most talent in the country outside of the quarterback position, and if Georgia transfer Zach Mettenberger can manage the team, they will likely win the SEC and play for the national championship.
He is not proven like their quarterbacks in the past, but with so much talent around him, he does not have to be.
If he does not develop into a serviceable starter, it could spell doom for the Tigers.
Maryland has a lot of questions to answer, particularly head coach Randy Edsall, who only won two games in his first season.
The biggest of those questions is improving on a defense that allowed more than 34 points a game last season.
They return nearly everybody from that group, and they will loom large on how the team does next season.
Miami, like a lot of other universities, has a tone going on away from the football field that could serve as a distraction this coming season.
The Hurricanes have NCAA sanctions that could be handed down, and that is certainly on the minds of everybody involved with the program.
While it is not a problem as far as personnel is concerned, the NCAA sanctions could prove disastrous for Miami and the football team.
Michigan has a lot going for it right now, and maybe their biggest problem heading into the season is being able to beat good teams.
Last season, the Wolverines struggled against talented competition. They will get Alabama in Week 1.
If they win that game, look out. If not, their national championship hopes will be dashed.
Michigan State has some talent coming back on the defensive side of the ball, but will have to replace starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, which could be a problem.
Even though he was up and down during what seemed like a decade in East Lansing, he provided some senior leadership and was a very solid quarterback.
If the Spartans can find a way to replace him, the B1G could be theirs.
Minnesota was one of the bottom-feeders of the B1G last season and will need some more offensive weapons to step up along with quarterback MarQueis Grey if they plan on doing anything this season.
The Gophers' quarterback always seems to have the ball in his hands and is simply asked to do too much on that side of the ball.
Minnesota clearly needs some help at the skill positions.
Ole Miss was the worst team in the SEC last season, and they have a lot of questions heading into 2012.
The biggest of those problems is: What can new head coach Hugh Freeze bring to the program?
He will need to improve on an offense that was awful last season and could only muster 16 points a game.
Not many teams loved to run the football like the Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2011, and next season they will have to replace Vick Ballard.
Ballard carried the load on offense last year, and the Bulldogs need to find somebody else to hand the ball off to.
If they cannot find somebody to replace him, more passing will be in order, and with a new quarterback, that is easier said than done.
Missouri is a very talented team with a lot coming back.
The only problem is they are joining the SEC.
Luckily for them, they will be in the SEC East, and with quarterback James Franklin as well as some skilled offensive players coming back, they should be just fine.
Competing for an SEC title might be a little out of the question, though.
Nebraska has two very talented offensive players in quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead.
Both are near the top at their position in the B1G.
The only problem for the Cornhuskers is they need a third option to help take some of the load off.
If they can find a third option, they might be able to finish near the top of the conference. If not, four losses are in store.
North Carolina always seems to be solid on the defensive side of the ball, but in 2012, it may be the offense that is carrying the load.
There is talent coming back on that side of the ball, but the problem surfaces on defense.
The Tar Heels lost Quinton Coples along with Zach Brown. Those two will be difficult to replace talent-wise, and there could be a drop-off for North Carolina on defense next season.
North Carolina State
Many people around the NC State program certainly did not think they would have the passing attack they displayed last season after Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin.
Quarterback Mike Glennon took center stage and did not disappoint.
The only problem for the Wolfpack is finding somebody for Glennon to hand the ball to.
They were in the bottom 10 last season in the country in yards per carry and will need to improve on that this season to improve their win total.
Replacing Dan Persa may seem like a daunting task for Northwestern, but where their biggest problem lies is with the wide receivers.
The leading returning receiver is Kain Colter, and he will be taking over at quarterback for Persa.
That means their top three receivers (as far as yards are concerned) are gone from last season, and they will have big holes to fill at that skill position.
Notre Dame lost some talent on offense, but there is no question their biggest problem coming into this season is the secondary.
They lost all four starters from that group, and that could be a nightmare come next season, particularly with some of the offenses they will take on.
If the Fighting Irish have any plans of making a BCS Bowl Game, the secondary will have to surprise.
For a lot of teams, it will be a transition year with a new head coach, and for Ohio State it is no different.
The Buckeyes will have to learn a new offense with Urban Meyer taking over, and they have the perfect quarterback in Braxton Miller to do just that.
While it may seem like a problem initially, Ohio State is going to be very good in the coming years once this young group gets their feet wet.
Everybody saw how much Oklahoma struggled once Ryan Broyles went down with an injury last season.
In 2012, their biggest problem will be figuring out a way to succeed without him.
While there is plenty of talent on offense, there are still question marks as to whether or not they can do it without him.
If they have any national title aspirations, they will need to be able to score a lot of points and do it without Broyles.
No team in the country lost a bigger chunk of their offense than Oklahoma State did, losing quarterback Branden Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
These two nearly led them to a national championship, and now the problem for Mike Gundy and the rest of the Cowboys' coaching staff is finding a way to move on without them.
That is not going to be an easy task, but if anybody can do it, Gundy can.
The early departure of quarterback Darron Thomas leaves a huge void in the Oregon offense, and that could be a huge problem, particularly early in the season.
The Ducks will rely on sophomore Bryan Bennett to take over and run the show.
His success will go a long way toward determining if Oregon has what it takes to win a national championship.
Oregon State has struggled in recent years, but they may finally be ready to put it all together.
Nearly everybody returns on defense along with sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion.
The only problem is they have no running game to rely on. They hardly rushed the ball at all last season—don't expect them to be much more proficient this year.
The running game is a huge Achilles heel for the Beavers right now.
Penn State was surprisingly good last season and has the talent and schedule to be just as good in 2012.
The main problem with the Nittany Lions is everything surrounding the program.
With the trial of Jerry Sandusky currently taking place, there is too much going on off the football field to warrant full concentration on it.
New Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Paul Chryst is an offensive mind and he will need to do everything he can in order to improve an offensive line that was far and away the worst in the country last season.
The Panthers allowed 63 sacks a year ago, and getting running back Ray Graham on the field again may help a little bit with that.
Either way, this is still a huge concern heading into 2012.
Purdue has some talent on defense, particularly along the line.
Where their problems lie is on the offensive side of the ball, especially at running back.
They have had to deal with some injuries at that position, and if they can finally get healthy, they may be able to figure things out.
The Boilermakers could be a sleeper this year in the B1G if they can get a more balanced offensive attack.
Rutgers is another team that lost their head coach, and after getting over the initial shock, the program will have to move on with Kyle Flood running the show.
As is usually the case, there will likely be an adjustment period, but with the talent the Scarlet Knights have, there is a chance they could be in a BCS game in 2012.
Still, dealing with a new head coach is not always an easy thing.
South Carolina is another talented SEC team that has a chance to surprise a few people.
If they plan on doing that, they will need to get running back Marcus Lattimore back healthy in 2012.
While it may not seem like a problem right now, if he does not come back 100 percent, that would spell doom for the Gamecocks.
South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels has seemingly been around for the better part of a decade, but since his arrival, the team has not been able to finish strong.
The biggest problem for the Bulls heading into 2012 is being able to win games down the stretch, something they have not been able to do over the past five years.
Starting strong is one thing, but South Florida has had a huge problem finishing strong over the past five years, no matter who is in charge.
Stanford is in the same boat as Baylor and Oklahoma State, but they may just be best equipped to handle it.
The Cardinal have a huge problem, and that is replacing Andrew Luck.
Do not expect them to have the success they did last season, but there is plenty coming back that should allow them to finish near the top of the Pac-12 once again.
Syracuse returns quarterback Ryan Nassib but loses virtually everybody around him.
A lack of players at the skill position is the biggest problem facing the Orange next season.
Syracuse not only loses five of their top six receivers, but also running back Antwon Bailey, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards a year ago.
Joining a new conference is never an easy thing, particularly when moving from a non-BCS to the Big 12.
That is what TCU is attempting to do successfully next season.
Do not expect them to win 11 games like they seemingly do every year, but they have top-20 talent and should be able to compete in the Big 12.
Either way, the transition will not be perfectly smooth.
Temple is in a similar boat as TCU, going from a non-BCS to a major conference.
The transition for them will be difficult, particularly with the loss of running back Bernard Pierce early to the NFL draft.
Senior Matt Brown will help carry the load, but the transition to the Big East will not be easy at all for the Owls.
Very few tams go through a season filled with as many injuries as Tennessee did last year, and in 2012, they will need to stay healthy in order to compete in the SEC.
The biggest problem facing the team, however, is the lack of a running game.
The injury to senior Tauren Poole did not help last season, and now the Vols will have to find someone to fill that void.
With no running game, another losing season could be in order.
Texas has so much talent that it is hard to imagine them not winning 10 games.
That is, until you look at the quarterback position.
They struggled mightily at that position last season, and Case McCoy appears to be in line for the starting job.
Needless to say, the Longhorns' success will hinge heavily on his shoulders, and that could be a huge problem.
The transition to the SEC for Texas A&M will be a huge problem facing a team that lost six games last season.
They do not have the talent coming back that a team like Missouri does, and losing quarterback Ryan Tannehill will take a while to get over.
New head coach Kevin Sumlin will bring a winner to the program, it just might take a while.
Texas Tech suffered some devastating injuries last season on offense, but where their problems lie are on the defensive side of the ball.
They only totaled 16 sacks last season and will need to do much better in 2012 to not finish near the bottom of the conference.
With the Big 12 so pass-happy, getting to the quarterback is important, and Texas Tech needs to do better in this aspect of the game.
UCLA has a lot of problems, but adjusting to a new head coach will be the biggest question mark heading into the 2012 season.
The program will virtually have to start over, and it is going to take some time before they get back to where they once were.
Jim Mora Jr. might be the man for the job, but the transition period will not be fun for the Bruins.
USC is the best team in the country heading into the 2012 season, and the biggest issue for them will be handling the hype.
There will be a lot surrounding the program. Will they be able to live up to the expectations?
There is no doubt that they have the talent, it is just a matter of putting it all together and avoiding that letdown they have been known to have.
Many people consider Utah to be a potential sleeper next season.
The only issue with that is if quarterback Jordan Wynn can come back healthy.
He is one of the most underrated players in the Pac-12 and would be a huge boost to a team that had a successful 8-5 season a year ago.
Look out for the Utes in 2012.
Vanderbilt did just about as much with their talent as they could last season and made the Liberty Bowl.
Their success was due in large part to senior leadership on the defensive side of the ball, particularly the secondary.
That leadership is going to be sorely missed next season, and while they may be good, duplicating last year's success will not be easy.
Virginia surprised a lot of people last season and finished the year 8-5.
They were impressive on both sides of the ball last season, but they shone on defense in particular.
Along the defensive line, they were especially strong and lost Cam Johnson along with Matt Conrath.
These two will be hard to replace, but somebody will have to step up for the Cavaliers to have another eight-win season.
Virginia Tech did not shine in the big games last season, and in 2012 they might have even more trouble with the loss of star running back David Wilson to the NFL draft.
Wilson was a workhorse for the Hokies and rushed for more than 1,700 yards.
He will be nearly impossible to replace, which could pose a problem next season for Virginia Tech.
Wake Forest was a huge surprise in the ACC last season and nearly played for the conference crown.
They had all of their success without much of a running game to speak of.
They only averaged 3.2 yards a carry last season and will have to replace starting running back Brandon Pendergrass.
If they want to duplicate the success of last season, a running attack would be beneficial.
Defense wins championships, and the Washington Huskies could use a little bit of it.
They gave up nearly 36 points a game last season, and while they are explosive on the offensive side of the ball, they will need to be much better on defense to contend for a Pac-12 crown.
Not many teams can score like the Huskies, but with no defense, it doesn't really matter.
Washington State struggled last season, and now with a new head coach in Mike Leach, they are certainly going to have some things to get used to.
The program will have to adjust to his style, and he will be one of the biggest reasons the Cougars can turn it around.
It just may take some time.
Everybody knows this West Virginia team can score some points, but will that transition to the Big 12?
Odds are it will, but that is still a problem facing the Mountaineers.
They are moving from a weak Big East to a Big 12 that is extremely challenging.
West Virginia has plenty of talent to contend for a national championship if they can get some help on defense.
Wisconsin does get Montee Ball and James White back, but replacing Russell Wilson will be hard to do.
The quarterback was the leader of the offense last season, and for Wisconsin to win another B1G championship, they must find somebody to replace him.
With Ball and White, things will be fine, but the talent may not be there to contend for a B1G title with questions surrounding the quarterback position.