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Every BCS Top 25 Team's Worst Nightmare Next Season

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

Every BCS Top 25 Team's Worst Nightmare Next Season

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    Though the 2013 season may seem like a lifetime away, in reality the potential glory and ugliness of “next year” is a mere nine months in the future.

    Seriously, if appropriate parties were to get started during the bowl season, they could have a bun in and then out of the oven before the next college football campaign kicks off. 

    Regardless of any discussion of continuing the human race during the offseason, all committed fans of the institutional gridiron game are well familiar with the hope associated with the dawning of a new campaign.

    But, the flip side of this great optimism, especially when your team finishes its previous season ranked among the best in the land, is that everything can suddenly and tragically turn to crap.

    The following slideshow draws on this angst and pinpoints every BCS Top 25 team’s worst nightmare for the 2013 season.

    This is the kind of list that is part therapy, part low-budget horror film and part joy (at least for the opposing fans of the teams so mentioned).

    Happy Yule Log.

25. Kent State

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    Before finishing 2012 at 11-2 and ranked No. 25 in both the AP and BCS polls, Kent State had only won eight games twice in program history and has never finished a season ranked.

    So with this in mind, what’s the proverbial “worst-case scenario” for the Golden Flashes in 2013?

    Well, how about the threat of the 2012 campaign being the exception to the long-standing tradition of Kent State being a losing football program?

    Yes, the Golden Flashes' worst nightmare might be that the magical 11-2 finish was in reality just a glorious blip on what has otherwise been dismal radar.

    And with head coach Darrell Hazell off to Purdue for the 2013 season, things at Kent State become even more fraught.

24. San Jose State

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    First, let’s just say kudos to San Jose State, a program which has only finished a season ranked in any poll once in history (it was No. 20 in the Coaches Poll in 1990), for reaching the No. 24 slot in the BCS rankings at the close of the regular season.

    Though after the glory of the 2012 season the Spartans might just be satisfied with sitting back and smoking a well-deserved cigar, if “more of where that came from” is desirable SJSU needs to hang on to its leadership.

    Yes, friend, after taking the Spartans to their first 10-win season campaign since 1987, head coach Mike MacIntyre is suddenly a well-deserved coaching “flavor of the month” and could be plucked up in a rapid fashion.

    San Jose State’s nightmare is starting over, again.

23. Texas

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    Though the Longhorns might be well advised to fear the dual-quarterback system rearing its ugly head for another tribute to inconsistency at Texas, the real nightmare lies elsewhere.

    Indeed, Texas' worst fright for the 2013 season is that Mack Brown opts to not retire with the honor and dignity due a leader that has done so much good for his institution and instead marches on in hope of finishing his career with a BCS-caliber campaign.

    Yikes.

22. Utah State

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    Utah State’s nightmare next season is one shared by many teams who are slowly making a rise out of the ashes of a program that has been a long-term bottom dweller.

    Yes, the Aggies must not fear fear itself, but they must fear the very realistic possibility that another higher-profile program in a bigger non-AQ or BCS conference will lure head coach Gary Andersen from their loving embrace.

    The 10-2 finish and WAC crown marks the best finish in program history and the first conference title since Utah State shared a piece of a Big West title in 1997.

     

21. Louisville

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    With a QB rating of 161.6, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is the No. 7-rated QB in the FBS, and let’s remember that this is a squad that ranks No. 24 nationally in passing yards vs. No. 100 in rushing yards.

    Louisville rode a young team led by its brilliant sophomore QB all the way to the BCS in 2012 which makes 2013, the Cardinals' last campaign in the Big East, look absolutely promising.

    What could derail Louisville next season is the always looming possibility that a valuable guy, a leader type with nearly 3,500 yards passing and 25 TDs, might go out with an unscripted injury.

    The Cardinals' worst nightmare for 2013?

    An injury to the super-talented and very dependable Teddy Bridgewater.

     

20. Northwestern

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    In 2012, Northwestern flew way under the radar all the way to a 9-3 mark and what nets out to a No. 3 overall finish in the Big Ten when you take out banned Ohio State and Penn State.

    Even with the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in the mix, the Wildcats’ 5-3 mark in Big Ten play earns them a No. 5 finish.

    What’s got to be a “worst-case scenario” scenario for Northwestern enthusiasts is a football resurgence on the part on the rest of a conference which took a huge competitive dip in 2012.

    Yes, what happens to a solid, though not dominant program like Northwestern next season when teams like Michigan State, Iowa and Illinois begin to rebuild and Ohio State is released back into the regular un-banned population?

    As in life, all things in football are relative and the Wildcats' football fortunes are relative to the strength of the Big Ten.

19. Boise State

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    Boise State being included in the final BCS rankings, even with two losses, is a testament to 2012 being perhaps the most unusual year in the BCS era.

    Yes, even the Broncos couldn’t have cracked the top 20 in previous years with one loss much less two making this season extraordinary.

    Boise State fielded one of the youngest teams in the land in 2012, which makes the future look as bright as always for the Blue Turfers, so what in the world would cause Bronco fans to wake from their slumber in a cold sweat?

    Well, how about a move to the Big East that won’t be an AQ conference in 13 months and the possibility that the Pac-12 won’t expand in time to rescue the Broncos’ valiant quest to become a legitimate national title contender?

    Scary stuff indeed.

18. Michigan

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    When you sit back and wonder what the difference was between the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Michigan football products, it’s pretty telling to look at stats involving rush defense.

    The Wolverines finished the 2010 season 7-6 and ranked No. 95 nationally vs. the run, while in 2011 they improved to an 11-2 mark and were ranked No. 39 in rushing D.

    For the 2012 campaign, Michigan dropped back to an 8-4 finish which came along with a telling No. 58 rank vs. the run.

    Yes, while Wolverine fans might fret about who will be under center in 2013, perhaps they should wake up in cold sweat about whether their defense vs. the run next season will be the one that is moving forwards rather than backwards.

17. UCLA

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    With a boatload of talented athletes, a coach that has proven himself in one short year and a program that believes that it can win, it’s hard to pinpoint what might wake UCLA up from an otherwise sound sleep.

    Seriously, isn’t the nightmare over for the Bruins rather than looming?

    Well, though you would hope so, UCLA’s bad dream might be that USC’s Lane Kiffin really is a coach capable of morphing the stockpile of talent at USC into a super-dominant football program.

    And if this happens, especially given the new divisional format in the Pac-12, UCLA’s quest for improvement and championships suddenly becomes markedly more fraught.

16. Nebraska

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    After waking up to the day after the 2012 Big Ten Championship, it’s hard to imagine a bigger nightmare for the children of the corn.

    Yes, the Huskers were on the cusp of their very first Big Ten crown and their first league title since capturing the Big 12 back in 1999.

    They were the favorite and only had to best the 7-5 Wisconsin Badgers, a team which had only reached the title tilt by default.

    Indeed, the Badgers wouldn’t have even made it to the game if it weren’t for Ohio State and Penn State’s (teams that both finished ahead of Wisconsin in the Leaders division) postseason bans.

    But, now that we know the 2012 version of the Huskers 70-31 bad dream, what’s looming on the horizon for 2013?

    Well, how about a continued inability to stop the run to the tune of giving up 539 ground yards to Wisconsin last Saturday, 371 yards of rushing in the loss to Ohio State and 344 yards on the ground to UCLA.

    Wake me up when we can stop the run.

     

15. Northern Illinois

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    After trumping Oklahoma for a BCS bid this season (and becoming the Sooners' 2012 version of a bad dream), what possible bad scenarios could loom on the horizon for the Huskies in 2013?

    With head coach Dave Doeren leaving for NC State after two 11-win seasons at the helm and Jerry Kill gone before him, Northern Illinois fans have to hope that Rod Carey can continue the success.

    What comes to mind in terms of back-to-back productive coaching stints followed by disappointment is the combination of Brian Kelly, Butch Jones and Dan Enos at Central Michigan.

    Kelly turned what was a losing product into an 10-4 MAC championship team before leaving and Butch Jones added two more conference crowns to the trophy case in his three-year tenure that included a 27-13 mark.

    Next came Dan Enos who, after posting a 6-18 record over his first two seasons at the helm, improved the Chippewa’s’ fortunes to 6-6 in 2012.

    Northern Illinois fans must hope that they don’t become the next MAC West version of Central Michigan.

14. Clemson

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    With all the talk about Johnny Football and the strength of the SEC, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Clemson’s QB Tajh Boyd played lights out in 2012.

    How good was he?

    Well, he went 251-of-377 for 3,550 yards, 34 TDs and 13 INTs netting him a QB rating of 168.5 which is No. 4 in the nation.

    Clemson’s nightmare for 2013 is Boyd getting hurt or declaring early for the NFL draft, either option could be catastrophic for the Tigers.

    If Boyd does stay healthy and Clemson does keep winning, he should be a top-tier Heisman candidate next season.

     

13. Oregon State

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    What may wake the Beavers up in a cold sweat in terms of the 2013 season is the threat that their rushing attack may not improve with the coming of the New Year.

    Indeed, Oregon State currently ranks No. 101 nationally in rushing yards averaging a mere 126.17 yards per game.

    Even scarier is the Beavers success rate on third down, a statistical stalwart that is at least somewhat dependent on a solid rushing game. Oregon State ended this season a floundering 34.97 percent on third-down tries, netting them a No. 99 ranking in the nation.

    If you’re wondering what will take Oregon State from nine wins to 1o or 11 or, on the flip side, back to three or five wins in 2013 look for a consistent, steady rushing attack.

    These guys don’t have to run like the Ducks, but they can’t be Texas Tech either; if they are they shouldn’t sleep any better than Red Raider fans. Only at least the Beaver Nation has a defense in its garage.

12. Florida State

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    After Florida State survives its no-win situation with Northern Illinois in the upcoming BCS Orange Bowl,  you have to figure that the attention will turn to replacing QB E.J. Manuel and finally hiring a separate but equal OC.

    But what may loom the most dangerous on the Tallahassee horizon for the 2013 football season is replacing the DC, not bringing in an actual OC to call plays.

    Indeed, what is the impact of the Florida State DC Mark Stoops taking the head job at Kentucky?

    Sure, the ‘Noles offense was more balanced this season, but what about replacing the guy who orchestrated a defense that finished the regular season ranked No. 7 in scoring, No. 5 in rushing and No. 3 vs. the pass?

    Florida State’s biggest nightmare for 2013 has got to be that Mark Stoops can’t be easily replaced and that the transition goes poorly.

    It could be one of the most crucial coordinator hires of the offseason.

     

11. Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma’s biggest nightmare for 2013 actually has nothing to do with Sooner football.

    Yes, what has to scare the crap out of Oklahoma fans is three-fold.

    The nightmare starts with Mack Brown retiring and continues with Bill Snyder sticking around for another season at Kansas State.

    Just before the Sooner fan wakes up in bed in an icy cold sweat, freaked out and bug-eyed, never to sleep again, a press conference is held in Stillwater, Okla., announcing that Mike Gundy just turned down the Arkansas job.

    Holy crap!

10. South Carolina

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    Though you could easily come up with a couple of viable doomsday scenarios for the Gamecocks in 2013, the biggest “end of the world” for South Carolina will likely stay the same until a certain domino falls.

    Yes, key players will get injured, divisional rivals will rise from the ashes and success at recruiting will come and go, but South Carolina is a program that is, at least for now, defined by its head coach.

    And at some point the 67-year-old Steve Spurrier, the vaunted “Old Ball Coach,” will have to retire.

    It’s ludicrous to wildly claim that Spurrier is about to walk out the door, especially given the fact that he just signed a new two-year extension that makes him the head Gamecock through 2017, but it’s also illogical to think he’ll stay forever.

9. Texas A&M

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    Perhaps the most obvious “worst nightmare” scenario for 2013, if the Aggies were to lose super-stud QB Johnny Manziel to an unscripted injury, things could get dicey.

    Though Johnny Football has been backed up solidly by an offensive line, talented receivers and a defense that has allowed a mere 22.5 points per game in 2012, the kid has been a bit of a one-man show from a yardage standpoint.

    To illustrate, of the Aggies' 6,628 total yards of offense this season (that number is No. 3 in the nation), Manziel has accounted for 4,600 of these total yards (3,419 via passing and 1,181 on the ground).

    This means that Johnny Football has been responsible for a whopping 69 percent of the Aggies' total offensive yards in 2012.

    Holy Corps of Cadets!

    Texas A&M losing Johnny Manziel would be akin to Ohio State losing Braxton Miller, and in either case it would be catastrophic.

     

8. LSU

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    It seems safe to say that Les Miles won’t leave LSU any time in the near future which means that the Tigers' nightmare will have to come from another source.

    What really has got to scare LSU fans is an Alabama program that manages to keep Nick Saban and a Nick Saban that manages to remain focused and doesn’t get burned out under the very bright lights in Tuscaloosa.

    If Saban and Alabama can keep up their combined pace for even five more years, LSU will have a dog fight on its hands.

    While this scenario may be thrilling for the larger viewing public, it’s got to be unsettling as hell for the LSU nation.

7. Georgia

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    Though the obvious purpose of this list is to point out potential nightmare situations for the upcoming 2013 season, we’re going to make Georgia the exception to what is otherwise a hard and fast rule.

    Indeed, while we could bang on about what the Bulldogs might fear about next season, Georgia fans are already in therapy trying to shake a bad dream scenario that involves a certain completed pass as time expired in the 2012 SEC title game.

    Really, if Georgia fans are going to wake up in a cold sweat anytime in the next decade (or more), it’s not likely to be about something that might happen; it’s going to be all about what happened Dec. 1, 2012 vs. Alabama.

    You don’t have to like the Bulldogs, the SEC or college football to feel gutted for anyone associated with the University of Georgia.

    Seriously, it’s not fair to try to come up with some other doomsday scenario for these folks.

     

6. Stanford

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    After three triumphant, double-digit win seasons including the first Pac-12 title since 1999, it’s easy to forget that Stanford is just six seasons removed from a 1-11 finish.

    Though it’s difficult to sell Cardinal fans on a package that includes anything but hope and good tidings, at least some Stanford fans must wonder if David Shaw can keep the winning express rolling.

    Yes, what happens if the Cardinal defense is just months away from totally severing ties with the culture of the Jim Harbaugh era, a separation that turns out to have always been just two seasons in the future?

    At this juncture it seems ridiculous but stranger things have happened…I personally hope, in this case, they don’t.

5. Kansas State

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    After orchestrating two separate yet unbelievable football revivals at K-State, Bill Snyder has earned the title “legend” in terms of his place in college football history.

    It’s no doubt that from a national perspective Snyder’s star would have risen permanently even higher if K-State could have made the BCS title game, but even minus a big fat ring Snyder is an amazing story.

    The Wildcat fanbase must be hoping against all hopes that Snyder sticks around for at least a couple of more seasons, which means that awaiting his return for 2013 is the stuff cold sweats are made of.

     

4. Oregon

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    If there were a Heisman Trophy awarded to the MVP of coaches, it would be difficult to deny Oregon’s Chip Kelly a shot at being a finalist during each of his four seasons in Eugene.

    Thus far Kelly has racked up a 45-7 record, three back-to-back Pac-12 titles, four consecutive BCS berths and a 14-6 mark vs. Top 25 foes.

    Oregon’s worst nightmare has got to be that the continual rumors that Kelly will take an NFL opening finally come true and the Ducks have to find a guy to replace a coach that is arguably among the top three in the nation.

3. Florida

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    Though you have to take your hats off to Florida’s No. 3-ranked scoring defense and its part in covering for the Gators anemic and No. 76-rated scoring offense, there is another huge factor in the success that was the 2012 season.

    Florida manufactured 29 turnovers this season, only committed 12 gaffes of its own and the net result was a turnover margin of plus-17 that netted the Gators a No. 5 national ranking in one of the most key statistical categories in football.

    The Gators' worst nightmare in 2013 is that their hidden strength this season becomes their biggest weakness in the next.

    Simply put, if Florida coughs up the ball, it could get ugly, and just as importantly, if it can’t generate turnovers, it may not be able to score any points.

     

2. Alabama

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    When you get to the top couple of teams from one year, which are subsequently the two squads squaring off for all the marbles, it’s difficult to pinpoint nightmare scenarios.

    This is because when hope and good feelings are so high, cracks in the armor are more difficult to identify.

    So, with this in mind, what if Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide suddenly become complacent, lose their focus, don’t play as hungry, expect to win but don’t do the work necessary to get to the Promised Land?

    Yes, starting in 2013, what if Alabama takes all that top-ranked talent and wastes it…sure they’ll win because, hey, they’re THE Alabama Crimson Tide.

    As ridiculous and ludicrous as that sounds, let’s refer to Mack Brown and Texas a program that went 13-1 and played in the BCS title game in 2009 only to go 5-7 in 2010, 8-5 in 2011 and 8-4 in 2012.

    And they recruited lights out all along the path of self destruction.

    Things that make you go hmmmm…….

1. Notre Dame

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    What could you possibly fear when you are magically delicious?

    Pots of gold, four-leaf clovers, leprechauns and magical calls at the goal line make you believe that Notre Dame doesn’t have a restless night in its future.

    But, this is college football and even with the full backing of NBC, the Irish can’t avoid the reality that what seems like a golden dream can turn into crap in mere seconds.

    Therefore, Notre Dame should fear each and every one of its 2013 opponents, especially Stanford in the finale, who will have the entire offseason to sit around and think, “How the hell did those guys beat us by XX (insert a very low number) points?”

    Indeed, what happens after a team of destiny is done with its destiny and the program that is left behind must pick up and carry on with what is an unsure future?

    Does it become an Alabama or an Auburn?

    Ah, yes, careful what you wish for Lucky Charms lovers.

     

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