The college football season was full of ups and downs that brought major upsets and single plays that changed the landscape of the season. The letdowns were abundant in 2012.
The SEC will make its seventh straight BCS title game appearance after Oregon and Kansas State gave up the title opportunity in the same weekend. Auburn was one of the worst teams in college football, and Georgia lost to Alabama in devastating fashion in the SEC title game.
A field-goal miss shattered Oregon’s title hopes, and tears flowed after a big win for a nationally prominent quarterback.
So many things let us down this season, and here are the Top 20.
The Auburn Tigers were two years removed from a national title and expecting a fourth straight bowl trip under Gene Chizik.
Instead, the Tigers went 3-9 through the regular season and winless in the SEC. There are teams that fall hard every year, but this was a crash-and-burn never before witnessed on the Plains.
The worst season in modern Auburn history was met with the dismissal of Chizik and his staff.
The Penn State Nittany Lions walked into this season facing odds that seemed insurmountable. After the sanctions that followed the Sandusky scandal, this team was struggling to put together a contending team.
The community rallied around Penn State and the football program, showing support for its team in the first week, looking for a big win.
In a close game with the Bobcats, the Nittany Lions fell. It was a disappointing start to a hopeful, healing season.
Despite this letdown, the Nittany Lions had a great season, finishing 8-4.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are battling for their second straight national title this season, with AJ McCarron playing a pivotal role in the team's success.
McCarron has been a great quarterback for Alabama, but crying after the big win over LSU was one of the biggest letdowns of the year.
No team wants to see its leader balling his eyes out on the sideline.
Honestly, who does that?
Just when the Big Ten looked as if it was gaining a lot of traction to finish the 2012 season with some legitimacy, Wisconsin throttled Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.
The Cornhuskers looked lost from the onset, and a team that was favored to win the game after a 10-win regular season lost, 70-31.
It was an embarrassment for Nebraska, but more importantly, the Big Ten.
The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious college-football award that is given out at the end of every season. Typically, the voters give us five finalists that have made the cut to land in New York for the ceremony.
This season, only three players got the call to the Big Apple.
While the winner was expected to be Johnny Manziel, it was a letdown not to see more players make the list. Marqise Lee deserved a free trip to the city after his strong season.
Alabama faced off with Texas A&M in Tuscaloosa looking for another signature win to lead to a national-title-winning season.
The Aggies had other plans.
Texas A&M jumped out to an early lead and maintained it through the fourth quarter. Alabama made a late charge and got within five yards of a game-winning touchdown.
AJ McCarron looked right and tossed what could have been a game-winning touchdown, but instead, Texas A&M defender Deshazor Everett picked it off. The perfect season was over, and it was assumed the title hopes were gone with it.
Jordan Lynch was one of the most impressive and explosive players of the 2012 college football season.
Lynch finished the year with eight games of over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. He threw for 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,771 yards and 19 additional scores.
There is never a lot of press that follows the MAC, but Lynch deserved more than he got.
While SEC fans may be excited to see the conference make a seventh straight title run, the rest of the country is getting weary of SEC success.
This year looked to finally be the season that would leave the toughest conference in the country behind, but instead, the Crimson Tide from Alabama found a way into the game.
If you are a fan of anything other than SEC football, watching this conference land in the title game again was a major letdown.
The USC Trojans were expected to be a national-title-contending team this fall. They were the No. 1 team in the country to start the year, but by Week 3, their weaknesses became apparent.
Stanford handed the Trojans their first loss of the year, leading to a major tailspin for the men of Troy.
The Trojans won their next four games, but they didn’t look convincing doing it. They finished the year 1-4 with a final record of 7-5—a far cry from the BCS title game.
The Big Ten was absolutely terrible this season. The two teams that made waves—Ohio State and Penn State—are banned from the postseason.
The Big Ten title winner was a five-loss Wisconsin team that finished the year 4-4 in the conference.
What was expected to be a very good year for the Big Ten turned into a borderline laughable effort from one of the most historic conferences in college football.
College football is unique, as it constantly provides the underdog a shot at winning games that it shouldn’t. Most times, the underdog will draw the attention of the country because there is something special about watching upset wins.
Notre Dame found itself down, 20-6, in the fourth quarter this year against Pitt, but three overtime periods later, the Irish walked off with the win.
Any fan that caught that game had to be amazed by how the Panthers jumped out to the lead and then handed the win back to Notre Dame by the end of the game. The meltdown was the worst of the season.
Notre Dame was not short on controversy during its undefeated run this fall.
One of the most controversial calls of the season was the stop that Notre Dame made on Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor in overtime.
After multiple attempts to break the plane, Taylor was unable to make it into the end zone and tie the game in overtime.
Notre Dame went on to win, despite fans' complaints that Taylor’s forward progress pushed him into the end zone.
If you love the upset, this game let you down hard.
Johnny Manziel put together a Heisman-winning campaign for the Texas A&M Aggies this season, helping guide the Aggies to 10 wins and a Cotton Bowl berth.
Manziel was impressive in nearly every game, but against Florida and LSU, he struggled. Against LSU, Manziel threw three interceptions in a 24-19 loss.
If not for his three picks, the Aggies would be an 11-win team. Mistakes happen, but this loss was a huge letdown for Texas A&M during its inaugural season in the SEC.
Arkansas lost head coach Bobby Petrino to one of the many scandals that flooded college football this fall, but the assumption was that the Razorbacks would be able to survive with the talent that was on the roster.
The decline came much earlier than anyone expected.
The second game of the season brought an overtime loss to Louisiana-Monroe for Arkansas. The Razorbacks were beat from sideline to sideline, and it led to a very disappointing 4-8 season.
This team was supposed to be a dark-horse SEC contender in 2012.
The Longhorns were supposed to be back this fall. Instead, they fell flat often.
Texas finished the year 8-4 and in the Alamo Bowl, but the way that this team lost was concerning. Injuries mounted on defense and offense, but even so, the team was better than eight wins with what it had to work with.
While whispers are out there that Mack Brown is on the hot seat, no hard evidence shows that he is going anywhere anytime soon.
A bowl loss and bad start to 2013 could change that.
Chip Kelly should take the time this offseason to sign a solid kicker. For the second season in a row, a missed kick sealed the Ducks' fate and kept them from the title game.
On a critical weekend in football, Stanford forced Oregon into overtime. In the first period, the Ducks missed their kick, handing the victory to Stanford and ending their national-title hopes.
This loss paved the way for the SEC’s return to the national-title game.
Florida State was one of three teams that had a shot at the national title this year if it could stay undefeated, but a 17-16 loss to NC State ended any hopes of a magical undefeated run for the Seminoles.
This game was well in hand for Florida State early, but mistakes late led to the fall.
This was one of the most disappointing letdowns of the year for the ACC and Florida State.
Louisville was on its way to an undefeated run in the Big East and a possible national-title berth late in the season.
The Cardinals were 9-0 and took their talented team to Syracuse for a Big East conference game in New York.
Syracuse jumped out to an early lead and throttled the Cardinals, 45-26. It was the first of two losses that Louisville would take in the regular season, ending a potential undefeated title run.
College football season brings storylines that are too good to be imagined every year, but the Kansas State loss to Baylor on the same weekend as Oregon dropping a game to Stanford was one of the most unbelievable occurrences in recent memory.
The Wildcats went into the Baylor game needing two more wins to seal up the Big 12 and a national-title berth.
The No. 1 Kansas State squad lost to Baylor in embarrassing fashion, never looking like they should have taken the field with the Bears that night.
College football never ceases to amaze, but this was a major letdown for 2012.
Georgia was in position to play for a national title this year with a win over Alabama in the SEC title game and was literally feet away from victory.
With less than a minute left in the game, the Bulldogs drove down the field and made it to within yards of the end zone. With timeouts remaining, on third down, the Bulldogs decided to try to run a no-huddle play to catch Alabama off guard.
The game ended with a tipped pass, and a Georgia receiver falling short of the goal line as time expired.
Football is a game of inches.