25 College Football Teams Guaranteed to Be Better in 2013

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2013

25 College Football Teams Guaranteed to Be Better in 2013

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    With the end of the college football bowl season only a few days away, it is certainly not too early to look ahead to the 2013 season and talk about which teams will be better next year.

    There were plenty of teams that had disappointing 2012 campaigns for a number of different reasons. Whether it was injuries, youth or just a few bad games, this college football season featured its fair share of disappointments.

    Some teams were so bad that it is hard to imagine them not being better in 2013. Others will improve due to excellent recruiting classes and more experience. 

    Here is a ranking of 25 college football teams guaranteed to be better in 2013.

25. Utah Utes

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    The Utah Utes struggled to a 5-7 campaign in 2012. It was a season marred by injuries, including a career-ending one to junior quarterback Jordan Wynn.

    With Wynn out of the fold, a freshman quarterback emerged. Travis Wilson saw most of the action in the final seven games of the season last year and will be relied upon heavily in 2013.

    Utah won three of its final five games, and with plenty of youth coming back, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, the Utes should be a bowl team once again in 2013.

24. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    Georgia Tech came up with a surprising win in the Sun Bowl over USC. That will be a good way to catapult it into the 2013 season. 

    The Yellow Jackets finished the season 7-7 and should be able to improve on that next year. It was a very disappointing year, with the exception of the victory over USC, but winning seven games next year in the ACC is not asking a lot.

    Quarterback Tevin Washington is going to be hard to replace, but seven starters return on a defensive unit that will be much improved.

23. Maryland Terrapins

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    If head coach Randy Edsall's past track record is any indication, Maryland is going to continue to improve next season and in years to come. 

    Edsall built the Connecticut program from scratch, improving every year. When he arrived at Maryland in 2011, the Terrapins finished the year only 2-10. In 2012, it improved to 4-8, despite losing every quarterback on the roster to season-ending injuries.

    Expect the Terrapins to be much healthier next season and get back to a bowl game. They are extremely young at the skill positions, led by wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Wes Brown.

    This is certainly a program on the rise.

22. Wyoming Cowboys

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    Wyoming struggled to a four-win season in 2012. The Cowboys did win three of their final four games and that should be a good indication of things to come in 2013.

    The Cowboys have a very favorable nonconference schedule next season with very winnable games against Idaho, Northern Colorado and Texas State.

    With the return of Boise State to the Mountain West conference, the schedule will be a little more difficult, but Brett Smith is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and winning five games will not be much of a challenge next season for Wyoming. 

21. TCU Horned Frogs

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    TCU struggled mightily in its first season in the Big 12, finishing the year 7-6.

    In a season filled with injuries and suspensions, TCU did look impressive in stretches, but appeared like just another middle of the pack team in the Big 12 for most of the year.

    The Big 12 will be a challenge next season, but the Horned Frogs return a majority of their starters next season.

    If quarterback Casey Pachall comes back, this is certainly an eight-win team. Even without him, there is no question that this team will be improved in 2013.

20. Washington State Cougars

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    In its first year under new head coach Mike Leach, Washington State struggled for most of the year, but a win over rival Washington in the season finale was the perfect way to end the 2012 season.

    The Cougars only finished the year 3-9, and it will be hard not to improve on that next season, particularly with Southern Utah and Idaho on the schedule. 

    There is a ton of youth, particularly at the skill positions, which makes for a bright future.

    Expect Washington State to be knocking on the door for a bowl game next season.

19. Missouri Tigers

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    Missouri finished the 2012 season 5-7 overall. The record was due in large part to an injury to quarterback James Franklin.

    He missed three games completely and parts of a few others. He will be back in 2013 for his senior season and Missouri will be much improved.

    The Tigers return four offensive linemen, and most other talent on offense with the exception of running back Kendial Lawrence.

    Expect six wins and a bowl game next season, even in the talented SEC.

18. Washington Huskies

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    After beginning the 2012 season on the cusp of both major national polls, Washington struggled to a 7-6 season, due mostly to a very challenging schedule.

    The Huskies took on the likes of LSU, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and Boise State. Certainly not an easy schedule by any stretch of the imagination.

    Quarterback Keith Price will be back for his senior season in 2013, and the emergence of running back Bishop Sankey will also help.

    Look for at least eight wins next season from this squad.

17. North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    Even with quarterback Mike Glennon moving on the the NFL next season, North Carolina State can still expect more than the seven wins it achieved in 2012 during the 2013 season.

    With seven starters coming back on defense, along with freshman running back Shadrach Thorton, who will be much improved, North Carolina State should not have no problem winning eight games next season.

    The nonconference schedule features Louisiana Tech, Richmond, Central Michigan and East Carolina. That should make for a good start to the season for the Wolfpack.

16. Miami Hurricanes

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    There is plenty of youth all over the Miami roster as well as a ton of talent throughout. With only a few starters from the 2012 team moving on, this team is set to explode in 2013.

    Over half the starters for Miami last season were freshmen or sophomores, and the seven wins from 2012 will seem like nothing in 2013.

    If quarterback Stephen Morris can continue to develop, this team could win as many as 10 games next year.

    There are good things to come for Miami in the coming years.

15. Virginia Cavaliers

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    After a very successful 2011 season, Virginia struggled last year only winning four games.

    Even though the nonconference schedule next season is challenging with games against BYU and at Penn State, Virginia should have no trouble winning more than four games next year.

    Quarterback Michael Rocco struggled last year, and it has recently been announced that he will transfer to another school. Junior to be Phillip Sims saw action last year and will have no trouble stepping in to take over the team.

    The sophomore class for Virginia is very talented, and that will make for a bright future for this team.

14. Akron Zips

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    The Akron Zips only won one game last season under first-year head coach Terry Bowden. Improving on that win total should not be very difficult.

    FCS member James Madison is on the schedule, and that is a win Akron should be able to get.

    After that, the Zips will need just one more victory to improve on their win total from last season.

    Akron does lose a lot of talent, but was a much more competitive 1-11 than it was during the 2011 season. Replacing quarterback Dalton Williams will not be easy, but picking up one conference win will not be a problem in 2013.

13. Army Black Knights

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    Army was 2-10 last season with its only wins coming against Air Force and Boston College. It would be hard to imagine the Black Knights doing any worse in 2013, even with the departure of quarterback Trent Steelman.

    The schedule is rather challenging once again, but games against Morgan State, Eastern Michigan and Hawaii, along with a few others, make at least three wins seem likely.

    There is not as much talent coming back as a lot of other teams on the list, but the easy schedule will make 2013 much better than 2012.

12. Arkansas Razorbacks

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    With all the coaching changes that have already happened since the end of the regular season, Arkansas might have done better than anybody with the hiring of former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.

    Bielema went 68-24 in seven seasons at Wisconsin, including three straight Rose Bowl appearances.

    The Razorbacks only finished the season with four wins, so matching that should not be a problem, even without quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis.

    No question Arkansas will be back in a bowl game next year.

11. South Florida Bulls

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    After winning the first two games of the 2012 season, South Florida lost nine of its final 10 games and fired head coach Skip Holtz after a disappointing 3-9 season.

    The Bulls will be led by new head coach Willie Taggart in the 2013 season and will try not to have a collapse like they have the past three years.

    Getting to four wins will not be much of a challenge playing in the Big East, particularly with McNeese State and Florida Atlantic on the schedule in nonconference.

10. Kansas Jayhawks

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    It is hard to imagine a Kansas team doing worse in 2013 than it did during the 2012 season. The Jayhawks only had one win in 2012.

    To get to two wins all Kansas is going to have to do is win one Big 12 game and knock off South Dakota in the season-opener.

    Freshman quarterback Michael Cummings took over for senior Dayne Crist toward the end of the season and should be much improved in 2013.

    A couple of wins is likely in 2013 for the Jayhawks.

9. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

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    Wake Forest finished the 2012 season very poorly, losing its final three games and six of its final eight.

    After a very successful 2011 season, the 5-7 record was a bit of a disappointment for the Demon Deacons.

    Quarterback Tanner Price will look to rebound next season and has the talent to lead Wake Forest back to a bowl game.

    The nonconference schedule is not going to be easy with a road game against Vanderbilt.

8. Iowa Hawkeyes

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    After starting the season 4-2, including a victory over Northern Illinois in the season-opener, Iowa lost its final six games of the season to finish the year 4-8.

    To improve on that record, the Hawkeyes will likely only need to win two conference games.

    Iowa has a strong junior class, especially on defense. The group will be improved next year, and if the offense can improve after averaging less than 20 points a game in 2012, a bowl game is in the works.

7. Colorado Buffaloes

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    Along with Kansas, Colorado was one of the worst schools from a BCS conference in the entire country.

    The Buffaloes only managed to win one game in 2012. The schedule next season is not particularly easy with Colorado State, Central Arkansas and Fresno State on the nonconference slate.

    New head coach Mike MacIntyre will bring a winning attitude to the program, coming off a 10-2 year at San Jose State.

    Quarterback Jordan Webb will be back and should help Colorado pick up a win or two more than it had in 2012.

6. California Golden Bears

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    Despite having plenty of talent, California only managed to win three games last season. It is hard to imagine the Golden Bears not at least doubling that win total next season, even with a challenging schedule.

    The nonconference slate features home games against Northwestern and Ohio State. The Bears will need to replace most of their skill players, including quarterback Zach Maynard, running back Isi Sofele and wide receiver Keenan Allen. 

    Still, with few easy Pac-12 matchups, California will have no trouble improving on the three wins from a season ago.

5. Illinois Fighting Illini

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    Illinois was worse last year under first-year head coach Tim Beckman than it was in 2011 under Ron Zook.

    The Fighting Illini only won two games. With nonconference games against Southern Illinois and Miami (OH), Illinois should have no trouble getting two wins before Big Ten play.

    Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase will return for his senior season and will need to improve drastically if the Fighting Illini have any hopes to play in a bowl game.

    Both running backs will return for Illinois, and that should help it double its wins total from a season ago.

4. Southern Miss Golden Eagles

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    Southern Miss did not win a game all of last season. It was the only FBS school to achieve that feat. It would be hard to imagine the Golden Eagles going winless again right?

    The nonconference schedule is not easy with road games against Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State. The season-opener against Texas State is certainly the most winnable game on the slate.

    Youth is all over the roster as freshman quarterback Anthony Alford and freshman running back Jalen Richard should be much improved next season.

3. Auburn Tigers

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    Auburn suffered through an awful 2012 season, only winning three games. Former head coach Gene Chizik is no longer in the mix and the new man in town is Gus Malzahn.

    Malzahn went 9-3 in his only season as a head coach with Arkansas State.

    Auburn takes on a group of four very weak nonconference opponents, including Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic, all at home.

    At least three wins is a distinct possibility before SEC play even begins. The quarterback position will continue to be a question mark for the Tigers, however.

2. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Despite winning its final three games of the season, Virginia Tech only managed seven wins on the year. 

    That is not something head coach Frank Beamer is used to, as his Hokie teams had won 10 or more games in eight consecutive seasons.

    Do not expect that to be the case in 2013 as Virginia Tech will reload once again.

    What will weigh heavily on the potential  2013 record will be whether Logan Thomas decides to turn pro. The junior quarterback did not have the season he was expecting, and if he sticks around, the Hokies will be very solid in 2013.

1. Michigan State Spartans

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    Topping the list is the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans had a similar season to Virginia Tech, winning their final three games of the season to finish the year 7-6.

    Even though news has recently broke that running back Le'Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims have declared for the NFL draft, head coach Mark Dantonio is not going to struggle through another season in 2013 like he did in 2012. 

    Where the Spartans struggled was on the offensive side of the ball. The group ranked 110th in the country only averaging 20 points a game.

    Quarterback Andrew Maxwell should be much improved entering his senior season, and that will be a big reason why the Spartans improve next year.