10 Teams Most Eager to Put 2012 Behind Them
Even though Notre Dame was blown out by Alabama on Monday night, the Fighting Irish had a season to remember. For years, experts and college football fans everywhere had kept asking if the Irish would ever ascend to the upper tier of the college football world ever again. 12 wins later, Notre Dame is back as one of the country's elite programs.
Other teams, however, had seasons that they would like to forget. It's a fact of college football life: teams are bound to have a bad season once in a while, no matter how good they have been.
Whether you look at a BCS conference like the SEC or a less-respected league like Conference USA, you are bound to find a team that did not meet its expectations.
The following are 10 teams that find themselves in that same situation following 2012.
The AP No. 1 team with one of the leading Heisman candidates at quarterback and the best wide receiver duo in the country.
This was supposed to be the recipe for success in Los Angeles.
Fast forward to now, however, and you will find that the Trojans' season can be defined as a disaster.
It didn't help that Matt Barkley was forced to miss the regular season finale and Sun Bowl due to injury. Although by this point, USC's season was already a failure.
The wheels fell off after a blowout of the Colorado Buffaloes in which Barkley threw six touchdowns. The Trojans proceeded to lose five of their final six games. Their defense gave up at least 38 points in half of those games, including 62 points against Oregon.
The offense was derailed by Barkley's injury. Max Wittek struggled to run the offense during the final two games as the team managed only 20 points in those final eight quarters.
The bright spot was Marqise Lee's tremendous numbers. His 1,721 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns merited Heisman consideration and cemented Lee's place as the best receiver in college football.
Other than that, however, Trojan fans don't have a lot to smile about this offseason. Now that Matt Barkley is leaving, things may be just as tough next year.
Even if this is the case, however, I'm willing to bet the Trojans will still be more than happy to see 2012 in the rearview mirror.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia came out blazing to begin the season. Through the Mountaineers' first five games, Geno Smith had thrown 24 touchdowns and no interceptions. He had become the Heisman favorite as the Mountaineers cracked the top five in the polls.
It had become apparent, however, that West Virginia lacked defensive prowess to say the least. This was the main reason the the team fell into a tailspin.
That tailspin consisted of five straight conference losses in which Dana Holgorsen's bunch gave up no fewer than 39 points. Smith's Heisman campaign went up in smoke, and the Mountaineers' BCS chances crumbled to pieces.
To make matters even worse, the team was downright embarrassed by Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. Both sides could not handle the wintry field conditions, leading to a 24-point blowout against their former conference foe.
At the start of the season, it looked as though West Virginia's first go-around in the Big 12 was going to be a successful one. By the end of the year, however, the team had struggled to win half of its games. There's no doubt that everyone in Morgantown is looking ahead to next season.
Two years removed from their national championship, the Tigers managed only three victories during their catastrophic 2012 campaign.
Who did those three wins come against?
Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, and Alabama A&M would be the answer. This means that Auburn failed to win a single SEC game.
The Tiger passing game was pathetic. The team's three quarterbacks combined for only seven touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Somehow, Jonathan Wallace was able to escape from this mess and show some signs of potential brilliance.
Even with a halfback duo that rushed for almost 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns, Auburn found itself 114th in the nation in points per game.
Worst of all, the Tigers were absolutely destroyed by in-state rival Alabama in the season finale. This proved to be the final nail in Gene Chizik's coaching coffin, as he was fired at season's end.
The glory days of Cam Newton now seem like a distant memory on the Auburn campus. The team is hoping its performance last season can meet the same fate.
Were the Buffaloes the worst team in college football this season? One could easily make the argument based on the numbers.
The problems started on defense. Colorado gave up 46 points per game this past season, the worst mark in the country. Furthermore, the Buffs managed only three interceptions all season, good for third-worst in the nation.
The offense was just as inept at times. Jordan Webb, Connor Wood, and Nick Hirschman combined for 19 interceptions compared to only 11 touchdowns. Leading rusher Christian Powell only ran for 691 yards.
Kicker Will Oliver suffered as a result of the offensive struggles. He only attempted eight field goals and converted on six of them.
Colorado has a ton of holes to fix on both sides of the ball. Luckily for the Buffaloes, their defense literally cannot get any worse. Furthermore, this past season cannot be erased from memory fast enough.
Boston College Eagles
Boston College fans are, without a doubt, dreaming about the Matt Ryan era after a terrible season for the Eagles.
On offense, the results were mixed. Chase Rettig threw for more than 3,000 yards and had a respectable season. Meanwhile, the Eagle rushing attack averaged a little over 90 yards per game, making it the fifth-worst in college football.
The story on defense was the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Eagles recorded a measly six sacks the entire season, the lowest total in the country. The team also allowed almost 30 points per game.
Rettig is a senior and could improve upon his totals from this year. However, if the Eagles fail to run the ball effectively and get to the quarterback, they could be in for more of the same next season.
Illinois Fighting Illini
One of the Big Ten teams to crack this list is Illinois. Much like the season before, the Fighting Illini started fast but ended the year on a severe losing streak.
This year's losing streak spanned the team's final nine games, eight of which were conference games. During that streak, they managed to score no more than 24 points in any game.
As you may have inferred from that last stat, the Illini offense was really bad. It accounted for only 23 touchdowns. All told, Illinois scored the third-fewest points per game in the nation.
The defense severely struggled as well.
Seven of those nine straight losses were games in which opponents scored more than 30 points. Furthermore, this unit only picked off opposing quarterbacks seven times all season.
With a quarterback who struggled mightily in Nathan Scheelhaase and a defense that was simply not good, the Illini sputtered to a 2-10 season. I don't expect things to get much better anytime soon either.
Michigan State Spartans
The other Big Ten team on this list is Michigan State.
A year removed from a solid 11-3 season, the Spartans struggled to a 6-6 regular season record and a close win in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
While a 7-6 record doesn't necessarily signal a failed season for most teams, the Spartans have held themselves to a higher standard in recent years.
I'll give them some slack because they lost Kirk Cousins to the NFL during the offseason.
Still, this team had Le'Veon Bell, who bowled his way past opposing defenders for nearly 1,800 yards. His presence alone should have allowed the Spartans to score more than 20 points per game, one of the worst averages in the country.
The defense did its job, at least. Five of the Spartans' six losses were by 4 points or fewer. They ranked ninth in scoring defense, giving up only 16 points per game. With a defense this good, you would expect at least eight or nine wins from a team like Michigan State. However, that unit alone is not capable of winning games.
Andrew Maxwell should be better next season, and the offense should put up more points. For these reasons, the Spartans are happy to see 2012 behind them.
With Case Keenum at quarterback, the Cougars were an offensive juggernaut that won 13 games in 2011. His departure, however, caused them to severely struggle at times in 2012 on the way to a disappointing 5-7 record.
The offense did not necessarily struggle to move the ball. However, it struggled to score points. Three squads held Houston to 13 points or fewer, including Texas State.
Of course, it is near impossible to win games when your defense gives up 36 points per game.
Somehow, the Cougars managed to rank in the top 20 in both sacks and interceptions, which makes their inability to keep points off the board somewhat mind-boggling. The results are what matters, however, and they were in favor of Houston's opponents more often than not.
Quarterback David Piland will be a junior next season and should improve as a passer. Although, it won't matter if the defense can't stop opponents from scoring points. Still, the Cougars should make it back to a bowl game next season.
With experienced senior Tyler Wilson at quarterback, the Razorbacks were supposed to remain competitive in the SEC. Once he was injured against Louisiana-Monroe, however, Arkansas began a free fall to conference afterthought.
Wilson recovered to toss 21 touchdowns and nearly matched his yardage total from 2011.
The Arkansas ground attack was a different story. Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis led a crew that ranked 107th in the nation in rushing yardage.
Meanwhile, the defense looked like it could not stop a Pop Warner team at times. It gave up over 30 points per game to rank in the bottom tier of the college football world.\
Toss in the reports on now former head coach John L. Smith's financial troubles and you have the resulting disaster that was the Arkansas season.
Wilson will be headed to the NFL, leaving a major gap to fill under center. Although, it's hard to imagine the Razorbacks can have as bad a season as they did in 2012.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Without a doubt, the worst season of the 2012 college football world belonged to the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss.
It is absolutely mind-blowing that they managed to go winless after winning 12 games the previous season.
No, that's not a typo.
The Eagles went from outside BCS contender to downright embarrassment. They lost to UTEP, Memphis, Rice, and UAB to name a few teams. Obviously, they finished last in the Conference USA East Division.
The team managed a measly 168.3 passing yards per game and featured a mediocre rushing attack. The defense wasn't much better. It ranked 116th in the country in points allowed.
There were no bright spots. Not surprisingly, head coach Ellis Johnson was given the boot as a result.
To go from being a conference champion to the worst team in college football is an extremely difficult task, yet the Golden Eagles managed to pull off this feat. Because of this, they are more than likely looking forward to next season more than any other team in college football.