25 College Football Teams That Will Shock Us in 2013

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2013

25 College Football Teams That Will Shock Us in 2013

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    The college football season is now officially over and it is time to look ahead to 2013 and talk about some teams that will shock us when fall rolls around.

    Publications are already coming out with a preseason top 25 for the upcoming season, even though we are still over seven months from kickoff.

    As always, there are going to be teams that are overrated and some who are not rated high enough.

    Here are 25 college football teams from least stunning to most that will either shock us with either success or disappointment.

25. Auburn Tigers

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    Auburn starts off the list after suffering through a disappointing 3-9 campaign in 2012. The Tigers failed to win a SEC game and will likely be projected to be near the bottom of the pack again in 2013.

    New head coach Gus Malzahn will bring some energy to the program, and quarterback Kiehl Frazier will be much better in 2013.

    The schedule is favorable with nonconference games against Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic.

    Expect Auburn to surprise some people and possibly reach a bowl game next season.

24. Maryland Terrapins

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    Maryland is another BCS team that disappointed last season, finishing the year 4-8.

    The Terrapins struggled through a season of injuries, particularly at the quarterback position. Maryland lost its top four quarterbacks on the depth chart to injury and had to use a freshman linebacker the final few games of the season.

    Head coach Randy Edsall has a knack for turning programs around, and Maryland is relatively young. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs will be a stud next season, and the Terrapins will be at least in the middle of the pack in the ACC.

23. Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Nobody could have expected Penn State to do what it did last season, finishing the year 8-4 and one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

    Next season has letdown written all over it for the Nittany Lions. Replacing quarterback Matt McGloin will not be easy, and it could be a struggle now that the emotions from last season have worn off.

    the schedule will not be easy. Out of conference, the Nittany Lions take on Syracuse and Kent State. The conference slate features road games at Ohio State and Wisconsin as well as home dates with Michigan and Nebraska.

    A losing season could be in store for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions will shock us with a disappointing season, unlike the first two teams on the list.

22. Stanford Cardinal

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    The Stanford Cardinal finished the year as strong as nearly anybody in the country, winning their final eight games of the year and finishing the season seventh in the final AP Poll.

    Next season they are likely to start the year in the top five. That seems just a little high, and it is going to be hard for the Cardinal to repeat the season they had this year.

    Replacing running back Stepfan Taylor is not going to be easy, and there are other key parts leaving for the NFL, including both tight ends.

    With Notre Dame and San Jose State on the nonconference schedule, this team could shock us with disappointment in 2013.

21. Ole Miss Rebels

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    Ole Miss went 7-6 this season and appears headed in the right direction under head coach Hugh Freeze.

    There is plenty of talent coming back, including quarterback Bo Wallace. Some early projections have Ole Miss in the top 25 next season. That seems a little out there, considering the competition it will be facing.

    A road trip to Texas highlights the nonconference slate, and there are not many favors in SEC play with Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU coming in a four-week span.

    The Rebels might be a team that will be a huge disappointment in 2013 and regress a little bit.

20. Florida Gators

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    There is no question that Florida was one of the major surprises of the 2012 college football season and has a lot of young talent coming back.

    It is almost a certainty that Florida will be a top 10 team to begin the season, and duplicating the success of the 2012 season will be harder than expected. 

    There are players to replace on defense including linebacker Jelani Jenkins who has declared for the NFL draft.

    Running back Mike Gillislee is also gone, and quarterback Jeff Driskel will need to improve drastically. With nonconference games at Miami and against Florida State, the Gators just might lose four games next season.

19. Oregon State Beavers

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    Oregon State surprised just about everybody in 2012, winning its first six games of the season before finishing the year 9-4.

    In 2013, the team will likely once again be underrated as there are much more heralded teams in the Pac-12, including Oregon and Stanford.

    The Beavers are a sleeper team to finish at the top of the conference. With competition at quarterback and running back Storm Woods coming back, this team will be much better than anticipated in 2012. 

18. Texas Longhorns

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    The 2013 season could finally be the year Mack Brown and his Longhorns put it all together.

    There are still question marks surrounding the quarterback situation, and Mack Brown has not done well with the talent he has recruited in recent years.

    But the Longhorns have a lot coming back, and if they can get the quarterback situation figured out, they could be a sleeper for the national title. 

    The Big 12 will not be nearly as strong as it has been and that could benefit Texas who has a shot to run the table in 2013.

17. Arizona Wildcats

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    Arizona was a bit of a surprise this season, winning eight games and producing the leading rusher in all of college football.

    Running back Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. He will be back to carry the load in 2013.

    The nonconference schedule features games against UNLV and UTSA.

    Not much is expected from Arizona as it will not likely be ranked to begin the season. A double-digit win total in 2013 is not out of the question for this team.

16. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Collin Klein is gone, Arthur Brown is gone and Kansas State is finished...right? Some may think that, but as long as head coach Bill Snyder is around, this team is going to surprise some people.

    It would be shocking to see this team ranked in the top 20 when the official preseason polls come out, but by the end of the season, that is where they will be once again.

    This guy can coach, and the Wildcats have more than enough coming back to contend for a Big 12 title and shock more than a few people in 2013.

15. Vanderbilt Commodores

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    As long as head coach James Franklin is around, the Vanderbilt program is going to continue to improve.

    This season Vanderbilt finished the year 9-4 and won its final seven games of the season. There is a lot to replace, particularly on offense with quarterback Jordan Rogers and running back Zac Stacy having moved on.

    But, star wide receiver Jordan Matthews is coming back for his senior season.

    This team is not going to be ranked real high to begin the year, but could win as many as 10 games in 2013.

14. Florida State Seminoles

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    Florida State looked impressive in an Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois and has plenty of talent heading into the 2013 season.

    The Seminoles however always seem to disappoint, losing a game or two they have no business losing.

    They will likely be ranked in the top 15 to begin the season and will find victories a little harder to come by in 2013 with EJ Manuel no longer in the fold.

    This team might find itself out of the ACC race this coming season.

13. Fresno State Bulldogs

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    Fresno State had a very successful 2012 season, finishing the year 9-4. Expect much bigger things in 2013 with star quarterback Derek Carr deciding to come back for his senior season.

    The quarterback threw for 4,104 yards last season with 37 touchdowns and only seven picks.

    The Bulldogs might not be ranked to begin the season, but could be a sleeper to win 10 or 11 games in 2013 and finish the year in the top 20.

    They will be one of the best teams from a non-BCS conference this coming season.

12. TCU Horned Frogs

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    TCU suffered through a 7-6 campaign in its first season in the Big 12. Part of the reason for the struggles was injuries and suspensions.

    Quarterback Casey Pachall is on track to be back in 2013 and if he can return ready to play, this team could finish with a double-digit win total.

    There is a lot of talent coming back, and if the Horned Frogs can put it all together, they will be contending for a Big 12 title.

    Look for huge improvements in 2013 from this team.

11. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Virginia Tech could be even higher on the list if it was known whether quarterback Logan Thomas was going to return for his senior season.

    Even though Thomas did not have the junior season he was expecting, he is still very talented and the Hokies are going to be much better next season. 

    Virginia Tech only went 7-6 in 2012, and it is hard to imagine a Frank Beamer squad repeating a performance like that in 2013.

    They will likely begin the season out of the top 25. The opener against Alabama looms large for the Hokies. Win or lose, a double-digit win season is not out of the question for this team.

10. Missouri Tigers

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    Missouri is another team that struggled through a season filled with injuries. It was also a transition period as it moved to the SEC.

    The Tigers only finished the year 5-7, but will be much better in 2013. Quarterback James Franklin will return healthy and should be prepared for SEC play.

    While expecting Missouri to contend for the SEC title is a bit of a stretch, it is not out of the question to see the Tigers improving on their win total by at least three games.

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    The Oklahoma State offense ranked third in the country last season, averaging 45.7 points a game.

    Points are never a problem for this team. The defensive side of the ball is the issue. It improved on that steadily through the 2012 season and will be better in 2013.

    The Cowboys will likely be ranked when the season begins, but with head coach Mike Gundy, this team could end up winning the Big 12 and finishing the season in the top 10. 

    There is that much talent on this team and the Big 12 will be a little weak in 2013.

8. Miami Hurricanes

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    The Miami Hurricanes showed flashes of their talent last season, going 7-5 and doing so with an extremely young roster.

    Next season most of the key contributors will be back, and this team could be poised for a breakout year.

    It looks like the Hurricanes might not even be ranked to begin the season, and if that is the case, they could be one of the most underrated teams in the nation.

    Running back Duke Johnson is an explosive player. Look for this team to contend for the ACC title and possibly reach double-digits in wins.

7. Washington Huskies

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    Washington was certainly better than its record indicated. The 7-6 Huskies played a very challenging schedule and came on strong at the end of the year before losing its final two games of the season. 

    The return of quarterback Keith Price is huge, along with running back Bishop Sankey who had a breakout year in 2012.

    They start of the year with a game against Boise State and also play at Illinois out of conference.

    There is too much talent on this team for a repeat of last year. Look for a top 15 season from Washington, and it is not out of the question for the Huskies to contend for the Pac-12 title.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Notre Dame was very fortunate to win as many games as it did in 2012, and the national championship proved how overrated it might have been.

    Next season, the Fighting Irish might have as much talent as they 2012 did, and they will likely be ranked in the top 10 to begin the season. But it is going to be hard to live up to those expectations.

    The schedule is relatively easy with the toughest tests being a home game against Oklahoma and road contests at Michigan and Stanford.

    It would not be shocking if the Fighting Irish lost three or four games next season.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    Despite the early departure of running back Giovani Bernard to the NFL draft, North Carolina is a team on the rise.

    The Tar Heels finished last season 8-4 under first-year head coach Larry Fedora. Expect continued improvement from the 2013 team.

    There is a ton of talent coming back and North Carolina has a chance to start off the season on the right foot with a game at South Carolina.

    Look out for this team as a sleeper in the ACC this coming season.

4. Boise State Broncos

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    Now that Boise State is staying in the Mountain West, it is not out of the question to see this team going undefeated in 2013.

    The Broncos will likely not start the season ranked too high, but with everyone head coach Chris Petersen has coming back, look for a huge year from the Broncos.

    A game at Washington starts off the season and the Broncos also make a road trip to BYU out of conference.

    Quarterback Joe Southwick should be much better in his second season as the starter, and the Broncos could be back near the top of the national rankings in 2013.

3. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Blake Bell will likely take over at the quarterback position for Oklahoma and the Sooners could be in for a very challenging season.

    They only went 10-3 last year, and it is going to be very hard to replace quarterback Landry Jones as well as wide receiver Kenny Stills and safety Tony Jefferson who have left early for the NFL.

    Even though the Big 12 is not that tough, it would not be a huge surprise to see Oklahoma lose as many as five games and finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 next season.

    That would be shocking, considering it is likely to start in the top 15 this coming season.

2. Louisville Cardinals

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    Louisville showed just how good it an be with a dominating 33-23 Sugar Bowl victory over heavily favored Florida.

    Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best in the country, and with how weak the Big East will be this coming season, Louisville will be the heavy favorites.

    There are not many challenges in the nonconference slate, and the Cardinals may start the season in the top 20, but by the end of the year could be undefeated and contending for a national title. 

    The toughest game on the schedule appears to be a road date with Cincinnati.

1. Northwestern Wildcats

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    Believe it or not, Northwestern won 10 games last season and was very close to going undefeated.

    This is another program on the rise and a team that could be a sleeper for the Big Ten title. The nonconference schedule will be challenging with a road game against California and a home date with Syracuse.

    In the Big Ten, both Ohio State and Michigan will be at home with Wisconsin and Nebraska on the road.

    Do not be surprised if this team puts together a 10- or 11-win season and contends for the Rose Bowl.