Predicting the 10 College Football Teams Most Likely to Regress in 2013
We have learned over the years to not take anything for granted when it comes to college football. Just because your team was the talk of the town and was piling up victories last year does not mean everything will be sunshine and rainbows next season. Teams end up going through rebuilding years and there will be teams that regress in 2013.
Injuries take place, coaches have a hard time figuring things out and certain guys simply don't pan out the way everybody thought. Some teams end up being better than originally planned and some squads were overhyped and end up losing more games than ever imagined.
When you mix all of these things together, there are teams that may have had their way with college football last year, but things won't exactly be so easy in the upcoming season.
Here are a handful of college football teams that will likely see a decrease in victories in 2013.
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I'm hoping I'm wrong with this prediction simply because the job head coach Bill O'Brien is doing to turn things around has been remarkable. You root for guys like that and regardless of what you feel about the Penn State situation, it's hard not to hope that there is a light at the end of that tunnel.
But let's not kid ourselves; an 8-4 record from last season may actually be the best this program will see for the next few years. Last season this team was riding high on emotion and it helped carry it a long way. Now, this is when the sanctions come into play and really put a stranglehold on the Nittany Lions.
Right now there is no reliable quarterback situation, six veteran defensive players have moved on and scoring issues remain until somebody decides to step up. Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State all have much more talent and depth than Penn State, while teams like Indiana and Illinois are sure to provide a run for its money.
Penn State is dealing was far less players and far less talent than many of its opponents. It looks to be a long year for the folks out in Happy Valley.
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Mississippi State fans may feel that losing five of the last six games last season was as bad as it is going to get. Remember, the Bulldogs are 0-8 against ranked opponents during the last two seasons. Until things turn around and these guys prove it can hang with the big boys, it is tough to believe another eight-win season is in the cards.
There is an absolutely brutal stretch of games toward the end of the season with matchups against South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama. This doesn't even include playing Oklahoma State, LSU and then what should be an interesting end of the season meeting against Ole Miss.
Mississippi State also lost its leading receiver in Chad Bumphis, as well as its two defensive leaders in Darius Slay and Johnthan Banks.
Head coach Dan Mullen must show that he is able to compete in this tough conference before he is given the benefit of the doubt any longer. Judging by his track record and the tough schedule that awaits, the Bulldogs may be in for a mediocre season.
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Florida head coach Will Muschamp really set the bar high last season, winning 11 games and reaching a BCS bowl game.
But what should we expect from the Gators this year?
Truthfully, I'm in the same boat I was in last year. Until this offense can generate any type of consistency, it is tough to think a team ranked 78th in scoring offense is going to keep up this type of success. The quarterback play must improve and receivers on the outside better emerge if Florida is going to make its way to the SEC Championship Game.
There are also issues defensively with this team. Sure, there is overwhelming youth and talent on the roster, but replacing six starters and the leadership provided by Matt Elam won't be easy.
If all that wasn't enough, there are also games against LSU, South Carolina, Florida State, Georgia and a road trip down south to play the Miami Hurricanes on tap. The future is bright for this program, but questions remain along with a tough schedule.
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Is it just me, or is Oklahoma becoming a lot like Florida State?
A team ranked fairly high in the beginning of the year and has national championship expectations, but always seems to let us down by losing games it shouldn't.
Now is the time to step up to the plate but it certainly won't be easy. The Sooners have to play 11 bowl teams from a year ago, which is tied with Kansas and Notre Dame for the most in the entire country. Some of those games include a trip to South Bend and Stillwater, while TCU, Texas and even Baylor won't be cakewalks.
Although the defense was shaky last year, I'm sure Bob Stoops would rather have experience on that side of the ball instead of having to replace six starters. Then there are the questions about quarterback Blake Bell. Is this guy really a quarterback, or is he a massive running back that can't consistently make plays with his arm when it counts?
Oklahoma has had far more talented teams that have managed to choke away a chance to appear in the big game. There is little reason to believe a step backwards won’t take place for the Sooners.
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Speaking of the Florida State Seminoles, here they are.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher really got folks excited about this program, winning 12 games, but in typical Florida State fashion, managed to lose a game to North Carolina State. It happens every season with this program, losing to a team that shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath.
While you can add one of those losses already to the 2013 schedule, the Seminoles also have to travel to Clemson and Florida this season. Two teams that will have national championship aspirations, the Seminoles could easily finish the year with three losses at the very least.
There are questions at quarterback, running back and only one starter from last year’s front seven is returning on defense. Florida State is easily the cream of the crop in the watered down ACC, but there are some major concerns with this football team heading into the upcoming season.
When you combine inconsistency, along with a defense that is extremely young, Florida State will have to wait yet another year for its chance to play for a national title.
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UCLA was one of the most surprising stories of the season, winning nine games with a roster nobody was familiar with and a first-year college football head coach.
What will be done for an encore?
Well, when you look at the schedule, things aren't exactly looking good for the Bruins. This team must have lost a bet during the offseason, as trips to Utah, Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona and USC are all on deck. Those are all major road games and that doesn't include having two other upcoming Pac-12 programs in Washington and Arizona State traveling to the Rose Bowl.
As for the questions with the overall team, the offense should remain in good hands, but the defense lost its entire secondary from a year ago. This will likely force the coaching staff to throw in two true freshmen in Tahaan Goodman and Priest Willis, which is always a risky move.
The Bruins shocked us all last year, but this season there will likely be a little dose of reality provided.
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Wasn't it fun when Kansas State was winning double-digit games the last two seasons and entered the national championship conversation for the first time in forever?
Yea, it was a heartwarming story but all fairy tales must eventually come to an end.
They say that no single player makes a team, but that wasn't the case when it comes to quarterback Collin Klein. He was the driver and the lookout for the success of this program, making plays with both his arm and legs, pretty much carrying the offense on his back.
Oh, you say the defense played a part as well? Things aren't looking so hot when you have only one returning starter on that side of the ball coming back. It isn't very often when a team has to replace nearly an entire unit but when that takes place; I can't imagine the success carrying over well.
Kansas State will have to go into battle without its Superman on offense and a defense that will take a while to learn everybody's name. I'll be willing to bet the house, car and the girlfriend that the Wildcats finish nowhere close to 11 victories this season.
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I was on the fence when it came to putting LSU on this list, but if there was ever a year Les Miles and his boys were going to have a down season, it would be this one. We can talk about the mediocre play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger all day, but the truth is that the Tigers never really had a passing game and still dominated the SEC.
The concerns that I have are with the defensive side of the ball. Sure, this is one of the few programs that reloads and never has to rebuild, but we are talking about six new starters, including a new defensive line and two members of the secondary. It is not only the production that needs to be replaced, but the leadership has also taken a hit.
LSU also won't have much time to iron out any wrinkles with the first game of the season taking place against TCU. The schedule doesn't get much easier with Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M stepping up to the plate.
We have seen Miles and his team prove us wrong before, but this will likely be the season that LSU doesn't win 10 or more games for the first time since 2009.
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Urban Meyer wasted no time putting his stamp on the Ohio State program, running the table his first year and raising exceptions for the 2013 season. The only thing that can top a perfect record is another undefeated season that includes a Big Ten title and crystal football.
Good luck with all of that.
It is not that the Buckeyes can't run through the Big Ten again and lockup a spot in the big game without a scratch, it is the fact that the odds are against them. All it takes is one bad game, one crucial mistake or one team to play out of its mind and a loss will occur. Let's not forget that this team nearly lost to Purdue last season.
There have only been nine BCS teams that have finished with an undefeated record since 2000. Games against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan won't be easy, while every other team on the schedule will certainly try and give Ohio State its best shot.
Ohio State also has defensive concerns like a lot of teams on this list, but the talent is still there to have another great season. However, the odds are in your favor to bet against somebody knocking off the Buckeyes and giving Meyer his first loss as a head coach in the Big Ten.
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Notre Dame may actually be a better football team than it was last year, which has raised the level of optimism in South Bend. If the Irish were able to win every game in the regular season last year and return a better team this year, why not predict an undefeated season and another trip to the title matchup?
Um, if you want to be that guy, you go right ahead.
The Irish once again have the toughest schedule in college football. We are talking about Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC and Stanford. Out of the 12 games on the schedule, 11 of the teams reached a bowl game last year. I'm not going to predict that this can't be done because they made me look foolish last year, but there will likely be a hiccup here and there somewhere.
It has more to do than the loss of Manti Te'o or the inconsistency of quarterback Everett Golson. It has everything to do with the schedule being absolutely insane, and anybody expecting another magical carpet ride of a season is living in a dream world.
Notre Dame, like many other high profile programs, will likely regress in 2013.