While most college football fans look at the positive aspect of their team prior to the season, it is left to the coaches to worry about what could go wrong as the season approaches.
Spring practice has now concluded and, with a few weeks until summer camp, it is now time for coaches to worry about the upcoming season.
There are a few worst case scenarios each coach is worrying about, but what is the absolute worst nightmare of every college football coach?
Here is the one thing keeping every college football coach up at night as the summer months approach.
Worst Nightmare: Replacing Connor Dietz and Cody Getz
This is likely a nightmare that has been bothering Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun since the end of the 2012 season.
These two players accounted for nearly the entire Falcons offense, combining for almost 2,000 rushing yards and virtually all of the passing yards.
Junior running back Jon Lee might be a viable option, but replacing Dietz at the quarterback position is not going to be easy.
Worst Nightmare: The start of the season
This might not seem very fair, but Akron has been one of the worst teams in the country over the past few years.
Winning one game a season is nothing to write home about, and head coach Terry Bowden will have his hands full once again this year.
For Akron, the start of the season is a nightmare waiting to happen.
Worst Nightmare: Johnny Manziel
The man who ruined its perfect season will once again be in the way this year as Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel await Alabama in Week 2.
Head coach Nick Saban has undoubtedly been putting together a gameplan all offseason to try and stop Manziel.
That is the most challenging game on the schedule, and likely one of only two ranked teams Alabama will play all season long.
No doubt Saban has lost some sleep thinking about how to stop Manziel.
Worst Nightmare: More trouble for running back Ka'Deem Carey
Arizona has a lot of talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, but one problem that might have head coach Rich Rodriguez very worried is the off-the-field issues of running back Ka'Deem Carey.
Carey has had multiple run-ins with the law this offseason and is set to appear in court July 12.
If he gets in any more trouble, he might be off the team, and that would put a huge damper on the Arizona season of it happened.
Worst Nightmare: Getting through the start of the season
Even though Arizona State begins the season against Sacramento State, the Sun Devils have a four-game stretch after that featuring Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame.
The nonconference schedule is one of the toughest in the nation, and head coach Todd Graham needs to find a way to get his team through this tough stretch without too many losses early on.
A 1-4 start would put a huge damper on the season.
Worst Nightmare: Replacing offensive playmakers
New head coach Bret Bielema loves to run the football, but he is going to have to find some running backs to replace the departed Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson has also moved on, and top wide receiver Cobi Hamilton is also gone.
No returning skill player had more than 45 carries or 21 receptions.
It might be a bit of a rebuilding process in Fayetteville this year.
Worst Nightmare: Replacing Ryan Aplin
Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin is not only new on the job, but also has to find a replacement for one of the best players to come through the university in quite some time.
The Red Wolves have been very successful the past few years, and quarterback Ryan Aplin was one of the main reasons for the success.
There are five players going for the job, but it is not likely that any of them will be able to give the program what Aplin did.
Worst Nightmare: What to do without Trent Steelman
Quarterback Trent Steelman did everything for the Army Black Knights last season.
The senior passed for 667 yards, but excelled on the ground, rushing for 1,248 yards. He was the Army offense, and finding a replacement for this four-year starter is not going to be easy for head coach Rich Ellerson.
The Black Knights only won two games last season, and it might not get much better in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: More dirt from 2010 team emerges
The Auburn Tigers were the best team in the country in 2010, but in recent weeks stories have started to emerge that might taint that undefeated national championship season.
Even though Auburn only won four games last season, what new head coach Gus Malzahn and the rest of the Auburn staff do not want is off-the-field distractions.
Auburn will be better in 2013, but off-the-field issues could pose as a major distraction.
Worst Nightmare: Finding some help on defense
Ball State had one of the worst defenses in the country last season, allowing 32 points a game. That ranked 94th in the country last year.
The schedule is very favorable, particularly at the beginning of the year, and head coach Pete Lembo will have to try and improve that defense.
If the defense can improve, this team could win double-digit games in 2013, particularly with the youth returning on the offensive side of the ball.
Worst Nightmare: Replacing Nick Florence and Terrance Williams
Baylor returns the bulk of its running game, but head coach Art Briles will have to not only find a replacement for quarterback Nick Florence, but also find a wide receiver to fill the shoes of Terrance Williams.
That is easier said than done, as those two players dominated the Big 12 last season.
It looks like Bryce Petty will be the one who fills in for Florence. It will be hard to live up to the season he had in 2012.
Worst Nightmare: Getting past Washington in the season-opener
Boise State found a way to hold on in the Las Vegas Bowl a few months ago against Washington, but will now have to duplicate the feat at the start of the season at Washington.
The Huskies are going to be out for revenge, and this might be the toughest game on the Boise State schedule.
This game will go a long way toward earning some respect for the Broncos.
Worst Nightmare: Finding out how to develop a running game
Boston College was one of the worst FBS teams in the country last season, and part of the reason it finished 2-10 was the complete lack of a running game.
The Eagles only averaged 90.5 rushing yards, ranking 119th in the country.
New head coach Steve Addazio will need to get some help in the running game for quarterback Chase Rettig if this team wants to win any more than the two games it did last season.
Worst Nightmare: Slowing down Tulsa in the season-opener
Bowling Green had a very successful 2012 season, going 8-5 and 6-2 in conference play. One area the team could improve on is the nonconference part of its schedule.
The season-opener against Tulsa could be one of the toughest games on the slate. The Golden Hurricane won 11 games last season and did it with a running game that was one of the top 10 in the country.
Finding a way to stop the combination of Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts may seem like a nightmare right now for head coach Dave Clawson.
Worst Nightmare: Surviving the first two games of the season
Buffalo has started to make strides toward leaving the basement of the MAC, winning three conference games a season ago.
That might be the case again this season, but head coach Jeff Quinn has to be worried about the first two games on the schedule.
The Bulls take on Ohio State followed by Baylor, and both games are on the road.
No doubt that is not exactly an easy way to kick off the season.
Worst Nightmare: Navigating through a challenging schedule
BYU returns some very talented players on both sides of the ball, and it will need that experience to make it through a very difficult schedule.
After Virginia to kick off the season, the Cougars take on Texas.
There are also road games against Utah State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Nevada. At home, BYU will take on Middle Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Boise State.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall will certainly be worried about this challenging schedule all summer long.
Worst Nightmare: Replacing multiple skill players
California only won three games last season, but to improve on that, it will have to do it with completely new skill players.
Running backs Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson have departed, along with wide receiver Keenan Allen.
Perhaps the toughest player to replace will be quarterback Zach Maynard. Even though he struggled last season, he was a three-year starter and will not be easy to replace.
New head coach Sonny Dykes will have his hands full getting this program back on track.
Worst Nightmare: Struggling in a new conference
Central Florida rose to the top of Conference USA over the past few seasons, and now will have a new challenge in a new league.
With Penn State and South Carolina posing huge threats outside of league play, the Knights also have the opportunity to take on the likes of Louisville and Rutgers in the new league.
The competition might be a little more challenging this season than head coach George O'Leary and his squad are accustomed to.
Worst Nightmare: Finding some playmakers on defense
Central Michigan did win seven games last season, including a bowl victory, but the Chippewas could have been much better in 2012 if they could find a few playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chippewas defense ranked 96th in the country this past season, allowing 32.4 points a game.
With some talent coming back on offense, this team could have a huge year if the defense improves.
Worst Nightmare: Finding a consistent running game
Cincinnati has had the benefit of having an excellent running game for the past few years with Isaiah Pead and George Winn.
Both those players are gone in 2013 and finding a replacement for them will be a challenge for new head coach Tommy Tuberville.
Jameel Poteat was in line to see some snaps, but he transferred, leaving Ralph David Abernathy IV as the only back on the roster who has seen meaningful snaps.
Worst Nightmare: Winning the three big games on the schedule
For the Clemson Tigers, the 2013 season will likely come down to three games.
They begin the season against Georgia, and midway through the year Florida State comes calling. The Tigers then finish the season up against South Carolina on the road.
No doubt the year will hinge on these three games and head coach Dabo Swinney needs to find a way to win the big game for his Tigers to live up to expectations.
Worst Nightmare: Having a defense as bad as 2012
Colorado was not only the worst defensive team in the nation last season, but it wasn't even close.
The Buffaloes ranked last at the FBS level, allowing 46 points a game. New head coach Mike MacIntyre will have his hands full trying to find some players on that side of the ball.
It could be another long season in Boulder for the Buffaloes.
Worst Nightmare: Finding a way to develop a running game
Colorado State struggled in many facets of the game last season, particularly when it came to offense and running the football.
The Rams finished 97th in the country, averaging less than 129 yards a game on the ground.
No running back on the roster rushed for more than 590 yards. That is going to have to change if this team wants to win more than the four games it did a season ago.
Worst Nightmare: Duplicating last season when it comes to the running game
Connecticut struggled mightily last season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and averaged less than 88 yards a game on the ground.
That ranked 121st in the country and was a big reason why the team was also 121st in points scored, averaging less than 18 points a game.
Running back Lyle McCombs returns, and he will need to do a little better than the 3.5 yards a carry he averaged last year.
A little help along the offensive line will help.
Worst Nightmare: Figuring out how to live up to bowl expectations
Duke had an excellent season in 2012. The Blue Devils not only qualified for a bowl game, but also defeated rival North Carolina in the process.
The 2013 season is going to be a little more challenging for head coach David Cutcliffe.
There were a lot of experienced players who have departed, and it will be hard to maintain bowl status year in and year out.
Worst Nightmare: Getting through a tough nonconference slate
East Carolina was one of the best teams in Conference USA last season, and with the departure of Central Florida, this team might be one of the best in the league.
The problem for the Pirates lies in the nonconference portion of the schedule.
Games three through five feature Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Middle Tennessee. Losing all three of those games might put a damper on the season before it even really gets started.
Worst Nightmare: Having a worse passing attack than 2012
Eastern Michigan struggled on offense last season, but the passing game was where it really had a lot of issues.
The Eagles finished 108th in the country, averaging just over 171 yards passing a game.
Quarterback Tyler Benz will return for his junior season, and the Eagles will need improved play from him as well as everybody up front to improve on the two wins from last season.
Worst Nightmare: Jeff Driskel does not improve
The Florida defense will be tough once again, but the season could hinge on the play of quarterback Jeff Driskel.
He had his moments during his sophomore season, but the Gators are going to need more if they have any hope of contending in the rugged SEC.
Head coach Will Muschamp certainly has to be wondering if his quarterback can become the player he needs him to be.
Worst Nightmare: Finding a way to navigate the nonconference schedule
When it comes to road games, few tams have it as bad as Florida Atlantic.
The Owls start off the season with three road games against Miami, East Carolina and South Florida. East Carolina is now a conference opponent, but the Owls also take on Auburn on the road.
For a team that only won three games overall in the Sun Belt, it is not going to be easy in Conference USA this year for Florida Atlantic.
Worst Nightmare: Surviving a conference change
Florida International is in a similar boat as Florida Atlantic. Both are joining Conference USA after struggling last season in a much lesser conference.
The Golden Panthers also have the opportunity to take on Maryland and Louisville outside of the league.
After winning three games last season, it is hard to imagine this team winning many more in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Jameis Winston does not pan out
With the graduation of E.J. Manuel and the transfer of Clint Trickett to West Virginia, Florida State will rely on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston to run the show.
The Seminoles have enough talent coming back, particularly at the running back position, to be able to put some points on the board.
Once again the defense will be very strong, but the success of the team will hinge on the play of this freshman quarterback.
Worst Nightmare: Derek Carr will struggle without Robbie Rouse
There is no question that Derek Carr is one of the most polished quarterbacks in the country, and he brings a wealth of experience to the table for his senior season.
This year, however, he will have to do it without running back Robbie Rouse. He has been a staple since Carr became the starter, rushing for over 1,100 yards each of the past three seasons.
Carr will now be relied upon to do it more on his own. No doubt that there will be a lot of pressure on him this season.
Worst Nightmare: Losing the first two games of the season
Georgia will be one of the top teams in the country once again this season, but the schedule is not doing it any favors, particularly early on.
The Bulldogs take on Clemson on the road in the season opener, and follow that game up with South Carolina at home.
No team in the country plays two more challenging games to start off the season than the Bulldogs.
Good thing there is an experienced quarterback in Aaron Murray to lead the team.
Worst Nightmare: Vad Lee does not live up to the hype
Tevin Washington is no longer at Georgia Tech, and sophomore Vad Lee will be taking over at the quarterback position.
Many thought Lee was the better of the two by the end of last season, and now he will get a chance to prove himself.
If he does not live up to the expectations, it could be a long season for the Yellow Jackets.
Worst Nightmare: Transitioning to the FBS level
Georgia State is the only team new to the FBS level this season, and the Panthers have some very challenging games.
They will take on the likes of West Virginia and Alabama out of conference, and also face a few challenging matchups in the Sun Belt.
Look for this team to struggle most of the season, as it only won one game last season at the FCS level.
Worst Nightmare: Having a season similar to the one they had in 2012
Hawai'i was downright awful last season. The Warriors only managed to win three games last year, and things are not looking much better in 2013.
The first five games on the schedule are very challenging, and there is a lot of rebuilding that needs to take place.
Hawai'i finished near the bottom of the country in nearly every category last season, and head coach Norm Chow will need to get his act together this year.
Worst Nightmare: Not being able to win in a new conference
Houston is one of four teams jumping from Conference USA to the old Big East, and it might be a long year for the Cougars in 2013.
Head coach Tony Levine and his team only managed to win five games last season, and with the announcement of running back Charles Sims leaving the team, it is not going to get easier.
Do not expect this team to get anywhere close to the bowl conversation in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Figuring out how to win against better competition
Idaho only won one game last season playing in the WAC. That conference is now defunct and the Vandals are stepping up their game, as they have become an Independent.
Throw in the fact that the team plays Northern Illinois, Washington State, Temple, Fresno State, Arkansas State, Ole Miss and Florida State, and it does not look good in 2013 for Idaho.
The one win from last season might be hard to top this year.
Worst Nightmare: Nathan Scheelhaase performs worse than last season
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has regressed every season at Illinois and, now entering his senior season, it is time for him to turn it around.
Last year, he did miss two games and was limited in a few others, but only managed to pass for 1,361 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions.
If he has a season like that again in 2013, the Fighting Illini might only win two games like they did last year.
Worst Nightmare: Regressing after winning four games last season
Indiana made more noise last year than it had in quite some time, and with three games remaining the Hoosiers controlled their own destiny to win the Big Ten.
Obviously, that came nowhere close to happening and the Hoosiers finished the year 4-8. But the two wins in conference play were a step in the right direction.
Regressing from the 4-8 campaign in 2012 would not be good for head coach Kevin Wilson and his staff.
Worst Nightmare: Finishing the season as bad as 2012
Last year, Iowa started off by wining four of its first six games, including 2-0 in Big Ten play.
The Hawkeyes then proceeded to lose their final six games of the season to finish the year 4-8.
The biggest fear for head coach Kirk Ferentz would be another season ending like the 2012 year did.
No doubt that is his worst nightmare as the 2013 campaign approaches.
Worst Nightmare: Not being able to replace talented linebackers
Iowa State qualified for a bowl game each of the past two seasons, and a lot of that was due to the success the team had on defense, particularly the linebacker position.
Both A.J. Klein and Jake Knott were excellent during their collegiate careers, and now head coach Paul Rhoads will need to find some viable replacements.
While there are some candidates, it is going to be hard to replace what these two guys did over their careers.
Worst Nightmare: Losing every game in 2013
Kansas was one of the worst teams in the country last year, only managing to win one game.
This year, head coach Charlie Weis could only do worse if his team does not win a single game, and while that is not likely, it certainly looks possible as the 2013 season approaches.
The season opener against South Dakota should be the one the Jayhawks get. After that, the schedule features 11 games against bowl-eligible teams from last season.
Weis may be out the door before the season is over.
Worst Nightmare: Collin Klein proves to be irreplaceable
Kansas State rode the shoulders of quarterback Collin Klein over the past few seasons, and now will have to find a way to move on without him.
Head coach Bill Snyder certainly knows what he is doing, but replacing Klein is easier said than done.
If he proves to be irreplaceable, it is not going to be a typical season in Manhattan.
Worst Nightmare: Life is hard without Darrell Hazell
Former head coach Darrell Hazell did an excellent job at Kent State, particularly last season as he led the Golden Flashes to an 11-3 record.
New head coach Paul Haynes will have to try to keep the momentum.
He will have two very talented running backs in Dri Archer and Trayion Durham to roll with. It will take a little while to see how this team fares without Hazell.
Worst Nightmare: Losing the season opener to in-state rival Western Kentucky
Kentucky is another team that has a very challenging schedule early on.
The Wildcats open the season in Nashville against a Western Kentucky team that defeated them in 2012.
Losing that game would be awful with a new head coach in town and a lot of positive vibes around the program.
Throw in the fact that the Wildcats take on Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama games three through six, and the first two are must-wins.
Worst Nightmare: Struggling after losing so much talent
Louisiana Tech was one of the most explosive offenses in the country in 2012, but to duplicate that in 2013, it is going to have to do it with a completely new cast.
The Bulldogs not only lost head coach Sonny Dykes to California, but also have to replace quarterback Colby Cameron and wide receiver Quinton Patton.
This team might have to rely more heavily on the running game in 2013, led by Kenneth Dixon. He rushed for nearly 1,200 yards as a freshman in 2012.
Worst Nightmare: Starting off the season with consecutive losses
Louisiana-Lafayette won nine games a season ago, and has high hopes once again in 2013.
Starting off the season with two losses might make a double-digit win season virtually impossible.
The first two opponents on the schedule are road trips to Arkansas and Kansas State.
Those are certainly not very easy games, and two losses would get the season off to an awful start.
Worst Nightmare: Kolton Browning going down with an injury
Very few players mean more to their respective teams than Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning.
Browning passed for 3,049 yards with 29 touchdowns, and also led the team in rushing with 488 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Warhawks managed to win eight games last season, and if Browning is healthy the entire year, this team should be able to finish around the 10-win mark in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Crumbling under pressure
Even though Louisville is nowhere close to the most talented team in the country, the Cardinals might have the best chance of anybody in the country to run the table and go undefeated.
The only two legitimate challenges on the schedule are a home game against Rutgers and a road trip to Cincinnati to finish out the year.
Finding a way not to crumble under the pressure will be harder than this team might think.
Worst Nightmare: Zach Mettenberger cannot carry the load
LSU lost more on the defensive side of the ball than possibly any team in the nation, and will also have to replace a few running backs.
Good thing for head coach Les Miles is he has a stable of running backs.
The key to the season will likely once again hinge on the arm of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. If he can progress from the year he had in 2012, this could be a viable team. If not, it will be a long year in Baton Rouge.
Worst Nightmare: Rakeem Cato does not put up numbers like 2012
No quarterback in the country threw for more yards in 2012 than Rakeem Cato. He passed for 4,201 yards, with 37 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.
He will be relied on heavily once again this season, as Marshall is trying to improve on the five wins it posted a season ago.
If something happens to Cato, this team could fall into the gutter quickly.
Worst Nightmare: All the quarterbacks on the roster go down again this season
No team in the country suffered more devastating injuries at the quarterback position than Maryland in 2012.
The Terrapins lost four starting quarterbacks, and by the end of the season had to resort to a freshman linebacker to line up under center.
No doubt that head coach Randy Edsall has been thinking about that all spring long.
Worst Nightmare: Handling the out-of-conference schedule
Massachusetts is not only one of the newer FBS programs, but the Minutemen also play in a very competitive MAC.
Throw in the fact that the nonconference schedule is very challenging, and the 2013 season could be a tough one to swallow for this team.
Massachusetts takes on Wisconsin, Kansas State and Vanderbilt in nonconference play.
Good luck with that.
Worst Nightmare: Adjusting to a tougher conference
Memphis is another team that struggled in Conference USA last year, and now will be moving into a much tougher league in 2013.
The nonconference schedule is not very favorable either, with Duke, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State to get things started.
Do not expect this team to put together more than the four wins it did in 2012.
Worst Nightmare: Sanctions come down on the Hurricanes
The investigation into the University of Miami seems to be ongoing and it might end up posing a distraction this season.
There is no doubt that Miami is one of the most talented young teams in the country, but young teams can get easily distracted.
If something as far as more sanctions comes down in the coming months with the NCAA snooping around, it might not be a good thing for the Hurricanes and head coach Al Golden.
Worst Nightmare: New skill players do not pan out
The Miami Redhawks had some very talented players on offense last season led by quarterback Zac Dysert.
He has now moved on to the Denver Broncos, and his top target, Nick Harwell, was recently dismissed from the team.
Harwell has landed at Kansas, but that leaves this team struggling to find some skill players to replace those departed stars.
Worst Nightmare: Devin Gardner struggles as full-time starter
Devin Gardner filled in rather nicely last season in the absence of Denard Robinson, but now he will be the go-to guy on offense for the Wolverines.
Whether or not he can sustain that success for the entire season remains to be seen.
Garnder is certainly a threat with his legs, but whether or not his accuracy can hold up under pressure for the entire season is certainly the biggest concern for Michigan heading into the 2013 campaign.
Worst Nightmare: Life without Le'Veon Bell
Not many players in the nation carried a bigger workload than Le'Veon Bell did at Michigan State last season.
The workhorse carried the ball 382 times for 1,793 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the offense for Michigan State, and now that he left early for the NFL, head coach Mark Dantonio will have to find a viable replacement.
This offense might be in worse shape than it was a season ago.
Worst Nightmare: Struggling in a new conference
With all the conference realignment, not a lot of people realize that Conference USA was completely reshuffled.
One team that joined the league was Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders won eight games last year while playing in the Sun Belt.
While the teams may be different this season, the competition might not be that much more difficult.
Still, the biggest concern for this team is winning in a new conference.
Worst Nightmare: Regressing from last season
Minnesota performed about as well as it could last season, going 6-6 and qualifying for a bowl game.
This year, it is not going to be easy for the Golden Gophers to duplicate that, as they managed to win some games that could have gone the other way in 2012.
Developing a better passing game will be the first order of business for head coach Jerry Kill and his squad.
Worst Nightmare: The freshman class does not live up to the hype in 2013
The 2013 Ole Miss recruiting class has been well documented in recent months, and a lot of expectations have been put on that group.
Many of those are not fair, as it is going to be very difficult for most of these guys to contribute from day one.
If that does not happen, people in Mississippi might get a little antsy as the season progresses.
Worst Nightmare: Losing a game it shouldn't
The main reason Mississippi State went 8-5 last season was because the Bulldogs beat all of the teams they were supposed to.
That is not always going to be the case, and if the Bulldogs want to have the season they did in 2012, they are going to have to beat all of the teams they are supposed to.
There are not a lot of games they won't have a chance to win, but a loss early on to an opponent they should beat could derail the season entirely.
Worst Nightmare: James Franklin does not stay healthy
Missouri struggled to a 5-7 season in 2012, and a lot of that was due to the health of quarterback James Franklin.
When 100 percent, he is one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the conference, but he was not healthy for the better part of last season.
If that is the case again, it will be another long season for the Tigers. If he can stay healthy, this could very easily be a bowl team.
Worst Nightmare: Not being able to run the football
There are very few teams in the country who rely more on the running game year in and year out than Navy.
Last year the Midshipmen rushed for nearly 279 yards a game, ranking sixth in the country.
This year, to replicate the 8-5 season it had in 2012, Navy will need to be able to run the football with relative consistency.
If that does not happen, this team might struggle in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Something happens to Taylor Martinez
Even though Taylor Martinez is nowhere close to the best quarterback in the country, he is as valuable as just about anybody, simply because the Cornhuskers do not have a viable replacement behind him.
Martinez is a senior, and there is no other quarterback experience in the program, as he has been the starter for virtually his entire career.
If something happened to him this season, head coach Bo Pelini might not know what to do.
Worst Nightmare: Navigating the nonconference schedule
There are challenging nonconference schedules and then there is the four-game slate Nevada put together.
It all starts off on the road against UCLA, and after a cupcake against UC Davis, the Wolf Pack travel south to take on Florida State.
The eight conference games follow, but then the season ends with a home game against BYU.
Not exactly a piece of cake.
Worst Nightmare: The passing game in 2013 is as bad as it was in 2012
New Mexico finished 123rd in the country last season when it came to the passing game. The Lobos only threw for 68.8 yards a game. That is a number that is certainly going to have to be improved upon.
While the team excelled in the running game, ranking fifth in the country at just over 300 yards a game led by Kasey Carrier, a more balanced attack will be necessary.
Just a few more yards through the air might help improve on the four wins from a season ago.
Worst Nightmare: Having the defense fail it once again
New Mexico State only managed to win one game last season, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that the defense was just about the worst in the country.
The group allowed over 39 points a game, ranking 120th in the nation.
While the offense was not much better, particularly the running game, this is a team that needs to get better on defense before the wins start piling up.
Worst Nightmare: The running game disappears
North Carolina relied heavily on the running game last season, led by Giovani Bernard. He has now moved on early to the NFL, and quarterback Bryn Renner returns for his senior season without his best playmaker.
Developing a solid running game will be the key to the season for North Carolina.
If that does not happen, it could be a long year in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels.
It looks like A.J. Blue will be the go-to guy this season out of the backfield.
Worst Nightmare: Mike Glennon is sorely missed
North Carolina State is a team that had to say goodbye to a very talented quarterback in Mike Glennon.
He was very successful the past two seasons and will be sorely missed in Raleigh this year.
One guy who might have a slight edge in the quarterback competition is Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell.
Whether or not he can replace Glennon is a huge question.
Worst Nightmare: The offense performs as bad as last season
North Texas only won four games last season, and that was due in large part to its struggles on the offensive side of the ball.
The Mean Green averaged less than 21 points a game, ranking 105th in the country.
Perhaps the key to the offense is the play of quarterback Derek Thompson. He will have to perform better than he did in 2012, when he threw 14 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
Worst Nightmare: Quarterback Jordan Lynch was exposed in the Orange Bowl
Northern Illinois was obviously overmatched in its Sugar Bowl loss to Florida State, but what if the Seminoles defense was on to something?
The scheme almost completely shut down Jordan Lynch, who was ineffective for most of the game.
Whether or not it was just a bad game or if Florida State was on to something remains to be seen, but the success of this team hinges on the play of its quarterback.
Worst Nightmare: A few early season losses
Northwestern does not play the cupcakes at the beginning of the season that some teams do, and with the amount the Wildcats have progressed in recent years, getting off to a good start in 2013 is essential to building momentum.
With a road trip to California to start off the season followed by a home game against Syracuse, Northwestern needs to win these two games to continue to build on last season.
A couple of losses and it could turn into a downward spiral.
Worst Nightmare: Nobody can fill the shoes of the departed Everett Golson
Notre Dame fans and the college football world were shocked to hear that starting quarterback Everett Golson was no longer enrolled at the university.
The worst nightmare for Brian Kelly has already come true, particularly with the transfer of quarterback Gunner Kiel to Cincinnati.
If Tommy Rees cannot fill in, it could be a long season in South Bend for the Fighting Irish.
Worst Nightmare: An injury to one of its stars
Ohio won nine games last season, and has a lot coming back this season.
The return of quarterback Tyler Tettleton and running back Beau Blankenship gives this team a legitimate shot to win 10 or more games.
The one thing that could derail the Bobcats would be an injury to one of these two players.
Head coach Frank Solich has built quite a program in Athens.
Worst Nightmare: Losing a nonconference game or two
Oklahoma did not do itself any favors when it scheduled three very challenging out-of-conference games against three teams that finished a combined 31-9 last season.
The Sooners start off the season against Louisiana-Monroe, and then after a conference game against West Virginia, Oklahoma takes on Tulsa, followed by a road game in South Bend against Notre Dame.
There is no doubt that this is one of the toughest nonconference slates in the entire country.
Worst Nightmare: Struggling at the quarterback position
The decision by Wes Lunt to transfer has left Oklahoma State with two quarterbacks battling for the starting job.
Both Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh bring something different to the table, but head coach Mike Gundy must pick the right starting quarterback for this team to continue the success it has had on offense in recent years.
If he does not, it might be a tough season-opener against Mississippi State.
Worst Nightmare: The offense struggles in the absence of Chip Kelly
Even though this is not likely to happen, it would certainly be the worst nightmare for Oregon fans.
The high-powered offense has been what has made Oregon so successful in recent seasons, and even though the group will likely not miss a beat with Chip Kelly having moved on, if it slows down at all, it could be a very disappointing year in Eugene.
Good thing for Oregon fans is this worst nightmare might be a little far-fetched.
Worst Nightmare: The Beavers start quick and fade fast
Looking at the Oregon State schedule, it is very easy to assume that this team could be 7-0 heading into a game against Stanford at the end of October.
The bad news for the Beavers is the final five games of the season are the toughest on the schedule.
In addition to Stanford, the Beavers follow that up with USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon.
A fast start and a slow finish is certainly on the mind of head coach Mike Riley.
Worst Nightmare: A letdown in 2013
Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien did as good a job as just about anybody could, guiding the Nittany Lions to an 8-4 record in a season filled with scrutiny.
Now he has the unenviable job of trying to do it again.
That is not going to be an easy task, as a letdown is almost certainly on the horizon.
While there are some talented players on the roster, there is no way that this team has what it takes to win as many games as it did a season ago.
But, stranger things have happened.
Worst Nightmare: The Panthers crumble in the ACC
This does not appear to be a good time for Pittsburgh to be upgrading conferences.
The Panthers not only lost most of their skill position players, but the decision by running back Rushel Shell to transfer to UCLA certainly will not help.
Throw in a game against Florida State to kick off the season, and it could be a losing campaign for head coach Paul Chryst and his squad.
Worst Nightmare: The defense underperforms like 2012
Purdue came on strong at the end of last season to reach a bowl game, but the Boilermakers still struggled on the defensive side of the ball last year.
They finished the season 89th in the country, allowing over 31 points a game.
That is going to have to change if this team plans on getting back to a bowl game, particularly with Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Northern Illinois looming outside of conference play.
Worst Nightmare: The defense regresses
Rice was another team that came on strong toward the end of last season, qualifying for a bowl game.
That was due in large part to the defense, which improved as the year progressed. Still, the group allowed 30 points a game, which was only good for 79th in the country.
If the defense plays like it did at the beginning of 2012, it could be long year for the Owls.
Worst Nightmare: Savon Huggins is a bust
The departure of running back Jawan Jamison early to the NFL draft was certainly something that was not expected. Now the Rutgers Scarlet Knights will have to try to find a way to win without him.
Junior Savon Huggins is the man in line to replace Jamison, and a lot is riding on his shoulders.
The Rutgers offense struggled enough as it was last season, and if Huggins cannot carry the load, this team could regress big-time in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: The passing game is even worse than last season
San Diego State was very successful last season, winning nine games. The Aztecs did it with an excellent running game.
Quarterback Ryan Katz was solid, but nothing special. Running back Adam Muema carried the load, rushing for nearly 1,500 yards.
If the passing game does not improve, it is hard to imagine this team putting together the season it did last year.
Worst Nightmare: David Fales does not repeat his performance from 2012
Not many people know about him, but David Fales was one of the best quarterbacks in the country last season. He passed for 4,193 yards with 33 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.
That helped lead San Jose State to an 11-2 record.
If he is unable to duplicate that in 2013, it will not be as successful of a season for San Jose State as the Spartans had in 2012.
Worst Nightmare: How to develop a rushing game
Even with Zach Line rushing for over 1,200 yards in 2012, the Mustangs still only finished 95th in the country at 132 yards a game.
With Line now gone, it might even be a little more difficult for SMU to run the football.
Head coach June Jones will need to find a more balanced attack to succeed in a new conference, particularly with Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU out of conference.
Worst Nightmare: The offense is as bad as last season
South Alabama is one of the newest FBS teams, and it showed in 2012. The Jaguars finished the year 2-11 and only averaged 18.5 points a game, ranking 117th in the nation.
If the Jaguars are going to win more than the two games they did a season ago, the offense is going to need to improve, particularly the rushing game.
There are a few winnable games on the schedule, but it is looking like it could be another long season for South Alabama.
Worst Nightmare: Jadeveon Clowney goes down with an injury
There is no question that the health of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be on the mind of head coach Steve Spurrier all summer and into the season.
He is a lock to be one of the top picks in the draft if he stays healthy, and Spurrier will be very interested in keeping him healthy, not only for his future, but for the success of the team.
An injury early in the season to Clowney would certainly be a nightmare for this team.
Worst Nightmare: Struggling to the finish once again
Even though South Florida welcomes a new head coach in Willie Taggart and a lot of new players on both sides of the ball, the Bulls certainly enter the season with that all too familiar feeling of just how the past few years ended.
The Bulls have struggled down the stretch the past few years. No season was more evident than 2012, where they finished the year 3-9.
Things might be a little different with a new head coach and a new quarterback in 2013, but it certainly has to be on the mind of Taggart as the season approaches.
Worst Nightmare: A repeat of last season
It was a downright awful season for Southern Miss in 2012, as the Golden Eagles were the only team at the FBS level not to win a game.
New head coach Todd Monken struggled in his first year running the program, and while it is not likely that 2013 will be as bad as 2012, it would be an absolute nightmare if it were.
Odds are Southern Miss will at least win a game or two in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Kevin Hogan struggles at quarterback
When freshman Kevin Hogan took over at quarterback for Stanford midway through the 2012 season, it proved to be the turning point for the Cardinal.
While Hogan performed well, the jury might still be out on him.
He will be relied on much more this season with running back Stepfan Taylor having moved on, as well as his top targets at tight end.
We will see just what he is made of in 2013, when he is forced to throw the ball down the field.
Worst Nightmare: Losing the first two games of the season
Syracuse not only has to find a way to move on without quarterback Ryan Nassib, but the Orange are also entering the much more challenging ACC.
The nonconference slate is not going to be easy either, and the Orange will be challenged from the outset of the season.
A game against Penn State kicks off the season, followed by a road contest against Northwestern.
No doubt the schedule will be very challenging for the Orange.
Worst Nightmare: Casey Pachall does not return to old form
For a team as talented as TCU, the season might hinge on the play of quarterback Casey Pachall.
He missed the final nine games of the season in 2012, and the Horned Frogs only managed to win three of those games.
Playing in the Big 12 certainly proved to be a challenge, but freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin was not quite playing at the level of Pachall.
The Horned Frogs will need him to return to form to live up to their top-25 ranking.
Worst Nightmare: Not being able to run the football
Temple excelled last year at running the football, but the Owls will have to do it this year without Montel Harris and Matt Brown.
With how much the Owls struggled in the passing game, they are going to need continued help from the running back position.
It could be a long season in Philadelphia for the Owls if the passing game does not improve.
Worst Nightmare: The skill players do not develop
Not many teams lost more as far as skill players are concerned than the Tennessee Volunteers.
Not only did quarterback Tyler Bray leave early, but new head coach Butch Jones will also have to find new wide receivers for the departed Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and Zach Rogers.
Throw in the loss of tight end Mychal Rivera and this team has some playmakers to find.
Hopefully, for the sake of the Vols, those players develop.
Worst Nightmare: Not living up to the hype
Texas will once again be picked to finish near the top of the Big 12, and with how favorable the schedule is, this team should be able to win the Big 12 if quarterback David Ash can live up to expectations.
The Longhorns are fortunate enough to get Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home, but have two tough nonconference games at BYU and at home against Ole Miss.
It seems like Mack Brown has enough talent to contend every season, but the team never puts it all together.
This has to be the year where that happens.
Worst Nightmare: An injury to Johnny Manziel
We all know about the success Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel had last season, and with how much talent the Aggies have coming back, this could be a team contending for the national championship.
The only thing that could possibly derail those expectations would be an injury to Manziel.
He is irreplaceable, and head coach Kevin Sumlin certainly knows that. Keeping him healthy will be a top priority.
Worst Nightmare: Losing the season-opener
Texas State posted a 4-8 record during its first season at the FBS level, and if the Bobcats want to improve on that mark, they will need to win the season-opener at Southern Miss.
Southern Miss was unable to win a game all of last season, and the Golden Eagles will certainly be very hungry coming into 2013.
A loss to them would not be a good way to start the season for the Bobcats.
Worst Nightmare: Seth Doege proves to be irreplaceable
Seth Doege had quite a career for the Red Raiders, particularly over the past two years. He threw for over 4,000 yards in each of those seasons, with 67 touchdowns and 26 picks over that span.
That is not going to be easy to replace, and if the Red Raiders plan on returning to a bowl game, they are going to need to get production from the quarterback position.
This passing offense relies heavily on its quarterback, and that will likely even be the case under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Worst Nightmare: Getting off to a slow start
Toledo returns some firepower on the offensive side of the ball, and the Rockets will be one of the favorites to finish near the top of the MAC.
One thing the team has to be worried about is getting off to a slow start.
The Rockets take on Florida and Missouri to kick off the season. Both games are on the road, and it is a very challenging way to kick off the season.
Worst Nightmare: Struggling again on defense in 2013
Troy only won five games last season, and part of the reason for the struggles was the defensive side of the ball.
The Trojans allowed 30.5 points per game, ranking 84th in the country. The offense held up its end of the bargain, averaging 30.6 points a game, but the defense does not want a repeat performance in 2013.
If there are some improvements on that side of the ball, this team could be back in the bowl conversation.
Worst Nightmare: The running game actually regresses in 2013
Not many teams were worse rushing the football in 2012 than Tulane. The Green Wave ranked 123rd in the country, averaging fewer than 40 yards on the ground a game.
That was part of the reason why the Green Wave only won two games last season.
If that happens again in 2013, there is a chance this team will only win a game or two this coming season.
Worst Nightmare: Getting through a challenging nonconference slate
Tulsa will be one of the best teams in Conference USA this season, but the Golden Hurricane will need to get through a challenging nonconference slate before attempting to win the league.
The running game propelled the team last season, and that is likely to be the case once again.
The season opens with a road game against Bowling Green followed by a home date with Colorado State.
After that, in-state rival Oklahoma comes calling. That road game is followed up by a home contest with Iowa State.
Worst Nightmare: The defense struggles once again
The UAB defense was one of the worst in the country last season, allowing 37.5 points a game, which ranked 114th in the country.
It was also a struggle for UAB in the rushing game, but defense is where some improvements are certainly needed.
If they do not show progression on that side of the ball, it could be another double-digit-loss season for the Blazers in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: A sophomore slump for Brett Hundley
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was excellent last season as a redshirt freshman, and he will be counted on even more heavily this season with running back Johnathan Franklin having moved on.
Franklin was a big part of that offense, rushing for over 1,700 yards, and Hundley is going to face a huge challenge moving on without him.
This could be a critical year in the development of Hundley and the continued progress of the Bruins.
Worst Nightmare: Finishing worse in 2013 than 2012
UNLV was one of the worst teams in the country in 2012, and with the way the schedule is set up, it could be another very challenging year in 2013.
The Rebels take on the likes of Minnesota, Arizona and Central Michigan to start off the season.
Throw in some very challenging competition in the Mountain West and it could be another down year for the Rebels in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Neither quarterback pans out
With Matt Barkley having departed for the NFL, the quarterback competition at USC is probably between sophomore Max Wittek and freshman Max Browne.
If either of these two pan out, it could be an excellent year for the Trojans in 2013.
But if neither of these players lives up to the hype, it could be another very challenging season for USC.
Worst Nightmare: More struggles in the passing game
The career-ending injuries to quarterback Jordan Wynn really set the Utah program back last season.
That was part of the reason why the Utes finished 100th in the country, averaging just over 190 yards per game through the air.
There are some serious challenges on the schedule, with Utah State and BYU out of conference.
This team will certainly need more production from that position in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Chuckie Keeton struggles without Kerwynn Williams
Utah State had quite a combination last season in quarterback Chuckie Keeton and running back Kerwynn Williams.
The two helped lead an explosive offense to an 11-2 record.
Williams has moved on, and Keeton will now be forced to handle the ball a little more. The worst nightmare for this team would be Keeton not being able to handle the extra workload.
Worst Nightmare: The offense struggles once again
Few teams in the country were worse offensively than UTEP last year. The Miners only averaged 21.2 points a game, which ranked 102nd in the nation.
If the Miners have any hope of improving on the three wins they posted a year ago, they are going to have to find some more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
If that does not happen, it could be another long year in Conference USA for this squad.
Worst Nightmare: Succumbing to a much more challenging schedule
UTSA was an FBS school in 2012, but the Roadrunners played a fair amount of lower-level competition, and that was the main reason why the team finished the year 8-4.
In 2013 the nonconference slate features Oklahoma State and Arizona, among others.
Throw in the fact that UTSA is joining Conference USA, and it would be hard to imagine this team winning more than a couple of games in 2013.
Worst Nightmare: Moving in the wrong direction in 2013
Vanderbilt is a team similar to Northwestern in that it has to continue to move in the right direction to hold onto the momentum it picked up last year.
The Commodores won nine games a season ago, but in the SEC it is hard to sustain that high level of success.
Head coach James Franklin needs to continue to build momentum in 2013 and beyond.
Worst Nightmare: Nonconference schedule proves to be too difficult
Virginia struggled last season, only managing four wins the entire year. If the defense does not improve, it could be a very challenging year once again.
The schedule is not doing head coach Mike London many favors, as the Cavaliers start off the season with home games against BYU and Oregon.
Throw in Ball State a few weeks later, and this is one of the most challenging nonconference schedules of any team in the country.
Worst Nightmare: Logan Thomas plays like he did in 2012
Most people know just how talented quarterback Logan Thomas is, but that was not on display during the 2012 season.
The Hokies quarterback regressed during his junior campaign, and will need to return to the form he possessed as a sophomore in 2011.
If he plays like he did two years ago, this could be a very dangerous team, but if he returns to last season's form it could be another long year for the Hokies.
Worst Nightmare: The offense performs worse than last season
Wake Forest did not qualify for a bowl games last season, and the main reason was because the Demon Deacons struggled on the offensive side of the ball.
The team ranked 116th in the country in both rushing yards and points scored. Averaging only 18.5 points a game is a number that is going to have to be improved upon drastically if the Demon Deacons plan on returning to a bowl game.
The nonconference slate should offer a chance for that to happen.
Worst Nightmare: Getting off to another slow start
The Washington Huskies started off the 2012 season very slow, and if they plan on improving on last season's 7-6 record, they are going to have to get off to a faster start.
That is going to be easier said than done, as Boise State kicks off the season for the Huskies.
Another slow start and head coach Steve Sarkisian could find himself on the hot seat by the middle of the year.
Worst Nightmare: The running game is as bad as 2012
No team at the FBS level rushed for fewer yards than Washington State in 2012.
The Cougars only averaged 29.1 yards per carry. While Mike Leach and his squad certainly love to throw the ball around, they are going to have to get a better performance from the running game in 2013.
That is the only way this team is going to improve on the 3-9 record it posted a season ago.
Worst Nightmare: The offensive explosion disappears
We all know just how bad West Virginia was on the defensive side of the ball in 2012, but with how much talent the Mountaineers lost when it comes to offense, it is hard to imagine that group not taking a huge step back as well.
The losses of quarterback Geno Smith, along with wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, could make this a very challenging season in Morgantown.
If head coach Dana Holgorsen cannot find some playmakers quickly, it could be an awful year for his squad.
Worst Nightmare: The passing game gets even worse
Western Kentucky is a team that loves to run the football, and they have the perfect running back in Antonio Andrews to do just that.
The problem for the Hilltoppers on offense is the passing game. The team finished 92nd in the country, averaging only 205.2 yards per game through the air.
This year, with a new starting quarterback, that number might even get a little worse. If that happens, a losing record might be on the horizon.
Worst Nightmare: Getting off to a very slow start
Western Michigan only won four games last season, and it might be tough sledding early on in 2013.
The Broncos start off the year against Michigan State, and after a winnable game against Nicholls State, they take on Northwestern and Iowa, followed by Kent State and Toledo.
That is not an easy schedule by any stretch of the imagination, and getting off to a slow start almost seems likely.
Worst Nightmare: Running the ball is not as easy without Bret Bielema
Wisconsin has always been near the top of the country when it comes to running the football, but with former head coach Bret Bielema having moved on to Arkansas, it might not be a guarantee that the running success will continue.
There are certainly plenty of talented backs for the Badgers, but will the scheme be the same in 2013 as it has been the past few seasons under new head coach Gary Andersen?
Stay tuned, as this could be a very interesting development.
Worst Nightmare: The defense is just as bad as last season
Wyoming was one of the worst defensive teams in the country last season, allowing 33.4 points a game, which ranked 99th in the nation.
The Cowboys only managed to win four games last season, and if the team is going to improve on that this season, they are going to have to get a better performance from the defensive side of the ball.
That is easier said than done, however.