10 CFB Players, Coaches and Programs with a Chance at Redemption in 2013
This list features 10 coaches, players or programs that have the chance to redeem themselves in 2013.
No religious implications here: Simple football redemption is what we speak of, the kind that means a great season and a chance to make difficult memories go away.
For Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins, it means a chance to return to 2011 form.
For Todd Graham, head coach of Arizona State, it means an opportunity to prove he can succeed at the highest level of college football.
2013 is shaping up to be another fantastic football season; watch for these 10 to make a run at redemption in the middle of the excitement.
10. Oregon Ducks
Quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks were one overtime loss away from the national championship game in 2012. Cut down in the next-to-last game of the regular season by Stanford, the Ducks wound up playing Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl instead.
While not anything to sneeze at, the Fiesta Bowl is not the ultimate end game for the Ducks.
Since Chip Kelly rejuvenated the program with his speedy style and uptempo offense, the Ducks have not missed a BCS game.
However, in spite of boasting one of the best records in football over the past four years, the team has not won a BCS title.
2013 is their last chance. Stanford appears to be the Ducks' strongest competitor again in 2013, and with a win against the Cardinal, their biggest hurdle to an undefeated season would be cleared.
Outside of the UCLA and Stanford games, there are not any teams on the schedule that will be ranked when they face Oregon, and with wins over those two Pac-12 foes, the Ducks will be well on their way to an undefeated season.
9. Michael Bennett, WR, Georgia
When Georgia wide receiver Michael Bennett suffered a severe ACL injury in practice early in October 2012, it was a big blow to the Georgia passing game.
At the time, he was the team's leading receiver, with 345 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Thus far in 2013, his recovery is progressing nicely, and Bennett is set to plug back in to what should be a fantastic Georgia offense.
Through no fault of his own, he missed the majority of the 2012 season.
Expect him to make up for it in a big way this year.
8. Mack Brown, Head Coach, Texas
Mack Brown is at an interesting crossroads in his career.
The grace he has been afforded after winning the BCS title in the middle of the last decade is slowly running dry, as Texas has been no better than average for the past few seasons. After going a pedestrian 22-16 over the past three seasons and not reaching a BCS game since 2009, Brown's seat has been growing progressively warmer.
This is the year Brown has a chance to prove he is still one of the elite coaches in football leading an elite program.
Texas is loaded with returning starters, the Big 12 race is wide open, and the Longhorns have a schedule that will cement them as one of the best teams in the nation if they can muddle their way through it.
7. Todd Graham, Head Coach, Arizona State
Don't look now, but Arizona State is going to be a legit contender for the Pac-12 crown in 2013.
Head coach Todd Graham's move to Arizona State was a media nightmare, due to his unceremonious departure from Pitt after only one 6-6 season.
After watching his team jump out to a solid 8-5 record in 2013, including a bowl win, Graham has a shot to prove that his move to ASU was a smart one.
The Sun Devils are stacked with talent, led by all-everything defensive lineman Will Sutton, and a double-digit win total in 2013 would cement Graham's decision, though not popular, as a good one.
6. Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Logan Thomas was a mess in 2012.
His completion percentage dropped from 60 percent in 2011 to 51 percent last season. He threw six more interceptions last year than in 2011, and every time the Hokies played on national television in 2012, he struggled to maintain any form of consistency, much like LeBron James' hairline has struggled over the past decade.
So who shows up in 2013: the much-hyped, uber-talented athlete with Heisman potential or the interception-prone hot mess we saw in 2012?
The Hokies do not have a ton of offensive talent around him, but Thomas has to get better this season, because he certainly can't get worse.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State is being labeled all across the nation as overrated heading into 2013. This could be due to the fact that the Buckeyes are a legitimate threat to run the table for the second consecutive season and actually impact the postseason.
Say what you will about the Buckeyes' schedule in 2013, but Texas A&M and Alabama's are not much better.
The schedule is certainly favorable, but there are other issues to take into consideration.
Urban Meyer is capable and has been there before. The man knows what he is doing.
Braxton Miller is a skilled quarterback with the ability to win a game by himself.
The Ohio State defense is shaping up to be extremely talented in 2013 and will be one of the best in the nation next season.
A 12-0 record is nothing to sneeze at, and the only team to finish 2012 without a blemish has the potential to do so again in 2013.
4. Al Golden, Head Coach, Miami
In Al Golden's first season at Miami, the team failed to post a winning record (6-6) for the first time since 1979.
For each of his two seasons with the program, the team has been under a self-imposed postseason ban.
None of this can be laid at his feet, as both issues are due to struggles brought about by the Nevin Shapiro scandal.
2013 is a big year for Golden and the Miami Hurricanes. Nineteen starters are returning, Golden has been recruiting well, and the postseason bans will be gone.
The ACC Coastal Division is up for grabs, and on paper, Miami has the talent to win the division without much difficulty. With a few breaks, a very special season is in the cards.
For Golden, who walked into a difficult and messy situation at Miami, it's about time.
3. Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Henry Josey will be back on the field for Missouri in 2013, and that thought should terrify opponents.
Josey missed all of last season and is taking the field with a reconstructed knee after suffering a brutal injury in 2011.
If he returns to anything approaching that season's form, he will be one of the best backs in the SEC.
For 10 games that season, the man averaged more than eight yards per carry and scored nine rushing touchdowns.
2013 is a chance for him to return to the field with a vengeance.
2. Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
2012 was a difficult season for Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
After catching 82 passes in his first season as a Tiger, Watkins' sophomore slump was the stuff of legend.
It started with a two-game suspension due to an arrest for possession of marijuana. When the smoke cleared, Watkins, who caught 12 touchdown passes in 2011, only caught three last season, and the focus of the passing offense had shifted to DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins is now gone, star quarterback Tajh Boyd returns, and Watkins appears to be ready to take over a leadership role in 2013.
With renewed focus and an able arm to toss him the ball, Watkins will rebound with a huge season for Clemson in 2013.
1. The Big Ten
The Big Ten is a joke. The conference has flailed about aimlessly during bowl season the past few years, and Jadeveon Clowney's monster hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith is just a sample of what has been happening to the conference on a regular basis for some time now.
The conference that features three of the premier programs in college football history and untold tradition has gone a ridiculous 9-16 in bowl games over the past three seasons.
The conference has struggled in BCS games—looking at you here, Wisconsin—and there has not been an elite team from the conference that has made the postseason in two years.
That could all change in 2013. Ohio State is legit and has a shot at running the table for the second consecutive season.
Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan and—yes, Northwestern—all have the talent to finish with double-digit win totals.
Should Ohio State dominate and make the BCS title game, the conference has a chance to redeem the last decade or so of futility, particularly if the teams already listed can win a bowl game.
It is a slim chance, but a chance nonetheless, and one the Big Ten sorely needs.
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