The college football preseason polls are fun for debate, but they often look foolish by the end of the season.
A year ago at this time, Florida State was not considered a top-10 team and Auburn did not even get a vote in the AP Poll. By January, these two teams were competing for the national championship, which was eventually won by the Seminoles.
While Florida State will not sneak up on anyone this season, there are other teams looking to surprise the nation with great performances in 2014.
Here is a complete look at the preseason Amway Coaches Poll with a breakdown of the squads who are way too low on the list.
No. 10 Baylor
Baylor had the No. 1 offense in the nation last season, scoring an incredible 52.4 points per game. While some of the weapons have moved on, quarterback Bryce Petty is back in action and ready to lead the team to an even better season this year.
Petty finished 2013 as the No. 2 quarterback in the nation in efficiency, trailing only Heisman winner Jameis Winston. He totaled 4,200 passing yards and an outstanding 32 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
If that was not enough, the quarterback also added 14 touchdowns on the ground to prove his versatility.
While some might call Petty a system player, NFL draft analysts like Benjamin Allbright believe the quarterback is a quality prospect:
Bryce Petty is far and away my top Senior QB. Sean Mannion a grudging #2.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) July 17, 2014
As long as Petty plays to his potential, the offense should be as good as last season. The question is whether the defense can handle its end of the bargain.
Linebacker Bryce Hager does not think this will be a problem. The All-Big 12 player is confident he can be a leader for a great unit, explaining to Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated:
My first year, I didn’t know what was going on. I was confused, frustrated and having second thoughts about things. Now, the game itself is so much slower compared to practice. It really helps.
What our offense has is really special. But last year, I think our defense did a very good job of stepping up when needed.
The group has plenty of playmakers who will make a difference for what should be a national title contender in 2014.
No. 15 USC
Although USC went through an up-and-down season in 2013, the squad still won 10 games, including a bowl win over Derek Carr and Fresno State. There is obviously a lot of talent on the roster, but Lane Kiffin struggled to get the most out of his players.
New head coach Steve Sarkisian has done a better job of this in the past and is hoping that he can create a culture change for a once-dominant program.
It all begins with quarterback Cody Kessler. The junior passed for almost 3,000 yards last season with 20 touchdowns, but inconsistency led to doubts over his ability to lead the offense. If he can put the work in, though, he has the potential to be a quality leader for this offense.
He is certainly setting his sights high for the upcoming season:
"My main goal is to establish myself as an elite QB not just in the conference but throughout the country." -USC QB Cody Kessler #pac12fb— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) July 23, 2014
Both Javorius Allen and Nelson Agholor should take big jumps this year to help Kessler out offensively, finally catching up to a defense that carried the load for most of last season.
Although the Pac-12 should be tough with Oregon, UCLA and other elite squads, the Trojans will be right there in the hunt for a conference title.
No. 19 Ole Miss
A year ago, Ole Miss was a young but talented team trying to compete in the challenging SEC West. While the division has not gotten any easier, the Rebels have gotten better.
Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports believes this team could be a top squad if Bo Wallace lives up to his potential:
Think Ole Miss has makings of top 20 team but am I hopping on Bo Wallace train? Undecided. Sounds convincing when he says mechanics fixed— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) July 31, 2014
He will certainly get plenty of help in the form of receiver Laquon Treadwell. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller is excited about the young player's potential:
Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell is up 15 lbs of muscle, per Hugh Freeze. That's 6'3", 230 lbs for one of the nation's best wide outs.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) July 17, 2014
Meanwhile, the rest of the underclassmen who played a big role last season will all hope to improve, starting with defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. He will anchor a unit that should be able to compete with Alabama, LSU and the rest of the division.
With Wallace becoming a leader as one of the few veteran quarterbacks in the conference, Ole Miss will surprise a lot of people with its play.
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