College Football Preview: Five Ranked Teams Likely To Disappoint In 2009
It’s College Football time again and expectations are running rampant. It’s the time of the year where every team is undefeated and it seems as if the sky is the limit for programs with lofty expectations.
Every year it seems as if plenty of highly touted teams fall short and become disappointments.
The teams on this list each face high expectations, wether it be a National Championship or a vastly improved record and inclusion in the national spotlight.
Here are five teams in the AP top 25 poll that I feel will fall short of expectations this year.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 5 in the AP preseason poll and have high expectations after starting last year 12-0 and spending some quality time with the No. 1 ranking.
Bama will have to replace it’s starting QB and most productive RB. Only four starters are returning for the Tide on offense. Perhaps most importantly, the Tide lose three starters from the offensive line.
Bama does have nine starters returning on defense and the unit is expected to be among the nation’s best.
The Crimson Tide will stay relevant with stingy D and ball control, but I predict the Nick Saban era comes back to earth and Bama loses two out of the three games against Virginia Tech, Mississippi, or LSU.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Is this the year the Buckeyes finally bridge the gap, beating college football’s elite teams to take home the National Championship? The Buckeyes came close last year, losing in heartbreaking fashion to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, and will get another chance early in the year with a revenge spot against USC at home. Ohio State has suffered at the hands of the power teams recently, losing to Texas, USC, and twice in the BCS Championship game against Florida and LSU.
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 6 in the AP preseason poll. Terrell Pryor should improve but will be working with seven new starters on offense and The Bucks lose top playmakers Malcom Jenkins and James Laurinaitis on defense.
Ohio State also has to travel to Happy Valley to tangle with Penn State. While the Buckeyes have consistently recruited among the nation’s best, history has shown they fall short against the top programs, and there is nothing to suggest the trend will stop this year.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys are this years trendy top 10 pick and also appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated preview edition ranked No. 7.
Much of the pre-season love can be attributed to the offense which finished 2008 ranked No. 6 and figures to be even more prolific this year with super triplets QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, and WR Dez Bryant all returning.
The offense will be plenty potent but it could be the D that holds this team back. The secondary ranked 109th in passing yards last year and returns only one starter. Overall, the defense finished 2008 ranked 93rd. Defensive guru Bill Young has been brought in to fix the defense, but I question if the talent level exists to make major improvements.
Also standing in the way of Oklahoma State’s dream season is an intimidating schedule. Not only do the Cowboys have to play both Oklahoma and Texas, they open with Georgia on Sept 5.
If they survive a battle with the Dawgs, they face a Houston Cougars team on Sept 12 that gained over 400 yards in every game last year. The Cowboys will also go up against a revenge minded Missouri and the always potent offense of Texas Tech.
The Utes are riding high from last years undefeated season and No. 2 ranking but lose Mountain West offensive player of the year in 2008, QB Brian Johnson. This year they are ranked 19th in the AP poll.
The Utes return only four starters on offense but retain seven defensive starters. The defense should be the strength of the team even though the secondary was gutted, losing both CB’s to the NFL.
Juco QB transfer Terrance Cain will try and take some pressure off of the D but I predict Utah will lose on the road to both TCU and BYU. The Utes also face non conference games at Oregon and home against Louisville.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame has been in the top of the recruiting rankings since Charlie Weis arrived in South Bend but have consistently disappointed. Notre Dame is ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and appears to be loaded with talent and poised for a breakout season on paper.
The Irish are particularly loaded at the offensive skill positions but is the OL is the strength or weakness of this team? The Irish have 8-of-10 offensive lineman returning to the team and all were highly recruited, but they have had trouble keeping QB Jimmy Clausen upright. If the line can’t hold up, the Irish will fail miserably and failure means the Charlie Weis era will come to a close.
It’s anyones guess if the defense will improve but highly respected coach John Tenuta, formerly with blitz-crazed Georgia Tech, has been brought in to call the signals and the unit should improve.
The Irish also feature a much easier schedule this time around but will be tested right out of the gate by a tough Nevada team in the season opener. Weiss’s team better prepare for the Wolfpack or their season could be over before it has a chance to gain any momentum.
If they lose to Nevada or even struggle, the critics will dig in like sand fleas and will be nearly impossible to remove for the the entirety of the season.