Every season teams start with high hopes, only to get their bubbles burst, falling short of expectations or dealing with heartbreaking losses.
Well, I'm here to burst a few bubbles early.
Based on some of the polls I've read (ESPN, Rivals, Lindy's, Sporting News), I'll give my pick for the top five most disappointing college football teams of 2008.
Take notice that some of these teams will have decent years, but compared to their expectations right now, their seasons will fall very short.
For a perennial title contender, 7 to 8 wins is absolutely disappointing.
#5. Florida State Seminoles-
I've read some publications that have this team in the top 25.
What would give anybody any indication that this squad will be one of the best 25 this season?
Is it the phenomenal play of Drew Weatherford, who has never been the player people hoped for? Is it the numerous suspensions that the team has handed out as a result of the academic scandal from last winter? How about the lack of star power?
I understand that this is a down year in the ACC, but I see no reason to believe that Bobby Bowden can improve on last year's 7-6 mark. For a school that is a shadow of its former self, this season will be embarassing for a once proud program.
If 'Noles fans really think their team will qualify for a decent bowl, they are sadly mistaken.
#4. Arizona State Sun Devils-
Dennis Erickson helped this team to be one of the best stories of 2007, but the run stops here. For a team that is projected around the top ten in many lists I've read, I'm surprised that nobody is predicting a sophomore slump in Erickson's campaign at ASU.
Rudy Carpenter, who is already notorious for holding on to the ball too long, will have even more problems behind a line that returns only two starters. And staying healthy behind said line could be an issue as well.
Plus, this team will have a much harder schedule. As opposed to a relatively light load in '07, this year's version plays home games against Georgia, Oregon, and UCLA; with road games against Cal, USC, and rival Arizona. That's six potential tough matchups right there.
No doubt this team will be a respectable Pac-10 squad, to the tune of seven or eight wins and a decent bowl, but second in the Pac-10 and a top 15 finish is definitely not in my crystal ball.
#3. Michigan Wolverines-
This is a team that is used to contending for a Big 10 title and national championship, so this transition year into the Rich Rodriguez reign will definitely fall short of what "Big Blue" fans are used to.
They have almost no carryover from the Lloyd Carr era. Only three starters on offense return, and with a new, complicated system to learn, the spread offense might take years to get running.
Nine starters on D are coming back to Ann Arbor, but the D was the main problem last season in the games they lost. They might improve, but probably won't be able to carry the load for an offense that won't put up consistent numbers.
The fact of the matter is, with question marks all over the field, and a new coaching staff in town, the Wolverines are looking at a long season that includes games at Notre Dame, Penn State, and Ohio State; and at home versus Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan State.
For a team that was brokenhearted over a 9-4 end to the Carr era, a five or six loss season will definitely disappoint fans at the Big House.
#2. Kansas Jayhawks
Ah, where to begin.
Am I biased against the Jayhawks? Yes. But are they due for a huge letdown if they are looking to get double digit wins and a top 15 finish? Hell yes.
Where to start? First of all, gone are Brandon McAnderson, Anthony Collins, James McClinton, and Aqib Talib. All of these guys were stars that quietly shone for Kansas, and their holes won't be filled easily. So while KU didn't lose a lot of starters, they lost some big ones.
Second, they actually have to play somebody this season. Last year, their only regular season game against a .500 club was their 36-28 beatdown from Mizzou. And that game wasn't as close as the score might make you think.
This season, with games at South Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and the Mizzou game in Kansas City, they already have four hard road games. Add in home games against Texas Tech, Texas, and rival K-State, and this team could lose five or six games easily.
Kansas had a phenomenal season in 2007, but the party is over for the Jayhawks in 2008. It will be put up or shut up time in the Big 12. KU will have a target on their back during the fall for the first time ever, and they'll have to play at a tremendous clip to keep up with Missouri in the North.
If Rock Chalkers really think this team will threaten for another BCS bowl and win over nine games, they've got another thing coming. There's no way this team has a repeat of 2007.
#1. Louisiana State Tigers-
The tradedy in Baton Rouge started early this spring when superstar QB Ryan Perrilloux was booted for numerous team violations. Now the team will be led by Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch, or unproven freshman Jarrett Lee. That spells trouble for a team that has had a talented signal caller for years.
This is a school that almost always reloads instead of rebuilds, but this defense only returns four starters from a stellar unit. The D may gel and be spectacular once again, but excess pressure from a struggling offense may lead to more trouble than they can handle.
Lastly, a schedule that features App State, and the typical SEC bruisers (Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama) might finally bare its teeth. Last year, several close calls allowed the Tigers to win a national championship. Les Miles probably won't be that lucky come the fall.
For a school that is always one of the most talented in the country, the future looks bright. But one wonders if the constant flight of players to the NFL, and the suspension of their best returning player, will lead this team to a subpar, possible .500, hiccup of a season.
Only time can tell, but this season probably won't be one that Tiger fans will remember fondly. Not because they will get blown out a lot or be terrible - but for the purple and gold, only a national title crown is satisfactory.
These picks are certainly subjective, and there might be more possibilities. Some might think Georgia will inevitably get eaten alive by it's tough SEC schedule. Ohio State and Oklahoma will surely be disappointed if they can't get over their respective BCS humps. Some might even turn the tables, and say my Missouri team is destined for a let down, with such high hopes for this year.
Leave your comments. They are greatly enjoyed and appreciated. I'm Peter Fleischer. Thanks for reading.
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