When one speaks of a school or team being overrated, the term "overrated" can mean many different things. It could mean that Team A’s ability to compete for a BCS bowl game is overrated or that a team’s chances at winning their respective division in a conference is blown out of proportion.
It is often up to the reader to decide for themselves what overrated means.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are the talk of the spring in the new-look Big 12. After finishing 9-4 a year ago, the Aggies are expected to do big things in 2011, but will they really? Year after year, the Aggies have been known to be a letdown. The throttling of Texas A&M at the hands of the offensively-deprived LSU in last year’s Cotton Bowl should be a sign of what’s to come in 2011.
They return on offense with QB Ryan Tannehill at the helm. The defense is suspect as the secondary still does not have the athletes necessary to compete with the big arms they will face in their conference.
Thus far, some post-spring Top 25 rankings have had the Aggies as high as No. 11 nationally. We even have them as No. 13. That is not the issue. The issue is that many people are expecting such grand things from a team that could finish fourth in their division.
With dates at Arkansas and at Oklahoma, as well as home bouts versus Oklahoma State and Texas, four regular season losses are not out of the question. The season opener versus SMU could be a barn-burner as well. The Aggies are on upset alert for that one. Also, don’t forget that Texas A&M is prone to an annual letdown versus an inferior opponent, whether it is SMU in 2011 or someone such as Missouri, Baylor, or Kansas State.
By pumping up Texas A&M as a potential BCS-worthy team is nonsense. Yes, they are talented enough, but by October the order of the top 25 will begin to work itself out. The Aggies, unless they can deliver in the big games, are likely to be on the outside looking in at a potential 10-win season; something that has eluded them for years now.
We know that the Tigers are the defending BCS National Champions and they will remain so until a new champ is crowned, but let’s get real—this is not the same team from a year ago. Losing QB Cam Newton on offense and DT Nick Fairley on defense will hurt this team tremendously.
In the slaughterhouse of the SEC, Auburn will have to fight uphill against Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State. They also have to play South Carolina, Florida, and non-conference foe Clemson.
The Tigers will still have a potent rushing attack with a two-headed monster consisting of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb. The quarterback situation is a mystery though. Head coach Gene Chizik has his hands full in deciding between Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley.
Last year’s success is still fresh in the memory of Auburn’s SEC rivals, so they will take some lumps and bruises this year. While it is not a bad thing that they are in a transition year, it is a bad thing for pundits to pump them up like they will be something special this year. With too many holes to fill, Auburn will be lucky to survive the SEC and come out with eight or nine wins in 2011.
The woes at Georgia continue to make things harder for head coach Mark Richt. As his seat continues to get hotter, the issues concerning the offense continue to worsen. Running back Washaun Ealey is no longer a ‘Dawg and Caleb King could potentially miss the 2011 season due to academic reasons.
The offensive line can be shaky at times and that will be worse if OT A.J. Harmon is out for the year due to academic reasons as well. QB Aaron Murray is a stout passer, but he can’t carry the load himself.
On the plus side, Georgia’s defense should be improved. Still, the offense might struggle scoring enough points to get Georgia over the top. Just think, amidst this offensive concern, we haven’t even mentioned the departure of WR A.J. Green. All in all, the Bulldogs will struggle to find ways to win. Last year’s 6-7 record was embarrassing, but what hurt even more was their 10-6 loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl.
Georgia runs a gauntlet in 2011, opening the season against Boise State and South Carolina. Fortunately for them, they do not have to play Alabama, Arkansas, or LSU. Still, anything better than eight wins will be impressive. If not, Mark Richt could be looking for a new job this winter.
The freshest face in the Big Ten is expected to come in and vie for a league title from the get-go. This will not happen. While Nebraska will win enough games to get a celebratory applause from fans in Lincoln, expect the tougher defenses of the Big Ten to close gaps much faster and hit harder than what Nebraska was used to in the Big 12 North.
QB Taylor Martinez will play a large role in how successful this team will be in 2011. The Big Ten did the Huskers no favors with their schedule either. Martinez will have to duck and dive as his team takes on Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan, and Iowa.
The defense will do its part, but it could be better if DT Jared Crick improves on his numbers from a year ago. Crick has the potential to be a Nick Fairley-like assassin in the trenches, but the big bodies of the Big Ten might thwart any reclaimed progress that might happen to occur.
All of this talk of Nebraska coming in and sweeping the league title out from under the likes of Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State is crazy talk. They might be a bit better than say Georgia or Auburn, but the fact of the matter is that they will have some growing pains in their new league.
Like I said, being overrated can mean a variety of things. The Bulls aren’t expected to compete for a national title but many expect them to be the team that can knock off West Virginia in the Big East. As far as 2011 is concerned, the BCS needs USF like Cam Newton needed some money from the Mississippi State boosters.
As far as the USF offense is concerned, it is overrated in itself. QB B.J. Daniels continues to impress at times while epically failing when it matters most. His tendency to struggle against stiff competition will ultimately do this team in.
With Notre Dame and Miami on tap, as well as the rest of the Big East schedule, look for USF to lose four or five games. In recent years, they have been a trendy pick to do some damage but, at the end of the day, they have failed in doing so. Expect nothing to change here except so-called experts’ jubilation about how USF could be a difference-maker in 2011.
Mike Stoops has done a great job out in the desert but another season like the last two is out of the question in 2011, even with QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner returning.
Arizona has to replace all five starting offensive linemen from a year ago. The defense is also expected to see some key changes as well.
More importantly, Arizona is likely to come out of September with just one win, versus Northern Arizona. Following their season opener versus the Lumberjacks, the Wildcats play at Oklahoma State followed by home stints versus Stanford and Oregon, then they travel to Los Angeles October 1 to do battle with the USC Trojans (1-4 anybody?).
Expecting anything out of Arizona this year is like being bad on purpose and truly expecting Santa to bring you a lump of coal. It just isn’t happening. As a matter of fact, Arizona and Santa have a lot in common—neither are for real.
New head coach Randy Edsall is coming into a program with a ton of potential. The Terps are coming off of a 9-4 season which was capped off by a bowl game blowout over the ECU Pirates. With so much potential offensively and defensively, the media is setting the Terps up for disaster this year.
The consensus is that Florida State and Virginia Tech will be the teams to beat in the ACC with Maryland trailing as a possible dark horse to stun the masses. Think again. Maryland has just three "gimmes" on their schedule (Towson, Virginia, Wake Forest). Their non-conference foes also include a talented Temple and West Virginia.
QB Danny O’Brien is set for a letdown season as a sophomore, and the running game will be tested early, especially in the opener versus Maryland. At the end of the day, after the shuffle, Maryland will be lost in translation as they are looking up at four or five other schools in the ACC.