College Football: 10 Teams That Won't Live Up to Early Season Hype
Often times, college football can be a fickle beast, be it due to injuries, schedule, or inopportune turnovers. Even the best teams can't quite get it done.
Just last year, we saw the defending champions from Alabama (with a loaded team) 'falter' with a 3-loss season. The team even blew a 24-0 lead and lost to their hated in-state rivals in their own stadium.
My oh my, how painful the greatest sport on the planet can be.
Should we expect anything less out of the 2011 season in college football?
Joy and heartbreak will riddle each and every week this year, just like it has in each and every week in years past.
So as we all look forward to the joyous preseason in which we all believe that all things will fall into place for our teams, I bring you the 10 teams that won't live up to their preseason hype.
Aaron Murray can flat-out play. He'll be even better as a Sophomore.
The problem is that AJ Green is not going to be catching his passes, and before AJ came back last year the Bulldogs were a dismal 1-3. They then lost to Colorado in Boulder—even with a splendid performance from Green.
This year, the 'Dawgs start out with a pretty tough schedule. They face Boise State in Atlanta and then Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks at home the following week.
Flourish or flounder is the name of the game here.
I have no problem believing that Georgia could win either or both of those games. They definitely have the talent, coaching, and ability.
My biggest problem is that the Bulldogs lost their true leaders on both sides of the ball—AJ Green on offense and Akeem Dent on defense. Justin Houston is a tougher loss than many would think, and Washaun Ealey leaves a once strong backfield looking very weak, and hasn't produced anything of note since Knowshon Moreno.
With a somewhat weak SEC East conference, Georgia is expected to contend with Atlanta for the SEC title. Unfortunately, I see them losing that chance in the 2nd week of the season and diminishing any hopes that they may be on the rise.
Sadly, I fully believe that Mark Richt is a very, very good coach. I also fully believe that this could be his last year in Athens.
Yes, my beloved Huskers fit into this list.
Early-season prognosticators have expect Nebraska to be in the top 10 to 15.
Fair enough. They'll play great defense, and keep most games within reach. However, they are digging into a new conference that can't wait to give them a 'come-uppance'-type call.
Taylor Martinez has shown himself to be great against poor defenses. He has also shown himself to be disastrous against good, or even average defenses.
In fact, in the Big 10, Nebraska will face average-to-good defenses on a weekly basis.
Can new Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck make the difference? Can the Huskers small-ish defense withstand the pounding of the Big 10?
Like Georgia, it is sink or swim as the Huskers take on Wisconsin and Ohio State in their first two games of their initial Big 10 season. Win both, and they could be National Title contenders. Lose one, and they could still contend for a Big 10 Championship.
One also can't forget non-conference games against the heady Fresno State and the Washington Huskies that whipped them in the Holiday Bowl either. Even before the Big 10 season starts, the Huskers could be reeling.
11-1, or maybe even 6-6? The very definition of boom or bust.
A single field goal.
That is all that separated Oregon from a National Title. Oh yeah, and those things they called Auburn and Cam Newton.
Paybacks are hell, right?
Unfortunately for Oregon, they lost the offensive spark plug and solid talents of Jeff Maehl.
3rd and anything, Maehl was the guy that bailed out Oregon time and time again. He may not have been a prototypical NFL player, but who is that prototypical NFL guy on the Ducks' roster? Maehl simply got it done.
Not only does Oregon lose the glue to their offense they lose the play-makers on the defensive side of the ball in Kenny Rowe and Casey Matthews. Play after play, those were the two men that really stepped up and kept the incredible Auburn offense in check in last year's National Title game as the offense sputtered.
I have little doubt that Chip Kelly will get that offense humming again, but I do question whether he'll find that 3rd down dependable guy that Jeff Maehl was last year at the WR position.
The Pac12 now knows what to expect. Oregon will get everybody's best effort to dethrone the champs that embarrassed quite a few teams that they pummelled just last year in conference play.
The Pac 12 is now a year older and a year better along with a conference championship game.
An early season game in Arlington, TX against LSU might just knock this crew down a bit as well.
7. Boise State
Kellen Moore is a solid quarterback. There is little doubt that over the past two years he has enjoyed hooking up with Austin Pettis and Titus Young on a number of completions.
Unfortunately for Kellen, his two favorite targets will no longer be on the receiving end of his deliveries in the coming season.
Doug Martin won't have a backup in Jeremy Avery either.
Boise State, a newfound mainstay in early-season top-10's, is entering elite territory. The big question, now, is whether or not they can reload like many other mainstays in college football.
'Reload' may be a bit of a stretch, as Boise plays a bunch of nobodies. But at the least, they face a middle-of-the-pack Georgia team in Atlanta during the first week of the season.
The reason that Boise State is on this list is that they actually play a somewhat of a schedule.
Their opponents other than Georgia include Tulsa, Air Force, San Diego State, and TCU. If the Broncos can run through that schedule undefeated, then they may well have earned a trip to a title game.
Then again, this is exactly why I have them on this list. They won't go undefeated. They won't win 11 games during the regular season, and they won't end up in the Top 10. A Top 25 team?
6. South Carolina
A drunk quarterback, and a coach more than willing to accept him back time and time again. If Steven Garcia is 'accepted' back, what kind of message does this send to the rest of the team?
Take away Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore and this is only an average football team.
South Carolina played well here and there last year, but when it really mattered most, they were dominated by Auburn in the SEC Championship game and were completely embarrassed by Florida State in their bowl game.
When all was said and done for South Carolina, it wasn't the offense that carried the team. It was the defense.
With significant losses on that side of the ball and teams in the SEC East on the rise, the Gamecocks will be lucky to finish the season with fewer than 3 losses in SEC play, even with a 'light' SEC schedule on the horizon.
5. Texas A&M
The last time we saw this team was when they got their stuff pushed in by LSU in the Cotton Bowl.
People should also remember that they were handled by Arkansas in their home state last year.
Sure, the Aggies made giant strides last year to be more competitive than they have ever been in the last 15 years. However, for them to be on anybody's Top 10 radar this preseason is more than ridiculous.
They have still yet to show that they can play defense, as seen in the 41 points they gave up to LSU. Yes, LSU. Further, Texas A&M also lost their best defensive player in Von Miller.
Although Texas A&M looks to be loaded on offense (which fits well with the Big 12), they still play Arkansas in the non-conference (loss) and then tangle with Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech—including road games against Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Expect at least 3 losses from a defensive-deficient Aggie squad and a finish well outside of the preseason magazine predictions.
Head coach Brett Bielema has built a solid structure at Wisconsin. It's very hard to argue with his success.
However, what he hasn't been able to do is reload and be a contender year in and year out. Brett has won 12, 9, 7, 10, and 11 games, respectively, in his first five years in Wisconsin.
The team has lost its biggest 'meat' in JJ Watt, Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt, Culmer St. Jean, and Lance Kendricks. It also hurts that the team has lost a 3-year starter at QB in the very heady Scott Tolzien.
James White and Montee Ball are back though, right? This is not good enough when teams can hammer down on the run and never worry about whomsoever may be throwing the football.
It also hurts that the defense lost its two best players and will not likely get any upfield push.
Of all the teams ranked in the preseason Top 15, I'm booking this one as a legit 4 to 5-loss team before the season ends.
3. Michigan State
Following an 11-2 season including a Big 10 conference title, most Spartan fans are looking for more of the same.
Sadly, that won't be the case.
Kirk Cousins is a nice QB. Edwin Baker, LeVeon Bell, and Larry Caper are good RB's. BJ Cunningham is a potential All Big 10 receiver and Keshawn Martin is speedy return man.
You also have to play defense, and you have to make first downs.
Greg Jones and Eric Gordon are gone on defense. And it wasn't as if the Spartans played great defense last year anyway. With only 6 returning starters, it is likely that Sparty will need to outscore its opponents.
Which leads to my next question: schedule.
- @ Notre Dame
- @ Ohio State
- @ Nebraska
- @ Iowa
And I didn't even include the game against Wisconsin.
I'll put out three losses for this team, if not more.
2. Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden were flat-out college football freaks last year. Kendall Hunter wasn't bad either.
However, Oklahoma State's defense gave up 409 plus yards per game along with over 26 points per game. Seven of the 13 teams they played scored 28 points or more.
Yes, Weeden and Blackmon will put up points. The question is whether the 'Pokes can stop anybody.
Sadly, defensive studs Orie Lemon, Ugo Chinasa, and Brandon McGee are gone, which means more points may be given up by the swiss cheese Oklahoma State defense.
We must also notice that Dana Holgorsen is no longer calling the shots from the sideline for the potent Cowboys offense.
Toss in this schedule:
- @ Tulsa
- @ Texas A&M
- @ Texas
- @ Missouri
- @ Texas Tech
I see at least 3 losses on this schedule, and the lack of defense will start to wear on this team.
Andrew Luck may well be the best player in the country, but his surrounding cast and coaching staff may not be able to live up to his billing.
The Cardinals look to be loaded offensively. The question whether they can stop anybody.
Andrew Luck is the wise guy, but don't forget about Stepfan Taylor, Chris Owusu, and Coby Fleener.
On second thought, we can walk home.
The Cardinal were the big surprise last year. Now, can they sustain that level of performance?
Without Harbaugh? Not likely. Coach David Shaw has his hands full as the first-year head coach at Stanford. Expectations are through the roof, and Jim Harbaugh is not around.
Throw in games at Arizona, at USC, at Oregon State, versus Oregon, and versus Notre Dame, and you have at team ready to fall from the top 5. Stanford gets this respect due to the respect they've earned. And now, it could all come crumbling down for them in a single season.