College Football Predictions 2011: Each BCS Conference's Surprise Team

Ryan KennedyAnalyst IIAugust 30, 2011

College Football Predictions 2011: Each BCS Conference's Surprise Team

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    Every season at least one team crashes the BCS party. Last season it was the University of Connecticut and Auburn University.

    There is no reason to think those teams will repeat those same feats.

    This season it doesn't look like there will be another breakout star like Cam Newton at Auburn last year, so odds are the teams that breakout will be due to a full team effort.

    These teams have those potential despite loses from last season or not having a true star.

    These are the teams to be on the lookout for this season.

ACC: Boston College

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    This argument almost starts and ends with Luke Kuechly.

    The star linebacker is the next in the line of Boston College defensive standout. The issue with BC is there offense which is consistently subpar.

    Fortunately for BC fans, the offense is on the rise. Montel Harris is the nation's leading returning rusher and with another solid season could not only land on the All-ACC team but be the ACC's all-time leading rusher.

    Chase Rettig, from training camp reports, is looking more comfortable leading the offense this year and could breakout.

    The key will be the BC defense. Never known for its offense, getting something extra from the offense will be a huge advantage from a defense that tends to be very stingy.

Big 12: Baylor

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Big East: Syracuse

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    The Syracuse Orange have finally looked like they are turning the corner.

    Quarterback Ryan Nassib showed significant growth last season and with four starters returning on the offensive line, there should be even more growth this season.

    They will certainly miss stud running back Delone Carter, but that might not be enough to hold them back this season. Backup Antwon Bailey is going to be called upon to step up big time to get the Orange back to a bowl game for the second year in a row.

    The Orange offense is reliant on the run so a strong offensive line should help Bailey grow into his role as a starter.

Big Ten: Michigan

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    The Rich Rodriguez era ended with less fizzle than bang. After a stunning start to the season, the Wolverines cooled off significantly.

    The biggest thing to watch will be Denard Robinson's transition to a pro-style offense.

    After operating in the spread where his running talents were showcased, Robinson will take a majority of snaps under center, hopefully he can make the adjustment.

    There are two areas for concern, running the ball and the defense.

    The defense should be improved with several players coming back healthy including  cornerback Troy Woolfolk and defensive tackle Mike Martin.

    The running game is a bit more difficult to gauge. Brady Hoke may need to let Robinson freelance from time to time as he is the offenses best weapon despite him not being a great fit for the offense.

Pac-12: UCLA

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    Rick Neuheisel is on the hot seat. This will likely be his last season if he cannot turn the program around.

    After his shots at USC, Neuheisel has looked foolish saying that he could take on USC, especially since posting a 0-3 record against the Trojans.

    The offense struggled last year and much of that could be attributed to poor play at the quarterback position.

    Jonathan Franklin was the one strong point of the offense, rushing for nearly 1,200 yards and should improve upon that in his sophomore season.

    The question is really Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut? Brehaut is the stronger of the two but neither will be in the Heisman race.

    Brehaut came on strong at the end oft he year with a four touchdown performance against ASU. If some of that carries over, Neuheisel may have a job next year.

SEC: Florida

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    With a new head coach, comes a new chance for quarterback John Brantley.

    Written off after his sub-par performance last season, Brantley had the difficult task of following former Univeristy of Florida star, Tim Tebow.

    More important to the Gators struggles was the locker room rift. The Gators have been open this season about how last year the upperclassmen felt they deserved more than might have earned.

    This season, Will Muschamp seems to be hell bent on making sure that does not happen again.

    The Gators have plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Jeff Demps, Mack Brown and Trey Burton head a three headed monster at running back.

    On the defensive side, Ronald Powell seems ready for a big breakout season.

    People are down on the Gators this year, but they have the talent and it looks like the coaching to crash the SEC party and play for a title this year.