In college football you sometimes have one-hit wonders, teams that make unpredictably amazing runs for a year or two. Sometimes a head coach or certain player is the cause of this; a good example of this was Kansas State two years ago with Collin Klein. Other teams however will have multiple successful seasons, and those are the ones I’m interested in for this article. I will examine the college football teams that had big seasons in 2013, and will follow that with another big season in 2014.
Balance is a key for any team that wants to repeat with another big season, and the Seminoles had plenty of it last year. Their offense was ranked No. 2 in the nation in points scored, and their defense ranked No.1 in points allowed.
They lost some good players on both sides of the ball, but solid recruiting for the past few seasons should solve that. Oh yeah, and the guy under center is pretty good too. Jameis Winston will look to repeat as the Heisman winner and lead Florida State to two straight championships. They have three semi-tough non-conference games, but the weakness of the ACC should allow them to compete for another title.
Big Games: Oklahoma State, Clemson, Notre Dame, @Miami, Florida
Last season was a dream season for the Spartans as they won the Rose Bowl, but it wasn’t a fluke. Michigan State will be right back in the thick of things this fall, even with the losses of Darqueze Dennard and Max Bullough.
The Spartans will return quarterback Connor Cook and running back Jeremy Langford, who rushed for over 1400 yards last season.
Michigan State has a tough non-conference road game versus Oregon early in the season that will show exactly where the Spartans are at.
Big Games: @Oregon, Michigan, Ohio State, @Penn State
Braxton Miller, the leader of the 3rd ranked scoring offense in 2013, returns next season to lead the Buckeyes. Ohio State will be a very good team next season, and their schedule will allow them to have a good shot at making the championship. Their secondary needs to improve, but the offense should put up more big-time numbers with Miller at the helm. Ohio State is an excellent bet to make the College Football Playoffs.
Big Games: Virginia Tech, @Michigan State, Michigan
The Bears scored more points per game than anyone else in the nation last season, and they look as if they could score even more this year. Quarterback Bryce Petty and receiver Antwan Goodley both return next season to lead a high-powered offense. Baylor has a tougher schedule than Ohio State, but it is manageable and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baylor in contention for the playoff.
Big Games: @Texas, @Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
After an upset victory in the Sugar Bowl, the Sooners have as much momentum as anyone in the country right now. Trevor Knight played the game of his career, and he has Oklahoma fans excited about next year’s chances. Oklahoma’s schedule is also very manageable, giving them a shot to run the table with all their big games at home.
Big Games: Tennessee, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State
Very close to winning a national title, Auburn will come back on a mission next season. They lose Tre Mason, but in that offense it shouldn’t be a problem losing a running back. Gus Malzahn’s system will always be effective running the football. The Tigers have a tough schedule, so it’s tough to assess their championship chances just yet. One thing is for certain though; Auburn will have another big year in 2014.
Big Games: LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, @Georgia, @Alabama
The A.J. McCarron era is over, but Alabama will keep the dynasty run going. Replacing McCarron becomes much easier when there’s quality quarterbacks waiting behind him. Florida State transfer Jacob Coker will compete for the starting job, along with Cooper Bateman. Since Nick Saban’s arrival, the Crimson Tide have built a foundation on defense and running the football. Both of those should still be strengths, and Alabama arguably has the best running backs in the nation.
Big Games: Florida, Texas A&M, @Tennessee, @LSU, Auburn
With Marcus Mariota returning, Oregon’s offense should be among the best in the nation. The Ducks had the 4th best scoring offense last season, but what many don’t realize is how good their defense is. Last year the defense was ranked 13th in points allowed, putting to rest the notion that Oregon is solely an offensive team. Watch for the Ducks to have a big year and Mariota to be a finalist for the Heisman.
Big Games: Michigan State, @UCLA, Stanford
Stanford is the complete opposite of Oregon’s fast-paced, speed option offense. They want to run the football down your throat and play top-notch defense to beat you. Kevin Hogan returns at quarterback, and David Shaw has done really well getting recruits on board with Stanford. I don’t see them making a championship run next year because of the tough road games, but they will definitely have another big year because of coaching and experience at quarterback.
Big Games: USC, @Notre Dame, @Oregon, @UCLA