This list changes every year… and usually dramatically. The Top 5 programs that need a big season in 2015 are:
- Texas – Charlie Strong was absolutely the correct hire one season ago, but 2014 was very rocky for the Longhorns. Coach Strong dismissed a bunch of players before the year and had to endure a 6-7 season which included 48-10 and 31-7 defeats to end the season. Tyrone Swoopes must prove early in 2015 that he is ready to lead this program back to the top of the Big 12
- South Carolina – How much more does Steve Spurrier want to coach? That’s the biggest question heading into 2015, and although he’s publically stated he will stay 3 more seasons one has to question if he goes 7-6 will that reign end sooner. The Gamecocks were blown out 52-28 to start the season and 35-17 to Clemson to end the regular season, and gone are Mike Davis and Dylan Thompson. Who the Ole Ball Coach finds to replace them could go a long way in Carolina’s success.
- Michigan – I know, I know the Wolverines hired Jim Harbaugh and I’ve stated on the air the will be in the playoffs in 3 years or less, but right now they need a feel good season in the worst way. Their rivals (Ohio St and Michigan St) are in the middle of some great football, so Michigan would love to be a thorn in one of their sides in year one of the Harbaugh era. Jim must upgrade the talent, but one thing is for sure, the team will play harder and tougher than at any time under Brady Hoke.
- Nebraska – Ameer Abdullah, gone! Randy Gregory, gone! Bo Pellini, fired! After starting 2014 5-0, the wheels came off after a hard fought loss to Michigan St. The low point of the season was a 59-24 loss to Wisconsin in which Melvin Gordon rushed for 408 yards… 408 yards vs what used to be the “Black Shirts” defense. In steps Mike Riley, which is a giant stretch in my opinion, and the pressure is on to be better than 9-4. Tommy Armstrong will be the QB and in a new passing attack he must be a more accurate passer.
- Miami – Ohhhh how the mighty have fallen! Gone are the days of Top 5 preseason rankings. Gone are the days of striking fear into opponents before the game even kicked off. Now the artist formerly known as The U is the definition of mediocre. 16-16 is head coach Al Golden’s record in the ACC, which coupled with his 28-22 overall record puts him on the hottest seat in college football. The excuses about the mythical “NCAA Cloud” have been used more times than the Macarena has been played on the radio, but that is over so it is time for wins on the field. Talent IS NOT an issue as witnessed during the NFL draft which saw 2 Canes go in the 1st round and 7 drafted overall. Brad Kaaya is back after a tremendous Freshman campaign at QB, but the schedule is a bear with a trip to FSU and home games vs Clemson, Georgia Tech, Nebraska and Virginia Tech. Miami must win 9 for Golden and his crew to survive another season, but Vegas has much lower expectations with the over/under set at 5.5. 6-7 is how they finished 2014 including 4 losses in a row to end the year, so the over is a tricky bet.