AC’s college football disappointments for 2015
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are coming off a big year where they surprised many and qualified for a New Year’s 6 bowl. Their quirky style with the triple option is tough for teams to prepare for. 13 (5 8) starters are back, but the Wramblin’ Wreck won’t be sneaking up on teams and will be playing with expectations. Their defense wasn’t great (5.0 YPC 7.6 YPA 47% 3rd down). We see some inflated lines, and some egos, on the GT side and see a reversion back to the mean in 2015.
TCU: The Horned Frogs came out of nowhere last season to come within a hair of playing in the CFP. They would have been there if it wasn’t for the collapse at Baylor where they blew a 3TD lead in the 4th quarter. 14 (9 5) starters are back to a team that seems to be everyone’s darling. A lot went right for TCU last year, and with Heisman candidate QB Boykin, a lot is expected to go right again this year. Except that isn’t how it usually works. The pass defense was suspect last year (7.2 YPA) and with so many losses on defense, it will be tough for TCU to match last season, especially since they aren’t an elite team talent wise, but will be priced like one.
UTEP: The Miners were a surprise last year, coming out of nowhere to qualify for a bowl. Can they keep it up? The recruiting would suggest otherwise, and with only 12 (6 6) starters back with a new QB, we see this team taking a step back in 2015. The defense was an anomaly, giving up 5.1 YPC and 7.8 YPA, but managed to get off the field on 3rd down (36%). We definitely don’t see that kind of play on 3rd down again this season
ECU: This is a key season for the Pirates. With only 11 (6 5) starters back and a new QB, ECU must prove it has staying power and that it can simply reload instead of rebuild. We aren’t convinced they can do this. They may be exciting to watch with their pass, pass, pass philosophy, but it puts a major strain on the defense. With so many losses, it’s hard to imagine a repeat performance on 3rd down (49% off 37% def). This will still be a decent team, but not a top 3 AAC team in our opinion
UNLV: The Rebels bring in a new head coach that has a major rebuilding job on his hands with virtually every job open. This was a bowl team a couple of years ago that will be lucky to win 3 games. We must wait and see what the odds-makers think though. Do they think like us, or will they price this team as a middle of the pack MWC team? If they are like us, fade this team early as it won’t take long to catch up.
Utah: The Utes were a surprise last year and bring back 14 (7 7) starters. Prior to that, the move to the PAC 12 hadn’t been kind. Everything went right for this team last year, but the talent level is still subpar. Can this team make enough plays in the passing game? They kind of did it with mirrors, especially with a pass defense giving up over 7.0 YPA. Both co-ordinators need to be replaced, and we see this team take a step back in 2015
Iowa: The Hawkeyes let us down last season. Everything was set up to have a nice run, but it didn’t materialize that way. 13 (6 7) starters are back, but a new QB must be found. They were superb on 3rd down (46% off 36% def), but still managed to be a middle of the pack team in a league that was average at best. This year it doesn’t set up as well and the league is better. Look for Iowa to fall into the trap of mediocrity. It won’t be long before the calls to replace head coach Kirk Frentz start coming
Bowling Green: Bowling Green has been kind to us over the years, but this team looks to be a bit below what we are used to seeing. 14 (10 4) starters are back and the offense should have no trouble moving the ball and scoring. But the losses on defense appear to be too much to overcome. They weren’t great on 3rd down last year (38% off 45% def). If that doesn’t change, they won’t contend in the MAC.
Mississippi St: Last year we had the Bulldogs as a sleeper, and were correct. Everything was set up to make a nice run. Were they good or just lucky? This year the opposite is true. The league is much better and only 9 (5 4) starters are back. The good news is one of them is QB Dak Prescott. But this team still has bottom level SEC talent. We look for the Bulldogs to take a big step back in the pecking order of the SEC West .
South Alabama: The Jaguars were another team we had as a sleeper last season, pretty much the mirror image of Miss St. But they have even fewer starters back, 5 (3 2). The QB isn’t one of them. Plus, the OL looks to be a major concern. We like where this program is heading, but this year may seem some growing pains as they take one step back to take two forward next season.