2013 Spring Preview
Bulletin Board Material
2013 Spring Preview
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"Nobody believes in us."
Every team uses that in one way or another as an internal motivational ploy, whether it's real or not, attempting to do anything to get an edge.
But what happens when everyone actually does believe in you?
Great teams are always looking for something to keep
For every Notre Dame, who had a brutal-looking schedule before last season's improbable run, there's a hyped up Arkansas who was supposed to do big things until the controversy off the field and the meltdowns on it ruined the fun. No one thought Northern Illinois could ever find its way into the BCS, but even more unlikely was the idea of a preseason top 25 Auburn dumping Gene Chizik after one of the worst years in the program's history.
The same USC that clunked in the Sun Bowl was the AP preseason No. 1.
Just over five months away from when it all gets going, here are some of the
hottest teams that'll get all the hype and
publicity, and we're here to help make sure everyone stays focused.
We'd love nothing more than to see all the great-looking teams do what they're
supposed to and make this a fantastic season, and we'd love nothing more than for everyone to play up to their potential.
That's why we'd also love nothing more than to see everyone below prove us wrong.
Here's your motivation - the bulletin board material. Go hit the weights for an extra set.
After winning the Sugar Bowl in dominant fashion over a Florida team that would've made a four-team playoff and might have played for the national championship had Notre Dame slipped, the Cardinals are red hot this offseason. Charlie Strong didn't take off for a bigger job, Teddy Bridgewater is about to be a top-shelf Heisman candidate, and there's excitement over a big move to the ACC next season. Adding to the excitement is a breezy schedule with road games at USF and Cincinnati and the home game against Rutgers the only ones to worry about. With ten starters back on defense and seven on offense, UofL will be the overwhelming favorite to win the Big East, and with a likely preseason top ten spot, a dark horse for the BCS championship.
Bulletin Board Material: See if this sounds familiar. Led by a superstar quarterback, a loaded team returns after winning the Big East championship and coming off a BCS shocker. The team struggled a bit along the way to the big money game, often playing down to its competition and winning four games by the skin of its teeth. Along the way, a truly huge campaign was undone with a blowout loss at Syracuse - 2011 West Virginia and 2012 Louisville are eerily similar in results, if not in style. The Cardinals had even more close calls, squeaking by bad FIU and Southern Miss teams and fighting to get past USF, Cincinnati and Rutgers to get to New Orleans. Everything else is roughly the same – including the blowout at Syracuse – and now the bar is set at no worse than 11-1 for a team that isn't going to get the same breaks twice. If you're that good to have beaten Florida, and if most of the key parts are back, then 12-0 has to be the goal for a team that needs all the close calls to go its way again.
All of a sudden, the Tigers are seen in a whole different light. Last year at this time the focus was on the 70-33 Orange Bowl embarrassment against West Virginia, but it turned into a motivating factor. All throughout the offseason the players and coaches were on a mission to make amends, and they certainly did with a terrific 10-2 regular season that should've meant more discussion as a BCS at-large team, and then came the biggest win in the Dabo Swinney era – giving the program more street cred than winning the 2011 ACC championship – with a thrilling comeback victory over LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to prove that the program really can play with the big boys.
Bulletin Board Material: You're Clemson, which means you're going to look impressive against the weak and the sad, but you'll be stunningly indifferent against a Syracuse or Virginia on the road. You'll get a big win against Georgia, Florida State or at South Carolina, but you're not going to win two out of the three
- the win over LSU is going to be the extra
motivation for everyone else. The talent level has been raised, but the defense has to be stronger against the teams with an offense, and the offensive front has to be far more consistent. And while we're at it, this goes for …
The Entire ACC
No, really, this should be the season when the ACC starts to be what everyone has been waiting for. No, really, Florida State is talented enough to overcome some key losses on the defensive front to be in the national title hunt thanks to a squishy-soft schedule with just three good games – at Clemson, at Florida and Miami. No, really, the addition of Syracuse and Pitt will boost up the interior of the conference making it much more competitive from top-to-bottom. No, really, Wake Forest will be better and Duke's 2012 season wasn't a mirage. No, really, Maryland will bounce back once it has a healthy quarterback, Virginia will be better and NC State will be stronger under Dave Doeren. No, really, the Virginia Tech's clunker of a 2012 was an aberration. Really, this is an improving league that's taking the next baby step forward to becoming a power.
Bulletin Board Material: We're now on what seems like the tenth straight year of The ACC Is Going To Be Great preseason narrative. The brutal reality is that Boston College will get blown out at USC; Clemson will do no better than split against Georgia and South Carolina; Florida State is going to close out the year with a loss at Florida; Georgia Tech isn't going to beat Georgia and will probably lose at BYU; Maryland isn't going to beat West Virginia; Miami isn't going to beat Florida; North Carolina isn't going to win at South Carolina; Pitt's going to lose to Notre Dame; Syracuse isn't going to beat both Penn State and Northwestern to open the year; Virginia is going to get walloped by Oregon and could lose the opener to BYU; and Virginia Tech has to play Alabama in Atlanta to start the season. Speaking of conference issues …
The New Mountain West
Now that the Big East has rebranded itself into the ten-calorie version, the Mountain West is poised and ready to take a become the sixth-best conference in college football and worthy of more respect. How much stronger has the league become? Boise State and San Diego State spurned the idea of becoming Big Easters to stick around, and the addition of 2012 darlings Utah State and San Jose State will help more than it might appear on the surface. The new 12-team, two-division league could use a bit more production among the bottom feeders, and the national attention might not be flying in for the New Mexico-Wyoming type games, but unlike the WAC – rest in peace – the league is healthy. There's no real discussion about any of the programs bolting for bigger conferences any time soon.
Bulletin Board Material: Yeah, and Gonzaga really was the No. 1 college basketball team in America. Boise State couldn't get any respect before, and it's not going to start getting any now in a conference with Fresno State and San Diego State the other anchors. Even if Boise State wins at Washington to start the year and Fresno State gets by Rutgers and Colorado, there won't be much more than a yawn from the BCS conferences.
The early lazy narrative will be all about how Georgia will slip with the defense losing Jarvis Jones, John Jenkins, Alec Ogletree and a slew of other stars, but there's one problem with that – the defense
sort of sucked. Yeah, Jones was a one-man wrecking crew and there were a few nice moments, but this was a wildly inconsistent group finishing 12th in the SEC against the run while not doing nearly as much as they should've to get into the backfield considering how good Jones was. In other words, to be longwinded, Georgia can reload. The offense gets just about everyone back including Aaron Murray along with a backfield that made the loss of Isaiah Crowell a non-factor, and the defense, like always, will be loaded with athletes. By late summer, everyone will think about putting the Dawgs in the preseason top ten with a shot to win the national title, especially considering they were a tipped pass away from getting the honor of beating Notre Dame for the BCS championship.
Bulletin Board Material: Mark Richt, you asked who was saying Georgia and Murray couldn't win the really big one after the SEC championship loss – right here. It's fair, because it's true; Georgia under Richt can't win the really big one. It might have been a really, really close loss to Alabama, but that's sort of the point in the brutal world of the SEC. If you're an elite SEC program, either you're playing for the BCS championship, or you're not. There's really no in between, especially for Georgia fans ready for their turn on the conference's championship wheel. 1980 was a long, long time ago.