College Football 2019: Five dangerous teams not getting enough attention going into the season.
Oh no … you didn’t see Northwestern’s run to the Big Ten Championship coming – unless you were Pat Fitzgerald, of course.
Ohhhhh no … you didn’t see Kentucky being a massive factor in the SEC title chase well into November.
And ohhhhhhhh no … last year at this time you wouldn’t have dared to say that Pitt was going to end up in the ACC Championship, or you would’ve been pick-shamed by a social media world that frowns upon deviating from the norm.
What five teams will be this year’s Pitt, Kentucky and Northwestern – or close to it? Who do you need to know and care about before this all gets started?
The five teams no one is talking about but will be massive factors this college football season are …
ACC: Virginia Tech Hokies
The program won 19 games over a two-year span under head coach Justin Fuente and gave eventual national champion Clemson a heck of a run in the 2016 ACC Championship. But last season was supposed to be a bit of a rebuild, and it was certainly that.
Josh Jackson went from being a star quarterback on the 2017 team to injured and out of the mix three games into the 2018 season. Several key parts were gone off the defense, and there was work to be done across the board.
That doesn’t excuse the 49-35 loss to Old Dominion, or the defense falling off the map in the middle of the season, but it was simply a bad year with the first losing season since 1992.
Fast-forward to this season, and Jackson is a Maryland Terrapin, a few other skill players took off to pursue other football opportunities, and the offensive line only gets back two starters.
The defense still has to get past its youth movement, there has to be more of a pass rush, and …
Whatever. It was one bad year.
Everyone is back in the secondary, the linebacking corps is a rock, and the offense will be more than fine despite the departure of some of the key parts.
Those losses, though, combined with last year’s clunker, have pushed Virginia Tech out of the Coastal spotlight for Virginia – who hasn’t beaten the Hokies since the first term of the George W. Bush era – the splashy coaching changes at Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina.
No, this won’t be the team that knocks off Clemson, but there’s more experience, the special teams will be good, and the overall expectations are very, very low.
There’s no Clemson or Syracuse to face from the Atlantic, there aren’t two road games in a row, and there’s a brilliant run of five home games in a six date stretch to fatten up on.
The Miami and Virginia games are on the road, but watch out for a great start – possibly 6-1 going into the road game at Notre Dame – to wake everyone up.
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