20 for 2020 College Football Topics, No. 18: The five teams that will take a step back after a great 2019.
The sequel is almost never as good as the original.
For five key teams, trying to recreate what happened in 2019 is going to be next to impossible.
It doesn’t matter how good you are. If you’re coming off a huge season, you probably won’t get the same breaks, the right timing with the schedule, or that magical blend that made the previous campaign so special.
The five teams on this list aren’t going to be bad. On the contrary, most should be massive factors in their respective division and conference races.
However, just one extra loss could be enough for each of these five to take a wee step back.
Going from the lowest-ranked team in the 2019 final rankings to the highest …
5. Virginia Cavaliers
2020 FInal Ranking
AP NR (29), Coaches 25
Final Record: 9-5
What Made 2019 Special?
Bronco Mendenhall did it.
He took an okay program that was happy just to get to a bowl game on a regular basis, and he turned it into the Coastal Division champion that got to take its cut at the ACC Championship.
So what if Virginia got blown out by Clemson? So what that it lost to Florida in a tough Orange Bowl fight? It was a blast of a season with a win over Virginia Tech for the first time since 2003, a great finishing kick to take the division, and again, it all ended up with a trip to the ACC title game and a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Why 2020 Will Be A Bit Worse: Returning Talent
Virginia is good enough now where it can rebuild a bit and not worry too much about falling off the map. However, you don’t get better by losing a heart-and-soul quarterback like Bryce Perkins.
Bryce Hall was a special corner, the receiving corps drops some key parts, and Jordan Mack was a killer in the middle of the linebacking corps, but a whole lot of strong players return.
If all goes to plan, as many as nine starters on the offensive side are back and seven should return on D. Throw in the developed depth, and how is Virginia going to be any worse?
Lose four regular season games after dropping three last year.
Why 2020 Will Be A Bit Worse: Schedule
– 2020 Virginia Football Schedule Analysis
Virginia might have been tough and good, and there’s no dogging that win over Virginia Tech, but it also did a little bit of bum-slaying in a miserable year for the ACC.
It didn’t have to play Clemson until the ACC Championship, and while it got past Pitt and North Carolina, it also had wins over William & Mary, Duke, Georgia Tech, Liberty, and a mediocre Florida State team.
This time around, Virginia has to go to Virginia Tech and Clemson. Miami is going to be better – at least, it should be – Louisville, Pitt and North Carolina are going to be dangerous, and in non-conference play, opening up against Georgia isn’t great.
But the schedule isn’t all that bad. This should be another strong Virginia team, but losing just three regular seasons games again is asking for a bit much.