20 key offseason topics for 2020: No. 6. Which five college football teams have the potential to surprise?
20 for 2020 Offseason Topics
20. Best Teams To Not Make CFP
19: Teams That Will Rebound Big
18. Teams That Will Fall Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Top 5 Instant Impact New Head Coaches
15. 2nd Year Coaches Who’ll Be Better
14. Power 5 Hot Seat Coach Rankings
13. Key Transfers You Forgot About
12. Five Big Power 5 Upset Alerts
11. Great Players About To Go Nuclear
10. Group of 5 Teams In New Year’s Six Chase
9. Power 5 Sleeper Teams
8. Most Interesting Quarterback Battles
7. 5 Teams That Might Disappoint
This is where we get to have some fun.
Unlike the Power 5 Sleeper Teams in the earlier piece, this is more about the teams that won’t be on the radar for most college football fans, but could make a big impact.
It’s a bit much to put these teams into the 2019 Baylor and Minnesota category and challenge for big things – again, that’s what the sleeper team piece was about – but they should be ready to defy expectations.
Think 2019 Illinois and Louisville – they were part of last year’s list of Potential Surprises – but things don’t always work out as hoped for. Arkansas and UCLA didn’t do what we thought they might.
But if we can hit three of five like we did last year, we’ll take it.
And the Power Five programs that could and should be the biggest surprises are …
Let’s try this again.
The excitement for 2019 was sky-high after a 10-3 2018 campaign. Syracuse was one of just two ACC teams in the preseason rankings – Clemson, of course, was the other – but it all came apart in a big way.
Maryland was awful last season, but it looked like the Kansas City Chiefs against the Orange in a 63-20 win. Even so, a 3-2 SU start provided hope early on, but a four-game losing streak ended all of that.
The run defense was non-existent, the offensive line almost got QB Tommy DeVito killed – allowing the third-most sacks per game in America – and every week was a struggle.
However, things picked up late with wins of two of the last three games -ruining Duke’s bowl hopes along the way – and the offense started to pick up the production.
The O line might have been awful, but it comes back experienced to try giving DeVito a fighting chance. New offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert will crank up the tempo with a decent group of receivers returning.
Schedule-wise, three of the first four games are on the road, but Boston College, Rutgers and Western Michigan are all winnable. Get through those, beat Louisville at home, and a 6-0 start is likely before dealing with Clemson.
Throw in a manageable back half of the slate, and rebounding to 2018 form isn’t a crazy ask.