21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 18: Five teams that should have worse seasons in 2021 after a fantastic 2020.
Sometimes everything works just right.
2020 might have been a horrific year all the way around, but for a few college football teams and conferences, at least the production on the field was something special.
Sometimes it took everything to align correctly, and sometimes the teams were just that good. However, no matter how good a program it is – like the five on last year’s list: LSU, Minnesota, Baylor, Utah and Virginia – it’s almost impossible to get all of the same breaks, schedule timing, and amazing plays to recreate the magic.
The teams on this list are going to be very, very good, but all it takes is an extra loss, a key injury, or something else that might be off to take a step back.
Going from the lowest-ranked team in the 2020 final rankings to the highest, starting with a catch-all …
5. Sun Belt teams
2020 FInal RankingS
Coastal Carolina (11-1): AP 14, Coaches 14
Louisiana (10-1): AP 15, Coaches 16
What Made 2020 Special?
It all started with a bang, and it never stopped.
If anything, the top Sun Belt teams were underrated considering Coastal Carolina beat Kansas at Kansas to start the season, Arkansas State beat Kansas State at Kansas State, and in the key win, Louisiana hit Iowa State 31-14.
It was a magical breakthrough year for the conference – helped by Coastal Carolina’s win over BYU in what might have been the best game of the season.
Coastal Carolina went from being picked by some dopey college football pundits – hand sheepishly raised – to be among the Sun Belt’s worst teams, but the offensive style was unstoppable for most of the year. Louisiana has some Power Five program’s next head coach in Billy Napier – how is he still around? – with a loaded offensive team, and others like Appalachian State were fantastic, too.
The conference had a wonderful bowl season – App State, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State all romped – just about everyone in the conference other than ULM had something positive to point to, and …
Why 2021 Will Be A Bit Worse, Schedule Part 1
– 2021 Sun Belt Football Schedule, Top Games
It’ll be hard to sustain.
The big problem is attention with even one loss meaning that proper credit won’t be given.
Put it this way (sorry, Cyclone fans, I promise this is the last time I’ll do this): Louisiana beat Iowa State by 17 points in Ames, and the only other loss on the year for the Ragin’ Cajuns was against Coastal Carolina. Iowa State finished ninth in both polls, and Louisiana was 15th in the AP and 16th in the Coaches. The respect just wasn’t there.
That’s not to say that Coastal Carolina won’t pull a threezie on Kansas by winning a third straight year in the series, but it has to go to Buffalo, Arkansas State, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.
Appalachian State has the ability to beat Miami, but it’s conference schedule isn’t a breeze with road dates at Georgia State and Louisiana, and the Ragin’ Cajuns have to go to Texas.
Why 2020 Will Be A Bit Worse: Schedule, Part 2
There will be moments when the Sun Belt rises up and rocks. Again, the teams are going to be just that good, they all return a ton of talent, and they’ll all receive plenty of love and respect in the preseason rankings.
But again, just one loss by anyone screws up the national love, attention, and focus.
If one of the good teams slips by a Washington if you’re Arkansas State, or a Baylor if everything works right for Texas State, or a North Carolina if Georgia State is wonderful, or an Arkansas if it can’t stop the Georgia Southern option, there’s a strong enough league to have landmines all across the board.