By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on June 25, 2014
College football is tough on its fans, particularly those fans whose favorite team has a down year. Although true parity in college football is rare, the NCAA system leaves the door open for programs that put together strong seasons, especially in 2014 with the playoff system coming into effect. Here are five teams that have been consistent contenders, but could be knocked down in 2014, causing them to miss out on the inaugural FBS playoffs.
Louisville has seen its share of success, but nothing like what they experienced with former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in 2012 and 2013, which included a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida. Now with Bridgewater lost to the draft and former head coach Charlie Strong leaving for Texas, Bobby Petrino takes over the Cardinals for a second time. New QB Will Gardner steps into fill the void left by Bridgewater, but the defense is still in question.
This season, Mizzou is in good hands after QB James Franklin's departure. Maty Mauk started in place of an injured Franklin and showed that he was more than capable. However, WR Dorial Green-Beckham's dismissal from the team has put pressure on Mauk to step up for his new crop of receivers. The Tigers have lost key players on defense and will look to DL Markus Golden to lead. Mizzou will be taking a step back due to the loss of key personnel.
How do you replace 11,904 passing yards, 107 touchdown passes, 3,391 receiving yards, and 27 touchdown receptions? That's what Clemson will be seeking to do after losing their star QB in Tajh Boyd and the explosive Sammy Watkins to the NFL draft. Clemson will have a few QB options to choose from, but have their sights on WR Mike Williams to replace Watkins. Clemson can win in a down ACC, but don't expect them to be playing in a late bowl game.
Every year, a top college football team has a down year in which it will lose four or five games. Playing in a tough SEC, every so often LSU seems to fall victim to one of these seasons. With key losses at QB, RB, WR and along the defense, the Tigers will need to get their inexperienced players ready to go. QB Anthony Jennings gained experience last year at QB, and will be called upon to lead the team in 2014. LSU won't be down long after 2014.
Once Chip Kelly left for the NFL, new Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich was called upon to maintain the team's status, and possibly raise it to the next level. In a PAC-12 that is getting increasingly better, the Ducks will have a tougher time sitting on top; they showed weakness last season when mobile QB Marcus Mariota went down. This year, they can easily go 8-4 in a tough PAC-12, while relying on Mariota to lead the offense and stay healthy.
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