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NCAA Football

5 Major Conference College Football Programs That Will Take a Step Back In 2014

5 Major Conference Programs That Will Take a Step Back In 2014

Texas A&M Aggies Football
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

With just over three weeks to go before the start of the 2014 college football season, fans of teams that had a good 2013 are already dreaming of winning the national championship. Unfortunately, some top teams from the previous year will take a step back due to losing players to the NFL Draft and the rest of the conference improving around them. Here are five teams from major conferences destined to take a step back in 2014.

5. LSU Tigers

LSU football
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

5. LSU Tigers

LSU football
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU Tigers lost huge pieces of their offense to the 2014 NFL Draft, but they return one of the most experienced defenses in college football. The Tigers would be a 10-win team in a conference like the Big Ten or the ACC, but in the SEC they are going to struggle to beat the top teams, as well as the up-and-coming teams like Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Florida.

4. Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Football
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

4. Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Football
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With defensive coordinator Derek Mason leaving for the Vanderbilt coaching job, their defense will not be as strong as it has been in the past. The Cardinal play at Washington, at Notre Dame, at Oregon and at UCLA, as well as playing rising programs like Oregon State, USC and Arizona State at home. Stanford is a good team, but I don't think they will be able to do enough to win close games.

3. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines Football
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

3. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines Football
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolverines are not a bad team, but they suffer from the rest of the conference getting better while they stagnate. Michigan should go to a bowl game; however, don’t expect the Wolverines to challenge Michigan State, Ohio State or even sleeper Wisconsin at the top of the Big Ten.

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State Cowboys Football
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State Cowboys Football
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State won 10 games in 2013, but Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas are all capable of beating the Cowboys. Unless OSU shows us something new in 2014, they are in for a reality check in a rising Big 12.

1. Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M Football
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

1. Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M Football
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

During the regular season in 2013, Texas A&M only won a single game against a team that finished with more than eight regular season wins, which was an FCS program. That’s zero wins against top division 1 opposition with first-round draft picks Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews on the team. Now that those three huge offensive pieces are gone, Texas A&M is going to struggle to score and their defense is already questionable.