21 For 2021 College Football Topics, No. 18: Teams That Will Take A Wee Step Back

21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 18: Five teams that should have worse seasons in 2021 after a fantastic 2020.

21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 18: Five teams that should have worse seasons in 2021 after a fantastic 2020.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

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21 for 2021 College Football Topics 
21: 21 Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes
20: 5 Best Programs To Not Make CFP
19: 5 Teams That Will Rebound

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.

NEXT: Indiana Hoosiers

21 For 2021 College Football Topics, No. 19: Teams That Will Rebound

21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 19: Five teams that should rebound with a better 2021 after a mediocre 2010.

21 for 2021 College Football Topics, No. 19: Five teams that should rebound with a better 2021 after a mediocre 2010.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

21 for 2021 College Football Topics 
21: 21 Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes
20: 5 Best Programs To Not Make CFP

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As if there was a valid excuse to not play up to expectations in 2020.

Most teams that had disappointing seasons didn’t get the free pass they should’ve considering everything the world was dealing with, but some couldn’t play, some were going through issues as a school and community that went far beyond the football program, and some just didn’t play college football as well as they should’ve.

So with the assumption that the virus issues of last season should at least be lessened if not mostly out of the equation in 2021, here are five teams ranked in the 2020 preseason top 25 – or close to it – that should be a whole lot stronger.

The list is based on last year’s preseason ranking going from the bottom up, starting with …

5. Louisville Cardinals

2020 Preseason Ranking
AP NR (31), Coaches NR (33)
Final Record: 4-7

What Went Wrong? 

It’s not about what went wrong as much as it was about not being able to build on the big 2019.

Scott Satterfield took over and led the program from the doldrums to an 8-5 season with a bowl win and a fun offense that brought the program back. But the offensive line struggled in 2020, the turnovers wouldn’t stop, and the team couldn’t seem to buy a break.

Oh, and the defense was crazy-inconsistent. It shut Notre Dame down to a dead stop, but couldn’t slow down Georgia Tech. The offense couldn’t seem to get anything consistently going, either.

Why 2021 Will Be Better: Returning Talent

15 starters are back starting with QB Malik Cunningham, who turned it over too often but was still able to keep things moving enough for the offense to score 30 points or more six times. The defense that struggled a bit too much at least returns experienced, and James Turner should be one of the nation’s top kickers.

Why 2021 Will Be Better: Schedule 
2021 Louisville Football Schedule Analysis

And here’s the issue.

Louisville will have a rough time matching the eight wins of 2019, but it should be well back into bowl contention and should be a more dangerous out in the ACC.

It has to play Ole Miss and UCF in non-conference play, and it starts out the ACC season on the road at Florida State and Wake Forest. The Cardinals have to come up with a few wins against those four, to go along with a victory over Eastern Kentucky, to start 3-2.

Playing Clemson doesn’t help, but on the plus side, the team only leaves Kentucky twice after October 2nd, and road dates against NC State and Duke are manageable.

NEXT: Tennessee Volunteers

Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Offense

With the Big Ten season finally about to get going, what are the keys to every team’s offense? What does each team have to work on?

With the Big Ten season finally about to get going, what are the keys to every team’s offense? What does each team have to work on?


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Big Ten Preview: Keys To Every Offense
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Maryland | Michigan
Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern
Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin

Biggest Key To The Illinois Fighting Illini Offense

Establish the run again. The 2018 Illinois running game worked. It came up with over 2,900 yards, averaged close to six yards per carry, and it found a groove from the start with 200 yards or more in nine of the first ten games.

That was the only time in the last eight years that the program ran for 1,900 yards or more.

The 1,874 yards Illinois ran for last season were the second-most in a season since 2011, but it was still ugly. There were four 200-yard rushing days – the Illini won three of them – with the shootout loss to Nebraska the only time the ground game averaged over five yards per pop.

The offensive line is better, but the running backs have to emerge in a hurry. Statistically, the pass protection has to be there, too, with the numbers depending a bit on who takes the quarterback gig.

Big Ten Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense

Biggest Key To The Indiana Hoosiers Offense

It was this simple for the Hoosiers, at least last year – run well, win football games. Being able to run for any relatively arbitrary number wouldn’t have mattered in losses to Ohio State and Michigan, but IU was 8-0 last season when it ran for 100 yards, and 0-5 when it didn’t.

How much does 100 rushing yards matter to the Hoosiers? November 3rd, 2012. That was the last time they won when going under the mark, beating Iowa 24-21. They’re 0-23 since then when the ground game doesn’t hit triple-digits.

For a team that finished seventh in the nation in time of possession, run well, rely on your accurate passer to move the chains, control the tempo.

Big Ten Preview: Keys To Every Offense
Iowa | Maryland | Michigan | Michigan State
Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern | Ohio State
Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin

NEXT: Iowa Hawkeyes, Maryland Terrapins

Big Ten Football Preview Keys To Every Team: Defense

With the Big Ten season finally about to get going, what are the keys to every team’s defense? What does each team have to work on?

With the Big Ten season finally about to get going, what are the keys to every team’s defense? What does each team have to work on?


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Big Ten Preview: Keys To Every Defense
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Maryland | Michigan
Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern
Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin

Biggest Key To The Illinois Fighting Illini Defense

Stop the run. Lost a bit in the shocking win over Wisconsin was the job done all day by the Illini D, holding Jonathan Taylor and company to just 156 yards on the ground.

Illinois needed an epic comeback against Michigan State – getting gouged for 275 yards on the ground – and went 1-4 on the season when allowing 200 rushing yards ore more. Since beating Rutgers in the middle of the 2016 season, Illinois is 1-22 when giving up two bills.

Fortunately, Nebraska is the only team on the first half of the slate that has any semblance of a ground game.

Biggest Key To The Indiana Hoosiers Defense

More big plays would be nice. Helped by an offense that kept the chains moving and stayed on the field, the defense was able to do just enough to stay in most games. There’s enough experience returning, though, to start turning games around.

The pass rush was okay, but hardly anything special, especially in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers failed to generate more than one sack in five of the last nine games, and 14 of the 27 sacks overall came against Ball State, Eastern Illinois, UConn and Rutgers.

Partly because of the lack of steady pressure, the interceptions didn’t come with just seven on the season and three in the first nine games.

Big Ten Preview: Keys To Every Defense
Iowa | Maryland | Michigan | Michigan State
Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern | Ohio State
Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin

NEXT: Iowa Hawkeyes, Maryland Terrapins

Big Ten Football Preview: Quick Overview Of Every Team

The Big Ten football season is finally here. We get you ready with a quick overview of every team before it all starts up on Friday.

The Big Ten football season is finally here and it’s finally happening. We get you ready with a quick overview of every team before it all starts up on Friday.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Big Ten Preview Quick Overviews of Every Team
Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Maryland | Michigan
Michigan State | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern
Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin

Illinois Fighting Illini

– The Illinois offense wasn’t exactly a smoothly run organization. The running game was okay at times, and the passing attack came through late when it had to in a few huge upsets, but for the most part, it was a struggle.

The Illini finished 112th in the nation in total offense, but it made the yards count with a not-awful 26.7 points per game. However, the O almost never had the ball – long, sustained drives were a rumor – and the attack fell flat late in the season.

There’s hope for a boost, though, with four starters back on what should be a good line, a deep group of quarterbacks to play around with, and with almost all of the key targets back.

– It’s been one of the stranger disappointments in the Lovie Smith era. He’s an elite defensive football coach who crafted some killers in the NFL, and yet he hasn’t been anything special at Illinois. It’s his D – he’s the coordinator – and it’s been great at forcing takeaways and getting into the backfield – but it’s been blasted too easily against the run and it’s been way too inconsistent overall.

Fortunately, the linebackers are great and the secondary is going to be a plus. Now the thump has to come from the interior.

Indiana Hoosiers

– The offense quietly started to work really, really well. It might not have been able to keep up enough to overcome the occasional defensive issues, and the firepower wasn’t there to do anything against the Ohio States and Michigans of the world, but at least the attack was able to keep things moving.

The running game needs to be stronger, but the passing attack was the second-best in the Big Ten. With the potential of eight starters returning – along with some parts that missed time last year – the league’s No. 3 offense should be every bit as strong under rising star QB Michael Penix.

– The defense couldn’t handle the better offenses, and it struggled too often late in the year, but it was hardly awful. It allowed 352 yards and 32 points per game, was serviceable at getting into the backfield, and it didn’t have any one glaring issue other than not being able to pick off enough passes.

The D line needs to be better at getting to the quarterback, but there’s a nice blend of bulk and experience across the front four.

Big Ten Preview Quick Overviews of Every Team
IIowa | Maryland | Michigan | Michigan State
Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern | Ohio State
Penn State | Purdue | Rutgers | Wisconsin

NEXT: Iowa Hawkeyes, Maryland Terrapins

MAC 2020 Football Schedule: 5 Game Season Starting November

MAC football schedule 2020 composite. Week-by-week ranking of all of the games.

MAC football schedule 2020 composite. Week-by-week ranking of all of the games.


MAC Football Schedule Composite 2020

Each week’s games ranking from most interesting to least.

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MAC Football Schedule Week 1

Wednesday, Nov. 4
Buffalo at Northern Illinois
Ball State at Miami University
Eastern Michigan at Kent State
Ohio at Central Michigan
Bowling Green at Toledo
Western Michigan at Akron

MAC Football Schedule Week 2

Tuesday, Nov. 10
Miami University at Buffalo
Akron at Ohio
Kent State at Bowling Green

Wednesday, Nov. 11
Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
Eastern Michigan at Ball State
Toledo at Western Michigan

MAC Football Schedule Week 3

Tuesday, Nov. 17
Akron at Kent State
Buffalo at Bowling Green
Ohio at Miami

Wednesday, Nov. 18
Northern Illinois at Ball State
Toledo at Eastern Michigan
Western Michigan at Central Michigan

MAC Football Schedule Week 4

Saturday, Dec. 5
Ball State at Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan
Toledo at Northern Illinois
Bowling Green at Akron
Buffalo at Ohio
Kent State at Miami

MAC Football Schedule Week 5

Saturday, Dec. 12
Central Michigan at Toledo
Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan
Western Michigan at Ball State
Akron at Buffalo
Miami at Bowling Green
Ohio at Kent State

Friday, Dec. 18
MAC Football Championship Game
Ford Field, Detroit, MI

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Sun Belt Preseason Predictions For Every Game

What’s going to happen this season in the Sun Belt? The schedules and predictions for each team and every game. 

What’s going to happen this season in the Sun Belt?  The schedules and predictions for each team and every game. 


Sun Belt Preseason Predicted Finish

East
1. Appalachian State
2. Georgia Southern
3. Troy
4. Georgia State
5. Coastal Carolina

West
1. Louisiana
2. Arkansas State
3. ULM
4. South Alabama
5. Texas State

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Sun Belt Championship Prediction

Louisiana over Appalachian State

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Sun Belt East Schedules

Appalachian State Football Schedule

2020 Record: 0-0
2020 Preseason Prediction: 10-2
2020 Preseason Sun Belt Prediction: 7-1
2019 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2019: 13-1, 2018: 11-2
2020 Appalachian State Preview

Sept. 5 OPEN DATE
Sept. 12 Charlotte W
Sept. 19 at Marshall W
Sept. 26 Campbell W
Oct. 3 OPEN DATE
Oct. 7 Louisiana W
Oct. 14 at Georgia Southern
Oct. 24 Arkansas State L
Oct. 31 at ULM W
Nov. 7 at Texas State W
Nov. 14 Georgia State W
Nov. 21 at Coastal Carolina W
Nov. 28 Troy W

Coastal Carolina Football Schedule

2020 Record: 0-0
2020 Preseason Prediction: 4-7
2020 Preseason Sun Belt Prediction: 2-6
2019 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
2019: 5-7, 2018: 5-7
2020 Coastal Carolina Preview

Sept. 5 OPEN DATE
Sept. 12 at Kansas L
Sept. 19 Campbell W
Sept. 26 OPEN DATE
Oct. 3 Arkansas State L
Oct. 10 OPEN DATE
Oct. 17 at Louisiana L
Oct. 24 Georgia Southern L
Oct. 29 at Georgia State L
Nov. 7 South Alabama W
Nov. 14 at Troy L
Nov. 21 Appalachian State L
Nov. 28 at Texas State W
Dec. 5 Liberty

Georgia Southern Football Schedule

2020 Record: 0-0
2020 Preseason Prediction: 8-3
2020 Preseason Sun Belt Prediction: 6-2
2019 Preseason Prediction: 7-5
2019: 7-6, 2018: 10-3
2020 Georgia Southern Preview

Sept. 5 OPEN DATE
Sept. 12 Campbell W
Sept. 19 Florida Atlantic W
Sept. 26 at Louisiana L
Oct. 3 at ULM W
Oct. 10 OPEN DATE
Oct. 14 Appalachian State L
Oct. 24 at Coastal Carolina W
Oct. 31 South Alabama W
Nov. 7 Troy W
Nov. 14 Texas State W
Nov. 21 at Army  L
Nov. 28 at Georgia State W

Georgia State State Football Schedule

2020 Record: 0-0
2020 Preseason Prediction: 3-7
2020 Preseason Sun Belt Prediction: 3-5
2019 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
2019: 7-6, 2018: 2-10
2020 Georgia State Preview

Sept. 5 OPEN DATE
Sept. 12 OPEN DATE
Sept. 19 Louisiana L
Sept. 26 at Charlotte L
Oct. 3 East Carolina L
Oct. 10 OPEN DATE
Oct. 15 at Arkansas State L
Oct. 24 at Troy L
Oct. 29 Coastal Carolina W
Nov. 7 ULM W
Nov. 14 at Appalachian State L
Nov. 21 at South Alabama W
Nov. 28 Georgia Southern L

Troy Football Schedule

2020 Record: 0-0
2020 Preseason Prediction: 6-6
2020 Preseason Sun Belt Prediction: 5-3
2019 Preseason Prediction: 9-3
2019: 5-7, 2018: 10-3
2020 Troy Preview

Sept. 5 OPEN DATE
Sept. 12 OPEN DATE
Sept. 19 at Middle Tennessee L
Sept. 26 at BYU L
Oct. 3 at South Alabama W
Oct. 8 Texas State W
Oct. 17 Eastern Kentucky W
Oct. 24 Georgia State W
Oct. 31 at Arkansas State L
Nov. 7 at Georgia Southern L
Nov. 14 Coastal Carolina W
Nov. 21 Middle Tennessee L
Nov. 28 at Appalachian State L
Dec. 5 ULM 
W

College Football News Preview 2020: SMU Mustangs

College Football News Preview 2020: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the SMU Mustangs season with what you need to know.

College Football News Preview 2020: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the SMU Mustangs season with what you need to know.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Schedule Analysis
– SMU Previews 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2019 Record: 10-3 overall, 6-2 in
Head Coach: Sonny Dykes, 3rd year, 15-11 overall
2019 CFN Final Opinion Ranking: 46
2019 CFN Final Season Formula Ranking: 28
2019 CFN Preview Ranking: 84

5. College Football News Preview 2020: SMU Mustangs Offense 3 Things To Know

– The SMU offense that was good under head coach Sonny Dykes ramped things up a bit last year. QB Shane Buechele came over from Texas and rocked the passing attack from the start, the receiving corps was terrific, and Xavier Jones was a machine for the ground attack. A whole slew of the key parts are gone, but nothing stops. The system is sound, the coaching staff knows how to generate production, and Buechele is back.


CFN in 60 Video: SMU Mustangs Preview
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– The passing attack went from 3,260 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2019 to 4,017 yards and 35 scores last year. There were more big plays downfield, but star target James Proche is now gone after making 204 grabs with 27 scores over the last two seasons. However, Reggie Roberson is back after missing the second half of last year with a foot injury, and tight end Kylen Granson has all-star talent coming off a 43-catch, 721-yard, nine-touchdown season. The air show continues, and it might have to do more, because …

Xavier Jones and Ke’Mon Freeman are gone from the backfield. The two combined for close to 1,800 rushing yards with Jones scoring 23 touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore TJ McDaniel should be the next man up, but it’s an all-underclassmen running back group that will likely operate in a rotation for a bit.

On the plus side, the offensive line should be terrific. Four starters are expected back, starting with left tackle Jaylon Thomas. Give credit to the offensive system that gets the ball out of the quarterback’s hands in a hurry, but also give some love to a line that was just that good, allowing the fewest sacks in the conference.

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: SMU Mustangs Defense 3 Things To Know

BYU Football Schedule 2020

BYU football schedule 2020 with the revised season.

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BYU football schedule 2020 with the revised season.


BYU Football Schedule 2020

Sept. 7 at Navy


Sept. 12 OPEN DATE


Sept. 19 at Army


Sept. 26 Troy


Oct. 3 OPEN DATE

Oct. 10 UTSA


Oct. 16 Houston


Oct. 24 Texas State

Oct. 31 WKU


Nov. 7 OPEN DATE


Nov. 14 OPEN DATE


Nov. 21 North Alabama


Nov. 28 OPEN DATE

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AP Top 25 Poll: 5 Things That Matter, Overrated, Underrated, Conference Rankings

The 2020 Preseason AP Top 25 was released. Here are the topics that matter with the overrated and underrated teams, and the keys to the poll

The 2020 Preseason AP Top 25 was released. Here are the topics that matter with the overrated and underrated teams, and which conference got the most respect.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2020 AP Top 25 Poll 

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3. The AP Poll ranked teams that aren’t playing

It’s going to be the year the AP ranked teams that aren’t doing the whole college football thing.

The AP voters got their rankings in before the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided to postpone their respective seasons, but unlike the Coaches Poll that came out before the conferences went dark, the AP didn’t release its top 25 until a few weeks after.

There was time to adjust.

It’s just not that hard to take the rankings as created by the voters and take out the teams that aren’t playing a 2020 fall season. It took me less than ten minutes to come up with the revised rankings.

If teams aren’t actually playing college football, then what’s the point of putting them in a ranking for a season? The Kansas City Chiefs are playing just as much college football in the fall of 2020 as Ohio State and Oregon are.

This was an easy way for the AP Top 25 Poll to shine a light on programs that normally would struggle to get close to the preseason top 25.

Appalachian State and Memphis would’ve been in. How much would it have mattered to a place like Arizona State, or Louisville, or Kentucky to make a preseason top 25 of teams actually playing?

And now what do you do? What, you honored Ohio State by giving it a preseason No. 2 ranking? All that does is mock the fan base with the Christmas present they don’t get to open.

But there’s a reason for all of this …

Maybe the AP has this right. Maybe there won’t be a season after all, all the teams will cancel before it all gets going, and the preseason top 25 is a representative snapshot of what the season was supposed to be like.

Just call it an awkward moment in this year when everyone is trying to adjust on the fly.

NEXT: Who is, technically, overrated in the AP Top 25 Poll?