Last week we posted six win totals that focused on long term trends with the idea that history repeats itself in college football. This week we look at five teams that we expect to have very different seasons than they did last year.
Florida Over 7.5 Wins
Last season was a debacle in Gainesville as the Gators posted a 4-7 record which was their worst since the 2013 season. Before they even started playing games, Florida was losing as it lost 10 players to suspension over accusations of fraud. McElwain never had both hands on the helm and lost control of a team that gave up on him and led to his mid-season dismissal. This season the Gators will be led by new head coach Dan Mullen. In Mullen’s previous stint at Florida as the offensive coordinator the Gators averaged 36 points per game. Mullen has done wonders coaching up QBs and as the head coach at Mississippi State his teams routinely played above their talent level. This Gator team returns 19 starters and with a quality coach like Mullen I expect the Gators to win 8+ games this season.
LSU Under 7 Wins
Eddie O won 9 games in his first full season as the head coach at LSU last year. This year I think they will win fewer than 7 games. I’ve never been a big Orgeron fan as he is an excellent recruiter but not an excellent head coach (10-25 as the HC at Ole Miss). While he can recruit, this Tigers team only returns 10 starters and will have a new quarterback this season. Additionally, they face on of the toughest schedules in the country. They have to play Miami, Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia. Just like after the Troy loss last season, Eddie O will be on the hot seat and the Tiger fans will be screaming for LSU to hit the eject button on that seat when the Tigers fail to win 7 games.
Western Michigan Over 6 Wins
In 2015 the Broncos went into their bowl game against Wisconsin 13-0 and gave the Badgers a scare. In 2016 they took a step back going 6-6. Many assume that the Broncos return to mediocrity was due to the departure of P.J. Fleck, who took the head coaching job at Minnesota. But the real reason the Broncos dropped off last year was due to injuries as Western Michigan sustained 21 season-ending injuries last year. Losing your best QB, RB, and WR has a way of making things look worse than they actually were. Lester rowed the boat in the face of adversity last season and a healthy Broncos squad should be much improved. Lester will have 8 returning starters on offense and the Broncos continue to recruit at the top of the MAC. Western Michigan is the only MAC school to bring in a 4 star recruit in Antwan Reed (Tackle). I like the Broncos to stampede past their win total number and contend for the MAC title this season.
Purdue Under 6 Wins
Brohm’s first season as head coach at Purdue was a good one as he led the Boilermakers to their first winning record since the 2011 season. Brohm’s offense is quite explosive and despite rotating quarterbacks last season, the Boilermakers showed vast improvement on offense. However, offense is only half of the equation and Purdue only brings back four starters on defense. Additionally, Purdue doesn’t recruit well and sustained winning against more talented opponents is difficult. Furthermore, the schedule is not favorable to the Boilermakers this season as they have out of conference matchups against Missouri and Boston College. In conference they draw both Ohio State and Michigan State out of the East. While I do see a bright future for the Boilermakers under Brohm I don’t see them getting to a bowl game this season.
USC Over 7.5 Wins
Of my five picks in this article, USC is the one team that I will look at last year’s record. USC is coming off a PAC-12 Championship season and while they lose a first round QB in Darnold and only have 13 returning starters this season, setting their win total line at 7.5 is a bit of an overreaction. The last time USC failed to win 8 games was when the Trojans were on scholarship restriction. Helton has recruited well and USC is the most talented team in the Pac-12. The Trojans do have tough non-conference games against Texas and Notre Dame but they play in the weaker division of the Pac-12 and should have no trouble getting to 8 wins this season.
Follow Dave on Twitter @bulldogdave22