Disparity and chaos reign week in and week out in the College Football world. It is simply what makes it so amazing to watch and partake in every week. Most “experts” and “analysts” can normally guess what team will win each conference. However, every year there are teams that surprise and give the top tier teams a run for their money. Here is a list of one team from each power 5 conference that could surprise people and win their conference.
Let’s face it, the ACC is Clemson’s to lose. But one team that I think can compete on the opposite side of the conference is Virginia Tech. The Hokies finished 2nd in their division with a record of 8-5 overall and 5-3 in conference. With a 6 overtime win against North Carolina and a 36-17 win over #22 Wake Forest. As well as a 1 point loss against #16 Notre Dame and a 7 point loss to Kentucky in the bowl game, just goes to show that this team can handle their own when it comes to big games. The Hokies are led by Hendon Hooker. The redshirt junior quarterback threw 99/162 for 1555 yards. And threw 13 touchdowns while only having 2 interceptions. On the ground he added 356 yards and 5 touchdowns. They have an early big time game against Penn State to show if they are going to compete or not. And get this…they don’t have, the reigning College Football champs, Clemson on their Schedule. Winning their division is the easy part. Beating Clemson in the championship game will be a tall task but this team will be up to the challenge.
Finishing 11-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play helped propel the Nittany Lions to a NY6 bowl and 2nd in their division only behind Ohio State. Many consider Penn State a top tier college football team but they haven’t quite yet cracked past Ohio State. This season most experts will more than likely pick Ohio State to repeat their Big 10 success. I say different. With All-American linebacker and potential top-5 NFL Draft selection, Micah Parsons and the Nittany Lions will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Parsons ended the season on a tear with 10 or more tackles in the 3 straight games and 6 out of the last seven. As well as totaling 5 sacks on the season. On the other side of the ball, they have Sean Clifford who is slowly going to break records this season. Last season, he threw 189/319 2654 yards coupled with 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. On the ground, he added 5 touchdowns and 402 yards. Their 2 losses last season came against and up and coming Minnesota team and Ohio State. They ended their season on a strong note with a 53-39 victory over the Group of 5 representative Memphis Tigers in the Cotton Bowl. Penn State may not be considered a “dark horse” but the Nittany Lions will surely surprise everyone. THEY WILL MAKE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF. Count on it.
The cardiac cowboys. Mark my words Oklahoma State will win the Big 12 this year. Last season finishing 8-5 overall and 5-4 in conference play the cowboys finished tied for 4th. This year they return 18 of 22 starters. Led by the three-headed monster on offense. Which includes, Chuba Hubbard last season’s leading rusher in the nation. Going for 2094 yards, 21 touchdowns and all that without fumbling the ball once. Hubbard is projected to repeat as the Big 12 offensive player of the year. The man handing the ball off to him is Big 12 offensive freshman of the year after throwing 155/247 with 2065 yards and 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The third member of this offensive nightmare is Tylan Wallace. In 2018 Wallace came in 3rd for the Biletnikoff Award, which he should have won. As well as being named a 2018 All American. He caught 86 passes for 1491 yards and 12 touchdowns in a total of 13 games. In 2019 he was only able to play 8 games as an ACL injury derailed his season. Up to that point he caught 53 passes for 903 yards and 8 touchdowns. Which was good enough to earn a spot on the 2019 All American 2nd team despite playing half the season. This year Bedlam comes early, 3 games into conference play, which Oklahoma State could use to their advantage due to the Sooners having a quarterback who only played in 3 games taking the helm. Watch out for the Cowboys.
The Sun Devils finished 8-5 overall and 4-5 in the Pac 12 which was only good for 3rd in their division. Last season they were led by freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels. Who threw 205/338 and 2943 yards. While also tossing 17 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. On the ground he add 355 yards and 3 touchdowns. He helped Arizona State get big time wins over Michigan State and Oregon. The Sun Devils under Herm Edwards are a team nobody wants to play when at full strength. Watch out for the Sun Devils out west they are going to surprise everyone.
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When Feleipe Franks got injured against Kentucky it seemed as though the Gators season was done for. But then Kyle Trask came in. He led the Gators to a comeback win against Kentucky. Then led the team to finish to finish 8-2 including a bowl game victory. The two losses came against LSU and a 7 point loss against Georgia. He threw 237/354 for 2941 yards, 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The Gators are hoping for a similar performance this year. And with the starting job all but locked up it is possible. The Gators are in a good spot with Trask, they will get the job done in the SEC.