Big League Clu brings us the second part of his college football top 25 preview.
As we continue our CFB top 25 preview, get a good look at these schools, as I am sure that there are many household names in this section.
#15 Texas Longhorns
Big 12 Conference
2011: 8-5 (Won Holiday Bowl)
Despite a rebuilding year at Texas, the longhorns showed some promise by winning the Holiday Bowl over Cal 21-10. Going into the off season, the question on everyone’s mind was who was going to start at QB in 2012-2013? Was it going to be David Ash? Or Case McCoy? Well look no further, as UT officially ended THAT question just a few days ago when Coach Mack Brown named Ash as the starter. Both have the ability to be superstars at QB, however they both also showed signs of inconsistency as Freshman. Lets see if Ash can show that he’s improved since then, as Texas looks to climb its way back to the top of the NCAA rankings.
#14 Clemson Tigers
ACC Conference (Atlantic Division)
2011: 10-4 (Lost Orange Bowl)
Talk about one of the feel good stories of 2011, I picked Clemson to improve but boy did they exceed expectations. They set some big records last year too. On October 1, Clemson became the first ACC team in history to beat three nationally ranked opponents in a row: #21 Auburn (also broke their 17 game win streak), #11 Florida State, and #11 Virginia Tech. They had clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title by November! So what should we look for in 2012? Probably a more improved passing attack led by Sophomore WR Sammy Watkins (1,219 yards receiving, 12 TDs). Unfortunately, the Freshman All-American will actually miss the first two games of the year due to punishment by Clemson stemming from an arrest he had in the off-season. Still, even without him, they have a great offense that is led by Junior QB Tajh Boyd (3,828 yards passing, 33 passing TDs and 5 rushing TDs).
#13 Michigan State Spartans
Big Ten Conference (Legends Division)
2011: 11-3 (Won Outback Bowl)
How does MSU top what was probably one it’s best seasons in recent memory? Well they replace QB Kirk Cousins with Junior Andrew Maxwell, who was voted an Elite 11 QB. They have yet another plethora of running backs and boast one of the nations top defenses again too. Also keep your eye out for converted DE Lawrence Thomas (formerly a linebacker) who comes in with a meaty 6’3”, 295 pound frame and should be dangerous on the outside end for the Spartans. I look for Michigan State to be back at the top of the Big Ten again this year, but will they be able to compete for a BCS spot? All will depend on how well Maxwell can adapt to being the top QB.
#12 Wisconsin Badgers
Big Ten Conference (Leaders Division)
2011: 11-3 (Lost Rose Bowl)
The main reason that Wisconsin did not win the Rose Bowl last year was the failure of the D to stop Oregon’s offense. This year the Badgers tried to address several issues on the defensive side in the off-season, primarily in the secondary. On offense, meanwhile, they replaced NC State transfer QB Russel Wilson with yet another transfer, this time from Maryland in QB Danny O’Brien, who is a 6-foot-2 junior, threw for 29 touchdown passes in 17 starts at Maryland and should fit in quite well with the Badgers. This season will be interesting as far as strength of schedule is concerned, as Wisconsin now has one of the weakest schedules in the Big Ten. They don’t face any of the other big schools in the leaders division (Michigan or Iowa), so they could be the clear favorites to win the Leaders division.
#11 West Virginia Mountaineers
Big 12 Conference
2011: 10-3 (Won Orange Bowl)
Well well well… West Virginia, one of the newly added teams to the Big 12, looks to flex their muscle in their new conference (they jumped ship from the Big East to the Big 12). The only question I see here will be how well WVU will manage against their new competition. We all know that they were a big fish in the small pond in the Big East conference. The question is will they rise up against their new counterparts, or flop and become a bottom dweller because they cant manage to hang with their new competition? They do have the offense, which is led by Senior QB Geno Smith (4385 yards passing, 31 TDs), but they will need to get that defense doing a better job if they want to be able to hang with the top dogs in the Big 12 like Oklahoma, Baylor and OK State. Lets see how they do….just don’t hold your breath.
Featured image courtesy of: David Stluka
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