The 25 things we got wrong in college football in the 2018 season
Washington (USA) Jan 4: Nothing ever goes as planned in the world of college football. And the 2018 season was no exception.
Teams expected to contend were out of the College Football Playoff race by September. Others expected to struggle found themselves in the thick of things for most of the season.
Coaches that appeared to have job security ended without jobs. Some entering their first year with new programs were expected to provide and immediate impact, but ended out of the postseason.
Players anticipated as Heisman contenders didn't make the trip to New York. Another thought to be unable to replace last year's winner ended up taking home the award.
A comprehensive look at the top 25 things we got wrong this season:
1. Kyler Murray won't be able to match Baker Mayfield's impact at Oklahoma
This was a pretty common refrain during the summer: Oklahoma will still be very good but not quite as good as in 2017, and definitely not as productive at quarterback without last year's Heisman Trophy winner. As it turned out, Murray matched Mayfield's numbers as a passer and added 1,001 yards on the ground in winning his own Heisman.
2. The Big Ten will be the toughest conference in college football
It's a strong league but still second fiddle to the SEC. As a whole, the Big Ten was shut out of the playoff for the third year in a row. The conference's best team, Ohio State, was playing as well as anyone in the season's final few weeks but couldn't overcome an earlier loss to Purdue.
3. UCF won't go unbeaten again in regular season with new coaching staff
No Scott Frost, no problems for the Knights. Josh Heupel entered and led the program to 12 consecutive wins to start season, resulting in its second consecutive New Year's Six bowl.
4. Brandon Wimbush is ready to lead Notre Dame into the playoff race
Wimbush was part of a team that reached the Cotton Bowl, but he lost the starting job to Ian Book in September and has announced that he'll transfer for his final season of eligibility.
5. Bryce Love is the clear favorite for the Heisman Trophy
Entering the season, Love was looking to improve one spot after he averaged yards per 8.1 yards per carry and finished as runner-up to Baker Mayfield. Injuries and poor play from the Stanford offense slowed him and the team. He managed just 739 yards and the Cardinal finished third in the Pac-12 North.
6. LSU starts the season as the fourth-best team in the SEC West
As it turned out, the Tigers were the third-best team in the SEC in the regular season. LSU had one great win against Georgia and won 10 games overall, including the Fiesta Bowl against previously unbeaten UCF.
7. Washington State will be held back by questions at quarterback
Enter Gardner Minshew. The East Carolina graduate transfer immediately took control of the offense and became a hero in Pullman. While the Cougars narrowly missed out on the Pac-12 North title, Minshew led the team to 11 victories and was fifth in the Heisman voting.
8. The ACC Coastal will come down to Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech
The Hurricanes and Hokies couldn't even win this average (or worse) division, which ended up going to a Pittsburgh team that finished 7-7. The Hokies barely reached the postseason. And Miami had a miserable year and a miserable start to its offseason, with Mark Richt opting for retirement after a Pinstripe Bowl loss.
9. Sam Darnold is gone, but Southern California should win the Pac-12 South
It turns out Darnold was irreplaceable. The Trojans missed out on a bowl game completely behind a true freshman quarterback, injuries on defense and inconsistency from the top down, which explains why Clay Helton overhauled his coaching staff in the weeks after the end of the regular season.
10. With Shea Patterson, Michigan beats Ohio State and wins Big Ten
So close. For about a month across October and November, Michigan was viewed as the Big Ten's best team and the league's best hope for a playoff berth. Then came a humiliating loss to Ohio State followed by a humbling Peach Bowl loss to Florida. The Wolverines were in the mix but came up short.
11. Scott Frost and Chip Kelly will give boost to Nebraska, UCLA
The Cornhuskers started 0-6. The Bruins started 0-5. The silver lining? Both teams played much better down the stretch, giving hope for next season.
12. With its key players returning, Michigan State is poised for big year
This was an ugly season for the Spartans, culminating in a loss to Oregon in the Redbox Bowl where they scored just six points. The defense was great, but the offense struggled all season, leading to a drop from 10-3 to 7-6.
13. Dwayne Haskins will be good, but Ohio State will miss J.T. Barrett
Perhaps the Buckeyes missed Barrett's leadership skills. Haskins still represented a major upgrade at quarterback in throwing for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns to earn a trip to Manhattan as a Heisman finalist. In short, Haskins had the most productive season by a passer in Big Ten history.
14. Texas isn't ready to contend in Tom Herman's second season
This was right in the idea that Texas wasn't ready to contend for a national championship. But the Longhorns proved the doubters wrong in finishing second in the Big 12, beating Oklahoma during the regular season and then knocking off Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
15. After a close call last year, Florida State's bowl streak won't be in jeopardy
The warning signs were obvious from the opener, a bad loss at home to a Virginia Tech team that barely eked out six wins. The Seminoles would finish 5-7 overall to miss a bowl game for the first time since 1981. The second half of the year saw lopsided losses to Clemson, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Florida.
16. It's going to take some time for Dan Mullen to rebuild Florida
The fears looked to be confirmed with a home loss to Kentucky in September that ended a 31-game win streak against the Wildcats. But then the Gators pulled off defeats of Mississippi State and LSU before finishing 10-3 after an impressive defeat of Michigan. They'll likely received their highest final ranking in the poll since the 2009 season.
17. The hiring Herm Edwards could blow up in the face of Arizona State
For sure there were doubters after the Sun Devils pulled the ESPN analyst back to the sideline. But an early upset of Michigan State silenced many of them. ASU didn't lose a game by more than seven points in the regular season and got to seven wins, including defeats of USC and Utah.
18. Syracuse has a good chance to make a bowl game
The Orange actually did much better than that, beating everyone in their division besides Clemson to finish second in the ACC Atlantic. They reached their highest ranking in the Amway Coaches Poll in 20 years and had their first 10-win season since 2001.
19. Lane Kiffin's Florida Atlantic will contend for a New Year's Six bowl
It seemed that way coming off an 11-win finish and Conference USA title in his debut. But the former Tennessee and USC head coach oversaw a team that was expected to repeat atop the league but instead finished 5-7.
20. Will Grier is a Heisman candidate and West Virginia can win the Big 12
Grier played up to that standard for a good portion of the 2018 season but was far overshadowed by Murray's performance at OU. Likewise with WVU, which seemed to have a shot at the playoff in October but unsurprisingly wilted down the stretch. So long, Dana Holgorsen.
21. South Carolina can finish second in an SEC East behind after Georgia
With first-year coaches at Tennessee and Florida, the door was certainly open. But South Carolina was immediately overtaken by the Gators and was passed by Kentucky in finishing fourth in the division.
22. Kevin Sumlin will make Khalil Tate a Heisman contender
This seemed like the perfect fit for both the incoming Arizona coach and his talented quarterback. But things got off to a bad start in the opener against BYU and never seemed to get back on track as the Wildcats finished 5-7.
23. The loss of Lamar Jackson won't total devastate Louisville
Everyone except Bobby Petrino thought the offense would take a step back, but there would certainly be a bowl game after the season. Instead, an awful offense was equaled by an awful defense, and the Cardinals went winless in the ACC and Petrino was fired.
24. Colorado is well-positioned to contend in the Pac-12 South
It looked that way through the first five games as the Buffaloes went 5-0 and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. started to get some Heisman mention. Then came a seven-game losing streak, including a horrific home loss to Oregon State, that left Colorado out of a bowl game and coach Mike MacIntyre out of a job.
25. Connecticut's defense won't be great, but won't be historically bad
UConn's defense was, in fact, historically bad. Like, "worst in FBS history" bad. The Huskies set new lows in yards allowed, points allowed, yards allowed per game and points allowed per game.
Source: Sports Today