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College Football Bounce-Back Teams, Part 1

   by Al McMordie - 08/24/2005

Some football teams look very different from one season to the next. This is especially true in college ball, where players graduate and have to be replaced with brand new faces. Sometimes new coaching staffs come in and other times talented freshman come aboard. Or perhaps teams simply don’t get the breaks one season and the next year everything falls into place. A year ago I wrote about some football teams that were off disappointing seasons but were in line to bounce back with strong seasons. One of those was Texas A&M, which stumbled badly in Dennis Franchione’s first season. But Franchione had a long track record of success and had key players back. So it was no surprise to me when A&M got off to 5-1 SU/ATS start last season before oddsmakers caught up. Another one I wrote about was Louisville, which had a phenomenal 2004 bounce-back season going 11-1 straight up and 10-2 against the spread! Let’s take a look at some college football teams that are off frustrating seasons in 2004, yet may turn things around -- both straight up and against the spread.

NC State: It was a frustrating 5-6 season for the Wolfpack in 2004. Yet, the defensive stats on this team were sensational, as they allowed just 220 total yards per game. In fact, they had an edge in total yards each game by a brilliant 350-220 average! Turnovers were the major reason they had a losing record, but coach Chuck Amato, like Franchione, has a track record of success and welcomes back a lot of talent. Seven starters return on offense along with a new coordinator in Marc Trestman. Senior QB Jay Davis is will once again line up behind center, and the ‘D’ excelled under first year coordinator Reggie Herring. Herring has mammoth junior DEs Mario Williams and Manny Lawson up front, so for 2005, a better season is likely -- both straight up and against the number.

Ohio State: A .500 (4-4) record in the Big 10 is not the norm for the Buckeyes. Coach Jim Tressel’s team has a tough defense back and excellent speed on offense in sophomore QB Troy Smith and WR Ted Ginn. Both came on late last season and it was the mobile Smith (8 TDs, 3 picks) who helped lead the 37-21 rout of Michigan. Ginn is a Wild Card -- a speedy young weapon who the coaching staff has said they will do EVERYTHING to try to put the ball into his hands. It wouldn't shock me to see Ohio State rebound and win the Conference title.

T.C.U: There is so much offensive depth and talent that it’s difficult to believe this group could go 5-6 SU, 3-8 ATS again. Especially since Coach Gary Patterson has 12 starters back. The Horned Frogs' offense averaged 33 points, 166 yards rushing and 264 yards passing per game and returns senior QB Tye Gunn, junior RB Robert Merrill and senior RB Lonta Hobbs. The defense struggled badly last season, but has seven starters back and could benefit from its move to the Mountain West Conference from Conference USA. They had made six straight bowl appearances before last year’s flop, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go bowling again.

Florida: The Gators (7-5) suffered through another erratic season under coach Ron Zook, who was pushed out the door. Now former Utah head coach Urban Meyer comes aboard, and he is the hottest young coach in the country. Meyer will bring his aggressive, spread attack to Gainesville and happens to have a ton of talent at his disposal. Junior QB Chris Leak is a great player and the perfect combination of mobility and strength to run Meyer’s system. He had 29 TDs, and just 12 INTs last season and led an offense that averaged 32 points, 155 yards rushing and 271 passing. This should be one of the most exciting teams in the country. Good luck as always...Al McMordie. And I'll return in a few days with Part 2 of this series.

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