After watching this wild and wacky bowl season, it dawned on me that this year’s final college football rankings will look quite a bit different than they did back in August.
I’m not faulting anyone for being unable to predict the future but let’s just say there were a number of surprises this season that caught pollsters off guard.
So without further ado…
ALABAMA – Preseason Rank 1
What we thought would happen: Long considered the inevitable champion, we would all regale as AJ McCarron rode off into the sunset with his hot ass girlfriend and three straight national championships, ultimately becoming the answer to the trivia question of who was the last college quarterback to win three national championships and not be worth a damn in the NFL. Alabama would construct a second statue of Nick Saban outside its stadium to commemorate his coaching greatness.
What actually happened: ‘Bama lost to Auburn in the wildest game of the year, didn’t get to play for an SEC Championship or national championship for that matter and ended up losing to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Guess that second statue will have to wait.
OHIO STATE – Preseason Rank 2
What we thought would happen: A collision course between the recently off-probation Buckeyes, the formerly heartsick Urban Meyer and Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide seemed like a foregone conclusion but we know what they say about best laid plans.
What actually happened: Just like ‘Bama, Ohio State lost their last game of the season, this time in the Big Ten Championship game to Michigan State. For the record, Michigan State wasn’t even ranked in the pre-season polls. Ohio State then lost to Clemson giving the Buckeyes, like ‘Bama, a two-game losing streak to end their season.
OREGON – Preseason Rank 3
What we thought would happen: If any team could challenge either of the aforementioned two football powerhouses, it would be the high-flying offense of the Oregon Ducks, who would most assuredly run through the Pac-12.
What actually happened: Oregon lost at Stanford and then inexplicably got their clocks cleaned by Arizona two weeks later. Oregon went on to beat a hapless Texas team in the Alamo Bowl but once again reminded us why we should never take them all that seriously.
STANFORD – Preseason Rank 4
What we thought would happen: The pollsters finally got one right. Stanford was one of the better college football teams this season.
What actually happened: Stanford lost to both Utah and USC so despite their Rose Bowl bid, a game which they also lost, it was tough to take them all that seriously as well.
GEORGIA – Preseason Rank 5
What we thought would happen: No preseason college football rankings would be complete without about eight SEC teams in it. The Georgia Bulldogs were supposed to challenge both Florida and South Carolina for SEC Eastern division dominance. Ironically, Missouri ended up better than all of them. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Missouri received not a single preseason vote. Nor did Auburn for that matter who is playing for a national championship.
What actually happened: Georgia shit the bed due to injuries and bad luck. Losing their first game of the season to Clemson didn’t help matters but at least it gave us the first indication that the 2013 Southeastern Conference wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
SOUTH CAROLINA – Preseason Rank 6
What we thought would happen: JaDeveon Clowney was supposed to strike fear into the hearts of opposing offenses on his way to becoming a number one draft pick and one of the best defensive players college football had seen in decades.
What actually happened: After a lackluster and clearly unmotivated season, Clowney will still be the top pick taken, reminding us how meaningless a college football season can actually be.
TEXAS A&M – Preseason Rank 7
What we thought would happen: America’s sweetheart/troublemaker/alcoholic quarterback/close personal friend of Drake, Johnny Manziel would once again take college football by storm.
What actually happened: He did, again, inflating his draft status and leading some NFL GM to hope he’s the second coming of Doug Flutie when he’s more likely the second coming of Tim Tebow. Hey, at least he’ll sell some tickets.
CLEMSON – Preseason Rank 8
What we thought would happen: The traditionally, highly-ranked Clemson Tigers were bound to have a successful, yet ultimately disappointing, two-loss season. That’s what they do every year.
What actually happened: After getting waxed by Florida State, things just weren’t the same but they did beat both Georgia and Ohio State this season. That has to count for something.
LOUISVILLE – Preseason Rank 9
What we thought would happen: Under the tutelage of one of the best young coaches in the game, we knew Louisville would be good… and they were. We also knew that another successful season would have every school in the nation salivating over Charlie Strong.
What actually happened: Louisville’s only loss this season was by three points to UCF and yes, as expected, Charlie Strong packed his bags and moved to Texas.
FLORIDA – Preseason Rank 10
What we thought would happen: Need I relive this? We knew the Gators would struggle offensively after watching them overachieve last year.
What actually happened: The Gators had their worst season since football was invented, ending the season on a seven game losing streak and leading Gainesville residents to hiss under their breath when Coach Will Muschamp walks into a local restaurant.
FLORIDA STATE – Preseason Rank 11
What we thought would happen: Ranking FSU pre-season in the top twenty-five is a no-brainer. It’s a program that traditionally competes with the rest.
What actually happened: This year, Florida State proved they had NO competition. The ‘Noles ranked atop college football in both points scored (53.0) and points allowed (10.7). If you do that, you’re generally going to have a pretty good season. And they did. It’s just too bad nobody saw it coming.
LSU – Preseason Rank 12
What we thought would happen: If anybody could challenge almighty ‘Bama, it would be LSU who had beaten them in the regular season two years before.
What actually happened: Before even getting to ‘Bama, LSU lost to both Georgia and Ole Miss, dashing any hopes of getting back to the BCS title game. At least they still got their weekly entertaining, post-game sound bites from the certifiable Les Miles.
OKLAHOMA STATE – Preseason Rank 13
What we thought would happen: The Big 12 was up for grabs this year. Oklahoma State was one of the teams that would contend for the conference championship. Preseason unranked Baylor was not.
What actually happened: You can already tell where I’m going with this. Baylor won the conference, Oklahoma State did not. After losing to both Oklahoma and Missouri, the Cowboys ended up their season on a two-game losing skid.
NOTRE DAME – Preseason Rank 14
What we thought would happen: After playing for a national championship last year, no one quite knew what to expect from the Irish this year. Ranking them fourteenth seemed nondescript enough.
What actually happened: Insert made-up girlfriend joke here. Notre Dame lost four games this season on their way to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. On the bright side, they didn’t have to play Alabama again.
TEXAS – Preseason Rank 15
What we thought would happen: It’s been a few years since Mack Brown yielded a competitive team. I’m not too sure too many of us were convinced he would do so in 2013.
What actually happened: He didn’t. The Longhorns lost to BYU and Mississippi State in back to back games only months before Mack Brown would be forced to retire… allegedly.
OKLAHOMA – Preseason Rank 16
What we thought would happen: By this point, haven’t we all learned not to take any Bob Stoops team too seriously.
What actually happened: Alabama must have received the memo about not taking the Sooners seriously. Oklahoma beat the defending national champs in the Sugar Bowl leading to what should be a pleasant off-season for Sooner fans until they realize that next year, Bob Stoops is still their coach.
MICHIGAN – Preseason Rank 17
What we thought would happen: Most of us had already handed the Big Ten Championship to Ohio State. The only hope was that Michigan could somehow take them down in their traditional Thanksgiving weekend matchup.
What actually happened: Michigan ended up the season unranked, losing five of its last six games.
NEBRASKA – Preseason Rank 18
What we thought would happen: Nebraska fans are impatiently waiting for the day Bo Pellini can bring their program back to relevance.
What actually happened: They’ll have to wait another year for that to happen as the Huskers finished 9-4. They did beat Georgia in the Gator Bowl but then again, who couldn’t beat Georgia this year? Oh, that’s right. Florida.
BOISE STATE – Preseason Rank 19
What we thought would happen: It’s become fashionable to stick a mid-major, particularly one like Boise State, in the pre-season rankings, that way someone can tell us “See? I told you so!” when they end up being competitive.
What actually happened: After losing their first game of the season to Washington 38-6, most of us stopped paying attention to the Broncos, only turning our heads every time they were on television to wonder why the hell they play on a blue field.
TCU – Preseason Rank 20
What we thought would happen: Let’s be honest. TCU hasn’t been relevant ever since Andy Dalton got drafted.
What actually happened: They still weren’t, going 4-8, and causing more Horned Frogs fans to tune into Cincinnati Bengals games rather than their own.