The biggest surprises of the 2015 College football season, and the biggest flops. Join me as we catch up with all the relevant action of the season and what the new season will bring for us.
As I start my evaluation of the 2015 college football season in preparation of the 2016 season, I like to see where I was wrong about certain teams. I’m not trying to torture myself. I want to see what I can learn.
I want to see which teams my preseason power ratings were furthest apart from my final season ratings.
In case you aren’t a customer of my power ratings, I have no ceiling or floor to the ratings, but I generally have about 100 as my top rating and the low usually hovers around 40.
This season, my top rating at any point in the season was Ohio State, who I had at 102 after their opening win over Virginia Tech. I, like most of the world, thought they were the best team in college football and would be in the playoff with a chance to defend their national title. Obviously, they didn’t stay there, finishing the season at 93.5.
The lowest rating of the season went to North Texas State, who clocked a lowly 40 after their embarrassing 66-7 loss at home to FCS Portland State. More about them in a minute.
Lets start with Central Florida, who was my most disappointing teams of the 2015 season. Forget about just me, they were an abysmally disappointing team to everyone in 2015.
Central Florida was led by highly respected veteran head coach George O’Leary. They had lost quite a bit from the previous season, but the thought was O’Leary could keep them relevant while he rebuilt the program.
I rated Central Florida 71 before the season with 7.0 wins predicted during the year. Central Florida started with a loss to instate rival Florida International and they never recovered. They lost to Furman a few weeks later and never managed to find the winners circle once all season.
My final rating was 48, 23 points lower than where I thought they would be. Wow. By the way, O’Leary resigned under pressure. That is one bad, bad season.
The previously mentioned North Texas State was the second most overrated team of the 2015 season. I had North Texas a very mediocre 61 and projected 5.0 season wins.
The Mean Green fired head coach Dan McCarney after the Portland State debacle, and rebounded all the way up to a final ranking of 42. I overrated them by 19 points. They managed 1 win on for the year. Yikes! That is one disappointing season.
Another overrated team by yours truly coming into 2015 was Rice, also from conference USA. I had Rice preseason rated 68, and 53 by the end of the season. I was off by 15 points, not quite as overrated as Central Florida and North Texas State, but I thought the Owls would be in the bowl picture. I predicted 7.5 season wins. They managed only 5. I missed pretty high.
I thought Hawaii would have a nice season in the very mediocre Mountain West. I rated them at 62 in the preseason. They won 2 of their first 3, including a win over PAC-12 Colorado. Things went south for the Rainbow Warriors soon after, losing 9 straight and getting head coach Norm Chow fired. They finished the season with a power rating of 48, 14 points lower than the preseason rating. I anticipated 6.0 wins. They finished with 3.
On the other side of the equation, my third most underrated team this season was Washington. I love head coach Chris Petersen, but thought his team was terribly undermanned. They also lost their starting quarterback just before the opener. Things did not look god for the Huskies. I had them rated 70, very low for a PAC-12 team, and had them penciled in for 3.9 wins.
Petersen turned things around quickly after an opening loss to his previous team, Boise State. By the end of the season, Washington had 6 wins and raised their power rating to 84.5, a 14.5-point increase.
The next biggest positive surprise for me was Georgia State. The Panthers had only been in the FBS a short time and had never risen above the very depths of my ratings. There was no reason for me to think otherwise coming into this year. Boy, was I wrong.
They started the season with a loss to a new FBS team, Charlotte and I thought all would be the same. They came back with a win over New Mexico State, then lost 3 straight, won 1, then lost 2 more. They suddenly caught fire and finished the season with 4 straight wins. They even made it to a low-level bowl game. Who would have seen that coming? Not me, I can tell you that.
I had Georgia State rated near the bottom of my rankings at 44, but their season ending flourished pushed them up to 61, a 17-point increase. I predicted 2 wins, they won 6 games. Pretty nice upside surprise.
I didn’t expect too much out of South Florida, but now that I look back, I could have seen it coming. They had recruited well during coach Willie Taggert’s first two years on the job, but there were no results on the field.
South Florida won the opener against lowly Florida A&M, then lost 3 straight. Those 3 losses were to good teams. That was the tipoff. They then reeled off 7 wins in their next 8 eight games. They were also 7 of 8 against the college football odds in that stretch.
I had South Florida rated 58 in the preseason, with 3.8 projected wins. The Bulls were the surprise of the season. Their final rating was 78, 20 points higher than I had anticipated. The 8 wins were more than double what I predicted.
Like I said, I’m not torturing myself with my mistakes. I hope to file away some of these misses to see exactly why I missed and where I can improve in the future for my college football picks.