Our college football analyst discusses 3 teams coming off brutal seasons based on their program’s standards. Go inside to read why he believes they’ll all show substantial progress during this upcoming 2017 campaign.
Virginia Cavaliers: Bronco Mendenhall’s first year as head coach at Virginia was a forgetful one, to say the least. His Cavaliers finished with a horrible 2-10 record. As a matter of fact, since a loss at Duke on 10/8/2014, Virginia has gone 7-22, and that includes 5-17 (.227) in the ACC. After winning last year’s conference opener over Duke, Virginia dropped its last 7 ACC games and failed to cover on 6 of those occasions.
One thing is for certain, Bronco Mendenhall won’t take losing lightly. Mendenhall was the head coach at BYU from 2005 to 2015. During that time, BYU went a stellar 99-43 (.697), played in a bowl game during all 11 seasons, and finished with a winning record for 10 straight years.
Mendenhall doesn’t have a particularly good incoming freshmen class coming in. Nonetheless, it won’t take much to exceed the 2 wins from a year ago. I would consider a 5-win season in 2017 as substantial growth. They have 3 outstanding starters returning in quarterback Kurt Benkert, safety Quinn Blanding, and linebacker Micah Kiser. I won’t be betting on Virginia having a winning season for one of my upcoming college football picks.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Notre Dame went a shocking 4-8 last season after being #5 in the 2016 preseason poll. They went into last season with two highly touted quarterbacks in juniors Malik Zaire and Deshone Kizer. Zaire has since decided to transfer, and Kizer left early for the NFL. However, the cupboard is seldom bare at Notre Dame. The Irish have winnable 2017 home games against Temple, Boston College, Miami-Ohio, NC State, and Navy. There’s no reason to believe they won’t far surpass last year’s win total.
At the time of this writing (4/19), college football betting odds indicated that Notre Dame was +5000 to win next season’s national championship. Although those odds are very enticing for one of the more storied football programs in college football lore, I don’t see Notre Dame being a realistic national title contender.
Texas Longhorns: Former Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman takes over in Austin. During his 2-year tenure at Houston, Herman’s teams went a combined 22-4. Included in that successful run was a New Year’s Day Peach Bowl 38-24 underdog win against Florida State, and they also knocked off then #1 ranked Oklahoma in their 2016 season opener.
Amassing talent has never been an issue at Texas. As a matter of fact, former head coach Charlie Strong brought in some terrific recruiting classes. Unfortunately for Strong, it didn’t translate to wins on the field and ultimately cost him his job. Tom Herman has already proven he can step into a somewhat favorable situation, and catapult that program into one the nation’s best. At the very least, Texas will be a bowl team in 2017, and I wouldn’t be shocked whatsoever to see as many as 9 wins.
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