College football hits and misses

As another college football seasonwinds down, and as we approach the many bowl games that mean so much to all of us, it’s fun to go back and look at how everybody thought the 2012 season would go.

And how wrong they were. Because let’s face it, nothing convinces us how smart we are more than convincing ourselves how dumb they were.

And in many cases, those who voted in the Associated Press preseason college football pool were pretty dumb. So lets look at some of the disappointments and surprises of the football season. There are plenty of both.

Disappointments

1. Southern California. The Trojans were the easy choice as preseason No. 1 and have lost five games. Their struggles aren’t because of a

Southern California has loads of talent, but only a 7-5 record. Golden boy coach Lane Kiffin doesn’t seem to be working out in Los Angeles.

lack of talent. They’re because of a young coach who is more sizzle that grizzle. (Side note: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the sizzle/grizzle comparison. I’m not even sure it’s applicable. But because this is a blog, I’m going with it because I like it, whether it works or not). Lane Kiffin is overrated, just like his team. The No. 1 spot on this list was easy.

2. Michigan. The Wolverines aren’t terrible. In fact, they’re pretty good. But they were picked No. 8 in the preseason and they’re currently No. 21 with four losses in a sub-par Big Ten.

3. West Virginia. Will I ever learn that one-dimensional teams like West Virginia never stand the test of time. Especially not in a power conference like the Big 12. I was a sucker, though, and bought in. Only to learn – for the one millionth time – that a team that only passes never passes the test.

4. Oklahoma. I know, the Sooners still have a shot at winning the Big 12 championship. I know, the Sooners came back for a dramatic win over Oklahoma State last week. I know, I know, I know. Still, for a team picked No. 4 in the preseason, hasn’t this season been a disappointment? The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”

5. Michigan State. Sparty can’t win at home. Sparty has not done one interesting thing all season. Sparty needs to just go away now.

6. Arkansas. It started with Bobby Petrino. It continued with an injury to quarterback Tyler Wilson. The Hogs never got going.

7. Texas. Where was that stifling, best-in-the-nation defense again?

8. Auburn. Believe it or not, the Tigers were 28th in the preseason rankings. That didn’t happen. Instead, Gene Chizik got fired.

9. TCU. I think I expected more. Didn’t you?

10. Missouri. The Tigers were shown what SEC football is all about.

Surprises

1. Notre Dame. After so many seasons of struggle and pretense, you knew the Irish would have to break through the door to get attention. And that’s what happened this season, after Notre Dame was ranked No. 26 in the AP’s preseason poll. The most surprising team in the country will play for a national championship on Jan. 7 in Miami.

2. Kansas State. So, my media brethren around the Big 12 picked K-State to finish sixth in the conference? You guys really aren’t very smart. I’ve been telling you that for years. (By the way, I don’t have a vote so it’s not my fault).

3. Ohio State. The undefeated Buckeyes might not be eligible for postseason play, but Urban Meyer is still eligible for icon status. And he added more to his resume with his first-year performance in Columbus.

4. Texas A&M. As much as Missouri’s first season in the SEC resembled a lump of coal, the Aggies’ debut season was jolly and joyful. Kevin Sumlin made a huge difference, as did some freshman quarterback they call “Johnny Football.” A&M’s future as the only Texas school in the SEC looks rosy.

5. Penn State. After the chaotic offseason and 0-2 start to the season, nobody expected 8-2 the rest of the way. Bill O’Brien should get some coach of the year votes.

6. UCLA. I know the Bruins were knocked off by Stanford the other day, but there’s a rematch coming in the Pac 12 championship game. And don’t you think USC would kill to have Jim Mora as its coach instead of that Kiffin guy?

7. Florida. Don’t you also think Texas fans wish the Longhorns would have offered their coaching job to Will Muschamp before he left to take over the Gators a couple of years ago? If there’s a team that gets the BCS’s short shrift, it’s Florida, which has one loss while playing the nation’s toughest schedule.

8. Oregon State. The Beavs didn’t get any preseason run to speak of, yet was 6-0 before dropping three of its past five games. And they were blown out Saturday night against Oregon. Still, a surprise.

9. Kent State. The Golden Flashes meet Northern Illinois, my 10th surprise team in college football, on Friday night in the MAC championship game. And if Kent State wins, there’s a good chance it will crash the Orange Bowl. Can you imagine? Kent State has forever been one of the worst programs in college football and now is ranked No. 17 in the BCS standings and 18th in the AP poll, one slot ahead of Northern Illinois. Both teams are 11-1, but were nowhere to be seen in the preseason. They are good teams and good stories that often get buried by BCS hoopla.