It’s still early in college football’s offseason, but that hasn’t stopped many outlets from projecting surprise contenders for the 2023 season. As is often the case, the Texas Longhorns are one of the trending breakaway teams.
Oftentimes, the teams that no one expects to cross the 10-win threshold emerge as playoff contenders.
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Last season, the TCU Horned Frogs went from 5-7 to their first-ever playoff berth. The Washington Huskies experienced a similar turnaround in 2022.
The year before, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest and NC State surprised when Clemson stepped back.
While it’s hardly ever Miami, Texas or Nebraska that reach new heights, their record of winning raises expectations for each team. Let’s see whose hype we buy and sell for the 2023 season.
If last season taught us anything, the Miami Hurricanes have had a major overhaul. The Hurricanes will take on North Carolina, NC State and Florida State on the road and play host to Texas A&M and Clemson. Tyler Van Dyke will have to play hero to lead the team to a successful season.
While their SEC future is in question, the Sooners’ stock looks strong for 2023. Adding four potential impact starters on defense, hooking up a portal tackle, and adding an elite tight end gives you a shot at competing. There’s no harm in making the meeting schedule significantly easier.
Texas A&M Aggies
There is no way the Aggies will lose a second season in a row. However, the team is not about to challenge for an SEC title. The team is bursting with talent led by arguably A&M’s best quarterback since Johnny Manziel. The problem is Jimbo Fisher’s system and philosophy, which probably won’t change much when Bobby Petrino plays.
Seminoles of the state of Florida
Buy 10 wins, sell playoff hype.
The Florida State Seminoles should once again be one of the better teams in college football. Mike Norvell started strong with a win over LSU and ended the season with a bowl win over Oklahoma. What Norvell is doing in Tallahassee is impressive, but they lack the talent it takes to make a playoff run.
Matt Rhule is a program builder. However, it takes him time to build. Rhule went 1-11 in his first year at Baylor before winning seven games in 2018 and 11 games in 2019. Nebraska is undergoing a massive rebuild and could take several years to become a viable contender.
We were confident that the 2020 team would win games based on the experience it got back. The 2023 team far eclipses the talent of that group. Guidance is available. The development is visible. With 10 of 11 offensive starters back and several defensive playmakers on the squad, there is no excuse for Texas to strike out in its 10-win bid.
If Caleb Williams stays healthy, this team will be in every game. Look for USC to take a step forward as play continues to slow for Williams.
Texas saw firsthand the difficulty of stopping Washington’s attack with Michael Penix leading the charge. Look for the Huskies pushing for a playoff appearance in Kalen DeBoer’s second season on campus.
Kansas State was very good last season. They probably lack the required talent to repeat as Big 12 champions. The loss of Deuce Vaughn could make life difficult for Will Howard and the K-State raid.