If your team was not from the SEC or Notre Dame, there is an opportunity to grow and have better expectations than how the season ended in 2012. However, for some teams, there is only up. Here is a look of the top-5 teams to have an eye on to bounce back in 2013.
5. Texas Longhorns – There have been many ups and downs under Mack Brown since the Longhorns reached the pinnacle of college football. The last two seasons may have been the low points and there is reason to believe that 2013 may bring some good things for the Longhorns.
The Big 12 does not have a clear and definitive power and anyone outside of maybe Kansas and Iowa State has a shot to earn the automatic berth to the BCS this season.
Texas is only one of three teams to return its starting quarterback and has a defense that is going to be improved in this go around.
If Texas can win the toss-up games on its schedule, it could go along way to bring the Longhorn faithful back around on Mack Brown and his legacy.
4. Michigan State Spartans – The Spartans have one of the best schedules of any and that could go along way to determine how good the Spartans actually are.
Michigan State is lucky enough to avoid Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State. If, and it’s a big if, the passing game can come around this Spartan group could find itself with 10 wins by the time this season is said and done.
In 2012, the Spartans were 0-4 when the run defense allowed 100+ yards and the five losses were by a combined 13 points.
If luck is on the Spartans side they could make a return to the Big 10 Championship game.
3. Maryland Terrapins - Things can only go up for Maryland after the last two seasons. Six wins in two years is not what the Terrapins had in mind when Randy Edsall came to town.
However, 2012 was a year plagued by injuries, including multiple injuries to multiple quarterbacks that had starts for Maryland last season.
While an ACC Championship appearance is going to be very unlikely in 2013, a bowl-berth may not be that far fetched.
Health is going to be of utmost importance if the Terrapins reach six wins. After two warm-up games vs. FIU and Old Dominion, Maryland goes into a tough stretch that begins at Connecticut, a game vs. West Virginia and then Maryland travels to Florida State. There could be three consecutive losses in that stretch but if healthy on the other side, there are wins at the end of the tunnel.
2. Washington Huskies - Washington has had three consecutive 7-6 seasons and this may be the year to break through that mark. There are 17 starters returning to the Huskies and 2013 could be a big year with implications on the Pac-12 Championship.
The top teams in the North may not be the powers they were through this season and beyond. Oregon has question marks all over and off the field. Stanford is still looking to move past its Luck era.
Washington knocked off Oregon State and Washington State last season and will have an opportunity to do so again in its last two games of the year. Question marks will come early, with an away date with Stanford in October and a home game vs. Oregon after that.
1. Miami Hurricanes - There is still a cloud over Miami on whether the NCAA will come down on the Hurricanes again, but if the team can come through that on the other side this team has an huge upside for potential.
The Hurricanes are young and explosive. ACC Freshman of the Year Duke Johnson will be back with a group of 17 freshman that made regular starts in 2012.
If Johnson can lead the Hurricanes on offense this team has a chance to be a lot better than many outside of the ACC think. Inside of the ACC, there are those that have Miami playing in the ACC Championship game.
Whether or not that happens is going to come down to how good the wide receiving and tight end crew are. There are questions marks about how good they will be, but they were young in ’12 and the upside is high for this crew.
Al Golden will have to improve his defense to stand a chance to bring the Hurricanes back. And while it doesn’t appear that Miami is close to a dynasty, Golden has his sights on bigger goals for this team at the end of this season.