College Football Teams with Something to Prove

Frustration and failure can prove excellent motivating
factors in sports. We see quality teams get beaten badly all the time, then
bounce back the next game with a terrific performance with an easy win. This can
also take place with teams that are off disappointing seasons. Two years ago the
NY Giants failed to make the playoffs, but last season rolled all the way to
another Super Bowl title.

Two years ago Notre Dame had a new coach, a
tough schedule and a ton of injuries. Despite this, the Irish rallied around
each other and excelled, ending the season on a 4-0 SU/ATS run, including wins
as a dog over USC and Miami. When channeled properly, frustration can be focused
into positive energy. Here are some college football teams that may have
something to prove in 2012.

Florida Gators: The Gators started
4-0 under first-year Coach Will Muschamp until injuries decimated the offense
while they lost four in a row. They have a new offensive coordinator with
Charlie Weis leaving, but will still run a pro-style attack, while the defense
returns all 11 starters to a unit that allowed 20.3 ppg.
The offense adds
former Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease to call plays. QBs Jacoby
Brissett and sophomore Jeff Driskel are raw but talented and they are surrounded
by incredible speed with senior RB Mike Gillislee and junior WR Andre Debose
(432 yards), who averaged an astonishing 27 yards per catch! The defensive line
is loaded with speed and talent and should be a dominating unit. Florida is 43-9
SU, 25-21-1 ATS at home in the Swamp the last seven years.

Illinois: The Illini had an unfulfilling bowl win last season,
20-14, over UCLA. They started the season 6-0, then endured a six-game skid that
cost Ron Zook his job. QB Nathan Scheelhaas (13 Tds, 8 INTs) returns but the
team will have a new offensive look with Todd Beckman as coach, who ran dazzling
offenses at Toledo. New defensive coordinator Tim Banks should make things
interesting with his five defensive back system, and does the special teams have
anything to prove? Illinois was dead last in the nation in kickoff returns,
118th in punt returns, and 80th in punting. Illinois is just 13-7 SU/7-13 ATS
its last 16 games as a home favorite.

Kansas: Some teams click on
all cylinders. Last season Kansas packed it on all cylinders, losing their final
10 games, including losses of 47-17, 59-21, 43-0 and a 61-7 no-show loss at
Texas A&M as a +31 dog in their last road game. The attitude will be gone as
new Coach Charlie Weis is a fiery, in-your-face leader. He has already suspended
junior running back James Sims (team leading 727 yards rushing) for the first
three games of the 2012 season for a violation of team rules.
Weis brings in
his pro-style offense along with former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist, who
transferred. His play will be crucial to an offense that ranked 106th in the
country last season, averaging only 326.83 yards per game.

: The Cougars did a lot of things right on offense but couldn’t win
many games, losing 7 of their final 8. Now they bring in a controversial head
coach who has done nothing but win: 50-year-old Mike Leach. Leach was 84-43 at
Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to 10 bowl appearances in 10 seasons. He was
fired in 2009 amid allegations he mistreated a player who had a concussion.

At Texas Tech, his offense led the nation in passing six times and three
times accumulated the most total yards. He inherits a good offense with QB Jeff
Tuel and 6-4 junior WR Marquess Wilson (1,388 yards), one that was 9th in the
nation in passing yards (322 per game) and 29.8 ppg. But they couldn’t stop
anybody, allowing 31.8 points per contest. Leach’s defenses at Texas Tech were
actually very good, despite all the attention on the potent pass-happy offense.

Arizona State: Todd Graham takes over running a version of the
spread offense he ran at Tulsa and Pitt. It is the second time he has left a
program after just one season, burning Rice in the same manner after the 2006
season to move to Tulsa. He has to find a new QB after Brock Osweiler jumped
early to the NFL, but still has RB Cameron Marshall (1,050 yards) on an offense
that was 10th in the nation in passing with 316.7 yards per game, along with
33.2 points. They were the ultimate tease, however, blowing close games while
finishing 0-5 SU/ATS. At Tulsa, Graham’s 4-year tenure produced three seasons of
at least 10 wins, two CUSA West division titles and a tie for a third. His
6-year career record is 49-29 (.628).

Jim Feist of

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