College Football’s 2015 regular season has all but come to a close. Here are our five most surprising teams.
Iowa Hawkeyes: The Hawkeyes had lost five or more games eight of the past 10 years. Kirk Ferentz was hanging on by his buyout. The enduring image left by Iowa’s 2014 season did not encourage. Some thought Iowa could make a run at 10 wins with their soft schedule. No one saw them being 60 minutes away from the playoff come December.
North Carolina Tar Heels: The perennial sexy sleeper team finally came through. The Tar Heels are 11-1. But, for some bad red zone interceptions against South Carolina, they would be 12-0. Few projected Gene Chizik’s hire would prove a masterstroke. Yeah, they played a soft schedule. But, the Tar Heels are an upset away from the playoff or at least awarding rings for a real accomplishment.
Oklahoma State Cowboys: The Cowboys needed a mad upset at the finish to reach a bowl game in 2014. Mike Gundy looked like he was on the hot seat. At times it was nervy, but a 10-0 start had the Cowboys in the Big 12 and the playoff race. OSU unraveled at the end, but 1o-2 was still quite an achievement for a still undermanned team.
Washington State Cougars: Mike Leach was 12-25 entering his fourth year. It looked like the pirate ship had scuttled, after an opening loss to Portland State. But, the Cougars rebounded to finish 8-3. Two of the losses were close and a third came with a backup quarterback. They were a bit unfortunate to lose Luke Falk before the Apple Cup. Any success is notable in Pullman. Leach reminded people why he was hired.
South Florida Bulls: Willie Taggart started 6-18 at South Florida. His weird bus was on blocks in some derelict yard. The Bulls went 8-4. Two of the losses (Florida State, Navy) were ranked teams on the road. They beat ranked Temple by three touchdowns. Taggart returned to promising Harbaugh scion status.