College football’s 2014 season is over. Thus, it’s a fair time to look back. Here are some teams that were expected to do things and didn’t.
Michigan Wolverines [5-7] Per the depth chart, 2014 was when Brady Hoke’s roster should have coalesced. Instead, the team got worse. That’s why he’s no longer employed. Michigan’s 2013 malaise only grew more poignant. A revamped offense got even less out of Devin Gardner. The Wolverine defense proved a statistical mirage against competent opponents. Most expected Michigan to lose to Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road. So, what about the other four losses? Or the dire wins?
Oklahoma Sooners [8-4] Bowl Hype Bob. Most had Oklahoma top five entering the season (us included). The Sooners weren’t close. They squandered chances with poor punt coverage (OSU), missed field goals (Kansas State) and turnovers (TCU). Then there was the blowout at home by Baylor and what should have been a loss against Texas. Trevor Knight was not the player he was against Alabama, or anything resembling that. There’s a reason Bob Stoops is on this list.
South Carolina Gamecocks [6-6] So that Clowney fella was kind of important? South Carolina needed stability from Dylan Thompson and reconstruction on defense. Neither materialized. The Gamecocks were blown out the first night and never quite found their footing for four quarters. South Carolina lost multiple one-score games and beat one FBS team, Vanderbilt, by more than 10 points. Whatever “game control” is, Steve Spurrier had the opposite.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish [7-5] It was all epic fist pumps and playoff speculation until November, when the Irish collapsed losing four-straight to close the season. Almost beating FSU looked less impressive with each passing week. Notre Dame’s only convincing power five win was over a bad Michigan team in early September. Brian VanGorder’s defense gave up 31 or more points in each of the final seven games. Will Brian Kelly be more receptive to NFL interest this winter?
Washington State Cougars [3-9] Washington State could sling it through the air and could not do anything else. The Cougars averaged 1.83 yards/carry vs. FBS teams (127th nationally). Per Football Outsiders, Washington State ranked 98th in defensive efficiency and 127th in special teams efficiency. This team nearly beat Oregon. It also failed to beat an FBS team at home. Mike Leach will get the benefit of the doubt. But, after this display, the doubt should be substantial.
Northwestern Wildcats [5-7] Northwestern should have been solid. But, the Wildcats offered only fleeting glimpses of that competence. Northwestern beat Wisconsin and upset Notre Dame in South Bend. They also lost to Michigan at home, lost by 41 to Iowa, lost to a MAC team and lost by two touchdowns to Illinois with bowl play on the line. Winning is an uphill battle at Northwestern. Tripping over one’s feet is not helpful.