5 Potentially Disappointing College Football Teams: 21 For 2021 Preview Topics, No. 7

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21 for 2021 key college football offseason topics: Which five college football teams have the potential to disappoint?

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2020 was a strange year for everyone so a free pass has to be given to everyone who had a rough year, but …

Wisconsin was supposed to be good enough to play for the Big Ten title. That didn’t happen – global pandemic things had a wee bit to do with that.

Penn State seemed like it had top ten talent, and then it had the worst start in the program’s history.

Michigan struggled, Virginia Tech wasn’t that great, Minnesota wasn’t special, Mississippi State didn’t break through, and LSU took a massive step back.

Last year we got it close to the pin, hitting Florida State, Minnesota, and Baylor. Give us a mulligan on USC because the schedule changed, and for what the piece is about, Georgia was right considering it didn’t play for or win the SEC Championship and didn’t get to the College Football Playoff.

No one’s saying these teams are going to be bad, but …

It’s all relative. Keep those three words in mind with each of the five teams on the list, because for all of them, anything but less an appearance in the respective conference championship game – at least – will be a disappointment.

Which Power Five teams will start the season with big expectations and will likely fall short?

2021 Power Five Possible Disappointments
Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC: North Carolina Tar Heels

There isn’t any one team in the ACC that appears to be overvalued too much when it comes to the preseason win totals, so this is more about overall expectations.

North Carolina is going to be fantastic, but will it win the ACC Championship? Clemson still appears to be miles ahead of the rest of the conference

Will the Tar Heels win the Coastal Division and get to the ACC title game?

Across several board, the win total line is 10, but Mack Brown’s club has to go to Notre Dame, it starts out at Virginia Tech, ends with NC State, and has to deal with Pitt on the road and Miami at home.

2021 CFN North Carolina Preview

That’s not to say it won’t or can’t win any of all of those meetings, and it’s a huge help to not have Clemson on the regular season slate, but is there a defensive meltdown coming like the 44-41 loss to Virginia last year? Is there a brain-cramp like the 31-28 thriller of a defeat to Florida State?

This is when just about everything should be in place after a few years of great recruiting – along with the third year at the helm for QB Sam Howell – but again, the bar is set on ACC Championship appearance or bust.

Anything less than being the second-best team in the ACC – at least – and a ten-win season will be a disappointment.

By the way, North Carolina has one double-digit win season since 1997.

2021 Power Five Possible Disappointments
Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

21 for 2021 Preview Topics (so far)
21. Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes for 2021
20. Best Teams To Not Make CFP
19: Teams That Will Rebound Big
18. Teams That Will Fall Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Expectations For New Head Coaches
15. Expectations For 2nd Year Head Coaches
14. Power 5 Hot Seat Coach Rankings
13. 21 Key Transfers You Need To Know
12. Group of 5 over Power 5 Upset Alerts
11. 5 of College Football’s New Superstars
10. Group of 5 Teams In New Year’s Six Hunt
9. Power 5 Sleeper Teams
8. Ranking The Power 5 Quarterback Battles

CFN 2021 Preview: All 130 Team Previews

NEXT: Big Ten Potential Disappointment

Big Ten Potential Disappointment

Wisconsin Badgers

Okay, okay, okay … it’s sort of weird to be considered a potential disappointment while also appearing on the Teams That Will Rebound Big list.

That was about having the potential to turn things back around, and – if this makes any sense – this is about not 100% buying that everything will snap back as expected.

The 2020 Badgers came into the season with more than enough talent to win the Big Ten West. The defense was strong, the receiving corps appeared to be the best yet under head coach Paul Chryst, and there was a real, live, big-time quarterback about to take over.

Graham Mertz was brilliant in the opener against Illinois, tested positive for COVID-19, and the regular season wasn’t the same the rest of the way despite a 49-11 win over Michigan.

2021 CFN Wisconsin Preview

The receiving corps was hit with injuries, the offense went into the tank with a total collapse – Wisconsin scored a total of 20 points over three straight losses – and worst of all, the running game was nowhere to be found at times.

Can Jalen Berger really be the next great Badger back? Maybe, but is Mertz about to take a big step forward with all the great receivers back? It’s possible.

But like North Carolina in the ACC – and with a few of the other teams on this list – can the Badgers get to the conference title?

In non-conference play they have to deal with Notre Dame, and Big Ten showdowns against Penn State and Michigan won’t be easy. Watch out for the road trip at Purdue, and be careful of the home games against Iowa and Northwestern.

However, as long as the Badgers win in Camp Randall, there’s no excuse to not end up in Indianapolis in early December. And that’s where the potential disappointment comes in.

Anything other than a Big Ten Championship appearance won’t do. Throw in a possible loss to Notre Dame – or, heaven forbid, Army – and yet another year without a College Football Playoff appearance won’t be fun.

Keeping with the theme of title-game-or-bust …

2021 Power Five Possible Disappointments
ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

NEXT: Big 12 Potential Disappointment

Big 12 Potential Disappointment

Iowa State Cyclones

Like North Carolina in the ACC and Wisconsin in the Big Ten, this is all relative.

Of course Iowa State will be terrific. It gets back just about everyone from the fabulous breakthrough 2020 team, it’s loaded with veteran all-stars, and the expectations are through the roof for this to potentially be the program’s best season ever.

And that’s why it’s on this list.

CFN 2021 Iowa State Preview

A few years ago, a ten-win season and a second-place finish in the Big 12 would be a dream come true.

After going 9-3 with an emphatic win over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl – and with a good fight in a 27-21 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship – yeah, with this team, not winning the conference title would hurt.

Let’s not even talk about the possibility of not even getting to AT&T Stadium on December 4th.

Playing Iowa will be a battle – that alone could make this a bit of a disappointing season if the Cyclones lose – and the Big 12 as a whole should be stronger.

Road games against Kansas State, West Virginia, and a Texas Tech team loaded with experience will be a push, and then there’s the biggest issue. The Cyclones have a late season run of three road games in four weeks, and it all ends with a trip to Oklahoma.

Throw in the home dates against Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, and …

The team is good enough to beat anyone and everyone on its schedule. That’s the rough part about expectations.

Iowa State has never won ten games in a football season. This one probably will, and it could still be a tad disappointing.

2021 Power Five Possible Disappointments
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

NEXT: Pac-12 Potential Disappointment

Pac-12 Potential Disappointment

Arizona State Sun Devils

Forgetting about the offseason controversy with the program – and the allegations of recruiting during what was supposed to be a dead period due to COVID-19 – this is all assuming everything goes on as normal on the field.

For an Arizona State team loaded with experience, great lines, and possibly the best quarterback in the league in Jayden Daniels, the expectations of a preseason win total of 9 shouldn’t be a lot to ask for.

With USC coming to Tempe and with no Oregon to face from the North, anything less than a trip to the Pac-12 Championship for the first time since 2013 will be a huge downer.

CFN 2021 Arizona State Preview

The Sun Devils haven’t pushed past eight wins in any of the last six seasons, but this team is supposed to do it. However, under Herm Edwards, they’ve had a strange way of not quite coming through consistently enough.

Good enough to beat Oregon two years ago, Michigan State twice, and with the program still buzzing over the 70-7 win at Arizona last season, there have been a whole lot of bright spots.

However, five of the program’s last six wins came against teams that finished with a losing record, there have been five losses over the last three years to teams that ended up under .500, and this year’s schedule has a slew of landmines.

Watch out for the trip to BYU, going to Utah and Washington will be a problem, and dealing with UCLA in the Rose Bowl won’t be easy.

It’ll be a strong season, and some are going to like the idea that ASU could rise up and rock with all of its great parts, but anything less than a Pac-12 South title will hurt.

2021 Power Five Possible Disappointments
ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | SEC

NEXT: SEC Potential Disappointment

SEC Potential Disappointment

Georgia Bulldogs (sort of)

I can’t do it.

I want to put Alabama here only because anything less than winning a national title is seen by many in Tuscaloosa as a total disaster, and this year might be one of the tougher four-team fields ever – if all goes to plan.

But I can’t. That defense is too good, the schedule too manageable, and I’ve learned my lesson to never underestimate that program as long as that guy is still the head coach.

The problem, though, is that I honestly think almost every SEC team will match, exceed, or come close to its projected win total.

CFN 2021 Georgia Preview

Georgia was on this list last year, too, with the belief that anything less than a trip to the SEC Championship would be a total disappointment. The program still has too much talent to not be in the College Football Playoff, and it’s still way too good to not be pushing for the SEC Championship.

It’s got the ability to beat Clemson to start the season, and the upside is there to rip through everyone else along the way.

There’s no Alabama on the schedule like last year, and there’s no one other than Clemson who should be too much of a problem if JT Daniels is healthy and everything is going right.

But again, if this is all about expectations, 11 wins, an SEC East title, and a trip to the College Football Playoff are all right where things should be for the Dawgs. Anything less doesn’t work.

So where could the losses come?

Taking out the possibility of an unforeseen meltdown – like the 20-17 loss to South Carolina in 2019 – Clemson (in Charlotte), at Auburn, Florida (in Jacksonville), and …

That’s it. That’s why the expectations are cranked up so high – the schedule is doable with no Texas A&M, or LSU, or Crimson Tide.

But lose one of the three games and drop the SEC Championship, and being No. 5 in the College Football Playoff race doesn’t work.

CFN 2021 Preview: All 130 Team Previews

21 for 2021 Preview Topics (so far)
21. Thoughts, Wishes, Hopes for 2021
20. Best Teams To Not Make CFP
19: Teams That Will Rebound Big
18. Teams That Will Fall Back
17: Every Power 5 Team’s Letdown Game
16. Expectations For New Head Coaches
15. Expectations For 2nd Year Head Coaches
14. Power 5 Hot Seat Coach Rankings
13. 21 Key Transfers You Need To Know
12. Group of 5 over Power 5 Upset Alerts
11. 5 of College Football’s New Superstars
10. Group of 5 Teams In New Year’s Six Hunt0
9. Power 5 Sleeper Teams
8. Ranking The Power 5 Quarterback Battles