College football season is once again upon us! Fans can rejoice as the wait is over for college football in Colorado, but how will each team shake out? Below is a season preview for what we can expect from each team and ranked.
UCF picked up right where it left off in 2017 in Coach Heupel’s first year at the helm by storming through the regular season, extending its nation-leading win streak to 25 games. The streak included a pair of come-from-behind wins over Memphis (twice) and Temple, to claim the program’s second consecutive AAC championship
Cincinnati kicked off the season with a six-game win streak until an overtime loss to Temple snapped the hot start. But the Bearcats picked right back up by winning four of their final five games (with the other loss at UCF) and qualified for a first bowl game in three seasons.
The Bulldogs won their third MWC championship since joining the league in 2012. Fresno State lost 24-17 to Boise State on the road during the regular season but the Bulldogs avenged their loss to the Broncos in the conference title game, earning a 19-16 win in overtime.
The Tigers were 4-4 following back-to-back losses to UCF and Missouri. It was the worst start by a Memphis team since 2013. The team responded by winning its remaining four regular-season games, securing the Tigers’ second consecutive appearance in the AAC Championship Game against UCF.
The Broncos fell short of winning their second Mountain West title in three years when they lost 19-16 in overtime to Fresno State in the MW title game and was the last official game as Boise State’s trip to the First Responder Bowl against Boston College resulted in a game cancellation due to lightning in the first quarter with the Broncos trailing 7-0 for a 10-3 overall (7-1 MWC) finish.
FAU went just 5-7 (3-5 C-USA) that ended poorly with closed with painful losses to North Texas and Charlotte by three points apiece. This was a year after Coach Lane Kiffin led the Owls to a bowl victory during his debut campaign in Boca Raton in 2017.
Arizona Wildcats Location: Tuscon, AZ Coach: Kevin Sumlin (5-7@Ariz., 91-50 overall) 1st Season Stadium: Arizona Stadium (Capacity: 55,675) CSJ Projections: 9th: Pac 12 (5th: South) 2nd: Arizona 53rd: FBS 53rd: Division I 2018 In A Sentence: The first year of the Kevin Sumlin era was one of inconsistency. With some great wins (44-15 over Oregon) […]
NDSU won its seventh national title in the past eight years with its win over Eastern Washington in the National Title Game and did it with its second undefeated record team in that span (15-0, 8-0 MVFC). Coach Chris Klieman coached his last game with the Bison after being named the new head coach at the Big 12’s Kansas State.
The Mountaineers almost pulled off amajor upset in the opening week but lost 45-38 in overtime at Top 10 Penn State in the opening week and rode the momentum into a Sun Belt Conference championship by winning the inaugural Sun Belt title game over Louisiana. The Mountaineers then blew out Middle Tennessee 45-13 in the New Orleans Bowl to finish 11-2 overall (7-1 SBC) but one loss was Coach Scott Satterfield departing for the same job at Louisville.
The Red Wolves finished the second half of the schedule strongly, but a 47-43 midseason loss to Louisiana-Lafayette denied them a chance to play for the first-ever Sun Belt championship game and finished with a 16-13 loss to Nevada in the Arizona Bowl to go 8-5 overall (5-3 SBC).
The Aztecs were 6-1 through their first seven games, including wins over ranked Arizona State and Boise State but SDSU lost their final three Mountain West games before losing 27-0 to Ohio in the Frisco Bowl to finish 7-6 overall (4-4 MWC)
Army lost two of its first four games but the Black Knights rolled off eight straight wins, including the third straight in its long-standing rivalry with Navy. Army capped the season in style with a win in its school-record third consecutive bowl game–a blowout win over Houston in the Arm Forces Bowl.
EWU finished second in the nation just behind the perennial Bison champions. A fantastic season of 12-3 is something to celebrate, minus the title loss. The only other losses would be to Washington State and Weber State.
Houston opened last season by winning seven of its first eight games, the program’s best start since winning 10 straight to open the 2015 season. Injuries and miscues on the defensive side caught up with the Cougars after this and lost four of their final five games, including an embarrassing 70-14 setback to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl in what would be Major Applewhite’s last season as the head coach–finishing 8-5 overall (5-3 AAC).
James Madison fell short of expectations, missing out on the conference title and losing in the second round of the FCS playoffs to Colgate. The Dukes struggled in the red zone and with turnovers. A 9-4 season was certainly a disappointment in Harrisonburg.
BYU relied on a stingy defense and much-improved offense to win seven games last season, including a win over Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to finish 7-6 overall.
Ohio won three of its first five games, with losses coming to nonconference foes Virginia and Cincinnati.
After winning the MAC in 2017, Toledo had injuries and inconsistent play, especially on the defensive side of the football, led to to the team struggling early in 2018.
Temple dropped its first two games but went on to win eight of their final 10 regular-season games, including an upset of a nationally ranked Cincinnati team in overtime.
Late-season setbacks against Southern Miss and Western Kentucky prevented Louisiana Tech from contending for a Conference USA title, but the Bulldogs bounced back with a 31-14 win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl to finish 8-5 overall (5-3 C-USA).
The Jackrabbits got to the FCS playoffs last year after finishing second in the MVFC and went on a great run before losing to North Dakota State in the playoff semifinals. SDSU finished the season 10-3 overall (6-2 MVFC).
Marshall has had back-to-back bowl winning seasons, going 8-5 in 2017 and 9-4 in 2018 and the Herd enjoyed the season finale,where the Marshall defense sparked a 38-20 win over USF in the Gasparilla Bowl.
The Aggies entered their late season matchup against division rival Boise State last season on a 10-game win streak. However, Utah State lost and missed out on a chance to play in its first MWC Championship Game since 2013 but ended the season with a and easy win over North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl to finish 11-2 overall (7-1 MWC) in the end of of the Coach Matt Wells era, who departed for the Texas Tech head coaching job.
Georgia Southern closed the year on a high note when K Tyler Bass hit a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Georgia Southern to a dramatic 23-21 victory over Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl to finish 10-3 overall.
Air Force mildly exceeded expectations, finishing fourth in MW Mountain Division after failing to deliver consecutive wins all season to finish 5-7 overall (3-5 MW)–its second straight five win season.
Tulane has turned a corner under coach Willie Fritz after the Green Wave finished off their first winning season in five years(7-6, 5-3 AAC) and the program’s first bowl win (over Louisiana in the Cure Bowl) in more than 16 years.
Dan Hawkins has brought the team from cellar to stellar. UC Davis is now a competitor not only in the Big Sky, but also in the FCS nationally last season – three losses on the season to a high-ranked Stanford team and two of those losses to Eastern Washington.
FIU recorded a school-record nine (9-4 overall, wins in 2018, building on the surprising success of Coach Butch Davis’ debut season leading the Panthers. There was some frustration, as the Panthers lost to rival FAU and Marshall to end the season, but FIU soon rebounded to defeat Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl.
What wasn’t surprising about the Jacksonville State 2018 Season? That they won the Ohio Valley Conference title for the fifth year in a row with a 9-4 overall record. What was a surprise? How they did it.
There were a lot of “firsts” for the Razorbacks that Arkansas fans would rather forget in Year One of Chad Morris’ rebuild of the Razorbacks. First season with double-digit losses. First ever loss to North Texas, a thorough 44-17 beatdown at home. First season with only 2 wins since 1952.
Maine was the biggest surprise of the 2018 FCS season. The Black Bears entered the season projected to finish 8th in the CAA and went out and won the league outright. Maine reached the semifinals of the FCS playoffs before falling to eventual national runner-up Eastern Washington. The Black Bears also picked up a win over an FCS foe with a 31-28 victory over Western Kentucky.
A very up and down year in Jeff Brohm’s second season at West Lafayette featured the good (their upset win over Iowa, their season-ending win over Indiana to get bowl eligible), the bad (home losses to Eastern Michigan and Missouri in back-to-back weeks at home), and the ugly (a 63-14 Music City Bowl thrashing by Auburn).
Despite a terrible passing game, the 2018 season went very well for the Wildcats until they lost a close second-round playoff game. The defense carried the team through tough games such as Eastern Washington and Montana State. Without the help of breakout freshman RB Josh Davis, the Wildcats would not have accomplished as much as they did.
The Buffs’ have not returned to the dominance they showed in their 2016 season. Since then the records have been disappointing, despite churning out NFL talent left and right. Phillip Lindsay, Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Juwann Winfree are among the talent CU has produced recently.
2018 marked the first season in 30 years that Mike Ayers wasn’t the head coach. But the Terriers made Ayers proud in the first year under Josh Conklin going 9-4 including a first round playoff win over Elon.
Football seasons aren’t supposed to end on an “incomplete”, but that’s how the season of the 7-5 Eagles ended when play was suspended thanks to deteriorating weather conditions in the First Responders Bowl. It obscured a surprising 7-5 record, with solid wins over Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech to become bowl eligible.
The Bobcats took a big step forward by reaching the second round of the playoffs. Along the way there was only three bad losses during the season. Included in those losses were blowouts from top ten NDSU and SDSU, and getting outplayed by a scrappy Idaho State team.
Southern Miss finished being bowl eligible by finishing last season with a 6-5 overall record (5-3 C-USA) but were not selected despite ending the 2018 campaign winning three of its final four games.
After a three-year run that produced 31 wins, a Sun Belt title and several high-profile upsets including a 10-3 (7-1 SBC) and Dollar General Bowl win over Buffalo, Coach Neal Brown left Troy for the Big 12’s West Virginia.
10-0 Princeton had a year to remember in 2018, clinching the fourth outright Ivy League title in program history, and the first since 1995. It was also the program’s second 7-0 Ivy season since league play officially began in 1956, and the 13th 7-0 season in Ivy League history, and the first since 2014.
It was bad. After two wins against teams they were expected to beat, Indiana State and Western Kentucky, the Cardinals would lose all of their remaining games, causing the firing of head coach Bobby Petrino near the end of last season.
The Bulls began 2018 with seven straight wins to equal a program record but the wheels came off in the second half of the season with USF finishing with six straight losses including a Gasarilla Bowl loss to Marshall to finish 7-6 overall (3-5 AAC).
Nicholls started the 2018 season off strong with an upset win over FBS Kansas in overtime. The Colonels would go on to have an excellent season, finishing 9-4 and winning the Southland Conference outright. The Colonels won their opening round playoff game before falling in the second round to eventual national runner up, Eastern Washington.
Western Michigan looked to have a promising season in Coach Lester’s second year but dropped four of its final five games including a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl loss to BYU to finish 7-6 overall (6-2 MAC).
Elon had a strong start to their season, including handing James Madison its first home loss in three years. However, the Phoenix encountered some key injuries on offense which led them to lose their final three games of the season. Elon made back to back playoff appearances for the first time in school history.
Illinois State Redbirds Location: Normal, IL Coach: Brock Spack (74-45 @ ISU & overall), 11th season at ISU Stadium: Hancock Stadium (Capacity: 13,391) CSJ Projections: 3rd: MVFC 2nd: Illinois 14th: FCS 99th: Division I 2018 In A Sentence: Illinois State began the season 5-1, including a 35-19 FBS win at Colorado State, but lost their […]
Towson found a quarterback to start the 2018 season and that made all the difference. QB Tom Flacco, brother of the NFLs’ Joe Flacco, took the reins and led the Tigers to a 7-5 season and an FCS playoff appearance. After a strong start, Towson fell off, losing 4 of their last 5 games including an inexplicable playoff loss at home to Duquesne.
After an 4-3 start, interim head coach Matt Canada was not offered the full time position at Maryland, and Mike Locksley, who worked under Nick Saban at Alabama, took over a program who went 1-4 in their last five games to crash out of bowl eligibility.
When your only losses are to a bowl-bound Army team and the eventual FCS National Champions in Fargo, that’s the very definition of a great year. Add to that a defense that only allowed touchdowns in 6 of the 12 games they played – that’s the definition of an amazing year.