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5 college football teams that won’t be as good as you think in 2023

Fansided 1/31/2023 John Buhler
© Provided by Fansided

Spring practice will begin soon, but not every college football team will have great seasons.

The college football season may have just ended, but spring practice will be here soon enough.

The 2023 campaign will be the last featuring a four-team College Football Playoff. It will also be a season full of realignment with most notably BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF going Power Five by joining the Big 12. Overall, this should be an exciting season nonetheless. Georgia enters next year as back-to-back national champions, but to date, no program has ever three-peated before.

Though Georgia may pull back some, here are five teams who are poised to underachieve this fall.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Losing his coordinator may hurt this Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback.
  • Page 2: Their quarterback is outstanding, but their defense is terrible in a divisionless ACC.
  • Page 3: This really comes down to how well the two coordinator hires go for them, aight.
  • Page 4: A new quarterback and a trip to the Big House may be bad news for this head coach.
  • Page 5: This Group of Five power could be in for a rude awakening in joining its new league.

College football: 5 big programs poised to pull back during next college season

Bo Nix will have to navigate huge expectations without Kenny Dillingham at Oregon

The Pac-12 is in the midst of a coaching renaissance. While some were skeptical about what Dan Lanning could do in his first year at Oregon, the former Georgia defensive coordinator set a very strong foundation right away. Of course, losing The Strife Aquatic to in-state rival Oregon State over Thanksgiving Weekend was absolutely brutal. Plus, he lost Kenny Dillingham to Arizona State.

That is a bigger deal than most people even realize. Dillingham was a huge reason why Auburn legacy quarterback Bo Nix transferred across the country. Although Dillingham could be in for a rough go of it in Tempe, this is his alma mater. Regardless, Oregon may not be able to sustain such a key loss this soon off its coaching staff. Nix should be just fine, but he faces great expectations.

Overall, Oregon still has a great chance to be a top-two team in the league and get to Las Vegas. However, the top half of the Pac-12 is loaded. USC and Utah are College Football Playoff contenders. Washington is right there as well. Jonathan Smith is building something special in Corvallis. UCLA has it going under Chip Kelly. Just wait until Coach Prime has it rolling in Boulder…

Simply put, Oregon is more likely to go 9-3 again during the regular season than win the Pac-12.

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Drake Maye may be elite, but the North Carolina defense backing him up is not

The ACC may have been down the last two years, but it does have a few teams that will be College Football Playoff viable. Those teams would include its reigning dynasty Clemson, traditional power on the come-up Florida State and good, ole North Carolina. The Tar Heels have a potential Heisman Trophy winner quarterback in Drake Maye, but man, is their defense absolutely horrific.

No, this will not stop Maye from getting to New York in early December and being at top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, UNC is not ready to be a 10-win team this season. A big issue the Heels have to navigate is the ACC going divisionless. Factor in they end the season with Duke, Clemson and North Carolina State, and good luck with that. They will be lucky to win two of them.

Ultimately, North Carolina will have our collective attention next year for three reasons. They were a division champion a year ago, we like Mack Brown as a head coach and Maye is an absolute rockstar at quarterback. However, North Carolina's stock entering the 2023 campaign is largely inflated. It is why Clemson and Florida State are way more likely to make the playoff over them.

We have seen a quarterback of a three-loss ACC team win the Heisman before in Lamar Jackson.

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Nick Saban has to absolutely nail his both of his Alabama coordinator hires

Alabama fans are not going to like this, but this is their harsh reality. The Crimson Tide have not won a national championship in the last two seasons. While an SEC team has won the last four, Alabama has only won one of them. Georgia has won the last two and SEC West rival LSU won it back in 2019 under a previous regime. Brian Kelly also won the division in a rebuilding year, too.

Though the SEC may go divisionless once Oklahoma and Texas join the league, the Crimson Tide still play in the tougher SEC West. LSU is not going away, Ole Miss looks to be here to stay under Lane Kiffin and arch-rival Auburn should be trending up after hiring Nick Saban nemesis Hugh Freeze away from Liberty. However, there are two huge reasons why Alabama could pull back…

The first is they have to replace Bryce Young at quarterback. Jalen Milroe is next in line. While he has a ton of talent, he needs a great coordinator, which therein lies the problem. With Bill O'Brien and Pete Golding leaving for other jobs, it is imperative that Saban nails both of his coordinator hires. He can still recruit at an elite level, but losing two key coordinators will be hard to overcome.

Alabama may prove everyone wrong again, but we have seen the SEC eat good teams alive before.

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Ryan Day could be ousted at Ohio State if the Buckeyes lose to Michigan again

You knew the Ohio State Buckeyes were going to be included, right? While Kyle McCord could be all the rage at quarterback, he still has to replace a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist in C.J. Stroud. Not only that, but Michigan has had their number the last two years. Simply, Ryan Day must beat the Wolverines in The Big House to avoid being compared to John Cooper for another offseason…

Michigan has the deeper and more experienced roster in-division. Ohio State does lose more to the NFL Draft. Let's also not overlook Penn State being on the uptick as well. Maryland still has Taulia Tagovailoa and Michigan State will not be utterly toothless this year under Mel Tucker. While Ohio State could get to The Game undefeated, the top half of the Big Ten should be unrelenting.

Are the other regression candidates in the Big Ten? Illinois probably, but we do like what Bret Bielema is building entering year three. Wisconsin may be a year away, but stealing Luke Fickell away from Cincinnati was huge for the Badgers' overall viability. Overall, the amount of pressure Day and his team are under could make even the strongest programs crack. This could get ugly…

This may be a moot point if the Buckeyes just beat the Wolverines, but 2019 was a lifetime ago.

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Scott Satterfield and Cincinnati are poised for a baptism by fire joining the Big 12

Here is to being wrong, but I am shorting the Cincinnati Bearcats next year for so many reasons. Though UC is well-equipped to make the leap to the Power Five, the Bearcats do not have Luke Fickell anymore and Scott Satterfield is not the answer, I'm sorry. Cincinnati will also be two years removed from having Koby Bryant, Sauce Gardner, Alec Pierce and Desmond Ridder in the building.

In time, I do think all four programs joining the Big 12 will have success. However, Cincinnati may have the toughest go of it initially. BYU, Houston and UCF all retain their head coaches. Dana Holgorsen and Gus Malzahn have significant Power Five experience. Kalani Sitake always played a tough schedule in Provo. Satterfield may have been at Louisville, but it was a rather weird fit there.

Ultimately, Cincinnati is bound to be closer to West Virginia than TCU upon joining the Big 12. WVU may be a close proximity rival, but do not overthink how much travel has been an issue for the Mountaineers in the last decade. UCF has to overcome that too, but Malzahn is the best head coach joining the new league. The Knights shall be fine. As for the Bearcats, 2023 could be rough.

We must accept Satterfield's Big 12 program will be way different than Fickell's AAC powerhouse.

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