As the 2011-2012 college football regular season is completed, (except for Army-Navy), let's take an in depth look at some teams in the top 25 that exceeded expectations and other team's that either didn't live up to the hype or underperformed.
The LSU Tigers
have exceeded everyone's expectations
as they're clearly the best team in college football with a record of 13-0 and a 42-10 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game. This is a team that has defeated top level competition such as Oregon, Alabama, Arkansas,
West Virginia, and Georgia. People were shocked when the Tigers trailed Georgia early in the championship game but the best team clearly made a statement.
This hasn't been an easy accomplishment (the season) to pull off. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson got into legal trouble
and LSU had to look to inexperienced Jarrett Lee for help. Lee came through like a champ and Jefferson has rejoined the team and re-established himself. This team will be difficult to beat in the title game. They defeated 2nd ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa 9-6 earlier in the season. If Alabama plays LSU for the title, either LSU is up 2-0 this season on the Tide or the season series is even and Alabama would be awarded the title. The last scenario doesn't sound fair if you're a Tigers fans. Time will tell.Alabama Crimson Tide
Except for a 9-6 defeat to LSU, the Tide have rolled over opponents all season and it looks like they'll possibly get a rematch with LSU. Running back and Heisman Trophy candidate
Trent Richardson, has been the catalyst for the Tide's success. He made the Alabama squad quickly forget about Mark Ingram as he rushed for 1583 yards and 20 TD while catching 27 passes for 327 yards and 3 TD. Those are bigtime numbers and Richardson came through with big performances at the end of the season, when it counted. He snatched the Iron Bowl trophy away from hated Auburn with a 203 yard performance and greatly enhanced his chances at the coveted Heisman award.
Alabama's defense has also been the key to victory. The Tide ranked 1st in the country
in points allowed at 8.8 (simply amazing). If they get a rematch, the LSU offense could encounter major problems. They only managed to score 9 points off of Alabama the first time. It should be exciting if a rematch occurs.Oklahoma State
Behind the quarterbacking of 28 year old Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys think that they should be considered for the BCS Championship game. After all, Alabama had their chance at LSU and were unsuccessful.
The Cowboys narrowly missed a perfect season due to a 37-31 double overtime defeat to the Iowa State Cyclones. As usual, Brandon Weeden, who was a Heisman prospect at the time, had a spectacular game with 476 yards and 3 TD. The Cowboys downfall was the interceptions that Weeden wasn't used to throwing and the last one that he threw in double OT that sealed the fate of the Cowboys and put a lid on their undefeated season.
In all, this has been a tremendous season for Oklahoma State. Where do they go from here? According to the AP Poll they're ranked number 3. Could the 44-10 throttling of Oklahoma in the Big-12 Championship game enable them to leap over Alabama? Good question.Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal had everything to look forward to, a possible BCS Championship game and their starting quarterback Andrew Luck winning the Heisman Trophy. Now, the title game isn't a possiblity and the Heisman is a toss up for the favorite Luck.
Don't get me wrong, the Cardinal had a sensational season at 11-1 but the games that people remember are always the one's that they lose. Inter-conference foe Oregon put a real convincing beating on the Cardinal and one can also question the level of difficulty regarding Stanford's opponents.
Overall, they've been a success story and could possibly have a Heisman Trophy winner. Not too shabby!USC Trojans
I'm going to go down the rankings to number 9 where you'll find the USC Trojans. This season was the ultimate success for a team that was bowl ineligible. They took Oregon out of the championship hunt, they blasted teams like Notre Dame, and UCLA (50-0). One of the Trojans two defeats was a near miss against Stanford in a 56-48 -3 OT thriller. With no Bowl incentive, this team got stronger as the season went on and some believe that they were one of the 2 top teams in college football towards the end of the season.
The Trojans have quarterback Matt Barkley to thank for their success. Barkley is a fierce competitior that some believe should win the Heisman Trophy or at least be considered. Barkley finished off the season against his hated rivals the UCLA Bruins in grand fashion. He threw for 423 yards and a whopping 6 touchdowns. This young man has a long future ahead of him. This was an inspirational story off of a negative.Wisconsin Badgers
I consider Wisconsin the class of the Big Ten as I picked them to win the conference
at the beginning of the season and they didn't disappoint me with a thrilling 42-39 victory over a defensive oriented team such as the Michigan Spartans.
The Badgers have been a consistently tough team all season with a strong defense, the reliable quarterbacking of Russell Wilson (2879 yards (72.5%) with 31 TD and 3 INT, and a possible frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy in running back Montee Ball. Ball rushed for a total of 1759 yards for the season and rushing and receiving combined, Ball had a total of 38 TD's. I don't see how he isn't deserving of the Heisman Trophy. The Badgers on the other hand will have a trip to Pasadena as they play in the Rose Bowl. This is a team that proved supremacy over highly touted Nebraska in their inaugural year in being part of the Big-Ten Conference.
Virginia Tech, Boise State, and Houston all don't make my list of "major successes" due to lack of high quality regarding the opposition.Honorable MentionGeorgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs got off to an 0-2 start and people thought that this would be another losing season and the coach might be fired. The Bulldogs proceeded to win 10 consecutive games in convincing fashion and make it all the way to the SEC Title game. LSU beat them badly but if you're a "Dawgs" fan, you should be happy with their season.Failures
I think most teams like the Nebraska Cornhuskers
(9-3) and Ohio State (suspenions) played their hearts out and I'm not going to include anyone in this category except for one team.Penn State
Paterno, Paterno, Paterno!!!!
After an affiliation with a university longer than most people in the civilized world have been living, "Joe Pa"- AKA "The Rat" (known by students) probably committed one of the most shocking violations in sports history. I've heard about players drinking and driving, doing drugs, and murdering innocent citizens but nobody could have predicted the Penn State scandal unless they were part of the campus at that time.
Innocent until proven guilty but along with Mr. Sandusky, Mr. Paterno is looking kind of guilty himself. If he didn't personally report the wrong doings to the police, the man is guilty. What a shock, what a shame, what a disgrace!Back to the Field
This should be a great season where the bowl games are concerned. Personally, I think that Alabama had their chance and weren't even part of the SEC Championship and the title game should be LSU vs. Oklahoma State. Will that happen? Probably not. Enjoy the games!