December 8, 2022
College Football Week Six

TCU players warm up before game against Iowa State Saturday October 5, 2019 at Jack Trice Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

In College Football the legendary brands still hold weight and gets the benefit of the doubt.

Often times it doesn’t matter what a team accomplished the prior season. Body of work, recruiting and success on the field is the formula to consistency in the game. When that’s not enough to get recognition, It turns into a motivational factor for players. There’s nothing like feeling left out.

Here are the 10 Power Five teams that should’ve received more love in the Coaches Poll, but are still primed for surprising seasons.

Arizona State: Herm Edwards has won 15 games in two seasons so there’s no denying the Sun Devils are on the rise. Let’s not forget Arizona State was the team that handed Oregon its’ only conference loss, and kept the Pac-12 out of the Playoffs last season. Momentum is high after the team finished 2019 on a three-game win streak. Edwards has one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in Jayden Daniels. Despite Daniels being without offensive stars Eno Benjamin and Brandon Aiyuk, senior wide receiver Frank Darby returns and he averaged nearly 20 yards per catch. Arizona State’s defense was dominant against the run and returns four starters in the front seven. Junior kicker Cristian Zendejas led the Pac-12 in converted field goals last year and will be the difference-maker in close games. With a favorable slate on the new Pac-12 schedule, the Sun Devils should win at least seven games.

Baylor: The Bears have went through a major coaching overhaul and Dave Aranda is at the helms now. He’s poised to keep the wheels rolling despite being a first-time head coach. Senior quarterback Charlie Brewer is vital in order for Baylor to have a smooth transition. He’s one of the most experienced signal-callers in the Power Five and has a chance to break Robert Griffin III’s records this fall. Baylor’s defense finished first in the Big 12 and 19th nationally in points allowed last season. However, several of those starters are gone so a step back is expected. That’s why Aranda is the perfect guy for the job, because he knows defense. The players need to rally around Brewer and embrace the underdog role again. Considering the Bears didn’t receive any recognition in the polls last year, but won 11 games, means anything is possible. Regardless of the matter, Baylor won’t be sneaking up on anyone this time around.

Indiana: Tom Allen’s team play in one of the toughest divisions in the Power Five, but carved out eight wins last season. The Hoosiers’ offense has the potential to be one the best units in the Big Ten this fall. Michael Penix Jr. is back fully healthy, Peyton Ramsey has transferred and there’s no quarterback controversy this time around. Stevie Scott III is a big bruiser, who has 1,982 yards on the ground over the last two seasons. Whop Philyor is one of the best wide receivers in the league and is coming off a 1,000-yard season. What make the Hoosiers a wild card team this fall is their defense. Several starters return to a unit that finished 36th nationally in total yards allowed. However, five of Indiana’s first six opponents are ranked in the Coaches’ Poll top-20. The Hoosiers’ schedule won’t soften up until game seven, but they have enough talent on both sides of the ball to have a second-straight winning season.

Kansas State: Besides Ryan Day at Ohio State, Chris Klieman had one of the best seasons of any Power Five first-year coach. The Wildcats have momentum after winning five of their last seven Big 12 games. Senior quarterback Skylar Thompson is one of the most seasoned signal-callers in the conference. He’s a competitor who’s cool in the clutch and spearheaded Kansas State’s upset victory over Oklahoma last year. Receiver Joshua Youngblood is one of the fastest players in the league, a special teams demon and a game changer. Edge rusher Wyatt Hubert is a two-time All-Big 12 performer and the the heart and soul of the the Wildcats’ defense. Last, but not least is senior kicker Blake Lynch, who made 19 of his 21 field goal attempts. Although Wildcats weren’t one the four Big 12 teams to crack the Coaches Poll, they definitely are deserving of some recognition. After all, Klieman is a winner.

Kentucky: Mark Stoops is arguably the most underrated coach in the SEC. All he has done is win 25 games over the past three seasons at a basketball powerhouse. Kentucky continues to match wits with Tennessee and Florida in terms of recruiting and putting players in the NFL. Stoops has also won his last two bowl games. The Wildcats are riding a high wave of momentum approaching the 2020 season after finishing last year on a four-game win streak. Senior signal-caller Terry Wilson has valuable SEC experience and he’ll bring leadership to Kentucky’s offense. Stoops’ boys will continue to run the ball effectively also. On defense, Kentucky has the potential to be special. The Wildcats return seven starters to a unit that finished first in the SEC against the pass and 14th nationally in total yards allowed. Factor in Ray Guy Award winner Max Duffy and you have one of the most dangerous teams in the SEC East.

Louisville: First off, Scott Satterfield is the reigning ACC Coach of the Year. The Cardinals will boast one of the best offenses in the league this fall and don’t have to play Clemson. Micale Cunningham threw for two or more touchdowns in seven different games last season, including five in the win over Syracuse. Javian Hawkins finished second in the ACC in rush yards per game and rumbled for 233 against the Orange. Not to mention Tutu Atwell is arguably the best receiver in the ACC after 11 touchdown catches last season. The only knock on Louisville is it’s defense, which finished dead last in the ACC in points allowed. Until the Cardinals improve on defense, the team will have to continue winning games in shootout fashion. However, the Cardinals’ offense is good enough to score 30 points on any defense in the conference and that alone should get Satterfield’s boys some recognition in the polls.

Pittsburgh: Pat Narduzzi will be fielding his most talented team this fall. Not to mention sixth-year coach has won 15 games over the last two season. The Panthers boast a veteran quarterback in Kenny Pickett, who’s coming off a 3,000-yard season. Plus the big boys up front protecting Pickett have a boat load of starting experience.  Senior kicker Alex Kessman led the ACC in field goal attempts last season and connected on a 54-yarder. He’ll make sure the Panthers don’t leave empty handed on drives. On defense Pittsburgh might have the most dominant unit in the ACC, especially up front. The Panther’s defense finished first in the league in rush yards allowed and boasts an All-ACC caliber defensive line. Narduzzi’s team struggled last season closing out games, but if his players learned from their mistakes the Panthers should take a big step forward this fall. Which is mind-boggling why Pittsburgh didn’t surface in the poll.

TCU: Gary Patterson is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the FBS, which benefits TCU, especially on defense. The Horned Frogs’ defense finished first in the Big 12 against the pass and total yards allowed. Senior All-Big 12 linebacker Garret Wallow led the league in tackles in 2019. He’s the heart and soul of the defense and is always around the ball. The Horned Frogs have one of the nation’s best secondaries, that’ll frustrate opposing Big 12 team’s passing attack. Safeties Ar-Darius Washington and Trevon Moehrig combined for a jaw-dropping, nine interceptions last season. On the other side of the ball Max Duggan is coming off a promising true freshman campaign, in which he scored 20 total touchdowns. He showed heart and grit, which is the key formula to winning. The Horned Frogs were very young last season, but are now experienced and will enter the upcoming season with a chip on their shoulder.

Tennessee: The Volunteers might be the most motivated team in the SEC after getting snubbed in the Coaches Poll. After all, Tennessee finished last season on a six-game win streak, which was the second-longest in the SEC behind LSU. Jarrett Guarantano is approaching his senior year after getting benched and winning his job back to finish the 2019 season. He’ll be protected by one of the best offensive linemen in the Power Five in Trey Smith. Tennessee fans want Offensive Coordinator Jim Chaney to open up the offense and take advantage of the units’ hidden talent. The Volunteers’ defense finished in the top-25 nationally against the pass and total yards allowed. Multiple starters return on that side of the ball and there has been consistency on the field. The big man on campus who’ll be a factor in close game is senior kicker Brent Cimaglia, who tied first in the SEC in field goal attempts and made 23 of them. Bottom line, Tennessee received the most votes out of the unranked teams in the Coaches Poll, but still couldn’t crack it.

Washington: The Huskies took a big step back last season as expected. The surprise was when Chris Petersen stepped down. However, he recruited like a monster and didn’t leave the cupboard bare. There’s plenty of talent left on the roster for new coach Jimmy Lake to operate with. Washington returns a plethora of starters to a defense that finished 15th in the FBS in points allowed. That unit will be the strength of the Huskies this fall. Washington’s X-factor is kicker Peyton Henry, who made 90 percent of his kicks last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors. The new released schedule sets up well for the Huskies and three of their first four games will be at home. Don’t be surprised if Washington strolls into the game at Oregon undefeated. The Huskies might be starting over at quarterback, but there’s enough pieces around their signal-caller to win games. Only three Pac-12 teams cracked the Coaches Poll, but Washington will eventually become the fourth.