These 10 college football programs are ready to bounce back, return to bowling in 2022

The college football postseason is the subject of annual debate, as opponents complain about its expansion to a 43 games for the 2022-23 season and stating that bowls simply don’t mean what they once meant. With many star players choosing to forgo pétanque due to health issues and coaching transitions, there is no doubt that simply hitting a pétanque game isn’t always a great reward for a great season. Sometimes it’s just an exhibition at the end of a mediocre season.

However, for the few dozen teams that lose a game of boules each year, returning to a game can be a particularly significant achievement. Just look at South Carolina, which ended a two-year drought in 2021 with a 6-6 regular season record and beat North Carolina’s border rival 38-21 in Duke’s Mayo Bowl. The Gamecocks shouldn’t have done much in manager Shane Beamer’s first season, but the achievement (and victory) of a game of bowls validated the program’s hiring of a beloved former assistant.

As the 2022 season approaches and the 2020 season hiatus – along with its bumpy bowling season – fade further into the background, the sport’s normal rhythms are back. This means that bowling trips are planned in some programs and there are some strong brands looking for streak wins next season.

So what are the programs that are most likely to return to bowls after missing them last season? Here are the choices divided into levels.

Obvious choices

These teams appear to be safe bets to reach bocce matches in the 2022 season

USC: In the wake of a 4-8 season – the worst on the schedule since 1991 – first-year manager Lincoln Riley has stocked the roster with a bevy of directors to make sure the Trojans quickly return to respectability. The college football playoff talk might sound premature, but it would be an absolute jaw-dropping if USC didn’t return to a game of boules. The last time USC finished with a record losing streak in consecutive seasons was 1960 and 1961. With the transfer of Oklahoma Caleb Williams as quarterback, former Oregon star Travis Dye to running back and reigning Biletnikoff winner and reigning Biletnikoff winner and Pittsburgh transfer Jordan Addison among a bevy of talented wide receivers, USC should be an offensive enough elite to overcome questionable defense and overshadow record of 2021 defeats.

Texas: The Longhorns finished 5-7 below Charlie Strong in 2015 and 2016, so there is a recent precedent of missing bowls in consecutive seasons. But with some of the nation’s top running talent in running back Bijan Robinson and receiver Xavier Worthy playing with a potential QB star – albeit unproven – in Quinn Ewers, this team is a safe bet to go bowling in the year. 2 under Steve Sarkisian. If the defense stinks again, former TCU manager Gary Patterson is now on staff to help stabilize the ship.

State of Florida: The Seminoles finished with a record of losing four consecutive seasons, which is astounding for a brand program that hit a 27-1 record in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Hitting a simple ball may not be enough to save your work. from third-year manager Mike Norvell, but it looks like the Seminoles will reach at least that mark in 2022. At a minimum, the FSU is expected to go 2-2 in non-conference matches against the 1-3 score it posted last season. From there, even a repeat of last season’s 4-4 score in the ACC game would bring the ‘Noles to a bowl.

Without a doubt maybe

You would think these programs will end up bowling in 2022, but there is at least some reason to stop

Washington: You’d think Washington is doomed to bowl eligibility with a schedule that starts with Kent State and Portland State and avoids USC and Utah. However, last season the Huskies had an equally favorable ranking in the league and stumbled to a score of 4-8. With offensive mastermind Kalen DeBoer replacing Jimmy Lake as head coach, Washington should start finding the end zone again and make a quick return to proficiency. The defense may take a step back into the post-Lake era, but with former First Team All-Pac 12 defender Zion Tupuola-Fetui back after an injury-plagued 2021 season, the closet isn’t bare.

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers drew Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State heavyweights from the Big Ten East last season and lost those three games by a total of 15 points as they fought for a 0-7 score in one-possession matches during a season 3. -9. The Wolverines are still on the schedule, but with Indiana and Rutgers serving as the Cornhuskers’ other cross-division enemies, one would think they can finally achieve bowling fitness in manager Scott Frost’s fifth season. Much of Nebraska’s ambition seems to hinge on how first-year offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who hails from Pittsburgh, works with quarterback Casey Thompson, who has moved from Texas.

Troy: The Trojans return significant production for first-year coach Jon Sumrall, who previously served on staff during some of the high points of Neal Brown’s tenure. In defense, a front seven led by first-team All-Sun belt artists Javon Solomon and Carlton Martial should be bad. Offensively, there is work to be done for new coordinator Joe Craddock with a unit that finished 109th in total attack last season. But with running back Kimani Vidal and receiver Tez Johnson returning after showing the power of the stars last season, the unit should improve.

If the breaks go well

These teams will return to bowling matches as long as they have a couple of breaks

northwest: The dawn of name, image and likeness and mass transfer has prompted some competitive extinction predictions for schools with high academic standards such as Northwestern, which also register at the lower end of popular fanaticism. If a couple of breaks go well, though, the Wildcats will be back in a game of bowls right after the 2022 season. Manager Pat Fitzgerald was too firm at the start of his 17th season to allow the 3-9 repeat fiasco. last season. The offensive line is well fortified and the skill positions are talented enough – highlighted by the return of 1,000-yard runner Evan Hull – for Northwestern to find three Big Ten wins to accompany what should be a 3-0 non-conference record against Duke. , in southern Illinois and Miami (Ohio).

TCU: The Horned Frogs are only 16-18 in the last three seasons and start this season with someone other than Gary Patterson as head coach for the first time since 2000. If things go well, however, they will be back in a bowling match under Sonny Dykes right away. , as there are still some good talents on the roster. The defense disintegrated under Patterson last season, but cornerback star Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is back along with a threat eventually in Dylan Horton. If not, a solid transfer crop should help flush the horror of 2021 out of the defense system. Up front, receiver Quentin Johnson is poised for a successful season and will receive passes from underpowered freshman Chandler Morris or veteran Max Duggan. Both are quality options that can help bring TCU back into a bowl.

DOES: It’s year 3 for Willie Taggart at FAU, and with N’Kosi Perry moving to Miami for his second season as a starting QB, he’s looking for the Owls to return to bowling. This team was at their peak last season before losing their last four games, so it’s not like there is a big step to be taken. As long as FAU avoids a catastrophic series of injuries, the schedule is manageable enough to put the look of a bowl at your fingertips. Taggart and his new defensive coordinator, Todd Orlando, were considered rising stars only six or seven years ago. Both have fallen through tough times, but the bet here is that they will find some success this season.

Choice of long shot

Never say never

Akron: This is a real long shot, but give it a chance. Joe Moorhead takes on a schedule that was only 3-27 in the past three seasons, and hit the portal like crazy. The Zips have got 11 Power Five transfers in their loot, including some players with a proven track record. Shocky Jacques-Louis received 83 passes for 1,010 yards in four seasons at Pitt and safety Kerry Martin made 50 tackles as a freshman at West Virginia in 2019. New players join in some decent returns at key points to give the Zips the chance to complete what would be a miraculous breakthrough. A boules seat is certainly far-fetched, but this team should be almost unrecognizable and should win as many games as they have in the last three seasons combined (or more).

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