On Aug 27, USC, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Auburn were all ranked in at least one poll, and held aspirations of making it to a BCS bowl, maybe even the National Championship Game.
Today, none of these teams are ranked, and only Wisconsin has a shot at a BCS bowl, due to ineligible teams ahead of them.
The most disappointing is probably the USC Trojans. No school that had been ranked preseason No. 1 in the AP Poll had lost five games that year since Mississippi did it in 1964 until the Trojans.
Loaded on offense with preseason Heisman hopeful, and presumptive top NFL draft pick, quarterback Matt Barkley; Penn State transfer running back Silas Redd; NFL caliber receivers Robert Woods and Marquis Lee; as well as a talented defense, USC looked well on their way to another national championship.
However Barkley struggled mightily, and that, combined with a defense that had trouble stopping top teams and a stronger-than-predicted Pac 12, caused USC to find themselves 7-5 with a trip to the Sun Bowl booked.
After trips to the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl, along with a top-five finish the previous season, the Arkansas Razorbacks looked poised to make another trip to a big time bowl.
But after a week two loss to Louisiana Monroe on their home field and an injury to star quarterback Tyler Wilson, things started to go downhill fast, and the Razorbacks found themselves with a 4-8 record, with two of those wins coming over Jacksonville State and Tulane.
Also in the SEC, the Auburn Tigers were the lowest ranked of these six teams, but were still considered a dark horse candidate to win the tough SEC West. Coach Gene Chizik was just two years removed from winning the national championship and the Tigers had some talented recruits coming in.
Instead, the Tigers went on to have the worst season in school history, finishing 0-8 in the SEC for the first time ever. Auburn finished the season with no fan support and only three wins: One over Louisiana-Monroe in overtime, one over New Mexico State, and one over Alabama A&M. Chizik was fired at the end of the season;it was the fastest a coach lost his job after winning the national championship.
The Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan State Spartans tied for the Big 10 championship two years ago, and competed in the first ever Big 10 championship game last season. Many believed these two teams would clash again for the title in 2012.
For a second year the Badgers used the graduate school transfer rule to bring in a top ACC quarterback, this time former freshman sensation Danny O’Brien from Maryland. However, O’Brien couldn’t live up to the expectations set the previous year by Russell Wilson, starting only three games before being benched.
The Badgers never really got going, finishing 7-5, but made the Big 10 title game anyways due to Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible to participate in the game.
Meanwhile the Spartans lost star quarterback Kirk Cousins to the NFL, and their hopes rested on star running back Le’Veon Bell, who after a stunning week one performance against Boise State, seemed like a Heisman frontrunner.
While Bell still had a fairly successful season, he was the only player on the team who did, and the Spartans found themselves at 6-6 finishing 109th in the nation in scoring.
Finally, the Hokies started the season expecting to compete for a trip to a BCS bowl for a third consecutive year. Quarterback Logan Thomas was considered by many to have first round draft pick potential, and a dark horse for the Heisman. Meanwhile the defense, returning nine starters, was expected to be in a class with the 2006 unit as the best in team history.
In reality, Thomas was never able to get into rhythm; he finished the season with only three more touchdown passes (17) than interceptions (14). The defense was gashed by an awful Pittsburgh team and set records for futility against North Carolina, while also giving up game-winning drives with less than two minutes to both Cincinnati and Florida State.
The Hokies finished 6-6 and could end up in the Sun Bowl with the USC Trojans. Perhaps the NCAA can rename it the Disappointment Bowl for this season.