Seldom Used Reserve’s John Chancey gives his take on 3 teams that he expects to surprise in a good way in the 2021 season.
USC (12-0) – In a PAC-12 that will probably take more time than most conferences to recover from 2020, the Trojans suddenly find themselves in a position of relative stability. Kedon Slovis is one of the most experienced returning quarterbacks in college football. They aren’t ready for CFP prime time, but the schedule isn’t incredibly daunting. 10+ regular season wins is very realistic, and they may push the envelope to at least cause a discussion about including them in the playoff. Their biggest test will be a road trip to South Bend. A win against the Irish will put them squarely in the conversation at the end of the season.
Boston College (11-1) – The Eagles took a big step forward under new head coach Jeff Hafley. A favorable schedule puts BC in a good position to take another step this season. With the QB-WR tandem of Phil Jurkovec & Zay Flowers returning, the Eagles will have a potent passing attack. When the regular season is done, BC may have the ACC’s 2nd best overall record.
LSU (11-1) – The Tigers have been on a yo-yo the last few years, rising to the 2019 National Championship and then dropping to a losing record in 2020 after a wave of departures. The reality is the through all of it, LSU has been recruiting well. The overall level of talent, along with the correction of some poor hiring decisions by Ed Orgeron, will put the Bayou Bengals back into contention quickly. They get Auburn, Florida and, perhaps most importantly, Texas A&M in Baton Rouge.
Wisconsin (11-1) – Another favorable schedule: the Badgers only have four true road games, all against manageable foes. Graham Mertz’s freshmen season was impacted by a positive COVID test. With a chance to hit reset in 2021, Mertz could be one of college football’s most improved players. While Penn State and Michigan both crossover from the East, neither program is at their peak. Another date with Ohio State in the Big Ten championship is likely.
Notre Dame (11-1) – The Irish lost Ian Book, some very good offensive linemen and some standouts on the defense. Their 2021 squad will take a step back. Their 2021 strength of schedule will also take a step back. That means the 2021 record won’t change that much. They will be favorites in most of their games.