Pick 6: Teams coming off bad season that will go bowling
Yes, there are actually college football teams that do not play in bowl games. There will be more postseason games than ever this season, 43 in including the College Football Playoff championship game, but still more than 40 FBS teams will not go bowling.
Here are six teams that missed out on the postseason last year - and in some cases have gone several seasons without getting into a bowl - that should turn it around in 2015:
With QB Jared Goff - a future high NFL draft pick - leading a potent offense, the Bears are primed to take another step forward under third-year coach Sonny Dykes. He is hoping the addition of veteran defensive coordinator Art Kaufman can clean up a defense that has been atrocious. The biggest hurdle to overcome is a tough schedule with five Pac-12 road games.
Mark Stoops has recruited some high-level talent since coming to Lexington three years ago and the Wildcats have taken substantial steps forward. Patrick Towles is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC and he has weapons in RB Boom Williams and WR Ryan Timmons. Kentucky collapsed after a 5-1 start last season, but with SEC East rivals South Carolina and Florida vulnerable this is a good opportunity for a break through.
Jim Harbaugh will have to improve the Wolverines by one game over last season to get them into postseason. Seems like a safe bet.
Cheating a little with this pick because the Owls were bowl-eligible last season, but left out of the postseason when the American Athletic Conference did not have enough spots in its bowl lineup. Temple brings back almost every key player from a defense that was 11th in the nation in yards per play. Led by MLB Tyler Matakevich and DE Praise Martin-Oguike, Temple should contend for the American East Division title.
Kliff Kingsbury has gone from hot young coach (not talking looks) to the handsome guy with the bad the team in two seasons. Just like players, coaches can improve with experience. The 36-year-old Kingsbury calls a mean game and works well with quarterbacks, but his teams have committed a ton of penalties and played little defense. He brought in respected defensive coordinator David Gibbs to fix the latter. If a brutal early stretch that includes at Arkansas, TCU and Baylor doesn't break the Red Raiders, there is reason to believe a bounce back is coming.
The Minutemen will exit the Mid-American Conference after this season and might be able to take an East Division title and trip to the league championship game with them on the way out. They bring back one of the most experienced teams in the country and a prolific passing game with quarterback Blake Frohnapfel (3,345 and 23 TD passes). The nonconference slate is tough (at Colorado, Temple and at Notre Dame) so UMass will likely have to rack up in conference. The MAC East is accommodating.
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