Kirk Herbstreit gave out his annual preseason “Herbie Awards” and he gave some out to his “surprise” teams of the upcoming season. He believes that Missouri, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Wyoming, and Texas will have a surprise season and you can certainly make the case for most of them.
Everyone is expecting a resurgence for the Longhorns under new coach Tom Herman and there was even one writer predicting a ridiculous turnaround for the team that would see them go 12-1. The schedule not includes competing against teams in the rugged Big 12, but the Longhorns also have an out-of-conference game at USC.
Notre Dame is expected to have a much better season than their 4-8 campaign last season so a surprise might be something like 10 wins. They have to play the likes of Georgia at home, UNC in North Carolina, Stanford in California and Miami in Florida so expecting much more than eight wins would be the real surprise.
N.C. State might be the most interesting case as they have improved under coach Dave Doeren, but play in one of the toughest conferences in the land, if not the toughest. They left some wins on the field last season against East Carolina — a team that finished 3-9 — Clemson and Boston College. If they can finish games and continue to even incrementally improve on defense then they should be in line for some potential upsets against Florida State, South Carolina, Clemson, Notre Dame and Louisville.
Missouri was one of the best offensive teams in the SEC last season, but they were also the worst defensively. If the Tigers can improve at all when it comes to not allowing points to get on the board, they should be a much better team. However, a surprise in this case might be going .500 considering Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are expected to be at the top of the SEC East.
Herbstreit didn’t say specifically, but the reason for putting Wyoming on here might not be the team itself, but who is leading it. Quarterback Josh Allen is poised to become a potential Heisman winner and top NFL Draft pick this year. He’s been described as having “mythical” talent and has been shooting up NFL Draft boards all summer despite not playing a game this season. Should Wyoming cruise through its schedule and beat its toughest opponents in Oregon and Iowa then Allen is going to have a lot of people riding the hype train.
[h/t The Spun]