by Travis Normand
(Originally posted on September 1, 2016 – Updated on September 7, 2016, and again on October 7, 2016)
Before the start of every season I try to sort through the pre-season hype and pick a few teams that are receiving so much undeserved excitement that there is no way they can live up to it. Here are my 2016 selections. For the sake of these teams, I hope I am wrong.
- Michigan: Do people really have them picked to make the CFP Playoff? I will believe it when I see it. I think Harbaugh will get things working for the Wolverines, but I need to see “something” tangible before I start claiming that they are about to win a national title.
- Tennessee: I put Tennessee on this list before their first game of the 2016 season, and then they almost lost to Appalachian State (and needed OT to secure the victory . . . at home).
- Washington: Coach Chris Petersen is probably the right guy for Washington and 2016 is a great time for Washington to finally get their feet under them (The Pac-12 North is primed for a Washington “rising” as Oregon is not as great as they have been recently and Stanford is good but is also looking for a new QB). However, the amount of hype surrounding their 2016 season is a little too much for them to live up too.
UPDATE 1 (October 7, 2016): So far, I have been wrong on all three of these teams! I can admit when I am wrong. However, there is still time for these teams to fall apart this season; not that I am rooting for that.
I think Washington will be fine as they look better than I expected and the rest of their schedule isn’t too “crazy.” Now that they have (easily) gotten past Stanford, there is no reason that Washington can’t make it to the Pac-12 title game, and possibly further. Side note: Despite being wrong in thinking that Washington wouldn’t live up to the hype in 2016, I actually got the rest of this projection right. Go back and re-read my original post on Washington (above). This is the perfect year in the Pac-12 for a Washington rising, Oregon is clearly not as good as they have been recently, and while Stanford is good, Washington was able to make short-work of them.
Michigan is also looking better than expected. The Wolverines still have to get past Ohio State in order to get to the Big 10 title game, but even if they don’t, I would still say that this has been a great season for Michigan. Although, technically, falling short of the Big 10 title game would be considered “not living up to the hype” considering how many prognosticators had them making the CFB Playoff.
If the jury is still out on any of these teams, I would say it is still out on Tennessee. They have managed to win each of their games so far, but each victory has been quite a chore for the Vols. While I can see that they are a much improved team (compared to recent history), they are also living on the edge and have flirted with losing every game. I don’t feel like they can sustain this kind of momentum for an entire season and their great run of victories is sure to run out sooner or later. However, having said that, regardless of how the Vols end up, I think this has been, and will continue to be, a great season for them.
UPDATE 2 (December 31, 2016): Wow, could I have been more wrong here? Can we just forget I ever made this post? I’ll leave it up, as I can admit when I’m wrong. Congratulations to all three of these teams for having a better season than I obviously expected.