As the college football season reaches its December lull and fans attempt to keep themselves entertained with intriguing bowl game matchups before the College Football Playoff semifinals, it is a good time to take a look back on the regular season.
The 2022 college football season was fascinating with a dominant team not becoming apparent until the end of the regular season – looking at you Georgia.
In between, we had a Tennessee program that finally was able to rise from the ashes, voted as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time since winning the national championship in 1998. Under head coach Josh Heupel, Tennessee’s offense soared, taking down Alabama for the first time since 2006.
While the Vols faltered down the stretch, losing to Georgia and getting smoked by South Carolina, they went from unranked to No. 6 in the country in last week’s CFP rankings, returning one of college football’s great programs back to prominence.
TCU had a similar rise. It started the year unranked but was able to avoid major potholes, going 12-1. It will face No. 2 Michigan in the semifinals of the CFP.
Those are the feel-good stories of the college football season, but what about the teams that disappointed in a big way?
Notre Dame and Oklahoma were in the top 10 to start the year before quickly dropping off, but both teams managed to get it together and win at least six games.
Then there are the three teams that will not be competing in a bowl game that were ranked to start the season. The three teams that completely failed to live up to expectations.
Texas A&M preseason No. 6, final record of 5-7
It doesn’t get any more disappointing than the Aggies, who began the season with sky-high expectations.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher was all the rave in the summer, engaging in an offseason war of words with Alabama’s Nick Saban after pulling in the No. 1 recruiting class in 2022.
But no matter the number of five-star recruits, Texas A&M quickly showed its top-10 ranking was a farce.
Against unranked Appalachian State in Week 2, the Aggies gained just 180 yards of offense as quarterback Haynes King threw for a meager 97 yards.
A&M rebounded after the loss, beating two ranked teams in Miami and Arkansas before losing six games in a row, ending any hope for a successful season.
Fisher was never able to find a quarterback, losing Max Johnson for the season after the LSU transfer suffered a broken hand against Mississippi State.
The A&M offense struggled, finishing 94th in the country with just 360.7 yards per game and scoring only 22.8 points per game.
Fisher’s contract runs through 2031, and his buyout is massive – $86 million if fired after the 2022 season – but it’s hard to believe the alumni will remain patient if Texas A&M has a repeat season in 2023.
Michigan State — preseason No. 15, final record of 5-7
Coming off an 11-2 season, culminating in an AP final poll ranking of No. 9, a lot was expected of Mel Tucker’s squad.
The expectations quickly faded.
After beating a couple of cupcakes in Western Michigan and Akron, Sparty face-planted, losing four in a row before getting back on the winning track against Wisconsin.
Michigan State was unable to repeat the success it had against Michigan in 2021, losing 29-7 at the Big House, followed by a couple of Spartans beating up on two players from Michigan in the tunnel after the game.
The incident led to seven players from Michigan State being charged with assault, and the Spartans lost their final two games to miss out on bowl eligibility.
The Michigan State defense ranked 102nd in the country in yards allowed per game (416.5) and gave up 27.4 points per game (75th in the country).
The loss of Kenneth Walker III was clearly felt, as the Spartans rushing attack fell from 53rd in 2021 (175.6 yards per game) to 111th (113.0) in 2022.
Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million extension at the end of last season.
Miami Hurricanes — preseason No. 16, final record of 5-7
Rebuilds don’t happen overnight as Mario Cristobal learned in his first year in Coral Gables, Florida.
The hire of Cristobal was a massive move for a program that failed to live up to expectations under Manny Diaz. Cristobal won 10 games at Oregon in 2021 and arrived at his alma mater as the prodigal son returning home.
The first year did not go as planned.
After beating Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss to start the season, the Hurricanes lost three in a row, including an awful loss to Middle Tennessee State.
Miami then had to stomach Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State University’s head football coach, taking shots in the media.
“They ran for 194 yards against Texas A&M, the number whatever team in the country at this point,” he said. “They ran for 68 against us. They averaged 1.6 yards per carry. They gave $1.5 million. We gave them 1.6 yards per carry.”
Miami’s offense continued to struggle following the three-game skid, scoring 20 points in a game just once the rest of the way.
The Hurricanes’ offense finished the year 98th in points per game (23.4), failing to get a win over a team that finished the year over .500.