College football is a sport built around big-time programs facing off against each other in colossal match-ups to determine conference or national championships. However, every few years there is a newcomer to the Hall of Greatness that tries to spoil the party with a great season of its own.
Past national champions who were not perennial powers include Clemson in 1981, BYU in 1984, Colorado and Georgia Tech in 1990, and Tennessee in 1998. Nowadays, it seems the giants have a firm grip on the top of the college football world.
But, some gamers will be looking to introduce some new blood into the hallowed halls of college football greats in NCAA Football 09. So to help gamers who are searching for schools to make into new powerhouses, I have compiled a list of five programs which could be turned into powerhouses in just one year. Check out this list and see if you agree!
5. BYU (Mountain West)
The pieces are all there for BYU to make an undefeated run this year and next. It's a talented team filled with experienced juniors and seniors, plus the team plays in a so-so conference. With your help, BYU could be a major power and win their first National Championship since 1984.
Max Hall is a key cog in your future plans with the Cougars.
Max Hall is the Cougars starting quarterback, boasting a high overall rating, and the best part is he's just a junior. The defense is also filled with juniors, meaning your defense could be really good in year two. And if you win enough games in year one, possibly even going undefeated, you could easily recruit a good freshmen class and the rest would be history. If you want an easy way to the top, then BYU is a solid choice.
4. South Florida (Big East)
Not so long ago, South Florida was a program that wasn't even playing football. The program is rooted in the deep recruiting grounds of Florida, which means stocking your depth chart with talent won't be all that hard. The other bonus is South Florida could be considered the second best program in Florida these days, which means you have a chance to land tons of great players.
The schedule in year one favors a ten or more win season if you come out of the gates swinging.
Year one could be rather interesting, with 15 starters returning for the Bulls. Quarterback Matt Grothe is the key cog in your program; and like Hall at BYU, he is a junior. The schedule in year one favors a ten or more win season if you come out of the gates swinging. The early game against Kansas will be tough for players who are still getting acquainted with the game, but it should be manageable. If you can keep winning, the talent should keep improving, giving the young program a chance at national prominence within a year or two.
3. Wisconsin (Big Ten)
Here is a fun little tidbit about the Badgers in 2008: The most experienced Big Ten bowl team from last year is not Ohio State, it is Wisconsin. Still, the Badgers have never won a National Championship and cannot be considered among the college football elite. As with all of the other teams on this list, Wisconsin is a good coach (namely you) away from becoming one of the all-time great powerhouses on the digital field.
The Badgers are returning 19 starters on both sides of the ball for 2008, but they are looking to get a new quarterback into the fold. If you can make the QB transition smooth while managing the road through the Big Ten, you would have a chance to turn Wisconsin into one of college football's elite within two years.
The big key for Wisconsin is to win big in year one, as you have a senior laden team which could turn year two into a bit of a transition year. The three game stretch of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State will determine whether or not you turn the Badgers into a real contender in year one or not.
2. Clemson (ACC)
Clemson has tasted the victory of success among college football's elite. Most folks in South Carolina can probably tell you where they were when Danny Ford's Tigers beat Nebraska 22-15 in the 1982 Orange Bowl to win the National Championship. To bring that same type of joy to the Tiger faithful in your dynasty, you are going to have to capitalize on the abundance of talent at your disposal in year one.
The schedule sets up for a possible run at an undefeated season, with two swing games on the road at Wake Forest and at Florida State. The annual war with South Carolina is at home, which means you will have a real shot at finishing year one at 12-0. The toughest test you will probably face early on is against Alabama in your first game. It might be best to get a warm-up game in before facing the Crimson Tide, because you do not want to finish 11-1 with the only loss being that first game.
Look for the Tigers to make a run at an undefeated season this year under your guidance.
The team's talent is good, but all the skill positions (WR, RB and QB) are senior laden, meaning the team had better win big in year one. If you're able to pull off the undefeated season as the head coach of Clemson, it could set up a nice prolonged run at the top -- if things fall your way on the recruiting trail.
1. Missouri (Big XII)
A program like Missouri can usually count on a Cotton Bowl appearance and an 11-2 season being one of the best in school history. Instead, Missouri is a program that was oh-so-close to breaking through to the top last year. Ranked number one in the country and needing a win over Oklahoma to advance to the national championship game, the Tigers were plastered and had to settle for a Cotton Bowl appearance instead.
This year, your virtual Tigers will be loaded with all-world QB Chase Daniel, TE Chase Coffman and WR Jeremy Maclin all returning. With an improving defense, the Tigers have a real shot at winning it all in 2008. However, your journey through the schedule will be anything but easy. Your first game against Illinois will test your skills as a beginner to the game. Late season tests against Texas and Kansas as well as the Big XII Championship game will also be tough.
Jeremy Maclin will be a key cog in the Tiger attack again this year.
Keys to Success
The difference between the Missouris, the Ohio States and the Oklahomas is the latter two simply plug in players and still see success while the former goes back to normalcy after players like Daniel leave. The key for you at these five schools will be to recruit well enough to plug in players to keep seeing success after your initial wave of good talent is gone. If you do not replace these key players, you will find it hard to meet the suddenly higher expectations of your digital fan base.