The 128-team CFB countdown

Colorado needs a second step forward

Colorado may have been the worst team in the country in 2012. So the simple fact that the Buffs were able to win four games and play occasionally competitive ball in 2013 was cause for celebration. What happens in Mike MacIntyre's second season?

All eyes on the Sooners

Oklahoma was both lucky and good at the end of 2013. The Sooners have the easiest conference schedule of any Big 12 contender, but can they prove that last year's holes have been plugged enough to reach the College Football Playoff?

Oklahoma State: The next generation

Mike Gundy has a lot of key pieces to replace and faces a rough schedule away from home. So 2014 might shape up a lot like 2012 for OSU, in which the Cowboys take their lumps, play at a high level, and break through in an odd-numbered year.

TCU close to high caliber again

Tight losses and sketchy quarterback play have held TCU back since the Frogs' move to the Big 12. Can a new QB, new offensive co-coordinators, and yet another fantastic defense change the narrative?

Texas in 2014? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

From defensive toughness to offensive identity to quarterback health, Charlie Strong's first Texas team has plenty of questions to answer. And depending on the answers, a middle-heavy schedule could be conducive to a gaudy record in either direction.

Kansas State: permanent dark horse

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Kansas State returns quite a few difference makers from a 2013 squad that played at a legitimate top-20 level after September. Does that make the Wildcats a Big 12 dark horse, or simply an outright contender?

Can West Virginia stop sliding?

West Virginia has lost 14 of 20 games and, in terms of advanced stats, has regressed for five of the last six years. Dana Holgorsen has the X-and-O prowess, but will his 2014 Mountaineers have enough pure talent to stop the slide?

Baylor's got pieces for another run

In today's Big 12 a sentence like, "survive an upset bid in Austin, and Baylor could be positioned well for another conference title run," actually makes sense. The Bears have some worries in pass defense, but aren't far from another championship.

Texas Tech is dreaming big again

The last time we saw Texas Tech, the Red Raiders were delivering one of the best performances of the bowl season. Was that a sign of a bigger, better 2014 campaign? Probably not, but it's hard not to dream big with Kliff Kingsbury leading the way.

Iowa State looks for a rebound

Iowa State's offense might have more upside now than at any time in recent history, but it probably won't get much help from a young, rebuilt defense. ISU isn't hopeless, but the Cyclones are probably in for another down year in 2014.

What now for Kansas?

Charlie Weis sacrificed long-term stability for short-term gains by signing a JUCO-heavy recruiting class in 2013 ... and Kansas didn't improve at all. Can a new offensive identity bring hope to a program at its most hopeless state?

Searching for FSU's flaws

Florida State is the reigning national champion. The Seminoles have the reigning Heisman winner. They will probably have more players picked in the 2015 draft than any team of the last 20 years. We'll go out on a limb and say they're officially back.

Virginia Tech can win 10 games. If ...

With a Bud Foster defense and a schedule that features only one team projected better than 30th, Virginia Tech could once again win 10+ games in 2014 ... if its offense can at least be mediocre. But it wasn't even mediocre the last two years.

Time for Clemson to pin its ears back

Clemson loses its two most visible stars from last year's Orange Bowl squad, but the Tigers return one of the best defensive lines -- and perhaps the best set of coordinators -- in the country. They are deep and fast and might not need to rebuild.

Miami's confusing expectations

Expectations are a funny thing for a Miami program with a brilliant history and the clearing smoke from the Nevin Shapiro investigation. Wherever the bar is set, though, it's going to be hard for Al Golden to clear it unless his defense improves.

Pitt has potential, power, peril

The starting 22 for Paul Chryst's third Pitt team could be full of youth and upside. But just about every Pitt unit could get decimated by injuries or attrition. Regardless, the potential is high and will only get higher in 2015.

Can UNC keep it going?

UNC has been hailed as a sleeping giant for basically each of the last 50 years. Larry Fedora's Tar Heels return an extraordinary amount of exciting offensive talent, but will shaky defense and flaky quarterback play hold them back?

Louisville's hitman goes to work

Bobby Petrino was brought back to Louisville to do one thing: win. And he'll probably do so. He inherits a strong stable of offensive weapons, and though the defense will regress, the Cardinals are immediately one of their new league's best teams.

GT has higher upside, lower downside

After winning 20 games in his first two seasons, Paul Johnson has settled into the seven-win groove Chan Gailey nearly patented at Georgia Tech. But with less experience and more upside, the Jackets appear more likely to win five or nine in 2014.

Is NC State a bounceback candidate?

Dave Doeren inherited an NC State roster with perilous depth, and injuries had blown up the two-deep by the end of September. With better luck, the Wolfpack could bounce back, but they're probably still a year away from making serious noise.

Now the work really begins at BC

Steve Addazio inherited an experienced lineup and a late-blooming superstar at running back. He rode that to a five-win improvement in 2013. What happens now that the team's bigger names are gone?

Syracuse could be volatile, exciting

Syracuse could be fun in 2014, with a high-paced, run-first offense and a TFLs-or-bust defense. But a more experienced roster will need to overcome the inconsistency that held the Orange back last fall.

Duke enters post-breakthrough stage

After four years of fielding basically the same team, Duke got younger and improved dramatically in 2013. We now live in a world in which "Can Duke reach the conference title game again?" is a legitimate question.

One more chance at Virginia?

Mike London has reached Year 5 at Virginia because of potential and potential alone. His Cavaliers have won six games in two years, but recruiting means upside, and Virginia has quite a bit of it in 2014. They did last year, too, though.

Is Wake Forest the next rebuild?

Dave Clawson has three successful rebuilds on his résumé; he might pull off a fourth at Wake Forest, but it will take us a year or two to figure that out. Barring an miraculous offensive turnaround, 2014 is going to be rough for the Deacs.

Buckeyes still B1G's safest bet

Ohio State's offense won't be quite as efficient as it was last year, and the defense has both immense upside and countless question marks. The Buckeyes aren't a sure thing, but they're still the standard in the Big Ten.

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