Tennessee Volunteers (1-7/5-7)
The Vols, in the 2012 season, tried to win games by throwing the football with Tyler Bray. The Volunteers lost quarterback Tyler Bray, wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson, and Justin Hunter. The past will prove this is a good situation for the Vols.
Learn from your past: In 1998, Tennessee won a title with the rushing game of Travis Henry and Jamal Lewis-not the passing game of Tee Martin.
In 2001 and 2004, the Vols made SEC Championships with the running game. Travis Stephens led the way in 2001. Gerald Riggs and Cedric Houston took charge in 2004.
Now, it's time the Vols improve with 2013 running backs, Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane.
This running game, along with the defense going back to the 4-3, will help the defense by keeping the opposing teams' offense off the field.
Tennessee could surprise some teams at home like Georgia and South Carolina, while scaring Alabama and Florida on the road.
I see the Volunteers going from no bowl, last year, to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2013.
Miami Hurricanes (5-3/7-5)
The difference for the Canes in 2013...their schedule. Miami,Fla will play the first six out of seven games in the state of Florida.
FAU, Florida, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Savannah State will all be at home. The Canes will play South Florida in Tampa. Their first out of state game will be against North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
The key to improvement, quarterback Stephen Morris and wide out Phillip Dorsett. The ACC is not known for their pass defense, while the Florida Gators lost many talent on the defensive side.
The offensive line will have four players returning, all with 12 starts from last season. The defensive line will put more pressure on ACC QBs in 2013 with Shayon Green, Anthony Chickillo, and Olsen Pierre.
Remember the name James Coley! He's the Miami Hurricanes' new offensive coordinator. Coley was the OC for FSU from 2010-2012 and a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at LSU. (2003-2004)
Miami will be in a New Years' Day game, possibly a BCS Bowl.
Washington State Cougars (1-8/3-9)
Last season was a nightmare for, first year, head coach Mike Leach - Too many interceptions and no defense.
When Mike Leach gets a year with a football team, he can prepare for his passing attack for the future. Leach coached at a successful Division II school-Valdosta State and built a program with Texas Tech.
Quarterback Connor Halliday, with his 6'4 185lb frame, needs to gain some weight, while wide outs, Gabe Marks, Kristoff Williams, and Isiah Myers will help in this wild passing game.
Starting with the first game at Auburn, this could be the tone setter because Auburn has been known to play poorly in the first game of the season.
Mike Leach isn't called the "Mad Scientist" for nothing. He will facilitate the process to the point that a huge upset of some Pac-12 teams will occur.
Washington State will make a small bowl game with a 7-5 record.
Illinois Fighting Illini (0-8/2-10)
Illinois was the worst out of the five teams - they can only get better. Illinois plays five out of their first six games in the state of Illinois. This could help with confidence in the early part of the season.
Going into his second season as Head coach, Tim Beckman has had time to make some adjustments.
Poor performances against teams Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Arizona State, and Louisiana Tech in 2012 will bring more focus on defense improvement.
The linebacker core of Mason Monheim and Jonathan Brown will key to the improving this weak defense.
The offense will be the major asset for the Illini defense. They kept the Illinois defense on the field longer than their liking in 2012.
I see QB Nathan Scheelhaase making a come back with his run slash passing game, plus running back Donovonn Young will take some pressure off that fairly weak Illini defense.
The hiring of offensive line coach A.J. Ricker could bring success to the Illinois' offense. OC Bill Cubit and Ricker coached together at Western Michigan. (When coaches reunite, it helps the offense mesh together.)
From a two-win season to a bowl game?
West Virginia Mountaineers (4-5/7-6)
The Mountaineer football team got a taste Big-12 football in 2012. Head coach Dana Holgorsen, without QB Geno Smith, could be surprisingly more successful.
Clint Trickett, transfer from FSU, could be part of a large group of quarterbacks battling for the starting position. Something tells me that 6'5 234lb red shirt Freshman Ford Childress will be the leader at QB.
With only two tackles returning on the offensive line and no dominance at the skill positions, the Mountaineers will play it very conservative. This could be an improvement from all the mistakes they create in 2012.
Conservative running game and a better defense will make the difference.
Possible Cotton Bowl appearance for the West Virginia Mountaineers.