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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Biggest Surprises

Which teams will be the biggest surprises in 2021?

Fresno State v Utah State Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

We are less than nine weeks away from the start of the college football season, and Media Days will be here before we know it. Every year it seems like there is one surprise in the championship game (Hawaii in 2019 and San Jose State in 2020). Is there a team that can enter that discussion this year. Let’s take a look at which teams will be a surprise in 2021.

The Good:

Fresno State

I’m not saying that the Bulldogs are going to be in the championship game this season. But they have as much offensive firepower as anyone in the conference. Jake Haener improved as the season progressed. Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Wilmore should form one of the best backfields in the conference and Jalen Cropper should put up some big numbers. The Bulldogs improved their linebacker core with the addition of former Boise State linebacker Tyson Maeva. The biggest question for the Bulldogs will come on both sides of the trenches. Do they have the big dogs to bring home a conference title? I don’t think so, but their skill talent will keep them in the championship conversation for most of the season.

The Bad:


I considered putting San Jose State here, but I think Brennan will keep the Spartans on track this season. Expectations for the Cowboys are sky high this season. They have an awful out of conference schedule and 3-1 or even 4-0 is realistic. Ball State, Northern Illinois, Montana State, and Connecticut don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of many, but that Ball State game will be a tricky match-up for the Cowboys. Conference play will be a little trickier as the Cowboys travel to Boise, San Jose, and Colorado Springs.

Ultimately, it all comes down to quarterback play. It is hard to root against Sean Chambers who will be making his return off of another leg injury. If Chambers can improve as a passer, seven or eight wins should come easily. This schedule sets up perfectly for the Cowboys to have a special season; I just don’t think they have the passing game to get it done.

The Ugly:

Utah State

I’ve seen a number of Utah State fans say that they will have the most improved team in the conference this year. Sorry, I just don’t see that happening. They are lacking elite talent at the skill positions and uncertainty at quarterback is not a good sign for a team looking to improve. I think that Utah State will be better in the long run under Blake Anderson, but 2021 will not be their season.

That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Next week, we will look at individual players that will be the biggest surprises for the upcoming series.