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The Best Case, Worst Case Records For Every ‘Power 5’ College Football Team

College Football Playoff trophy.


College football season is around the corner. We're just about seven weeks away from the first games kicking off. The anticipation levels of fan bases nationwide are rising.

While every fan base may be eagerly awaiting the season, not every program enters 2016 with the same level of expectations. For some, visions of 12-0 and a conference title/playoff berth are within reach, while others are just trying to reach the .500 mark and qualify for a bowl game. Still others realize even a .500 record is out of the question, and are just striving for an improvement over last season's dismal ledger. 

We took the time out to break down every Power Five team's best and worst-case scenarios for the upcoming season. In reality, many of these teams will fall in between the two options we've laid out; some could fall outside of them if enough breaks go their way or if they suffer some injuries. Either way, our list should give you a good idea how each of these teams will fare this fall.

Get Started: Pac-12 North >>>>

Pac-12 North


Best Case: (7-5) – Last year, Sonny Dykes' program broke through for a winning record behind eventual No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. It is going to take a lot for the Golden Bears to repeat that effort, with Goff down in Los Angeles, in a difficult Pac-12 North. Dykes' offense can put up big numbers, and will likely feature an experienced thrower in Davis Webb, who transfers in from Texas Tech. The team loses a ton from its receiving depth, as well. If they can manage to steal the game vs. Texas and get the better of Washington State and Oregon State in conference, they may be able to go bowling again. 

Worst Case: (2-10) – Dykes has reportedly flirted with other jobs while in Berkeley. This post-Goff year may be what he was trying to avoid. After Hawaii, San Diego State and Texas are very tough non-conference games, and there's a good chance that the only Pac-12 team the Bears will be favored against is Oregon State, and the game is in Corvallis, where weird stuff tends to happen. Things could get ugly this year, especially as rival Stanford looks primed for a Pac-12 title run.


Best Case: (12-0) – Oregon hasn't broken through for a championship yet, but the Ducks are always a threat to make a run, as long as the offense keeping cooking. Last season, the Ducks looked incredible when quarterback Vernon Adams was healthy, but struggled without him. This season, Oregon will likely plug in another FCS star transfer in Dakota Prukop. He has plenty of talent around him, including stud running back Royce Freeman and blazing fast receiver Devon Allen. If Oregon can get past Stanford, it is a legitimate Playoff contender.

Worst Case: (7-5) – And if Prukop doesn't pan out? Oregon should have enough talent to be competitive, but this is a very tough schedule. Nebraska could be a much improved team, and they host Oregon in September. The college football world is in love with Ducks rival Washington this season, and Stanford has a penchant for beating Oregon in big spots. Trips to the Palouse and USC are very difficult as well. Oregon should be too talented to flirt with bowl eligibility like this, but the Pac-12 North can eat teams up, especially if the two Washington teams are factors.

Oregon State

Best Case: (5-7) – The Beavers absolutely bottomed out in 2015, and things aren't looking too much brighter in 2016. The team was ineffective on both ends of the ball, and is still very much in rebuild mode entering this fall. Idaho State should be a win, and we can envision the Beavers finding ways to take down Minnesota, Colorado, Cal, and Arizona, but that would require a lot to break right in year two for Gary Andersen. 

Worst Case: (1-11) – Odds are better that the team falls even further here. Outside of Idaho State, there is no game that the Beavers will be favored in, at least right now. Even the worst teams on this schedule, like Minnesota, Cal, and Colorado, will likely be on the cusp of making a bowl. The Beavers aren't particularly close.


Best Case: (12-0) – Last season, David Shaw's staff learned early to find creative ways to get Christian McCaffrey the ball and to let him work. Expect more of the same from the Cardinal in 2016, with an improved defense on the other side. Shaw has turned the Cardinal into a machine, and with another Heisman-worthy season from the superstar running back, Stanford should have a chance to win every game this regular season.

Worst Case: (8-4) – The Pac-12 won't make it easy on Stanford, though. Oregon is always a threat, Washington is projected to break out, and Stanford has both of the talented Los Angeles teams to contend with in September. Notre Dame is also lurking at mid-season. If defenses learn to contain McCaffrey and Stanford can't compliment his abilities with an effective passing game, this team could fall short of its lofty expectations.


Best Case: (11-1) – The Washington hype train is very real, and if it doesn't run off the tracks, Washington should be in the Pac-12 North title conversation. The team has a real chance to build momentum early. The Huskies get Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State, and travel to Arizona before a fateful showdown with Stanford. It is hard to see the 7-6 team making a leap all the way to an unbeaten record in one year, but a split with Oregon and Stanford would be phenomenal progress all the same.

Worst Case: (7-5) – After all of the said hype, 7-5 would be disappointing, but remember, this is the same win total the team had a year ago. And this would require losses to both Oregon and Stanford, at Utah, to USC, and at rival Washington State. Those are all very difficult games, but if Washington, which returns starters at quarterback and running back and keeps most of its offensive line and defense intact, it should pick off a few of those teams. 

Washington State

Best Case: (9-3) – After three losing seasons to start his Wazzu tenure, Mike Leach broke through for a big 9-4 2015. Repeating that is a tall task with how tough the division appears, but much of Leach's explosive offense, including prolific quarterback Luke Falk, returns. This 'best case' prediction requires a win over Boise State, which looks to bounce back from an underwhelming 2015, and an upset of Washington. If Wazzu crashes Washington's break out season in the final week, Pullman liquor stores may not be able to keep enough Fireball on the shelves. 

Worst Case: (5-7) – Of course, there is a distinct possibility that the 9-4 2015 was an anomaly. Boise State should improve, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington will likely be big favorites, and UCLA and Arizona State are both very talent. Even Cal and Colorado are not quite pushovers, especially for a team that is looking for its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002 and 2003.

Next: Pac-12 South >>>

Pac-12 South


Best case: (8-4) - The Wildcats have made four straight bowl trips under Rich Rodriguez, and best-case scenario has them make it five. Led by quarterback Anu Solomon, Arizona survives a brutal middle part of the schedule and heads into November at 4-4 before finishing out the season on a four-game roll. A Pac-12 South title is out of the question this year, but another bowl game shouldn't be. 

Worst case: (5-7)- After starting 2-2 with losses to BYU and Washington, the wheels fall off the wagon and Arrizona goes 0-for-October, losing to USC, UCLA, Utah and Stanford. A late-season recovery provides hope, but it isn't enough to reach .500, and the bowl streak ends at four. 

Arizona State

Best case: (7-5) - The Sun Devilsride the 1-2 backfield punch of Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage to a one-game improvement over last season's 6-6 regular season. Along the way, ASU avenges 2015 losses to Cal and Washington State, and the program reaches a bowl game for the sixth-straight year. 

Worst case: (5-7) - A bad defense in 2015 is worse in 2016, and this time, the Sun Devils don't have an experienced quarterback to rely on offensively. The low-point of the season is an upset loss at Colorado, and it is a defeat that ultimately is the difference in ASU making a bowl game or not. Todd Graham stays home for the holidays for the first time since he came to Tempe. 


Best case: 6-6 - Buffs fans, brace yourselves. Your team is going bowling for the first time in nearly a decade. Mike MacIntyre's bunch cobbles together just enough on offense and relies on an improved defense to spring an upset or two in Pac-12 play and reach the .500 mark. The glory days of the 80's and 90's it is not, but it's better than it has been in Boulder in quite some time.

Worst case: (3-9) - As David Byrne of Talking Heads once sang, "Same as it ever was/Same as it ever was." Colorado only manages one conference win, and another win over rival Colorado State in the season opener isn't enough to save MacIntyre's job. The search continues for someone who can bring the magic back to The Centennial State. 


Best case: (10-2) - Led by Josh "Chosen" Rosen, UCLA gets rid of some of the bad taste left over from how last season ended. The Bruins notch an impressive non-conference win over Texas A&M in the opener, and then outlast USC and Utah throughout the regular season to be the cream of the Pac-12 South crop and make the conference title game. Expectations rise in Westwood for 2017. 

Worst case: (7-5) - UCLA's tweaked Pro-Style scheme sputters, and the team loses to A&M, USC and Stanford. To make matters worse, BYU and Wazzu also knock off the Bruins. Another mediocre season for the Blue and Gold leads to some fan grumbling about Jim Mora.


Best case: (10-2) - It's tough to imagine USC not finishing with at least two losses, given how hard its schedule is. But in our best-case scenario, the Trojans overcome an opening-weekend defeat to Alabama and go on a roll, losing just once more the rest of the way. That 10-2 record is enough to win the Pac-12 South and qualify for the conference championship game. It would also show that maybe the Trojans got it right by promoting interim coach Clay Helton to the permanent role.

Worst case: (7-5) - The schedule-makers did Helton no favors as a first-year head man. USC returns pieces, but in the end, its difficult slate could be too much to overcome. In our worst-case scenario, a 6-2 start implodes down the stretch, as the Trojans drop three of their last four against Oregon, Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame. 


Best case: (9-3) - The Utes went 9-3 in the regular season last year, and seeing them do it again isn't unfeasible. Kyle Whittingham has built something solid in Salt Lake City. This season, he'll rely on JUCO transfer and one-time Washington QB Troy Williams to run his offense and he'll also have a quality defense at his disposal. Figure the Utes pick off either USC, Washington or Oregon at home on the road to 9-3. 

Worst case (7-5) - Utah has proven it belongs in the Pac-12, but it's still below the level of the conference's top teams. With that being said, given the team's manageable conference schedule -- UCLA is its toughest game away from home, and the rest of the road trips (Cal, Oregon State, Colorado and Arizona State) aren't that intimidating --it's tough seeing them falling to .500 or below barring a rash of injuries. 

Next: ACC Atlantic >>>

ACC Atlantic

Boston College

Best Case: (8-4) – After having one of college football's saddest offenses in 2015, things take a positive turn in Chestnut Hill. Kentucky transfer Patrick Towles puts in a solid year under center for new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, giving the team some balance along with effective running from Jon Hilliman, Tyler Rouse, and Myles Willis. The defense does not fall too much after the departure of coordinator Don Brown, and the Eagles use an easy early schedule to vault to the second tier of the Atlantic.

Worst Case: (3-9) – Loeffler didn't exactly light the world on fire with his offenses at Auburn and Virginia Tech, and Boston College doesn't exactly have a ton of talent in place on that side of the ball. BC struggles to score once again, and Steve Addazio is looking for work after his second straight three-win year.


Best Case: (12-0) – Clemson ran the table all the way to a National Championship Game last year. With the return of Deshaun Watson, Ben Boulware, Wayne Gallman, and Mike Williams, the Tigers should be the favorites to take home the ACC crown once again, and return to the College Football Playoff. This is the best case, but it is also very much on the table.

Worst Case: (9-3) – Two years ago, Deshaun Watson struggled to stay healthy a bit. If the injury bug bites again, Clemson's ceiling takes a massive blow. Florida State and Louisville are both very difficult opponents, and while it is hard to know what to make of Clemson's two SEC opponents—Auburn and South Carolina—this year, if things broke the wrong way for Clemson, you can find three losses on the schedule. That floor is not a bad place to be, though.

Florida State

Best Case: (12-0) – Does Florida State have a quarterback? If so, the 'Noles are in pretty good shape. If talented redshirt freshman Deondre Francois beats out Sean Maguire and lives up to his billing as a former top recruit, it gives Florida State the balance it needs to go with Dalvin Cook, who was as good as any running back in the country last year. That's a team that can battle with Clemson, run through the ACC, and back into the College Football Playoff.

Worst Case: (7-5) – And if not? Things get dicey. Florida State still has a ton of talent all over the field, but the schedule is not too friendly. FSU opens with a very salty Ole Miss team, not the easiest defense to face for a potential first-time starter. Week three takes FSU to upstart Louisville, followed by a home game against ACC Coastal champion North Carolina, a trip to Mark Richt's Miami, and the season ends with Florida. And Clemson is lurking. If Florida State struggles to mesh, things could get ugly, at least by lofty 'Nole standards.


Best Case: (11-1) – If anyone is going to break through Clemson and Florida State's wall at the top of the ACC Atlantic, it is Louisville. Lamar Jackson made a star turn at the end of last season, absolutely shredding Texas A&M's defense in the Music City Bowl to the tune of 453 total yards and four touchdowns. Todd Grantham has done a great job building a winner with plenty of NFL talent on the other side of the ball. Beating both Clemson and Florida State is a big ask, but Louisville can hit double digit wins and clinch a New Year's Six bowl.

Worst Case: (8-4) Those breakout bowl games don't always foretell great following seasons. Ask Trevor Knight. If Jackson isn't the sleeper Heisman candidate that some bill him as, Louisville's ceiling takes a hit, but with a lot of returning talent surrounding him on offense, and a largely intact secondary, this should be a very good team either way.

N.C. State

Best Case: (9-3) – N.C. State has been mired in mediocrity for a