Every college football season, there are a few teams that rise up and really surprise us. FOX College Football has identified five potential “breakout” teams for the 2020 season. Florida football headlines the group.
It is hard for the Florida Gators to sneak up on anyone. The team exists in one of the most talent-rich states in the country, and plays in its biggest college football conference, the SEC. Dan Mullen also led UF to an 11-2 record last year, with an Orange Bowl victory over one of last year’s pleasant surprise teams, Virginia.
The Gators finished ranked No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 7 in the Coaches Poll. Still, there is a sizable jump up to the top tier of the SEC. National champion LSU handled Florida, winning 42-28 in Baton Rouge. A few weeks later, the Gators fell by a touchdown to Georgia, which has carried the banner for the SEC East for a few years now.
Florida “breaking out” would likely mean the team really competing for a College Football Playoff spot. That would be an impressive move up for Mullen’s team. The Gators aren’t the only Florida program that the FOX crew thinks will have a big season. Miami comes in at No. 4, the second ACC team on the list.
Do you agree with Big Noon Kickoff’s list of breakout teams this season? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/yLmVdzeR3x
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) July 29, 2020
No. 2 North Carolina took an impressive step forward last year. The 7-6 record doesn’t jump off the page, but not a lot was expected of Mack Brown’s team after a long break between coaching jobs for the former Texas head coach. The team was very competitive, losing all six games by single scores, including a single point to Clemson, and a pair of overtime games to Virginia Tech and Pitt.
USC and Miami may need breakout seasons to stop the bleeding. The uncertain economic situation in college sports may be Clay Helton’s best friend, unless the Trojans return to the top of the Pac-12, while Manny Diaz’s first season as head coach in Coral Gables was very disappointing.
Penn State is pretty locked in as the Big Ten’s second or third best team, battling it out with Wisconsin in that tier. The team has been by far the most competitive with Ohio State in recent years. If the Nittany Lions can knock off the Buckeyes again and avoid a major upset, the College Football Playoff is definitely in the cards.