These 10 College Soccer Programs Are Ready To Bounce Back And Return To Bowling Games In 2022

These 10 College Soccer Programs Are Ready To Bounce Back And Return To Bowling Games In 2022

These 10 College Soccer Programs Are Ready To Bounce Back And Return To Bowling Games In 2022

College football’s postseason is the subject of annual debate as opponents complain about expanding to a… no less than 43 games for the 2022-23 season and claim that bowls just don’t mean what they used to mean. With many star players choosing to forego bowling due to health issues and coaching transitions, there’s little doubt that just achieving a bowling match isn’t always a big reward for a great season. Sometimes it’s just an exhibition at the end of a mediocre season.

However, for the several dozen teams that miss out on a bowling match each year, getting back to just one can be a particularly meaningful achievement. Just look at South Carolina, which broke a two-year bowl drought in 2021 with a 6-6 regular season record, beating border rival North Carolina 38-21 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. The Gamecocks weren’t expected to do much in coach Shane Beamer’s first season, but reaching (and winning) a bowling match confirmed the program’s hiring of a much-loved former assistant.

As the 2022 season approaches and the disrupted 2020 season — along with the disjointed bowl season — fades further into the background, the sport’s normal rhythms have returned. That means bowl trips are expected on some programs, and there are some strong brands looking to make bowl stripes in the coming season.

So what are the shows most likely to return to bowling games after missing them last season? Here the choices are divided into levels.

Obvious choices

These teams look like sure bets to reach bowling games in the 2022 season

USC: After a 4-8 season — the worst program since 1991 — freshman coach Lincoln Riley has replenished the roster with a bevy of playmakers to ensure the Trojans return to respectability quickly. The College Football Playoff talk may look premature, but it would be an absolute blast if USC isn’t back in a bowl game. The last time USC finished with a losing record in consecutive seasons was in 1960 and 1961. With the transfer of Caleb Williams from Oklahoma as quarterback, former Oregon star Travis Dye as running back and reigning Biletnikoff winner, and Pittsburgh transferred Jordan Addison among a bevy of talented wide receivers, USC must be offensively elite enough to overcome a questionable defense and set its 2021 losing record in the rearview mirror.

Texas: The Longhorns finished 5-7 under Charlie Strong in 2015 and 2016, so there is recent precedent for missing bowls in consecutive seasons. But with some of the best talent in the country returning Bijan Robinson and receiver Xavier Worthy playing with a potential star QB – albeit an unproven – in Quinn Ewers, this team is a safe bet to get into Year 2 bowling under Steve Sarkisian. If the defense stinks again, former TCU coach Gary Patterson is now on duty to keep the ship steady.

Florida state: The Seminoles finished with a losing record in four consecutive seasons, which is astonishing for a brand program that set a 27-1 record over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Just making a bowl may not be enough to take the job of third-year coach Mike Norvell. but the Seminoles seem likely to reach that threshold by at least 2022. FSU should go at least 2-2 in non-conference games versus the 1-3 mark it posted last season. From there, even a repeat of last season’s 4-4 mark in ACC play would bring the ‘Noles to a bowl.

Perhaps

You’d think these shows would end with bowling in 2022, but at least there’s a reason for a break

Washington: You would think Washington would qualify for bowls with a schedule that starts with Kent State and Portland State and avoids USC and Utah. However, the Huskies had an equally favorable league slate last season, stumbling to a 4-8 mark. With the offensive spirit of Kalen DeBoer taking the place of Jimmy Lake as head coach, Washington should start finding the end zone again and quickly return to competence. The defense may be stepping back into the post-Lake era, but with the defensive end of former All-Pac 12 first-team Zion Tupuola-Fetui back after an injury-plagued 2021 season, the closet isn’t empty .

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers drew heavyweights Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State from the Big Ten East last season and lost those three games by a combined 15 points as they struggled to a 0-7 in single-possession games during a 3-9 season. The Wolverines are still on the bill, but with Indiana and Rutgers as the Cornhuskers’ other cross-division enemies, you’d think they’d finally qualify for the bowl in Coach Scott Frost’s fifth season. Much of Nebraska’s ambition seems to depend on how freshman offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who arrives from Pittsburgh, teams up with quarterback Casey Thompson, who came over from Texas.

Troy: The Trojans return significant production for freshman coach Jon Sumrall, who previously served during some of the highlights of Neal Brown’s tenure. Defensively, a front seven led by first-team All-Sun Belt performers Javon Solomon and Carlton Martial should be nasty. Offensively, there is some work to do for new coordinator Joe Craddock with a unit that finished 109th in overall offense last season. But with Kimani Vidal and receiver Tez Johnson slumping back after flashing star power last season, the unit should be better.

When the breaks go well

These teams are going to bowl again as long as they get a few breaks

Northwest: The dawning of name, image, and likeness and mass transfer has led to some predictions of competitive extinction for schools with high academic standards like Northwestern, which also register at the bottom of booster fanaticism. However, if a few breaks go well, the Wildcats will be right back in a bowl game after the 2022 season. Coach Pat Fitzgerald was too stable as he enters his 17th season to allow a repeat of last season’s 3-9 fiasco. The offensive line is well fortified and the skill positions talented enough—highlighted by returning 1,000-yard rusher Evan Hull—for Northwestern to find three Big Ten wins to accompany what was a 3-0 nonconference record against Duke, Southwestern. Illinois should be and Miami (Ohio).

TCU: The Horned Frogs have only turned 16-18 in the past three seasons and are starting this season with someone other than Gary Patterson as head coach for the first time since 2000. However, if things go well, they’ll be back in a bowl game under Sonny Dykes in no time as there are still some good talent on the roster. The defense fell apart under Patterson last season, but star cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is back, along with a threat at the end in Dylan Horton. Otherwise, a solid crop of transfers should help wash the horror of 2021 from the defense system. Offensively, receiver Quentin Johnson is set for a breakout season and will catch passes from either undersized red shirt freshman Chandler Morris or veteran Max Duggan. Both are quality options that can help lead TCU back to a bowl.

FAU: It’s year 3 for Willie Taggart at FAU, and with Miami transfer N’Kosi Perry back for his second season as the starting QB, look forward to the Owls getting back to bowling. This team was on the cusp of last season before losing their last four games, so it’s not like there’s a big step to take. As long as FAU avoids a catastrophic series of injuries, the schedule is manageable enough to put a bowling appearance within reach. Taggart and his new defensive coordinator, Todd Orlando, were considered rising stars just six or seven years ago. Both have struggled, but the bet is that they will have some success this season.

Long shot choice

Never say never

akron: This is really a long shot, but give it a shot. Joe Moorhead takes over a program that was only 3-27 for the past three seasons, and he’s been smashed into the portal like crazy. The Zips brought in 11 Power Five transfers, including some players with a proven track record. Shocky Jacques-Louis caught 83 passes for 1,010 yards in four seasons at Pitt, and safety Kerry Martin made 50 tackles as a freshman at West Virginia in 2019. The new players combine with some decent returnees in key spots to give the Zips a shot. to complete what would be a miraculous turnaround. While a bowling berth is far-fetched, this team should be almost unrecognizable and should win as many matches as in the past three seasons combined (or more).