Who Will Be This Year’s Surprise Team in College Football?

If you want to increase your knowledge about college football, stop watching the television experts and radio talking heads who love football, have played football in many cases, and like to bloviate about their alma mater.

Just go to your local newsstand and buy a copy of Phil Steele’s 2014 College Football Preview. Steele is the best of the best, and there is no close second. That’s why I pay attention to Phil Steele.

Every year Phil Steele picks his surprise teams among the non-automatic qualifying teams, teams that do not compete in the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, ACC and Big Ten. Here is why you may want to read what he has to say:

In 2006 he picked Boise State to get into a BCS Bowl game, and the Broncos went undefeated at 13-0, got to the Fiesta Bowl, and upset Oklahoma (yeah, now you remember).

In 2007 he picked Hawaii to go 12-0 in the regular season and grab a Sugar Bowl berth, and that is exactly what the Warriors did.

In 2008 he picked the Utah Utes, who were not ranked in the Top 25 or projected to win the Mountain West Conference, and Utah finished unbeaten at 13-0 and ended up ranked #2 in the nation.

In 2009 he picked Boise State and the Broncos beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl and finished #4 in the nation.

In 2010 he picked the TCU Horned Frogs, who went undefeated at 13-0, knocked off Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, and finished #2 in the nation.

In 2011 he picked Boise State (for the 3rd time), and the Broncos finished 12-1, losing to TCU on a missed field goal that might have prevented them from playing LSU in the national championship game.

In 2012 he picked Central Florida (UCF), like, yeah, whoever heard of Central Florida? The Knights went 10-4, losing to undefeated Ohio State by 15 points, Missouri by 5, and twice to Tulsa by a combined 8 points. Last year Central Florida went 12-1 and knocked off #6 Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, 52-42. So Steele was a year early on this one, but at least he saw it coming.

In 2013 he picked Fresno State as the #1 Surprise Team (the Bulldogs finished 11-2) and Northern Illinois #2 (the Huskies went 12-2), and both teams ended up as the #1 and #2 non-Big 5 conference teams.

So here are Phil Steele’s Top Non-Power 5 Teams for 2014:

1) Marshall Thundering Herd

2) UCF Knights

3) Boise State Broncos

4) Houston Cougars

5) BYU Cougars

6) Cincinnati Bearcats

7) Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

8) Toledo Rockets

And here are Phil Steele’s 2014 Surprise Teams among the Big 5 Conferences:

1) Georgia Bulldogs

2) USC Trojans

3) Wisconsin Badgers

4) TCU Horned Frogs

5) North Carolina Tar Heels

6) Mississippi Rebels

7) Iowa Hawkeyes

8) LSU Tigers

9) Virginia Tech Hoakies

10) Texas Longhorns

11) Florida Gators

12) Notre Dame Fighting Irish, an Exception as an Independent

13) Northwestern Wildcats (a Long Shot)

And, while we are at it, here are Phil Steele’s Most Improved Teams for 2014:

1) TCU

2) Florida

3) Northwestern

4) Air Force

5) Nevada

6) Louisiana Tech

7) Memphis

8) Tennessee

9) NC State

10) Army

11) Akron

12) Indiana

If you want to know another 100,000+ facts about college football in 2014, buy Phil Steele’s book. You won’t find the good stuff any other place, and, yes, this is an unsolicited and unpaid testimonial because Phil Steele and his staff work their butts off so you can be informed, and they deserve the credit, not the pundits on television and radio.

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