Seven losses in a row and the first losing season in 34 years. That was the story of the Florida Gators in 2013. But heck, let's not dwell on the negatives. A new season is upon us, and Will Muschamp's team returns 14 starters.
Brigham Young made its move to become an independent in 2011, leaving behind the Mountain West Conference for an upgraded schedule and uncertain future. But the Cougars couldn't be happier about the decision. BYU's three-year record is 26-11 and the team has scored sizable victories, taking down teams from the Big 12 (Texas), Atlantic Coast (Georgia Tech), Southeastern (Mississippi) and Pacific 12 (Oregon State, Washington State).
The best team in the state of Arkansas is not from the almighty Southeastern Conference. Arkansas State of the Sun Belt can make that claim. The Red Wolves are 28-11 the past three seasons while the Razorbacks are a pedestrian 18-19.
Bobby Hauck, who won only six games in three seasons as Nevada Las Vegas coach, was firmly on the hot seat entering 2013. Things got worse when the Rebels gave up 109 points in losing their first two games. But UNLV ripped off four wins in a row enroute to a 7-6 finish that included the team's first bowl berth since 2000. The Rebels open their quest for a second consecutive bowl on Aug. 29 at Arizona.
South Florida stumbled from the start in Willie Taggart's first season as coach, finishing with a 2-10 record. Taggart, by most accounts, has been recruiting well, and that means plenty of young talent. But it's young and the Bulls will get knocked around this season and maybe next. Patience can wear thin among fans and Taggart will have to start rolling up victories before long or the rebuilding plan will be handed to someone new.
How the mighty have fallen. Southern Mississippi had a stretch of 18 consecutive winning seasons, then the bottom fell out. The Golden Eagles lost 23 games in a row, finally ending the skid with 62-27 victory over UAB to end 2013. Not a lot of improvement is expected this fall and the early schedule is brutal, with games at Mississippi State and Alabama in the first three weeks.