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Top five college football teams ready to go bust in 2019

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It may seem like Clemson’s thrashing of Alabama in the national title game was only a few months ago but as fresh in our minds as that contest was, it was last season. Hard as it is to believe but the 2019 campaign is almost here and it’s time to turn our attention from what happened last year to what could happen between the lines this fall.

As part of CFTalk’s 2019 College Football Preview, we’re exploring every nook and cranny of the sport before kickoff in Week 0. After exploring a few candidates to breakout and turn in a surprising run this upcoming season, we’re headed in the opposite direction with a number of candidates who could go belly up despite high expectations.

Without further ado, here are five candidates to go bust in 2019 and see some serious regression from a year ago:

UCF

The Knights want to be taken seriously like a Power Five program so we’ll give them that treatment here while discussing why they will come back to earth in 2019. There’s no doubt the program is still full of talent compared to their AAC peers, the conference has already started to catch up to the Knights on the field and that should continue this season. Their schedule is tougher with non-conference games against Stanford and at Pitt, plus Houston and at Cincinnati among others in league play. There’s some big question marks in the front seven and, chiefly, at quarterback. While there’s plenty of skill position on hand, starter Brandon Wimbush is still to be determined as a passer after his stint at Notre Dame and there’s virtually zero depth behind him until Darriel Mack Jr. returns. This will still be a pretty good team but it’s far from the great one many UCF fans have come to expect.

Washington State

Gardner Minshew was a revelation for the Cougars during their 11 win, top 10 campaign last season. He’s gone and while you can still pencil in whatever quarterback Mike Leach has being somebody who puts up stats, there’s little doubt Wazzu will miss Minshew’s leadership and, uh, moxieMax Borghi is one of the Pacific Northwest’s best-kept secrets but the team will also need to replace fellow tailback James Williams plus fill the void left behind by left tackle Andre Dillard on offense.The defense will be solid but extending winning streaks against Oregon and Stanford — to say nothing of ending the losing streak to rival Washington — will be a tough ask given how much more competitive the division and conference should be in 2019.

Northwestern

There’s a lot of hope that with former five-star/ex-Clemson QB Hunter Johnson under center, the offense has nowhere to go but up. Even if that’s the case in 2019 for the Wildcats, they’ll have to deal with a much improved Big Ten West making every game a fight during conference play and a tough non-conference trip to Stanford to open the year. Ohio State and Michigan State aren’t exactly easy cross over opponents either and the team has to go to Nebraska and Wisconsin this season. Even if the defense remains pretty good, Pat Fitzgerald’s group will have a tough time repeating their trip to Indianapolis.

Florida

The Gators will start the year in the top 10 of most polls but it has been a truly awful offseason for Dan Mullen the past few months. Arrests, transfers, sexual assault allegations… you name it, Florida probably has a name to go with it. To make matters worse, the team is perilously thin at two really key positions on either side of the ball, offensive line and in the secondary. Mullen and company did a terrific job in Year 1 but things figure to slide back a bit in Year 2.

Kentucky

Mark Stoops is bullish on his team and while there’s no doubt the program is on solid ground right now, it’s really hard to see anything but regression from their 10 win campaign a year ago after the departures of their best offensive and defensive players. And not just the best players from last season’s team, but some of the best in school history in LB Josh Allen and RB Benny Snell Jr. Add in a more competitive SEC East, a few pesky MAC teams in the non-conference slate and a return to their 2017 level shouldn’t be too surprising in Lexington.

Other Group of Five teams ready to bust: Buffalo, Temple, Fresno State, Troy, UAB

Mizzou confirms Eli Drinkwitz will retain Brick Haley

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After a run on bringing in assistants from Boone, Eli Drinkwitz has gotten about the business of retention in Columbia.

In a press release, Missouri confirmed that Drinkwitz has decided to retain Brick Haley as part of his first coaching staff with the football program.  Haley wil continue on as the Tigers’ defensive line coach, and will carry the title of assistant head coach as well.

“In my short time of being around Brick I know him to be a man of high character who gets the most out of his players,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His wealth of knowledge with the defensive line is exactly what we’re looking for to motivate young men.”

Haley has spent the past three seasons with the Tigers.  Prior to that, he was the line coach at Texas (2015-16), LSU (2009-14) and Mississippi State (2004-06) at the collegiate level.

From 2007-08, Haley was the line coach for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue at Mizzou and I’m excited to work with Coach Drink and his staff,” said Haley. “Our family loves Mizzou and being part of the Columbia community, so we’re thrilled to keep stakes in the ground here and I’m looking forward to getting to work on doing great things.”

Alex Hornibrook no longer with Florida State

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It seems Alex Hornibrook‘s college career is complete.

Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins said on Saturday that Hornibrook is no longer with the Seminoles as the club prepares for the Sun Bowl

He will join (former) teammate Cam Akers in that regard.

A graduate transfer from Wisconsin, Hornibrook appeared in five games this season. His peak as a Seminole came on Sept. 28, when he completed 29-of-40 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. For the year, Hornibrook hit 84-of-122 throws for 986 yards with seven scores versus two picks.

In three years at Wisconsin, Hornibrook threw for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns.

SMU WR Reggie Roberson, Jr., to return for senior season

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SMU wide receiver Reggie Roberson, Jr., will return for his senior season in 2020, he announced earlier this week.

Roberson did so through a statement that at first read as if he would leave the Hilltop. “In the past couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that I am able to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft. I want to thank Coach Dykes for giving me the opportunity to come to SMU, and play the game I love in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” it began.

However, like a a classic Roberson open field move, he quickly changed directions and sprinted toward opportunity. “I have decided to come back and play my senior year at SMU. There is a lot of unfinished business that I left on the field that I need to take care of next season.”

A native of DeSoto, Texas, just south of Dallas, Roberson was one of SMU’s top players before he was lost to a foot injury in October. He caught 11 passes for 180 yards in the Ponies’ opening week win over Arkansas State and hauled in eight passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 drubbing of Temple on Oct. 19.

For the year, Roberson caught 43 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns over seven-plus games. Spread over a 13-game season, he was on pace to end the year in the neighborhood of 80 receptions for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Roberson originally signed with West Virginia out of high school.

Zack Moss to play in Alamo Bowl

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It’s become A Thing ever since Christian McCaffrey bailed on Stanford for that Sun Bowl: Draft eligible players announcing whether or not their prep for the next level begins for or after their team’s upcoming bowl game.

For Utah running back Zack Moss, that will begin after the Alamo Bowl.

“I just wanted to play with my guys,” Moss told KSL Sports. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to come back was to play with these guys and I definitely want to finish it off. I am healthy enough to play and that’s exactly what I want to do.

“I love this team, I love the program, coaching, fans and community, so why not give everyone one last game.”

Moss’s teammate Jaylon Johnson previously announced he will skip the game.

The senior will look to polish off a career in which he’s carried for 4,010 yards and 38 touchdowns.

No. 11 Utah will close the career of Moss and backfield mate Tyler Huntley opposite Texas on Dec. 31 (7:30 p.m., ESPN).