Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports

5 Teams with Losing Records in 2013 That Will Go Bowling in 2014

Every season, a handful of teams with losing records turn things around the following year. Here’s a list of five teams who will accomplish that feat in 2014.

5. Wyoming Cowboys
2013 Record: 5-7
Projected 2014 Record: 7-5

New head coach Craig Bowl will shape up the Cowboy defense this fall. (Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

New head coach Craig Bowl will shape up Wyoming’s defense this fall. (Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

The Cowboys could move the ball against anyone last year. However, the defense struggled all season long, ranking 109th against the run (220.1 yards per game), 106th against the pass (261.8), and 110th in scoring defense (36.7).

The 2014 campaign will be a completely different story with Craig Bohl at the helm. He’ll replace the 3-4 look that the team used last season with a 4-3 / Tampa 2 scheme that he used at North Dakota State. Given that his defenses got the job done against FBS opponents while with the Bison (7-3 record, 4-0 in the last four years), it’s not a stretch to think that the new scheme would succeed with the Cowboys right away.

4. Utah Utes
2013 Record: 5-7
Projected 2014 Record: 7-5

Travis Wilson will thrive in Dave Christensen's up-tempo, spread attack. (Photo credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports)

Travis Wilson will thrive in Dave Christensen’s up-tempo, spread offense. (Photo: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports)

Don’t let the 2-7 record fool you; the Utes were competitive in Pac-12 play last year, with three of their losses coming by a touchdown or less. Unfortunately, Utah shot itself in the foot in those three contests, throwing an alarmingly high 11 interceptions.

That won’t happen again in 2014. New offensive coordinator Dave Christensen will deploy the up-tempo, spread offense that he used at Missouri and Wyoming. In addition to being a very explosive attack (482 yards per game in 2008 at Mizzou, 472 ypg last year), Christensen’s offense is famous around the country because it’s considered extremely low-risk. During his tenure in Laramie, Cowboy quarterbacks never threw more than 12 interceptions in a season … roughly half the number of picks that Utah tossed last year.

3. TCU Horned Frogs
2013 Record: 4-8
Projected 2014 Record: 8-4

After not catching a break in 2013, Gary Patterson's team will challenge for Big 12 supremacy this fall. ( (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

After not catching a break in 2013, Gary Patterson’s team will challenge for Big 12 supremacy this fall. (Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

The Horned Frogs simply couldn’t buy a break last year, dropping a heartbreaker to West Virginia in OT, losing to Kansas State on a last-second field goal, and falling just short on a fourth-quarter rally against Baylor. With any luck, TCU would have been 8-4 rather than 4-8.

With that said, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in Fort Worth this year. The defense, which held Baylor to a season-low 370 yards of total offense, returns eight starters from a unit that allowed just 4.83 yards per play last season. The offense should also be solid with arrival of Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel under center, allowing the Horned Frogs to use Travone Boykin in a variety of different ways.

2. Indiana Hoosiers
2013 Record: 5-7
Projected 2014 Record: 8-4

Kevin Wilson's Hoosiers will thrive under Brian Knorr's 3-4 scheme (Photo: Sandra Dukes, USA TODAY Sports)

Kevin Wilson’s Hoosiers will improve significantly under Brian Knorr’s 3-4 scheme. (Photo: Sandra Dukes, USA TODAY Sports)

Much like Wyoming, the Hoosiers could move the ball at will against their opponents, but couldn’t come up with a timely stop to save their lives. This was a huge problem in conference play as the IU defense allowed 42 points per game and a whopping 560 yards per game against Big Ten foes.

On the positive side, when things are down, the only direction to go is up. While it struggled during the 2013 campaign, the Hoosiers’ defense loses only one starter from a year ago, and welcomes back 25 lettermen. In addition, the team will switch to a 3-4 defense this fall, allowing Indiana to get the most out of its big bodies up front. With one of the top secondaries in the Big Ten returning, the Hoosiers could have the most improved defense in the country this season.

1. Florida Gators
2013 Record: 4-8
Projected 2014 Record: 8-4

Led by Roper's high-octane attack, the Gators should contend for the SEC East Crown this fall. (Photo: Paul Abell, USA TODAY Sports)

Led by Roper’s dynamic attack, the Gators should contend for the SEC East Crown this fall. (Photo: Paul Abell, USA TODAY Sports)

Last year was a tale of two seasons for Will Muschamp’s squad. When Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy were completely healthy, the Gators went 4-1, averaging 393.4 yards of total offense and a respectable 25 points per game. However, after Murphy injured his shoulder against LSU, Florida’s offensive production dropped dramatically, resulting in a 7-game losing streak that included a home loss to Georgia Southern of the FCS.

To right the ship, Muschamp went out and made (arguably) the best hire of the offseason, luring Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. An excellent teacher who’s worked with a variety of different quarterbacks, Roper always tailors his scheme to the talent that he has available. So whether it’s Driskel, Will Grier, or Skyler Mornhinweg under center, Roper has a deep enough playbook to keep the Gator offense running like a well-oiled machine.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.