Five CFB Sleeper Teams For 2024

These teams are not likely to win the national championship. However given the expanded college football playoff these teams have a shot to get in. Expect similar Cinderella stories in the new playoff format comparable to March Madness where underdogs sometimes get to the Final Four but fall short of winning it all.

Five College Football Sleepers For 2024

USC Trojans

USC…what? They can’t be a sleeper. Remember they finished 8-5 last season WITH Caleb Williams. Their defense was atrocious. The final record could have been 7-6 except for a 50-49 road win at Cal. See atrocious defense.

And yes, Caleb Williams has gone off the NFL as the likely top pick in the draft. In comes a new defensive coordinator. Did we mention that the defense was atrocious last season?

The Trojans already have their quarterback for next season. Remember when almost everyone picked Louisville to beat them in the bowl game? Then Miller Moss threw six touchdowns and the Trojans blew them out. Six touchdowns in one game is no accident.

Look for USC to be much improved. The defense won’t need to be great. It will just need to be respectable and they will be in the mix for a playoff spot.

Tennessee Volunteers

Yes, the Tennessee Volunteers make the list of the top five sleeper teams for next season. If former quarterback Joe Milton were given an official performance appraisal, he would have received a grade of “meets expectations.“Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to put the Vols into the upper echelon of college football.

Just like USC, most people picked Tennessee to lose their bowl game to Iowa. Big bad Iowa with that vaunted defense. Final score, Tennessee 35 Iowa 0.

Quarterback Nico Iamaleava started in place of Milton who opted out of the bowl game. Was Nico’s passing remarkable? No, but it was rock solid as he went 12-20 for 151 yards and one touchdown. He had zero interceptions and it’s fair to assume the coaches kept the game plan simple. But, he also ran for three touchdowns.

Running back Dylan Sampson also had a big bowl game after getting inconsistent action during the regular season. Offense is what makes teams competitive in college football, so look out for the Vols to make some noise in 2024 with an outside shot at the playoff.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Not too far away on the map are the West Virginia Mountaineers. And they sure do have a quarterback.

Dukes Mayo Bowl game MVP Garrett Greene threw a 75-yard touchdown pass on the game’s first play and never looked back. Could he be a Heisman Trophy candidate? He certainly has the skills to put up huge numbers.

The key for the Mountaineers will be defense. The Big 12 conference is not known for defense and many of the teams in the conference can light up the scoreboard. If the defense can be respectable (USC, anyone) this team can be good. They are another group with an outside shot of crashing the playoff party. Improvised play away from Morgantown wouldn’t hurt either.

Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana; yes you read that right. The Hoosiers have always been a basketball school. They were pretty good for one season when Michael Penix, Jr. was there but the tradition of Indiana football is limited, to say the least.

It isn’t easy to name a lot of blue-chip players for Indiana, so we won’t. The Hoosiers got what matters more: a real head coach.

Incoming Indiana headman, Curt Cignetti has an overall win/loss record of 119-35. That’s what you call really good. Not only that, he’s won everywhere he’s been. It was quite a win for the Hoosiers to get him.

What’s really cool about Cignetti is his confidence and brashness. He was talking trash almost the minute he arrived in Bloomington. When asked what he says to potential recruits he said, “I win. Google me.” He also pulled nine former James Madison players to Indiana. The excitement level in Bloomington is something that hasn’t been seen in a long time.

How good will the team be this year? That’s hard to say. But betting against Cignetti is probably not a wise move.

Miami (FL) Hurricanes

Rounding out our list of the top five sleeper teams in college football 2024 are the Miami Hurricanes. For head coach Mario Cristobal’s sake, they better be. The honeymoon in South Florida is long over and the disaster against Georgia Tech last season gets coaches fired.

The ‘Canes are banking on incoming transfer quarterback Cameron Ward saving the day. The dynamic dual-threat quarterback can do it all. The former Washington State signal-caller was initially looking like he was going pro but ended up with Miami.

Miami is another team that needs a major improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Back in their glory days they always had a great defense to go along with their offensive weapons.

Having guys that can play like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Sean Taylor don’t come around too often but they need an upgrade in talent to get past the mediocrity that has plagued the program for a couple of decades now.

Expect Miami to be better now that they have a stud quarterback. A College Football Playoff appearance might be asking a little too much next season.

Another college football season is behind us. And, another one is coming soon enough. Every year there are teams that sneak up on the biggest of the big boys. The five listed above are the best bets to be those teams.

Main Image: Rich Janzaruk / USA TODAY NETWORK

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