- Phil Steele, ESPN Insider
Every year, when I set about identifying the most improved teams in the country, I look at a variety of factors, including returning experience at key positions and strength of schedule. Keeping those in mind, here are my picks for the most improved teams in each of the big five conferences, plus a few from non-AQ leagues.
Usually, teams in the preseason are analyzed by what their record was the previous season and who they have returning at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. If you base your projection solely on those factors, the 2013 Arkansas Razorbacks are in trouble. They lost NFL-caliber quarterback Tyler Wilson, their top two rushers and wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, who had 1,000 more yards receiving than their No. 2 receiver. With that in mind, the Razorbacks were voted dead last in the West at the SEC media days.
However, I think they have a recipe to be one of the most improved teams in the country, and it starts with a big upgrade at the head-coaching position. They go from quirky interim John L. Smith to Bret Bielema, who led Wisconsin to the past three Big Ten titles.
Phil Steele gives his picks for the most improved teams in the country this season, including candidates in the five major conferences and a few from non-AQ leagues.