The most improved college football teams in 2019

Several college football teams separated themselves from the pack in the state of Texas, but a select few pulled off major turnarounds in just a year. We count down the top turnaround stories in college football in 2019.

UTPB Falcons (+2)

Record change: 2-9 to 4-7

UTPB started its football program with just 12 scholarships available in 2015. However, head coach Justin Carrigan has helped make UTPB one of the rising programs at the Division II level, even without the full allotment of scholarships.

The 2019 season marked a breakout campaign for the Falcons as they doubled their previous high win total. The Falcons won multiple conference games for the first time as a program, capped off with a crazy 70-14 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville that produced an unforgettable moment for the program. This is just the beginning. 

Austin College Kangaroos (+3)

Record change 2-8 to 5-5

Austin College returned one of the most productive quarterbacks in the conference and the results bore themselves out on the page. Colt Collins averaged 228 passing yards per game and the offense jumped 50 yards per game during a strong season. 

The Roos picked up wins over No. 19 Centre, Rhodes and Southwestern Assemblies of God during a strong bounce-back season. Collins’ offense also improved from 17.7 to 27.5 points per game to help key the change, the biggest D-III improvement in the state in 2019. 

Baylor Bears (+4)

Record change: 7-6 to 11-3

How impressive was Matt Rhule’s turnaround of the Baylor Bears? The Waco-based program became just the second program in college football history to go from 11 losses to 11 wins in just two seasons. After the season, the Carolina Panthers threw the farm at Rhule so he could take his process to the NFL. 

Baylor’s defensive strides helped lead the way during a resurgent year. A unit that ranked middle of the pack nationally ranked among the top Big 12 teams in virtually every metric. It was enough that the defensive coordinator of the national champions made Baylor his top choice as a head coaching destination. Don’t expect the momentum to stop now. 

Houston Baptist Huskies (+4)

Record change: 1-10 to 5-7

Houston Baptist won just two games in the past five seasons. However, the patience with head coach Vic Shealy paid off in a big way with a resurgent season. After starting 4-1, the Huskies even found themselves in the national rankings. 

The Huskies won more than double the last two seasons combined thanks to a prolific offensive attack led by star quarterback Bailey Zappe. Granted, HBU still has some work to do before the Huskies belong there full time, but offensive coordinator Zach Kittley has figured out how to get the most out of his offense. 

SMU Mustangs (+5)

Record change: 5-7 to 10-3

The Mustangs played better than their 7-loss campaign in 2018, but struggled to finish games. With former Texas quarterback Shane Buechele at the helm, SMU accomplished that and much more during the best season on the Hilltop since the Pony Express. 

After the season, SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee earned the same position at Miami and wide receiver James Proche became a top draft prospect. With Sonny Dykes and Buechele still in town though, the Mustangs train should continue on for another year at least.


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