You knew this was coming after the first piece.
Somewhat surprisingly, only four teams have dropped the equivalent of three or more wins in a year (per 8 games) recently.
4. McGill Redmen, 2009 to 2010 (-.375)
The year before: 3-5, no playoffs (we covered this season in part 1)
Did we see it coming? Not at all. Jared Book wrote, "McGill seems to be hitting their stride as the rest of the conference is rebuilding. Anything other than a playoff appearance would be disappointing." He figured the improvements would continue.
What went wrong: Just about everything. They were last in the conference in points scored, points allowed, passing yards per play (offence and defence), turnover margin, turnover margin, and even third-down conversions. Their closest game was probably an OT win over Bishop's, called by our Matt Chesser (he wasn't ours then, but just go with it), or the Concordia game the following week.
Did it continue? But of course. They were winless last year too.
3. Alberta Golden Bears, 2010 to 2011 (-.400)
The year before: 4-6, knocking off Saskatchewan in the Canada West semifinal.
Did we see it coming? Again, not at all. Evan Daum knew they wouldn't be 6-2 (well, that was right!), but said, "Alberta should finish with at lest a 4-4 record, and will do it in far more exciting fashion this season." To be fair, Alberta was one of those teams our readers were off on, too — only one of the contestants in our prediction contest had them pegged for less than two wins.
What went wrong: A combination of offensive and turnover woes, per Evan's post-season recap. They also allowed 9.6 yards per pass attempt, which means that the average pass play by their opponents basically resulted in a first down — including incompletions.
2. Mount Allison Mounties, 2010 to 2011 (-.444)
The year before: 4-5, AUS semifinal playoff loss (also covered in part 1)
Did we see it coming? Sort of. I actually wrote this preview, and centred it on the departure of all-everything receiver Gary Ross, while also pointing out that their .500 regular-season record in 2010 was a little inflated. The eventual conclusion was that "it's more likely that they finish third or fourth with at most three wins" and that "you can't lose Gary Ross and expect things to get better."
What went wrong: See part 1.
1. St. Francis Xavier X-Men, 2009 to 2010 (-.375)
The year before: 7-3 overall, losing the Loney Bowl to SMU
Did we see it coming? Nearly. Jared Book concluded as follows: "They should have no problem with Acadia and Mount Allison, but that would make this year a lot like the last couple. Their goal has to be to make it out of the AUS, but it remains to be seen if they have enough this year to overcome key losses."
What went wrong: Their offence got cut in half, scoring 98 points with Cory Wensley at QB (80/164 for 899 yards, 8 INT/5 TD), as opposed to 201 the year before with Steve Snyder (175/275, 2353 yards, 10 INT/11 TD). They did have a lot of first-year players in the lineup, but even then, four different players threw multiple passes for the X-Men, which isn't usually what you see from a team with a settled offence.
Did it continue? Basically. They finished 2-7 overall, but it was an interesting 2-7, with "studs all over the board" according to our Kevin Garbuio in his 2011 AUS recap.
What's interesting is it was easier for us to see the big improvements coming than it was for the big drops. Maybe there's a 3-5 or 4-4 team out there from last year who will suddenly fall to 1-7 or even 0-8 this year, a team that nobody figured would struggle so much.
Or maybe it's a team everyone thought would do worse. Could that team be Laurier? 4-5 overall last year, maybe fewer wins in '12? In our OUA preview just a few days ago, many of our contributors were down on the Hawks. Fraser Caldwell: "I dump on Laurier because Alex Anthony is now their best offensive player..." Neate Sager: "I asked one informed person about the Hawks and she just said, 'Young.'" Mike Radoslav: "For a team that is always in the playoffs they're in full rebuild mode this season."
Their homecoming matchup vs. Guelph was mentioned as the swing game, and it's certainly possible that WLU will find themselves out of the playoffs for the first time in a long while ... but, really, to pretend that we can identify who this big-collapse team will be in advance is to go against the spirit of these posts. Sometimes, you just don't see it coming.