So we're minutes past Alabama winning their 3rd title in four years, and the Irish as we all expected didn't belong on the same field as an elite team at full strength. Chip Kelly is coming back, so are Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and of course Johnny Football and Marcus Mariota. Yes, it's January 7th, but here is my top 25 based on likelyhood of winning a Title, NOT based on where the teams should be ranked. Remember boys and girls, just one more year of the BCS before the playoff kicks in. The final edition of the BCS title game will be played Monday January 6th, 2014 in Pasadena.
1 - ALABAMA: (2012 - 13-1, Won BCS Title over Notre Dame) - Coming off a National Title, they don't lose much. McCarron, Yeldon and likely Lacy among those returning on offense, they bring back a lot on D, and even if they didn't, they reload quickly. They avoid on Georgia and South Carolina, but do have to visit Texas A&M in their second game of the season. They get LSU at home, and with a non conference schedule of Virginia Tech (at the Georgia Dome), Colorado State, Georgia State and Chattanooga (all at home) there's no reason to think this is a 1 loss team at worst, which in the SEC as we all know means a shot at the title.
2 - OHIO STATE: (2012 - 12-0, not bowl eligible) - TOSU would have played for the National Title this year if they were bowl eligible. Braxton Miller returns, so does RB Carlos Hyde, and their top 5 leading tacklers are back as well. The best defensive player you've never heard of, LB Ryan Shazier still has 2 years of eligibility left. On the sked, Buffalo, FAMU and SDSU are all at home, and I don't anticipate Cal on the road will be any trouble. They do have Penn State at home, but Michigan on the road, and then somebody who probably isn't a top level team in the conference championship. Their toughest game might be the spring game.
3 - OREGON: (2012 - 12-1 Won Fiesta Bowl over Kansas State) - Chip is back, that's good news. So are Marcus Mariota, DAT, and 7 other players on offense, and 7 on Defense. Filling the linebacker spot will be tough with Clay and Alonso leaving, but they have plenty of talent to make up for it. The conference schedule hasn't been released yet, but non conference Nicholls State, at Nevada and Tennessee at home should be an easy 3-0 to start. They will have to go to Stanford and Washington, but Oregon State will be at home, and UCLA not USC will be on the sked. As we've seen, anything can happen, but there isn't a team on the Ducks schedule that they don't have more talent than.
Just a Peg Below:
4 - GEORGIA: (2012 - 12-2 Won Capital One Bowl over Nebraska) - Is Georgia the 4th best team in the country? Probably not, but they do bring back an elite QB in Aaron Murray, and a lot of young skill position players, and most of the defense. No Bama on the schedule but South Carolina and LSU are both at home, I'm more concerned about Clemson on the road in week 2. They aren't as good defensively as Florida but miles ahead on offense. North Texas, Appalachian State and Georgia Tech go along with Clemson for the NC schedule, and will likely have to play Bama or LSU if they get to a third straight conference championship game. A lot of people aren't sold on Mark Richt as a head coach, but he's proven himself the last couple of years, and with what I believe is the most potent offense in the SEC I think they have as good a chance as anyone not in Crimson.
5 - STANFORD: (2012 - 12-2, Won Rose Bowl over Wisconsin) - This was a completely different team when Kevin Hogan took over as QB. The defense loses some big time players, but they reload. Barry Sanders Jr. will be RSFR, I don't know what to expect from him, but his last name carries a lot of weight. Non conference has Notre Dame as always, but it's at home and without Manti Te'o, they also have Army on the road, and SJSU at home. They host Oregon, visit Oregon State, and ASU and Utah will be added to the sked. The Cardinal were just a couple of plays away from playing for the title, they should be in a similar position in 2013.
6 - LSU: (2012 - 10-3, Lost Chick Fil A Bowl to Clemson) - Defensively, they will be LSU. They were a step down in 2012, and it might have started with Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal, but expect them to be back to form next year. They do lose a TON on defense including 3 of their front four, but they have a lot of youth, and always recruit well. I've never really been high on LSU or on Les Miles as a coach, but you can't argue results, and there aren't 6 teams in the country that continue to be in a position to play for the title every year. They open 2013 in Jerry World against TCU, with UAB, Furman, and Kent State rounding out a very winnable nc sked. UGA and Bama are road games, Florida and A&M are at home, so once again we could be looking at a 1 loss LSU team getting another crack at a championship.
Need Some Breaks:
7 - NOTRE DAME: (2012 - 12-1, Lost BCS Title game to Alabama) - Ok, you're thinking how is Notre Dame still in the top 7 after getting smoked in the title game. They didn't bother to show up. They play the usual suspects, Michigan, MSU, USC, Stanford, Navy, Air Force, Purdue, Pitt ,BYU as well as a return trip from OKlahoma, Temple at home, and Arizona State in Dallas. It's extremely difficutl to get all the breaks to go your way again, but the schedule shapes up nicely for a return to a BCS game, maybe not the Championship game.
8 - FLORIDA : (2012 - 11-2, Lost Sugar Bowl to Louisville) - The Gators have an elite defense, and really only lose 2 players, Safety Matt Elam, and D Lineman Shariff Floyd, so expect another dominant season in 2013. Jeff Driskell will be back, which might be a good thing, certainly didn't look that way at times this year, but Matt Jones should fill in just fine for Mike Gillislee. NC sked, Toledo, Miami (FL), and GA Southern should be wins, and the Gators will be better than Florida State. No Bama on the sked, but they do have GA, SC and LSU.
9 - OKLAHOMA: (2012 - 10-3, Lost Cotton Bowl to Texas A&M) - It's all about the Belldozer in 2013. Well, kind of. Blake Bell is going ot have to prove he's more of a quarterback than a fullback. Kenny Stills is leaving early for the draft, but Trey Metoyer is expected to be the next in the line of quality Oklahoma wideouts. ULM, Tulsa and Notre Dame on the non conference sked, with a full Big XII schedule thanks to the conference only having 9 teams. I know, I don't get it either. The Big 12 will lose Kansas State as a power, and Texas isn't the old UT, so the Sooners look primed for a run.
10 - CLEMSON: (2012 - 11-2, Won Chick Fil A Bowl vs LSU) - WHAT? Yes. Tahj Boyd returns, this is going to be a VERY good team next year. For an ACC team that is. I really don't give any ACC team a shot, but because the conference is so weak, that works in their advantage. That's why I picked FSU in the title game this past year. I was wrong. Shoot me. Georgia and South Carolina on the nc sked is very tough, but outside of FSU, there is nobody else in the conference worth a damn.
Could Make a Run:
11 - Texas A&M
12 - Louisville
13 - South Carolina
14 - Oklahoma State
15 - Oregon State
So You're Sayin' There's a chance....
16 - TCU
17 - UCLA
18 - Boise State
19 - Florida State
20 - Nebraska
Good Effort, Good Job
21 - Michigan
22 - Wisconsin
23 - USC
24 - Texas
25 - Arizona State