With two consecutive national championships under their belt, it’s hard to count out head coach Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide as the favorites to win a third title. He returns his two-time championship winning QB A.J. McCarron and seven starters from the nation’s best defense. Consider ‘Bama the leader in the hunt for the 2013-14 championship.
If it isn’t Alabama, it may very well be another Southeastern Conference representative that wins it all for the eighth consecutive year. LSU is quietly 3-0 with a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron who has helped QB Zach Mettenberger and the Tigers’ offense average 46 points per game. The annual showdown with Alabama takes place November 9 and that game should have national championship implications as it has for the past several years.
Georgia, which lost in week one to Clemson, is another possibility from the SEC, but will have to make it through the SEC schedule. The Bulldogs play LSU in on September 28 and have their annual rivalry game with Florida on November 2. If they can get through the schedule and into the SEC title game, Georgia will have a shot.
The same goes for South Carolina, which lost to Georgia in week two. The Gamecocks have a rather easy schedule, but must face Florida on November 16. Win that and the rivalry game against Clemson on November 30 and Steve Spurrier’s troops could find themselves in the BCS hunt.
Speaking of Clemson, the Tigers are unbeaten through three weeks and will face Florida State in mid-October and travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina at the end of the season.
The other SEC possibility is Texas A&M, which just lost to Alabama, 49-42. The Aggies could redeem themselves with a late-season win over LSU if they can run the table from now until then. Any team with the returning Heisman Trophy winner and an offense that averages 53 points a game has got to be a contender.
Outside the SEC, the Pac-12 offers up one of the best possibilities in high-octane Oregon. If not the Ducks, then consider the old-school, smash-mouth Cardinal of Stanford. The two programs have combined for 71 wins in the last three seasons. Oregon, with QB Marcus Mariota and RB De’Anthony Thomas, look to have the best shot.
Louisville will also have a great shot to get to the BCS game because of its schedule. While teams in the SEC beat each other up, the Cardinals, with QB Teddy Bridgewater, could easily win the American Athletic Conference and finish unbeaten. Their only downfall - strength of schedule.
Ohio State, which finished 12-0 last season, is the one other school that could challenge for a shot at the BCS title. Head coach Urban Meyer has arguably the nation’s top dual-threat QB in Braxton Miller. The offense is solid with nine returning starters and the schedule is favorable. A final game victory over rival Michigan could send the Buckeyes to the BCS title game after a 2012 season without a bowl game.
2012 College FB predictions
1. USC Trojans
The Trojans have a lot to look forward to this season with the surprising return of QB Matt Barkley for his senior season. A stacked team on offense and an underrated defense will make USC a scary team for the first time since the days of Matt Leinert and Reggie Bush.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Head Coach Nick Saban seems to always field an elite group of players at Alabama and 2012-2013 will be no different. They tend to exile on the line in Tuscaloosa so expect an offensive line that protects rising star QB AJ McCarron and gives the notoriously tough SEC defenses a challenge week in and week out.
3. LSU Tigers
Certainly there are things working against the Tigers, such as the lack of a big name QB, but their strengths still heavily outweigh their benefits. LSU will again field the biggest and best defense in the country next year and will use it to force turnovers, keep offenses at bay, and win most games.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
Bob Stoops has to be excited about this year, where Oklahoma will have a great, experienced QB (Landry Jones), an offensive line to drool over, and a defensive secondary that will be the class of football. If they can put together the pieces in Norman they’ll find their way to Miami at season’s end.
5. Oregon Ducks
Chip Kelly’s high octane offense should be on full display this year and, outside of USC, will dominate the Pac 12. The thing about this year’s Ducks is that their defensive line is also supposed to be fantastic, making their games that much more difficult to plan for.
6. Florida Gators
Newish coach Will Muschamp was a defensive genius when he was at Texas, and it looks as if he’s brought that thinking to Florida. The Gators are going to have a ferocious defense that will terrorize the SEC East. Question marks at the QB position still loom however.
7. Boise State Broncos
Everybody’s favorite non-AQ team will have another great season led by new QB Joe Southwick. A great mix of rushers and experienced receivers will make Boise State run rampant on their blue turf. Their real test? A game on the road against Michigan State in the early part of the season.
8. Ohio State Buckeyes
Okay, so they can’t actually win the championship due to a postseason ban, but the Buckeyes are going to be good enough to make a mess of things. They’re going to be one of the more experienced teams in college football and will have strong players on both sides of the ball. If this isn’t their year, watch out for the 2013-2014 season.
9. Clemson Tigers
Probably the only team on this list that isn’t in the title race every year, Clemson enjoyed a bit of a surprise season last year and will continue to build off their success. They’re playing in a weak conference and have an amazing offense, so if they’re able to get by Auburn early in the season these guys could make a run.
10. Texas Longhorns
Arguably the most storied team in college football will regroup after a few tough years. They have an amazing defense that will stifle most Big 12 offenses and have a running game to envy. Mack Brown may not have all the pieces to win this year, but might surprise people and have the Longhorns make a title contention.