BCS Rankings: Way Too Early Projections for the 2013 BCS Bowls with Predictions
As soon as Nick Saban lowered the crystal ball Monday, the talk turned to which coach would be able to lift it next season. Will LSU get another shot next season after a dismal performance this year? Can Alabama repeat as national champions next season despite several key losses?
It's way too early to determine those answers. We don't know all the players who will leave early or who will fulfill empty coordinator positions. In some cases, like West Virginia, there is not even a schedule released.
With that said and with the information we currently have available, here is my opinion on who will make the BCS bowls.
Sugar Bowl: UGA versus Florida State
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This past season, Georgia lost their first two games and their last two games. However, they were able to win the 10 in between. Next season should be better for the Bulldogs. Georgia could return nine starters on a defense that ranked third in the nation.
They will also have Aaron Murray at quarterback for the third straight season and every skill-position player back on offense as well.
The Bulldogs' schedule is perhaps their easiest in school history. It was the difficulty of their schedule that kept them out of the 2008 national championship game, but it could be the easiness of their schedule that gets them over the hump in 2012.
It will likely come down to Georgia and LSU in the SEC Championship Game once again. While I like Georgia’s chances, they still have not proven they can win the big game yet. As a result, I have them heading to the Sugar Bowl.
Florida State appears ready to take next step, but we have heard that before. The Seminoles have a terrific defense returning and should have a more experienced offensive line. There are some uncertainties that remain, but a trip to Virginia Tech might be all that is standing in the way of Florida State and a BCS bowl.
The offense will have to mature next season, or the Seminoles will lose three to four games once again. If they do, the sky could be the limit.
Way too early prediction: UGA over FSU
Fiesta Bowl: Michigan versus Oklahoma
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The Sooners received a boost because of their late-season struggles. Had quarterback Landry Jones not struggled at the end of the season, he would have gone to the NFL. Instead, he is now returning for one more season with the Sooners.
The Sooners' schedule is a little scary because we do not know who they are playing. Until we know if West Virginia is going to be allowed to leave the Big East, it is impossible to know who Oklahoma will play outside of a game against Notre Dame.
With he return of running back Dominique Whaley and four offensive linemen, the Sooners should be stout.
Michigan took a giant leap in the right direction with a BCS win this year. A return to a BCS bowl will not be easy with road games against Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State and Alabama on a neutral site.
The Wolverines do have several key players returning, including quarterback Denard Robinson. Michigan is no lock for this position, but I am becoming a believer that they are on their way back.
Way too early prediction: Oklahoma over Michigan
Orange Bowl: West Virginia versus Virginia Tech
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This one is a really tough call because we do not know where West Virginia is going to end up. However, I love the way this football program grew this year, and with Heisman candidate Geno Smith returning, the Mountaineers could be ready for a historical run for their football program.
In essence, much of their defense is back and most of their explosive offense will return. If they draw the right schedule, they could be BCS championship-bound.
Virginia Tech made it back to a BCS game this year despite a humiliating defeat in the ACC Championship Game. On paper, they are losing more than anyone else I have slated in these bowls. However, they do play in the ACC, so they only have to be mediocre to make it.
Way too early prediction: West Virginia over Virginia Tech
Rose Bowl: Oregon Ducks versus Michigan State
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Next season, the Oregon Ducks will continue the success that they have found under head coach Chip Kelly. With a weaker schedule and only one real challenger in the Pac-12, the Ducks could be set for a national championship run. However, I believe they will be defeated by USC and get the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize.
They will lose some key players this offseason, but their system is too strong for the opponents on their schedule.
Michigan State is reaching new heights under head coach Mark Dantonio. The Spartans will lose key players like Kirk Cousins, but will return four of their five offensive linemen and almost their entire defense.
With all the transition going on in the Big Ten, the Spartans should pull out the championship next season if they can get solid play from their new quarterback.
Way too early prediction: Oregon over Michigan State
BCS National Championship Game: LSU versus USC
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The LSU Tigers decided to take the 2011 BCS National Championship off and it showed. Fortunately for them, they are likely to get another shot in the 2012 season. Unless there is an unexpected exodus of draft-eligible players, the Tigers should be No. 1 in the nation to start 2012.
Looking at their schedule, there are only two games in which they are likely to face a real challenge. The first is against Alabama, but the Tide will be losing a great deal of key players and the game is in Baton Rouge. As a result, LSU should be able to pull that game out.
They also have to travel to Fayetteville to face Arkansas, who will have Knile Davis back. If LSU can win this game, they should be headed back to the SEC Championship Game.
USC, on the other hand, looks primed for a run back to the top of college football with the return of Heisman candidate Matt Barkley. They also have almost all of their playmakers on offense and defense returning.
In other words, despite restrictions, they could be holding up the crystal ball one year from now.
Way too early prediction: USC over LSU