South Florida and 10 Small Schools That Will Make a BCS Impact Soon

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2012

South Florida and 10 Small Schools That Will Make a BCS Impact Soon

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    College football fans have become accustomed to seeing the same teams at the top of the rankings every year, but the sport is about to change.

    There are a number of schools that have not been in the BCS picture for a long time, but some teams are ready to enter the conversation in the next few years.

    Some of these programs are from power conferences, while others are hoping to have a good enough year to gain an at-large bid to one of the top bowls.

    These teams do not have much of a past, but they are the future of college football.

Temple

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    Temple is the type of team that is built for success. 

    The Owls averaged over 250 rushing yards per game and were third in the nation in scoring defense behind Alabama and LSU.

    After winning nine games this year, Temple is ready to keep improving and start dominating the MAC.

    Although star running back Bernard Pierce declared for the NFL draft, head coach Steve Addazio has the program moving in the right direction and will keep it running strong for years (via The Washington Post).

TCU

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    TCU has been in the BCS picture a number of times, but the team is ready to take the next step.

    The school will join the Big 12 next season and will immediately be a contender in the conference.

    Starting quarterback Casey Pachall was only a sophomore this season, but he still led his team to a No. 13 final ranking in the coaches poll.

    The Horned Frogs will no longer have to hope for the voters to do the right thing: They can now control their own destiny to reach a BCS bowl. TCU should be a mainstay in the Top 10 for years to come.

Louisiana Tech

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    Most people expected TCU to dominate Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl, but Bulldogs gave TCU all it could handle in a 31-24 defeat.

    Before that game, Louisiana Tech won seven straight to win the WAC.

    The team will return a large number a players next season, including receiver Quinton Patton. The junior finished the year with 1,202 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. 

    If Louisiana Tech can carry this momentum into 2012, they could run the table and have a chance at reaching a BCS bowl. 

South Florida

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    Things did not go too well for South Florida when conference play started after a 4-0 start, but the team is headed in the right direction.

    Head coach Skip Holtz is good at building programs. His success at East Carolina speaks for itself, and there is little doubt he can have similar success in the Big East.

    The Bulls will be led by B.J. Daniels, a true dual-threat quarterback who totaled over 3,200 combined yards last season.

    Even if South Florida does not win next year, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the future.

Southern Miss

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    Southern Miss has a lot to be proud of after a 12-win season.

    The team shocked Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game, and then defeated Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. 

    In the future, they might do even more.

    The school hired former South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, and he specifically made it his goal for the team to reach a BCS game, according to ESPN.

    There is no reason that Southern Miss cannot have an undefeated season in the future after Houston and SMU moving to the Big East.

Arkansas State

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    The Sun Belt conference does not often get mentioned with the BCS, but if Arkansas State keeps winning, it might be hard to ignore.

    The Red Wolves went undefeated in the conference and lost to only Virginia Tech and Illinois during the regular season.

    Former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will become the new head coach, and he will reunite with running back Michael Dyer (via USA Today).

    Arkansas State also has a very good passing attack, led by junior Ryan Aplin. The quarterback finished in the Top 15 in the nation with 3,588 passing yards.

    The small school has a chance of being the next Boise State.

Vanderbilt

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    It is not easy to win in the SEC, but Vanderbilt is starting to learn how to do it.

    Head coach James Franklin is an excellent recruiter. He already has the No. 26 best incoming class, according to Rivals.com, after only his first season with the program.

    Vanderbilt needs to take small steps, and it did so by reaching the Liberty Bowl. 

    If the program keeps getting good recruits and winning games, it will not be long before the Commodores are in the BCS picture.

Utah

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    In its first season in the Pac-12, Utah did more than hold its own.

    It will be tough to break into the conference elite, but Utah is already moving in the right direction.

    The team won eight games this season, including all four non-conference matchups. A huge comeback in the Sun Bowl over Georgia Tech legitimized the solid season.

    Rivals.com lists Utah as the No. 28 class for 2012, thanks to a large number of impact players.

    With so many talented players around the conference leaving, it will not be long before the Utes are at the top of the Pac-12.

San Diego State

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    While most people are focused on Boise State moving to the Big East, the other teams are just as likely to make an impact in the wide open conference.

    San Diego State has reached a bowl game in each of the past two seasons, and new coach Rocky Long has plenty of experience at the college level.

    They will lose a lot of talent heading into next season, but the team is well rounded and should be able to contend in the Big East within a few years.

Virginia

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    It has been quite a few years since Virginia was relevant in the ACC, but last season showed that the Cavaliers are finally ready to become a top team in the conference.

    Head coach Mike London was named the ACC Coach of the Year and is ready to take the team to new heights.

    Virginia went into its last regular season game against Virginia Tech with a chance to win the Coastal Division and reach the ACC Championship Game. Although the Cavaliers did not come through with a victory, it is a big stepping stone for the program.

    Next season, Virginia returns starting quarterback Michael Rocco, as well as running backs Perry Jones and Kevin Parks. 

    The team will be an ACC contender for years to come.