College Football 2012: Predicting the Top 5 Teams

Nick HartCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2012

College Football 2012: Predicting the Top 5 Teams

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    The 2011 college football season saw Alabama win the 2011 BCS title game.  Now that players have declared for the 2012 NFL Draft and the dust has settled from National Signing Day, it’s time to examine the college football teams who could be at the top of the polls at the beginning of the 2012 football season.

University of Southern California

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    USC is far and away the best team going into the 2012 season.  They return nine starters on both offense and defense, including the favorite for the Heisman, QB Matt Barkley. 

    They boast the best receiving tandem in the country with Robert Woods and Marquise Lee, and the Trojans were able to sign a lot of quality depth on Signing Day, especially on the offensive line and in the defensive back seven. 

    USC has a very manageable schedule with both Oregon and Notre Dame coming to the Coliseum, and the only road test being at Stanford.  USC is clearly the favorite for the 2012 BCS Title.

Louisiana State University

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    Although LSU got smoked in the 2011 BCS Title Game, they return a ton of talent.  Even with the early losses of Mo Claiborne and Michael Brockers, the defense is still stacked. 

    Tyrann Mathieu was a Heisman finalist, Anthony Johnson was a freshman phenom and ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery combined for 17 sacks. 

    The return of Spencer Ware and Kenny Hilliard will take some of the pressure off new starter Zach Mettenberger, and the Tigers also boast a favorable schedule with Alabama and South Carolina at home.

University of Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma is going to score points, that much is certain.  The return of Landry Jones along with Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds assures that, and the return of Dominique Whaley from injury only improves the rushing attack. 

    The front seven of the defense is deep and talented and the defense as a whole should benefit from the return of Mike Stoops as the defensive coordinator. 

    The Sooners schedule certainly is helpful with Kansas State, Texas, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State travelling to Norman. However, Oklahoma does face WVU and TCU on the road.

University of Alabama

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    Alabama is going to be an interesting team in the 2012 season, and will certainly remind many of the 2010 team.  The second season of QB AJ McCarron should be an improvement, and RB Eddie Lacey should be able to fill the void left by Trent Richardson. 

    The offensive line, headlined by Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones, is extremely deep as well as experienced.  Outside of linebackers Nico Johnson and C.J. Moseley, and S Ryan Lester, the defense is sure to experience some growing pains. 

    Honestly, Alabama doesn't deserve to be ranked this high, but will benefit from winning the 2011 BCS title game.

University of Georgia

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    The Georgia Bulldogs could be the surprise team of 2012.  They return a very good offense, headlined by Aaron Murray and Isaiah Crowell, and return 10 starters on defense.

    All-American Jarvis Jones’ decision to bypass the 2012 NFL Draft was certainly a pleasant surprise for the Dawg’s.  Georgia also benefits from an incredible schedule. 

    They miss Alabama, Arkansas and LSU and play four of their first five at home.

Conclusion

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    While teams such as the Arkansas Razorbacks, Florida State Seminoles, Oregon Ducks or West Virginia Mountaineers could potentially be included in the Top 5, I believe they will be on the outside looking in.  The five teams included should begin the 2012 season atop the polls.