Four of the past five national champions have started the season in the top five of the polls, with only Auburn in 2010 making a major rise en route to the national title. The usual suspects—Alabama, LSU and Oregon, among others—will be the preseason favorites to bring home the crystal ball.
However, there is always the possibility of a team duplicating what Auburn did in 2010, or LSU in 2003 or Oklahoma in 2000. There is no formula for finding that surprise team, but coaching, line play and a favorable schedule all can fuel a title run.
Here are 11 candidates for a team who will likely start the season outside of the top five, but could find itself, to channel my inner Brent Musburger, playing for all the oranges on Jan. 7 in Miami.
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