Power Ranking Every College Football Program's Odds of Finishing Top-4 in 2014
With the recent announcement that the NCAA will be going to a four-team playoff beginning with the 2014 college football season, a step in the right direction was certainly made.
While it would be better to have an eight-team playoff so most legitimate contenders could be included, this is a positive sign.
With twice as many teams now having a chance to play for a national title, that means the odds have gone up for everybody.
Does it mean a mid-major can reach the four-team playoff by going undefeated? Does it mean the SEC could get two or even three teams into the playoff?
Well, here are some early odds for each team making the 2014 four-team playoff.
Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State is headed to the FBS level in 2013 and thus merits consideration.
The consideration virtually stops there, as the Panthers will be no match for most of the teams they are going to face, particularly in their first two seasons.
A win or two at most for the Panthers.
UTSA is entering its first year as a member of FBS in 2012, and needless to say, making a four-team playoff in 2014 is out of the question.
The Roadrunners could eventually be a force, but it will be years before that happens.
No shot by 2014.
Texas State Bobcats
Texas State is another of the new teams that will be joining the FBS in 2012.
That is probably all that needs to be said when it comes to its chances of playing for a national championship by finishing in the top four in the country.
No chance for the Bobcats—at least for a few more years.
South Alabama Jaguars
South Alabama is the third team that is new to the FBS level in 2012, and that gives it virtually no chance to play for a national championship by 2014.
There is always the possibility that it could happen down the road, but not anytime soon.
No chance for the Jaguars.
The Massachusetts Minutemen are the final team that is new to the FBS level this season.
They will join the MAC and will likely get beat up on for a few years before they get their feet wet.
Look for them to finish near the bottom of the conference for their first few years, 2014 included.
New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico is a bottom feeder in its conference.
The Lobos finished dead last in the Mountain West Conference last season, going 1-11 and 1-6 in league play.
Do not expect them to be much better in the coming years.
Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic joined the FBS level in 2005, and last season it went 1-11 overall and 0-8 in conference play.
The Owls are the polar opposite of their in-state and Sun Belt rivals FIU.
Either way, they do not have much of a chance for a national championship.
Utah State Aggies
Utah State is a member of the WAC, which has developed into one of the weakest conferences in all of college football.
It will join the Mountain West in 2013, but that still does not give it much of a chance to play for a national championship.
There is little hope for the Aggies, but a winning record is probable for the next few years.
UNLV was downright awful last season, finishing 2-10.
While more can be expected, do not expect too much more in the coming years.
There is simply no shot to finish in the Top Four.
North Texas Mean Green
North Texas is another team from a mid-major conference that has virtually no chance to play for a national championship.
It struggled last season, going 5-7 overall and 4-4 in the Sun Belt Conference.
It is hard to give this team much of a chance.
Simply put, Idaho has not been very good the past few seasons, particularly last year. It finished the year 2-10 overall and 1-6 in the WAC.
Don't look for it to be able to improve too much on that over the next few years.
The Vandals have a long way to go.
New Mexico State Aggies
New Mexico State has been a bottom feeder in the WAC for the past few years and finished 4-9 last season and 2-5 in conference play.
There is virtually no chance for it to play in the four-team playoff.
The Aggies have a long way to go.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee won only two games last season and went 1-7 in conference play.
As a member of the Sun Belt, that is not a good thing by any stretch of the imagination.
The Blue Raiders have no hope to reach any type of four-team playoff.
Louisiana-Monroe finished last season 4-8 in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Warhawks were 3-5 in conference play, and there are no signs that they are anywhere near coming out of it.
Look for them to struggle in the coming years, and a winning season may be more than they can ask for.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Western Kentucky is relatively new to the FBS level, and it is going to take it a few more years to even develop into a team that has the potential to crack the Top 25.
Still, the Hilltoppers are on the rise and have a young receiving corps that will still be around in 2014.
Running back Bobby Rainey will be hard to replace next season and in the years to come.
Troy had a down year last season, only winning three games and going 2-6 in the Sun Belt.
That does not bode well for the Trojans heading into the future.
They have some youth on both sides of the ball, but a winning season is asking a lot—much less reaching the top of the college football rankings.
Akron has recently taken over the right to be called the worst of all the FBS teams.
It did win one game last season but went 0-8 in the MAC.
New head coach Terry Bowden has his work cut out for him. No chance for this team.
FIU Golden Panthers
FIU is relatively new to the FBS level, having joined in 2005. It went 8-5 last year in the Sun Belt Conference, but realistically, it has no shot at playing in a four-team playoff.
The Golden Panthers may have a few nice seasons in the coming years, but more than eight or nine wins would be shocking.
Chances are nonexistent for this team.
Western Michigan Broncos
Western Michigan finished last season 7-6 overall and in the middle of the pack in the MAC.
The Broncos are very experienced on offense but start five sophomores on the defensive side of the ball.
That could allow them to finish near the top of the MAC, but cracking the Top 25, much less the four-team playoff, is out of the question.
San Jose State Spartans
San Jose State only won five games last year and went 3-4 in the weak WAC.
Nobody from the WAC has any realistic shot of playing for a national championship, including San Jose State, though the Spartans' chances may improve when they move to the Mountain West in 2013.
A winning season would be a start.
Colorado State Rams
Colorado State was downright awful last season, going 3-9 overall and 1-6 in the Mountain West Conference.
There is not much of a chance for the Rams to go much more than .500 over the next few years.
League play will get a little easier with TCU gone and Boise State on its way out, but a 6-6 season is all that can be expected by 2014.
Tulane Green Wave
Tulane was awful last season, going 2-11 and 1-7 in Conference USA.
The Green Wave finished at the bottom of the conference, and needless to say, there is virtually no hope for them to be anywhere close to sniffing the BCS four-team playoff.
They might have the worst shot of anybody in the conference.
Memphis was awful last year and quite possibly the worst team in Conference USA. It went 2-10 overall and 1-7 in league play.
The program seems to be headed in the wrong direction, and that does not bode well for 2014.
The Tigers may be battling it out with Tulane near the bottom of the conference—nowhere near playoff contention.
UAB only won three games last season, and as a member of Conference USA, it has a long way to go if it plans on even cracking the Top 25.
There is virtually no chance of that happening next season or in the few years to follow.
The Blazers will be lucky to put together a winning season.
Rice is a Conference USA school that only won four games last year, going 3-5 in conference play.
The Owls will be lucky to finish in the middle of the pack in the conference, and there is not much of a chance for them to be playing for a national championship.
Four or five wins is likely in 2014, but not many more.
Wyoming is a relatively young team with more than a few sophomores listed as starters on the depth chart.
With that being said, there is no real legitimate chance here for the Cowboys to be anywhere close to national championship contention.
They may finish near the top of the Mountain West Conference but have no shot at the four-team playoff.
UTEP only won five games last season as a member of Conference USA but has some youth on offense, particularly at running back and tight end.
Still, playing in Conference USA does not leave it much of a shot at contending for a national championship.
The Miners are a ways off.
Toledo was very good last year, particularly on offense, but will have a new head coach and a lot of question marks entering the 2012 season.
The depth chart features mostly upperclassmen, so it is uncertain how the Rockets will fare in 2014.
After winning nine games last season, it will be hard to duplicate that in the coming years.
Nevada Wolf Pack
Nevada has had some solid teams over the past few years but only went 7-6 a year ago.
The Wolf Pack have a talented young quarterback in Cody Fajardo, who is entering his sophomore season. The future is looking bright—just not national-championship-contender bright.
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana-Lafayette has had some success in recent years.
The Ragin' Cajuns finished 9-4 last season and 6-2 in the Sun Belt Conference with a New Orleans Bowl victory.
Look for them to continue their winning ways and possibly contend for a conference crown in the coming years.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Eastern Michigan was better last season than it has been in years past and finished 6-6 overall, going 4-4 in the MAC.
While it had a good year in 2011, it could have been an aberration; do not come to expect that from this team.
Not much of a playoff shot here.
Army Black Knights
Army has slipped in recent years and last season fell all the way to 3-9.
Things are not looking up for the Black Knights, and they have recently had trouble even qualifying for bowl games, much less cracking the rankings.
Not much of a shot here.
Buffalo went 3-9 last season and finished 2-6 in the MAC.
It might be improving and headed in the right direction, but it is hard to imagine a winning season for this team by 2014.
The Bulls, like a lot of other teams, have a lot of work to do.
Fresno State Bulldogs
For a few years, Fresno State was a solid mid-major program, but it struggled to a 4-9 campaign in 2011.
The Bulldogs will have to replace a lot of players over the next few years, and it will be hard to see them winning more than six games, especially with Derek Carr gone after the 2013 season.
It is not looking too good for Fresno State in 2014 and beyond.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Central Michigan went 3-9 last season, finishing 2-6 and at the bottom of the MAC West division.
It has some work to do in order to get to the middle of the conference, much less near the top of the country.
The Chippewas would certainly be happy with a 6-6 year in 2014.
Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent State was a middle-of-the-road team last season, finishing 5-7 and 4-4 in the MAC.
The Golden Flashes have some youth on the offensive side of the ball, but it is not likely they are going to be able to even move to the top tier in the conference.
Look for a few seasons around .500 from this team each of the next few years.
East Carolina Pirates
East Carolina finished 5-7 last year and 4-4 in Conference USA. It seems to be settling into the middle of the pack in that conference.
While it has some youth at the wide receiver position and a few other spots, this team seems poised to hover around the .500 mark for the next few seasons.
That is nowhere close to the four-team playoff.
Bowling Green Falcons
Bowling Green is a step above some of the previous MAC teams mentioned, but that is not saying much.
The Falcons went 5-7 last season and 3-5 in conference play. Look for them to improve a little bit, but unless Urban Meyer comes back, there is no chance to play for a national championship.
A .500 season is not out of the question, though.
The Ohio Bobcats were rather impressive last season, finishing the year 10-4 and winning the East division of the MAC.
They have a lot of experience and will be rather talented in 2012. The 2014 season is a different story, but either way, going undefeated, even in the MAC, will still not give them much of a chance.
They will be good but not quite there in 2014.
Miami (OH) RedHawks
Miami has struggled the past two seasons, finishing near the bottom of the MAC.
The RedHawks have some talent on offense, but not much of that will be left come 2014.
Being in the middle of the pack in the MAC is about all they can ask for in 2014.
Ball State Cardinals
Ball State was an average team last season, going 6-6 and 4-4 in the MAC. It is another of the many MAC schools that are nothing more than average.
Climbing near the top of the MAC is going to be hard enough, meaning there is no chance for it to reach the Top Four.
Look for the Cardinals to improve, but not enough to win the conference.
Hawaii struggled to a 6-7 year in 2011, going 3-4 in conference play.
The Warriors had a few years recently when they nearly had the talent to contend for a playoff spot.
That does not appear to be the case anymore. They are so young on offense, particularly on the offensive line, and that could mean a few winning seasons are in their future—just not double-digit win totals.
SMU is extremely young, particularly on offense, and more specifically at quarterback. It will likely have four freshmen starting—three of them on offense, along with a sophomore—and has improved in recent years under June Jones.
The Mustangs are a member of Conference USA and could finish near the top of the league, but they are not going to be close to playing for a national championship.
A 10-win season is not out of the question, though.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa won eight games last year, thanks in part to star quarterback G.J. Kinne.
He is no longer there, and the Golden Hurricane have mostly a veteran team—with only three sophomores starting.
That means they will have a lot to replace by 2014, and playing in Conference USA, there is not much of a shot for them to crack that Top Four.
Navy struggled to five wins last season, and the chance for a service academy to play for a national championship continues to get worse and worse.
The Midshipmen do not seem likely to be the team to do it.
Even if they run the table, the odds are still very much against them.
Arkansas State Red Wolves
Arkansas State was very good last season, going 10-3 overall and 8-0 in the Sun Belt.
The Red Wolves are too good for the conference they play in, but that is about it.
There is not much of a chance here, even though they may be one of the better mid-majors in the country.
Air Force Falcons
Air Force was 7-6 last year and 3-4 in the Mountain West Conference.
It should continue to improve and climb toward the top of the conference.
The Falcons still have a ways to go to contend for a national championship, however.
San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State has been consistent over the years and is one of the better teams in the Mountain West Conference.
Will that continue when it moves to the Big East in 2013?
The Aztecs still won't have much of a shot to play for a national championship, although it is possible.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs went 8-5 overall last year and 6-1 in the WAC. They are without question the class of the WAC, and they'll look to continue their success in Conference USA starting in 2013.
The Bulldogs have an excellent shot at putting together a 10-win season in 2012 and could be just as good in 2014.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Northern Illinois was the class of the MAC last season and has been impressive in recent years.
With that being said, the Huskies are still in the MAC, which does not leave them much of an opportunity.
However, if they can go undefeated with a few big non-conference victories, there is always a chance—just a slim one.
Duke Blue Devils
Duke has long been awful on the football field, and the future is not looking much brighter.
It managed to win three games last season, including one in the ACC. That is right about where it usually is, and it looks like nothing is going to change.
Maybe four wins at most for the Blue Devils in 2014.
Quarterback Case Keenum is gone, as is head coach Kevin Sumlin. That does not bode well for a Houston team that would have been in contention for a playoff berth last season.
With that being said, it still would not have earned one even if it had beaten Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game.
The Cougars lost virtually everybody, so they have quite a long way to go.
Central Florida is another Conference USA squad that has improved in recent years and is headed to the Big East.
This could help it qualify for a four-team playoff.
Being in a BCS conference that is not as good as most of the others is a bonus. Still, it is not likely for the Knights to be anywhere close to the top of the country within two years.
Indiana was downright awful last season and finished the year 1-11. It was quite possibly the worst team in the country from a BCS conference.
It will likely get better in the coming years, especially with the young players on the offensive side of the ball.
There is no chance that the Hoosiers will even be near the middle of the conference, but in 2014, four to five wins is possible.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss was downright awful last year and only won two games, going 0-8 in conference play. It is not very likely that it will improve enough to finish above the middle of the pack in the SEC by 2014.
There is some youth, particularly at the wide receiver position, and that could bode well for the Rebels. The defense is also filled with sophomores.
However, it is hard to expect more than five or six wins by 2014.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
If it wasn't for Indiana, Minnesota would be at the bottom of the Big Ten. It won three games last year and went 2-6 in conference play.
Look for much of the same over the next few years, particularly with MarQueis Gray running the show.
Once he leaves, Minnesota may be even worse in 2014.
Temple is a team that will certainly benefit from a move to the Big East.
The Owls have plenty of cities in Pennsylvania to recruit from, and this is a program with the potential to improve drastically in the coming years.
With that being said, there is not really much of a chance for them to be national championship contenders by 2014.
Maryland will be much better than it was a year ago, and another 2-10 season is not likely.
The Terrapins were one of the worst BCS teams last year, but head coach Randy Edsall will likely have them headed in the right direction by 2014.
Still, they will be lucky to be in the top half of the ACC by that time.
Boston College Eagles
Boston College has sunk like a rock over the past few seasons, and head coach Frank Spaziani is likely on his way out the door if it does not improve.
The Eagles went 4-8 last season and 3-5 in the ACC. They were young, so that will be a plus, but they weren't that young.
A winning season in the near future does not seem likely for this team.
Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State is more experienced than some people would believe and only won three games last season.
While it may be slightly better in 2012 and beyond, there is no conceivable chance of it coming close to qualifying for a four-team playoff.
Finishing in the middle of the Pac-12 may be the best-case scenario for the Beavers.
Kentucky has grown accustomed to finishing near the bottom of the SEC for what seems like a long time, and the chances of it reaching the top are almost nonexistent.
The good news for the Wildcats is they are young with eight starters that are either freshmen or sophomores.
A winning season is asking enough from this squad in 2014, even with the young talent.
Northwestern has been steadily improving, and it seems destined to reach a bowl game year in and year out.
It started five freshmen for the better part of last season, and those guys should still be around in 2014.
With that being said, not much more than a bowl game can be expected from the Wildcats.
Charlie Weis is taking over in Lawrence, and that has to have fans excited. There is no question that he has a lot of work to do, but by 2014, Kansas should be improved.
There are virtually all upperclassmen in the starting lineup, and the Jayhawks will need to upgrade their recruiting classes in order to compete in the Big 12.
Chances are that will not happen, and they will still finish near the bottom of the league.
The Arizona Wildcats were awful last year, finishing the season 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Pac-12.
With Rich Rodriguez now in town, things could be a little different over the next few years.
The Wildcats are still a ways off, even with a new head coach.
Washington State Cougars
Washington State struggled mightily last season, finishing 4-8, but if anybody can help turn it around, it is Mike Leach.
He is taking over a team that has a lot of questions, and with how talented the Pac-12 is becoming, things are not going to get much easier.
Still, he is likely to make some progress and improve on the 4-8 record from last season.
UCLA has a new head coach and maybe newfound hope heading into the 2012 season.
They won six games last season and could improve under the leadership of Jim L. Mora.
There is a lot of experience on both sides of the ball, so a few good recruiting classes will be necessary to compete for the national championship.
The Bruins are not likely to be ready by 2014, however.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State won six games last year and seems to be on the right track. It has some senior leadership on defense, and it is going to be tough to duplicate last season's success in 2014.
There are too many tough teams ahead of them in the Big 12, and the Cyclones appear headed back to the bottom of the conference.
It will be tough sledding for the Cyclones the next few years.
Vanderbilt has some youth on offense and is a team that is on the rise.
In 2012, the Commodores are slated to start three sophomores and a freshman on that side of the ball. On defense, they are all upperclassmen.
In another conference, they might have a better chance, but in the SEC, there is no hope for them to finish above the middle of the pack in the league.
Tennessee had quite a disappointing season in 2011, and that was due in large part to a bevy of injuries.
It will likely win more games than the five it won a year ago and has plenty of talent on the roster.
There is some youth on the defensive side of the ball, with three sophomore starters likely.
The Volunteers should be posting winning records by 2014 but will not be ready to contend for a national championship.
Colorado has some youth at wide receiver and along the offensive line, but it received a rude awakening last season, going 3-10 in its first season in the Pac-12.
Expect it to improve steadily over the next few years and maybe even get back to a bowl game by 2014.
Anything else would be a bonus.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State only went 6-7 last season and 4-5 in the Pac-12. It is one of many Pac-12 teams with a new head coach, so there could be an adjustment period.
The defense is one of the youngest in the conference, with six sophomores and a freshman likely to be starters.
That could be huge a few years from now, and the Sun Devils should be back to their winning ways by then in a competitive conference.
Washington had an explosive offense last season, but the problem for 2014 is very few of those players will be back.
The Huskies won seven games and will likely be even better in 2012 and possibly 2013, but in 2014 they will have to replace quarterback Keith Price.
The middle of the road in the Pac-12 is likely where they will end up in 2014.
Purdue seemingly has been coming on strong in recent years, and there is no question it is going to be solid again in 2012.
The Boilermakers do, however, start a good number of upperclassmen, particularly on offense—with four sophomores starting on that side of the ball.
The Big Ten may be a little too competitive for the Boilers to contend by 2014.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Mississippi State Bulldogs won seven games last season, and there is a chance they could duplicate that or maybe do even better next season.
Getting to the top of the SEC is a completely different story, and that is a tall task. So is reaching the top four teams in the country.
That is not likely to happen by 2014.
California Golden Bears
This is another team that is in the middle of the pack in its conference, and head coach Jeff Tedford may be on the hot seat if Cal does not improve on the 7-6 season it had a year ago.
The Bears are likely to be jumbled up with a lot of the other teams in the Pac-12 after the top three.
There is some talent, but most of it will be gone by 2014.
Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M will be welcomed to the SEC with open arms and extremely difficult competition.
Kevin Sumlin is an excellent young coach, and a move to the SEC should do nothing but help recruiting.
With that being said, however, there is just so much competition that it is hard to imagine the Aggies finishing near the top of the league.
It is possible, however.
South Florida Bulls
South Florida disappointed at the end of last season and finished 5-7 overall.
If they plan on winning anything, 2012 will be the year. The Bulls have some talent in their upper class, and it will all depend on recruiting as to whether or not they can contend for a national championship.
Chances are that is not going to happen in 2014.
Iowa has developed into a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team, and that appears to be its destiny for the next few years.
There are some talented young skill players in the fold, so there is a chance the Hawkeyes can duplicate their recent success over the next few years.
Competing at the top of the league is another story, though.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois is a team that could be peaking in 2014 with new head coach Tim Beckman now taking over.
By that time, he will have had a few years to implement his system and bring in some of his recruits.
It may still take longer than that for the Fighting Illini to get back to championship status.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest impressed last season and will be very young next year.
The Demon Deacons have three sophomores slated to start along the offensive line and a few more youngsters on the defensive side of the ball.
After winning six games last season, they could be much improved in 2013 and 2014.
Utah is a team that is on the rise with a lot to prove now that it is in the Pac-12.
It won eight games last season despite some key injuries, and there is plenty of youth, particularly at tight end and wide receiver.
The Utes are in a competitive Pac-12, but they have plenty of talent to compete.
Connecticut has a long way to go from where it was just two years ago, and there is enough young talent to possibly get back to that level.
The Huskies only won five games last season, and things are not looking that bright in 2012 until they can get their quarterback situation figured out.
They do, however, have a stud sophomore running back in Lyle McCombs, who should be around in 2014.
Syracuse finished near the bottom of the Big East last season, going 5-7 overall and 1-6 in conference.
The Orange are very young on both sides of the ball and may start as many as nine or 10 freshmen and sophomores next season.
That group will be seasoned veterans in 2014, and the Orange could be a contender when they move to the ACC.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State is going to be talented next season, but it is unknown how good it will be by 2014, with only two sophomores listed as starters on its depth chart for 2012.
That means a lot of holes will need to be filled and some excellent recruiting classes will be necessary for it to build with.
Landing in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten is all that can realistically be expected.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech has a loaded junior class, but there is talent scattered throughout the other classes.
It went 8-5 last year and is certainly headed in the right direction. Quarterback Tevin Washington is hard to stop, but by 2014 a youngster will step in his place.
Chances are the Yellow Jackets will stay on their path of eight- to 10-win seasons over the next few years.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech suffered more injuries than possibly every team in the country last season and has as many returning starters as nearly any team.
The Red Raiders have a veteran offense but are extremely young on the defensive side of the ball. They feature seven starters on defense who are either freshmen or sophomores.
This could be a sleeper team for the 2014 season. The Big 12 is going to be difficult, but this may be a team on the rise by 2014.
NC State Wolfpack
North Carolina State impressed a lot of people last season on its way to winning eight games, capping it off with a victory in the Belk Bowl.
The Wolfpack have some youth, particularly along the front seven of the defense, and should be near the middle of the ACC for the next few years.
The big question for them will be finding some skill players a few years from now.
Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall won seven games last season, going 5-3 in conference play, and finished second to Southern Miss in the East division of Conference USA.
The Thundering Herd are very young, particularly on offense. They may be able to win 10 games and a Conference USA crown by 2014, but nothing more than that.
That said, the Thundering Herd have a bright future.
Cincinnati has won the Big East three out of the past four seasons and is pretty balanced from one class to the next.
There is some youth, but most of the starters are upperclassmen. The skill positions are where a lot of the young talent lies, particularly at running back and wide receiver.
This team will be near the top of the Big East over the next few years, including 2014.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State has been very good the last few years, and it has a lot of experience in 2012 on defense, with all upperclassman starters.
The offense is a little younger, but this team will be a ways off by 2014.
It is going to be tough for the Cowboys to finish near the top of the Big 12, much less play for a national championship.
Virginia was a bit of a surprise last season, winning eight games, and will not be overlooked in 2012 like it was last year.
Either way, the Cavaliers will continue to grow and have a decent amount of youth that will be very experienced in 2014.
They should be toward the top of the ACC but not quite a national championship contender.
Pittsburgh should have a talented and experienced defense by the time 2014 rolls around. There are six sophomores slated to start on that side of the ball, and they will be much better in 2014.
The offense may be a work in progress, but there are some talented young players at running back and along the offensive line.
Look for the Panthers to be competitive in the ACC in 2014 and beyond.
Missouri seems to be a little more ready to jump to the SEC than Texas A&M. Part of that is due to the experience and leadership it has coming back.
While that is a good thing for 2012, it may not be so good for 2014.
There are likely to only be a handful of sophomore starters and probably no freshmen seeing considerable action from the start. The Tigers will need some new faces to step up for the 2014 season.
Baylor is certainly going to struggle in 2012 after what it had to replace from the 2011 squad.
The Bears have a lot of young receivers, so this team could have as much talent in 2014 as it did in 2011—minus Robert Griffin III, of course.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Southern Mississippi had an impressive year in 2011, going 12-2 and winning Conference USA.
Heading into 2012, it is one of the youngest teams in the country and has as legitimate a shot as any non-BCS school to play in the four-team playoff in 2014.
The Golden Eagles have seven sophomore starters on defense, along with a freshman. That makes them one of the youngest teams in the country on that side of the ball. The offense is relatively young as well.
Wisconsin is a relatively veteran team with only two starters likely to be freshmen or sophomores this year.
That means Badgers starters will mostly be new faces in 2014. They are still one of the top teams in the Big Ten every year and cannot be counted out.
With that being said, it is not looking like they will finish above third or fourth in the conference in 2014.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia has a lot of experience on both sides of the ball and one of the best offenses in the country this coming season.
That experience means the Mountaineers will be young in 2014, with a lot of unknowns still in place.
Quarterback Paul Millard will likely be running the show once Geno Smith is gone, and running back Dustin Garrison could be there as well.
BYU went 10-3 last season and is up there with Notre Dame as the best of the independent schools.
It might benefit BYU not being in a conference, as it can beef up its schedule.
This is a team that could reach the playoff if it goes undefeated, which is certainly not out of the question.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers won nine games last season and had a very good recruiting class, considering the fact it lost its head coach to the NFL.
Half of its starters are either freshmen or sophomores, including five freshmen on the offensive side of the ball.
By 2014, Rutgers has a chance to be not only the best team in the Big East but one of the top 15 in the country. That bodes well for its chances.
TCU Horned Frogs
TCU might be in for quite a wake-up call when it joins the Big 12, but it is a program that is more ready for a trip to the big time than any other mid-major.
The Horned Frogs will probably lose a few more games than they are accustomed to over the next few years, but they will be right in the mix near the top of the Big 12 for years to come.
Don't count this team out of national title consideration a few years from now.
Stanford had one of the best teams in the nation last season and will have as much to replace as anybody in the country.
It will be young at the quarterback position, as well as at a few other spots, and is still a power in the Pac-12.
The Cardinal will prove they are here to stay over the next few years.
Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State finished second in the Big 12 last season, led by quarterback Collin Klein.
He has two years of eligibility remaining, so replacing him for the 2014 season and beyond will be difficult.
The Wildcats do have a lot of talent on offense, and most of it is relatively young. Four freshmen are slated to start on offense, along with three sophomores.
That could be good, and even though 2013 may be their year, 2014 should not be too bad either.
Auburn is going to be very young in 2012, but that could bode well for the 2014 season and beyond. It is looking like the Tigers are going to start four offensive linemen who are either sophomores or freshmen and two more sophomores on offense.
The defense is a little more experienced, and it looks like they will have the talent to replace the starters they will lose.
The Tigers may be back near the top of the SEC by 2014.
Arkansas is one of the most talented teams in the country and should see success despite the fact that it has a brand new head coach.
There is some youth, including five sophomores, likely to be starters this season.
The Razorbacks will probably be better in 2012 than in 2014, so the odds are not very good.
Miami won six games last year despite everything going on around the program. Who knows if it will be eligible for the playoff in 2014?
Odds are it will not matter. The Hurricanes do have a pretty decent recruiting class coming in and have a lot of youth, particularly on offense with five sophomore starters.
Look for this team to challenge for the ACC Coastal division title in 2014 and beyond.
Florida is one of a few teams that could see a drastic improvement from the 2011 season to 2014.
The Gators are very young and will likely have a sophomore quarterback starting, along with a few other underclassmen.
Even though there is plenty of experience on the team, the recruiting classes should help put Florida near the level it once reached under Urban Meyer.
Nebraska appears to be a team that is headed toward the middle of the Big Ten for years to come.
The Huskers have plenty of talent to compete, but there are a few schools that are on the rise and appear to be some of the elite teams in the country.
With that being said, there is always a chance for them to win the Big Ten, and if they do that, a playoff appearance is a possibility.
Louisville appears to be the class of the Big East in 2012 and will almost certainly be even better in 2014.
Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a chance to be really good, and if he sticks around, he will be a senior in 2014.
The Cardinals have 10 sophomore starters, and they could be a perennial Top 10 team by 2014.
Georgia lost a possible star in running back Isaiah Crowell, who was booted off the team recently. He would have been a senior in 2014 and an anchor on offense.
With that being said, the Bulldogs have grown into one of the nation's premier powers and are a perennial Top Five team in the country.
In 2014, they will be counting heavily on running back Ken Malcome and a brand new defense.
Clemson has some extraordinary young talent, and if wide receiver Sammy Watkins stays around, there is a chance Clemson will be very good.
The Tigers also start two sophomores along the offensive line and are young in certain areas on defense as well.
Look for Clemson to be near the top of the ACC in 2014 and beyond.
North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina won seven games last year despite a lot going on around the program.
The Tar Heels were led on offense by freshman running back Giovani Bernard, and odds are he will still be around in 2014. They also have some young talent on offense, particularly at the wide receiver position.
Look out for this team in 2014, as the defense always has plenty of talent.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies are always a contender no matter what year it is, and that is almost certain to be the case in 2014.
There is a lot of youth for Virginia Tech, with four sophomores starting on defense.
They also have some young players on offense. The Hokies have a legitimate playoff shot in 2014.
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State has become one of the best teams in the Big Ten, led by head coach Mark Dantonio.
The Spartans have no problem developing talent, and even though they do not get top-notch recruiting classes, they do the most with what they have.
There is a good balance from all four classes, and Michigan State will be solid once again in 2014.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State is a team that might benefit from heading to a BCS conference, and the Big East might just be the perfect place.
If the Broncos can continue what they have going, this will be a winnable conference every year.
They have to replace so much in 2012, but they are relatively young on both sides of the ball.
Michigan and head coach Brady Hoke have put together some excellent recruiting classes over the past two years, and that trend looks to continue for years to come.
Denard Robinson will not be there in 2014, but the Wolverines will not be short on talent.
There are a lot of young, skilled players in the program, and Michigan will be good for a lot of years to come.
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina has seemingly gotten closer and closer to contending for a national championship every year.
While the Gamecocks have mainly upperclassmen in their starting lineup, there are two sophomores and a freshman along the offensive line, two sophomores along the defensive line and two more in the secondary.
This team could be very talented two years from now and near the top of the SEC and the nation.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame is a team that could go either way by 2014.
If quarterback Gunner Kiel can develop into what he is expected to be, the Fighting Irish will have a legitimate shot to reach the four-team playoff.
The schedule will likely hurt them. They will probably have to go 11-1 to make the playoff, and that is not likely with who they will be playing.
There are only two sophomores listed as starters, so it is not going to be much easier in 2014.
The Oklahoma Sooners had a slightly disappointing season in 2011, mostly due to injuries, but they have some youth on both sides of the ball.
Sophomore Blake Bell could be a load at the quarterback position by 2014, and the offense will be tough to stop as usual.
There is some young talent on defense as well.
LSU is one of the top five teams in the country heading into 2012, and that will likely be the case again in 2014.
The Tigers have mostly upperclassmen on defense, but there is some youth on the offensive side of the ball.
Either way, it is hard to argue with the success this team has had the past few years, and they are going to be right there in the thick of things.
Florida State Seminoles
It is hard to argue with the talent that is on the Florida State roster, and it is young to go along with it.
While quarterback E.J. Manuel will be gone at that point, there will still be a lot of talent on defense and at the skill positions, making it hard to believe this will not be one of the top teams in the country in 2014.
But the Seminoles have not necessarily lived up to expectations the past few years, so questions still arise.
Texas is one of the up-and-coming young teams in the country. It has an immense amount of talent, particularly on defense.
This team has a chance to be a national championship contender by 2014, particularly because there is a chance it could have eight or nine freshmen and sophomores starting next season.
Look out for the Longhorns in 2014 and beyond, particularly if most of these talented sophomores stick around.
Oregon has as many weapons on offense as nearly anybody in the country. The Ducks will be national championship contenders for the next few years, and 2014 may just be their best chance.
They are young at some of the key positions, including running back and quarterback. The Ducks continue to have solid recruiting classes, and by 2014, they could be as dangerous as anybody.
Look out for the Ducks for years to come.
Ohio State Buckeyes
There is hardly any doubt that Ohio State will be near the top of the Big Ten by 2014, especially if quarterback Braxton Miller hangs around for four years.
Urban Meyer has put together a top-five recruiting class, and the 2013 class will likely be even better.
The Buckeyes have a legitimate shot to get back to where they were a few years ago at the peak of the Jim Tressel era.
USC is as loaded as anybody in the country and has young talent at the same time.
By 2014, the Trojans will be without some key players, but if some of that young sophomore talent stays around, they will still be a Top 10 team.
Currently, 10 of their starters are sophomores or younger, meaning they will be on the roster in 2014 if they stick around for four seasons.
Chances are good for the Trojans in 2014 and beyond.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is consistently one of the top teams in the country, and don't expect anything to change by 2014.
The Crimson Tide are so young it is scary. They should be better in 2013 and 2014 than in 2012.
This team is slated to start 13 players who are either freshmen or sophomores next season.
Alabama might have the best chance of anybody.