10 BCS 2012 Contenders No One Seems to Be Talking About
Every summer, many magazines come out on newsstands, and in those magazines, all the favorites to reach the five BCS bowls are picked.
However, it's extremely rare that all the favorites reach the five prestigious BCS bowls. There will always be a bust in the top 10, and several teams will drop like flies with their gridiron battles in tough BCS conferences.
A lot of factors can be thrown into earning a BCS bid (luck, schedule, injuries, non-conference results, eye test, etc.), but still, only 10 teams are selected.
Many times, we will see underdogs that were not even ranked in the preseason play in the BCS.
Plus, college football is always at its best when both the premier programs and the non-BCS dark horses are contending for those final bids.
Taking a look at the teams who are not earning enough love this summer, bank on these top 10 contenders to earn or at least challenge for a BCS bid in 2012.
Geno Smith could become even better than Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) was a season ago, and the reason for these Big 12 passer comparisons is that the Mountaineers might just take over for the Pokes in terms of BCS title contention.
West Virginia might just shock a bunch heading into their first season with the Big 12.
Their talent has never been discussed as elite on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense is impressive. Their numbers may start to significantly increase despite the step up in competition.
When one team has Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney, there will be jock straps juked and scoreboards lit up. The opposition cannot contain them; they can only pray their own offense can play keep-away.
The schedule will be a bit daunting with trips to Austin and Stillwater, but hosting the Sooners and TCU Horned Frogs might just allow them to sneak into a BCS bowl, whether they ultimately win the Big 12 or not.
The Bulldogs defense will be as talented as any, thanks to All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones, who might just be the most feared linebacker in the country.
Throw in All-American safety Bacarri Rambo (likely suspended for four games) and two 300-plus-pounders up front (John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers), and you have yourself one of the most gifted teams in the country by just looking at the defense.
Did I mention Aaron Murray is back for his junior campaign after threading it for 35 touchdowns from a season ago?
Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are both fantastic freshman running backs that will replace Isaiah Crowell (don’t forget about Ken Malcome or Brandon Harton and Richard Samuel), so no need to fret.
The only somewhat weak link might be an offensive line that does not have an All-American or All-SEC First Team lineman, but Murray and a talented backfield should make them shine against even the toughest competition.
UGA’s schedule has been absolutely hated on by Steve Spurrier because the Gamecocks have LSU as opposed to Ole Miss, who the ‘Dawgs play instead.
They do have the exact schedule for their divisional opponents, but UGA’s defense and quarterback play have an edge which ultimately gives them an opportunity to head to Atlanta with a crack at the BCS regardless if they win or lose.
America truly despises a passionate coach that screams at his players, and Bo Pelini headlines that list after a few of his outbursts over the last two seasons with quarterback Taylor Martinez.
The improving passer—who was third in the FBS in rushing yards for quarterbacks last season (over 1,700 last two seasons)—has the capability to have a breakout season with an improved group of receivers.
Martinez may be mocked and criticized due to his unorthodox throwing mechanics, but winning always has the final say, and he can make quite the statement in 2012.
It all starts with Rex Burkhead, who is arguably the most valuable running back in the country. The Huskers offense would quite be nowhere without him, albeit the depth behind him is far from garbage (Ameer Abdullah is electric).
However, their receivers were among the worst in the Big Ten last season. The inability to get separation and come away with catches in traffic was tough to endure as a Big Ten fan, but the experience and overall talent should really improve in one season.
A few youngsters (Jordan Westerkamp, Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa) will need to perform well if the team expects to live up to some of the lofty expectations.
The pieces are in place when you realize Jared Crick missed over half the season. While Lavonte David will be missed, the defense is still athletic and physical.
When healthy, the Huskers have an excellent shot at being in position to contend for a Big Ten title and becoming last year's version of Michigan.
The ‘Ville are projected by many prognosticators to win the Big East, and this is simply due to star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s ever-improving game and the coaching prowess of Charlie Strong.
Louisville was defeated by North Carolina State in an entertaining Belk Bowl, but that young team will mature and develop into a solid bunch in 2012.
A few early-season tilts against Kentucky and North Carolina will let us know just how far this squad can go in the immediate future, but all the tough Big East contests are at Papa John’s Stadium.
There will be a few tough ones in South Florida, Pittsburgh and Rutgers, but overall they have what it takes to be right there at the end if they can avoid a defeat in the non-conference.
Note: Starting in 2014, the Big East champion not guarantee itself a slot in the BCS, but a top ranking in the BCS would lock it up.
The best defense heading into the Big Ten this season certainly looks like the Michigan State Spartans (Ohio State, too).
On paper, they are simply loaded with four Bednarik defenders that any program would be pumped to have line up on Saturdays.
William Gholston, Denicos Allen, Max Bullough and Isaiah Lewis are just a few of the defenders that are all that and then some in East Lansing.
Get a good, clean look at Pat Narduzzi’s defense because it's as stout as it gets. I didn’t even mention Marcus Rush at defensive end or Johnny Adams at corner; the names and talents are simply endless.
Mark Dantonio has completely turned this once-bottom-feeding program in the Big Ten to BCS bid contenders.
The Spartans are still looking for that first ever BCS bowl, and this season will likely be it with a horse of a running back in Le’Veon Bell, among many future household names.
This scary yet seemingly always overrated squad still has the talent to appear in the BCS. The program has seen a whole lot before and during the Skip Holtz era, but that is because of their football awareness and overall speed (not lack thereof).
The smarts on the team have been costly at times, and many point fingers at quarterback B.J. Daniels since he plays arguably the most criticized position in all of sports.
Daniels received a ton of hype in his freshman season after defeating Florida State in Tallahassee, his hometown.
Many are still banking on a bid to the BCS, but Daniels will need more help, and we also need to see the senior deliver in the clutch for those January dreams to be reached.
Sammy Watkins is one of the best players in America, and he is just a sophomore heading into his 2012 campaign.
A two-game suspension could cost the Tigers a legit chance at winning or challenging for an ACC title and BCS bid, but Watkins is not the only weapon Clemson has.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd tossed 33 touchdowns last season, and every significant performer on offense is back outside of Mackey Award winner Dwayne Allen.
DeAndre Hopkins, Jaron Brown, Andre Ellington and D.J. Howard will help turn this Tigers offense into one of the more feared offenses in the country.
It is the electricity of Watkins that may put the Tigers back into the BCS, which would be uncharted territory for Clemson football.
If there is going to be another sensational year, the Tigers defense better improve upon its 81st-ranked scoring defense.
The defense has seven starters returning, including a defensive end freak by the name of Malliciah Goodman. Throw in one of the more talented groups of linebackers that Clemson has ever seen, and the opportunity is right there for them.
The only serious issue is that Auburn, Florida State, Virginia Tech and South Carolina are all on the slate. The rest of the games should not be too difficult, but those four defenses will be fairly impressive.
Auburn may not be the most talented squad out there (still darn good up front), but the Seminoles, Hokies and Gamecocks are all among the best in the country. A loss to three of the four could cost these Tigers a crack at an ACC title appearance and ultimately a bid to the BCS.
So, the Broncos are losing their NFL running back, star-studded defensive line and the all-time winningest quarterback in FBS history.
However, they still have head coach Chris Petersen, and that in itself is worth the price of admission for the immediate future.
Petersen is 73-6 overall, and there is a reason he is one of the top five coaches in America: He reloads with such ease that it became habit half a decade ago.
The Smurfs will be just fine on defense, and the strength of the team should be their secondary, as opposed to their always consistent and talented defensive line.
The entire line is gone from one year ago, but Michael Atkinson saw significant playing time up front, and we should see the emergence of a few more youngsters (Demarcus Lawrence, Sam Ukwuachu, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe).
The bottom line is that if they can go 11-1 by avoiding a beatdown to Michigan State, the Broncos should be right there for a top-10 ranking and a BCS bid.
They have suffered conference losses in the last two seasons, so it will not be a walk in the park for Boise State—albeit we have seen them register three undefeated regular seasons during the Petersen era.
For that reason and so many others, Boise State is being projected to lose as many as four games this season. Only once have we seen them lose more than a single game in a season, and that was in 2007 when they went 10-3.
The Broncos remain under the radar despite being ranked somewhere around the top 20 (Coaches Poll, No. 22), but they will likely finish well ahead of what they are projected thanks to an always overachieving coaching staff.
Frank Beamer has posted double-digit-victory seasons for eight consecutive years now. It is about time the legend gets a little bit more publicity.
The Hokies have never hauled in the biggest stars in the country, but the defense and special teams play has been remarkable.
They are always fundamentally sound, and as a former defensive back at Virginia Tech, Beamer, alongside their defensive guru (Bud Foster), has turned their defensive backs into sensational collegiate players.
Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller are two fantastic Hokie defenders that can take them back to another 10-plus win season.
Going up against the Florida State Seminoles more than once is a strong possibility. They must be able to knock them off at least once to even dream about playing in January, thanks to an ACC conference that has not seen much success in the first place (ACC is 2-13 all-time in BCS).
The Longhorns defense should be exceptional this season due to its ability to get after the passer.
Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor rank among the elite pass-rushing duos in the country, and they have some beef up front to help them go bonkers in the Big 12.
Ashton Dorsey is just one of the many stud linemen Texas has, but the secondary really should propel the Longhorns to a BCS bid.
The defensive back that has caught everybody’s attention is Quandre Diggs, and yours truly expects him to breakout with an All-American safety by his side (Kenny Vaccaro).
The Longhorns can perhaps only go as far as David Ash (hamstring) takes them, because he must avoid the critical mistakes that often hurt the team last season, but the overall talent is much scarier than last year's.
One of the bigger issues was the inability to score points (55th, 28.08 PPG), and an improved running game (Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron) should really take this team far.
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