Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Underrated BCS Contenders to Watch

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers calls signals out of the shotgun formation against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

West Virginia is one underrated BCS contender to watch from the preseason rankings for the 2012 college football season.

Each year, we see many teams underrated in the polls for a variety of reasons. Not getting the respect they deserve gives those teams extra motivation to prove everyone wrong and make a statement each week.

Let's look at three underrated teams from the preseason AP Top 25 poll.


No. 10 Arkansas

Even though it plays in the SEC, Arkansas isn't getting the same attention that rivals Alabama, LSU and maybe even South Carolina are receiving.

Led by Heisman-caliber quarterback Tyler Wilson, there's no reason why the Razorbacks offense can't score 35 to 40 points per game.

The X-factor will be the play of their defense, because even though their offense can win a shootout, not too many SEC games between highly-ranked teams are high-scoring affairs.

Arkansas has what it takes to make a BCS bowl, but its defense must carry it there.


No. 9 South Carolina

The return of star running back Marcus Lattimore is creating quite a buzz in South Carolina, and with good reason. He is a touchdown machine and a guy who can rack up a ton of yards on any defense.

Speaking of defenses, the Gamecocks will once again have a strong defense that will make them quite difficult to beat in SEC play. They ranked 10th in points allowed in 2011 and could be even stronger this season.

With the return of Lattimore making the offense more balanced and dangerous, South Carolina could be a surprise team in the SEC this year and contend for a national title.


No. 11 West Virginia

The Mountaineers will move to the Big 12 this year following their Orange Bowl victory over Clemson last season. They will be one of the favorites to earn the conference's automatic BCS bowl bid.

Four straight tough games against Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma from mid-October through mid-November will tell us a lot about how national-championship-worthy the Mountaineers really are.

If they want to be the first national champion from the Big 12 since 2005, West Virginia will need to score 35-plus points per game and play better defense in the red zone.


For the complete AP Top 25 poll, click here.