The college football season kicks off Aug. 30, and teams will begin their hunts for the coveted BCS title, but as any fan of any school knows, some teams have better chances than others. With both the Associated Press and USA Today preseason polls released (via ESPN), let's take a look at the top teams with the best chances to take home that big crystal football.
Alabama (AP and USA Today No. 2)
Since Nick Saban took over as head football coach at Alabama in 2007, the Crimson Tide have been great. Over the past three years, they've been to three straight bowl games, posting a 20-4 record during that run. Two of those bowl games were for the BCS National Championship, which the team won in 2009 and 2011.
Even with Trent Richardson, Mark Barron and others having left and joined the NFL, don't overlook the fact Saban is still patrolling the sidelines. His team is the defending national champion, and as pro wrestling legend Ric Flair once said, "To be the man, you have to beat the man."
'Bama still has plenty of offensive firepower to make up for the loss of the third pick in this year's NFL draft, starting with his replacement, Eddie Lacy. The Crimson Tide rusher had 694 yards on the ground with seven trips to the end zone behind Richardson last season and should be a vital part of Saban's offense in 2012.
Alabama's reign atop of the college-football world could very well continue this year.
LSU (AP No. 3, USA Today No. 1)
If Alabama has a clear shot to repeat as national champion, then the team that came one win away from that title last year is a forced to be reckoned with, as well.
Georgia transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger will need to succeed where Jordan Jefferson and others failed for this team to see a slightly different result to its 2011 season, but he doesn't seem to worried.
The one-time Bulldog spoke with Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today about the upcoming season, stating:
I've never really gotten nervous for a football game. I don't know what it is about me, but ever since pee-wee, high school or college, I've never really gotten nervous...It's going to be a huge step going from third to first string. It's something I look forward to. That's why I came here. I'm not going to be in there to hand the ball off or take a knee.
The Tigers now have a new quarterback and still boast one of the best defenses in the NCAA. All that adds up to another fine chance for LSU to win that national title, pending the play of the quarterback.
Oregon (AP and USA Today No. 5)
The Ducks are known nationwide for their vibrant Nike uniforms, but Chip Kelly's team could soon be know for a little bit more than that.
Like Alabama, Oregon lost its top running back from last season to the NFL draft, but Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas are ready to step in and take LaMichael James' old spot.
New starting quarterback Marcus Mariota can rely on the hands of Thomas out of the backfield, while Barner looks ready to take on the No. 1 spot after posting 939 yards with 11 touchdowns last year.
This Oregon offense looks just as talented as last year's version, even if some key names have moved on. On defense, this unit looks ready to repeat its 2011 performance of being the fourth best in terms of sacks.
The Ducks might not have been in the BCS title game last season, but they very well could be in 2012.