BCS Standings 2012: Predicting the First 2012 BCS Rankings

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2012

BCS Standings 2012: Predicting the First 2012 BCS Rankings

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    The BCS rankings are set to be released next Sunday on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. The BCS Countdown show will once again host the rankings' release. 

    With a week’s worth of competition left ahead, it’s time to predict the first BCS rankings for the 2012 season. 

    The No. 1 team will undoubtedly be the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide travels to Missouri this Saturday, but with starter James Franklin out for an already struggling Missouri squad, the Tide should be heavily favored and slide into the No.1 position. 

    After the Tide there are some toss-up-type scenarios ahead. Oregon is playing great football, but so is South Carolina. At this point, those two seem to be interchangeable behind Alabama.

    There are a number of factors that play into the BCS formula, and the South Carolina strength of schedule may give them favor early. Here is a look at the projected Top 25 for the first 2012 BCS poll.

No. 25: Iowa State Cyclones

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    Iowa State is coming off of a huge win over TCU, but they face a tough test this coming Saturday as well. The Cyclones will host the Kansas State Wildcats. 

    Iowa State has won ballgames playing gritty football. The Cyclones are No. 19 in the country in scoring defense and have been very good against the pass, currently standing as the No. 14 pass defense in the country. 

    The Cyclones have struggled to find consistency on offense, however. Starting quarterback Steele Jantz has seven touchdowns, but he has also thrown seven interceptions. The Cyclones have had to rely on a very mediocre rushing attack with James White’s 264 yards leading the way. 

    White has been the team MVP thus far for Iowa State. Not only is he the team’s leading rusher, but he also has 14 catches for 119 yards through the first five games.

No. 24: Ohio Bobcats

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    This Ohio team is on a mission. The Bobcats started the season with an unexpected victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions on the road, and the Bobcats have stayed undefeated since. 

    Ohio has a very winnable schedule with no ranked teams lying ahead. The Bobcats do travel to Miami (OH) and Kent State, but those will be the most taxing tests of the season. This Frank Solich-led team is staring at a MAC championship. 

    The Bobcats are led by stud signal-caller Tyler Tettleton. Tettleton is completing 62 percent of his throws and has 10 touchdown tosses with only one interception. Tettleton also can make plays with his feet, gaining positive yards in four of the six games played this season.

    The Bobcats are No. 38 in total offense and No. 59 in total defense, but they rank No. 4 in turnovers. That is a key to this team’s success. 

    With a 6-0 record and middle-of-the-pack numbers, Ohio should land at No. 24 in the BCS rankings this coming Sunday.

No. 23: Northwestern Wildcats

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    This was a tough pick to land in the rankings. The Wildcats are coming off a loss this Saturday, but assuming the Wildcats grab the win versus Minnesota this week, they will be in the bottom fifth of the BCS rankings. 

    Northwestern has been a fun team to watch, scrambling for two of its wins by pounding the football. The Wildcats have also played stout rushing defense, currently sitting at the No. 15 position in the country. 

    You have to love what Pat Fitzgerald is doing with this Northwestern team. 

    The Wildcats will be facing a one-loss record, but the lack of a presence by the Big Ten will push for voters to add them to the ranks. Those votes should help the Wildcats gain some points in the BCS. 

No. 22: Boise State Broncos

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    Boise was beaten early in the season by Michigan State, ending their BCS-buster hopes early. The more we find out about Michigan State, the less impressive that loss now appears to be—if losses can be impressive. 

    The Broncos face a very favorable schedule to finish the season and are seeing Joe Southwick come into his groove. Southwick has eight touchdowns, 1,124 yards and only three interceptions. 

    There has also been a lot of stingy defense being played in Idaho, with the Broncos only allowing 15.6 points per game. That has this Boise team landing as the No. 16 defense in points allowed. 

    The Broncos may not be elite this season, but they are a good team worthy of a fun bowl this season.

No. 21: Texas A&M Aggies

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    The Aggies have transitioned into the SEC very well. The Aggies are currently 4-1, their only loss a three-point deficit against the No. 24 team in the country to start the season. 

    Texas A&M rolled through Arkansas two weeks ago and the Aggies were able to get the win over Ole Miss in a tight one this past Saturday. 

    Freshman sensation Johnny Manziel is completing 69.3 percent of his passes for 1,285 yards and 11 touchdowns this fall. He has only thrown two interceptions. 

    The Aggies have also played very good defensively. A&M is No. 7 in sacks, No. 14 in scoring defense, and No. 18 in pass defense. 

    The Aggies are one of the surprises of the SEC this season. 

No. 20: Cincinnati Bearcats

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    The Cincinnati Bearcats jumped onto the radar when they beat Virginia Tech two weekends ago. Now the Bearcats are undefeated and have won every game handily outside of the Virginia Tech contest.

    The Bearcats are playing great defense, currently ranked as the No. 13 team in the country in scoring defense. They also rank No. 14 in total number of sacks. 

    The Bearcats must face conference foes Louisville and Rutgers in the next few weeks. That will determine their standing inside the Big East. At this point, they look to be major contenders in the Big East. 

No. 19: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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    Rutgers is on another undefeated run. It is something that hadn’t been whispered in decades before the Greg Schiano years, but now it has become expected in New Jersey. The Scarlet Knights are not disappointing so far this season.

    The Scarlet Knights have battled to become one of the consistent winners in the Big East and have a program that could battle for the crown this year. 

    The Knights don’t face a ranked team until the final game of the season when they take on Louisville at home. The Scarlet Knights have built a strong foundation to head into that game undefeated. 

    The biggest playmaker for Rutgers this season has been Gary Nova. The sophomore has stepped in and completed 60.9 percent of his passes, and thrown 10 touchdowns against only two interceptions. 

    If the Knights can continue to receive that high level of play, they have a bright future with the sophomore. 

No. 18: Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    The Bulldogs of Mississippi State have lived up to every expectation that was carried coming into the 2012 season. The national pundits were high on the Bulldogs, and talked up the ability that State had on defense. 

    While the Bulldogs have been big defensively, the most pleasant surprise has to be QB Tyler Russell. Russell has only completed 56.6 percent of his passes, but he has 10 touchdowns and only one interception to his credit. 

    Russell is the leader of this Bulldogs offense. On the ground, LaDarius Perkins is leading the way with 82 carries for 499 yards and six touchdowns. He has also added eight catches to his stat line this fall. 

    The defense for Mississippi State has been better that originally thought, ranked No. 11 in scoring defense. The Bulldogs are very dangerous in the secondary, ranking as the No. 12 pass defense in the country. 

No. 17: Louisville Cardinals

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    Louisville has pushed for wins in all five games through the 2012 season, but they haven’t done it in convincing fashion. The Cardinals have the lead in the Big East, but they will face some tough competition in the conference down the road. 

    Teddy Bridgewater may be exceeding expectations despite the high level of hope that came with him entering the year. Bridgewater is completing 73 percent of his throws and has eight touchdown tosses on the year. 

    Senorise Perry has also helped keep some of the heat off of Bridgewater this fall, rushing 84 times for 458 yards and five TDs. He has also added eight catches to his game. 

    The Louisville defense has been middle of the pack, giving up a lot of points to North Carolina and more to FIU than they should have. No. 18 is a perfect fit for this Cardinals team right now. 

No. 16: Stanford Cardinal

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    Stanford has been a mediocre team all season long. They are winning by slim margins and are not really getting any breakout performances from the roster. 

    Stepfon Taylor could be best qualified as the breakout guy for the Cardinal so far. He has 555 rushing yards on 119 carries and five touchdowns. He has also added 15 receptions to his stat line. Despite the success that Stanford has had on the ground, they tend to avoid it at times.

    The Cardinal defense has played relatively well coming in at No. 55 in total defense. The rushing defense for the Cardinal has been the game-changer. The Cardinal are ranked No. 6 in the country in rush defense, allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground. 

No. 15: Oregon State Beavers

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    Oregon State has appeared from nowhere onto the national college football radar. A season-opening win against Wisconsin did amazing things for this team's confidence and stature. 

    The Beavers are undefeated, but they have not faced the toughest part of their schedule just yet. Stanford and Oregon still loom on the horizon, as well as a tough tilt against Washington.

    Receiver Brandin Cooks has been a playmaker for the Beavers on the outside, snagging 26 passes for 486 yards and two touchdowns so far this season. Quarterback Sean Mannion has been less than All-Star worthy, but he has done well enough to drive the offense to wins. 

    Rushing defense has been the major focus of this team. The Beavers are ranked as the No. 4 rushing defense in the country. They are also No. 23 in scoring defense. 

No. 14: Texas Longhorns

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    The Texas Longhorns were looking reborn through the first few weeks of the 2012 season. Then came the tough, gut-wrenching loss to West Virginia.

    How this Texas team responds will be something to focus on for the next few weeks. The Longhorns have the chance to turn the season this Saturday with the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma. 

    The Longhorns have had a resurgence on offense this season, but the defense has been the leading cause for the turnaround. Alex Okafor is No. 7 in the country with six sacks, and has added another 14 tackles to his stat line. Jackson Jeffcoat has also been a big playmaker for the Longhorns opposite of Okafor. 

    David Ash has also seen a major turnaround in his performance, completing 77.5 percent of his passes and throwing 11 touchdowns. He has only tossed one interception. 

    The Longhorns had a tough loss to West Virginia, but will continue on their chase for the Big 12 crown.

No. 13: Oklahoma Sooners

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    The Oklahoma Sooners have been very suspect thus far. The Sooners have managed to stay in the top portion of the rankings even with a loss to Kansas State, but a looming contest against Texas will mark the season success or fail. 

    The Sooners are relying on Landry Jones to lead the charge on offense. Jones has been effective, throwing for 1,032 yards on a 63.3 completion percentage. He has seven TDs and two INTs to his name.

    The Sooners defense has been moderately successful, but will need to bring all it has against the Longhorns on Saturday. 

    Oklahoma is a tough team to judge at this point by the moderate success and inconsistencies that they have shown in 2012. A strength for the Sooners has been defense. The Sooners are No. 9 in the country in pass defense.

No. 12: Clemson Tigers

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    Clemson started the season expecting to compete for an ACC title. A big loss in Week 4 to Florida State took away those hopes. 

    Clemson has rebounded with wins against Boston College and Georgia Tech, but there is still something missing from this Clemson squad. The same thing was missing when West Virginia put 70 points on this team in the bowl game a year ago. 

    The Tigers have had a great season out of junior quarterback Tajh Boyd. Boyd is having a career year, completing 68.2 percent of his passes and tossing 14 touchdowns with only five interceptions. 

    He has also been dangerous on the ground, gaining more than 40 yards rushing in four out of six games. Boyd is a big-time player that has to perform at a high level for Clemson to produce. There are no off-games for the Tigers signal-caller. 

    Clemson is No. 10 in total offense, but their rushing defense is the No. 103 in the country. The Tigers proved that they can’t outscore an elite offense against Florida State, and it looks like Clemson is another year away. 

No. 11: Florida State Seminoles

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    The Seminoles were the hot pick for the BCS title game until their recent loss to the NC State Wolfpack. The Seminoles couldn’t get a rhythm in the second half and had a lot of issues stopping the Mike Glennon air attack. 

    FSU has impressed on both offense and defense this fall, with both the scoring offense and defense ranked No. 7. 

    Senior running back Chris Thompson has been the key to the offensive success for the 'Noles, averaging 7.7 yards a carry and scoring five touchdowns so far on the ground. He has also added 15 receptions for 174 yards this season.

    On defense, Florida State is the No. 5 team in the country defending the pass. Xavier Rhodes is leading the team in the secondary with two interceptions and five pass breakups. 

    This Seminoles squad has a very winnable schedule until the final contest against Florida. This could be a team that could easily climb back inside the Top 10 in the future. 

No. 10: Georgia Bulldogs

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    The Georgia Bulldogs lost big to South Carolina. Aaron Murray had the worst game of his career and could not find any open receivers the entire game.

    Georgia has not been as good on defense, which has been a surprise. The Bulldogs defense has given up a lot of yards and big plays. 

    Aaron Murray is still considered the leader of this offense, and outside of the South Carolina game has been very good this season. He has 12 touchdowns on 1,479 yards and is completing 61.9 percent of his passes. 

    The storyline for the offense has really been the two freshmen running backs that are making waves in the national discussion. Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley have been very good out of the backfield, but they couldn’t get it going against the Gamecocks defense. 

    Georgia still has a lot of room to maneuver inside the Top 10 of the BCS rankings, but with South Carolina leading the SEC East, it will be tough for Georgia to move past them without a big Gamecocks loss. 

No. 9: USC Trojans

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    The USC Trojans have been lauded as one of the best teams in the country, but they have yet to live up to the expectations set forth. Matt Barkley has been very good, justifying all the preseason hype.

    The Trojans storyline has been defense. Well, the lack of defense may be a better way to put it. After a loss to Stanford, the Trojans' inconsistency has continued.

    The one area that the Trojans have looked very dangerous in is the pass rush. The Trojans are currently the No. 7 team in the country in sacks. 

    The Trojans have a navigable schedule to finish the season, but a season-ending contest against Notre Dame is going to be a very difficult win. At this point, No. 9 is a good fit for USC.

No. 8: LSU Tigers

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    LSU lost a tough one to Florida, and showed that there are a lot of issues for the LSU offense. Florida was able to cripple the LSU rushing attack, forcing Zach Mettenberger to win the ballgame for the Tigers. 

    Mettenberger was not good enough to get the win, however. 

    The LSU defense has continued to be one of the best in the country. The Tigers are only allowing 12.8 points per game, making them the No. 8 scoring defense in the country. 

    One area that has been surprisingly behind the curve has been the pass rush for the Tigers. The Tigers are only getting 2.6 sacks a game, good for 24th in the nation. The Tigers pass defense, however, sits at the No. 2 position. 

    This is still a very dangerous LSU team that could continue to climb the rankings with critical wins down the road. 

No. 7: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    The Irish always seem to find ways to fool the national college football scene with false hope and expectations, but they are looking very strong this season. 

    The Irish are undefeated, but they face a lot of tests down the road. Make it through the Stanford, Oklahoma and USC gauntlet, and the Irish may be in the national title game. 

    Notre Dame has had breakout performances from sophomore Everett Golson and George Atkinson III. The two have combined to create one of the most dangerous backfields in 2012. 

    The bigger story has been the Manti Te’o-led defense. The Irish are No. 2 in scoring defense and the No. 13 total defense in the country. The Fighting Irish will ride this defense to big places if they continue to execute at the level they have through five games. 

No. 6: Kansas State Wildcats

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    The Colin Klein-led Wildcats have been on a roll for the past two seasons. This team has marched to five straight wins, including a big victory over conference foe Oklahoma. 

    Kansas State travels to West Virginia in two weeks, but before that showdown happens, the Wildcats will enjoy their position inside the BCS Top 10. 

    Kansas State is No. 11 in the country in scoring offense thanks to the triple-option threat that is run by Klein. Running back John Hubert has been very dangerous, rushing 76 times for 527 yards and eight touchdowns this fall. 

    The Wildcats defense is No. 16 scoring defense in the country, and No. 5 in turnover margin. Winning the turnover battle goes a long way in securing wins for a team. This is a tough Kansas State team that has battled its way into the No. 6 position. 

No. 5: Florida Gators

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    Will Muschamp's Florida Gators have been one of the biggest surprises of the college football season. The Gators entered the year with one of the best defenses in the country, but with no leadership on offense. 

    Jeff Driskel finally won the starting quarterback position after the first few weeks of the season, and Driskel has turned into a big leader for the offense. Driskel is completing 69.2 percent of his passes and has added four TDs for the Gators offense this fall. 

    A big boost has also come from senior running back Mike Gillislee, who is averaging over five yards per carry and has rushed for seven touchdowns this fall. 

    The Florida defense has been as good as expected, standing as the No. 6 scoring defense and No. 12 in total defense so far this year. 

    Will Muschamp was a hot-seat coach. Now he looks like a genius. 

No. 4: West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Geno Smith.

    That sums up the West Virginia season. Smith has been a terror through the air for opposing defenses, tossing 24 touchdowns so far, with no interceptions. He has also completed 81.4 percent of his passes. 

    The Mountaineers have had issues on defense, however. If the Mountaineers want to compete for championships this fall, they have to work on defensive consistency. 

    West Virginia is currently 102nd in total defense, and No. 117 in pass defense. That is downright terrible. Can they stay the course and contend for a title with a defense that bad?

    It hasn’t happened before in history, but that’s not to say that it can’t. This is a very special West Virginia team that could overcome even the worst of defensive woes this fall. 

No. 3: South Carolina Gamecocks

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    South Carolina struggled in the season opener against Vanderbilt, but the team hasn’t looked back since. Star quarterback Connor Shaw has been very good and looked every bit the part of a Steve Spurrier signal-caller. 

    Shaw is completing 75.7 percent of his passes and has gained 733 yards through the air. He has tossed seven touchdowns against only two interceptions. All of this with a hurt throwing shoulder. 

    Marcus Lattimore has looked like he has come off of an injury all year, but he still is a good enough back to create issues for opposing defenses and take some of the pressure from Shaw. 

    The storyline for this South Carolina team has undoubtedly been the defense. The Gamecocks rank as the No. 9 rushing defense, the No. 4 scoring defense and the No. 11 total defense in the country. 

    This is a legitimate title contender from the SEC. The Gamecocks put themselves in the driver’s seat for a national-title run with their recent destruction of Georgia.

No. 2: Oregon Ducks

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    The Oregon Ducks have been unstoppable on offense. This is nothing new, as the Ducks have been one of the most explosive teams in the country in the past few years. 

    The Ducks have also picked up their defensive prowess, adding a powerful pass rush to their game plan in 2012. The Ducks have allowed some yards and points throughout the year, but most of that production has come from the later quarters. 

    The Ducks have Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas helping create massive stat lines offensively, and a freshman quarterback who has done a great job leading the Ducks offense. 

    Look for the Ducks to continue to have major success this season. They look to be atop the Pac-12 pecking order once again.

No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Alabama is building a championship squad on defense. Is there anything new to this story?

    The Tide are No. 3 in pass defense, No. 1 in total and scoring defense and No. 1 in turnover margin. The Crimson Tide know how to win football games methodically. 

    This team has a leader at quarterback with A.J. McCarron. McCarron isn’t going to put up Heisman-like numbers, but he will do enough to win and possibly drive 'Bama to another national title. 

    The overall consensus is that this is a team that stands alone at the top of the Top 25 right now. Despite the lack of explosion on offense, the Tide are the No. 17 scoring offense in the country. Alabama as the No. 1 team in the country is a no-brainer at this point in the season.