BCS Poll 2012: Breaking Down the First Poll's Top 25 Teams
The moment you have all been waiting for is finally here.
After seven weeks of college football, we finally have the BCS rankings. Yes, now college football fans around the world have something else to complain about for the next couple of months.
Which teams should be ranked higher? Which teams are drastically overrated? Which teams did the pollsters completely miss and should show more love to?
While I'm sure you will all have that discussion at some point, here is what makes each team in the first BCS poll special. This is what has gotten each team to where it is today and gives each club a chance to make a run toward a BCS bowl.
Let's take a look at the best player or unit for each team in the Top 25 of the first BCS rankings of the 2012 season.
The defense is still there, as the Crimson Tide is once again ranked the best in the country. But it is the two-headed monster at running back that has led this club to an undefeated record. A combination of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon has produced over 900 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
We expected the Gators defense to be great, and it is, but the running game of quarterback Jeff Driskel and RB Mike Gillislee is the reason this team is ranked No. 2. Being able to average 233 yards on the ground simply wears down opponents (as we saw against LSU) and helps rest up a defensive unit that is ranked 13th in the country.
The Ducks are as explosive as an offense can get, as the unit is averaging more than 50 points and 540 yards of total offense. Running back De'Anthony Thomas is a possible Heisman candidate, while Kenjon Barner is quietly averaging more than six yards a carry. Speed kills, and it shows every time this team takes the field.
4. Kansas State
If you thought quarterback Collin Klein was great last season, you really haven't seen anything yet. The senior has improved his completion percentage to nearly 67 percent and has produced 17 total touchdowns. With his dual-threat abilities, the Wildcats have become one of the key favorites to win the Big 12 this season.
5. Notre Dame
There aren't many defensive units that are better than the Irish, especially if we are talking about the front seven. Linebacker Manti Te'o makes big play after big play and has led a unit that is ranked 11th in the country. Considering the defensive performances of Notre Dame thus far, an undefeated season certainly isn't out of the question.
You can doubt head coach Les Miles all you like, but the guy is great at overcoming adversity. Despite a troubled Tyrann Mathieu, brutal quarterback play and injuries to the offensive line, the Tigers are still a team that controls its own destiny. The Mad Hatter may be goofy, but he is great at finding ways to win.
7. South Carolina
Can Jadeveon Clowney get some Heisman love already? The sophomore has racked up 6.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss and broken up two passes. His relentless pass-rush off the edge is a huge reason the Gamecocks are where they are and why their defense is better overall.
8. Oregon State
Oregon State already wasn't as talented as some of the other top Pac-12 teams, but the Beavers have found a way to win anyway. Thanks to head coach Mike Riley's easy-going style, Oregon State has tasted victory in its first five games of the season. Even after losing its starting quarterback, the Beavers still managed to knock off a defensively tough BYU squad.
Quarterback Landry Jones may get a lot of grief, but the senior quarterback is still one of the more accomplished players we have seen in a while. With over 13,000 yards and 102 total touchdowns in his four-year career, this Sooners team will only go as far as Jones carries it. Especially when Trey Millard is able to help out his quarterback with ridiculous playmaking. Watch the video for a sample.
The Trojans have an unfair advantage on the offensive side of the ball with Matt Barkley at the quarterback position. But with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee at wide receiver and two former 1,000-yard rushers, they have an advantage on offense, period. With the team winning its last three games, USC is beginning to pick up some steam.
We knew quarterback Aaron Murray was going to be good, but what about the freshman running back tandem of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley? Both are averaging more than seven yards a touch and have scored a combined 14 touchdowns. Both rookies have stepped in and filled the void left by Isaiah Crowell.
12. Mississippi State
The Mississippi State defense has generated 17 turnovers, including five in its Week 2 victory over Auburn. It has also allowed only five plays of more than 30 yards and is holding opponents to a 36 percent conversion rate on third-down attempts. The Bulldogs may not receive a lot of credit, but they are one of three undefeated SEC teams left and a lot of that has to do with their game-changing defense.
13. West Virginia
Geno Smith's Heisman chances might have taken a hit, but even after a loss to Texas Tech, the senior should still be the favorite. We are talking about somebody who is completing 75 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception in six games. Without Smith, this Mountaineers team is not even a ranked club.
14. Florida State
Even with Brandon Jenkins out for the season, this Florida State defense is still the best in the ACC. The Seminoles are allowing only 222 total yards per game, have racked up 17 sacks and have only allowed 12 plays of 20 yards or more. It will take a great defensive team to win a national championship this season, and Florida State has exactly that.
The Rutgers defense has allowed more than two touchdowns in only two of its first six games. The unit has the second-best run defense in the country, has forced 17 turnovers and allowed only four touchdowns on a total of 19 red-zone trips. You can pick on the Big East all you want, but this defense can compete with top teams outside of its watered-down conference.
There are a few Big East teams that are playing above-average defense, but only one team has a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater. The sophomore is completing nearly 72 percent of his passes and has thrown for more than 230 yards in four of the team's first six games. He is the difference-maker on this club and the reason why many have the Cardinals winning the conference.
17. Texas Tech
When you manage to hold an explosive West Virginia offense to only 14 points, you deserve some credit on the defensive side of the ball. The Red Raiders are currently ranked fourth in the country in total defense and have allowed only eight plays of 20-plus yards. Quarterback Seth Doege has been great, but it is the defense that has gotten the team this far.
18. Texas A&M
Everybody questioned head coach Kevin Sumlin for naming freshman Johnny Manziel the starting quarterback in fall camp, but after rushing for 676 yards, throwing for 1,680 and producing 24 total touchdowns in the first six games, the doubters have been silenced. The Aggies are easily one of the surprise teams this year.
The Clemson D certainly isn't going to win many football games for the Tigers. A combination of quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Andre Ellington is the reason this football team is 5-1, and the offense is ranked 11th in the country in scoring. Keep in mind, much of this production has been without wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Running back Stepfan Taylor leads the Pac-12 with 147 rushing attempts, while the second-leading back on the squad only has 12 attempts. Although this isn't an offensive powerhouse, Stanford certainly wouldn't be where it is without Taylor in the backfield.
Quarterback Munchie Legaux may not be much of a household name, but he makes plays for this Bearcats football team. Not only is he the second-leading rusher for Cincinnati with 198 yards, but he has also thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this season.
22. Boise State
The Broncos offense has struggled mightily to produce throughout the year, but the defense has been the best unit in the MWC. Forcing 19 turnovers and generating 13 sacks in only six games is the reason Boise State remains in the BCS bowl hunt.
In a conference that doesn't play much defense, the Horned Frogs have the second-best unit in the conference, allowing barely 300 yards a contest. It also leads the Big 12 with 20 forced turnovers and 16 sacks. After losing their quarterback midseason, TCU needs its defensive unit to continue its solid play for the rest of the year.
24. Iowa State
Iowa State usually gives some of the better teams in college football a challenge. And while we must give head coach Paul Rhoads a lot of the credit, this Cyclones defense gets after it. The unit managed to hold offensive powerhouses Texas Tech and Kansas State to under 30 points. The defense is ranked fifth in the Big 12 and averages more than two turnovers a game.
Who would have thought David Ash would have developed into the player he is today? A guy that completed only 56 percent of his passes last season and threw more interceptions than touchdowns is now completing more than 70 percent and has 11 touchdown passes. Despite the recent letdown, Ash has still made solid contributions on the year.
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