BCS Rankings 2012: Analyzing Most Intriguing Teams in New Top 25

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIINovember 26, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 17: Head Coach Darrel Hazzell of the Kent State Golden Flashes celebrates with his team after defeating Bowling Green 31-24 on November 17, 2012 at Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

In analyzing the most intriguing teams in the newly released BCS Rankings, there are several programs gaining national notoriety thanks to stellar, consistent 2012 seasons

Despite not hailing from the typical pool of college football's elite, these teams are being rewarded down the stretch with favorable rankings while others from powerhouse conferences fall by the wayside as losses continue to pile up.

Here is a look at the Week 14 standings before breaking down the most welcome new additions to the picture (courtesy of the National Football Foundation):

Rank Team
1 Notre Dame
2 Alabama
3 Georgia
4 Florida
5 Oregon
6 Kansas State
8 Stanford
9 Texas A&M
10 South Carolina
11 Oklahoma
12 Nebraska
13 Florida State
14 Clemson
15 Oregon State
17 Kent State
18 Texas
19 Michigan
20 Boise State
21 Northern Illinois
22 Northwestern
23 Oklahoma State
24 Utah State
25 San Jose State

No. 16 UCLA

Until the past two weeks, the Bruins have sort of flown under the radar all year long in the discourse about college football's best teams. However, after blowing out rival USC, the nation was on notice. Unfortunately for Jim L. Mora's team, it couldn't back up the momentous victory, getting thrashed 35-17 at home at the hands of No. 8 Stanford.

Now UCLA has to go on the road to face the Cardinal in a conference championship rematch.

Not only will there be a massive revenge factor entering this game, but an automatic BCS bid is also at stake. Should the Bruins win, they will clinch a spot in the Rose Bowl against the presumed Big 10 champ Nebraska.

Yes, that means it would be a BCS home game for the Bruins, whose home field happens to be that very venue.

Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has done a phenomenal job calling the shots, as redshirt freshman Brett Hundley has enjoyed an outstanding year as QB. Senior running back Johnathan Franklin has also been outstanding, scampering for over 1,500 yards and 11 TDs.

Neither had a supremely impressive first outing against the Cardinal's stingy defense. Expect Mazzone to figure something out and put out an improved product against Stanford this Saturday.

No. 17 Kent State

Darrell Hazell has taken what was a 5-7 team in his first season to astounding heights in 2012. The Golden Flashes looked unpromising early with a blowout loss to SEC cellar dweller Kentucky, but since then they have rattled off 10 consecutive victories.

Sitting at 11-1 and 17th in the standings, a loss by UCLA and a victory by Kent in the MAC championship game over new Top 25 addition Northern Illinois could net the Golden Flashes a BCS berth.

As a Top 16 team and conference-title holder, Kent would automatically be considered for a bid in the school's biggest bowl game ever.

The stunning turnaround orchestrated by Hazell—who has coached previously under Greg Schiano at Rutgers and Jim Tressel at Ohio State—has been keyed by one of the country's best rushing attacks.

Dri Archer has averaged an outstanding 9.7 yards per carry in racking up 1,337 yards and 14 TDs. Fellow RB Trayion Durham is a 260-pound bruiser that has matched Archer's touchdown total and gained 1,176 yards himself on the ground.

This team is not to be dismissed as a mid-major pretender; there is a reason it is ranked so high.

A signature road victory over the Scarlet Knights has highlighted the Golden Flashes' season so far, and a BCS berth would exceed even their wildest dreams.

No. 24 Utah State

Sometimes it's irresponsible to daisy chain games together, but it's definitely appropriate in the case of the Aggies. Naturally, this team has been completely overlooked all year long. Absent the Boise State Broncos, though, Utah State looks to be the new class of the WAC conference.

An extremely balanced offense is led by dual-threat super sophomore QB Chuckie Keeton, who also has an awesome name. Keeton has thrown for 27 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards while rushing for 527 yards and seven scores.

The Aggies are solid across the board statistically, and the only time their defense was truly gashed was in a thrilling 48-41 overtime victory on the road over previously 20th-ranked Louisiana Tech.

That's not so horrendous, considering the Bulldogs score a nation-best 51.5 points per game.

Two losses away from home—16-14 at Wisconsin and 6-3 at BYU—were both heartbreakers. Utah State held Badgers superstar RB Montee Ball to under four yards per carry, and missed a 37-yard field goal that would have won the game.

Also, remember that the Cougars gave No. 1 Notre Dame one of their toughest tests all year in South Bend, losing a nail-biting 17-14 slug fest.

While there won't be any BCS opportunities for the Aggies barring a major miracle, it's clear that this program is moving in the right direction and well deserving of its spot in the Top 25.


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