The bad news is that the Ohio State Buckeyes are not able to prepare for a bowl game this season. The good news is that majority of the roster that was able to pull off an undefeated season will return in 2013 for a run at a national title.
Quarterback Braxton Miller will be ready for his third season as the leader, the defense will have several players coming back and the terrific recruiting classes will begin to show in Urban Meyer's second season.
With things looking as good as they do for Ohio State, there is a good chance this will be your preseason No. 1 team to kick off the 2013 year.
However, the Buckeyes aren't the only team that is returning a large amount of talent and certainly isn't the only group of guys that will receive love from the pollsters.
The new college football season may be a long way away, but here are some of the teams that could compete with Ohio State for the No. 1 preseason spot.
There was really no team in college football that made such an improvement in one season. Head coach Will Muschamp was able to prove that the Florida Gators are once again a team that should be feared throughout the country and should have enough talent for an encore in 2013.
One thing to remember is that this is a coaching staff that was put together overnight, with an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach only in their first year. Having another year together will only make things that much stronger for this program moving forward.
As for talent, Florida will have its quarterback in Jeff Driskel and a majority of the offensive line. The defense will take a hit with a few seniors leaving, but the secondary is young enough to get by and produce another quality unit. This is also a team that has put together top recruiting classes the last couple of years, which should help prevent a big dropoff.
The Gators were able to knock off three Top 10 clubs this season, and voters won't forget that when filling out their ballots during the offseason.
Maybe this is a shot in the dark, but South Carolina is not a team that should be slept on heading into the offseason.
On offense, the Gamecocks will have all of their offensive line returning and a senior quarterback in Connor Shaw. We have seen many times in the polls that an experienced quarterback can make all of the difference in where you end up.
There are a lot of key players that are not going to be around, but South Carolina will still have Jadeveon Clowney on that defensive front.
This is also a program that has recruited surprisingly well on the defensive side of the ball, making this a unit that should be respected once again.
South Carolina is a team that has been on the rise the last couple of years, and it is only a matter of time before head coach Steve Spurrier helps his team get over the hump.
The team was a Top 10 pick in the preseason poll last year, and you could make a valid argument for why the Gamecocks deserve to be bumped up several notches heading into next year.
I do know that pollsters won't make the same mistake and leave Notre Dame off the preseason poll.
But what about putting the Irish as the No. 1 team?
Well, if Notre Dame finds a way to beat Alabama in the national championship, there is a good chance this will happen. Another reason to leave the Irish in the top spot is because this will remain a quality squad next season.
Sure, Manti Te'o will head off to the NFL, but solid defensive players such as Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and Prince Shembo are all likely returning. Offensively, quarterback Everett Golson is getting better with each week, and he will be surrounded with talented skill players such as Greg Bryant, who recently committed to the Irish.
Notre Dame is a team that is loved around college football by coaches and writers. Let the Irish win it all come January, and the Buckeyes will be competing for the No. 1 spot against head coach Brian Kelly and his troops.
Talent really isn't an issue when talking about the Oregon Ducks. As long as head coach Chip Kelly remains on the sidelines, Oregon is going to be a team that scores boatloads of points and stays in the national championship conversation.
The problem is that rumors are flying around that Kelly will take his spread offense to the NFL after the BCS Fiesta Bowl.
Until a decision is announced, let's assume that Kelly stays with Oregon for another season. The Ducks will still have their best quarterback in Marcus Mariota and playmakers such as De'Anthony Thomas and Colt Lyerla. Even without Kelly running the offense, with the overall athleticism and speed, you have to believe this team is going to continue to light up the scoreboard.
The Ducks will have to find answers on the defensive side of the ball, as there are many seniors that won't be around next season. However, Oregon has always been a team that put offense first, and that won't be an issue heading into next year.
Oregon has been a Top 5 team in the last two preseason polls, and should be up there again for 2013, especially if Kelly puts the NFL on hold.
The team that will give Ohio State the biggest run for the No. 1 spot will be the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not only does the program have a good shot to win its third national championship in four years, but it is also returning a bunch of key players heading into next year.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron is likely going to return for his senior season, and he will have great running back depth to lean on. T.J. Yeldon will have a year of experience under his belt, and he will get help from 5-star recruit Derrick Henry. While the offensive line will take a hit, this is Alabama, where the team is finishing up another Top 10 recruiting class.
Replacing talent is nothing to Nick Saban and company.
Majority of the defense is also set to return, with many of this year’s key contributors first-year players. Three of the four starting linebackers will be back for another year, as well as a good portion of the secondary.
Alabama was turned down for USC this year in the preseason poll. If the Crimson Tide win another national title, it would be hard to put them anywhere but No. 1 heading into the 2013 season.