BCS Rankings: Predicting Final BCS Top 25

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIDecember 16, 2012

BCS Rankings: Predicting Final BCS Top 25

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    The SEC should dominate the final BCS rankings, much like they dominated the standings for the entire college football season.

    Ah, this is so last year. Just like it's 2012 all over again, Alabama will finish atop the BCS polls in 2013.

    But which teams will follow? Will Johnny Manziel help Texas A&M finish in the Top 5? How many SEC teams will finish in the Top 10?

    Don't worry—all of your questions are answered here.

1. Alabama

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    "I'll be seeing you in all the old familiar places."

    This might as well be Alabama's national anthem. Finishing at the top is becoming somewhat of a repeating theme for the Crimson Tide, and after Alabama beats Notre Dame in the BCS national championship game, Alabama will claim that No. 1 spot for the second straight year.

    But for those assuming this is going to be a rout for Alabama, think again.

    Notre Dame is better than most people in the South give them credit for. The Irish are a physical team comprised of a solid rushing game and stout defense. But Alabama will prove to be the superior team in the fourth quarter and win by 10.

2. Florida

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    I said it's great to be a Florida Gator.

    Florida is back Gator nation, and really, Florida is getting somewhat of a pass in the Sugar Bowl. Look, Terry Bridgewater and Louisville have had an outstanding season in the Big East, but come on, this is a whole different level of competition.

    The Gators should run the ball at will against this defense to soften them up, which will lead to gaping holes in the second half. Bridgewater will make a few plays early, but expect Will Muschamp to make the correct adjustments.

    Florida will start to dictate the pace and drag Louisville into deep water in the second quarter. In the second half, the Cardinals will continue to sink and the Gators will blow out the Cardinals. You have to love the BCS system for creating bowls!

3. Oregon

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    The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is exactly what the other bowls should look like.

    Unlike the other BCS bowls (excluding the national championship of course), the Fiesta Bowl features two of the best teams in college football squaring off—Oregon and Kansas State.

    The deciding factor in this game will be, wait for it, the speed of Oregon. How's that for college football knowledge? Look, just because a nine-year-old could tell you the same thing doesn't make it any less true.

    The Ducks should be able to gain the edge against Kansas State's defense, and the uptempo will eventually wear down the Wildcats. That will give Oregon the victory in a wild shootout.

4. Notre Dame

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    "You were good kid, real good, but as long as I'm around, you'll always be second best, see?"

    Anytime you get a quote from "The Mask" in it's a good day, but I digress. The real story here is Notre Dame losing to Alabama in the national championship game.

    That quote from the movie above says it all. Notre Dame has a tremendous football team and has had a remarkable season, but the Irish will fall just short of claiming the national championship.

    Credit Nick Saban and Alabama for putting together a strong enough game plan to wear down this Notre Dame defense and escape with the crystal ball. Close but no cigar, Irish.

5. Stanford

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    Everybody give it up for David Shaw.

    Take a step back and look at what this man has done this season. After losing Andrew Luck, Jonathan Martin, David DeCastro and Coby Fleener, Shaw has managed to produce a 10-2 season and win the PAC-12 championship. What a magnificent job.

    Without any hesitation in saying so, Stanford is one of the best teams in the country. Credit Shaw, this stifling Cardinal defense and the emergence of Kevin Hogan for that.

    Those three factors will be Wisconsin's downfall in the Rose Bowl game, and Stanford will finish in the Top 5.

6. LSU

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    LSU will jump Georgia in the final BCS rankings because the Tigers will have a more impressive victory.

    First of all, Bo Pelini is reeling after watching his defense give up over 500 rushing yards to Wisconsin, so he will tighten up this unit and have his team motivated to play the Bulldogs. That will make the contest somewhat close, but make no mistake about it—Georgia wins decisively.

    As for LSU, well we've seen this before with the Tigers. LSU has a great year but somehow manages to go to the Chick-fil-A Bowl (or Peach Bowl) to play against an ACC team. Last two times this has happened, Les Miles' Tigers beat Miami 40-3 in 2005 and defeated Georgia Tech 38-3 in 2008.

    Clemson is a great team, but there's just something about LSU in the Georgia Dome in December. LSU pulls away late to beat a talented Clemson team by 20-plus.

7. Georgia

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    Nebraska won't lay down for Georgia, but the Bulldogs will assert their dominance by the second half.

    Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall must be licking their chops after watching Wisconsin rush for over 500 yards in the Big Ten championship game. Heck, they might rush for 200 a piece if Nebraska plays the same way they did against the Badgers.

    Pelini won't allow that to happen. He'll have his team ready to play Georgia, but that doesn't mean the Cornhuskers can hang with the Bulldogs for four quarters.

    With suffocating defense and efficient running in the second half, Mark Richt's Bulldogs create separation and win comfortably.

8. Texas A&M

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    The fireworks come later than Jan. 1 in 2013.

    If you're not excited for the Cotton Bowl, then you don't have a pulse. Either than or you don't know a thing about college football.

    When Texas A&M meets Oklahoma on Jan. 4, an explosion of offense and incredible plays are bound to happen. It'll undoubtedly turn into a showcase of two quarterbacks—Landry Jones and Johnny Manziel, the underachieving veteran facing the overachieving freshman.

    Because though Jones has been sensational in his collegiate career, he's fallen short of bringing Oklahoma a national championship and is really unappreciated because of it. Nevertheless, this will be a shootout for the ages, and when it's all said and done, Kevin Sumlin's Aggies will win the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

9. Florida State

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    Florida State has nothing to gain in the Discover Orange Bowl.

    Facing Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl is like getting a minivan as your first vehicle. Yeah, it's great that you have something to drive now, but are you really going to brag about ruling the roads in that minivan?

    A Florida State victory is expected, so if the Seminoles win, the reception they'll receive will be to the tune of "good job." But if the Seminoles somehow lose this game, that's a whole different story. "What!? How could you lose to Northern Illinois!?"

    The Seminoles pound Northern Illinois and break the Top 10, but that's about all the praise Florida State will receive, despite winning 11 games.

10. Kansas State

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    Kansas State's loss in the Fiesta Bowl should see them fall at the No. 10 spot.

    Though the Wildcats will lose to Oregon in a closely-contested matchup, Kansas State will still have much to be proud of.

    The Wildcats won 11 games and had a Heisman finalist in Collin Klein. Hey, no shame in any of that.

    Finishing in the Top 10 after a valiant effort in the Rose Bowl isn't a terrible way to end a season.

11. South Carolina

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    South Carolina will somehow fall back one spot after beating Michigan. Go figure, right?

    Well, it'll make more sense when you see how South Carolina wins. See, the Gamecocks haven't exactly won impressively this season.

    In fact, South Carolina's past four games were rather close, including a 24-7 victory against Wofford. If you're googling Wofford right now to see where and who this college is, that's perfectly normal.

    So in the Outback Bowl against Michigan, South Carolina continues the trend. The Gamecocks shoot themselves in the foot with some mindless turnovers, but ultimately pull away with the victory with their talent. South Carolina wins a close one and falls a spot in the polls. Them's the breaks.

12. Oklahoma

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    Oklahoma should only drop a spot in the poll after losing a close one to Texas A&M.

    That and upsets will keep Bob Stoops' team clinging onto the limelight, but little by little this Oklahoma team is starting to become irrelevant.

    Seriously, every year Oklahoma underachieves according to preseason rankings and its own standards. Losing to a former Big 12 rival in the Cotton Bowl certainly won't make Oklahoma fans feel any better about the past few seasons.

    Stoops needs to make another run for the title "sooner" than later.

13. UCLA

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    Surprised to see UCLA this high?

    It's safe to say most of us are, but the Bruins are currently ranked No. 17 despite dropping two straight games to Stanford.

    So after UCLA takes care of business in the Bridgepoint Education Bowl (if there was ever an argument for too many bowl games that name would be it), the Bruins should jump to No. 13.

    UCLA is facing a team in Baylor that can score at will, but UCLA should ride Johnathan Franklin to victory. The Bruins will edge Baylor in a high-scoring affair.

14. Boise State

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    Boise State should handle Washington.

    If there's one thing we know about the Broncos, it's that Chris Petersen can get them ready for a bowl game. And if there's one thing we know about the Washington Huskies this season, it's, well, they're inconsistent.

    You never know what you're going to get with this bunch. Washington can either come out and upset Stanford or it can lose to Arizona 52-17.

    Because of the inconsistencies, the smart bet is to go with an already proven Boise State. The Broncos win rather big and jump up five spots in the final poll.

15. Texas

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    Oh Mack, you desperately need this bowl win.

    Heck, Mack Brown has more pressure to win his bowl game than any other coach in the country. Lucky for him, his Texas Longhorns will come through for him. 

    Texas and Oregon State is one of the better bowl games of the postseason, and the Longhorns' defense should give Texas a narrow victory. Yes, that same defense that gave up 42 points to Kansas State and 63 to Oklahoma.

    Oregon State's best weapon is Sean Mannion and its passing attack, but Texas has a pretty stout pass defense. Though the Longhorns have given up a lot of big plays this year, Texas is only giving up 213.5 passing yards per game, which is third best in the Big 12. Texas makes it a defensive struggle and takes home the victory.

16. Oregon State

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    Oregon State should drop right behind Texas.

    After losing to Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl, the Beavers should fall three spots. Even with a bowl loss, you have to raise your glass to Oregon State.

    This was one of the biggest surprises of 2012, as nobody really felt that Oregon State would be a contender in the Pac-12.

    With doubters at every corner, the Beavers posted nine wins this season, which is a heck of a lot more than three, right Oregon State fans?

17. Utah State

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    Utah State flirted with a close game with Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (oh these bowl names always make me laugh), but then the Aggies flexed their muscles.

    Heading into the fourth quarter, Utah State held just a 13-6 lead against Toledo, but then Utah State got all serious, Will Smith style.

    The Aggies scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to blow Toledo out 41-15. As for the action taking place in the contest, one couldn't help but be impressed with the wheels on Chuckie Keeton.

    Keeton finished the game with 229 passing yards, 92 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. The victory should impress enough people to get Utah State a nice ranking.

18. Clemson

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    Hmm, let's give this another shot, shall we Dabo?

    Dabo Swinney and his Clemson Tigers were trampled in last year's Orange Bowl by West Virginia 70-33, so how will Sweeney's Tigers react when they play LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl?

    Well, if you've been reading the slides and not skimming through them (come on, read my article, jerk...Please?), you'll already know that LSU will win this game by a fairly large margin.

    Unfortunately, Clemson's bowl woes will continue.

19. San Jose State

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    Welcome to the big boy table, San Jose State.

    San Jose State is currently the No. 24 team in the BCS rankings, and with a win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl, the Spartans should break the Top 20. Expect them to do so.

    In case you haven't kept up with San Jose State this year, this is a team that's beat BYU and Louisiana Tech.

    More importantly, the Spartans are on a six-game winning streak since losing to Utah State, and San Jose State poses a 10-2 record, with its only other loss coming at the hands of Stanford.

20. Nebraska

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    Can you imagine how difficult it must be to be around Pelini in the month of December?

    Can't exactly picture him in the Christmas spirit. Heck, you'll be lucky if he cracks a smile at Christmas.

    His saving grace after losing to Georgia will be the fact that the Bulldogs are one of the best teams in the country. Still, Nebraska was one of the few Big Ten teams that had a good season, and had Nebraska beat Wisconsin and beaten Stanford in the Rose Bowl, a Top 10 finish would have been inevitable.

    Guess the Cornhuskers will just have to live with No. 20.

21. Vanderbilt

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    Is that a tear in your eye, Vanderbilt alumnus?

    Is this real life? David from "David After Dentist" is actually a Gator fan, but you can imagine most Vanderbilt fans having the same type of reaction minus the happy gas.

    With a win over NC State in the Music City Bowl, Vanderbilt will have nine wins on the season, including a seven-game winning streak.

    With Zac Stacy leading the way, Vanderbilt should defeat NC State and shock the world by finishing in the Top 25.

22. Northern Illinois

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    Your 15 minutes of fame is up, Northern Illinois.

    Because really, that should be enough time for Florida State to go up by two touchdowns in the Orange Bowl.

    With all due respect, Northern Illinois simply isn't on Florida State's level, and the Orange Bowl should get ugly, especially after the Huskies head coach Dave Doeren split.

    Expect this game to get ugly but Northern Illinois to still hold onto a Top 25 spot with its 12 wins.

23. Mississippi State

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    This season has been a seesaw of emotions, hasn't it, Mississippi State fans?

    One minute, the fanbase starts to think it can compete with LSU and Alabama in the SEC West, and the next, the Bulldogs are losing to Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss. That last one stung, didn't it?

    But hey, look on the bright side. A win over No. 20 Northwestern in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl should get the Bulldogs back into the Top 25.

    With great secondary play and smart decisions by Tyler Russell, the Bulldogs should be able to beat Northwestern and claim the No. 23 slot in the final polls.

24. Louisville

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    Oh Louisville, you are just simply outmatched.

    Throwing statistics out of the window and using just the eyeball test, how can anyone disagree that Florida doesn't have the best defense in football?

    The Gators have a shutdown cornerback in Loucheiz Purifoy, a playmaking safety in Matt Elam, a tackling machine in Jon Bostic and defensive lineman who can do it all in Sharrif Floyd. Heck, that's without even mentioning Jelani Jenkins.

    Let's face it—Bridgewater and this offense has never faced a defense like this, and turnovers and mistakes are fully expected to happen.

25. Michigan

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    Wait a minute—did you think Michigan would miss out on the final Top 25 BCS Rankings for a second there?

    Oh you sweet, innocent college football fan. Haven't you learned by now that voters love to place Michigan in the Top 25, despite its record?

    Is this basically a rib? Yeah pretty much, but you know that it's true.

    Just watch. Michigan will lose to South Carolina and have five losses on the year, yet still hold onto a Top 25 spot. It's just the way it works.