Predicting Where Each 2012 Top 25 Team Will Rank in 2013 Preseason Poll

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 28, 2013

Predicting Where Each 2012 Top 25 Team Will Rank in 2013 Preseason Poll

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    It may seem like the college football season just came to an end, but the 2013 preseason poll will be released before you know it. The same way the regular season flew by is exactly how the remaining months of the offseason will play out, and it will soon be time for the kids to take the gridiron once again.

    So there is no better time than now to predict what the 2013 preseason poll will look like. But instead of mentioning those teams that weren't able to hold their own last year, we are only going to mention the Top 25 teams that finished in the final AP Poll. Unfortunately for some clubs, the rankings are going to be turned upside down.

    Some of the programs that were ranked will no longer have a spot in the Top 25 and there are a handful of teams that will climb up the ladder. Due to rosters changing and media hype, things quickly change when it comes to the preseason poll.

    Last year doesn't mean much when voters get together for the new upcoming season.

    Here is where every Top 25 team from a year ago will be ranked once the 2013 preseason poll is released.

    Note: The current rankings are in order of the final AP Poll.

25. Nebraska

1 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    Nebraska has some serious issues on the defensive side of the ball. The last two performances were absolutely brutal and it doesn't help that only four starters are returning from that unit. Well, depending on how you want to look at it, maybe it does.

    The reason the Cornhuskers will sneak into the Top 25 of the preseason poll is because of the offense. Led by quarterback Taylor Martinez, Nebraska has nine starters returning from an offense that finished ranked 26th in the country. With four experienced offensive linemen and every key wide receiver back, this is an offense that should remain a quick strike and a dangerous group.

    This team has plenty of work to do on defense, but voters tend to favor the teams that have an experienced quarterback leading the way. The Cornhuskers have enough pieces in place to be considered a top team in the country.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 21

24. Michigan

2 of 25

    Returning Starters: 12

    Michigan had an up and down season last year and has more concerns than answers heading into the new season. The 12 returning starters are tied for dead last in the Big Ten, and by far, the biggest hole on this team is losing three of the five offensive linemen. It also remains to be seen who the starting running back is going to be with Fitzgerald Toussaint dealing with an injury.

    The defense should be in good hands with six experienced players, including linebacker Jake Ryan, who was one of the best defensive players in the country last year.

    I think the Wolverines will end up being the most improved team in the Big Ten next season, but with inconsistent play last year and a team that will look mighty different offensively, the voters will be hesitant to believe the same.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: Unranked

23. Vanderbilt

3 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    Vanderbilt continues to be that surprising team in the SEC and could quickly turn the corner next season. The Commodores have to find a starting quarterback, but just about every other position is good to go for head coach James Franklin.

    The secondary is led by all seniors and the defensive line picked up valuable experience last year to help anchor an underrated defense. Besides quarterback needing to be addressed, seven starters are back on offense, including all of the wide receivers and three of the five offensive linemen.

    Vanderbilt competed hard in the SEC and should receive enough votes to remain in the back end of the Top 25.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 24

22. Northern Illinois

4 of 25

    Returning Starters: 12

    Northern Illinois will receive a few votes from pollsters. With eight starters returning on offense, including a dark horse Heisman candidate in Jordan Lynch, the Huskies won't be forgotten that quickly. After all, we are talking about a team that appeared in a BCS bowl just last season.

    But even with all of that said, it is not good enough to remain in the Top 25. Northern Illinois got thumped by Florida State in the BCS Orange Bowl and doesn't have enough elite talent to keep a team such as USC or even TCU out of the polls.

    It will be fun to see if the Huskies can continue their magical run, but much like last season, it will begin outside of the Top 25.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: Unranked

21. San Jose State

5 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    Anybody who can name one starter from the San Jose State roster will receive a goodie bag. Nobody? Well, that is the reason the Spartans will not be ranked in the preseason poll.

    The 11-2 record last season was great for the program and it is always a cute story to see a small program have big success. However, this isn't a Top 25 team entering the 2013 season. With teams such as Michigan State, USC and Wisconsin likely being placed back in the rankings, San Jose State will be the first to go.

    The Spartans were able to do their thing last season, but it wasn't good enough to be taken seriously.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: Unranked

20. Oregon State

6 of 25

    Returning Starters: 15

    Oregon State was one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season, and it will receive its props when the preseason poll comes to light.

    The Beavers have much of the same team intact, starting with an offense that has eight starters returning. This includes an experienced quarterback, a playmaker in Storm Woods and four of the five offensive linemen. It was the defense that led this team a season ago and, with seven guys from that side of the ball still on the roster, the Beavers should be able to prove that last season was no fluke.

    Oregon State finished 6-3 in the Pac-12 last season and could compete for a conference title with all of the talent that has come back.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 16

19. Texas

7 of 25

    Returning Starters: 19

    There should be very little excuses when it comes to the Texas Longhorns this year. The 19 starters that are coming back for the Longhorns are tied for the most in all of college football. This includes a reliable quarterback, every offensive linemen and enough running back depth to make any team in the country happy.

    Defensively, nine starters return, which includes six players in the front seven and three of the four guys in the defensive backfield.

    The Longhorns are a team that always receives love from the pollsters, no matter what the previous year looked like. With so much talent and experience coming back in 2013, you just know this is a program that will be ranked fairly high when the preseason poll is later released.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 12

18. Boise State

8 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    Even with all of the question marks heading into the 2012 season, Boise State still managed to win 11 games. With that type of performance, bigger and better things will be expected of the Broncos with 13 starters returning.

    The strength of this team should be the defensive line, with three of the four starters coming back that helped the Broncos finish second in the MWC with 37 sacks. The offense should also be in better shape with quarterback Joe Southwick returning for another season and a pair of 2012 All-Conference offensive linemen.

    Boise State could have earned a spot to a BCS bowl if it didn't slip up twice last season, but with a lot of experience on next year’s roster, college football’s favorite underdog should once again get off to a quick start.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 17

17. Northwestern

9 of 25

    Returning Starters: 15

    Northwestern seems to be that team that is ready to take that next step. Winning 10 games last year, the Wildcats were really only a couple of bounces away from appearing in the Big Ten Championship.

    With 15 returning next season, this is a program that is clearly on the rise. Quarterback Kain Colter is one of the best playmakers in the country, and he will have seven familiar faces around him to help produce offensively. The defense returns seven starters, including three of the four members in the secondary from a year ago.

    Northwestern may not be sexiest team, but it was one of the few Big Ten squads that was successful last season. With a bunch of returning starters, the Wildcats will start in the Top 25 and be looking for that breakout year in 2013.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 18

16. Utah State

10 of 25

    Returning Starters: 15

    Just like San Jose State and Northern Illinois, Utah State will receive the short end of the stick. The Aggies had a great season last year, winning 11 games, but there is a new head coach in town. Due to a bunch of teams underachieving last year, this was one of the programs that were able to sneak into the Top 25.

    But with a new season ready to take place, Utah State is one of those teams that will have to prove itself once again. It is the big programs that benefit in preseason polls, and Utah State is simply not one of those teams that scream Top 25 material.

    Having 15 starters return is great for the Aggies, but it won’t help much when it comes to the preseason poll.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: Unranked

15. Oklahoma

11 of 25

    Returning Starters: 11

    Oklahoma is that big-named program that usually receives the benefit of the doubt from the guys filling out the ballots. So while there may be issues to address for the Sooners, don't expect this to be the team that receives a low grade from the pollsters.

    One of the concerns is at the quarterback position with Landry Jones graduating. We know Blake Bell is a great runner, but is he really built to throw the football consistently? There are also only four starters returning on defense, which includes only one member of the secondary.

    The Sooners have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but this is one of the big programs that always are over-hyped heading into the new season.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 14

14. LSU

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    Returning Starters: 13

    Could this actually be the season where LSU has to rely on the offensive side of the ball to win football games?

    The Tigers only return five starters on defense, which includes only one defensive lineman. Sure, there are a bunch of young faces that are capable of stepping up in no time, but six new starters leave a lot of room for concern if you are an LSU fan. The offensive side of the ball will be in good hands with eight starters coming back, but quarterback Zach Mettenberger must take giant steps forward if this unit will ever reach its full potential.

    LSU remains a dangerous team because of its reputation and overall talent that is in place due to solid recruiting over the years. However, the coaching staff has its work cut out for them with so many guys leaving, particularly on defense.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 13

13. Louisville

13 of 25

    Returning Starters: 15

    Thanks to a surprising BCS bowl victory over the Florida Gators, Louisville received its big win and a bunch of national attention that should result in a big day with the pollsters. The Cardinals also return 15 starters, which is tied with Temple for the most in the Big East.

    Nine of those starters return from the defensive side of the ball, which includes six of the front seven and three players who earned 2012 All-Conference honors a year ago. The offense is, of course, led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who should be considered one of the front-runners at quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.

    Louisville may not have as many household names as some of the other teams on this list, but it has proven its worth for a Top 10 ranking to start the year. Things are looking up for those Cardinal fans that are hoping for another breakout season.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 9

12. Kansas State

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    Returning Starters: Eight

    Kansas State reminds me a lot of Boise State from a year ago. A couple of great seasons, competing for BCS bowls, but once everybody gradated, the team takes a tremendous hit in the rankings. Kansas State only returns eight starters, which is not only the fewest in the Big 12, but it is the fewest in all of college football.

    There is no more Collin Klein at quarterback, and only one lonely starter returns on defense. The Wildcats are just not a program that is able to benefit from quality recruiting like the majority of the teams on this list.

    Another season of at least 10 victories is likely out of the question, but dropping Kansas State completely out of the Top 25 is unlikely, as well. Bill Snyder and his club will get to enjoy at least one more week of being ranked before the tough part of the year begins.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 25

11. Clemson

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    Returning Starters: 13

    Clemson has lived and died on the offensive side of the ball, and that may be the case again next season. The team got a big boost when quarterback Tajh Boyd said he was going to return for his senior season, and he will have six returning starters on that side of the ball to help him out. You should expect a lot of fireworks on offense once again.

    The Tigers haven't exactly been known for much on defense, but with five of the front seven returning, defensive coordinator Brent Venables has something to work with in his second year.

    Clemson has been a team that has made tremendous progress in such a short amount of time. With a top 15 start to the 2013 season, this could be the best season yet for head coach Dabo Swinney and his troops.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 11

10. Florida State

16 of 25

    Returning Starters: 10

    Florida State had its chance to contend for a national championship and fell flat on its face. Now it is time to rebuild. Well, not exactly.

    The Seminoles will be able to take advantage of top-notch recruiting and will have the talent in place, but the youth will show on this team. The 10 starters returning are the fewest of any other team in the ACC this upcoming season. Florida State will be missing seven starters on defense and will have to find an answer at running back, as well as hoping quarterback Clint Trickett can play well without missing a beat.

    Still one of the most talented teams in a watered-down ACC, the Seminoles will still have to prove themselves to the rest of the college football world.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 15

9. Florida

17 of 25

    Returning Starters: 11

    Barely sneaking into the Top 10, Florida may have the most concerns of any SEC team in the Top 25.

    Who in the world is going to play quarterback, and once you find a starting signal-caller, are there truly enough weapons to improve this offense from a year ago? The defense is also missing six starters, which is not a good thing when you consider that was the unit that carried the Gators to a BCS bowl.

    Florida should be ranked high due to the success it was able to have last season and the overwhelming recruiting classes head coach Will Muschamp has been able to bring in. However, this is a team that voters should approach with caution when filling out their ballots later in the year.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 10

8. South Carolina

18 of 25

    Returning Starters: 12

    South Carolina will remain in the Top 10, but has questions to answer before it becomes an SEC favorite heading into the new season. The running back position must be addressed, and with two quarterbacks on the roster that are capable of starting, a decision must be made there, as well.

    There are also issues on the defensive side of the ball with only five starters returning, which doesn't include any linebackers. As much as some would like to believe, having Jadeveon Clowney at defensive end does not fix everything.

    The Gamecocks remain a giant question mark heading into 2013. There is a bunch of potential, but there are also enough concerns for the naysayers to write this team off. Until this team gives us a true reason not to believe, a Top 10 start is a good place to begin.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 8

7. Stanford

19 of 25

    Returning Starters: 15

    No matter what Stanford was able to do last season, it was the team that wasn't given much respect. Most were wondering what was going on with Chip Kelly or discussing the disappointment that was involved with the USC Trojans.

    Enough of looking over the Cardinal, this is a team that could reach the national championship next year. With seven starters returning from a Top 20 defense, Stanford will remain in great shape and make it difficult for opposing teams to score. Offensively eight starters return, and much of the success will come down to whether or not quarterback Kevin Hogan can make enough plays with his arm and legs.

    Stanford showed last season just how dangerous this team can be, and with much of the same guys still around, this is the team everybody should finally start paying attention to.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 2

5. Texas A&M

20 of 25

    Returning Starters: 10

    As long as quarterback Johnny Manziel continues to lead this Aggies football team, they will continue to receive a lot of love from the pollsters. And due to a remarkable recruiting class and five other returning starters on offense, the reigning Heisman winner will have even more weapons around him to put on an entertaining show.

    The issues with Texas A&M come on defense, which only has four starters returning. The team has to find a replacement for defensive end Damontre Moore, and all of the starting linebackers will need to be replaced, as well. Remember, this was a defensive unit that wasn't very good last season to begin with.

    A Top 5 start to the 2013 season is good enough for the Aggies, but there is work that needs to be done if they want to take that next step in their second year in the SEC.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 4

5. Georgia

21 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    Georgia is going to be all offense next season until the defense is able to figure itself out. A team that averaged 467 total yards last season returns 10 starters on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Aaron Murray returned for his senior season, the Bulldogs still have a two-headed monster at running back and every offensive lineman is back.

    Defense is not as promising, as only three starters returning makes things a little shaky heading into the new season. Georgia has to replace every defensive lineman, and three of the four guys in the secondary will be new faces.

    Still, the Bulldogs nearly won the SEC last season due to a high-scoring offense, and that side of the ball remains in good hands. Once again, Mark Richt has a team that has the pieces in place to make a national championship run.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 3

4. Notre Dame

22 of 25

    Returning Starters: 14

    Many would think Notre Dame should crawl back into its hole and never be heard from again after the performance in the national title game. But even with getting thumped by Alabama and losing Manti Te'o on defense, the Irish remain a team that can get back to the big game.

    The defense will remain the strength of this football team, with eight starters coming back. That includes five guys from the front seven and a defensive line that will simply get after it. The offense is where the questions start to come in as quarterback Everett Golson must improve in his second season and a starting running back must be discovered.

    Embarrassing showing in the title matchup or not, Notre Dame still has the goods to surprise some people next year.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 6

3. Ohio State

23 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    With Urban Meyer able to lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated season in his first year, the expectations are higher than ever heading into 2013. Many are expecting a national championship appearance, as a total of nine starters on offense are coming back. Ohio State is going to be loaded offensively and quarterback Braxton Miller should be able to take that next step with a second season in the spread offense.

    There are questions on defense, which is the reason Ohio State will take a plunge in the rankings. Only four starters return, and that means there will be all new faces on the defensive line and only one returning starter at the linebacker position.

    Ohio State will get the benefit of the doubt, but there is work to be done if another terrific year is going to take place in Columbus.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 7

2. Oregon

24 of 25

    Returning Starters: 15

    Oregon has just about everything you look for in a national champion, but with a new head coach calling the shots, things are a little iffy in Eugene at the moment.

    A total of eight starters return from one of the most explosive offenses in the country, including a Heisman candidate in quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De'Anthony Thomas. Defensively, the Ducks have seven starters returning, which includes every member from the secondary.

    Oregon has the talent on the roster to once again compete for a Pac-12 title and BCS national championship. However, some voters are going to shy away from this team a bit due to Chip Kelly taking his talents to the next level.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 5

1. Alabama

25 of 25

    Returning Starters: 13

    Anybody with any common sense would consider the Alabama Crimson Tide as the favorite to win the national championship next season. There aren't any weaknesses with this team, only questions, and those would be on the offensive line. Other than missing a few offensive linemen from a year ago, Alabama is loaded on both sides of the ball at every position.

    With a defense that should once again be elite and an offense that is as balanced as it has ever been, Alabama is in prime position to win a third straight national title. Without question the most talented team from top to bottom, Nick Saban and his troops will remain at the top with probably every first-place vote.

    Preseason Poll Prediction: No. 1