10 Programs Built to Beat SEC Powerhouses
There is no entity in recent sports history that has been so dominant for so long as the SEC in college football.
For seven straight seasons, a team from the SEC has been crowned champion.
To put that into perspective, the recruits who just signed with their program were in fourth grade the last time a team from another conference won the BCS title game.
But these things are cyclical and will end at some point, probably sooner rather than later.
The 10 programs on this list have what it takes, the facilities, coach, fanbase and recruiting chops, to make a run at the SEC's title sometime in the next three to five years.
10. UCLA Bruins
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Before you shut this down, hear me out.
The Bruins are on the right track, poised to take over the area in the recruiting battle from USC, as well as bragging rights in the rivalry.
Jim Mora and his staff did an excellent job of taking young talent and turning it into a competitive unit in a very short period of time in 2012, and it will be interesting to see which way the team goes from here.
There is no arguing that UCLA pulls in solid recruiting classes, and if Mora can keep that up, this team will only get better, and we may soon see a changing of the guard in the Pac-12.
While most would consider this UCLA team too young and inexperienced to compete with an SEC program, given a couple of years with Mora and his staff, this team will be ready to compete with anyone, anywhere.
9. Ole Miss
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No, I'm not a complete idiot bereft of even the most basic football knowledge.
I'm just a fan sick of SEC fans who haven't seen their program win, talking as if any team in the conference could beat anybody in the nation.
Since the SEC began its streak of national titles, let me remind you, oh intrepid fan of the SEC, that only four teams have actually won a national title.
Alabama, LSU, Florida and Auburn have all staked their claim to football's highest prize, the rest of you have yet to sniff a crystal ball.
Ole Miss pulled in a massive recruiting class this season, including a defensive line that could probably start just about anywhere in the country tomorrow and have an impact.
With the talent that has been coming in lately, and the support that SEC schools, even the non-title winners, boast, the Rebels are on pace to make some noise on a national level before long.
And that means competing with Alabama, LSU and the rest of the top teams in the conference.
8. Florida State Seminoles
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This is one that is teetering on the brink.
Jimbo Fisher has the cachet that comes with one of the most storied programs in history, the swagger the Seminoles have long boasted and excellent recruiting classes year after year.
So where is the fruit?
And we are not talking about Orange Bowl victories.
With loads of experience departing, this season may not be the season the 'Noles emerge as the nation's top team.
However, Fisher has the recruiting pull, the coaching staff and the resources to get this program back into the ranks of college football's elite.
If it doesn't happen soon, he won't be around long.
7. Louisville Cardinals
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This may be the longest shot on here, but Charlie Strong appears to be pushing all the right buttons.
The transcendent play of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led to a major upset over Florida in the Sugar Bowl, and the team appears primed for a run at a potentially undefeated season.
Scoff all you want to at the notion that a Big East team could compete with Alabama or LSU, but they already knocked off the Gators, a team some considered to be better than 'Bama.
So don't tell me the talent isn't there, it is.
And now that Strong has shown recruits that Louisville can run with the big boys, he should see an uptick in recruiting that will have an impact on the finished product he can field.
With solid recruits and an excellent coach, this program is primed for some very good seasons.
Whether they will be quite up to the level of the SEC's elite remains to be seen.
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
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In spite of the beating the Irish suffered at the hands of Alabama in the BCS title game, Brian Kelly still has a program that's capable of one day ending SEC dominance.
He continues to recruit well, the program has tons of football lore and tradition, and outside of the SEC, there may not be a more avid or invested fanbase than that which Notre Dame can boast of.
It is still a few years away, but with Kelly developing the offense, and Bob Diaco handling defensive coordinator duties, the Irish have the tools needed to compete with the best of the best.
5. Michigan Wolverines
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Once you are done rolling your eyes at the thought of a "weak" Big Ten team competing with the untouchables of the SEC, get real.
Michigan is a great program that has never been afraid of spending money to get the best coach, and the team has enough tradition to fill several rooms.
With Brady Hoke at the helm, and Greg Mattison running the defense, this team will only get better and better.
Consider that it took a touchdown in the waning seconds of the Outback Bowl to propel South Carolina past the Wolverines.
The team struggled against Alabama in 2013, but this isn't about which program can knock off an SEC power tomorrow.
Michigan is one of several programs that is built for great recruiting and has the talent to compete with any program in the nation.
4. Texas Longhorns
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Sure, Mack Brown's boys have been on the short end of the stick in recent seasons, and at times, have looked nothing like the Texas programs to which we have grown accustomed to in years gone by.
That said, the program pulls in great recruiting classes with regularity, has an excellent head coach, and boasts one of the most intense, dedicated fanbases in the nation.
All of which would be key to any program rising to the heights it will take to knock off the mother of all football conferences, the SEC.
For the time being, the Longhorns are loaded with talent, but struggle to live up to their potential all across the roster.
If they ever do, the Longhorns will again be a force to be reckoned with in the college football universe.
3. Oregon Ducks
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The Ducks are right there, so close they can taste a big-time victory over the SEC.
Even with Chip Kelly gone, this team is primed for success.
The team's seemingly annual trip to a BCS game has helped garner plenty of attention for the program, and the exposure afforded by a high-flying offense and flashy uniforms is not to be underestimated in today's recruiting race.
The Ducks routinely recruit the athletes to compete at the highest level, and it shows on the field, with winning season after winning season.
Nick Aliotti has done a tremendous job of organizing a defense that is solid, if not always elite, and his commitment to the program is an underplayed story after 15 years in his position.
The Ducks have been on the edge of breaking through, and this year, they just might have the nudge they need to make it over the top, even without Kelly.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
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No matter what you think it might take to knock the SEC elite off their lofty perch, Ohio State's got it.
A school that invests in facilities and equipment?
An excellent defensive unit on a yearly basis?
One of the elite coaches in the game, who recruits at an elite level?
With Urban Meyer at the helm, it won't be long before the Buckeyes are back at the top of the college heap.
1. Stanford Cardinal
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Stanford had one of the quietest great seasons in recent history last season.
The Cardinal lost only two games, one of them a controversial contest against Notre Dame and capped off the season with a Rose Bowl win.
David Shaw has not missed a beat since the departure of Jim Harbaugh for the NFL, and this team seems primed for another excellent season in 2013.
Shaw and his team play with a smashmouth style, fielding a defense that pounds opponents into the ground.
To knock off the best in the nation, defense is key.
Stanford's got that figured out, ranking in the top 20 in total defense.
While recruiting needs some work, there is some definite upside to this program, and if Shaw continues leading it down this road, competing for a national title is a very real possibility.