Best and Worst Case 2013 Scenarios for Each Top 25 College Football Team

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMarch 21, 2013

Best and Worst Case 2013 Scenarios for Each Top 25 College Football Team

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    We may still be in the middle of spring football, but it is never too early to look ahead to the 2013 college football regular season.

    Everybody should have a good idea of where the teams sit at the moment. It is also clear who the real national championship contenders are heading into the later part of the year.

    Unless a major injury takes place, you should know if your team is a contender or a pretender.

    Of course, things could change throughout the year. But we will get to all of that when the time comes.

    Right now, your favorite team has its path laid out already. It will either fall flat on its face, or end up becoming the story of the season and making a run at a serious bowl game.

    There is also the possibility of it finishing somewhere in the middle, but I've always been a shoot for the stars kind of guy.

    With all of that said, here are the early best and worst case scenarios for each Top 25 college football team entering the 2013 season.

    Note: The rankings are based off of the final AP Poll dating back to last year.

25. Nebraska

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    Best Case Scenario

    Nebraska continues to have the best offense in the Big Ten.

    That is good enough to carry the team to another Big Ten Championship in a watered down Legends division. Not sure what to expect from a defense that only returns four starters, but it would also be nice if it didn't allow 360 total yards on average.

    The Cornhuskers reach the Big Ten title game but then loses to a more complete team from the Leaders division.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Quarterback Taylor Martinez goes back to his old self.

    Because of this, the offense takes a hit in production—especially since the workhorse Rex Burkhead is no longer around . The defense continues to carry over some of its bad habits from a year ago and a return trip to the conference championship falls through the cracks.

24. Michigan

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    Best Case Scenario

    The offense reaches new levels in the pro-style offense with quarterback Devin Gardner running the show.

    Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint becomes healthy once again and returns to his 2011 self by hitting 1,000 yards again. The defense takes a hit with the loss of linebacker Jake Ryan, but with seven other starters on that side of the ball, the Wolverines continue to have one of the better defenses in the country.

    Topping Nebraska for a trip to the Big Ten Championship, the Wolverines find a way to win the conference.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Losing the leader of the defense in Ryan absolutely kills the overall defensive group and things just aren't the same in Ann Arbor.

    Offensively, Gardner fails to live up to the hype and reminds folks of the inconsistency that Denard Robinson produced. The Wolverines struggle with a tough schedule and come up short winning 10 games.

    And it looks like they are still one year away from seriously competing for a national championship.

    A decent season given the circumstances, but Michigan fans want a national title.

23. Vanderbilt

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    Best Case Scenario

    Call me insane, but the best case scenario is Vanderbilt reaching the SEC Championship.

    With the pieces that the Commodores have offensively, from a top-notch wide receiver to a veteran offensive line, this group is just a quarterback away from doing damage.

    Defensively there are six starters returning from a squad that finished fifth in the SEC.  

    Vandy takes advantage of a nice home schedule and sprinkles a few upsets on the road, shocking the college football world all the way to Atlanta.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    A trip to the SEC Championship doesn't happen and the Commodores are kind of where they ended up last year.

    Sure, another eight or nine wins in the season is good considering the reputation of this program, but we have all been teased with the job James Franklin has been doing.

    It may sound a little premature, but the next step for this program is a 10-win season, giving it a chance to compete for an SEC title.

22. Northern Illinois

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    Best Case Scenario

    Thanks to quarterback Jordan Lynch being the poor man’s Johnny Manziel, he leads the Huskies to an undefeated record in somewhat of a joke of a schedule.

    The defense isn't nearly as good with only four starters returning, but when you have a playmaking quarterback like Lynch, that's really all you need outside of a BCS conference.

    Northern Illinois makes another late run in the BCS rankings and once again drives college football fans wild.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The hype dies down around the program and Lynch fails to lead the Huskies to a prestigious bowl game.

    This may sound like it’s a hit or miss with this program, but when was the last time they had a player of this caliber? When he has proven he can get the job done once, it isn't crazy to expect it again—especially with the schedule on the menu.

    Northern Illinois needs to do what it can to put itself in the national spotlight. This opportunity won’t come very often.

21. San Jose State

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    Best Case Scenario

    San Jose State ends up winning the WAC and has its best season in program history.

    With an NFL-caliber quarterback in David Fales and a ball-hawking machine in defensive back Bené Benwikere, reaching this goal shouldn't be that difficult. However, the Spartans do have a much more difficult schedule with Stanford, Minnesota and San Diego State on tap.

    But this is one of the more talented teams outside the BCS and should have very little trouble dominating its conference.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The defense continues to get rattled at times and coughs up a few games that shouldn't have resulted in a loss.

    The Spartans were ranked 24th in the country in scoring defense last season; however, five yards a play was allowed, as well as five games of more than 400 total yards.

    Due to inconsistent defensive play, the Spartans end up falling short of a conference title and are forced to settle for one of those lousy bowl games that nobody cares about.

20. Oregon State

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    Best Case Scenario

    The Beavers have an encore season and end up winning the Pac-12 title game.

    With 15 starters returning, including seven from that feisty defense, Oregon State proves that last season was no fluke by any means. With home games against Stanford, USC and Washington, Mike Riley and his boys win double-digit games for the first time since 2006.

    They go on to prove that the other team from Oregon is truly the best in the Pac-12.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Oregon State continues to struggle running the football, which ends up hurting the overall production of the offense.

    The defense then realizes that it can't continue to bail the offense out when facing all of these high-powered offenses in the Pac-12 and a few losses begin to surface. It ends up being another successful season from what Beavers fans have experienced in the past, but it never reached its full potential.

19. Texas

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    Best Case Scenario

    The best case scenario for Texas is one that better happen or there are going to be a lot of jobs on the line. The Longhorns win the Big 12 and reach a BCS bowl for the first time since 2009. This is what is expected every season in Austin and three subpar performances in a row, it is time to break the cycle and get this program back on track. The talent is in place on both sides of the ball. Now it is time to put up or shut up.

    Worst Case Scenario

    Anything less than a BCS bowl. Longhorns fans don't care about trips to the Alamo or Holiday Bowl, they want championships. All of the attention is leaning towards Texas A&M lately and that isn't a good thing when you start talking about recruiting purposes. This has to be the most talented team Mack Brown has taken over in a while and if there isn't a prestigious bowl game attached at the end of the year, we will see changes with this program. It's homerun or strikeout this season.

18. Boise State

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    Best Case Scenario

    Boise State does what Boise State always does: shows the rest of the teams in the MWC that they can't hang.

    This leads to a BCS bowl at the end of the year. College football’s favorite underdog is back on the map after taking a year off.

    The Broncos continue to have a Top 25 defense with seven starters returning and quarterback Joe Southwick improves with a year under his belt. Head coach Chris Petersen gets his team back under the bright lights.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The offense continues to have a hard time producing points and the record suffers because of it.

    In both of the Broncos losses last year, the team failed to score at least 20 points. The defense should remain strong; the overall success of this team is going to come on offense.

    If it is a repeat of last season, Boise State will fall just short of a BCS bowl and end up playing in a bowl before January for the second year in a row.

17. Northwestern

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    Best Case Scenario

    Big Ten Championship?

    Sure.

    This program won 10 games last year and lost three games by one possession. Meaning that a bounce here and there and the Wildcats would have been in the big game last season.

    This year a total of 15 starters return, including all of the key pieces on both sides of the ball. With a favorable schedule and everybody remaining healthy, the Wildcats will surprise some people out there.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The Wildcats have a season a lot like last years.

    They win the games they are supposed to win, but then fall short in the close conference games that make all of the difference in reaching the Big Ten.

    Another step in the right direction under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, but things could have been better if the team learned how to win those tight matchups that come down to the wire.

16. Utah State

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    Best Case Scenario

    Quarterback Chuckie Keeton continues his dual-threat ways and is able to keep this Utah State offense afloat. The defense that returns seven starters continues to be dominant.

    The Aggies reach a third straight bowl game and win double-digit games for the second straight season.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Utah State continues to remain competitive and one of the best teams in the MWC, but thanks to a difficult schedule double-digit wins seems like a stretch.

    Do you see the Aggies beating Utah, USC, BYU, Boise State and San Jose State?

    This team does have 15 starters returning, including its quarterback, all of its offensive line and five members of the front seven.

    However, the Aggies lost its workhorse running back Kerwynn Williams, have a new coaching staff and that schedule isn't easy.

15. Oklahoma

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    Best Case Scenario

    Similar to what was said about Texas, Oklahoma would like to reach a BCS bowl.

    Not participating in a big game since 2010, the Sooners are also starting to build a reputation of getting close, but still so far away. The Sooners would be able to get the job done offensively as long as Blake Bell can live up to the expectations. The talent is also there defensively, but there is a ton of youth being introduced.

    It's not going to be easy, but I don't think anybody is foolish enough to count this team out just yet.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Bell isn't the quarterback that can continue the great tradition of signal-callers at Oklahoma.

    The offensive line continues to get banged up and once again becomes a mess for the coaching staff.

    And then that defense struggles to find its footing after the addition of so many inexperienced players.

    Still a 10-win season, but folks are starting to wonder when that breakthrough is going to take place.

14. LSU

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    Best Case Scenario

    Head coach Les Miles is once again able to overcome adversity and leads his team back to the SEC Championship.

    This would mean that Zach Mettenberger has improved his play greatly. Also, a defense that is going to be full of first-year starters doesn't miss a beat.

    This is one of the best coaching staffs in the country, and the Tigers host a majority of the tough opponents in Tiger Stadium. A lot of questions for this team, but it can be done as we have seen from this program before.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Mettenberger continues to tank and joins a long line of quarterbacks that just couldn't succeed in Baton Rouge. A defense that features six new starters doesn't provide the same intimidation that past LSU defenses have.

    Some of the more complete teams roll over the Tigers and they finish third in the SEC West.

    This sends everybody back to the drawing board.

13. Louisville

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    Best Case Scenario

    Teddy Bridgewater continues to develop and becomes a Heisman Trophy finalist at the quarterback position. A defense that returns nine starters becomes a little more consistent and doesn't allow so many big passing plays.

    The Cardinals are able to take advantage of a weak Big East schedule and reach another BCS bowl.

    This shows that Louisville is clearly on the rise under head coach Charlie Strong.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Bridgewater continues to fight the injury bug and misses a few games due to being dinged up.

    Along with a defense that still struggles in pass coverage, the Cardinals lose a couple of games to some of the better Big East teams.

    Louisville then takes a step backwards in the win department and heads into the ACC with less momentum than it would have liked.

12. Kansas State

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    Best Case Scenario

    Head coach Bill Snyder continues to pull rabbits out of his hat and push all of the right buttons.

    Just when we were ready to write this team off, John Hubert is able to carry the load offensively. There are also a few diamonds in the rough that begin to shine on the defensive side of the ball.

    Even with the positive outlook, the Wildcats still struggle in a competitive Big 12, winning eight games. There are just so many holes to fill to expect anything more from this team.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Kansas State falls completely off the face of the earth.

    With only one starter returning defensively and no Collin Klein to save the day on offense, the Wildcats go back to being the forgotten team in the Big 12.

    Well, it was at least fun while it lasted.

11. Clemson

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    Best Case Scenario

    You see how determined head coach Dabo Swinney is in that picture? This man wants to bring a national championship to Clemson so badly.

    Well, he may have his chance this season.

    With an offense that is led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and returns seven starters, fireworks will continue. Defensively, the Tigers showed that they can in fact play well on that side of the ball, as they did a marvelous job slowing down LSU.

    With one of the more complete Clemson teams you will ever see, Swinney and his boys run the table all the way to the national championship.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The Clemson defense continues to have a hard time keeping up with the offense and it continues to be this team’s downfall.

    The Tigers also continue to choke in the big games against the tougher competition on the schedule, resulting in another record that has you wondering what could have been. Anything short of a BCS bowl is considered a disappointment this upcoming season for Clemson.

10. Florida State

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    Best Case Scenario

    In a perfect world, the Florida State Seminoles will win the ACC and return to the BCS Orange Bowl.

    Yes, there are plenty of questions at the quarterback and running back positions.

    And yes, there are seven starters missing defensively.

    However, how many teams in the ACC have more talent than Jimbo Fisher's club? The question marks are there and it won't be easy, but even on a bad day Florida State is better than majority of the rosters in that current conference.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Florida State ends up having a season similar to what happened back in 2011.

    The quarterback plays makes you want to stab your eyes out with a fork, the young defense struggles to make the transition and the fan base chants a little louder for a coaching change.

    A record with more than two losses would be the worst case scenario for FSU.

    And it would also certainly heat that seat up a bit for Fisher and his staff.

9. Florida

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    Best Case Scenario

    Florida is able to take advantage of a weak schedule in the beginning to iron out any wrinkles before playing the big boys.

    Quarterback Jeff Driskel begins to show progress with more weapons around him, and the offense is finally able to put together a consistent drive. The unit defensively isn't nearly as good as it was a year ago, but top recruits ease in rather quickly.

    Will Muschamp reaches the SEC Championship and makes things competitive against an SEC West foe.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The bad vibes from the BCS bowl loss to Louisville carries over and the Gators season doesn't get off to a fast enough start.

    The lack of leadership on the defense begins to show early on.

    And the offense continues to be one of the worst in college football with Driskel failing to take that next step.

    The Gators get punched around with a tough SEC schedule and are quickly reminded that they are a year away from becoming a national title contender.

8. South Carolina

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    Best Case Scenario

    South Carolina is finally able to get over the hump and compete for a conference title.

    The quarterback concerns are fixed and Jadeveon Clowney provides a Heisman performing season that makes you forget that there were no returning linebackers.

    Steve Spurrier and his guys take advantage of the fact that Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU aren't on the schedule, and the Gamecocks ease their way towards Atlanta.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    A defense that lost six starters begins to take its toll, while the quarterback position is still creating headaches for the coaching staff. The Gamecocks continue to have a hard time against some of the better competition on the schedule and fall just short of reaching the big game.

    South Carolina settles for another below-average bowl matchup and Clowney fades off into the sunset at the end of the year.

7. Stanford

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    Best Case Scenario

    Stanford runs the table and finds itself in the national championship.

    The Cardinal returns 15 starters from last year, including seven from a defense that finished in the Top 20.

    Also, the schedule favors this team with Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame, Washington and Arizona State all being made to travel to Stanford Stadium.

    This is a team that continues to fight for respect; however, if everything goes well, a crystal football isn't out of the question.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Even with a nice home schedule, the bottom line is that the schedule is no joke.

    Having the home crowd behind you is a great benefit, but there simply aren't many games that you can mark with a victory before kick off. The combination of a first-year starting quarterback and losing Stepfan Taylor leads the The Cardinal offense to eventually takes steps in the wrong direction.

    Stanford finishes behind both Oregon schools in the Pac-12 North.

5. Texas A&M

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    Best Case Scenario

    Johnny Manziel continues to be awesome at life and has a season similar to what he had last year.

    The Aggies end up beating Alabama early in the year and then cruise the rest of the way with a schedule that isn't daunting at all. Texas A&M not only wins the SEC, but then goes on to win the national championship as this magical carpet ride continues.

    Nobody in their right mind would have thought the Aggies would be national championship contenders in year two in the SEC.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    SEC defensive coordinators discover the blueprint on how to slow down Johnny Football and scoring isn't as easy as it once was.

    The defense that only returns four starters also struggles like it did a year ago, which is certainly not a recipe to win in the SEC. Kevin Sumlin and his players then learn that winning something serious in this conference takes baby steps.

    Finishing third in the SEC West is the worst that could possibly happen.

5. Georgia

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    Best Case Scenario

    Georgia changes the formula for winning in the SEC and takes arguably the best offense in the country to the SEC Championship.

    With Aaron Murray and a two-headed monster at running back, the Bulldogs put up ridiculous numbers and simply outscore the opposition. Defensively, the Bulldogs aren't as consistent as you would like.

    But when you are scoring at such a high rate, all of that may not even matter. Head coach Mark Richt silences the critics with a trip to the conference championship and a plan to compete for a crystal football.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    A defense that only returns three starters ends up being worse than it was last season.

    Murray and Richt don't help matters, as they continue their well-documented history of coming up short in big games. The Bulldogs continue to make things interesting, but it isn't nearly impressive enough to get the job done and return to the SEC Championship.

    Richt is then thrown back onto the hot seat, as folks in Athens aren't happy one bit. 

4. Notre Dame

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    Best Case Scenario

    Another somewhat surprise trip to the BCS Championship?

    Notre Dame should be just as good on the defensive side of the ball with an amazing defensive front and experience in the secondary. Everett Golson continues to improve as a true quarterback and becomes that leader that Irish fans have been hoping for.

    Surprising college football fans yet again by taking the difficult schedule one game, Brian Kelly finds ways to get the job done as the Irish look for another shot at the ultimate prize.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Notre Dame gets a heavy dose of reality, losing at least three games to a tough schedule.

    Golson continues to make bad decisions with the football and the offense has a hard time crossing the end zone. The defense remains solid, but without a difference maker such as Manti Te'o on the field, it just isn't good enough.

    The Irish make a decent case for a BCS bowl game, but they fall just short and end up wherever there is an open spot available.

3. Ohio State

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    Best Case Scenario

    Urban Meyer continues to have his team prepared and the Buckeyes bully their way through the Big Ten once again.

    With a Heisman contender at quarterback, and a youthful defense that is ready to prove itself, Ohio State wins every game and finds itself competing for a national championship.

    Finishing undefeated two years in a row may sound a little farfetched, but look at that schedule and find more than two teams that can compete with this Buckeyes roster.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    A young defense isn't able to carry its weight and the Buckeyes find themselves in a lot of close games. Eventually losing a couple of those contests, Meyer and his team are no longer in the national championship conversation.

    However, due to a mediocre division, the Buckeyes go on to the Big Ten Championship and compete for a shot at a BCS Bowl. 

2. Oregon

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    Best Case Scenario

    The Ducks offense continues to fly under new head coach Mark Helfrich.

    Defensively, Oregon continues to make progress with seven starters returning—including three in the secondary.

    Oregon shows that the talent never left by reaching the Pac-12 title game. The Ducks slip into the BCS national championship due to an offense that still can't be slowed down.

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    The head coaching change plays a bigger role than anybody would have ever imagined.

    The Ducks cough up one or two games due to increased competition in the Pac-12 and are out of the running for a BCS bowl game.

    Still one of the more exciting teams in the country to watch, Oregon realizes that this transition will take some time, as the run of BCS bowls comes to an end at four.

1. Alabama

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    Best Case Scenario

    How many fingers is Nick Saban holding up? It appears to be four, but I'm sure he's thinking about three at the moment.

    Yes, like three consecutive national championships.

    That is the goal for the folks down in Tuscaloosa, and it is of course the best scenario. If Alabama beats Texas A&M early on in the season, there may not be anybody left on the schedule that could stop this team from doing just that.

    It is quite possible Alabama not only runs the table, but once again hoists the crystal ball at the end of the year. 

     

    Worst Case Scenario

    Anything but a national title is considered the worst case with this football team.

    Easily the most talented from top to bottom, there aren't many weaknesses with the group of guys that are returning. It would likely take two regular season losses to prevent the Tide from returning to the big game.

    If this does take place, Alabama fans would be disappointed as the chance to make history slips through their fingers.