College football only has a handful of legitimate national championship contenders. Others have an outside shot, but shouldn't be considered much of a threat until they prove otherwise. If you aren't a complete team like Alabama, have fun playing for a trip to a bowl few people care about.
Every team in the country has big dreams before the season starts, but they aren't [it isn't] realistic if you are entering fall camp with more questions than answers. It's also a stretch to think national title when the schedule is full of ranked teams.
There are a couple of SEC teams, two Big 12 powerhouses and a team that made it to the big dance last season that you can already count out.
Believe it or not, Louisville has a chance to win the BCS National Championship. Its chances may be better than those at some of the powerhouse programs. Thanks to last year's BCS bowl victory over Florida and the hype quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is receiving, the Cardinals should have a nice head start in the polls.
Running the table also shouldn't be an issue, with the toughest opponents being Cincinnati and Kentucky.
Louisville has the Heisman hopeful quarterback and is the classic underdog. The thought of a little guy playing in the big game would excite fans and the voters. But it's hard to envision.
The Cardinals may not play a ranked team all season. While teams in the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 are being tested each week, Louisville's lousy schedule will prevent it from making a serious case.
Head coach Charlie Strong is doing a fabulous job, but he must wait for his school to join the ACC before his team gets a serious shot to play with the big boys.
Florida was an overachiever last season. You simply aren't going to win many games when you're averaging fewer than 150 passing yards. Despite that, Florida was somehow able to win 11.
Lightening doesn't strike in the same place twice.
Jeff Driskel is more of an athlete than an accurate passing quarterback. He holds onto the ball too long and makes poor decisions. To his credit, he doesn't have any weapons, and his receivers also had a bad case of butterfingers.
Florida can't be taken seriously until it develops some type of aerial attack. Running and defense is the formula to success in the SEC, but even LSU averaged 200 yards passing. This offense has to improve by leaps and bounds to get back Florida back on the national championship radar.
Texas has been in a funk for three straight seasons. That national title-game loss to Alabama in 2009 feels like it was a decade ago. Until Mack Brown can discover some of his coaching magic, or his roster begins to live up to the hype, it's time to write the Longhorns off the list.
There are only so many mediocre seasons a team can produce before you start to lose faith. Living off the brand and past accomplishments isn't going to fly. Texas needs to produce results.
What's bizarre is that Texas returns 19 starters and has one of the most talented teams in the country. However, that's usually the case, and it hasn't helped in three years.
It wouldn't be surprising for the Longhorns to return to glory, but until they are able to beat Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, they are to be ignored.
You have to hide and watch with Clemson.
The high-scoring offense is enough to put the Tigers in serious national title conversations, but the defense is a different story. You would be lucky to win your conference allowing 396 yards a game. Forget about playing for the crystal football.
There was drastic improvement in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win against LSU, as Clemson only allowed (219 total yards. But that was just one game. Consistency is needed.
Clemson begins the season against an offensive juggernaut in Georgia. There are also games against Florida State and South Carolina. The offense is sexy and almost nudges you onto the bandwagon, but defense wins championships.
It will be time to stop ignoring the Tigers when the other side of the ball catches up.
Folks have been ignoring USC since the middle of last year's disastrous season. This year's squad is younger, but many of the questions remain the same. Who is calling those horrendous plays? Is the quarterback better? How will the secondary look?
It's hard to trust Lane Kiffin on and off the field, but his play-calling is brutal. It had a lot to do with the Trojans blowing games down the stretch and isn't going to change overnight. The offense will be led by a young quarterback regardless of who wins the starting job. Is that really better than Matt Barkley?
The secondary allowed 227 yards and 20 touchdowns. Those numbers won't lead to many victories in the pass-happy Pac-12.
USC will always have the talent to get the job done, but the days of crowning a champion in June are over. Progress is needed before this team deserves attention.
Florida State will be in title discussions because it is Florida State. There is also a young quarterback in Jameis Winston who has this larger-than-life feel to his game. He's the type of player who can take over a game with his arms and legs.
But besides Winston, Florida State doesn't have much to rely on. The 10 starters returning are the fewest in the ACC, and the coaching staff was shaken up with six assistants leaving for other programs. The defense should be fine with an incredible batch of young talent, but the offense has a history of being stagnant.
The Seminoles do have a favorable schedule, but the two toughest games (Clemson and Florida) are on the road. Unless Winston can transform into Cam Newton and have that type of impact, it's tough to label Florida State a true national title contender.
History indicates that Oklahoma will be treated like a national title contender. It was ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll in each of the last six seasons. Although this year may break that streak, don't expect the Sooners to be put in a hole. They haven't began the season outside the top 15 since 2000.
Oklahoma has questions at quarterback and on defense. Blake Bell is a popular name, but questions remain about whether he can win games with his arm. Defensively, Oklahoma allowed nearly 400 yards a game. Concerns with this unit will linger as only four starters return.
The Sooners also don't have the easiest schedule, with a three-game stretch of Notre Dame, TCU and Texas. That doesn't include a road game against Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma will have its work cut out for itself.
Michigan will get a nice start in the polls. The Big Ten factor also helps. Seriously, almost any team can win that conference. The Wolverines have many key pieces that could translate into a surprising season.
The downside is that the interior of the offensive line is being replaced. There also isn't any depth at quarterback, which is always a bad sign when your starter makes a lot of plays with his legs.
Defensively, Michigan still needs to discover a pass rush and could use a little depth in the secondary. There is also a difficult schedule, with games against Notre Dame, Penn State, Nebraska and Ohio State.
The Wolverines won't be as bad as some predict. But national title contenders?
Forget about it.
The SEC is pretty much a lock to have a team in the big game. South Carolina is one of the favorites to win the SEC East. It should be a national championship contender, right?
The Gamecocks continue to have trouble finding consistency at quarterback. With injuries and inaccurate passing, the offense can struggle to score. It doesn't help not having Marcus Lattimore to carry the load.
The offense is a question mark, but the defense may be even worse. The entire linebacker corps needs to be replaced. The defensive line also needs to discover a pass-rusher alongside Jadeveon Clowney.
South Carolina has too many holes to reach the big game.
Notre Dame could find the pot of gold and reach a second consecutive title game, although that is unlikely.
The Irish are a better team than they were last season. The defense will remain elite thanks to the defensive line and an improved secondary. The offense should also take a step forward with a deep backfield and experienced receivers. However, the quarterback situation isn't ideal, and the schedule is one of the toughest in college football.
Notre Dame will need to win a game late at some point, and nobody in their right mind is confident in quarterback Tommy Rees. The schedule also consists of Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC and Stanford.
The Irish have proven their doubters wrong once. The odds of it happening again are slim to none.