College Football 2011: Odds on the 20 Teams Most Likely To Win the BCS Title
Us college football fans are a poor, depressed bunch right about this time of year.
While NFL football continues on through post season play and other sports continue on or start up once again, we only have one more event to go before radio silence, and that's National Signing Day.
So, as a preemptive measure for filling said void, let's start to take a look at the next college football season, starting with the most important event of all: the BCS National Championship.
This year's game was great, and both teams have a chance at making it back to the big show next year,but what about the rest of the FBS?
Let's run down the list of the 20 teams most likely to win the BCS National Championship next year, and lay down some odds in the process, just to make it interesting.
Honorable Mention: USC
If the appeals end up working out for USC and the sanctions are lifted for next season, then lift the honorable mention off the title and move them to....
Let's say 10, shall we?
USC returns a lot of talented players, and their recruiting class continues to rise week after week.
This is going to be a strong team in 2011.
20. Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech did alright for themselves this year, despite their less than excellent performance in the Orange Bowl, which leads us all to believe that they have an outside chance at things next year.
Sure, they lose Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams and a couple of other starters, but they have the coaching and the recruiting in place to make the outside run.
19. Auburn Tigers
Yes Auburn fans, I know, I'm wrong, this is garbage and Auburn should be at the top of the list because they proved that they are the best.
Now for some more sound logic.
Auburn loses (among many players) Cameron Newton and Nick Fairley.
To me, that's a killing blow.
Unless Auburn has another game-changing defensive tackle and another offensive centerpiece waiting in the wings, the Tigers are going to have to do some rebuilding before they get another crack at another title.
Who knows, though. They came out of nowhere this year, maybe they'll surprise me next year.
18. UCF Knights
UCF is young, surprisingly good and on the upswing, but the strength of schedule that comes from playing in the Conference-USA may keep them out of championship hopes unless no one else goes undefeated.
It could happen though.
17. Utah Utes
Despite the fact that they got beat on pretty badly by Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Utes are not to be counted out.
They return a lot of key players, Kyle Whittingham is still their coach, and the move to the Pac-12 could end up helping them in their pursuit of the Coaches Trophy.
16. Florida Gators
Florida didn't even end the season as a ranked team, and they're losing head coach Urban Meyer, so what makes me think that they come in at 15?
Because you can never fall asleep against Florida.
Sure, they may have looked unspectacular this year, but crazier turnarounds have happened, and if there's a team that can do it, it's Florida.
15. Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles are certainly a program on the fast track up swing, and they seem to me to have National Championship potential already.
Sure, they're losing Christian Ponder, but that's not something that should totally derail FSU. In fact, a fresh face under center could be the thing they need to make the next step.
14. Arkansas Razorbacks
Losing Ryan Mallett is the key sticking point for the Razorbacks.
If they have a quarterback who can do a good job of replacing him, they've got a chance, and that's really what I'm laying this decision on.
Arkansas has a good football program, and losing a player like Mallett doesn't seem to me like something that would totally take them off the board for teams that could win it all.
13. Michigan State Spartans
With Mark Dantonio still calling the shots and Kirk Cousins still under center, the Spartys have a shot at it.
They may have a little bit of roster turnover and a less than spectacular recruiting class coming in, but they are still capable of making a splash, so long as they don't let their concentration slip like they did against Iowa.
12. Nebraska Cornhuskers
This one really all depends on how Taylor Martinez comes along in terms of development next year.
As I see it, though, he should develop well enough over the offseason to give the Huskers a shot at getting there. After all, they were pretty dang close last year (3 losses by a combined point margin of 13).
11. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Their starting quarterback is returning, their star wide receiver is returning, their defense is remaining intact and all of this adds up to something very good.
The Cowboys only lost two games last year, and they were both by a margin of 10 points or less. Considering what they still have from last year, and the recruiting class that they're building on, they could get there.
10. Wisconsin Badgers
Losing guys like J.J. Watt, Gabe Carimi and Scott Tolzien is going to make the 2011 season for the Badgers very interesting.
There is a good chance that they struggle to find a groove with new starters at new positions, resulting in a couple of loses.
I think, though, that as long as they have Montee Ball running the football (i.e as long as they can keep running the football as well as they do), they have a chance to winning it all.
9. South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina is my dark horse candidate for next year.
They return a solid amount of their starters, especially in the key positions, they still have Steve Spurrier coaching them, and their schedule, while certainly no pushover, seems a little more manageable after this season than it did before.
8. LSU Tigers
Considering the amount of starters that LSU is returning next year (yes, I know that losing Patrick Peterson and Drake Nevis is going to be a huge blow anyway), LSU has a pretty good chance at running the table.
The fact that Les Miles decided to stay instead of head off for Michigan makes it that much more likely.
7. Alabama Crimson Tide
Sure they're losing a good amount of their team, but Alabama is always a force to be reckoned with, and the fact that the SEC looks like it may be in a bit of a down year makes it that much easier.
Let's just say that I wouldn't put money against Nick Saban just yet.
6. Ohio State Buckeyes
- They could appeal the suspensions. If they're reduced or eliminated, that means good things.
- The first five games of their season aren't exactly their hardest: Akron, Toledo, at Miami (FL), Colorado, Michigan State. Very doable.
The Buckeyes may be dealing with the suspension of five of their best players in the beginning of next season, but here are two things to think about:
Trust me, even without Terrelle Pryor and the other four players for the first five games, Ohio State could very well do it.
5. Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal may have lost Jim Harbaugh, Vic Fangio and Greg Roman, but they still have two people that give them a big chance at winning it all next year: New head coach David Shaw and star quarterback Andrew Luck.
If these two end up working the magic that a lot of people think they will, good things could happen for Stanford.
4. TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs may be losing their starting quarterback (among others) and they may be moving to a weaker conference, but don't count TCU out.
They went undefeated last year, but their strength of schedule kept them out of the conversation for the National Championship.
Who knows, though, the Big East just might give them the extra leg up to get to the big stage.
3. Boise State Broncos
The return of Kellen Moore is going to be huge for Boise State, as is their move to an automatic qualifying conference.
Their roster is still very talented, and they still have great coaching, so Boise State could very well be on their way.
2. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners were a powerful football team this year, and had it not been for two embarassing collapses, they may have challenged for a spot in the National Championship.
The Sooners return a good amount of their roster next year, and another good recruiting class to add to that bodes well for them.
1. Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks played a close game against the Auburn Tiger in the BCS Championship this year, and the fact that they return a lot of big starters (namely quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James) really helps.
As long as Chip Kelly is at the helm, they have a good chance.