Out of all 120 FBS teams in college football, just one team at the end of the 2011 season will have the luxury of celebrating a national championship victory.
But we all know the world of college football revolves around more than just the championship itself. Pride is always on the line, and on-field performance is a constant proving ground.
For these 20 schools, the proving ground will be the main focus of the 2011 season, if anything else.
2010 Record: 12-1
Ohio State has been the power team in the Big Ten for years now, but things are starting to slide in the other direction in Columbus.
Jim Tressel is in hot water after apparently lying about having knowledge of multiple NCAA rules violations. Tressel will miss coaching the first five games of the regular season. Also, four star players for the Buckeyes are suspended as well, including projected starters Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron and Devier Posey.
Ohio State will enter most Top 25 polls in the Top 10 but will really need to pull out all of the stops to make it through the madness. Luckily, their first two games are against Akron and Toledo.
What the Buckeyes need to prove is that they can handle the heat and stay atop the Big Ten, because Wisconsin is currently riding their heels. Also, the Nebraska Cornhuskers join the conference this year and should give the Buckeyes a run for their money.
2010 Record: 13-0
The Boise State Broncos join the Mountain West Conference, which means the Horned Frogs of TCU have some new competition.
The Rose Bowl champions want people to believe they are finally BCS material, and in two years, they will be in a BCS qualifying conference. Without Andy Dalton, the Frogs will need to prove yet again that they are a top program.
Beating Boise State would be a huge boost for this rising program. The Horned Frogs have to continue to show that they can have long-term leverage in the jam-packed state of Texas.
2010 Record: 6-7
The Clemson Tigers have been a broken record for nearly a decade. They get high-end talent through recruiting year after year, and yet they continue to fail at producing championships.
Clemson finished fifth in the ACC Atlantic standings last year, much to the surprise of the nation. Now the Tigers seem like they are falling off the map.
But, another solid recruiting class will face the pressure of bringing this team back to prominence. Tajh Boyd takes over at quarterback for the Tigers, who will need to improve drastically if they want to compete with Florida State in the ACC.
North Carolina State and Maryland have both made strides, and it appears the Tigers are falling to the bottom tier of the conference. This year will be about getting back on their feet. A first- or second-place finish in the ACC Atlantic is vital to Clemson's near future.
2010 Record: 10-3
Tulsa brings back one of the most potent offenses in the entire nation, and one worthy of national attention.
The Golden Hurricane are thinking big, as they have after most seasons where they make significant strides in the win column. But, not everyone is as stoked about this Conference-USA school as the people in Tulsa.
G.J. Kinne is a star in the making at quarterback who's a perfect modern day offensive machine. Tulsa hopes Kinne can help the Golden Hurricane pull off a few upsets in the early part of the season, against the toughest non-conference schedule in the country with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State.
Tulsa will use those three games to showcase themselves. Whether or not they compete is up to them, but the nation will definitely take notice if they make some noise and pull off an upset. A few upsets and a perfect C-USA schedule could land Tulsa in a BCS bowl for the first time in school history.
2010 Record: 11-2
The Cowboys were 16 points away from an undefeated regular season in 2010 and were led by the potent combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.
Many think Oklahoma will be the best team in the country next year, but the Cowboys from Stillwater are more than ready to crash the party.
The Cowboys will need to make some defensive improvement, but if they do, they very well might end up in the Top Five or better at the end of the year.
In 2009, Oklahoma State entered the year with great expectations and flopped. Will 2011 be a repeat? Or are the Cowboys about step into the league of college football's best programs?
2010 Record: 13-1
With Boise State no longer in the WAC, it appears Nevada is now the overwhelming dominator in the Western Athletic Conference.
They won 13 games last season and defeated Boise State, and head into 2011 with the highest standards in years. This undoubtedly will put a lot of pressure on senior quarterback Tyler Lantrip, who has to replace one of the more overlooked college superstars in recent memory, Colin Kaepernick.
The Wolf Pack have three straight road games at Oregon, Texas Tech and Boise State. If they can win two of those games, they will definitely be considered a Top 10 team.
2010 Record: 9-4
If you look at TAMU's roster, it's hard to convince yourself they aren't destined to make a title run.
And I'm not even talking about a Big 12 title. This team could legitimately surprise everyone in 2011 and make a push for the BCS title game.
They will likely enter most preseason polls as a Top 15 team or better, which will be a new height for the Aggies. Just a few years ago, they had little to no expectations, and former quarterback Jerrod Johnson never really reached his full potential.
Now they bring in the smart and poised Ryan Tannehill and return star tailback Cyrus Gray.
They finished last year on a six-game winning streak before losing to a loaded LSU team in a game that was closer than the score.
TAMU should win 10 games next year, but they need to prove they are ready to be a powerhouse program. If they can't do it with the guys they have in place, it will be difficult for them to regroup.
2010 Record: 12-1
The Boise State Broncos have been the darlings of college football since the turn of the century, but rarely have had to face superior competition in the WAC.
Things will change in 2011, with the Broncos joining the Mountain West Conference. Three tough games will showcase just how good this Boise program has become over the past few years, as they have to face off against Georgia in Atlanta and will play against Nevada and TCU.
Three to four losses would be devastating for a program that has gotten so used to winning big. But if the Broncos continue to dominate like they have in the past, the rest of the nation will start to finally take them very, very seriously.
2010 Record: 8-5
Every year, there is a new hope for Notre Dame football, and every year, they fail to meet expectations.
In fact, Notre Dame has become notorious for embarrassing themselves. With 19 returning starters in 2011, it sure would be tragic if the Irish failed to finally meet expectations.
Most are looking for a nine- to 11-win season for Notre Dame next year, but wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this team fell back to 6-6. It's time the Irish prove they are back.
2010 Record: 11-3
The Conference USA isn't very well known for having BCS-caliber teams, but they might have one next year with the Central Florida Knights.
UCF won 11 games last season and capped off their stellar year with a 10-6 victory over the apparently much more talented Georgia Bulldogs.
Their sixth-ranked scoring defense was definitely something to boast about and certainly fits the formula used by smaller schools to reach BCS-busting status.
If quarterback Jeff Godfrey continues to develop, the Knights could become a new name in the pool of small school powers.
2010 Record: 14-0
Auburn came out of nowhere last season to win the national championship, mainly thanks to Cameron Newton and Nick Fairley's presence.
Well, the Newton-Fairley show only lasted a year, and the Tigers enter 2011 with a new quarterback. There is no doubt Newton was a once-in-a-lifetime player, and Fairley was the nation's best defensive tackle.
So, the question arises. Was Auburn's entire team really that good? Or, was it all Cam Newton? We saw how much Florida struggled without Tim Tebow, and Auburn could be in the same boat.
Rarely do you ever see a national champion stink it up in the next season, but Auburn appears to be headed towards a tough road. Michael Dyer will have to carry this team through a tough SEC West.
2010 Record: 9-5
South Carolina finally got over the hump and won the SEC East last season, which had been dominated by the likes of Florida, Georgia and Tennessee since the BCS era began.
The Gamecocks enter 2011 as possibly the most ready team in the division. They have loads of experience and talent, including incoming sophomore and All-SEC tailback Marcus Lattimore.
Stephen Garcia will need to improve as a quarterback, but if he does, the Gamecocks could become really, really good. Georgia and Florida are both expected to make significant strides in the right direction, so can the Gamecocks keep up?
Or will they fall back off to the second tier of the SEC?
2010 Record: 6-7
When Paul Johnson first arrived at Georgia Tech, everything seemed perfect. The players on the team transitioned perfectly, and impressively, into the new triple-option offense. The Yellow Jackets won an ACC championship and made a BCS bowl appearance, giving the fans in Atlanta reason to believe they now had the best college football program in the state.
But time is starting to show that Chan Gailey's old offensive recruits were the engines of the offense in 2008 and 2009. Georgia Tech struggled with recruiting this year, and many believe Paul Johnson will continue to struggle with bringing in top-end talent into his system.
Georgia Tech, without Josh Nesbitt, will have to have a great year if they want to become an attractive school for future recruits.
2010 Record: 8-5
Florida struggled all of 2010 with finding an offensive identity, which ended up costing them a number of games.
John Brantley enters his senior season with the Gators, who will have a new coaching staff and a completely different offensive philosophy. So, the question is, can Florida keep the success they had with Urban Meyer now that Will Muschamp is their head coach?
Charlie Weis takes over as the offensive coordinator and will need to prove his struggles at Notre Dame aren't going to carry over to his next college stop.
2010 Record: 6-7
Georgia entered 2010 with pretty high expectations and started their season off horribly. Many blamed the awful 1-4 star on the absence of A.J. Green, and felt like Georgia had a very good team last year towards the end of the year.
But, a tough home win against Georgia Tech and a loss in the Liberty Bowl to UCF had most fans calling for the firing of Mark Richt. That was, of course, until Richt landed the best recruiting class he's had in Athens.
Georgia has the SEC's best quarterback in Aaron Murray and the nation's No. 1 running back recruit in Isaiah Crowell. They will need to ride that two-headed monster back to a nine- or 10-win season, or Athens could be kissing Mark Richt goodbye.
2010 Record: 8-5
I don't think anyone in college football thought they would see the day the Southern California Trojans fell off the map. Since the turn of the century, the men of Troy have had one of the most prolific programs in the country.
But NCAA probations and the hire of controversial head coach Lane Kiffin have taken them off the map.
The Trojans will have to endure one more year of a postseason ban. If anything, they should strive for a 10-win or better season in 2011, which would give them some momentum heading into 2012.
With Oregon rising in the Pac-12, Southern California has to keep winning games at a high level if they want to remain atop the college football landscape.
2010 Record: 12-1
Stanford is another Pac-12 school that's really taking the conference over by storm.
Last year, the Cardinal came out of nowhere to dominate the conference, with their only loss coming at the hands of Oregon.
A decisive 40-12 victory over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl put Stanford football in a heavenly state, but the loss of head coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL has some fans worried, considering it was Harbaugh who led the team to the top.
Andrew Luck returns as the leader at quarterback and will need to take it upon himself to keep Stanford near the peak.
2010 Record: 10-4
Florida State had been in a lull for a few years, but now it appears the 'Noles are back, led by rejuvenating head coach Jimbo Fisher.
A Chik-fil-A Bowl victory over SEC East champion South Carolina was a nice way to top off the first double-digit win season for the 'Noles in a long time.
Many believe Florida State is finally back and will run away with the ACC title in 2011. But the Seminoles will have a new signal-caller in E.J. Manuel, who's talented, but will have to replace Christian Ponder at quarterback.
The pressure is on Manuel and the rest of the Seminoles to deal with very, very high expectations.
2010 Record: 7-6
After 2009, many felt like "The U" was finally back, but Miami dropped back off in 2010, leading to the firing of head coach Randy Shannon.
Al Golden takes over the Hurricanes, who return Jacory Harris as well as talented running back Lamar Miller. A strong defensive front might really help Miami's production as well.
Miami was ready to take over the ACC last year and failed. This year, they will have stiff competition with rival Florida State taking charge.
It's time Miami starts winning some football games.
2010 Record: 5-7
Nobody would have guessed Texas, out of all teams, would go 5-7 last year under tenured coach Mack Brown.
But, that's exactly what they did, much to the misery of the fans in Austin. Heading into 2011, Texas has a lot to fear, with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seemingly taking over the Big 12.
Texas returns Garrett Gilbert, who will have to perform better next year if Texas wants to improve.
In any other era, many would feel Texas would be in good shape heading into the year. After all, they are Texas. But, as stated, other Big 12 schools are jumping the gun and starting to catch credibility.
If Texas doesn't turn things around next year, they could be in deep trouble, and that implies the job of Mack Brown.