Since the invention of the BCS in 1999, there have always been a few teams that are more heavily favored than others when it comes to placement on the rankings. Every year fans cry out that teams are placed higher just because of their name and sometimes they're not far off.
Boise State has earned their spot among the NCAA's elite over the past few years and continues to prove it can play with the big boys. That said, they seem to be getting into the territory of BCS darlings nowadays.
The team is still rock-solid, and is even underrated at times; however, they now get to enjoy a high pre-season ranking every year even though we all know they never play a very tough schedule. They aren't quite there yet, but this is quickly becoming a team that gets a favorable early ranking on name alone.
Michigan is almost the exact opposite of Boise State. They've had their good years under the BCS, but they haven't ever been a perennial championship contender. Somehow, they've still managed to be ranked coming into almost every season since 1999.
That said, it's hard to put Michigan in the main part of this list because their preferential treatment has subsided quite a bit over the last few years, mainly because they haven't been very good. This year the team is looking up and we might see them become a darling once again. For now though, they're sitting just outside the top 10, hoping to get back in soon.
LSU has been one of the better college football programs over the course of the BCS. In fact, they're tied with Florida with two national championships since the inception of the BCS, and they look like they might have a chance at adding a third later this year.
That said, you can definitely classify this program as one of the 10 BCS darlings. Year in and out they are favorably ranked to start the season. Many times they've lived up to that hype, but every few years they've proven themselves undeserving.
This isn't to say LSU has a bad program or doesn't deserve to be highly ranked this year. In 2011 they've shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are one of the best teams in the nation. However, it's always going to help your program when the BCS loves seeing you on top.
USC's status as BCS darlings is kind of up in the air right now because of the heavy punishment the NCAA brought down on them a few years ago. However, the Trojans have been a highly successful program under the BCS' rule.
Since the BCS was introduced in 1999, the USC Trojans are officially 5-0 in BCS bowl games. I say officially because two of their games don't count as part of the heavy punishment I talked about earlier. When you add in those two games, their record comes to 6-1.
Obviously, USC, like all the programs on this list, isn't a bad squad. What makes them a BCS darling is that they have performed so well in the past and now it's expected that will continue to play well. This gets them preferential treatment in various rankings and turns them into one of the BCS' 10 biggest darlings.
The Oklahoma Sooners are one of the most storied programs in the history of the NCAA. Sadly, they haven't fared quite as well under the BCS. Their current record in BCS bowl games stands 3-5 and they're only 1-3 in championships.
That said, they have been to four championships, which is more than any other school and it looks like they're going to have a good shot at adding a fifth appearance this year. This program is one of the best and that's what puts it on everyone's short list every year.
Bob Stoops' boys are worthy of the majority of the hype they get. They might of had some troubles winning championship games, but they usually prove themselves to be one of the best teams in the country.
There have been a few cases over the years where they didn't live up to the lofty ranking they were given in the preseason. That said, they've done better than most programs in living up to their top 10 preseason rankings.
Alabama just recently became BCS darlings. Before Nick Saban the team was ranked from time to time, but they only went to one BCS bowl and lost in 2000. Then the team began to pick up steam.
They lost in Saban's first BCS bowl, but were able to win the national championship. Now they look on pace to at least have a shot at taking home the trophy at the end of this season.
The excellent play under Saban has quickly made this team one of the BCS darlings. They're constantly highly ranked and generally a top 10 preseason team. Time will tell if they can continue to prove worthy of their lofty rankings, but for now they should enjoy their status as a BCS favorite.
The Florida Gators can thank Tim Tebow for their spot on this list. Before Tebow the Gators were a solid program who saw a bit of success in the early 2000s. Now, after two national championships, they're firmly entrenched as BCS darlings.
A few years ago, it was hard to hate on the Gators because they were playing so well, but now they aren't anywhere the team they were back then. However, they've still enjoyed preferential rankings from the BCS.
It's possible that Florida can regain their place atop the college football world, but right now they're just riding on the coattails of the name Tebow built. It's not that the team is that bad, but they aren't a Top 25 team anymore.
After last year's dismal performance it was looking like Texas might be on the verge of losing their darling status. Then they came into this year unranked and I thought they may have faded from voters minds. However, they quickly reeled off a string of victories against weak opponents and shot up the rankings.
That's the very definition of a BCS darling. The voters gave them more votes than they would've to a lesser known program because they're Texas . The Longhorns have since proved they weren't worthy of their top 15 ranking with a big loss to OU, but the fact that they even made it up to 11th in the nation proves their status as a darling.
Texas is one of the most storied programs in history so it's hard to see them not getting back to the level they were at a few years ago. For now though, they're not playing up to our expectations and that makes their status as a BCS darling a negative one.
Miami enjoyed some early success under the BCS format, but the program has been unable to turn hype into results since then. They haven't been to a BCS bowl game since 2004, but still continue to enjoy the hype that comes with being a BCS darling.
This year was finally supposed to be the year Miami would capitalize on their hype, but then a few key players were hit with suspension. Now they're sitting at 2-3 and could be facing an uphill battle to even break .500 at seasons end. That's not the kind of play fans expect from a program that used to be so good.
Miami may never make their return to greatness because it seems like every time they're on the verge of doing so, something comes along and ruins plans. If they can't turn their season around this year, they could lose their status as BCS darlings and begin to lose the preferential treatment they've enjoyed over the years.
Florida State's story is basically the same as Miami's, but much worse. Florida State came into this season ranked number six and it looked like they would finally make their come back. However, they were hit with a big injury to quarterback E.J. Manuel and haven't been the same team since.
Florida State has never really seen consistent success under the BCS. They did go to the first three national championship games, but only won one of them. In fact, they're current BCS Bowl record is only 1-5. However, getting to that many BCS bowl games is more than enough to gain status as a BCS darling.
It looks like this won't be the year the Seminoles finally prove themselves worthy of their preseason hype, but it's hard to blame them that much, given the injury to Manuel. This program looks like it might finally be on the rise after so many years of failing to live up their preseason ranking.
There may not be another team in the nation that people love to hate more than Ohio State. They've constantly played their way through a week conference and then been torn apart by SEC teams.
That said, they do have a 5-3 record in BCS bowl games and have been in one every year since 2006. Most people don't look at that record and just point to their back to back double digit losses in the national championship game to SEC teams.
Those losses are why many dislike their position as BCS darlings. However, their name and drawing power is always going to be a good reason to give them as much preferential treatment as possible. I'm sure the BCS is hoping this team can come back from all their recent controversy and challenge for another Big 10 title next year.
No other program has failed to live up to expectations under the BCS more than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They're constantly ranked in everyone's preseason list, but fail to live up to that ranking time and again.
The Irish have enjoyed a few good seasons since 1999 and even went to three BCS bowl games. However, they lost all three of those games and those good years have come few and far between for a team that's so highly regarded amongst voters.
It seems like every year is going to the year Notre Dame returns to greatness, but this program will probably never be able to live up to its own history. That said, they're always going to enjoy being a BCS darling, regardless of how bad a team a team the Fighting Irish put on the field.