No surprises at the top of the preseason top 25, with the national champions Alabama looking like huge favorites to stay at number one by the end of the season, and the SEC having six teams overall in the top 12. Ohio State seem like the only real BCS hope coming from the Big Ten, while the Pac-12 will probably have to choose between Oregon and Stanford as its best team, hopefully making it to the title game this time.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (58 first place votes) – The defending champions, who beat Notre Dame by 28 points in the BCS championship game last season, have won the title three times in the last four years.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes (1) – The Big Ten hasn’t done very well in recent years, but last year’s undefeated season and the presence of Urban Meyer on the sidelines give the Buckeyes a lot of hope heading into 2013.
3. Oregon Ducks – Once again looking like the cream of the crop in the Pac-12, although it wasn’t enough to win the conference last season, setteling for an impressive beatdown of Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
4. Stanford Cardinal – The Rose Bowl & Pac-12 champions will once again be the premier team in the attempt to knock Oregon off the top in the conference, succeeding in that last season with a close win in Eugene. This season, they’re hosting the showdown that will probably decide the winner of the North division and the conference.
5. Georgia Bulldogs (1) – Bringing back most of their offense positions them as the favorites to win the SEC East, and probably reach another conference title game. Do they have enough to beat Alabama this time?
6. South Carolina Gamecocks – Similar story to that of the Bulldogs, only without the conference title game. It’s going to be wild and close in the SEC East once again, and the Gamecocks need to make sure they don’t mess up too much this time, losing twice during the regular season.
7. Texas A&M Aggies – The more hits the persona of Johnny Manziel takes, the lower the Aggies fall. When last season ended, there were some who were ranking them at number one in the ‘way too early’ preseason rankings.
8. Clemson Tigers – The win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A bowl and the fact that they’re hosting Florida State this year has a lot of people in the Orange side of South Carolina hyped up about next season. Too bad they have to play Georgia and South Carolina on the way, as they want to do more than win the ACC.
9. Louisville Cardinals – The winners of the Sugar Bowl have Teddy Bridgewater, who looks like the favorite to win the Heisman trophy this year, and a very easy schedule compared to the rest of the top 10. Are we going to see a team from the AAC in the BCS title game?
10. Florida Gators – Seem somewhat weakened compared to last season and to their SEC East rivals, not to mention playing at South Carolina and LSU along the way after a two-loss season.
11. Florida State Seminoles – Winning the ACC was good, and winning a BCS bowl felt even better. But the Seminoles want to return to the 90’s and the success they had during that decade. It’s probably not going to happen in 2013.
12. LSU Tigers – It’s rough being with Alabama in the same division, and the Tigers will probably feel the same kind of pain this season, as they don’t seem deep and good enough to go through the SEC minefield unscathed, which includes games at Georgia and Alabama.
13. Oklahoma State Cowboys – The best in the Big 12? Hosting Bedlam might be a reason to rank ’em this high, but it’s going to be surprising to find the Cowboys among the contenders for the BCS title by the end of the season.
14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – The schedule is quite difficult once again, and the Irish don’t have the quality of defense they had last season. Still, Notre Dame are here to stay and remain in the top 25 for the entire season.
15. Texas Longhorns – Too many disappointing seasons for the Longhorns, who don’t take losing three-four times in one year too well. Mack Brown is feeling the pressure, and the bowl game win over Oregon State isn’t enough to clam things down in Austin.
16. Oklahoma Sooners – After finishing way below expectations each year, Bob Stoops knows the Sooners are where they belong. The Big 12 is far behind the SEC, and the bad beating his team received against the Aggies in the Cotton Bowl is probably still a bitter taste in his mouth.
17. Michigan Wolverines – New quarterback, same expectations. In the very weak Big Ten (compared to the past), beating Notre Dame and Ohio State seem like the two biggest tests for Michigan this year.
18. Nebraska Cornhuskers – Lost some firepower from last year, but except for their road game against Michigan, there’s not all that to be scared of on their schedule.
19. Boise State Broncos – If they can win in Washington against the Huskies, no one will be surprised to see them end the season undefeated.
20. TCU Horned Frogs – Higher expectations than in last season from Texas Christian as they enter their second year in the fluxing Big 12. Besides their LSU game to open the season, they have to play in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
21. UCLA Bruins – A very tough schedule with visits to Nebraska, Stanford and Oregon, but UCLA are feeling confident they can continue to rule in the city after beating USC last season.
22. Northwestern Wildcats – It’s been quite a while since Northwestern have been rated this highly, but there’s a decent chance they can repeat their success from last year in the Big Ten, finishing with a 10-3 record and beating Mississippi State in the bowl game.
23. Wisconsin Badgers – Anything less than a four-loss season should be considered a success. Hard to see them making the Rose Bowl for a fourth consecutive time.
24. USC Trojans – Were ranked at the top last year, ending in disaster. This year expectations are a bit more reasonable, but the pressure on Lane Kiffin to at least win his division is just as great.
25. Oregon State – If they’ll end up having the kind of year they had in 2012, everyone will be quite pleased.