August 7, 2012
After years of waiting, hoping, and even begging, we will finally have a college football playoff. But not this year. First we have to wait some more. When the playoff system takes effect starting in 2014, teams won’t necessarily be knocked out of the conversation with one loss. But this year – if you want a shot – you better not lose a game. Or at least win the SEC title. Or at least win your division in the SEC. Or at least be Alabama. Here are some teams that could run the table in 2012.
Matt Barkley is back. He is expected to be a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy and the first pick in the NFL draft next April. If he stays healthy, the Trojans should have the best player on the field at the most important position. And they are coming off of a two-year bowl ban from the Reggie Bush scandal, so no team will be hungrier to get a taste of the post-season. The schedule sets up about as well it can in the PAC-12. Stanford (Sept. 15) should be the toughest road game for the Trojans, but Andrew Luck will be busy in Indianapolis. Nov. 3 is the day that we should have circled on our calendars. Oregon comes to town for a showdown of two Top 5 teams in the preseason poll. This could be an elimination game and if USC survives, their Nov. 24 meeting with Notre Dame will be very interesting.
Speaking of the Ducks…they could very well enter the matchup with USC with an unbeaten record as well. The big question here is how they replace quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James. The consensus around the country seems to be that there is plenty more where they came from. Oregon’s schedule looks awfully similar to the one the Trojans will face. Barring a surprise, the Ducks and Trojans will play what is essentially a playoff game and if Oregon comes out on top, a Nov. 17 meeting with Stanford would be the biggest hurdle left for the Ducks.
That’s right. If anyone from the vaunted SEC will do it, the Bulldogs have a good a shot as anyone. LSU and Alabama may be the top two in the preseason poll after they met in the BCS title game last year, but I don’t see either team finding perfection in 2012. But Georgia has lucked out with the scheduling and doesn’t have to face LSU, Alabama or Arkansas (top ten teams in the preseason poll). Aaron Murray and the whole receiving core are back, along with one of the top defenses in the nation, which lost just two starters. South Carolina, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech will all have something to say about Georgia’s undefeated chances though.
Normally, a team that just lost the winningest quarterback in FBS history, an NFL worthy running back, and the entire defensive line wouldn’t make this list, but history has proven that the Broncos always have something up their sleeve. They have one of the best coaches in the nation (Chris Peterson is 73-6 at BSU) and he has turned down many offers to coach elsewhere. If the Broncos didn’t have some good football players coming to fill those holes, maybe he doesn’t stay. An opening weekend trip to Michigan State and a home game against BYU are the two most likely losses on the schedule.