The 2012 college football season is nearly two weeks away and fans are wondering if the SEC will win seventh consecutive national title. Let’s take a moment and rank the conferences in preparation for another fantastic year on campuses across the nation.
The LSU Tigers and
Alabama Crimson Tide occupy the top two spots in the initial USA Today Coaches
Preseason Poll, which isn’t a big surprise due to the programs playing in the
2012 BCS National Championship Game. Alabama captured a 21-0 victory in
that contest on Jan. 9, but LSU sits atop the rankings heading into this
It’s important to note
that the first poll was released before the news of 2011 Heisman Trophy
finalist Tyrann Mathieu being dismissed from the Tigers football program last
week. His ability will certainly be missed due to his big-play ability in
Five other schools
from the Southeastern Conference also drew attention from coaches in the
initial poll, with the Georgia Bulldogs leading the way among that group,
landing in the sixth spot. The Bulldogs have a tremendous opportunity to
win it all this year, as they are led by junior quarterback Aaron Murray, who
has thrown for 3,000-plus yards in his first two seasons in Athens.
2. Big 12
The Oklahoma Sooners
are the most successful college football program in the modern era (1946-2011),
capturing 577 victories in that span, which is 38 more than the Texas Longhorns
who occupy the second spot on that list. Both of these teams are found in
the preseason poll, ranked fourth and 15th respectively.
The Big 12 Conference
watched the Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies take off to join the SEC,
but did a fantastic job in replacing those voids by inviting TCU and West
Virginia to join the party.
Bob Stoops has
compiled the best win percentage (.803) of active coaches over the last decade,
which could improve with the Sooners welcoming back signal-caller Landry Jones
for his senior season. He already enters the season as the program’s
all-time passing leader with 12,379 career yards.
The USC Trojans and
Oregon Ducks are two of the more talented teams nationally, but there’s also a
renewed sense of optimism in the Pac-12 Conference due to the amount of
high-profile coaches that entered the fray during the offseason.
Matt Barkley is going to be the most talked about player in the country, as
he’s the favorite to walk away with the 2012 Heisman Trophy. He has
incredible weapons at his disposal, including All-American wide receiver Robert
Rodriguez), Arizona State (Todd Graham), UCLA (Jim Mora Jr.) and Washington
State (Mike Leach) are four teams that could surprise many due to new
enthusiasm on the sidelines.
4. Big Ten
I could be proven
wrong in a big way at season’s end in placing the Big Ten Conference in this
spot, but I’m not sold on one of its members reaching the national title game.
Wolverines will find out in a hurry if they are deserving of being one of the
elite teams in the country, as they will take on the Crimson Tide in the season
opener. Quarterback Denard Robinson is one of the nation’s most electric
players, but he’s always a candidate to wear down as the season wears on due to
There must be
something about Madison, WI, with the Badgers filling their spot under center
with a transferring player for the second consecutive year. Danny O’Brien
comes over from Maryland, but he may be a step below Russell Wilson, who is now
with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL.
The Florida State
Seminoles and Clemson Tigers possess two of the best offenses in all the land,
which was a big reason in gaining the seventh and 14th spot in the coaches
poll. Both teams will lay it on the line against each other on Saturday,
Sept. 22 in Tallahassee.
Tajh Boyd threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns in capturing a 35-30 win as
2.5-point college football betting favorites in last year’s meeting, but that game was played
without Seminoles signal-caller EJ Manuel.
The Virginia Tech
Hokies are flying under the radar in terms of media hype entering the 2012
season, which should provide longtime head coach Frank Beamer with plenty of
ways to motivate a proud program and fan base.
Ranking the remaining
6. Big East
(Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida can make some noise)
USA (Houston and Southern Miss are under new coaching regimes)
8. Mountain West
(Boise State begins life without four-year starter Kellen Moore)
9. MAC (Get
ready for more high-scoring affairs in prime time)
10. Sun Belt
(Sent three teams to bowl games in consecutive years)
11. WAC (Bottom
of the barrel and it's not even close)