The quest for the National Championship and the BCS bowl matchups will be very competitive this year.
When determining the National Champion
, you have to take the rosters and strength of schedule into account. Some teams have a lot of obstacles along the way while some teams have an easier schedule where they just have to get past 1 or 2 formidable teams. Let's take a look at the top contenders for 2011-2012.Auburn Tigers (14-0 in 2010)Auburn
takes a big hit as Heisman Trophy
winner and the number 1 draft pick in the NFL, quarterback Cam Newton has moved on. Currently, the Tigers are listed at 100/1 at Bodog for any of you that like to take extreme longshotsOklahoma Sooners (12-2) - 4/1
The Sooners are the betting odds favorites and that's easy to see why, when they have the best 1-2 passing combination in college football of quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles. Jones threw for 4718 yards with 38 TD and 12 INT last season. Jones looked mighty impressive last season in the Fiesta Bowl when Oklahoma
blasted Connecticut 48-20. It was a bowl game where they were double digit favorites and it was clearly a mismatch. Receiver Ryan Broyles put up some huge numbers last season that will be difficult to duplicate. He caught an amazing 131 receptions for 1622 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Sooners schedule looks to be favorable. They face Florida State on the road in the second week of the season and another difficult road game will be against the Texas Longhorns on October 8th. On November 5th they host the Texas A&M Aggies
and they close out the season on the road at Oklahoma State. If they can get by Florida State, the schedule looks pretty smooth as long as they play well.Alabama Crimson Tide (10-3) - 11/2
The Tide lost some players from last season
that will be difficult to replace. The losses of Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, and Julio Jones are big voids to fill for Alabama. One of the voids will be filled by Heisman candidate running back Trent Richardson. Last season, Richardson ran for 700 yards at 6.3 yards per carry and 6 touchdowns. Look for his production to increase dramatically. Alabama's schedule is no cakewalk as they face Penn State away on September 10th, Arkansas at home on September 24th, at Florida October 1st, LSU at home on November 5th, and a game that they should win on the road against Auburn on November 26th. I think the Alabama Crimson Tide
are overrated. They have too many changes and their schedule is a tough one.Florida State (10-4) - 10/1
E.J. Manuel will be taking over the quarterback position for Christian Ponder. Manuel got his feet wet last season, throwing for 861 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Florida State
ranked 2nd in the country in recruiting. This should be a good team in the future. They face two major obstacles on their schedule when they host Oklahoma, who is favored to win it all, on September 17th and their interstate rivals the Florida Gators, who they face on the road on November 26th. The rest of the schedule is relatively easy. The Seminoles will definitely be in a top bowl game but I don't see them getting past Oklahoma early in the season.Oregon Ducks (12-1) - 13/1
Oregon had the highest powered offense in the country last season, scoring an average of 47 points per game. At 13/1 college football odds, I think that they're a major bargain. They should definitely be rated higher than Alabama and Florida State but I don't make the odds. Oregon is led by quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James. Both players are Heisman Trophy candidates
. James is the one with a legitimate chance at the award but to be mentioned in that class is an honor in itself. Last season, Thomas passed for 2881 yards with 30 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also rushed for 486 yards and 5 touchdowns. LaMichael James isn't the biggest man at 5 foot 9, 185 lbs. but he played big. James rushed for 1731 yards and 21 touchdowns. This is a team that can run the table. Their schedule isn't a difficult one. They face LSU in the first game of the season at a neutral site and they meet up with Heisman favorite Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford on November 12th. This is a definite team to keep your eye on.Boise State Broncos (12-1) 14/1
This is a team that will maligned for a less difficult schedule. For Boise State to win the National title, they have to go undefeated and do it convincingly. Their 1st game of the season will be a tough one against Georgia on the road but they should come out victorious and they meet up with the tough defense of TCU on November 12th . TCU led the country in defense, only allowing 12 points per game. At just 6 foot tall, Kellen Moore runs the Boise State offense. This Heisman Trophy contender passed for 3845 yards and completed 71.3 of his passes in 2010. He also threw for 35 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. Boise State took a hit in the offseason and will rely heavily on running back Doug Martin. Martin rushed 1260 yards and 12 touchdowns. Boise State
could go undefeated and is a possible threat if they're dominant.
My three favorite college football picks out of the list are Oklahoma, Oregon, and Boise State. Boise State doesn't play the level of competition as the other two schools do. As much as Landry Jones can air the ball out, he's prone to making mistakes and lacks accuracy slightly. Oregon is a powerful offensive team that can hold their own on the defensive side of the ball. Look for Oregon and Oklahoma to meet up in the Championship Game with LaMichael James coming up with a big performance on the grand stage.Pick:
Oregon Ducks to win the National Championship (13/1)