With the BCS National Championship Game less than an hour away, college football is about to embark on its final season without a playoff system.
Looking into the future, we can now start to imagine what those final four playoff teams will look like come 2014.
Given how young some of the elite teams from this season were, the top contenders shouldn't be all that surprising.
Texas A&M lost two games this season, and given a playoff system, it would have been far out of contention at No. 9 in the BCS standings.
But moving forward, the Aggies look like a force to be reckoned with.
First off, you can't mention A&M without mentioning Johnny Manziel. The electric quarterback became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy, and as long as he's around, the Aggies will be a contender.
Texas A&M also sports a lot of defensive depth, including a young and promising defensive line.
As long as the Aggies have Johnny Football, it's going to be impossible to keep them out of the championship talk.
If this season was a sign of things to come, Urban Meyer is ready to take the BCS by storm.
Despite BCS ineligibility due to NCAA infractions, Meyer didn't let up on his recovery project with the Buckeyes. Ohio State finished a perfect 12-0 this season.
Looking ahead, Meyer has plenty of recruits to take advantage of before the playoff system takes effect. And with the BCS ban now lifted, Ohio State shouldn't have an issue garnering future stars.
Key players who could be around in 2014 include sophomores Braxton Miller (quarterback; 2,039 passing yards, 1,271 rushing) and Ryan Shazier (linebacker; 114 tackles, five sacks).
On the coattails of Meyer and his stellar building, Ohio State is in great position for when the playoff system comes around.
If not for recent news that coach Chip Kelly is returning to Oregon, it'd be hard to make a case for the Ducks.
But Kelly is the mastermind behind the school's patented, high-powered offensive regime, and until he leaves, it's tough to imagine UO receding from the upper echelon of the BCS.
Oregon finished its season ranked No. 4 in the BCS, which would have put the Ducks squarely in contention. And without any real challengers for Pac-12 supremacy, the Ducks are sitting pretty for the future.
Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota (2,677 yards passing, 32 touchdowns, 752 rushing yards) can only get better. As long as Oregon's offense is built around him, the Ducks will be nearly unstoppable.
Monday night, Alabama will target its third BCS national championship in four years. How can you not look at the Tide as contenders for the future?
Yes, Nick Saban will continue to retire his players to the NFL, and yes, he'll continue to find stellar replacements.
No, Saban won't have quarterback AJ McCarron (junior) or cornerback Dee Milliner (junior) in 2014, as the NFL draft will continue to steal 'Bama's talent.
But it doesn't seem to matter, because Saban knows how to recruit and build a program. And right now, he has arguably the most prestigious football program in the country at his fingertips.
As long as Nick Saban is at the helm, Alabama is a perennial favorite.
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