You can be forgiven if you want to see some new blood at the top of the BCS rankings in 2013. This season did bring enough surprises, yet when all was said and done, we were looking at the same old guard.
Unlike professional sports, college football can be difficult to prognosticate from one season to the next. Players graduate, incoming recruits don't play or don't play up to their full potential, teams have a better understanding how to defend someone, leaving a team to scramble for answers.
Now that we have seen the entirety of the 2012-13 season, as well as taken time to dissect the final BCS standings that were released over a month ago, here are the teams that finished strong who we love next season.
No. 6 Stanford Cardinal (12-2)
At what point do we start to recognize that the Stanford program, somewhere along the line, became about more than Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck? Those two were critical in the development of the program, but it is clear that it isn't going away even though they did.
We all assumed 2012 would be the year when the Cardinal came back to earth after losing Luck to the NFL. Things did start off a little sketchy, with a sluggish offense and loss at Washington in Week 4. After that, everything clicked for this team.
Stanford lost just one game the rest of the season, a controversial goal-line stand at Notre Dame cost the Cardinal a late touchdown. That was the lone blemish for this team after September 27. Head coach David Shaw has kept the tough-minded foundation of the program in place.
Losing Stepfan Taylor will be a blow to the offense, but freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan did spark the offense down the stretch. The playing time he was able to get over the final six weeks of the season was huge for his development and will allow him to step in next year ready to play.
It's possible the Cardinal can bring back 16 starters from a team that just won the Rose Bowl. Yeah, they will be really, really good in 2013.
No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies (11-2)
Considering how the team finished the season, not to mention the fact that quarterback Johnny Manziel will have a full offseason to study tape and get better, if that's possible, Texas A&M could easily end up reaching the top of all the rankings at some point next season.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin has done a fantastic job building this team and program up in just over a year. He is capitalizing on the success of this season in recruiting, landing the No. 9 recruiting class in the country right now (via 247Sports.com).
The Aggies will be tested right out of the gate in 2013, as they play Alabama at College Station on September 14. If they can knock off the Tide again, the schedule sets up for them to be undefeated until playing LSU on November 23.
All eyes will be on Manziel, for obvious reasons, but pay attention to this team in 2013. Texas A&M is back and ready to make a big run at an SEC and BCS championship next season.
Unranked Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0)
Ineligible for postseason play in 2012; Finished Third in AP Top 25 Rankings.
Despite a 12-0 record, no one thought Ohio State was nearly that good. Certainly, the raw numbers suggest a lot of luck and an easy schedule helped the Buckeyes make it through 2012 perfect.
However, we know two things about Ohio State. One, this program has as much talent as anyone in the country outside of a few SEC schools. Two, Urban Meyer now has a full year to make his mark in recruiting and implementing his system with Jim Tressel's players.
Recruiting is going great for Meyer right now. According to 247Sports.com, the only team with a better incoming class than Ohio State is Alabama. The influx of talent, not to mention the players already in place, will get the Buckeyes back into the national title mix.
The key to everything is quarterback Braxton Miller, who had issues throwing the ball in the pocket last season. Meyer loves what Miller can do, going so far as saying that his new quarterback is more talented than Tim Tebow.
That may be, but Ohio State will have to finish better than 105th in the nation in passing if it wants to be a serious contender. Fortunately there are weapons around Miller, like Devin Smith, to help him take the next step.
|FINAL 2012 BCS RANKINGS|
|1. Notre Dame|
|5. Kansas State|
|9. Texas A&M|
|10. South Carolina|
|12. Florida State|
|13. Oregon State|
|15. Northern Illinois|
|19. Boise State|
|22. Utah State|
|24. San Jose State|
|25. Kent State|