By Charles Davis
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 12-0 --
Idle this past week, the Irish were resting and waiting to see who would oppose them in the BCS National Championship game in Miami. And that team is ...
2. Alabama Crimson Tide 12-1 --
By virtue of a hard-fought victory, the Crimson Tide will take on Notre Dame and try to defend their title. Cue the TV executives' celebration, as two of the titans of college football will battle to wear the crown of 2012 national champs.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes 12-0 --
Ineligible for national honors due to their probation, the Buckeyes did all they could to put themselves in a position to win an AP national title by going 12-0 -- and beating Michigan to boot.
4. Oregon Ducks 11-1 --
The Ducks had designs on playing in Miami against an SEC team -- and seeing if they could win this time. But their Fiesta Bowl matchup with Kansas State will be one of the more intriguing games of the bowl season.
5. Kansas State Wildcats 11-1 1
QB Collin Klein had a season for posterity, and he will take his Wildcats to the desert and try to control the ball against speedy Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
6. Stanford Cardinal 11-2 1
The Pac-12 champs beat UCLA two straight weeks to end the season. Because of it, the Cardinal will take over the Bruins' home stadium, the Rose Bowl, where they will welcome Wisconsin.
7. Florida Gators 11-1 1
The Gators kept being told they couldn't get it done this year, and they kept proving people wrong by going 11-1 in the regular season. Their reward is a Sugar Bowl trip and a matchup with Louisville of the Big East (at the moment).
8. Georgia Bulldogs 11-2 -3
The Bulldogs played the SEC championship game with something to prove about their guts, and fortitude. Mission accomplished. The loss to Alabama will hurt, but they were valiant.
9. LSU Tigers 10-2 --
The Tigers did not get to Atlanta for the SEC championship game this year, but they will head to the Georgia Dome to take on Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks 10-2 --
Another terrific year for Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks, who were only slowed down by their own conference foes (Florida and Alabama).
11. Texas A&M Aggies 10-2 --
What a splendid first season in the SEC for the Aggies. QB "Johnny Football" Manziel may win the Heisman, and "WHOOP," the Maroon and White are headed to the Cotton Bowl.
12. Oklahoma Sooners 10-2 --
The Sooners will be the opponent for Texas A&M at JerryWorld, with the two teams reviving an old Big 12 rivalry in Dallas.
13. Florida State Seminoles 11-2 --
The ACC champions should probably be ranked higher, but ... which teams should they jump if you take the one loss vs. two loss argument off the table? Tough call
14. Clemson Tigers 10-2 --
The Tigers have had a fine year following up their BCS appearance of a year ago. QB Tahj Boyd leads the Tigers to Atlanta for a date with LSU.
15. Oregon State Beavers 9-3 2
The Nicholls State game that was to be the Beavers' season opener was played on Saturday, and Oregon State cruised. Mike Riley got all he could out of this team in the regular season.
16. Michigan Wolverines 8-4 2
Still smarting after their loss to rival Ohio State, the Wolverines believe that the 2013 season begins with bowl game preparations and a matchup with South Carolina in the Outback.
17. UCLA Bruins 9-4 -1
A tremendous debut season for first-year head coach Jim Mora, whose Bruins won nine games and the Pac-12 South. Off to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl for this team of future promise.
18. Northern Illinois Huskies 12-1 2
QB Jordan Lynch is the best QB the country has not taken notice of yet. That all changes in the Orange Bowl, where the Huskies will play ACC champ Florida State. But who will coach the BCS buster in the big game? Head coach Dave Doeren just accepted the North Carolina State job.
19. Nebraska Cornhuskers 10-3 -4
This is my agonizing pick. The Huskers won their side of the Big Ten bracket and won 10 games, including their last six in a row ... but then they were thoroughly dominated by a five-loss Wisconsin team that played one of the best games of the year in the Big Ten title game.
20. Utah State Aggies 10-2 1
Head coach Gary Anderson says he's staying in Logan. Cue the rejoicing ...
21. San Diego State Aztecs 9-3 1
A better season than expected for the Aztecs, who shared the Mountain West title with Boise State and Fresno State. Can they begin to build a program that is consistently playing in the postseason?
22. Boise State Broncos 10-2 1
Beat Nevada on the road for a share of the Mountain West crown. They just keep winning titles.
23. Louisville Cardinals 10-2 --
Congratulations to coach Charlie Strong and his Cardinals, the Big East champions in 2012. Strong now faces one of his former schools, Florida, in the Sugar Bowl.
24. Northwestern Wildcats 9-3 --
The Wildcats are consistent under coach Pat Fitzgerald, and they had their chances to be in the Big Ten title game. This team is dangerous with Kain Colter and Trevor Simien at QB.
25. San Jose State Spartans 10-2 --
When was the last time you heard about San Jose State working so hard to keep a head coach (Mike McIntyre in this case)? And they should, as the Spartans are building something special out West.