Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/22/12

College football has been ruled by the South Eastern Conference (SEC) for the past six years, as evidenced by the last six national championships (Florida 2006 and 2008, Alabama 2009 and 2011, LSU 2007, Auburn 2010), and this year may not be any different.  Last year’s title game participants, LSU and Alabama will be in the hunt, as will other powerhouse teams Oregon, Oklahoma and West Virginia. 

But one team not mentioned in the list above, the USC Trojans, are back from probation and penalties stemming from illegal gifts, which involved Heisman trophy winner Reggie Bush.  Quarterback Matt Barkley surprised many by coming back to play his senior year and try and bring the Trojans back to the top of the mountain and complete some unfinished business.

Here is my preseason Top 10 and my selection for the national title game on January 7, 2013 in Miami, FL

1.  University of Southern California (Prediction 13-0)

As noted above, this team wants to show everyone they are back.They are loaded on both sides of the ball with the main void to fill at LT (All-American Matt Kalil drafted 4th overall by Minnesota).Sophomore Aundrey Walker will look to fill the opening and give the Trojans a clear pathway to the November 3rd game at home vs. Oregon.When they get through that game, they will be waiting in Miami for the Alabama/LSU winner.

2.  Alabama (13-1)

Last year QB AJ McCarron was the question mark and the defense was the strength as they finished 1st in the NCAA last year in total defense, passing defense and rushing defense. Now that defense, whichlost four players in the first picks 35 picks of last year’s draft will have to retool and rely on the Junior QB to lead the team back which brings back seven offensive starters.Their roadblock is going to Baton Rouge to play in the “Deaf Valley”. I see the Tide winning a close game.

3.  LSU (12-1)

The Tigers will have two very large holes to fill one both sides of the ball to get back to the promise land.QB Jordan Jefferson and All-American Heisman finalist CB Tyrann (Honey Badger)Mathieu are gone as QB Zack Mattenberger and S Eric Reid will look to fill their roles.Like Alabama, they will play Florida, South Carolina and Arkansas to get to the SEC Championship and most likely the BCS National title.They will lose only one game, but it will cost them their shot at the title

4.  Oregon (12-1)

The Ducks lost a lot of speed on offense in QB Darrin Thomas and RB LaMichael James, but the fastest of the all RB De-Anthony Thomas will be used in various formations.QB’s Bryan Bennett, who filled in for Darrin Thomas in two games and stud Freshman Marcus Mariota, who shined during the Spring game will battle for the starting job.Unfortunately Oregon will be like LSU and lose just one game, but the one preventing them for playing in the title game

5.  Oklahoma  (12-1)

The Sooner will go back to their roots when Head Coach Bob Stoopes brother Mike will be back as the team’s defensive coordinator, who will have 8 returning starters back on defense. Heisman contender QB Landry Jones also came back to improve on his disappointing performance from last year when there was talk about challenging Andrew Luck for the trophy.Their road to the top gets home games vs. Kansas State and Texas leaving them at most likely 9-0 before facing West Virginia in Morgantown, where the Volunteers Heisman candidate QB Geno Smith will solve the Sooners vaunted defense and give them the loss that put them out of any conversation for the title.

6.  Florida State (12-1)

Florida State is the dark horse team that can sneak into the conversation with an easy schedule. QB EJ Manuel will need the protection to get through the season, as last season he was sacked 41 times. There only two potholes are home vs. Clemson and away in Blacksburg vs. Virginia Tech.I am guessing the Hokies will trip the Noles up and leave them on the outside looking in.

7.  South Carolina (12-2)

The Gamecocks have a very tough road ahead as they will battle SEC East rival Georgia for the right to face the Tide/Tigers winner.For the team to have a chance they need Heisman contender and possibly the best RB in the country Marcus Lattimore, who is returning from knee ligament surgery, to get back to the way he played.Along with QB Connor Shaw, they should lead the team to the East title.

8.  West Virginia (11-2)

The Volunteers start their first season in the Big 12 with a high power offense led by the QB sensation Geno Smith.Smith put people on notice after putting up 70 points and six touchdown passes vs. Clemson in last year’s Orange Bowl, but the Volunteers will also realize this is not the Big East, and football in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma is a whole lot different.I see them losing at Texas and home vs. Oklahoma.They will make a good showing, but just not enough.

9.  Wisconsin (11-2)

The Badgers lost All American QB Russell Wilson and WR Nick Toon, but did keep leading rusher Montee Ball.Ball, who is recovering from on campus assault, tied Barry Sanders all time mark for touchdowns in a season with 39 last year.If he has another stellar season to go along with another transfer QB Danny O’Brien from Maryland will lead a high power offense which scored over 40 points a game last year. I see the team winning the Big Ten, with the only hiccup during the season vs. Michigan State.They will run into Oregon in the Rose Bowl again, but will also have the same results.

10.  Michigan State (10-3)

The Spartans have a very tough schedule and will have to do it without 3 year starting QB Kirk Cousins.New senior QB Andrew Maxwell will have to step in and take the reins of the offense with RB Le’Von Bell to go along with a very good defense led by Jr. Defensive End William Gholston.The three week stretch of road games against Michigan, Wisconsin and home vs. Nebraska will determine where they will play in January (BSC, Rose or a lower level bowl.

Other teams on the edge:

Georgia, Michigan, Arkansas, Clemson and Texas

Nation Title Game – USC vs. Alabama

November 3rd will be the day that decides the participants in this game as both USC vs. Oregon and LSU and Alabama play that day. Other days will impact the season, but nothing like this.

Hop on and enjoy the ride.  If past experience is anything, a whole lot of unexpected  turns will be coming where you least expect them.

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