Will another team from another conference win the national title in 2013? After seven straight national titles for the SEC is it even feasible that an SEC team won’t take it all again in 2013? These are two questions that are on millions of college football fans minds.
Well here are five teams that have a legitimate shot at unseating the SEC from the top perch. After all, remember in 2000 when Oklahoma had no chance against a supposed un-defeatable Florida State playing in Florida? Remember how Texas A&M was going to be routed in the SEC and crushed by Alabama in Tuscaloosa? Well, we know how those turned out. So, anything is possible and these five teams have the potential at least on paper to beat an SEC champion and win a national title in 2013.
Clemson (2012 Record 11-2 (7-1)
Dabo Swinney’s Clemson team is talking about even going faster and executing more plays in their hurry up spread offense in 2013. They have returning quarterback Tajh Boyd and all everything receiver Sammy Watkins to lead the offense. So, expect offensive fireworks and lots of points put up on the board. But it is Coach Brent Venerables defense loaded with defense stars that may be the final piece to a national title run. The defense played very well the back half of the 2012 season and Coach Venerables’ schemes seem to start taking hold. With seven returning starters, a strong defensive recruiting class and star player Vic Beasley providing leadership, even better defensive results should be in store this fall. The Tigers first game is against the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs, so we will learn a lot early about Clemson national title chances.
Oklahoma (2012 Record 10-3 (8-1)
Coach Stoops’ squad has one of the toughest schedules out there, that includes 11 bowl participants, but OU does get TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia at home. The Notre Dame battle is in South Bend this year and will be their first big test. The Sooners offense has loads of play-makers at skill positions and the coaches have three skilled and able quarterbacks to choose a starter from, with Blake Bell in the lead going into the summer. While there are still some concerns on the defensive side of the ball, with the Sooners needing to replace two of their defensive tackles and three starting defensive backs, the talent is there for an improved squad. The three new additions to their coaching ranks have added some hunger back into a staff that many said was too comfortable. Lastly, the Sooners have some scores to settle with SEC teams as they have struggled against them of late, but there is reason for optimism in Norman.
Oregon (2012 Record 12-1 (8-1)
Even with the cloud of an NCAA investigation looming over the Ducks, one thing for sure in 2013 is that Oregon will be sporting new uniforms as they look to win the PAC12. Even with former head coach Chip Kelly gone; the offense will be explosive and put lots of points on the board and quickly. It will be important with a new quarterback at the helm that speedy skill players like running back Kenjon Barner and wide receivers De’Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff take flight early and often. They will called on by new head coach Mark Helfrich to be the anchors on an offense with lofty expectations. The Duck’s defense will need to replace most of its linebacker corps, but the recruits and talent is there. The 2013 schedule is manageable, but the Ducks battle with USC at the Coliseum will tell a lot.
Ohio State (2012 Record 12-0 (8-0)
Will Coach Urban Meyer continue his undefeated streak with the Buckeyes or will the probation restrictions finally reveal themselves? Many in Columbus have high expectations and expect a national title in the next couple of seasons given Urban Meyer’s pedigree. In 2013 the Buckeyes return a bunch of talent and head into the second year of Coach Meyer’s system, so are the expectations justified? Well with a manageable schedule that does not include Nebraska or Michigan State and Wisconsin and Penn State at home there is reason for optimism. The return of quarterback Braxton Miller’s in 2013 is welcomed, especially after a strong outing during the spring game where he further exerted his leadership and ball skills. The offense should be steady, not explosive, but in the Big10 that is all that is needed. So, is another perfect season in the cards for the Coach Meyer’s Buckeyes? Who knows but it is likely to be an SEC that stands in the way during the final game in a perfect season run. Coach Meyer has proven he can do it, so expectations are extremely high in 2013.
Louisville (2012 Record 11-2 (5-2)
Coach Strong’s Cardinals are flying high heading into 2013! They were able to best the SEC’s Florida Gators in the 2012 Sugar Bowl and they have used that win as momentum heading into the 2013 season. The explosive offense will be lead by returning Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater. And with an offensive squad returning nearly every starter the stars are aligning for a potent Louisville offense this fall. The defense received a new injection of talent given the highly rated incoming recruiting class. Combine that with nine returning starters on a defense that had a penchant for giving up lots of yards and points, and there is hope for improvement on 2012’s efforts. The 2013 slate is very manageable and includes what should be a rather easy run through the Big East and a non-conference schedule composed of easy opponents. So expectations should be high in Louisville, as they look to nest in the highest roost.
While only five teams are listed above as capable of crashing the national championship party, there are others. Michigan, Stanford, Florida State and Notre Dame also have most of the ingredients needed to compete and give the SEC a run for their money for national title glory in 2013. Lastly, we are just over 100 days till the season kicks off and the excitement is already building for what will be another exciting year of college football.
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