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An Early Look at the Top College Football Teams for 2012

The 2011 college football season just wrapped up, with the Alabama Crimson Tide winning the BCS title with a victory over the previously undefeated LSU Tigers. Now we take an early look ahead to next year in NCAA football - who are some of the teams that could be legitimate challengers for the BCS Championship in 2012?

Alabama Crimson Tide:
A no brainer - Roll Tide! The Tide will be losing many players to the NFL draft this year, including running back Trent Richardson, but with one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and coach Nick Saban running the show, the Crimson Tide will be a top team again

USC Trojans:
With quarterback and perhaps the early Heisman Trophy leader Matt Barkley returning to school for another season, the USC Trojans are set up for a national title run. Their out of conference schedule is not daunting, and they get both Notre Dame and the Oregon Ducks on their home turf at the LA Coliseum. This team is our early favorite for the BCA title in 2012.

Michigan Wolverines:
Big Blue returned to national prominence in 2011 under new coach Brady Hoke, defeating Virginia Tech in the Suger Bowl. Dynamic QB Denard Robinson returns to lead the Wolverines but be warned, Michigan has a tough schedule. Included on the 2012 sked is an early season tussle with the Crimson Tide, as well as road visits to Ohio State and Notre Dame. It's possible that Michigan could be a better team in 2012 but not win as many games based on the tough schedule.

Oklahoma Sooners:
Bob Stoops' Sooners were the pre-season pick as 2011 national champs but their season turned out to be a disappointment. Quarterback Landry Jones chose to return to school and there is plenty of other talent in Oklahoma to consider the Sooners in the BCS picture for 2012.

LSU Tigers:
Les Miles will have the LSU Tigers back into the national title picture again in 2012. There is some talent going off to the NFL but the 2012 schedule is much more forgiving than the murderer's row LSU faced in 2011. Also, the Tigers will get Alabama at home in Death Valley this time around.

Oregon Ducks:
in recent years, the Oregon Ducks have surpassed USC as the Pac 12's top dog. Coach Chip Kelly will have his lightning fast paced offense back in the top 10 again in 2012, and possibly again in the national title race. A narrow loss to USC last year was the only thing that kept the Ducks of the BCS title game.

Michigan State Spartans:
the Spartans play great defense and in the Big 10, that's usually a recipe for success. Sparty has had the Wolverines' number recently, winning 4 straight, and Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes are on probation in 2012. The Wisconsin Badgers will be strong again but perhaps the Spartans will be the Big 10 favorite.

Arkansas Razorbacks:
oh yeah, that OTHER team in the SEC West division. LSU and Alabama hog most of the spotlight and headlines in the SEC but Arkansas has a great team too. The Razorbacks get both Alabama and LSU at home in 2012 - if there's ever a season to leapfrog the big boys, 2012 is it.

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