College football: Team-by-team look at The Oklahoman's Top 25

BY GINA MIZELL and STEPHANIE KUZYDYM, Staff Writers Published: August 26, 2012
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Makes a BCS bowl if … it gets to the Big Ten championship game as the favorite in the Leaders division. There, the Badgers could take on Nebraska or Michigan State, two teams they face during the regular season.

Schedule

Sept. 1 Northern Iowa

Sept. 8 at Oregon State

Sept. 15 Utah State

Sept. 22 UTEP

Sept. 29 at Nebraska

Oct. 6 Illinois

Oct. 13 at Purdue

Oct. 20 Minnesota

Oct. 27 Michigan State

Nov. 10 at Indiana

Nov. 17 Ohio State

Nov. 24 at Penn State

11. ARKANSAS

Coach: John L. Smith

2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC)

2011 postseason: Beat Kansas State 29-16 in Cotton Bowl

Noteworthy: The Bobby Petrino motorcycle fiasco, which resulted in the coach being fired, dominated spring headlines nationally. But even with a new head man, the Razorbacks return plenty of offensive firepower, led by quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis.

Makes a BCS bowl if … it can overtake Alabama and LSU and get to the SEC title game. The schedule sets up nicely for the ‘Hogs, with both the Tigers and Crimson Tide coming to Fayetteville.

Schedule

Sept. 1 Jacksonville State

Sept. 8 at Louisiana-Monroe

Sept. 15 Alabama

Sept. 22 Rutgers

Sept. 29 at Texas A&M

Oct. 6 at Auburn

Oct. 13 Kentucky

Oct. 27 Ole Miss

Nov. 3 Tulsa

Nov. 10 at South Carolina

Nov. 17 at Mississippi State

Nov. 23 LSU

12. SOUTH CAROLINA

Coach: Steve Spurrier

2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC)

2011 postseason: Beat Nebraska 30-13 in Capital One Bowl

Noteworthy: The Gamecocks lose Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram on defense, but end Jadeveon Clowney was dominant as a freshman last season. And running back Marcus Lattimore, who missed most of the season with a knee injury, returns.

Makes a BCS bowl if … quarterback Connor Shaw continues to settle into his role as the starter after Stephen Garcia's troubles made that position unstable for much of last season. The Gamecocks host Georgia, which could decide the SEC East champ.

Schedule

Aug. 30 at Vanderbilt

Sept. 8 East Carolina

Sept. 15 UAB

Sept. 22 Missouri

Sept. 29 at Kentucky

Oct. 6 Georgia

Oct. 13 at LSU

Oct. 20 at Florida

Oct. 27 Tennessee

Nov. 10 Arkansas

Nov. 17 Wofford

Nov. 24 at Clemson

13. MICHIGAN STATE

Coach: Mark Dantonio

2011 record: 11-3 (7-1 Big Ten)

2011 postseason: Beat Georgia 33-30 (OT) in Outback Bowl

Noteworthy: With former quarterback Kirk Cousins gone to the NFL, the Spartans will likely need to rely on a defense that ranked in the top 10 in the nation in both scoring and total defense last season.

Makes a BCS bowl if … it survives its brutal schedule. The Spartans host Boise State and Notre Dame in nonconference play, then visit Michigan and Wisconsin in back-to-back weeks to close out October before hosting Nebraska on Nov. 3.

Schedule

Aug. 31 Boise State

Sept. 8 at Central Michigan

Sept. 15 Notre Dame

Sept. 22 Eastern Michigan

Sept. 29 Ohio State

Oct. 6 at Indiana

Oct. 13 Iowa

Oct. 20 at Michigan

Oct. 27 at Wisconsin

Nov. 3 Nebraska

Nov. 17 Northwestern

Nov. 24 at Minnesota

14. NEBRASKA

Coach: Bo Pelini

2011 Record: 9-4 (5-3 Big Ten)

2011 postseason: Lost to South Carolina 30-13 in Capital One Bowl

Noteworthy: Running back Rex Burkhead made some school history around Lincoln, Neb., last year. He ran for more than 1,350 yards for the seventh-highest total, had 38 carries against Iowa, a school-record, and scored 17 touchdowns. He scored in the first 10 games of the season, tying a Huskers record.

Makes a BCS bowl if … they can win the Big Ten Championship and beat conference members Michigan and Michigan State.

Schedule

Sep. 1 Southern Mississippi

Sep. 8 at UCLA

Sep. 15 Arkansas State

Sep. 22 Idaho State

Sep. 29 Wisconsin

Oct. 6 at Ohio State

Oct. 20 at Northwestern

Oct. 27 Michigan

Nov. 3 at Michigan State

Nov. 10 Penn State

Nov. 17 Minnesota

Nov. 23 at Iowa

15. CLEMSON

Coach: Dabo Swinney

2011 Record: 10-4 (6-2 ACC)

2011 postseason: Lost to West Virginia 70-33 in Orange Bowl

Noteworthy: The return of first-team All-American wide receiver Sammy Watkins and junior DeAndre Hopkins the Tigers are set for the passing game. Last season, the two receivers combined for 154 receptions, more than 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Makes a BCS bowl if … Clemson wins ACC again and solidly beats Auburn and Virginia Tech.

Schedule

Sep. 1 at UAB

Sep. 8 Ball State

Sep. 15 Furman

Sep. 22 at Florida State

Sep. 29 at Boston College

Oct. 6 Georgia Tech

Oct. 20 Virginia Tech

Oct. 25 at Wake Forest

Nov. 3 at Duke

Nov. 10 Maryland

Nov. 17 NC State

Nov. 24 South Carolina

16. OKLAHOMA STATE

Coach: Mike Gundy

2011 record: 12-1 (8-1 Big 12)

2011 postseason: Beat Stanford 41-38 (OT) in Fiesta Bowl

Noteworthy: After 28-year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden broke nearly every OSU passing record, the Cowboys turn things over to true freshman Wes Lunt, who won the starting job after spring practice.

Makes a BCS bowl if … Lunt limits mistakes and gets the ball to OSU's playmakers, most notably versatile running back Joseph Randle and wide receivers Tracy Moore and Charlie Moore. If the defense is as deep and athletic as coaches expect, that should put the Cowboys in contention to defend their Big 12 title.

Schedule

Sept. 1 Savannah State

Sept. 8 at Arizona

Sept. 15 Louisiana-Lafayette

Sept. 29 Texas

Oct. 13 at Kansas

Oct. 20 Iowa State

Oct. 27 TCU

Nov. 3 at Kansas State

Nov. 10 West Virginia

Nov. 17 Texas Tech

Nov. 24 at Oklahoma

Dec. 1 at Baylor

17. VIRGINIA TECH

Coach: Frank Beamer

2011 Record: 11-3 (7-1 ACC)

2011 postseason: Lost to Michigan 23-20 (OT) in Sugar Bowl

Noteworthy: Junior cornerback Kyle Fuller started 14 games last season at two different positions. His versatility, along with the depth on defense, will fuel the Hokies' run to another ACC Championship this season to revenge their loss to Clemson.

Makes a BCS bowl if … they defeat Clemson and Florida State during season and win the ACC Championship by beating one of the two mentioned teams.

Schedule

Sep. 3 Georgia Tech

Sep. 8 Austin Peay

Sep. 15 at Pittsburgh

Sep. 22 Bowling Green

Sep. 29 at Cincinnati

Oct. 6 at North Carolina

Oct. 13 Duke

Oct. 20 at Clemson

Nov. 1 at Miami

Nov. 8 Florida State

Nov. 17 at Boston College

Nov. 24. Virginia

18. KANSAS STATE

Coach: Bill Snyder

2011 Record: 10-3-1 (7-2 Big 12)

2011 postseason: Lost to Arkansas 29-16 in Cotton Bowl

Noteworthy: Senior quarterback Collin Klein is one of the three biggest quarterbacks being talked about in the Big 12. If his team continues to have results like last year under Coach Snyder, don't be surprised if the Big 12 title goes to some other school besides Oklahoma or Texas.

Makes a BCS bowl if … quarterback Collin Klein stays healthy to help his team win the Big 12 title. But Oklahoma stands in the way.

Schedule

Sep. 1 Missouri State

Sep. 8 Miami

Sep. 15 North Texas

Sep. 22 at Oklahoma

Oct. 6 Kansas

Oct. 13 at Iowa State

Oct. 20 at West Virginia

Oct. 27 Texas Tech

Nov. 3 Oklahoma State

Nov. 10 TCU

Nov. 17 Baylor

Dec. 1 Texas

19. TEXAS

Coach: Mack Brown

2011 Record: 8-5 (4-5 Big 12)

2011 postseason: Beat Cal 21-10 in Holiday Bowl

Noteworthy: The Longhorns pulled in one of the top-ranked recruiting classes for 2012 even after they had a losing conference record last season. Combine the new guys with the veterans on defense and find some stability in a starting quarterback and this team is Big 12 title bound once again.

Makes a BCS bowl if … it wins the Big 12 title.

Schedule

Sep. 1 Wyoming

Sep. 8 New Mexico

Sep. 15 at Ole Miss

Sep. 29 at Oklahoma State

Oct. 6 West Virginia

Oct. 13 at Oklahoma

Oct. 20 Baylor

Oct. 27 at Kansas

Nov. 3 at Texas Tech

Nov. 10 Iowa State

Nov. 24 TCU

Dec. 1 at Kansas State

20. STANFORD

Coach: David Shaw

2011 Record: 11-2 (8-1 PAC-12)

2011 postseason: Lost to OSU 41-38 in Fiesta Bowl

Noteworthy: The loss of Andrew Luck doesn't make this year as top-notch as those teams who had quarterbacks stick around for another year of eligibility like USC and Oklahoma. Stanford will look toward running back Stefan Taylor, who has compiled more than 1,000 yards rushing the past two years.

Makes a BCS bowl if … it takes down preseason top-ranked USC and then Notre Dame.

Schedule

Aug. 31 San Jose State

Sep. 8 Duke

Sep. 15 USC

Sep. 27 at Washington

Oct. 6 Arizona

Oct. 13 at Notre Dame

Oct. 20 at Cal

Oct. 27 Washington State

Nov. 3 at Colorado

Nov. 10 Oregon State

Nov. 17 at Oregon

Nov. 24 at UCLA

21. BOISE STATE

Coach: Chris Petersen

2011 Record: 12-1 (6-1 MWC)

2011 postseason: Beat Arizona State 56-24 in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Noteworthy: TCU is gone from the conference, which should make Boise State's run to a MWC title a lot smoother. Look toward fullback Dan Paul to put up some numbers in his redshirt senior season after he sat out last year with an injury.

Makes a BCS bowl if … it goes undefeated as a nonautomatic qualifying team.

Schedule

Aug. 31 at Michigan State

Sep. 15 Miami-OH

Sep. 20 BYU

Sep. 29 at New Mexico

Oct. 6 at Southern Miss

Oct. 13 Fresno State

Oct. 20 UNLV

Oct. 27 at Wyoming

Nov. 3 San Diego State

Nov. 10 at Hawaii

Nov. 17 Colorado State

Dec. 1 at Nevada

22. TCU

Coach: Gary Patterson

2011 Record: 11-2 (7-0 MWC)

2011 postseason: Beat Louisiana Tech 31-24 in Poinsettia Bowl

Noteworthy: Looking for quarterback Casey Pachall to do some damage in his new conference. The junior set a single-season record last year in passing yards (2.921), completions (228) and completion percentage (66.5) for TCU. He also threw for 25 touchdowns.

Makes a BCS bowl if … the Horned Frogs make a big statement in their first year in the Big 12 and beat the preseason favorites.

Schedule

Sep. 8 Grambling State

Sep. 15 at Kansas

Sep. 22 Virginia

Sep. 29 at SMU

Oct. 6 Iowa State

Oct. 13 at Baylor

Oct. 20 Texas Tech

Oct. 27 at Oklahoma State

Nov. 3 at West Virginia

Nov. 10 Kansas State

Nov. 24 at Texas

Dec. 1 Oklahoma

23. OHIO STATE

Coach: Urban Meyer

2011 Record: 6-7 (3-5 Big Ten)

2011 postseason: Lost to Florida 24-17 in Gator Bowl

Noteworthy: Urban Meyer is back in college football and with that comes the resurgence of Ohio State after it went through turmoil under former coach Jim Tressel. Meyer earned those two BCS National titles at Florida.

Makes a BCS bowl if … ineligible. Ohio State is under an NCAA postseason ban in 2012.

Schedule

Sep. 1 Miami-OH

Sep. 8 Central Florida

Sep. 15 Cal

Sep. 22 UAB

Sep. 29 at Michigan State

Oct. 6 Nebraska

Oct. 13 at Indiana

Oct. 20 Purdue

Oct. 27 at Penn State

Nov. 3 Illinois

Nov. 17 at Wisconsin

Nov. 24 Michigan

24. NOTRE DAME

Coach: Brian Kelly

2011 Record: 8-5

2011 postseason: Lost to Florida State 18-14 in Champs Sports Bowl

Noteworthy: Senior tight end Tyler Eifert has the offense covered. Senior inside linebacker Manti Te'o leads the defense. Both were preseason consensus All-Americans in their respective positions. Eifert owns the record for receiving yards and receptions by a Notre Dame tight end. Te'o ranks eighth all time in career tackles.

Makes a BCS bowl if … quarterback Tommy Rees becomes the next Joe Montana and takes down USC, Michigan State, Michigan and Stanford in the process.

Schedule

Sep. 1 at Navy

Sep. 8 Purdue

Sep. 15 at Michigan State

Sep. 22 Michigan

Oct. 6 Miami

Oct. 13 Stanford

Oct. 20 BYU

Oct. 27 at Oklahoma

Nov. 3 Pittsburgh

Nov. 10 at Boston College

Nov. 17 Wake Forest

Nov. 24 at USC

25. SOUTH FLORIDA

Coach: Skip Holtz

2011 Record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East)

2011 postseason: No postseason

Noteworthy: The Bulls will look toward redshirt senior quarterback B.J. Daniels to lead them to an improved conference record and a postseason berth. Daniels was named to two preseason awards list for his position. Last season, he threw for 2,585 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Makes a BCS bowl if … the Bulls win the Big East and beat Florida State

Schedule

Sep. 1 Chattanooga

Sep. 8 at Nevada

Sep. 13 Rutgers

Sep. 22 at Ball State

Sep. 29 Florida State

Oct. 6 at Temple

Oct. 20 at Louisville

Oct. 27 Syracuse

Nov. 3 Connecticut

Nov. 17 at Miami

Nov. 23 at Cincinnati

Dec. 1 Pittsburgh