A First Look at College Football’s Top 25 for 2013

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The Official Top 25 Teams of 2013

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

So what in the heck is everyone suppose to do now with no more College Football?

Is it confirmed there’s not some Lawnmower Bowl where the Idaho Vandals are playing the Wake Forest Demon Deacons?

(sigh)

How many days do we have until August...

Well, there are those Senior Bowls and quasi-pro combine-ish games too...

And you can’t forget about all the recruiting chatter either...

So it’s not like we are going cold turkey or anything...

Right?

But probably the most fun thing of this period of time between the next time toe meets leather is predicting which team will be ranked where to start the 2013 campaign on the way to the final run for the BCS Title.

Between now and July, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will see about a million folks making their stand on their Top 25.

But only one has the experience and track record of this particular sports writer...

After all, this guy did pick the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to battle for the Discover BCS National Championship in October.

That’s just how ole Woody rolls...

And there is no doubt this list will get your juices flowing for a number of different reasons.

First and foremost, the SEC has proven for seven-straight years it is head and shoulders above any conference and team in the game.

So Big 10, Big 12 and Pac-12 fans don’t argue about your precious school being ranked too low...

You have all of 2013 to get your team to man up and actually beat the SEC...

In fact, let’s just rank the entire 14 teams of the ACC and let the rest of the country fight it out for the final nine slots...

(winks and fires the air guns)

So buckle up and get ready to take a lke a first look at the Top 25 College Football Teams for 2013.

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No. 25 - Nebraska Cornhuskers

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Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

After a horrible Big 10 Championship loss and a beat down by the Georgia Bulldogs in the Capital One Bowl the Nebraska Cornhuskers come in at No. 25.

Bo Pelini will have to replace a good many starters on defense but he will get most all of his horses back on offense.

And it’s the Big 10 so you know anything could happen...

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No. 24 - Boise State Broncos

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s pretty clear the Boise State Broncos have arrived and should always be in any Top 25 from here on out.

And with pretty much every starter coming back, it should be a stellar 2013 for the Broncos..

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No. 23 - Cincinnati Bearcats

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Tommy Tubberville era will begin with a bang for the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2013.

The Bearcats are a viable program and are here to say and Tubberville will have a lot of weapons on both offense and defense at his disposal.

Things will go great in Cincy so long as Tubberville doesn’t tinker too much with what has been built over the past five years.

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No. 22 - Vanderbilt Commodores

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

And the first SEC team to appear in the 2013 Top 25 Countdown is the Vanderbilt Commodores.

James Franklin has a great team returning as well as the SEC team with the current longest winning streak.

That’s just how good the SEC is folks...

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No. 21 - Texas Longhorns

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Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The world of College Football simply needs the Texas Longhorns to be better than No. 21.

Afterall, the Horns are the most valuable asset in the game valued at around $750 million.

They have to start somewhere and just outside the Top 20 is where it will be.

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No. 20 - Virginia Tech Hokies

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Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Well...

A couple of things are for certain...

The big one being the Virginia Tech Hokies better do right by the ACC in 2013 and stay as one of the Top 25 teams in the country.

The Hokies path will be determined from the opening game as it will face the Alabama Crimson Tide to kick off the 2013 season.

Yeah...

Nick Saban dismantled the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with 40 days to prepare. You have to be interested in what he is planning to do to Virginia Tech on 230 days notice.

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No. 19 - USC Trojans

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There is no team under the microscope in 2013 than the USC Trojans and its leader Lane Kiffin.

Even Layla Kiffin, wife of Lane, knows this is do or die as she tweeted out, “... a lot of good it does sleeping in the office; you still go 7-6...

Ouch...

But she is right and there is a reason why the Trojans are having a hard time finding a defensive coordinator...

They know this is a one and done season and USC doesn't have the horses to run the race they need to run to win the BCS.

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No. 18 - Miami Hurricanes

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Sanctions or no sanctions, Al Golden has the Miami Hurricanes back and ready to play big-boy football for the ACC in 2013.

The Canes return all of its core members from a team that technically won the Coastal Division but chose to punish itself with a postseason ban for the second year in a row.

Duke Johnson will make a run for national honors and all of those freshmen and sophomores on this team are now sophomores and juniors.

Miami could surprise a lot of folks and you heard it here first.

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No. 17 - Michigan Wolverines

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It’s simply a put up or shut up season for the Michigan Wolverines and Head Coach Brady Hoke.

Michigan talked a lot of trash about how explosive and good they were to open the season only to finished whipped on both ends by the SEC.

The Big 10 is an irrelevant conference to be honest and until Michigan can play with the big boys in the SEC, it will stay that way.

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No. 16 - Oklahoma Sooners

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

And a another huge disappointment in 2012 that will have a lot to prove in 2013 is the Oklahoma Sooners.

Hello...

That’s what the SEC and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were saying as they were blowing up the mystique of the Sooners this past season.

To make the situation even more of an uphill climb, Oklahoma has lost the faith of the nation with its performances over the past two seasons.

Make or break year for the longest standing tenured coach at one school in Bob Stoops.

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No. 15 - UCLA Bruins

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James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

And the Fighting Jim Mora’s make the list at No. 15!

And it will be interesting to see if the UCLA Bruins can continue to build on their recruiting and success in 2013.

There is no doubt the Bruins will vie for the Pac-12 Title Game but you still have to question is Mora the guy to get this great program back over the top to greatness.

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No. 14 - Florida State Seminoles

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The pride of the ACC in 2012 will have a lot of folks looking to see if Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles are finally back as a national power in College Football.

The ‘Noles are losing a lot on both offense and defense but if they are truly back they will be expected to not miss one single beat.

If the extracurricular activities of its players are any indication, then things are going to be great in Tallahassee, Florida as FSU leading the way with the Honey Badger Award as awarded by the Rant Sports College Football Team for the school with the most off-season arrests.

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No. 13 - Stanford Cardinal

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford Cardinal are back, folks.

And with most of the team returning for 2013, look for the offense to be better and, if its possible, for the best defense in 2012 in all of College Football to get even stronger.

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No. 12 - Oklahoma State Cowboys

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Could this be the year finally for Mike Gundy and his group of manly men to win their way to the BCS.

The high-flying offense of the Oklahoma State Cowboys will be a fun watch and a favorite of the nation and the computers in 2013.

But for them to get any higher, the SEC has to beat on another up a bit first.

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No. 11 - The Ohio State Buckeyes

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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Yes...

The Ohio State Buckeyes are No. 11...

Could care less about Braxton Miller...

Could care even more less about Urban Meyer...

If it wasn’t for Tattoo-Gate the nation would have had to stomached the Buckeyes in the Discover BCS National Title Game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Monday night.

Listen up Big 10 Nation...

Your conference stinks...

And until you can prove you are worthy by playing the SEC in the regular season and beating them no one wants to hear you boast how great you are.

Much like the ACC you have been irrelevant in the discussion for about 10 years.

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No. 10 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Well...

One thing is a fact...

Brian Kelly has figured out how to bring the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back to relevance in the world of College Football.

Now the key is to see if the Irish can sustain the momentum of playing the Discover BCS National Championship Game to shore up its depth.

That was the biggest factor on Monday against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The stage was bigger than the Notre Dame kids were ready for and they lacked the depth it takes to compete with the SEC.

But all indications are the Irish might have one of the best offenses in the country which it will need because it is losing a ton on the defensive side of the ball.

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No. 9 - Florida Gators

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

By far the team with the toughest schedule in the nation, at least on speculation, is the Florida Gators.

You name the team, Florida is playing them in 2013...

And besides the Florida State Seminoles it feels like every single do or die game is on the road.

If the Gators can survive, they will play for the final BCS National Title.

But if they falter on a road a few times it will definitely be one of those great teams who just had all the cards stacked against them in their title run.

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No. 8 - Louisville Cardinals

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

So did any team benefit more from the 2012 Bowl Season than the Louisville Cardinals?

Only maybe the Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas A&M Aggies and the Clemson Tigers...

This is officially Charlie Strong’s program and his home.

And you will start to see what he, his staff and the school can do from a recruiting and money standpoint in 2013.

Teddy Bridgewater is the best sophomore QB behind Johnny Manziel and will lead the Cardinals to its second-straight BCS Bowl in 2013.

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No. 7 - Oregon Ducks

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Jennifer Steward-USA TODAY Sports

So Chip Kelly is staying...

And that alone means the Oregon Ducks will play its way into a BCS Bowl in 2013.

Sanctions or no sanctions from the NCAA.

And, coming from the direct experience this sports writer has had working in college athletics and knowing the amount of money Phil Knight and Nike pumps into all of college sports, don’t look for anything more than a stern “don’t do it again” from the powers that be at the NCAA.

Quack... Quack...

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No. 6 - LSU Tigers

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The LSU Tigers are No. 6...

Les Miles...

LSU...

SEC power...

Sounds about right...

That is all...

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No. 5 - Clemson Tigers

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s just say that the world needs to experience the party Dabo Swinney would throw if the Clemson Tigers won the Vizio BCS National Title in 2013.

And, to be honest, there is only one thing standing in the way of the Tigers from being able to accomplish this goal next season...

Three letters...

S...

E...

C...

Yes, Tajh Boyd is back with the best offensive weapons in the nation.

But Clemson begins the season by hosting the Georgia Bulldogs and ends the regular season by traveling to face Jadevon Clowney and the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Add that to a much tougher ACC schedule and the ACC Championship Game and the Tigers can say they have earned the right to face another SEC foe in the National Championship Game.

Clemson will be a must watch team for 2013.

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No. 4 - Georgia Bulldogs

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Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Technically, the Georgia Bulldogs played in the real Discover BCS National Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia the first weekend of December.

And the dogs came up one play and five yards short of winning...

Aaron Murray, Gurshall, Malcom Mitchell and everyone is back on the offensive side of the ball for Georgia.

The defense is taking some big hits, but the Dawgs have the depth and talent to overcome.

Next to the Florida Gators, Georgia has the toughest schedule in the nation including the season opener against the Clemson Tigers on the road before hosting the South Carolina Gamecocks the next week.

Add the LSU Tigers in week 5, the Gators, at the Vanderbilt Commodores and at the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before playing in the SEC Championship and Georgia has it’s work cut out for it.

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No. 3 - South Carolina Gamecocks

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Well...

Steve Spurrier is getting what he has been whining and wishing for in 2013...

The easier of the schedules in the SEC East...

The South Carolina Gamecocks will host the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Florida Gators and the Clemson Tigers next season.

The biggest road test will be at the Georgia Bulldogs in week two, but Spurrier has owned the boys from Athens, Georgia since the day he arrived as head coach of the Gators...

The schedule plays into his hands and with Jadevon Clowney anchoring the defense and the QB combo of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson Spurrier has things right where he wants it.

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No. 2 - Texas A&M Aggies

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No team finished the 2012 season hotter than Johnny Manziel and his Texas A&M Aggies.

And the only thing that will probably stand between the Aggies and a shot at an SEC Title and BCS Title is about three SEC games.

The first will come in week three as A&M will host the Alabama Crimson Tide...

Could that game be any more huge for the third game of the season...

The Aggies will travel to face the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Ole Miss Rebels in back to back games with a bye week sandwiched in the middle.

The game of the entire college football season could be on Nov. 23 as Manziel will lead his boys down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to face the LSU Tigers.

The winner of that game could very well be headed to lifting up the Coaches Trophy.

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No. 1 - Two-Time Defending BCS National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Pretty sure it was Rick Flair who screamed many a time that, “to be the man... you have to beat the man...

And so far in three of the last four years no one has proven they can beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

And until that happens, they will forever be No. 1...

Even if they lose to a fellow SEC team, they should never fall below No. 2...

If, and only if, someone from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12 or Pac 12 could figure out how to beat them, that is when they would be allowed to return to the field of the rest of the common folk in the world of College Football.

And with that being said, the Virginia Tech Hokies and the ACC are on the clock with first dibs at trying to accomplish the impossible...

Cause you know Saban already has a game plan in the hands of A.J. McCarron right now...

And we still have 230 or so days until the kick off of 2013...

Viva la Saban and...

Roll Tide...

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M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and theUS Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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