1 Alabama Crimson TIde (58 first-place votes) 1,545 points
2012: 13-1 won the BCS title
Can they...: Repeat. Barring major injury or a major surprise, the Tide will be favored in every game this season. If they win at Texas A&M on Sept. 14, the BCS goes through Tuscaloosa. Again.
2 Ohio State Buckeyes (3 first-place votes) 1,427 points
2012: 12-0 and did not go to a bowl because they were on probation
Can they...: Run the table again? The Buckeyes — like the Tide — will picked to win every game on a relatively weak schedule. Anything short of 12-0 likely will leave Urban Meyer’s team on the outside looking in
3 Oregon Ducks 1,397 points
2012: 12-1 and finished No. 2 in the polls
Can they...: Keep rolling? Chip Kelly left Eugene for the green backs and green jerseys of the Philadelphia Eagles. New coach Mark Helfrich, who was Kelly’s offensive coordiantor, has a wealth of talent.
4 Stanford Cardinal 1,262 points
Can they...: Continue to victimize opponents and quarterbacks. Stanford sacked opposing QBs more than four times per game in 2012, giving the Cardinal the nation’s most productive pass rush. A favorable schedule gives Stanford two — Oregon and Notre Dame — of its three biggest games in Palo Alto
5 Georgia Bulldogs 1,250 points
Can they...: Find those final 5 yards? Georgia was knocking on the door and close to knocking off Alabama last year in the SEC title game. Whether it can get back to the title game — aka BCS national semifinal — will depend greatly on Georgia survives a brutal September that includes three games against top-15-ranked teams. Having 10 offensive starters back, including Heisman candidates Aaron Murray at quarterback and Todd Gurley at running back, helps.
6 Texas A&M Aggies (1 first-place vote) 1,215 points
Can they...: Just start plkaying already? An offseason of discontent filled with one Johnny Manziel story line after another, leaves the eligibility of the reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in doubt. With Johnny Football, the Aggies had a nation’s best 100 plays for 20 or more yards last year. If he’s on the field, the Aggies can play with any one. If he’s not, well, they can still play football; just not Johnny Football football.
7 South Carolina Gamecocks 1,136 points
Can they...: Continue to be a better team than the parts seem? South Carolina had but four players make an appearance on the three preseason All-SEC teams. Only Kentucky had fewer. Granted one of those is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is the nation’s best college football player. Still, is No. 7 in the nation too high for a team that’s best offensive weapon is a slot receiver?
8 Clemson Tigers 1,047 points
Can they...: Find a running game to go with their high-flying passing combo of quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammie Watkins? The Tigers, like Stanford, gets bonus points in the eyes of BCS projections because arguably three of their four toughest games — Georgia, Florida State and Georgia Tech — are in Clemson.
9 Louisville Cardinals 1,010 points
Can they...: Build off that Sugar Bowl whipping they handed the Florida Gators? The goal for Louisville has to be perfection. A woeful schedule means there is no margin for error — and in truth, a one-loss SEC champion could even jump Louisville in the BCS polls at the end of the year. That said, the Cardinals have added former Auburn star running back Michael Dyer, who rushed more than 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons on The Plains, to give quarterback Teddy Bridewater another weapon. The Cardinals offense, which includes veteran receivers DeVante Oarker and Damian Copeland, could be the nation’s most productive.
10 Florida Gators 930 points
Can they...: Find a way to score enough points to win in what will be an offensive-minded SEC? Quarterback Jeff Driskel will need to deliver on his lofty promise if the Gators are going to stay among the nation’s elite against a brutal schedule.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...