2012 Pre-Season Top Four: Georgia, Clemson, USC, LSU


The 2012 College Football season is scheduled to being on Thursday, Aug. 30.  There are 16 games to be played from coast- to-coast on that day alone.  Before the games begin, below are the four schools that will be ranked in the Top 4 at the end of the season.

Why four?  In honor of the new playoff system that is set to commence in 2014.

Since the new system is bound to leave at least a couple programs asking why THEY were not invited, two bubble teams are included here as well.

For the sake of argument, these schools are not ranked.

Top 4

The University of Georgia – Aaron Murray is back.  The starting quarterback out of Tampa is going into his third year of starting for the Bulldogs.  He is a future Heisman candidate with talented skill players to work with and an improving defense. 

Another reason four their rank is the Bulldogs’ schedule.  Georgia does not play LSU or Alabama.  The toughest games on the schedule are against South Carolina, Florida, and Auburn, who are all trending sideways or downward.

If the Bulldogs can win two of those games, then they are a national title contender.

Clemson University – On offense, the Tigers are returing their starting Quarterback from last year Tajh Boyd with Wide Receivers Martavis Bryant, Sammy Watkins, and DeAndre Hopkins.  Running back Andre Ellington starts again this season. 

The defense is loaded with athletes and the depth chart is three players deep in most positions.   The Tigers being the season against Auburn, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  After Auburn, the schedule is favorable with the toughest remaining games against Virginia Tech and rival South Carolina being played in Death Valley.

Louisiana State University –  The Bayou Bengals.  The Tigers have lost both of their starting quarterbacks from 2011, Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.  Neither one was overly impressive over the years.  Whomever steps into the role, likely Zach Mettenberger, should be as good if not better.  The offensive line and skills position players are experienced.  The defense is loaded, with Tyrann Matheiu and Barkavious Mingo returning to lead the way. 

The schedule is BRUTAL, however.  They have road games at Auburn, Florida, Texas A+M, and Arkansas in addition to playing Alabama at home.  If they win on the road, then a Top 4 ranking is a lock.

University of Southern California – Matt Barkley is back and on a mission to win the national championship, the Heisman Trophy, and be the number one overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

His wide receivers are back, the defense will be stout, and the special teams will be great as usual.  The toughest games on the schedule are both in Los Angeles Coliseum against Oregon and Notre Dame.  Losing Left Tackle Matt Kalil in the draft will be difficult for Barkley to overcome. However, he should be comfortable by the time the Ducks and Fighting Irish touch down  in La-La Land later in the season.

Two Outsiders

University of Alabama and University of Michigan – These two programs play each other early in the season and then move on to play their conference schedules in the traditionally competitive and tradition laden SEC and Big Ten respectively.  The winner of the head-to-head match up has the upper hand for reaching the Top 4.  Generally speaking, Alabama has lost a lot of talent on Defense and wins will not be as easy as they were last season.  For Michigan, their talent level has risen and they should be contending for the Big Ten Championship.