Jan 11

The Top Fan's Top 25 - Final Poll

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags: college football, BCS, Top 25

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The Crimson Tide finish on top. I know, I know, the two major polls have been out for three days now, and mine is just now going up...Well, for those that do not know yet, I work a "real job" outside of this site, and this is the first chance I have had to sit down and type up my version of the final Top 25 poll for 2013. The upside of this three-day wait is that I have had lots of time to think about how I feel in ranking the teams...

If there is one word (or one acronym) to sum up the 2013 season - like it or not - that word would be "SEC." Yes, for the seventh-straight season the national title comes home to the league rooted in the South. The conference also brought home the Heisman Trophy and a record in bowl games of 6-3...

Alabama finishes the season on top with a 13-1 record. This is the third national title in four years for Head Coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Their season was capped with a 42-14 win over Notre Dame in Miami...

Here is my final Top 25 poll for the 2012 season:

1. Alabama (13-1) - There is no question Alabama was the best team in the country when the dust cleared. Despite a mid-season hiccup to Texas A&M, the Tide rolled back into the national title picture and defeated Georgia for the SEC crown, and then Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship.

2. Oregon (12-1) - The Ducks' only loss was to a pretty darned good Stanford team - in OT! But that loss proved extremely costly as the Ducks didn't even get to play in their conference title game. Still, after watching what they did to Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, this is the team I would have liked to have seen play Alabama.

3. Ohio State (12-0) - Ok, so I know they were on probation. But that isn't a factor in this Top 25 poll. The Buckeyes defeated every single team on their slate, scoring over 50 points four times. I honestly feel Urban Meyer is one of the only coaches out there that could challenge Nick Saban on how to run a program and simply win games.

4. Texas A&M (11-2) - The Aggies were the only team to take down Alabama during the 2012 season, and they did it in Tuscaloosa. It wasn't a fluke, either, as Texas A&M went on to steamroll Oklahoma 42-13 in the Fiesta Bowl. QB Johnny Manzeil will be back for more in 2013.

5. Stanford (12-2) - The Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Champions played some great football in 2012, led by Head Coach David Shaw's hard-nosed philosophy. The losses were both by four points - on the road in week four to Washington, and in OT at Notre Dame two weeks later. Since then they won eight-straight to close the season.

6. South Carolina (11-2) - After seeing what Jadeveon Clowney did against Michigan in the Outback Bowl, it finally occured to me just how dominant a player he is on the defensive line. He alone is worth a few spots in the polls! The Gamecocks have become a solid program, and I feel with the defense they put on the field in 2012, they could have played with anyone.

7. Georgia (12-2) - With UGA driving for a score on Alabama for a chance to win the SEC Championship Game, it is easy to think Georgia was just a play or two from national title type of status. But in reality, the Tide were clearly stronger (yards, time of possesion, first downs, etc..). I want to rank UGA in the Top five, but I can't forget them getting just totally annihilated at South Carolina mid-season, either. They were a solid team in 2012, but I think top five is just a hair high.

8. Florida (11-2) - The Gators finished the regular season on a great note: thumping FSU in Tallahassee to complete an 11-1 campaign. So what in the hell happened in the Sugar Bowl?? The Gators could have finished the year in the top two or three in the national polls, instead they let Louisville mop the Superdome floor with them. Odd.

9. Florida State (12-2) - The ACC and Orange Bowl Champions had a good year, but a late-season thumping - at home - to rival Florida leaves much to be desired. The Seminoles had a solid season, but something is still missing from FSU being a national title type of team as they used to be.

10. Clemson (11-2) - The Tigers finally broke through for a big win to close the 2013 season when they beat LSU in the Georgia Dome. Critics say it was "just a Chick-Fil-A Bowl win." But I must remind those critics that when Alabama beat this same LSU team, it brought Tide QB AJ McCarron to tears. 

11. Notre Dame (12-1) - People will knock me and say ND is too low. But I would almost guarantee you that the nine teams listed between this spot and the top spot would have given Bama a better game than the 28-point loss that we all witnessed Monday night. Was ND a pretty good team? Yes they were. Were they a top five team? No.

12. Kansas State (11-2) - All year long I thought this was one of the best squads in America. And when the Fiesta Bowl matchup was announced, I thought that it was maybe the best matchup of the entire bowl season. But QB Collin Klein and company laid a huge egg against Oregon, disappointing fans and followers across the nation.

13. Louisville (11-2) - A road loss (Syracuse) and an OT loss (UConn) in back-to-back games in November are all that kept UL from an even bigger season. The Cardinals performed very well under sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater (3,718 passing yards and 28 total TDs).

14. LSU (10-3) - The Tigers' three losses were all to teams that finished in the top ten of the Coaches' poll. Still, despite who the losses were to, LSU missed the national title game, which has become the annual goal for the program the last ten or so years.

15. Northwestern (10-3) - The Wildcats closed out the 2012 season by thumping Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, 34-20. The 'Cats losses were on the road at Penn State and Michigan, and at home by one point to Nebraska.  

16. Boise State (11-2) - The Broncos slipped at Michigan State to open the season by four points in a hard fought game. They also lost to San Diego State mid-season by two points. But they won their other eleven games, including a 28-26 Las Vegas bowl win over Washington. 

17. Texas (9-4) - Just when people wanted to write off Mack Brown and his mediocre 2012 Longhorn team, they show up in the Alamo Bowl and beat Oregon State in a thriller. Still, they lost to average West Virginia and TCU teams, and got absolutely throttled by a so-so Oklahoma team. K-State also beat 'em well. Big wins were on the road over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

18. Oklahoma (10-3) - The Sooners check in at #15 in both the AP and Coaches' polls, but I am bumping them back a few spots. Big wins for OU in 2012 were over Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU. But an embarassing bowl loss to Texas A&M will be what this team is remembered by.

19. Oregon State (9-4) - Three of the Beavers' four losses were by four points or less. The other was to Oregon. Overall, I feel the Beavers are deserving of a top 20 ranking for their performance in the 2012 season. A heartbreaking bowl loss to Texas keeps them from being ranked in the top 15.

20. Michigan (8-5) - In what was about to finish up as a decent season, the Wolverines had their hearts ripped out in the Outback Bowl in a loss to South Carolina to close this season. Besides a last-minute score to see them lose, ESPN also showed Clowney's hit on RB Vincent Smith about a thousand times. 

21. Baylor (8-5) - An 8-5 season was capped off with a convincing win over UCLA in the Holiday Bowl. Baylor has become a regular in the Top 25 polls over the last few seasons. A strong recruiting class is all this team needs to start seeing the big time.

22. Nebraska (10-4) - The Huskers gave UGA a pretty good showing in the Capital One Bowl before going down late to the dismay of Husker fans. Still, despite the troubles, NU managed to win ten games - something I think makes a team qualify for a spot in my Top 25 poll.

23. UCLA (9-5) - The Bruins were 9-2 and winners of the Pac-12 South as they headed into week twelve. But then UCLA lost to Stanford in back-to-back weeks and lost their bowl game to Baylor. It was Jim Mora's frst season on the sideline, and he turned the Bruins around quite well.

24. Vanderbilt (9-4) - The 'Dores aint no joke anymore! Coach James Franklin's crew had a big finale to 2012, whipping NC State 38-24 in the Music City Bowl. They also defeated Missouri, Auburn, Ole Miss and Tennessee on the way to nine wins.

25. Oklahoma State (8-5) - The Cowboys opened up a can on Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, erupting for 58 points. This team had its ups and downs in 2012, but I still think on most any given night they could have played with anyone in the country.

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