Summer offers nothing constructive in the way of college football, unfortunately. Which means we're left with really only possibility and that leads to wonkish and boring speculation.
But that's what we're here for, right? To speculate on the upcoming season, even though none of us really have an idea of what to expect in 2009. That's part of the game, though, and it's always fun going back when the season is over and checking up on our predictions.
Of course, I'm not exactly doing that this time around. Instead, I'm speculating on what might happen, but not really making a definitive claim. These rankings aren't how I see each team finishing this year, rather I rank them based on how realistic of a chance they have of busting the BCS. So a team that has an easier path to a January bowl game will most certainly be ranked ahead of one that has a far more challenging schedule.
1. Boise State
OOC Opponents: Oregon, Miami (Ohio), @ Bowling Green, UC Davis, @ Tulsa
WAC Opponents: @ Fresno State, @ Hawaii, San Jose State, @ LA Tech, Idaho, @ Utah State, Nevada, New Mexico State
Oregon appears to be the toughest opponent on Boise State's schedule next year, but that game is at home. A road game against Tulsa won't be easy, however, beyond those two contests, it's pretty much a breeze for the Broncos.
Which means they stand a good shot at going undefeated. If they do, they're in*.
*Unless a MWC team goes undefeated, then they probably will be on the outside looking in like last year.
OOC Opponents: @ Virginia, Texas State, @ Clemson, SMU,
MWC Opponents: @ Air Force, CSU, @ BYU, UNLV, @ SDSU, Utah, @ Wyoming, New Mexico
Road games against Clemson and BYU will prove to be big tests for the Frogs and you've got to think they'll need to win both to pass Boise State in the BCS rankings. A home game against Utah isn't going to be easy, either.
OOC Opponents: Utah State, @ San Jose State, @ Oregon, Louisville
MWC Opponents: @ CSU, @ UNLV, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico, @ TCU, SDSU, @ BYU
If the Utes are going to make a BCS bowl game for the second consecutive year, they'll need to do it on the road. Unlike last year, where all but one of their biggest games were at home, the Utes' toughest contests are away from Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Oregon, TCU and BYU can all beat the Utes and I wouldn't be shocking to see them lose all three. Of course, I also wouldn't be shocked if they went 3-0, either.
OOC Opponents: Oklahoma (Dallas), @ Tulane, Florida State
Conference Opponents: CSU, Utah State, @ UNLV, @ SDSU, TCU, Wyoming, @ New Mexico, Air Force, Utah
The good news for BYU is that they get Florida State, TCU and Utah at home, which positions them well for a BCS berth. Unfortunately, they also play Oklahoma in Dallas -- certain to be a pro-Sooners crowd. That will prove to be the most difficult game for a non-BCS team vying for a spot in a BCS bowl.
IF the Cougars can somehow get past the Sooners, then look out. If they don't, though, their BCS dreams might just be dashed by week one.
Beyond those four teams, I'm sure there are a few dark horses. If you think I should add a couple more, let me know. But this list seems decent enough.