On Tuesday morning, before the crimson confetti had been cleared from Bourbon Street, my man Mark Schlabach had already posted his ever-popular Way Too Early Top 25 on ESPN.com. As always, he does a beautiful job of figuring out where teams will be when the smoke clears one year from now when we're all boarding planes to leave South Florida, site of the 2013 BCS title game.
But before we get to next January there will be teams that rocket up and down the rankings like one of those amusement park slingshot rides. Today we'll look at the teams that have the potential to move up the quickest based on their schedules. Tomorrow we'll look at the schools that are in the most danger of vanishing because of the strength of the opponents laid out before them.
Keep in mind, the Big 12 schedules are still up in the air, so it's hard to gauge what their teams will be up against this far out. In the cases on this list where the schedule isn't set, we'll base the number of home and road games on each school's norm.
1. Oregon Ducks
Way Too Early Ranking: 4th
Home games: 7
Road games: 5
Nonconference opponents: Arkansas St., Fresno St., Tennessee Tech
Biggest test: Nov. 3 at USC
The Ducks start the year with home games in their first four games, and five of their first six are in Eugene. Their only road trip before the Oct. 13 open date is to Washington State. The three teams above them in Schlabach's rankings -- the LSU Tigers, USC Trojans, and Alabama Crimson Tide -- all have legit potential defeats on their schedules before then, meaning the Ducks could be No. 1 by the time they go to the Coliseum on Nov. 3.
To see which other teams could surge up the early-season rankings this season based on their schedules, sign up today.