In its 16th and final year in existence, the Bowl Championship Series era will feature three programs making their BCS bowl debut. Michigan State, Baylor and Central Florida won automatic-qualifying bids as conference champions over the weekend. None of the three were picked to finish higher than fourth in their respective conferences in the preseason media polls.
One thing each of these teams had in common heading into the season was program momentum. As part of our annual projection model, we calculate a five-year weighted performance rating called Program FEI. The Spartans, Bears and Knights were all ranked outside of the top 20 in PFEI after last season, but all three had sustained at least three straight seasons of PFEI growth. We picked the Spartans as the Big Ten Legends Division front-runners in May due in part to that consistent program growth. They appeared poised to take a step forward.
The final Program FEI ratings heading into next season won't be published until after the bowl season wraps up, but we calculated a preliminary set of PFEI ratings following the end of the regular season to see which teams are in position for a leap forward in 2014.
Here are four teams on the rise heading into next season.
PFEI in 2008: No. 25 | Projected PFEI heading into 2014: Top 10