The SEC has claimed seven straight national championships, and expectations are high that the conference will be in position to extend that streak in 2013. Our Football Outsiders projections agree. One of the fundamental factors that determine our annual forecasts is each team's program rating, a five-year performance evaluation that has a strong correlation to next-year success.
Five SEC teams currently rank among the top 12 in Program FEI -- Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina -- and a sixth team, Texas A&M, surged into the program FEI top 20 after an outstanding season last fall. The eventual SEC champion will almost certainly find itself at or near the top of the BCS standings at year's end, and each of these teams may be considered a good candidate to play for the championship with either an undefeated or one-loss record. According to our FEI projections, the Alabama Crimson Tide outpace all other FBS teams with a 37 percent chance of going undefeated and a 78 percent chance of finishing the year with one or fewer losses.
All media eyes are on the SEC this week, but which programs outside of that conference are best positioned to threaten the SEC's dominant reign? We ranked the six non-SEC teams with the best projected odds to make the BCS title game this season.
1. Oregon Ducks
FEI projection: No. 2
Undefeated likelihood: 30 percent
With a new head coach and some key pieces to replace on defense, Oregon has a few question marks heading into the 2013 season. But dominant performances over the past several seasons suggest the Ducks can pick up right where they left off. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was exceptionally efficient last season (68.5 percent completions, 32 TDs, 6 INTs) and chipped in another 752 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. The Ducks have ranked among the top 10 in FBS scoring offense in each of the past five years, but the secret to their elite success is how efficient they have played on both sides of the ball.