After the Andrew Luck era, what's there to look forward to? That's the only question people are talking about with respect to the Stanford Cardinal football team in 2012, and to be candid about the matter, it's the only question that really matters in any larger sense.

For the first time since the 2009 season, the Oregon Ducks are not receiving most of the preseason buzz and publicity in the Pac-12 (formerly Pac-10) Conference. The USC Trojans are once again the focus of football writers in the realm of West Coast competition. However, this does not mean that Oregon can't create yet another immensely successful season. Actually, the Ducks could profit from being a little less visible this season.

The first season for a new head coach is almost always a choppy, uneven journey full of rough edges, false starts, and assorted hiccups. For the Michigan Wolverines, all of those things existed in Brady Hoke's maiden voyage as the Maize and Blue's head coach, and yet, the program where Hoke served as an assistant coach for eight seasons managed to reclaim many of its past glories.

The Michigan State Spartans could not catch a meaningful break this past regular season, but in their 2011 postseason, they might have experienced the transformative moment that will enable them to reach new heights.

Raise your hand if you've heard this before: The Kansas State football team faces an uphill battle in a loaded Big 12 Conference, making a 10-win season and an upper-tier bowl bid a pair of longshots. No problem, however: The Wildcats have the white-haired wizard whose specialty is exceeding the odds.

In 2011, the Clemson Tigers displayed many of the familiar schizoid tendencies that have exasperated their fan base and fascinated college football commentators over the past two decades. However, for all the ways in which Clemson "remained Clemson," the Tigers still made forward strides and produced a season they had every right to be proud of. The way the 2011 season unfolded offers the way to gauge this team as 2012 beckons.

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