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Dark-horse contenders for BCS bowls

Updated: August 28, 2012, 9:50 AM ET
By Travis Haney

Still down because your team was mediocre a year ago? Take heart. There's precedent for rapid improvements -- going from five-plus losses to a BCS bowl, in fact. Ten schools have done it in the past five seasons, including Clemson and Michigan in 2011. Before that, in 2010, five different 8-5 teams from 2009 -- national champion Auburn, Arkansas, Stanford, Oklahoma and Connecticut -- were in BCS games. The starkest of rebounds came in 2007, when Illinois went from 2-10 to the Rose Bowl. So it's possible.

Which 2012 teams are most likely to go from the toil of five (or more) losses to the BCS buffet? Here is a look at the top candidate from each of the six AQ conferences.

Florida Gators (SEC)

7-6 in 2011

Will Muschamp insists the Gators can win with either Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett, both sophomores, at quarterback. Thrust onto the field last year as freshmen, they struggled. But that's what happens when freshmen land unexpectedly on the field. They've had months to prepare themselves for the reality of their roles in 2012 and will surely be more efficient than they were last season (a combined 46.6 completion percentage, two TDs, six picks).

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