This could very well be the same headline this time next year. Photo by Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

So with the 2012 season over mere days ago, attention now turns to such things as recruiting and which players are leaving for the pros. Still, it’s never too early to look at what the landscape could be like at the start of the 2013 season. Here’s predictions for the pre-season Top 5, teams that just missed it as well as squads on the rise and on the fall and Heisman contenders. Of course this could all change by the time the season gets underway, but there are some definites here, mainly Bama.

Top 5
1) Alabama
As if they was anyone else who could conceivably occupy this spot. Until further notice or their first loss, you can pretty much assume the Tide will be in the Title game next year. They do lose O-line stalwarts Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack, but AJ McCarron and TJ Yeldon are back, as well the usual dominant defense. Making the path to 4 in 5 easier is the fact that they don’t play Florida, Georgia or South Carolina from the East next season.

2) Oregon
Now that Chipples is staying, the Ducks can focus on piling up the yards yet again. Kenjon Barner is gone, but that just means more touches for De’Anthony Thomas. QB Marcus Mariota will only keep improving, as will the defense. They are the biggest non-SEC threat to Bama hegemony and if they can avenge their OT loss to Stanford next season, then there is no reason they won’t be in the National Title discussion.

3) Stanford
2009 saw Toby Gerhart depart, 2010 it was Jim Harbaugh and 2011 Andrew Luck, yet each year the Cardinal came back after people wrote them off. They do lose star running back Stepfan Taylor and the Ertz-Toilolo TE combo, however Kevin Hogan will build on his impressive debut behind a stout offensive line. The defense will be outstanding despite its own losses. David Shaw has a solid foundation and Stanford is here to stay, so underestimating them again would be foolish.

4) Texas A&M
The Aggies may a claim to the hottest team in the country. Perhaps teams will have more insight into how to handle Johnny Manziel, but he’ll still be the explosive playmaker he was this past season. He loses Luke Joeckel and possibly Jake Matthews in front, but there is still enough talent around him. They are Bama’s biggest threat in the SEC and the conference opener between the teams in College Station will have huge implications.

5) Notre Dame
Yes I know they got manhandled by Bama, but that’s no reason to write them off for next year. They lose heart-and-soul Manti Te’o from the defense, but Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III and Prince Shembo will help fill the void. Everett Golson will continue to grow as will several other young players. Plus they have the #1 recruiting class this offseason. Whether the haters like it or not, the Irish are talented and here to stay.

Teams that just missed:Ohio State did go undefeated but the offense is pretty much one-dimensional and they’ll have to replace their entire defenseive line. The return of Aaron Murray will give Georgia one of the most explosive offenses in the country, but will have to rebuild much of its defense. South Carolina still has Jadeveon Clwoney but loses seven starters on defense, plus they play a very difficult schedule.

Teams On The Rise
Teddy Bridgewater is back and is a early favorite for the Heisman on a team that is the odds-on favorite to win the Big East, assuming of course they don’t bolt for greener pastures before the season starts. Pretty every starter returns so there’s no reason to expect them not to be in the preseason Top 10 and be in another BCS bowl.

Winning 10 games and your program’s first bowl game since 1948 is sure to the Wildcats noticed. Their strong core returns led by QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark, who lead a vastly underrated running game. The schedule gets a bit tougher, but if their defense can improve, Northwestern could be a darkhorse in the B1G Legends division.

Vandy is no longer a pushover in the country’s toughest conference, having won 9 games and continuing its upward ascent under head coach James Franklin. Though they lose Jordan Rodgers at QB, but WR Jordan Matthews returning is a big boon. They’ll always have a tough time competing in the SEC, but this was a statement season for the Commodores.

Teams Falling
It might be better to ask who isn’t coming out early for the Tigers. They’re losing underclassmen to the draft left and right, most from the defense. Young players will be forced to step in and that doesn’t bode well in the SEC. This means they might have to lean more on an offense that couldn’t execute at times last season. With all that, it sure won’t help that they have to play Florida and at Georgia from the SEC East.

Lane Kiffin will be under pressure not to repeat USC’s horrid 2012. Photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that WR Marqise Lee is back, but the bad news is that there’s not much else to inspire confidence. Max Wittek has not proven he can be even a decent QB, plus he has to fill Matt Barkley’s big shoes. There is potential for a solid season for the Trojans, but the first-to-worst 2012 is still fresh in the mind of players and fans and Lane Kiffin is starting to feel the pressure.

The thrashing at the hands of Texas A&M is another example of an emerging trend of the Sooners not being able to win big games. Unless someone emerges, the Sooners will lack a true star next season. Landry Jones is gone, so the hole will be big to fill at QB, plus a number of losses on defense make for a very uncertain 2013.

Heisman Favorites
Johnny Manziel
The early favorite to win the Heisman, though repeating will be a tough task. His dynamic offensive abilities will be tested as teams adjust to him. A relatively easy schedule, with Bama at home to open conference play, could have A&M in the national title picture which will only help Manziel.

Teddy Bridgewater
His mpressive dismantling of the vaunted Florida defense in the Orange Bowl vaulted him onto Heisman watchlists. The Cardinals will be in the Big East and BCS discussion, will only help elevate Bridgewater’s profile as the team gets more and more national recognition.

De’Anthony Thomas
Kenjon Barner is leaving, which means more touches for the supremely talented Thomas. He’ll be able to pile up yards on the ground, through the air and on returns. The only thing that could hold him back is the wealth of playmakers the Ducks have, which might bite into his chances to impress.