Notre Dame exceeded expectations this past season, going from an unranked program to No. 1 in the country after the 2012 regular season.
Ohio State also had a standout campaign despite having to sit out the postseason, as the Buckeyes ran the table in Urban Meyer's first year in Columbus.
So which teams could be primed to make a similar run next fall?
Let's take a look at five programs that could be surprise contenders in 2013.