MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers throws a pass against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Let's see how many different fanbases we can tick off with this list. There are those teams that get hyped up by the media or their fans each season (You know, the team that hasn't won a championship since your grandpa was two and yet their fanbase tells you every August that they're the best program in the history of college football) and then there are the programs that have managed to win their division or conference and appear in an upper tier bowl game on a regular basis and yet fail to gain the regular attention of programs with equal or lesser resumes.
Here's my list of the top 10 most underrated college football programs.
10. Cincinnati - The Bearcats have won three conference championships in since 2008 with a combined 33-7 record during those three seasons. Cincinnati is 4-2 in bowl games since 2004.
9. South Carolina - USC has struggled to find that program defining moment since joining the SEC in 1992 but they are able to attract some of the biggest names in college football for head coaches and as #4 Ole Miss (2009) and #1 Alabama (2010) learned, the Game Cocks are able to compete with the top programs in the SEC. South Carolina has had four Top 25 final rankings since 2000, including the last two seasons.
8. Clemson - The defending ACC champions are a team that plays in an SEC like atmosphere but always seems to be a disappointing loss away from greatness. Still, they've appeared in eleven bowl games since 2000 and own winning records over 8 current ACC teams.
7. Wisconsin - The Badgers have never won a national championship but they do have five conference championships and 13 bowl appearances since 1993. Since taking over as head coach in 2006, Bret Bielema has won two Big Ten titles (2010, 2011) and has an overall 60-19 record.
6. Stanford - For a program that has produced coaches like Bill Walsh, Dennis Green and Glenn "Pop" Warner, Stanford rarely gets the credit that it is due. Perhaps it's because they are a recent team on the rise that ended an eight year post-season drought in 2009. The last two seasons have been spectacular for the Cardinal as they've comprised a 23-3 record with back-to-back trips to BCS bowls.
5. Georgia - In the ultra-competitive SEC the Bulldogs take a lot of heat but they have quite a storied history. Claiming national championships in 1942 and in 1980, Georgia also has 12 conference titles and two Heisman winners to their credit. Current head coach Mark Richt seems to constantly have his job on the line despite having a 106-38 record in his eleven years. The Bulldogs have won two SEC titles since 2002.
4. Boise State - The Broncos are often waved off because they've played in the WAC where they've won nine of the last twelve conference championships. However, regardless of conference affiliation, you can't deny BSU's record in BCS bowl games where they're 2-0 with Fiesta Bowl wins over Oklahoma and TCU. Head coach Chris Peterson is 73-6 in seven seasons at Boise State.
3. TCU - Who would have thought that the Horned Frogs would replace Texas A&M in the Big XII and it would actually upgrade the quality of the conference. Over the last eleven years Gary Patterson has built TCU into a power that boast a 110-30 record with six conference titles and a 7-4 bowl record (including two BCS bowl appearances) over that same time frame.
2. Utah - Urban Myer put the Utes on the map in 2004 when he coached the team to an undefeated season. They were the very first ever BCS Busters and finalized their season with a 35-7 thumping of Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. They returned to the BCS in 2008 with a 31-17 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Now a full-fledged member of a BCS conference (Pac-12) the Utes have more BCS experience than most of the teams in the west.
1. West Virginia - The Mountaineers won't be able to hide in the Big East anymore and their ten touchdown performance in the Orange Bowl proved that they're up to the challenge of matching the Big XII offenses stride for stride. West Virginia has appeared in three BCS bowls since 2005 and has a 3-0 record in those games.