With another college football season wrapping up with the national championship game Monday, one team will again lift the title trophy while every other squad across the country wishes it could be celebrating.

Like most people outside of SEC country, I’m pulling for Florida State to end the smug, insufferable reign of the conference who has won seven straight but in the end it doesn’t matter all that much to me.

In Provo, it has now been 29 years since BYU brought a national championship home.

Many Cougar fans now weren’t even alive when the Robbie Bosco-led team pulled off the greatest surprise in the sport by not just going undefeated but by earning enough respect to be awarded the crown.

There are still those who emphatically deny that BYU didn’t deserve it (many of whom wear red) but their arguments can’t change the reality:

In 1984, the Cougars were the best team in the country.

Since then, 18 different teams have earned the title of national champion, most being traditional powers like Alabama, Nebraska, Miami and Florida State.

None of the non-power league schools have even gotten a shot, although teams like Utah, TCU and Boise State have had some pretty special seasons during that stretch.

But with the end of the BCS era, that might be changing — although no one knows for sure.

After the 2014 regular season draws to a close, four teams instead of two will compete in a two-round playoff with the victor becoming a less-controversial national champion.

Another aspect is the addition of a selection committee, instead of the old, sometimes-disastrous computer/poll model of the BCS.

So a special season (or more likely two straight) could possibly get a team like BYU in position to be awarded one of the playoff spots.

But, just like in 1984, everything will have to fall just right.

With that in mind, here are the Top 10 things Cougar football will need to earn a chance to again be crowned as the best in the nation:

10. Something to build on

It’s almost impossible for a college football team to be a national title contender without having been successful the year before. Before 1984, BYU was ranked No. 7 to end 1983 and that made the country aware of who the Cougars were. It’s a lot easier to move up when you start out ranked.

Potential for 2014: Not good


9. Successful opponents

In 1984, BYU’s wins over a No. 3-ranked Pitt squad and a Michigan team ranked as high as No. 2 were diminished by the failure of those teams to get a lot of wins. It won’t work that way any more, so the Cougars need teams it beats to continue to be solid in conference play. This one is actually easier with BYU being independent, since conference teams won’t beat up on each other as much.

Potential for 2014: Not good


8. Experience in key positions

The Cougar system helped Bosco, a junior who had never played much, be able to step in and perform at a high level. Now BYU needs players at quarterback, running back, safety, defensive line and middle linebacker who know what they are doing and can be confident, no matter the situation.

Potential for 2014: Good


7. Team-wide health

The Cougars aren’t getting all the five-star recruits and everyone knows it. That means BYU will always have a disadvantage against the nation’s elite when it comes to depth. If the Cougars can have a year where most of the starters can stay healthy, it gives BYU a shot to be great. That’s easier said than done in the rough, physical game of football, however.

Potential for 2014: Not good


6. Elite performers

Experience is one thing but having athletes turn into top-level performers is something else. Cougar fans have gotten to see that potential with Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman, but BYU needs those types of guys to develop in the future for them to have any chance at being an elite team.

Potential for 2014: Good


5. Lack of dominance

Some might put this at the top spot, since it was probably the key factor in the 1984 national championship run. Most of the teams in college football simply weren’t that good that year, as evidenced by the next three teams in the final AP poll having records of 11-1 (Washington, whose best regular-season win was at Michigan), 9-1-1 (Florida) and 10-2 (Nebraska). If teams like Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State and Oregon are undefeated, BYU has no chance, no matter what they do.

Potential for 2014: Not good


4. A spotlight-grabbing win

This probably sparks memories of beating Pitt in 1984, Miami in 1990, Texas A&M in 1996 and Oklahoma in 2009. For a team like BYU, it has to take on a high-caliber opponent and take them down to make pollsters, computers and the selection committee take notice. The chances are pretty good that if the Cougars had gone undefeated in 1990, 1996 and 2009, they would’ve been right in the middle of the national-title discussion.

Potential for 2014: Good (at Texas/at UCF)


3. Dynamic offense

In 1984, BYU was only held under 20 points once (in an 18-13 win at Hawaii). The high-flying Cougar attack had the ability to put the pressure on opposing defenses, something that also caught the attention of the nation. We now live in a college football world where shootouts are common, so the Cougars have to prove they can compete in those types of games. In order to approach that level, the BYU offensive line has to improve exponentially.

Potential for 2014: Not good


2. Stout defense

The offense will get the accolades but it’s the defense that has to be incredibly consistent. The Cougars only allowed opponents to break the 20-point mark twice in 1984 and that excellence kept BYU on track, even when the offense was faltering or turning the ball over. In order to be in the mix for a championship, the Cougar defense will have to make the big stops and force the big turnovers, something it will have a tough time doing in the near future unless other stars emerge.

Potential for 2014: Not good


1. Some help from fortune

Since being undefeated is the only possible access route to the playoffs for BYU, the Cougars are going to need some breaks to go their way. Every team has games where they aren’t as crisp on one side of the ball or the other. But BYU in 1984 got some lucky bounces, just as Auburn has this year and Notre Dame did last year. The Cougars got some bad breaks with crazy weather in 2013, so maybe the pendulum will swing back their way.

Potential for 2014: Good

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd.

jared-lloyd
-- Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd is also the beat writer for the BYU football team, the columnist for the Cougar men’s basketball team and covers a variety of Utah Valley high school athletics. He can be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.
Read more from  Jared Lloyd here.

Jared is the Sports Editor and BYU football reporter for the Daily Herald.