Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Underrated Teams Sure to Rise Early
There are some college football teams that will get out of the gates faster than others this September.
The ACC's Clemson Tigers epitomized that reality last season, when they began the year 8-0 before quickly coming back down to earth.
Are the Tigers in store for a similar scorching start in 2012?
Find out. Here are a few underrated teams in the preseason poll sure to rise with strong play early.
No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU is consistently among the Top 25 college football teams in America, and in 2012 they will rise in the rankings early on. The Mountaineers open up their season with three games against Marshall, James Madison and Maryland, and none of these teams stands much of a chance of beating them. Once West Virginia's Big 12 competition comes into town they will be challenged, but Oklahoma is the only team in the conference ranked higher than them in the current preseason poll.
The Mountaineers made the move to the Big 12 to compete with the big boys of college football, and they will do just that early on in their 2012 campaign. They have a high-powered offense that ranked sixth in passing yards per game last season and an early season schedule that will give even the team water boy confidence.
No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers
Which team will rise the most in 2012?
The Badgers are coming off a Big Ten Conference Championship in 2011, and a Rose Bowl Game appearance. Wisconsin opens up against some favorable competition this season as well, which bodes well for their chances at rising in the rankings before October's arrival.
Wisconsin will only go on the road for two of its first six games of the season, providing them with ample opportunity to get off to a 6-0 start, putting their name into BCS title game conversation before Halloween.
The high-scoring Badgers, who were ranked sixth in scoring offense in 2011, are the cream of the crop in the Big Ten Leaders Division as well, with Penn State and Ohio State in the midst of penalty or recovering from sanctions.
No. 14 Clemson Tigers
Clemson kicks off the 2012 season against Auburn in the Georgia Dome. A win over the SEC's Tigers, who won the BCS National Championship in 2010, would certainly boost Clemson's stock heading into two home, non-conference games against Ball State and Furman that they should win handily.
The Tigers round out the month of September at ACC rivals Florida State and Boston College. Expect a hot start to 2012 from Clemson. After all, the Tigers won their first eight games last season before falling off at the end. Considering how weak the ACC has been over the past few years, and the offensive brilliance of Dabo Swinney's Tigers, I like Clemson to rise into the Top 10 early on this fall.
2012 USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll Top 25
|Rank||Team (first-place votes)||Record||Points|
|2||Alabama (20) ||12-1||1,399|
|3||Southern California (19) ||10-2||1,388|
|4||Oklahoma (1) ||10-3||1,276|
|7||Florida State (1) ||9-4||1,055|
Click here to see the recently released USA Today Preseason Poll.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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