USA Today released its preseason coaches poll on Thursday, which featured a few teams who should climb up the rankings as the season progresses.
The list featured a multitude of traditional powers at the top of the rankings, as the coaches seemed to base their rankings more so on the past than the present.
In the present, these two teams have the talent to make a rapid progression up the rankings, likely taking down some of the traditional powers in the process.
Kansas State Wildcats
Last season was one to remember for the Wildcats. A 10-3 record and Cotton Bowl appearance was far more than anyone expected.
This year, though, the Wildcats can be expected to top their dream 2011 season, despite a preseason ranking of 21st. Most of their key pieces return, and their young players will be more battle-tested after playing a difficult schedule last year.
Kansas State begins with junior quarterback Collin Klein, who was dynamic as a sophomore. He led the team in rushing while being a decent, if average passer.
This year, he can be expected to improve as a passer while still being dangerous as a runner. In fact, he could be even more dangerous as Kansas State develops some extra weapons to surround him with.
An increased workload for running back John Hubert would help Klein stay fresher. Hubert was solid in 2011, and he should improve this year. He is elusive and surprising powerful for such a small back.
Though the Wildcats have lost a couple of offensive linemen, they should still be able to run the ball effectively.
This will take pressure off of a defense that was average last year.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, their ball-control offense helps keep games close. Collin Klein showed the ability to thrive under pressure last year, which should help the Wildcats to continue to win close games.
With a few upset victories, the Wildcats could easily find themselves in the top 15. They have the talent to do just that.
Like Kansas State, Virginia Tech is a team that will thrive on the strength of its quarterback.
Tech is ranked only 20th, and if the Hokies climb, it will be on the back of quarterback Logan Thomas.
Thomas can run well, but his real strength is throwing the ball down the field. He has a cannon arm, which combined with his decision making and elusiveness allows him to make plays up and down the field.
Though the Hokies have lost most of their offense, they have enough pieces to give Thomas some weapons.
Replacing first-round pick David Wilson at running back are Michael Holmes and talented freshman J.C. Coleman, who have the talent to continue Tech's tradition of strong running backs.
Holmes has good size and speed, while Coleman is elusive and talented as a receiver as well as a runner.
Of course, the Hokies' defense is talented enough to win games on its own. They feature freak athlete James Gayle at defensive end, who led the team with seven sacks last year.
Bruce Taylor will be the leader of the defense. Finally healthy, Taylor is a massive linebacker who can stuff the run as well as anybody in the country.
With a soft schedule, Virginia Tech should climb the rankings quickly. Their opener against Georgia Tech will set the tone for the season.
The Hokies will be amped up for their home opener on national television, so a win to open the season should set them up for a top-10 finish and a run at an ACC championship.
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