Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Teams to Watch Outside of the Top 20

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2012: Teams to Watch Outside of the Top 20
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The Associated Press (via ESPN) has released their top-25 preseason rankings and while there have been plenty of debates regarding who deserves the top spots, don't overlook the teams outside the first 20 rankings. Let's take a look at some of the teams between ranks 21-25 worth keeping an eye on.

 

Stanford, No. 21


Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener may have gone on to the Indianapolis Colts, but luckily for the Cardinals, the Stanford defense is still for the most part in tact. Seven starters are returning to the defensive unit and should help make up for the offensive dip sure to come in 2012.

For all the fans of the old guard like Miami and Nebraska, you're just going to have to deal with the fact Stanford's rise to college football relevancy is here to stay for the time being.

While the team has yet to name their starting quarterback, most of the coaching staff that helped groom Andrew Luck into the 2012 NFL draft No. 1 overall pick is still there to teach whoever wins the job.

The Cardinals might not have as deadly an offense as they did a year ago, but don't expect the team to be an easy victory for their opposition this season.

 

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Florida, No. 23


Florida's offense may not be what it once was when Tim Tebow was winning Heisman Trophies and National Championships, but there is a bit of hope for the Gators to make noise in 2012.

Last season, Florida did post a disappointing 7-6 record. However, the team came within five and six points respectfully from defeating Georgia and South Carolina during that campaign.

The brutal losses against Alabama and LSU are fair indications that the Gators are still a bit away from returning to their former glory, but that doesn't mean the team won't improve upon last season.

Florida isn't quite back on their feet, but with Charlies Weis coming in as offensive coordinator and some solid potential on both sides of the ball, its close to getting off its knees.

 

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Kansas State, No. 22


Yeah, you hear me right. Collin Klein may not be as polished as former college star quarterbacks like Vince Young and Robert Griffin III, but that's essentially the role he plays in the Wildcats' offense.

Both Baylor and Texas saw great success with their mobile quarterbacks at the helm and Kansas State did as well last year when Klein lead the Wildcats in both passing and rushing yards. He had over 3,000 yards between his work through the air and on the ground with 26 passing touchdowns in 2011.

When your quarterback position is secure, it makes going into games against higher ranked Big-12 teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia a bit easier. All three of those teams are ranked within the top-18 and leave Kansas State in one of the toughest conferences in all the NCAA.

That being said, having a dynamic quarterback under center can't be overlooked and the Wildcats defense is packed with experienced upper-class talent.

Experience will prove to be valuable for Kansas State on defense and another stellar season from Klein could see the Wildcats jump into the AP Top-20 or 15 by season's end.

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