College Football Preseason Rankings: Top 10 Teams That Will Stumble Early

Brooke JordanCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  The Michigan Wolverines including Michael Schofield #75  pile on kicker Brendan Gibbons #34 after Gibbons kicked a successful 37-yard game-winning field goal in overtime against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As the 2012 college football season begins, every team starts with a new, clean slate. This means that the first couple of games are crucial and will dictate how the remainder of a team's season will go.

As the preseason rankings came out, a couple of the top-rated teams may find themselves in an early struggle. With the new postseason system and the emphasis of winning each and every game that much more, the upset alert is that much higher and that much more of an impact.

Here are two preseason top-10 teams who may stumble out of the starting gate.


Michigan Wolverines

Michigan opens the season against the defending national champion, Alabama. Many may see this as unfair, but it is a reality.

If the eighth-ranked Wolverines were to lose to the No. 2 Crimson Tide on Saturday, their chances at a BCS title would take a huge blow. They would have to win every other game on their schedule, which includes the likes of Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State.

There is a ton of pressure in Ann Arbor this year and it is important for Michigan to get off to a great start. However, against the speed, toughness and experience of Alabama, it is not going to be easy to achieve. While the Wolverines have their own lethal weapon in Denard Robinson, they will need more players to step up and help him create big plays.

In the end, the Alabama Crimson Tide will outplay Michigan, and the Wolverines will struggle to recover.

South Carolina Gamecocks

This may come as a surprise. However, after the Gamecocks barley scraped by Vanderbilt, many eyes were opened.

The hype surrounding the 2012 college football season in Columbia has been evident. With two bowl victories in the past two years, a school-record 11 wins last season and the return of Marcus Lattimore, Gamecock fans believe this is the team's year. But if all the games are like their first against Vanderbilt, they might as well give up on their SEC and BCS title dreams.

South Carolina looked sloppy. They did not finish plays and allowed Vanderbilt to hang around much longer than they should have. The defense was picked apart and the offense struggled to keep long, sustainable drives. Also, Connor Shaw's injury and health will be a huge factor in whether the team falls.

Yes, a win is a win, but this scrappy, doing-the-minimum type of play will not work against their future opponents, in particular, Georgia and LSU. The gutsy performances of quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Marcus Lattimore are commendable and will certainly be needed during every game.

South Carolina exposed many of their weaknesses last night that smart opponents can use to their advantage and knock the Gamecocks out of championship contention.