College Football Rankings 2012: Top-10 Teams Facing Difficult Games This Weekend

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IISeptember 10, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 8: Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans talks with head coach Lane Kiffin before the start of their game against the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Several teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest AP Top 25 poll will put their undefeated records on the line against difficult opponents.

The AP poll saw no change at the top, and for the the second week in a row, Alabama, USC, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma made up the top five, in that order.

Florida State moved into a tie with the Sooners for fifth, with Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia and Michigan State rounding out the top 10.

Here are the four teams that will need to play well in order to avoid dropping down the rankings.


(1) Alabama vs. Arkansas 

The Crimson Tide boast a fearsome defense and a physical offense. After blowing out Michigan in Week 1 and winning while on cruise control against Western Kentucky, Alabama looks like the best team in the nation. 

This was supposed to be a matchup between two top-10 teams, but Arkansas suffered the most shocking upset of the season and lost 34-31 to Louisiana-Monroe, causing the Razorbacks to fall out of the Top 25.

Arkansas is in the unfortunate decision of having several weaknesses exposed and being unsure if starting quarterback Tyler Wilson will be available as they take on Alabama.

Still, the Razorbacks were talented enough to be ranked No. 8 in the country heading into last weekend. They will now have had a full week of practice to prepare for playing without Wilson, and will play a much better game than they did against Louisiana-Monroe.


(2) USC vs. (21) Stanford

This Pac 12 battle was a thrilling affair last season, but with Andrew Luck in the NFL, it is unlikely to produce 104 points again.

While USC will bring an electric passing attack into Palo Alto, Stanford has a massive offensive line capable of controlling the line of scrimmage and keeping Matt Barkley on the sideline.

The Cardinal have forced six turnovers in their first two games against San Jose State and Duke while only committing one. Winning the turnover battle will be significantly more difficult against the Trojans, but if the offense can take care of the ball and be effective on the ground, Stanford will stay in the game.

While USC is clearly the better team, this will be a tough test on the road for the Trojans.


(20) Notre Dame vs. (10) Michigan State 

The Spartans will take on the Fighting Irish in one of the marquee matchups this weekend.

Both teams have excellent defenses, and the Spartans’ unit has not allowed a touchdown in its first two games. They will smother a Notre Dame offense that struggled against Purdue.

However, Tommy Rees came in the game late against the Boilermakers and gave the Irish’s offense the spark it needed to move the ball. Head coach Brian Kelly claims Everett Golson is still the starter, but the team now has confidence in Rees’ ability to come in and give the offense a different look.

Michigan State has the opportunity to move even farther up the AP poll with a victory, but Notre Dame will ensure that accomplishing that task will not be easy.