NCAA Football Rankings 2012: Teams That Will Make Big Leaps in Week 3

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2012

EAST LANSING, MI - AUGUST 31: Le'Veon Bell #24 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown with Jack Allen #66 of the Michigan State Spartans and Keith Mumphery #25 of the Michigan State Spartanswhile playing the Boise State Broncos at Spartan Stadium on August, 2010 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 17-13. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With several marquee matchups on tap in college football’s third week, there’s sure to be a notable shakeup in the polls.

Twenty-four out of twenty-five teams occupy this week’s AP Poll after two weeks of play. The one team hanging around with one loss? Those Michigan Wolverines who were clobbered by the nation’s No. 1 team. With conference play beginning all across the nation, there are sure to be more teams joining the Maize and Blue in the upcoming poll.

Those losers will open the door for some Week 3 winners to climb the polls. Just wait, three teams will be sitting pretty in one week’s time.

 To check out this weeks AP Poll, click here.


Michigan State Spartans

The Michigan State Spartans will have the entire country watching them take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Saturday’s primetime matchup. The Spartans won’t disappoint.

The nation’s No. 10 team will be in single digits after they eviscerate the Irish behind the home crowd and their ground-and-pound approach.

Spartans running back Le’Veon Bell will continue his Heisman campaign against a shaky Irish defense that has yet to be exposed against weaker opponents.

Notre Dame first-year quarterback Everett Golson will have his toughest start to date against a Michigan State defense that lives on quarterback pressures. The Spartans' relentless ends, led by William Gholston and Denicos Allen, will have Golson gasping for air.

There’s nothing better for a team’s ranking than a high-profile win in front of a national audience. Don’t expect Michigan State to be in double digits come next week.


Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteers welcome the Florida Gators into Knoxville this weekend in what looks to be their most competitive game in over five years. Tyler Bray and Co. will be hyped and ready for the opportunity.

While the Gator offense struggled to find their identity well into their game with Texas A&M last weekend, Tennessee’s offense has been flying high. The Volunteers have shown an explosive attack that will test Florida’s secondary even more than the Aggies.

Albeit against weaker opponents, Bray has thrown six touchdowns and has yet to turn the ball over. In addition, questions about receiver Da’rick Rodgers' absence have been answered with the emergence of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.

On the other side of the ball, the Gators simply don’t have the playmakers to keep up. Tennessee will reign victorious at home and certainly will hop into the teens of the AP Poll.


BYU Cougars

With a couple Top-25 teams guaranteed to tumble next weekend, the BYU Cougars should benefit from beating the Utah Utes, their best opponent to date, in Week 3.

Utah will not be showing up in the AP Poll anytime soon after losing to Utah State, but the voters recognize the Utes as a strong program year in and year out.

Their offense should keep them in the game, while bringing out the best in BYU quarterback Riley Nelson and the Cougars' 24th-ranked passing offense. The senior QB will lead an impressive win leading to a bump in the polls.

For BYU, beating the Utes in a shootout on ESPN2 will thoroughly benefit their ranking as well. While Utah may wish they went to the Pac-12 another year to save their record, for BYU it’s good to be an independent.