As we begin foraging into the heart of the 2012 college football season, it's time for ranked teams across the nation to prove their true worth.
The early weeks in college football, outside of a few notable exceptions, are all about coming together as a cohesive unit to make a late-season charge in-conference.
That changes for those teams this week, as almost every ranked team on the schedule this week has at least a remote chance of losing on Saturday.
Nevertheless, there are teams that have a chance at getting exposed in Week 4, and then there are those squads that will almost certainly feel the taste of defeat.
Which are those ranked teams? Here's a look at a few Top 25 teams that are guaranteed to lose on Saturday.
No. 18 Michigan Wolverines
A week after pulverizing an overmatched UMass squad, the Wolverines head to South Bend to play a Notre Dame squad that's coming off the school's biggest victory since 2005.
With Denard Robinson seemingly back to his explosive self, this seems like the perfect opportunity for Michigan to come away victorious against an overconfident Irish squad.
Just don't expect the Wolverines to take advantage.
In Robinson's only game against an elite defense this season, the Alabama Crimson Tide stripped the dual threat of his running ability and exposed the Michigan offense's over-reliance on the senior star.
The Tide also exposed Robinson's continued struggles as a pocket passer. The Heisman trophy candidate has completed just 54.7 percent of his passes in 2012 and has already thrown four interceptions in just 75 pass attempts.
Look for more mistakes on Saturday as the vaunted Notre Dame defense mitigates Robinson's run effectiveness and forces him into more drop-back sets.
For a team that came into 2012 with Rose Bowl aspirations, look for Michigan to be looking at a .500 record heading into Week 5.
No. 15 Kansas State Wildcats
Though the Wildcats come in as 16-point underdogs (via Bovada) and are widely expected to lose this game, it's how badly they will provide the rude awakening to their Cinderella start.
First and foremost, the offense is too heavily reliant on quarterback Collin Klein's brilliance. Last week North Texas gave the blueprint to stopping John Hubert by running a contain defense, leaving the senior quarterback to essentially put the offense on his back.
That can work against a less talented team like the Mean Green, but won't work if the Sooners follow suit this week.
Nonetheless, where Oklahoma will truly thrive is passing the ball with Landry Jones. Last week, North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson, who had struggled mightily in 2012, picked apart the Wildcat defense. The junior went 25-of-28 passing for 208 yards and a touchdown—a performance that came after failing to complete 50 percent of his passes in the season's first two weeks.
Look for the Sooners to ramp up the aggression through the air and threaten the 50-point barrier on Saturday.
No. 19 UCLA Bruins
A semi-Cinderella team out of the Pac-12, the Bruins have faulted in the rankings on the performances scintillating running back Johnathan Franklin.
The senior has already gone over the 200-yard barrier twice, and is averaging an astonishing 8.2 yards per carry thus far.
Unfortunately for UCLA, the big-play threat is about to get swallowed up by an underrated Oregon State defense. The Beavers held early-season Heisman candidate Montee Ball to just 61 yards in Week 2 en route to upsetting the Wisconsin Badgers 10-7.
That upset went largely unnoticed due Wisconsin's continued struggles and the fact Oregon State has not played since.
However, look for a similar experience for Franklin this Saturday, who already showed signs of slowing down last week against Houston. Oregon State's defense is a smart, veteran bunch that knows how to run contain on the outside.
It will be a close, hard-fought game, but look for the Beavers to beat their second consecutive ranked opponent.
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