College Football Rankings 2012: Teams That Will Crack Top 25 in Next AP Poll

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIOctober 27, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 06:  Venric Mark #5 of the Northwestern Wildcats is tackled by Jacob Fagnano #27 of the Penn State Nittany Lions, Gerald Hodges #6 during the game on October 6, 2012 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The latest AP poll didn't have much movement as far as the Top 25 teams, but Week 9 will prove to be a different story when the next college football rankings are released.

A pair of Big Ten teams and a non-major conference upstart will crack the "Others receiving votes" barrier with wins on Saturday. Another Big 12 team will also break back in thanks to a favorable opponent and a spot in the BCS standings.

Here is the quartet of teams that will get it done.


Wisconsin Badgers

Former walk-on Joel Stave has taken advantage of his opportunities under center, guiding a more explosive Badger passing attack. Stave averages a whopping 9.13 yards per attempt, and of course has the luxury of handing it to All-American running back Montee Ball. 

Already ranked No. 25 in the most recent BCS standings, it appears only a matter of time before Wisconsin is in.

This weekend, the Badgers will face a Michigan State Spartans team that is in the midst of two heartbreaking defeats in conference play to Iowa and interstate rival Michigan. Making the trip to Camp Randall Stadium isn't going to help the cause for Mark Dantonio's bunch.

Both teams have stout run defenses, but the Badgers definitely have the advantage under center as Andrew Maxwell has shriveled in the shadow of program record-setter Kirk Cousins.

It will be a classic Big Ten slugfest, but the home team will prevail due to the imbalance of Michigan State's offense and skirt its way into the Top 25.

Toledo Rockets

The shocking victory over previously undefeated Cincinnati showed that this Rockets bunch could step up and play with some of the best competition in the country. Incredibly, Toledo didn't score one offensive touchdown in its 29-23 win over the Bearcats.

On the strength of kicker Jeremiah Detmer, a kickoff return for a touchdown by Bernard Reedy and a first quarter pick-six by Jermaine Robinson, the Rockets managed to pull out the game despite its offense's ineptitude.

A road trip looms, but it's at Buffalo, a team that is 1-7 on the season and has been essentially hapless since the departure of Turner Gill in 2009.

Toledo is on the fringe of the Top 25, receiving 49 points in the poll. A bounce-back performance by the offense and a blowout win should secure a spot in the rankings. The Rockets have only finished in the final AP Top 25 four times in program history, so getting there at this point in the season would be a huge achievement.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Yes, an upset is in the air in Beaver Stadium this weekend, where the Nittany Lions host the AP No. 7-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

Braxton Miller will be back under center for Ohio State after last week's injury scare, but he will have to negotiate a Penn State front seven that only allows 3.44 yards per carry.

Also working in the Lions' favor is the strong play of its own QB, senior Matt McGloin. He has thrown just two interceptions compared to 14 touchdowns in 2012. His favorite target is 6'3" sophomore Allen Robinson, who will be a load for the Buckeyes' suspect secondary to handle.

Two opening losses hosting now-ranked Ohio University and on the road at Virginia didn't hold this team back. Even in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the death of legendary head coach Joe Paterno, this Nittany Lions bunch has persevered to rattle off five consecutive victories.

Both of these teams have felt the wrath of NCAA sanctions and violations punishments, and this should be relatively low-scoring. However, the trend of sloppy play for Ohio State will be too difficult to combat facing an opponent on the road that it doesn't match up well against.


Texas Longhorns

Another embarrassing loss in the Red River Rivalry was followed by the Longhorns defense getting shelled again. Thankfully, sophomore running back Joe Bergeron had a career day matched up with an equally putrid Baylor defense, rushing for five touchdowns in Texas' 56-50 win.

David Ash had a redemptive game for the Longhorns as well, throwing what would be the deciding TD strike in the fourth quarter.

The Charlie Weis era got off to an encouraging start for Kansas with a 14-point victory over South Dakota State. Since then, the Jayhawks have lost six straight and will play host to the Longhorns on Saturday.

Former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist hasn't been able to inspire the Jayhawks, who have been simply outmatched in talent against the top-flight programs.

This should be a rout by Texas' high-powered, balanced offense and a confidence builder for a defensive unit that desperately needs it entering the closing stretch of the season.