NCAA Football Preseason Rankings 2013: Underrated Teams That Will Shine

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NCAA Football Preseason Rankings 2013: Underrated Teams That Will Shine
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The first preseason coaches poll was released on Thursday, Aug. 1 by USA Today, and as usual, there were some head-scratching selections.

Some teams appeared to be ranked too high, while other worthy teams were relegated to the bottom or, in some cases, forgotten completely. 

While these rankings are really not good for anything in the long run, they do offer an opportunity to debate how the top teams in the nation stack up before the season begins. 

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Here's a look at the full rankings, followed by a closer examination into a few teams that were underrated by the coaches. By the time the season is finished, however, they will prove their worth.

 

USA TODAY PRESEASON COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS
 1. Alabama
 2. Ohio State
 3. Oregon
 4. Stanford
 5. Georgia
 6. Texas A&M
 7. South Carolina
 8. Clemson
 9. Louisville 
 10. Florida
 11. Notre Dame
 12. Florida State
 13. LSU
 14. Oklahoma State
 15. Texas
 16. Oklahoma
 17. Michigan
 18. Nebraska
 19. Boise State
 20. TCU
 21. UCLA
 22. Northwestern
 23. Wisconsin
 24. USC
 25. Oregon State

 *Rankings courtesy of USAToday.com

 

Michigan

In my latest rankings I had the Wolverines at No. 8 with a bit of hesitation, as the Notre Dame game will tell us a lot about this program going forward. 

It's easy to understand a ranking outside the top 10, but No. 17 is way too low for this team heading into the 2013 season. 

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Devin Gardner has had a strong offseason and will be confident heading into his first full season as the team's unquestioned starter.

He's joined by All-American offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, tight end Devin Funchess, who should come into his own in his second year, and there are a few freshmen who could become big playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. 

The team's defense is still a work in progress, but defensive end Frank Clark has been playing well this past spring and should provide consistent pressure off the edge. 

Michigan will be a top-10 team by the end of the season.

 

Fresno State

Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

Though I'm not surprised that Fresno State was left off these rankings, I am positive the program will move up the rankings during the season. 

Featuring one of the best defenses in the nation last year, allowing just 23.8 points per game, Fresno State returns most of its starting defenders from a year ago. 

Derek Carr leads a potent offensive attack, and he'll look to build upon his impressive performance last year, when he passed for 4,104 yards with 37 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. 

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The Bulldogs have a favorable schedule this year, with the team's most difficult opponent being Boise State, which will visit Fresno State this year. Nobody should be surprised if the Bulldogs supplant the Broncos atop the Mountain West Conference this year. 

 

Arizona State

The Sun Devils are going to challenge UCLA in the Pac-12 South once again this year, and I fully expect the program to come out ahead of its rival in 2013. 

Defensive tackle Will Sutton is an animal in the middle—I mean that in the most complimentary way possible—and he leads an underrated defense that will surprise a lot of people this year. Joining him as a leader for this defense is safety Alden Darby, who is the team's top defensive back. 

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Taylor Kelly was impressive in his first year as the starter last season, passing for 3,039 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He's joined this season by JUCO transfer Jaelen Strong, who should become an explosive weapon sooner rather than later. 

Finishing last year with a record of 8-5, Arizona State is primed to improve that record this year with a stronger showing against conference rivals. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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