Preseason AP Poll Football 2013: Toughest Opponent for Every Team in Top 25
The college football regular season gets underway in less than two weeks. With Saturday's release of the Associated Press preseason poll and previously the USA Today poll, teams from around the country with championship aspirations now have a good idea of where they stand.
While coaching staffs will insist their teams are going to take it one game at a time, it's hard not to look ahead to see the biggest hurdles on the horizon. Every Top 25 team has at least a few tricky opponents on the schedule.
With that in mind, let's take a glance at the complete AP poll, along with the toughest opponent each ranked team will face in the coming months. That's followed by an examination of the top college football games of the 2013 regular season.
|Rank||Team (First-Place Votes)||Points||Toughest Opponent|
|1||Alabama (58)||1,498||Texas A&M (Sept. 14)|
|2||Ohio State (1)||1,365||Michigan (Nov. 30)|
|3||Oregon||1,335||Stanford (Nov. 7)|
|4||Stanford||1,294||Oregon (Nov. 7)|
|5||Georgia (1)||1,249||Florida (Nov. 2)|
|6||South Carolina||1,154||Georgia (Sept. 7)|
|7||Texas A&M||1,104||Alabama (Sept. 14)|
|8||Clemson||1,083||South Carolina (Nov. 30)|
|9||Louisville||1,042||Cincinnati (Dec. 5)|
|10||Florida||894||Georgia (Nov. 2)|
|11||Florida State||845||Florida (Nov. 30)|
|12||LSU||802||Alabama (Nov. 9)|
|13||Oklahoma State||755||Texas (Nov. 16)|
|14||Notre Dame||748||Stanford (Nov. 30)|
|15||Texas||677||Oklahoma (Oct. 12)|
|16||Oklahoma||579||Notre Dame (Sept. 28)|
|17||Michigan||531||Ohio State (Nov. 30)|
|18||Nebraska||382||Michigan (Nov. 9)|
|19||Boise State||328||Utah State (Oct. 12)|
|20||TCU||323||LSU (Aug. 31)|
|21||UCLA||286||Oregon (Oct. 26)|
|22||Northwestern||199||Ohio State (Oct. 5)|
|23||Wisconsin||185||Ohio State (Sept. 28)|
|24||USC||134||Stanford (Nov. 16)|
|25||Oregon State||129||Oregon (Nov. 29)|
Top Games of 2013
Alabama vs. Texas A&M (Week 3)
The complexity of this matchup could change completely depending on the status of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The defending Heisman Trophy winner is going through some high-profile off-field issues, which have dominated headlines in recent weeks.
Last season, the Manziel-led Aggies stunned undefeated Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Regardless of who's under center for Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide will arrive in College Station for this marquee early-season clash with revenge on their mind.
Of course, Alabama rebounded after that loss to claim its second straight national championship. The Aggies are once again one of the biggest tests on the Tide's schedule as they look to bolster their case for being a college football dynasty under Nick Saban.
Georgia vs. Florida (Week 10)
One of the great rivalries in college football will reach a fever pitch if both teams enter this year's meeting undefeated. Under that scenario, both teams would likely be firmly inside the Top Five and have a national title on their mind.
Georgia is on a modest two-year winning streak against the Gators, but both games were decided by one score.
The biggest advantage the Bulldogs have is Aaron Murray, who threw for nearly 3,900 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. His outlook in 2013 is promising as he looks to build on last year's success.
Florida's chances rest on further improvement from Murray's counterpart, Jeff Driskel, and continued dominance from the defense, which ranked fifth in points allowed last season. The unit flustered Murray into three interceptions in the last meeting and will look to replicate that in 2013.
Oregon vs. Stanford (Week 11)
It seems like every time these two Pac-12 powers have met in recent seasons there's been some type of national title implications. Last year, Stanford upset Oregon in overtime to diminish the Ducks' title hopes. Two years ago, the reverse happened at Stanford Stadium.
Which is the biggest game of the year?
With both sides entering the season ranked inside the Top Five, it seems like they are on another collision course.
At least one of the teams, if not both, will probably have championship hopes on the line yet again, adding intrigue to the budding rivalry on the West Coast.
Mark Helfrich takes over for Chip Kelly, but numerous playmakers remain, including the always dynamic De'Anthony Thomas. Stanford will counter with a more conservative approach that will rely on a huge defensive effort and timely plays on offense.
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