The AP released its annual preseason rankings just over a week ago, and now that the dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at which teams will not be able to remain ranked for very long.
While the world watches to see if Alabama can pull off the vaunted hat trick of national championship victories—a feat not accomplished at the Division I level since Army did all the way back in 1944, 1945 and 1946—lesser programs will be vying to remain relevant in the polls.
Let’s take a peek at which programs lurking in the AP Top 25 are pretenders and project to quickly be separated from the contenders once the 2013 college football season begins.
No. 7 - Texas A&M Aggies
This prediction completely hinges on whether or not the NCAA makes the decision to suspend Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.
If Johnny Football is out of the equation, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Aggies are able to contend in the always-tough SEC.
As of Monday, Texas A&M officials are planning on allowing the superstar sophomore to participate in the season opener against Rice in less than a week.
However, the NCAA may drop the hammer for Manziel’s role in an autograph signing scandal in which the young signal-caller allegedly accepted payment to ink his name on memorabilia.
While Matt Joeckel, Matt Davis and the other quarterbacks on the A&M roster are adequate, none give the Aggies the dual-threat edge that Manziel brings to the table.
There’s absolutely no shot that any of those less-heralded talents can put the team on their back and will the Aggies to a victory against the likes of Alabama and LSU.
If Manziel is suspended, expect to see the Aggies plummet out of the rankings in a hurry.
No. 23 - Wisconsin Badgers
The Badgers aren’t afraid to pound the ball down their opponent’s throat and win the war in the trenches, but they simply don’t have the same firepower in 2013 as they have in years past.
Wisconsin will still be a formidable team, but a tough Big Ten and out-of-conference schedule is going to have the school dropping from its perch inside the Top 25.
First up is a showdown with the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe on Sept. 14, which should be tough as the heat and hostile crowd make conditions unbearable for the Badgers.
If Wisconsin is able to escape the desert unscathed—an immensely tall task for this young program—it will not be so lucky a fortnight later.
The Badgers—a notoriously poor road team—will once again be forced to travel, this time to Columbus to take on a top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes squad with national championship aspirations.
This will add another loss to the Badgers' total and likely have them on the outside looking in of the Top 25 polls.
No. 24 - USC Trojans
USC is one of the consistently most overrated teams in the country and will be quickly ousted from the No. 24 spot in the AP poll.
It’s going to be hard to improve upon the dismal 7-6 season that the team had in 2012, even though 15 starters are returning this year.
Both Cody Kessler and Max Wittek will be taking snaps from under center against Hawaii when the season kicks off on Thursday.
They are both likely to excel against a weak Rainbow Warriors defense but will soon be exposed as inexperienced signal-callers.
ASU represents the first of a number of tough challenges the Trojans will have to face in 2013, with the shootout in Tempe happening on Sept. 28.
Should they survive that, the USC players will have their toughest challenge yet against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Oct. 19.
The Irish boast one of the best defensive lines in the nation and will absolutely decimate the Trojans’ mediocre O-line and young quarterbacks.
Don’t be surprised if USC’s tumble begins against the Sun Devils in September and ultimately spirals out of control after the South Bend showdown with the Irish.
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