College Football Rankings 2013: Teams That Will Continue to Defy Expectations

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 1, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees (11) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass in the first quarter against the Temple Owls at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

You know what they say about preseason rankings.

They are compiled before anyone actually plays football.

Several teams were ranked far too low in the AP poll before the 2013-14 season. Many exaggerated the departures of top players while ignoring what teams actually had going for them.

Programs like Notre Dame were condemned, despite possessing a strong coaching staff and talented players all over the field.

Well, Week 1 showed us a glimpse of some teams that should have never been doubted in the preseason. 

Here's a look at teams that will continue to defy expectations (and the rankings) as the season progresses.


Wisconsin (23)

With running back Montee Ball and five defensive starters departing Madison during the offseason, there were concerns that the running game and defense would take a step back.

On top of that, many wondered if Joel Stave could be the man to lead the Badgers to glory.

Well, the Badgers defeated Massachusetts on Saturday, 45-0. So there's that.

While Massachusetts isn't a powerhouse by any means, make no mistake about it: Wisconsin will continue its impressive play moving forward.

First of all, while the Badgers lost Ball, they still have James White and Melvin Gordon, who combined for 287 yards and two touchdowns on the ground against the Minutemen. They also have freshman Corey Clement, who scampered for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Stave went 9-of-17 for 11.6 yards per pass attempt with two touchdowns to one interception. Keep in mind, Stave averaged a respectable 9.3 yards per pass attempt last season while tossing six touchdowns to three interceptions. He was perhaps underrated coming into the 2013 campaign.

Wisconsin's running game and defense appear to be fine. Stave doesn't look half-bad, either.


Michigan (17)

Head coach Brady Hoke's first season with Michigan was a success. His second season with the Wolverines was largely disappointing.

On the back of a disappointing 2012 campaign, the Wolverines also lost dual-threat quarterback Denard Robinson and several key defensive starters in the offseason.

But all the doubts were overblown in the summer.

Junior quarterback Devin Gardner needs to take better care of the ball, but his end to the 2012 campaign showed that he is capable of being a dangerous quarterback. 

Gardner averaged 10.8 yards per pass attempt on Saturday in Michigan's 59-9 beatdown of Central Michigan, while rushing for 52 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

Another encouraging sign? Star recruit Derrick Green had a solid college debut, rushing for 58 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries against the Chippewas.

For what it's worth, Michigan also played solid defense against Central Michigan on Saturday.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: People weren't giving Hoke enough respect this offseason.


Notre Dame (14)

I wrote just before the 2013 campaign began that Notre Dame was underrated.

While the team lost leading rushers Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, tight end Tyler Eifert, star linebacker Manti Te'o and quarterback Everett Golson (for the time being) in the offseason, I felt the concerns over Tommy Rees were way overblown and I liked the depth the Fighting Irish had coming into the season.

Case in point: Rees went 16-of-23 for 346 yards and three touchdowns against Temple on Saturday, while junior running backs Amir Carlisle, Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson III combined for 167 yards and a touchdown on just 27 carries. 

Also, senior T.J. Jones racked up 138 receiving yards, breakout candidate DaVaris Daniels added three catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns, and tight end Troy Niklas had a 66-yard touchdown.

Will Notre Dame make it back to the national championship game?

Probably not.

But are the Fighting Irish better than No. 14 in the country?

Why, yes. Yes, they are.


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