NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 1

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIISeptember 1, 2013

NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Predicting the Top 25 After Week 1

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    Clemson stole the show in Week 1 of college football with a massive upset of Georgia.

    While the Tigers are on the rise, did the teams ranked ahead of them do enough to avoid being jumped in the coming polls? And how far did the Bulldogs slide after their heartbreaking loss?

    Also, find out which unranked teams were impressive enough in their opening weeks to vault their way up into the Week 2 rankings.

    Note: All posted rankings based on the preseason AP Top 25.

25. Baylor Bears

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    Preseason Ranking: NR

    The Bears were on the cusp of the Top 25 to start the season and might have earned their way in with the 69-3 drubbing of Wofford and the losses of a few teams ahead of them (including conference rival TCU.)

    Running back Lache Seastrunk kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign by rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.

    Meanwhile, quarterback Bryce Petty had an outstanding first start. The junior was nearly flawless, completing 19-of-24 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

    In the wide open Big 12, it is clear that Baylor has the talent to compete for the league title. The Bears will have two more tune-up games against Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe before kicking off their conference slate Oct. 5 against West Virginia.

     

24. Ole Miss Rebels

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    Preseason Ranking: NR

    Ole Miss' Thursday night SEC clash with Vanderbilt was a highly anticipated contest, and it didn't disappoint.

    The Rebels won a 39-35 thriller thanks to an electrifying 75-yard touchdown dash by Jeff Scott with just over one minute remaining in the game. The big story for the Rebels was the instant impact made by their celebrated freshman class.

    Safety Tony Conner, receiver Laquon Treadwell and defensive end Robert Nkemdiche all lived up to their billing in Week 1.

    Ole Miss may not be in the Top 25 long, however. After a tune-up against Southeast Missouri State next week, the Rebels have a daunting five-game stretch featuring tilts with Texas, Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU.

23. Miami Hurricanes

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    Preseason Ranking: NR

    Miami rolled in a 34-6 Week 1 victory over Florida Atlantic, showing that it probably should have been ranked in the preseason poll.

    Sophomore sensation Duke Johnson led the Hurricanes as expected. The running back tallied 186 yards on 19 carries, reaching the end zone once on a 53-yard score. He also hauled in a 38-yard reception off a flea flicker.

    The Canes will need every bit of that momentum from Week 1, as they'll turn around and host rival Florida next week.

22. Washington Huskies

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    Preseason Ranking: NR

    Of all the unranked teams to rise up in Week 1, Washington was easily the most impressive. UW was dominant against No. 19 Boise State, riding Keith Price and Bishop Sankey to a 38-6 triumph.

    Price threw for 324 yards and two TDs, while Sankey ran for 161 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, the Huskies defense held Boise under 50 percent on third down and kept the Broncos out of the end zone all contest.

    While Boise's BCS hopes were likely dashed with the result, Washington asserted itself as a legitimate contender in the Pac-12.

21. Northwestern Wildcats

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    Preseason Ranking: 22

    Already in Week 1, Northwestern was in survive-and-advance mode.

    The Wildcats were without their two stars, Venric Mark and Kain Colter, for much of their Saturday night clash with California. Colter left early with a concussion and Mark was never truly at full-go, tallying just 29 yards on 11 carries.

    To make things worse, the Wildcats struggled through turnover issues, giving the ball to Cal on three separate occasions. Still, NU managed to escape with the 44-30 victory.

    In the end, it was Northwestern's ability to force turnovers of their own (six) that sealed the deal. Linebacker Collin Ellis returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the second half to turn the game in Northwestern's favor.

20. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Preseason Ranking: 23

    Wisconsin was absolutely dominant against Massachusetts. The Badgers defense held UMass to just 212 total yards in the 45-0 shutout victory.

    Meanwhile, the Wisconsin offense picked up where it left off under Bret Bielema, bruising its way to 393 rushing yards. Running backs Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement each eclipsed 100 yards in the win.

    Looking forward, the Badgers will have a few more opportunities to sharpen up before their crucial Sept. 28 tilt with Ohio State.

19. UCLA Bruins

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    Preseason Ranking: 21

    UCLA fought through a bit of a slow start against Nevada before pulling away for a decisive 58-20 victory.

    The Bruins defense locked down in the second half, holding Nevada to just seven points in the final two quarters.

    Sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley torched the Wolf Pack for 274 passing yards, 63 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. All signs point to UCLA being a contender in the wide open Pac-12 South.

     

18. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Preseason Ranking: 18

    Nebraska just couldn't put away a pesky Wyoming squad.

    The Cornhuskers looked to be in control in the fourth quarter, only to see the Cowboys mount a rally in the final frame. Wyoming tallied two touchdowns in the final seven minutes, but Nebraska managed to hold on for the sloppy, 37-34 victory.

    The Huskers yielded more than 600 yards to the Wyoming offense but had just enough from quarterback Taylor Martinez and running backs Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross to escape with the win.

    The sky isn't falling in Lincoln, Neb., yet, as Wyoming is no Week 1 cakewalk. However, the Huskers must sharpen up to compete in the crowded Big Ten Legends division.

17. Michigan Wolverines

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    Preseason Ranking: 17

    Devin Gardner's 2013 debut for Michigan wasn't nearly as clean as expected. The Wolverines signal-caller tossed two interceptions but also netted three total touchdown on the day.

    Michigan took care of business against little brother Central Michigan, with the 59-9 victory.

    Hats go off to the Michigan defense, which successfully nullified the offense's three turnovers by holding CMU to just 210 total yards and 4-of-14 on third-down conversions.

     

16. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Preseason Ranking: 16

    Oklahoma may still need some time to establish its offensive identity, but it is clear what the Sooners have on defense already.

    OU shut out Louisiana-Monroe, 34-0, holding the Warhawks to just 2-of-16 third-down conversions and 166 total yards.

    New starting quarterback Trevor Knight showed off his running ability, leading the Sooners with 103 yards on the ground, though he threw for just 86 yards (and three scores) on 11-of-28 passing.

    OU will host West Virginia next week to kick off its Big 12 title bid.

15. Texas Longhorns

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    Preseason Ranking: 15

    After a slow start and two early interceptions, Texas quarterback David Ash settled in for a monstrous performance.

    Once the Longhorns signal-caller was comfortable, New Mexico State had no chance, as Texas cruised to the 56-7 victory. Ash finished 20-of-28 passing for 343 yards, four touchdowns and the two interceptions. He also ran for 91 yards and one score.

    Quarterback play has been one of the missing ingredients for Texas in their recent slump, so if Ash can keep up this strong play, UT may be able to get back to its glory days.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Preseason Ranking: 14

    Everett Golson who?

    Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees took the reins of the Irish offense with an excellent season opener. Rees was nearly perfect, tallying 346 passing yards and three touchdowns as Notre Dame cruised, 28-6, over Temple.

    The Irish still face a daunting schedule, including a date with Michigan in the Big House on Saturday, but if Rees continues to produce, they will always have a chance.

13. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Preseason Ranking: 5

    Georgia knew it would have its hands full on the road against national title hopeful Clemson. In one of the best games of the opening week, the fifth-ranked Bulldogs fell, 38-35, to a highly motivated Clemson club.

    While UGA's national title hopes took a hit in the loss, the boys from Athens will still have plenty of opportunities to impress and rebuild their resume. Opportunity No. 1 will come quickly: The Dawgs host No. 6 South Carolina on the weekend.

    To win there and beyond, they'll need continuous doses of Todd Gurley, who was outstanding in Week 1, posting 154 yards and two touchdowns off just 12 carries.

12. Florida State Seminoles

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    Preseason Ranking: 11

    Florida State will take on Pitt Monday night. As the Seminoles welcome the Panthers to the ACC, they should have little issue picking up victory No. 1 on the season.

    If FSU takes care of business, as expected, they'll hold strong in the polls.  Going forward, Florida State will need to remained focus leading up to its Oct. 19 trip to Clemson. That contest will likely have both ACC and national title implications.

11. Florida Gators

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    Preseason Ranking: 10

    Despite being shorthanded with running back Matt Jones out with a viral infection, Florida put together an incredible defensive effort in a 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators held the Rockets to just one third-down conversion on 13 tries and 205 total yards.

    UF didn't have its greatest offensive output, but Mack Brown's 112 rushing yards and two TDs proved to be enough to carry the team to victory.

    While the victory is good, the Gators showed they have much to work on if they want to make it through their 2013 schedule and back into a BCS bowl.

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Preseason Ranking: 13

    Oklahoma State looked every bit like the Big 12 title favorite in its 21-3 win over Mississippi State.

    While the Cowboys offense wasn't as explosive as usual, their aggressive defense made more than enough plays to carry the load. The OSU offense is bound to come around, particularly against defenses weaker than that of the Bulldogs.

    If the Cowboys can keep up their strong defensive play, there might not be a team in the Big 12 that can stop them.

9. LSU Tigers

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    Preseason Ranking: 12

    LSU did enough to break into the Top 10 with a 37-27 win over No. 20 TCU.

    However, it is still unclear if the Tigers will have enough to seriously compete for the SEC title. LSU looked good at times on both sides of the ball but wasn't outstanding in any regard.

    There's no doubt that the Tigers are a very good team, but are they a great team?

    After Week 1, that question is still unanswered.

    LSU will have plenty of time to answer in its tough SEC slate ahead. 

8. Louisville Cardinals

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    Preseason Ranking: 9

    Louisville looked every bit like a Top 10 team in its 49-7 drubbing of Ohio on Sunday.

    Teddy Bridgewater kicked off his Heisman Trophy campaign with a marvelous performance, throwing for 355 yards and five touchdowns.

    Meanwhile, former Auburn running back Michael Dyer reached the end zone in his debut with the Cardinals. The American Athletic Conference title and a BCS berth are both Louisville's to lose.

     

7. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Preseason Ranking: 6

    South Carolina looked fantastic early against North Carolina but seemed to let off the gas and slow down late in the contest.

    Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks still cruised to a 27-10 victory but didn't definitively earn a "contender" or "pretender" title either way. Though the Gamecocks have an abundance of talent, they will need to put together a more complete performance when they face foes tougher than UNC.

    That process starts with a trip to Georgia in Week 2. The Dawgs will be desperate and motivated after falling in their opener.

6. Texas A&M Aggies

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    Preseason Ranking: 7

    Johnny Manziel was as effective as expected after his first-half suspension against Rice. Upon his return, the Aggies cruised to the 52-31 victory after leading by just seven at the half. 

    Between Manziel, running back Ben Malena and wideouts Mike Evans and Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M will field one of the nation's most skilled offenses. However, after allowing Rice to amass more than 500 total yards, the A&M defense will need to tighten up to remain relevant in the SEC and national title picture.

    Alabama will come calling on Sept. 14, giving the Aggies little time to sharpen up before playing the game that will likely define their season.

5. Stanford Cardinal

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    Preseason Ranking: 4

    A Week 1 bye won't hurt Stanford too much in the polls. The Cardinal kick off their season in Week 2 against San Jose State.

    With a strong running game and stingy defense, Stanford still holds the kryptonite that can keep Oregon from a national title berth.

4. Clemson Tigers

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    Preseason Ranking: 8

    Clemson was college football's most impressive team in Week 1.

    Taking on the toughest challenge of any team, hosting No. 5 Georgia, the No. 8 Tigers rose up and faced their demons. Behind a huge day from Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, Clemson notched a 38-35 victory in one of the biggest games in school history.

    Now Boyd and Watkins are both on the early-season Heisman Trophy list, and Clemson is one of the nation's serious national title contenders. Welcome to the party, Tigers.

3. Oregon Ducks

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    Preseason Ranking: 3

    There isn't much to say other than Oregon was Oregon in Week 1. Dressed in their latest flashy, all-white uniforms at home, the Ducks dominated FCS' Nicholls State, 66-3.

    Marcus Mariota and DeAnthony Thomas were both outstanding as UO tallied an even 500 yards on the ground (772 total). This performance was expected, and the Ducks won't truly be tested until they take on Stanford Nov. 7.

     

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Preseason Ranking: 2

    Ohio State hardly broke a sweat to begin the season despite the modest 40-20 final score against Buffalo. The Bulls offense reached the end zone just twice, with the third score coming off an interception thrown by Braxton Miller.

    Miller didn't do a lot to build up his Heisman Trophy campaign, but he will have plenty more opportunities down the road.

    The story of the game was running back Jordan Hall, who recorded 159 yards and two touchdowns while starting for the suspended Carlos Hyde.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Preseason Ranking: 1

    Alabama didn't look like the unbeatable juggernaut they've been built up to be all offseason. The Crimson Tide relied heavily on a hat trick from junior receiver Christion Jones, who notched a receiving, kick return and punt return touchdown in the game.

    Outside of Jones, UA's offensive production was poor, as the Tide posted just 206 total yards. Alabama was stout on defense as expected, holding Virginia Tech to just 212 total yards in the 35-10 win.

    The Tide will take a week off and look to tune up their offense before heading to College Station for their highly anticipated clash with Texas A&M Sept. 14.