College Football Rankings 2013: Teams That Will Ride Offense to Crack Top 10
Week 1 of the 2013 college football season is officially behind us, and the landscape has been shifted. Believed contenders have been exposed, and under-the-radar teams have turned heads. Balance exists for the best in the nation.
Certain teams lack the defensive legitimacy to reach the Top 10 by shutting opponents down. Others have quality defensive fronts but will turn to offense to reach the ranks of the best in the nation.
One way or another, the following teams will rely on offense to crack the Top 10.
Florida State Seminoles
Preseason Rank: 11
Record: 0-0 (0-0, ACC)
Week 1 Result: N/A
The Florida State Seminoles won the 2013 Orange Bowl behind the leadership of quarterback EJ Manuel. Unfortunately, Manuel is now the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills of the NFL, so the Seminoles will be relying on a freshman quarterback this season.
But don't count them out so soon.
The Seminoles return an explosive rushing attack led by Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. Both are capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, enabling the Seminoles to work the short to intermediate game and stretch the field. They can also take handoffs and erupt for big gains.
Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston shouldn't have any problem facilitating that offensive attack.
Florida State only plays two ranked teams this year, and the second outing comes in its final game at No. 10 Florida. Aside from road games against the Gators and Clemson Tigers, there isn't a game on the schedule the Seminoles aren't favored to win.
And it'll be the offense that gets them there.
The Seminoles have defensive pieces worth noting, but they've lost a great deal of their defensive line to the NFL. As a result, Florida State will rely upon its ability to run the football up the gut and outside the tackles.
With star receiver Rashad Greene returning, expect this Florida State team to be explosive.
Preseason Rank: 18
Record: 1-0 (0-0, Big Ten)
Week 1 Result: Def. Wyoming, 37-34
The Nebraska Cornhuskers have mountains of questions to answer when it comes to their defense. They allowed Wyoming to score 34 points during their 37-34 Week 1 victory and allowed 27.6 points per game in 2012.
With that being said, the Cornhuskers have a star quarterback and an unstoppable running game—the traits of an offensive powerhouse that overcomes its defensive woes.
Taylor Martinez has received a great deal of criticism, but that's life for a four-year starter. In 2012, Martinez quietly had an excellent year, setting career highs with 2,871 yards passing and 23 touchdowns, throwing 12 interceptions and completing 62.0 percent of his passes.
He won't win many games with his arm, but Martinez also ran for 1,019 yards and 10 touchdowns, displaying his elite dual-threat ability.
Will the Nebraska Cornhuskers crack the Top 10 in 2013?
If that's not enough, Ameer Abdullah ran for 1,137 yards and eight touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry, and Imani Cross scored seven touchdowns on just 55 carries. Both players return and project to be supremely efficient.
During Nebraska's win over Wyoming, Abdullah and Cross combined for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, effectively earning the hype.
As for Martinez and the passing game, he completed 17 of 22 passes for 155 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. With Nebraska's top three receivers returning, Martinez now has chemistry with a receiving corps that was too inexperienced to consistently contribute in recent seasons.
Kenny Bell caught seven passes for 57 yards, Jamal Turner had four receptions for 43 yards and a score, and Quincy Enunwa caught three passes for 27 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.
The Cornhuskers defense must improve, but the offense is powerful enough to carry the team into the Top 10. It pairs experience with dynamic playmakers, and two of the three ranked opponents Nebraska faces are slated to travel to Lincoln.
Again, Nebraska's defense needs to improve, but this offense is as potent as any in the nation. Expect big things from the Cornhuskers.
Preseason Rank: 15
Record: 1-0 (0-0, Big 12)
Week 1 Result: Def. New Mexico State, 56-7
I'm not entirely sold on the Texas Longhorns being a Top 10 team, but they have a favorable schedule and an explosive offense. With that being said, Texas lost players on defense and has yet to prove it can return to the ranks of the elite, still reeling from Colt McCoy's departure in 2010.
During the Longhorns' 56-7 win over New Mexico State, the offense quieted the criticisms.
Quarterback David Ash has shown flashes of brilliance, throwing for 2,699 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions on 67.3 percent passing in 2012. He topped 300 yards in three games and threw for three touchdowns in three, but he failed to consistently display the traits of an elite quarterback.
Against New Mexico State, he went from reliable to dominant, going 20-of-28 for 343 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
A win over the Aggies is hardly season-defining, but Texas compiled 715 yards of total offense. Four separate players ran for at least 60 yards, and the running game finished with 359 yards and four total scores.
It doesn't matter who you're playing—715 yards of total offense is 715 yards of total offense.
While the Texas offense has the skill players necessary to take on any opponent, it all comes down to execution. If Ash is able to go from a source of consistency to a true leader with his production, expect the Longhorns to rise in the rankings.
Texas has just three ranked opponents on its schedule, and two travel to Austin—including the Oklahoma Sooners.
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