College Football

NCAA Football Rankings 2013: Teams Ready to Surge into Polls

Nov. 23, 2012; Tucson, AZ, USA: Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham talks to his players in the huddle against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium.  The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 41-34. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Alex KayCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2013

The first weekend of college football is in the books and the second is just about to commence. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that by the time next week comes around, both the AP and USA Today polls will look quite different.

Week 1 already saw some shifts from the preseason rankings. Oregon State and Boise State dropped out of both polls while Baylor moved into the AP Top 25 and Miami (FL) jumped into the USA Today coaches poll. Washington now appears in both after a convincing win against the Broncos.

Week 2 should see more slight alterations across the Top 25, especially if some teams toward the bottom stumble. Let’s take a look at three teams just itching to take their place and make a surge into the rankings.

 

Arizona State

The Sun Devils have yet to play a game, but they are already making quite a bit of noise in the “others receiving votes” column of both polls.

It would be no surprise if ASU wallops its first opponent and makes a statement right out of the gate, especially considering FCS pushover Sacramento State—already 0-1 after a 24-0 loss to San Jose State—heads to Tempe on Thursday night.

While beating up on the Hornets isn’t going to turn any heads, Arizona State may be able to move up because teams ahead of them fall. If not, winning a few of the marquee matchups in the coming weeks certainly would help.

On Sept. 14, No. 21 Wisconsin is heading to Sun Devil Stadium for a tough Pac-12 vs. Big Ten battle. After that, ASU heads to Palo Alto for a conference contest against the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal.

As if that weren’t enough, the Sun Devils then play host to No. 25 USC before traveling to Dallas for a neutral-site showdown with No. 14 Notre Dame.

Winning out through that brutal four-game stretch would almost certainly vault ASU into the Top 10 and possibly even higher.

It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a little luck, but coach Todd Graham should have his players prepared to make a run to the top in 2013.

 

Ole Miss

Don’t discount this young Rebels squad, as they have already proved capable of anything with a stunning SEC victory over Vanderbilt in the season opener.

Trailing by three with just over a minute left, senior Jeff Scott set an example for the underclassman by taking off on a 75-yard touchdown run.

The running back’s epic scamper ended up being the difference in a 39-35 victory that has Ole Miss on the verge of having a Top 25 ranking next to its name.

Coach Hugh Freeze has done an excellent job transforming this program into a contender going into his second season, and it should only get better as members of his highly touted recruiting class blossom into contributors.

With an impending matchup against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, the Rebels will have a much-needed opportunity to tune up on defense in preparation for a battle with No. 15 Texas on Sept. 14.

It’s certainly winnable, and if Ole Miss can hang on for a “W” against the Longhorns, the program will definitely be ranked in time for a showdown with No. 1 Alabama two weeks later.

No one is expecting the Rebels to beat the Crimson Tide, but stranger things have happened.

 

Michigan State

The Spartans offense may have looked a tad suspect against Western Michigan, but their defense is still one of the top units in the entire nation.

Michigan State managed a meager 26 points against the Broncos but forced four turnovers—racking up three interceptions and recovering a fumble in the contest.

Give credit to defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, as he was promoted to assistant head coach before this season and is instilling even more defensive values in this group.

Neither quarterback that MSU trotted out ended up making much of an impact, with Andrew Maxwell connecting on 11 of 21 passes for 74 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. Connor Cook was 6-of-16 for 42 yards, again with no scores or turnovers.

They’ll need to make an impact, as it seems Sparty has found a lead rusher in junior Jeremy Langford. He’s running behind the big blockers on the offensive line and gained 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

As long as one of the signal-callers can step up and support the rushing game and defense, Michigan State is in prime position for a Top 25 run in the near future.

 

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