Don’t be surprised if the 2013 college football rankings look drastically different when bowl season rolls around.
That’s nothing strange, though.
By now you’re used to seeing the deck shuffle once pads go on and teams are forced to live up to massive offseason expectations. Running the table isn’t easy—continuing success with the large turnover rates of athletes in the NCAA is even harder.
But what about those teams not given high rankings to this point in the season? Schools are going to climb the ladder, so we’ll look at a couple that have what it takes to end up in better places once the season progresses.
No. 10 Florida State Seminoles
If you didn’t catch Florida State redshirt freshman Jamies Winston’s shredding Pittsburgh with four touchdown passes and another on the ground, you’ll see the highlights all season. The young quarterback was expected to play well in taking over for EJ Manuel, but no one could have guessed that he would have looked so perfect.
Despite losing some key players to the NFL on defense, the Seminoles are just as experienced and talented on that side of the ball.
According to ESPN’s Andrea Adelson, they actually have more junior and senior starters this year than last.
Offensively, if Winston continues to shine, it’s not unrealistic to see a perfect season for the 'Noles. Junior receiver Rashad Greene is a polished and explosive option for the young quarterback, but the team’s ability to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball will be its key to getting it done.
No. 17 Michigan Wolverines
The first official game of the post-Denard Robinson era is in the books. Michigan passed with flying colors in a 59-9 rout over Western Michigan. Don’t book your plane tickets to the BCS title game just yet, but it was an encouraging sign for the new-look Wolverines.
Having three new starters on their offensive line was a big question mark heading into the season, but they looked up to the task in Week 1, albeit against a competitor with significantly less talent.
With a full offseason to prepare, Devin Gardner looks sharp in Brady Hoke’s pro-style offense. And with its toughest matchups, against Ohio State—a game Gardner said the Wolverines will win—Nebraska and Notre Dame, all at the Big House, Michigan could very well end up much higher than its current ranking.
No. 23 Baylor Bears
When you consider coach Art Briles’ ability to coax the best out of his quarterbacks, the Baylor Bears should be fine with first-time starter Bryce Petty behind center.
He looked the part in Baylor's season-opening, 69-3 rout of Wofford. With a Heisman candidate like Lache Seastrunk running the ball, the transition should continue to be seamless.
Look, we know Briles’ offense is going to put up points. Last year, the Bears ranked first in total offense, with 7,439 yards from scrimmage, and fourth in points scored. Anytime a team has a proven system like his is in place, fireworks are bound to ensue.
Defense wins championships, they say, but not in the Big 12. Anything can happen, and the Bears have as a good of a shot as anyone to climb the ladder in their conference and in the polls.