The Week 4 college football polls were released on Sunday with little surprise and just a few minor changes, but it seems that the rankings are due for a shakeup in the coming weeks.
There are a number of marquee games on the horizon that could completely alter how the Top 25 is organized, plus plenty of other games that will separate the contenders from the pretenders that simply don’t have what it takes to remain ranked for the duration of the 2013 campaign.
Let’s take a look at the complete Associated Press Top 25 poll, compare it to the Bleacher Report rankings and then highlight a few teams set for a fall from grace.
Wisconsin On the Brink
The Badgers shot down the rankings after Week 3 due to a mind-boggling finish against Arizona State. The team was well inside field goal range and moved to center the ball, but failed to do so properly—confusing the referees and defense in the process. By the time it was sorted out, Wisconsin ran out of time and suffered a two-point loss in a game it had been in position to win.
While the voters were kind enough to not punish the program too much—the Badgers fell from 20 to 24—the team is on the cusp of losing its Top-25 distinction.
First up is a tough matchup with underrated Purdue, a squad that pushed No. 22 Notre Dame to the brink and nearly pulled off the upset. Wisconsin will likely be able to get by the Big Ten rival, especially with home-field advantage, but won’t be so fortunate on Sept. 28.
That’s the date the Badgers travel to Columbus to take on the No. 4-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, a team that is one of the most dangerous in the nation and chasing a second-straight undefeated season.
The Horseshoe will be the site of Wisconsin’s second loss of the season and one that sends the school tumbling out of the rankings. While the Badgers have been running the ball well—the team gained 231 yards on 32 carries against the Sun Devils—and playing great defense, they will be exposed by the Buckeyes in a primetime matchup.
If Ohio State’s Heisman candidate quarterback Braxton Miller is back in action and close to 100 percent healthy, expect a blowout to occur in the Buckeyes’ favor.
Notre Dame's Tough Schedule Will Be Downfall
The Fighting Irish are fighting to remain afloat just months after appearing in the national championship game after an undefeated regular season.
This team already suffered its first loss of the season—on the road against Michigan—and was dangerously close to back-to-back defeats at the hands of the aforementioned Boilermakers.
It took a three-touchdown fourth quarter to avoid the upset and remain inside the Top 25, although voters moved the Irish down a spot for their unimpressive showing.
There’s a good chance Notre Dame is removed completely in just a week, as Michigan State is set to travel to South Bend for a rematch of last year’s blowout game. The Spartans were defeated 20-3 and are looking for revenge with their revamped defense leading the way.
Should the Irish escape, they will be facing a meeting with No. 14 Oklahoma the week after and then a showdown with No. 23 ASU in Dallas on Oct. 5. It’s a brutal schedule and it would be quite impressive if Notre Dame survives unscathed.
Don’t expect it to happen, as the Irish could possibly lose three straight and collapse. A more realistic scenario is one or two losses, but don’t be surprised if Notre Dame’s BCS dreams collapse in the coming weeks.
Ole Miss Will Yield to Alabama
The Rebels are taking a much-needed week off to prepare for the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Sept. 28, but have little chance against Nick Saban’s powerhouse program.
This upstart team has been quite impressive under head coach Hugh Freeze and should only get better as members of his elite recruiting class continue to mature and develop into playmakers on the field.
Despite a rocky start against Vanderbilt, the Rebels won their opener and then took care of business against Southeast Missouri State. Ole Miss got the first signature win of the Freeze era against Texas this past Saturday, pushing past the Longhorns 44-23 in Austin.
Unfortunately the feel-good story ends in less than a fortnight, as the Rebels must go on the road once more to challenge the Tide. It’s a tall task that comes with pressure that even the most hardened SEC teams would wilt under.
Texas A&M gave 'Bama a good fight, but ultimately came up short despite Heisman winner Johnny Manziel generating more than 400 yards of offense. It’s not a good sign for the Rebels, who project to be major underdogs when the sportsbooks put the game on the board.
The Tide are likely to roll to a huge victory and will knock the Rebels out of the Top 25 when all is said and done.