College Football Rankings 2013: Projecting Week 5's Top 25 Teams
Expect AJ McCarron and Alabama to hold down the top spot with a win over Colorado State
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Week 4 of the 2013 college football season, to put it nicely, doesn't stack up with the amazing Saturday's we've been witness to thus far.
Then again, sometimes it's those seemingly quiet weekends that cause the biggest havoc among ranked teams.
Arizona State and Stanford highlight the Week 4 games, and it's the only matchup between ranked teams. Notre Dame takes on Michigan State in what should be an interesting battle, Auburn faces its first major test of the season when it travels to Death Valley to take on LSU, and Clemson will do its best to avoid "pulling a Clemson" in a Thursday night game at North Carolina State.
But overall, the Top 25 may be relatively unchanged at the end of the weekend. Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss all have bye weeks.
However, the games are played for a reason and every weekend provides a unique and exciting chapter leading up to what we all hope will be an incredible finish this season.
Check out our projections of what the Top 25 will look like for Week 5.
25. Texas Tech
QB Baker Mayfield
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Week 4: vs. Texas State
After three straight victories to open the season, Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech will play host to Texas State on Saturday.
The Bobcats are 2-0 and have allowed just 8 points per game, but the wins came against Southern Miss and Prairie View A&M. The Red Raiders will be a step up from those two programs, and this one shouldn't be close.
While it's never safe to assume a victory in college football, Tech must simply continue to keep Baker Mayfield in rhythm as the team heads toward the start of the Big 12 schedule. The win over TCU last weekend was a big one, but now the goals should be even higher.
After a visit from Texas State, Texas Tech will travel to Kansas, host Iowa State and then travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia.
With a 7-0 start becoming a real possibility, the Red Raiders will be forced to slowly climb the rankings ladder until the schedule stiffens.
24. Fresno State
QB Derek Carr
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Week 4: vs. Boise State
A big win on Friday night over Boise State will leave the Broncos searching for answers and put the Bulldogs in the Top 25.
After a season-opening 52-51 victory over Rutgers, Fresno State notched a win over Cal Poly before having its game against Colorado postponed due to flooding in Boulder.
Quarterback Derek Carr leads the offense with 661 yards passing and eight touchdowns in just two games.
Without any major tests on the schedule, a Friday night game in prime time is a major opportunity for the Bulldogs to get some national attention. It remains to be seen how far this team can climb in the rankings without any other marquee games on the schedule, so the visit from the Broncos is a big one.
RB Melvin Gordon
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Week 4: vs. Purdue
In one of the more exciting matchups this weekend (like I said, the slate isn't too appealing), the Wisconsin Badgers will host the Purdue Boilermakers in the first Big Ten game for both teams.
Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is picking up right where Montee Ball left off, having rushed for 477 yards and four touchdowns in just three games so far.
He'll continue the trend of producing big rushing numbers against a Purdue team that could be deflated following a close loss to Notre Dame.
The Badgers may still be steamed following the extremely controversial ending at Arizona State, but they must refocus and take care of business against Purdue because the schedule gets significantly tougher.
Wisconsin will travel to Ohio State next weekend to take on the Buckeyes.
22. Ole Miss
WR LaQuon Treadwell
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Week 4: Bye
The Rebels began the 2013 season with a bang, notching a come-from-behind victory at Vanderbilt after running back Jeff Scott scampered 75 yards for the go-ahead score with just over a minute to go.
Subsequent victories against SE Missouri State and Texas have only cemented the proof that this team is for real.
Quarterback Bo Wallace is playing smart, efficient football, throwing four touchdowns with zero interceptions so far. Young stars like Robert Nkemdiche, LaQuon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil are already making an impact as well.
After the week off, Hugh Freeze's team will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. Rest up, Rebels.
Florida QB Jeff Driskel
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Week 4: vs. Tennessee
After a 24-6 win over Toledo to open the season, Florida's offensive woes continued against Miami which ultimately led to the 21-16 loss to the 'Canes.
After a bye week, Florida gets the chance to right the ship against a Tennessee team coming off a humiliating 59-14 loss at Oregon.
However, the Gators will continue to struggle in this one. They'll beat the Volunteers by a couple scores, but the perception of Will Muschamp's squad will suffer another blow in the victory. It doesn't help that many will be comparing what the Gators do to what Oregon did last Saturday.
The talent exists on both sides of the ball, but only the defense is playing its part. Look for the Gators to pull out the victory but potentially drop a couple spots in the rankings.
QB Bryce Petty
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Week 4: vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Baylor is an intriguing team in the sense that it has offensive weapons galore but hasn't really been challenged by anyone. Don't be surprised if the Warhawks are unable to keep it close, either.
The Bears are led by quarterback Bryce Petty and running back Lache Seastrunk, both of whom are putting up monster numbers against inferior competition. That will continue in Week 4.
But the real test for this team may not come until November, when it plays Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks.
Until then, look for Art Briles' team to inch up in the rankings little by little as other teams falter.
19. Notre Dame
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Week 4: vs. Michigan State
Notre Dame always seems to garner a vitriolic response when it pops up in the rankings, and while the team has obvious flaws, it will get a victory over the Spartans to stay in the polls.
The issue with the Fighting Irish is inconsistency on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Tommy Rees has already thrown for 969 yards and seven touchdowns, but his two interceptions at Michigan came at a great cost.
The defense has a lot of talent leftover from last year's national championship team, but it hasn't played up to standard thus far.
Look for Notre Dame to get a nice victory this weekend and stay in the rankings, but tougher tests against Oklahoma and Arizona State loom.
QB Kain Colter
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Week 4: vs. Maine
Northwestern opened the season with solid victories over Cal and Syracuse, and followed them up with a 38-17 win against Western Michigan.
A win this weekend against Maine will help maintain a spot in the Top 25, and it should provide momentum heading into the team's bye week.
They'll need that momentum because after the week off, Ohio State comes to town.
The Wildcats have played pretty well on both sides of the ball, but it's difficult to know what to make of this team until it faces better competition.
QB Keith Price
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Week 4: vs. Idaho State
The Washington Huskies have sort of been the poor man's Florida State over the past few seasons. They have a fair amount of talent, garner some preseason attention, and ultimately, stumble through a halfway decent season filled with underachievement.
But like the Seminoles, the 2013 Huskies may be a little different than their predecessors. Steve Sarkisian's group walloped Boise State in the opening week and scored a nice win at Illinois this past Saturday.
The dawgs should have little trouble dispatching Idaho State, but don't expect any significant movement in the rankings. The goal here is to keep quarterback Keith Price in a groove before conference play begins on the 28th.
QB Stephen Morris gets wrapped up against Florida
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Week 4: vs. Savannah State
The Miami Hurricanes made their big move two weekends ago by knocking off the Florida Gators. The test this Saturday will be significantly easier.
Savannah State, you might recall, is the same team that lost by a combined score of 139-0 to Oklahoma State and Florida State to begin the 2012 season.
While 2013 is a new year, the Tigers 77-9 loss to Georgia Southern to open this season doesn't give cause for much hope against Miami on Saturday.
Expect the Hurricanes to feature a heavy dose of Duke Johnson in the first half before the starters are pulled. The 'Canes won't move up in the polls unless there are some major upsets in front of them, but the weekend will be a nice tune-up before the schedule stiffens up again.
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
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Week 4: at UCONN
Before Michigan fans can step away and relax during the bye week, they may want to keep a close eye on this one. Everything on paper says the Wolverines should dominate the winless Huskies on the road, but the same thing was said about Akron's visit to the Big House last Saturday.
This should be a game where we see Devin Gardner and company bounce back strong, but the taste of the narrow win over the Zips will prevent Brady Hoke's team from moving up in the rankings.
If the Wolverines manage to play to their talent level, the easy victory will then give fans a chance to breathe easy before conference play begins.
Oklahoma QB Blake Bell
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Week 4: Bye
Have the Sooners found an answer to their early-season offensive woes?
Fans won't get to find out until the team heads to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, but they have to feel much better about the quarterback situation after Blake Bell stepped in and completed 27-of-37 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-20 victory over Tulsa last Saturday.
In the two previous games, quarterback Trevor Knight had only thrown for 205 yards and was completing less than 50 percent of his throws.
With Bell at the helm, Oklahoma can now feel a little better about its chances to score points against the Fighting Irish.
It's rare to see an Oklahoma team start the season 3-0 and be surrounded by doubt, but if it can improve during the bye week and knock off Notre Dame next Saturday, that doubt will quickly be replaced by hopes for a Big 12 championship.
UCLA QB Brett Hundley
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Week 4: vs. New Mexico State
Can we call the Bruins a sleeper national championship contender at this point?
Well, maybe not quite yet, but the Bruins' second-half effort in Nebraska on Saturday was remarkable. They scored 38 unanswered points with a perfect blend of up-tempo offense and shutdown defense.
New Mexico State comes calling this weekend and it probably won't be much of a game. Look for Brett Hundley to continue to put up big numbers as the Bruins roll.
The real test for this team will come in October when it travels to Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back weeks.
12. South Carolina
QB Connor Shaw in the pocket
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Week 4: Bye
Any momentum the Gamecocks' gained in Week 1 from the 27-10 victory over North Carolina was quickly lost when Steve Spurrier's team went into Athens the following week and fell to Georgia, 41-30.
But South Carolina responded nicely with a 35-25 victory over Vanderbilt this past weekend, and while that won't necessarily quiet the doubters, it does send Connor Shaw and company into the bye week on a positive note.
Another nice development has been the maturation of Shaw, who has shown major improvement over the course of the year. In South Carolina's 17-13 victory over Vanderbilt to open the 2012 season, Shaw completed just 7-of-11 passes for 67 yards and an interception. This time around, the senior threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception this season.
After the bye week, the Gamecocks travel to UCF before taking on Kentucky at home. The team won't face a ranked opponent until the Florida Gators come calling in mid-November.
11. Oklahoma State
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Week 4: Bye
Amidst all of the turmoil surrounding the Oklahoma State football program as a result of Sports Illustrated's investigative report, all Mike Gundy's team probably wants to do is go out and play football.
The first three weeks have seen the Cowboys dominate a trio of inferior opponents, including a 21-3 win over Mississippi State in the opener.
After the bye week, the team will play at West Virginia followed by a home date with Kansas State.
If the goal is a Big 12 championship, and that's a pretty safe assumption, this may be the year to do it. Two of the three ranked teams remaining on the schedule, Oklahoma and Baylor, travel to Stillwater at the end of the season.
10. Texas A&M
QB Johnny Manziel
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Week 4: vs. SMU
Quarterback Johnny Manziel is playing as well, if not better, than he did last season when he ultimately captured the Heisman Trophy. His favorite target, wide receiver Mike Evans, is coming off one of the more impressive games you'll ever see having caught 7 passes for 279 yards and a score against the Crimson Tide.
The Aggies must figure out how to improve the defense before it's too late, but how many teams on the schedule can outscore Kevin Sumlin's team? After what looks like an easy win this weekend, A&M has back-to-back road games at Arkansas and Auburn. Beyond that, a road game at LSU in November looks like the only potential stumbling block.
In a weekend with so few marquee games, don't expect the Aggies' spot in the rankings to change much, regardless of what the final score is.
UGA QB Aaron Murray
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Week 4: North Texas
After going 1-1 to start the season, the Georgia Bulldogs got a nice breather last weekend with no game on the schedule. They should have another comfortable Saturday when North Texas visits Athens.
The Bulldogs have arguably the best "loss" of the season with the 3-point defeat at Clemson to open the season, and the team showed great resiliency by downing South Carolina the following weekend.
Now, Mark Richt's team controls its own fate—at least in the SEC East.
A victory over the Mean Green won't matter much in the rankings, but a win the following weekend, when LSU comes calling, would boost the Bulldogs back into the national championship picture.
The only remaining game against a ranked team following the Tigers' visit is the annual contest with Florida.
8. Florida State
QB Jameis Winston
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Week 4: vs. Bethune-Cookman
The Jameis Winston show will continue this Saturday in a big win over Bethune-Cookman.
The outstanding freshman has thrown more touchdowns, six, than incomplete passes, five. But he won't get a chance to prove his talent against top-notch competition until the Seminoles visit Clemson on October 19th.
Until then, Florida State will do its best to stay in a rhythm and continue to look sharp against teams with far less talent.
After the visit from the Wildcats, head coach Jimbo Fisher's team will travel to Boston College. But if the Eagles' 35-7 loss at USC last weekend was any indication, they could fail to give Florida State a competitive game for the second week in a row.
QB Teddy Bridgewater
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Week 4: vs. Florida International
At this point, Louisville and Florida State are probably interchangeable in the rankings. When the Seminoles' schedule ramps up, however, the Cardinals may get passed regardless of what they're doing to opponents.
What they should be doing is dominate, as they likely will against Florida International this weekend. While most Cardinals fans are probably resigned to the fact that they'll have to hope everyone in front of them suffers a loss or two, they can still keep an eye on Teddy Bridgewater's run at the Heisman.
ESPN's Heisman watch had Bridgewater at 4th this week, but his numbers stack up with anybody in the country. Because of the lackluster schedule, he'll have to continue to put up dizzying numbers to stay in the race.
The Cardinals do not currently have a ranked team on their schedule. A bye week follows this Saturday's game against the Golden Panthers.
RB Jeremy Hill
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Week 4: vs. Auburn
The Tigers against the Tigers is one of the more interesting games of the weekend, because it actually pits together a pair of BCS conference teams.
While Auburn is still a little unsure of its identity (although Malzahn's squad appears much stronger than last season), LSU fans are sitting in the shadows with an aura of quiet confidence.
So often at the center of attention, Les Miles' team has been under-the-radar through the first few weeks of the season largely because of the caliber of opponent.
A 10-point win against TCU to open the season was great, but the Tigers probably won't get a chance to prove much this weekend. Unless LSU can blow the doors of Auburn and completely dominate on both sides of the ball, they'll probably stay just outside the Top 5.
But fret not, LSU fans, because a visit to Georgia next Saturday will tell us everything we need to know about Zach Mettenberger and company in 2013.
5. Ohio State
RB Jordan Hall
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Week 4: vs. Florida A&M
Are Buckeye fans growing concerned that the team seems to be slowly moving backwards in the polls?
Well, don't be, because tougher competition awaits and that should give the nation a chance to see how good this team can be.
The loss of Braxton Miller to injury seemed to hurt the perception of Urban Meyer's team, despite backup quarterback Kenny Guiton playing very well in his absence. According to Tom Fornelli of cbssports.com, Miller is probable to resume his spot in the starting lineup this weekend.
But maybe the biggest factor behind a growing doubt about this team has been the defense, which was lit up by Cal freshman Jared Goff to the tune of 371 yards and three scores. To be fair, Cal under new head coach Sonny Dykes is going to do that to a lot of teams this season. But if you're Ohio State, that still seems like something that should never happen.
Another ho-hum win this weekend won't do this team any favors, and a big win by another member of the Top 5 may drop the Buckeyes down a spot. But Ohio State can regain any and all momentum when it plays Wisconsin and Northwestern over the course of the following two weeks.
RB Tyler Gaffney
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Week 4: vs. Arizona State
Arguably the best game of the weekend, Stanford will play host to Arizona State in a clash of undefeated conference foes.
The Cardinal will notch a big win in this one which should propel them past an Ohio State team still in search of its defense.
Despite Stanford slugging through its game against Army this past weekend, coach David Shaw should have his guys ready to go against a Sun Devils' team coming off a controversial home win over Wisconsin.
Todd Graham's guys have the talent, and the backfield duo of Marion Grice and D.J. Foster is as explosive as you'll find in the country. But this will be the weekend that Stanford flexes its muscles, leading to a small bump in the rankings and giving the Cardinal momentum heading into the rest of the Pac-12 slate.
WR Sammy Watkins
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Week 4: vs. NC State
It's funny how Clemson went from the toast of college football after its big win over Georgia to semi-forgotten in the weeks since.
That's not a bad thing, either, because the team still boasts perhaps the best victory of this young season (cue Alabama fans chiming in) and it now has a chance to leap back into the spotlight on Thursday night at North Carolina State.
These are the kinds of games that show the difference between contenders and pretenders. A contender may waiver slightly, but ultimately it should win comfortably. A pretender will struggle throughout the game and either win a tight one or lose altogether.
With all the buzz about whether Clemson can get up for the games that aren't against highly ranked opponents, look for the Tigers to come out and play well in this one. With only two teams in front of them, it won't be enough to move Dabo Swinney's club up in the rankings, but it'll remind people that Clemson is indeed for real.
WR Josh Huff
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Week 4: Bye
The Oregon Ducks get a week off before they hit the Pac-12 schedule. Following the bye, the Ducks will host Cal and travel to Colorado before a visit to Washington begins the toughest part of the schedule.
So far this season, Mark Helfrich's team has looked unstoppable. A 66-3 win over Nicholls didn't raise many eyebrows, by consecutive beatdowns over Virginia and Tennessee managed to turn a few heads.
While the quality of opponent is still unimpressive, the way Oregon has been dispatching teams has to be scary for any defense left on the schedule. Except the one in Palo Alto, perhaps, which held Oregon to just 14 points last season.
The real test for this team will come against that same team when the Ducks visit Stanford in early November. Until then, or at least for the next couple weeks, expect the blur-offense to keep rolling.
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
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Week 4: vs Colorado State
It would be fun to try to build up the Crimson Tide's game against Colorado State on Saturday, but that may be an impossible task.
Instead, we'll talk about why Alabama is the clear-cut No. 1 team in the country and why it may stay that way for a long time.
Nick Saban's team is 2-0 this season with victories over Virginia Tech and Texas A&M. AJ McCarron is playing efficient football with five touchdown passes and only one interception. The defense, while a bit leaky against the Aggies, still has more talent than anybody else. And to that point, is anybody going to be able to slow down Johnny Manziel and company on offense?
A win this weekend will propel the Tide into a tricky contest with Ole Miss next weekend, but there aren't many potential stumbling blocks until you get to an early November date with LSU.
Don't expect this ranking to change much this season.