College Football

College Football Rankings 2013: Top 25 Teams on Upset Alert

Sep 14, 2013; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish cornerback Bennett Jackson (2) and linebacker Jarrett Grace (59) celebrate with their teammates after Notre Dame defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 31-24 at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 19, 2013

Of the Top 25 teams on upset alert in the fourth week of the 2013 college football season, all of those in gravest danger of dropping in the rankings—or out of them entirely—have the benefit of playing home games.

There aren't any odd, short-week games, hostile environments or any other tricks here.

Two in particular are facing viable opponents within their respective conferences, while another rather prominent rivalry will be revived for another season. That should help make for yet another entertaining, rather unpredictable Saturday of action.

Here is a look at the complete rankings as they stand, followed by the teams most liable to have a losing slip-up.

 

No. 23 Arizona State vs. No. 5 Stanford

The Sun Devils confirmed their legitimacy by taking down Wisconsin last week, albeit in a rather controversial way, which can be seen in the video above.

Results are the bottom line, though, and Arizona State now enters a road trip to Stanford with a massive wave of confidence. The same can't really be said for the Cardinal, who are coming off an unimpressive 34-20 win at Army.

Stanford must play a physical brand of football and control the line of scrimmage, particularly in establishing a running game.

Otherwise, allowing the ball to be in the hands of Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly will make for a nail-biter.

Kelly triggers an offense that is eighth in the nation in passing yards, but senior running back Marion Grice can be physical and has a nose for the end zone as he proved in scoring four touchdowns against Wisconsin.

It will be up to junior signal-caller Kevin Hogan to keep the Cardinal offense on track as the defense is tested. He should do just enough to ensure Stanford remains near the top of the rankings, getting a quality win in the Pac-12 in the process.

Prediction: Stanford 27, Arizona State 20

 

Michigan State vs. No. 22 Notre Dame

The return to prominence for the Fighting Irish has coincided with a regaining of control on this rivalry, as they've won three of the past four meetings, including the most recent two.

True, Le'Veon Bell may have moved on to the NFL, but the Spartans are still relying on old-school, Big Ten-style football—stout defense and a strong rushing attack—to succeed.

What will be key is the play of Connor Cook, who started in place of incumbent Andrew Maxwell and threw four touchdowns in the Spartans' rout of Youngstown State last week.

Cook certainly doesn't lack confidence, as reported by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett.

"If you lack confidence, something's wrong with you as a quarterback," said Cook. "You've always got to believe in yourself and your ability to go out there and make plays."

Going up against a defensive front featuring Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt is no easy task and will likely prove too difficult for Cook to overcome against his first legitimate opponent.

The Irish should escape, thwarting the Spartans' bid to sneak into the AP Top 25 after making their 2013 debut in the USA Today poll at No. 24.

Prediction: Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 14

 

Tennessee vs. No. 19 Florida

Even a bye week may not be enough for the Gators to correct the mistakes they made in a 21-16 loss to Miami (FL) nearly two weeks ago.

In that contest, Florida lost three fumbles and QB Jeff Driskel threw two costly interceptions, but this is an opportunity to get back on track in an all-important SEC showdown.

The Volunteers were lit up for 59 unanswered points by the Oregon Ducks last week, but the ineptitude of Florida's offense and the generally physical nature of this game should play in their favor.

An uncertain quarterback situation threatens to plague head coach Butch Jones in his inaugural campaign at the helm in Tennessee, though.

Between possible starters Justin Worley and inexperienced freshman Nathan Peterman, it will be difficult for the Vols to get any traction in The Swamp offensively.

The Gators should be able to run the ball well enough behind Matt Jones and Mack Brown to avoid a second consecutive upset.

Prediction: Florida 17, Tennessee 10

 

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