AP Polls College Football 2013: Teams That Need Strong Week 5 to Avoid Drop

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2013

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 21:  Arjen Colquhoun #36 of the Michigan State Spartans brings down eoge Atkinson III #4 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 21, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 17-13.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The college football rankings remained relatively untouched after an uneventful Week 4, but the upcoming weekend threatens to alter the sport's landscape.

Anyone looking at the updated AP Top 25 would be forgiven for thinking they accidentally posted last week's rankings. None of the first 14 teams shifted places, and another narrow victory for Michigan cost it just three spots.

While the rumblings remained quiet this week, it's merely the calm before the storm. Some schools could plummet faster that the silhouette in Mad Men's opening credits with a poor showing on Saturday.

These three teams need a big win to stay afloat among college football's elite.

 

Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish survived yet again.

A week after escaping Purdue with a close win, Notre Dame fended off Michigan State in an ugly 17-13 victory. The Spartans accrued more yards but cost themselves a victory with four pass interference penalties and an interception thrown by a wide receiver on a trick play.

Notre Dame sits firmly at No. 22 despite two single-digit victories, but facing a ranked opponent could knock them out of the Top 25. Oklahoma, seeded at No. 14, is well rested after a week off and is waiting to take them down.

A week after orchestrating little offense, the Fighting Irish will gave to deal with the Sooners, who have surrendered just nine points per game. They're fierce on the other side of the field as well now that Blake Bell has taken the reigns under center.

Notre Dame lives to fight another day, but their time could be running out.

 

Florida

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterback Jeff Driskel #6 of the Florida Gators falls to a knee injury in the 1st quarter against the Tennessee Volunteers  September 21, 2013 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Despite beating Tennessee on Saturday, Florida swapped places with Baylor from No. 19 to No. 20. The Gators have bigger concerns on their hands after losing their starting quarterback for the season.

Jeff Driskel broke his leg in the first quarter against the Volunteers and will miss the remainder of the season. The junior had amassed 477 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions before suffering the crushing blow.

Tyler Murphy looked sharp in Driskel's place, completing eight of 14 passes for 134 yards and a score along with 84 rushing yards. He led the Gators to a big 31-17 victory over their SEC rivals, avoiding their second loss after previous falling to the Hurricanes.

In his first start, Murphy will be tasked with keeping Florida's ranking intact against Kentucky, who played No. 7 Louisville tough in a 27-14 defeat.

While Kentucky's offense has played sharp football, the defense has surrendered 103 points in three games, providing Murphy with a golden opportunity to start his tenure as Florida's starting quarterback on a positive note.

 

Georgia

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 21: Brandin Byrd #24 and Mason Y'Barbo #57 of the North Texas Mean Green are buried by Chris Mayes #93, Amarlo Harrera #52, and Josh Harvey-Clemons #25 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Athens, Geor
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

How can a team with two losses remain in the top 10?

Even after losing its season opener to Clemson, Georgia has held a cushy spot at No. 9 in the AP poll. But continuing its brutal schedule this week could spell doom for the Bulldgos. 

Georgia now must combat another premier squad in No. 6 LSU, who has beaten its four opponents by a 95-point margin.

Zach Mettenberger has matured during his senior season, completing 64.8 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and one interception. The LSU quarterback will face a shaky Georgia defense that has allowed 28.7 points per contest.

The voters did not give up on Georgia after fighting Clemson to the wire, but it will be hard to keep them too high with a .500 record, regardless of how the school attained those losses.