College Football Rankings 2013: Teams in Danger of Falling Outside Top 25

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Quarterback Joel Stave #2 of the Wisconsin Badgers throws a pass during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeated the Badgers 32-30.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

There's no safety for teams at the bottom of the AP Top 25 poll. Those squads holding on to one of those precious spots have no room for error.

Ask Arizona State, a team that was banished from the ranks a week after finally receiving a nod. Every week, a Texas Tech or Fresno State is knocking on the door for national recognition, and those spoiled squads already in the loop could get jammed if they're not careful.

That begs the question: Who's next?

Some tough opponents lie ahead for some of the teams just inside the Top 25. If they're not careful, they'll be on the outside looking in once the weekend ends.

 

No. 21 Mississippi

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 10:  Jeff Scott #3 of the Ole Miss Rebels reaches for the end zone in front of Kenny Ladler #1 of the Vanderbilt Commodores during a game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Stacy Rever
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

So Ole Miss almost certainly won't defeat Alabama. It's essentially a matter of losing with dignity.

Alabama has looked unstoppable so far, winning by a 19-point average margin of victory. Its one single-digit victory came against Texas A&M, but nobody other than Johnny Manziel has succeeded in cracking the Crimson Tide's defensive force field.

Mississippi's defense, on the other hand, hardly showed such tenacity when starting the season with a narrow, 38-35 victory over Vanderbilt. Jordan Matthews caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in a losing effort

Despite their 3-0 start, the Rebels will struggle to preserve their national rank for long. Including Alabama, they face three Top 10 teams over their next four matchups. 

The Rebels should receive a mulligan from voters if they keep the score to a reasonable rate, but a trumping at the Crimson Tide's hands could spell doom. 

 

No. 22 Notre Dame

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 07: Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

How long will Notre Dame stay alive?

During the second week, Notre Dame lost 41-30 to a Michigan squad that has since also shown deficiencies in close calls. The Fighting Irish bounced back with two victories, but neither was very pretty.

Notre Dame entered the fourth quarter against Purdue with a 17-10 deficit, but Tommy Rees saved the day with a pair of late touchdown strikes. Michigan State presented even more of a challenge, limiting Notre Dame to 220 total yards.

Rees only completed 14 of his 34 passing attempts for 142 yards, but the Fighting Irish still escaped with a four-point triumph. Will the luck of the Irish strike yet again against No. 14 Oklahoma?

The Sooners have allowed just 27 points this season, and the rushing offense has assembled 271.7 yards per contest.  Oklahoma can knock Notre Dame out of the poll by dropping the prestigious school to 2-2.

 

No. 23 Wisconsin

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Quarterback Joel Stave #2 of the Wisconsin Badgers huddles with teammates during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils defeat
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Wisconsin sits in the same boat as Ole Miss, facing a powerhouse team at an inopportune time.

The Badgers clash against the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes this weekend, who will get their star quarterback back. According to SI.com, Braxton Miller will start for Ohio State this Saturday.

It's not like Urban Meyer desperately needs Miller back; Guiton has tossed 10 touchdowns during his last two games as the temporary replacement. But Miller was considered a Heisman Trophy contender before injuring his knee against San Diego State.

Wisconsin defeated Purdue by 31 points last week, but it came after a disappointing loss to the Sun Devils. For all the team's rushing prowess, it looks stifled when tasked with engaging in shootouts. If Miller and/or Guiton run up the points, Joel Stave will struggle to match them.

Don't expect the Badgers to receive another free pass if they lose again.