Week 5 of the 2013 college football season has commenced, with Iowa State and Virginia Tech securing Thursday-night victories. Come Saturday, the top teams in the nation will take their turns at center stage, and the Top 25 will inevitably be reshaped.
The question is, which teams will make the leap into the Top 25 with standout performances?
The AP and USA Today football coaches polls change with every passing week of college football, as ranked teams underwhelm and unranked squads overachieve. Week 5 of the season will be no different, as multiple Top 25 teams will face off.
Here are the teams which will benefit most from those battles and join the ranks of the elite.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 2-1 (0-1 Pac-12)
Week 4: 42-28 loss at Stanford Cardinal
Week 5: vs. USC Trojans
Week 5 Prediction: 34-20 win
During Week 4, the Arizona State Sun Devils mounted a fierce fourth-quarter comeback but eventually fell 42-28 to the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal. It wasn't the best performance, but quarterback Taylor Kelly did go off on an elite defense for 367 passing yards and three touchdowns.
USC has a very strong defense, but it's also fresh off of a 17-14 win over Utah State. The Trojans have a dreadful offensive attack, inconsistent-at-best quarterback play and will struggle to match Kelly's offensive attack.
If Marion Grice, who has eight touchdowns from scrimmage in three games, can continue to put up big numbers, Arizona State will be back in the Top 25.
The Sun Devils don't have the best defense and did disappoint against Stanford, but the polls are still in their favor. Rather than seeing a steep decline, Arizona State is set up for a return to the rankings with anything close to a convincing win.
USC's defense will keep things interesting, but when it comes down to Kelly against Cody Kessler, there isn't a comparison to be made.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Week 4: 43-24 win vs. San Jose State Spartans
Week 5: vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Week 5 Prediction: 30-24 win
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are a 4-0 football team in the Big Ten yet remain unranked in either Top 25 poll. The level of competition hasn't been spectacular for the Gophers, but if Minnesota defeats the Iowa Hawkeyes during Week 5, it'll be ranked in the forthcoming editions.
Fair or foul, that's what conference prestige does for a team.
A potentially 5-0 Gophers team would be a Top 25 squad, especially with a road game against the No. 18 Michigan Wolverines looming. The pollmakers love to create hype by turning games between quality teams into battles between ranked opponents, and this will be one of those instances.
Minnesota certainly deserves the opportunity to prove its status as a Top 25 team.
The Golden Gophers are averaging 282.3 rushing yards per game, with four separate players running for at least 221 on the season. Each one of those four players has at least three rushing touchdowns, and the Gophers have overcome injuries at quarterback by running the ball to perfection.
Iowa is a dangerous team, but if Minnesota gets by the Hawkeyes, it'll crack the Top 25.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Week 4: 43-39 win vs. Eastern Illinois Panthers
Week 5: at Purdue Boilermakers
Week 5 Prediction: 38-27 win
The Northern Illinois Huskies may have been overmatched during the 2012 Orange Bowl, but that doesn't mean that this isn't a respectable football team. Jordan Lynch is a genuine star at quarterback, and the Huskies defeated a quality Iowa squad in their season opener.
Against Purdue, look for Northern Illinois to move to 4-0 and crack the Top 25.
Lynch has completed 63.0 percent of his passes en route to 662 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions through three games. He's also run for 404 yards and two touchdowns, topping 150 in consecutive outings.
Don't expect him to slow down against Purdue.
Lynch managed 4,953 yards of total offense in 2012, topping 3,000 through the air and 1,000 on the ground. He threw 25 touchdowns to six interceptions and ran for 19 scores en route to a 44-touchdown season that rivaled Johnny Manziel's production, albeit against lesser competition.
If Lynch puts on another star-caliber performance, Northern Illinois is bound to be a Top 25 team after Week 5.
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