AP College Football 2013 Rankings: Bubble Teams That Will Sneak into Top 25
Well, the living, breathing organism that is college football continues to have a mind of its own.
Georgia defeated LSU in Athens in Week 5, while West Virginia stunned Oklahoma State and a couple of other Top 15 teams such as Ohio State and South Carolina survived some scares.
The latest AP college football rankings have been released after the latest action. Some teams have slid into the Top 25, while others have fallen out of it.
Here are three bubble teams I see eventually weaseling their way into the Top 25 by the end of the 2013 campaign.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted
Northern Illinois hasn't beaten anyone of any significance, but the Huskies don't need to. With 104 points in the latest AP rankings, they are just outside the Top 25 after defeating Iowa, Idaho, Eastern Illinois and Purdue.
Plus, the win over Purdue wasn't just any win, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Purdue allowed 55 points at home to Northern Illinois. It's the most points Purdue has ever allowed at Ross-Ade Stadium (since 1924).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 28, 2013
The Huskies have played a strength of schedule ranked 38th in the nation so far, according to TeamRankings.com, but an undefeated record can get you places.
Northern Illinois plays Kent State, Akron, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts, Ball State, Toledo and Western Michigan down the stretch. It's not out of the question that the Huskies run the table.
In fact, it's likely. These teams are a combined 11-27 through Week 5. Ball State is the only team above .500. Ball State is also the only team ranked in the top 60 in points allowed per game.
When I look at Wisconsin, I see a team that should have beaten Arizona State—if it weren't for a bizarre ending—and a team that lost by seven points to Ohio State, a Top Five team. That's nothing to be ashamed of.
Wisconsin still has a dangerous offense. The Badgers rank 33rd in the nation in points per game, and sixth in rushing yards per game. Sophomore running back Melvin Gordon is still mighty dangerous.
The defense isn't half-bad, either. Giving up 31 points to the Buckeyes may seem like a lot, until you consider the Buckeyes had yet to score fewer than 40 points in a single game and were coming off a 76-0 victory over Florida A&M.
Junior noseguard Warren Herring leads the Badgers in sacks (three) and tackles for loss (4.5). Freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton has posted two interceptions, three pass deflections and one forced fumble.
Even if Wisconsin loses to No. 16 Northwestern in two weeks, I could still see the Badgers sneaking into the Top 25 by the end of the season. After the Northwestern game, Wisconsin plays Illinois, Iowa, BYU, Indiana, Minnesota and Penn State to end the season.
Who is most likely to finish the season ranked in the Top 25?
So, UCLA is clearly a better team than Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers have won their other three games.
The defense is a concern—allowing 27 points per contest, including 20 to South Dakota State last week—but I expect the Cornhuskers to defeat Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Michigan State, possibly Penn State and Iowa the rest of the way.
Illinois and Purdue rank 62nd and 109th in points allowed per contest, respectively. Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa rank 43rd or worse in points per game.
The Nebraska offense is still dangerous, ranked 14th in the nation in points per game and rushing yards per game. That should be enough to get Nebraska into the Top 25 by the end of the season.
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