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

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 18:  Head coach David Cutcliffe of the Duke Blue Devils watches the action during the game against the Miami Hurricanes at Wallace Wade Stadium on October 18, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Mike MoraitisAnalyst INovember 28, 2013

No ranked team is safe in college football, and a loss to a lowly team in any given week could spell the end of a squad's ranking for the time being.

The No. 17 LSU Tigers once looked like national title contenders, but those hopes were dashed after the Tigers lost three games during the season. All LSU can do now is keep its ranked status, although that's at risk as the team goes up against the Arkansas Razorbacks this week.

The No. 19 UCF Knights have been quite the pleasant surprise this season, and while the luster still remains thanks to their ranking, that could all disappear should the Knights be upset by the South Florida Bulls.

Normally there isn't much riding on a No. 24 Duke Blue Devil-North Carolina Tar Heel football game, but this year is different as Duke hopes to remain in the Top 25 to finish the regular season with a win over North Carolina.

Let's break down each of these matchups and find out why LSU, UCF and Duke are all in danger of falling out of the rankings after Week 14.

BCS Rankings
RankTeam
1Alabama
2Florida State
3Ohio State
4Auburn
5Missouri
6Clemson
7Oklahoma State
8Stanford
9Baylor
10South Carolina
11Michigan State
12Arizona State
13Oregon
14Northern Illinois
15Wisconsin
16Fresno State
17LSU
18Oklahoma
19UCF
20Louisville
21Texas A&M
22UCLA
23USC
24Duke
25Notre Dame
ESPN.com

 

LSU Tigers (vs. Arkansas)

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 23:  Quarterback Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers drops back to pass against the Texas A&M Aggies at Tiger Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Tigers' season went south rather quickly after two losses in three weeks to Ole Miss and Alabama, with their first back-breaking loss of the season coming against Georgia weeks earlier.

It has been a disappointing finish to the season for LSU, and it could conceivably get worse if the Tigers drop one to the lowly Arkansas Razorbacks, who have lost their last eight contests after starting the season 3-0.

Arkansas is so bad that it has failed to win a single game in SEC play, and out of every team in both the east and west, the Razorbacks have the second-worst record overall and the worst in either SEC division.

A loss in any fashion at home would be devastating for LSU and its fanbase. It would be hard to make the case that LSU deserves a Top 25 ranking after such a defeat, thus putting in jeopardy the Tigers' hopes of at least finishing with a nice number next to their name.

 

UCF (vs. South Florida)

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 26:  Blake Bortles #5 of the UCF Knights calls signals during the game against the Connecticut Huskies at Bright House Networks Stadium on October 26, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Building off what was a solid season in 2012-13, the Knights have improved their winning percentage from a season ago and could finish the regular season with double-digit wins, which didn't happen until their Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl win last season.

In their way is that other college team from Florida, the South Florida Bulls. As a fellow American Athletic Conference team, South Florida has lost all but two of its games this season and failed to beat a ranked squad during its horrid campaign.

But a game against a ranked team like UCF could serve as a wake-up call for South Florida as this will be the closest thing to a championship game the Bulls will ever play.

If the Knights want to finish the season within the Top 25, they must emerge victorious in this game on their home turf. No ranked team can afford to lose to a dysfunctional 2-8 bunch, and UCF is no different.

 

Duke Blue Devils (at North Carolina Tar Heels)

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 21:  Jamison Crowder #3 of the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

No, you didn't just wake up in the middle of a college basketball article. These two teams will skip the hardwood and instead do battle on a football field in a game that will decide Duke's future as a ranked squad.

The Blue Devils are in the midst of a sensational season in the ACC and have earned a 9-2 record overall while maintaining first place in the ACC Coastal Division. However, it must be noted that Duke must beat UNC in order to secure its spot in the ACC title game as second-place Georgia Tech would advance in the event of a tie.

As for the Tar Heels, their season has been topsy-turvy, but after losing five of their first six games, the Heels have won their last five to finish out the season strong. Duke has also been on a hot streak with seven wins in a row, so something has to give for these two surging squads.

While it wouldn't be such a horrible loss if Duke dropped this game to a quality squad in North Carolina, it would likely mean the end of days for Duke in the Top 25 as it sits in the ever so fragile position of No. 24 in the rankings.

It won't take much to remove Duke from its ranked position, and North Carolina can do just that simply by winning this game.

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