We’re 25% of the way through the season, so let’s take a look at some interesting early stories.
Most teams have their out-of-conference schedules completed and are embarking on conference play. For fun I thought I’d look at the combined records against non-conference BCS foes + ND, BYU:
Big 12 (5-1) 83%
Pac 12 (7-4) 64%
Big East (5-4) 56%
SEC (4-5) 44%
B1G Ten (5-9) 36%
ACC (3-9) 25%
I wrote before the season started about how the Big 12 could emerge as the second best conference. Early returns on that theory look good. What might surprise you is how well the Pac 12 has fared. USC and Oregon are the flag bearers but teams like Oregon State, Arizona, and UCLA have picked up nice out-of-conference wins.
The B1G Ten has been heavily criticized early this season and rightfully so. It hasn’t been so much about their 5-9 record against out-of-conference foes as much as it has been about their lackluster performances against MAC, CUSA, and other lower level programs.
What REALLY surprised me about this was the ACC’s putrid start (3-9). This has dubious implications for Florida State and Clemson, who play Florida and South Carolina respectively in their season finale’s. Here’s guessing that any top-ranked ACC team will meet late season misery, whether that be in game 12 or in the bowl season.
Speaking of the ACC
Shhhhh!!! The Miami Hurricanes have quickly and quietly jumped out to a 2-0 conference record, with both wins coming on the road. They now get their NEXT 4 ACC games at home (sandwiched around a trip to Chicago to play ND). Year 2 of a new coaching regime is usually when things start to take off. Despite the early debacle at Kansas State, the Hurricanes could start to build some momentum and make a run at the ACC crown. Keep an eye on their game against NC State this week to see where this program really is.
And just for fun, how about the Duke Blue Devils? They’re out to a 3-1 record and stand just three wins away from their first bowl games since the `94-95 season. Their next two games are @ Wake Forest, home vs Virginia. If the Blue Devils are going to get to 6 wins, they would do well to win both these games.
27 teams remain undefeated
23 teams from BCS conferences
4 teams from non BCS conferences (Notre Dame, Ohio, Louisiana Tech, UTSA)
This week’s battles of the undefeateds:
Baylor (3-0) @ WVU (3-0)
Texas Tech (3-0) @ Iowa State (3-0)
The state of Oregon has two undefeateds
This is why you should be terrified of the Oregon Ducks. Over the past few years, Chip Kelly has earned a reputation as one of the best 2nd half coaches in America. Despite their up-tempo offense, the Ducks have started slow at times, only to hit the turbo-boost coming out of the break and leave their opponents in the dust. This year the Ducks have been mauling teams in the first half, leaving them to just coast in the second half. Check out these halftime scores from Oregon’s first four games.
50-10 arkansas st (10 wins in 2011)
35-6 fresno (annual bowl team)
35-7 tenn tech (ok, laugh)
13-0 arizona (off to a great start under Rich Rod)
133- 23 in the first half… and I would consider Chip Kelly the best halftime coach in America. Good luck, everybody.
Meanwhile, the Oregon State Beavers have re-emerged from 2011’s ashes to claim a 2-0 start. They pulled the upset against Wisconsin and then soundly beat UCLA on the road. This week they play at Arizona in what should be an interesting clash of styles. The Beavers are efficient on offense, nearly always keeping on schedule and keeping their defense rested. If they’re for real, they will show their stripes in the next three games @ Arizona, Wazzu, @ BYU.
The next time you see the Florida Gators…
When you’re Florida a 4-0 start usually gets you national love and all sorts of hype. Instead, this year, they are 4-0 and are the fifth highest ranked team in the SEC. I perceive that people think they’re a nice story but nobody is truly taking them seriously yet. Well, this week they are off as they get ready for THIS October slate: #3 LSU, @Vandy, #6 South Carolina, #5 Georgia in Jacksonville. In my humble opinion, they’re perfectly capable of beating LSU and South Carolina because of their outstanding defensive play. Neither of those teams will run and hide. Georgia will be tough, but is do-able.
The Big 12 Game of the Year
As promised (by me at least) Casey Pachall and Geno Smith have been outstanding this year, claiming the top two spots in the national QB Passer rankings. Because of this, I am declaring the November 3rd showdown between TCU @ West Virginia, the Big 12 game of the year. Merry Christmas prospect-lovers everywhere!