As the midway point has been reached by more than half of college football, it’s clear the more things change the more things remain the same. One thing that really sticks out in power 5 conferences outside of the PAC-12 is the consistency of Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Ohio State — it’s become overwhelming how one-sided their dominance has become.
On the flip side, in the non-power fives, last year’s conference champions, MTSU, Northern Illinois, UCF, Fresno State and UAB are all having to retool and rebuild some. But last Wednesday, Appalachian State went to UL-Lafayette and once again showed their dependability with a ultra-physical performance that held an explosive ULL to 250 total yards. New head coach Elijah Drinkowitz took a page out of ex-head coach Scott Satterfield’s playbook and played keep away and leaned on a dominant front seven.
Three days later Satterfield took his extremely youth-driven Louisville squad to Wake Forest and won 62-59. That’s now back-to-back wins with 120 points, something Louisville hasn’t achieved since 2017. Coaches matter and Louisville was supposed to rebuild in 2019 and contend in 2021. I’d say they are ahead of schedule.
Staying in the ACC, Georgia Tech’s Geoff Collins took on the largest rebuild in the country and it shows with an 0-6 SU/ATS record. In watching the Yellow Jackets week by week it’s clear the Collins era of developing a modern offense is going to take time but it’s startling that a defensive-minded head coach with a lot of experience has struggled to this degree.
Another new head coach who has shocked me with his success and his conservative play calling and defense driven approach is Temple’s Rod Carey who defeated Memphis to take the lead in the AAC. Carey had some turnover luck in doing so but I can’t discredit how he has kept the offense similar to what Collins built and Temple is very much playing mistake free football.
Texas Tech’s Matt Wells lost his all-conference quarterback Matt Bowman and proceed to beat Oklahoma State and a week later took a much more talented Baylor squad to overtime. No doubt, Texas Tech has a winner going forward that can play defense and will eventually find a offensive rhythm to compete with any Big XII team on any Saturday.
They say some coaches are only as good as their quarterback and Syracuse’s Dino Babers has a bad one in Tommy DeVito. DeVito can make any throw but also has no issue taking sacks and is a huge negative play producer against any formidable defense. The Orange are among the fastest tempos in college football but their suspect defense is on the field at an incredible rate.
Iowa is at its best when they let their huge armed quarterback Nate Stanley actually play. I swear Kirk Ferentz is a Wong teaser player and parlays everything with the under. If you know Penn State has a top 10 run defense why would you wait until down 10 to begin to air it out? This is back-to-back weeks where Ferentz called over 30 run plays knowing the opposition has a huge advantage in stopping it.
Remember when Nebraska was favored to win the Big 10 West? That’s not planning out.
No offense was upgraded more this offseason than little discussed Southern Miss. Jack Abraham is super accurate and embracing the tempo change. And the Eagles’ defense is once again legit.
Remember when we all threw in the towel on FIU? Not to be all Lee Corso on everyone but not so fast. Sometimes a bye and a walk through versus UMass will get a team right and it sure looked like that was the case last week against a good Charlotte team.
I have zero idea how to explain Bowling Green not only beating Toledo but doing so in dominant fashion. Even odder, they used players that weren’t even listed as starters in the preseason. It’s easily the biggest upset in FBS in my mind. I’m not confident in my number with Bowling Green which was 127th. Shocked would be a understatement.
Northern Illinois won a shootout. Kent State won a game scoring 26. Ball State might be the best team in the MAC after being a good fade as +35 underdogs just a year ago. It’s the MAC and it’s awesome!
With the exception of SMU, no team has moved up more in my power ratings than Georgia State. They have embraced the duel threat capabilities quarterback Dan Ellington and the tempo in a close game is Kingsbury-like but as displayed in last week’s 31-21 win over Coastal Carolina, head coach Shawn Elliot, who is very defensive-minded, has no issue leaning on a young but up-and-coming defense.
Until next week, don’t let Mike Leach using almost no time to kick a field goal, and leaving an opponent all their timeouts and three minutes with a pass defense that couldn’t stop Akron, keep you down!