With the first month of the college football season almost in the books, we have already seen numerous teams either exceed or fall short of their preseason expectations. Of course, we also have teams that have surprised practically nobody with their undefeated starts such as Clemson, Alabama, USC, and Penn State.
Some of these teams that have gotten off to hot starts during the month of September could be brought back down to reality in the coming weeks. On the other side, some of these teams off to disappointing starts could be forced to make a coaching change sooner rather than later.
Who has impressed so far to start the year?
Very few can really argue that they are shocked to see the Georgia Bulldogs start the 2017 campaign off with a 4-0 record. Nevertheless, the reason that they are atop this list is because of how they have won their first four games. They began by opening the season with an impressive win over an Appalachian State team that has proved it can compete with bigger programs each year.
They followed that up with a hard-fought victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a rather tough environment in South Bend. Led by true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm (in his first career start), the Dawgs were able to escape Notre Dame Stadium with a 20-19 win. Two weeks later, they followed up with a monstrous defeat of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Coming off of a blowout over LSU, many experts predicted a Mississippi State victory in Athens. Nick Fitzgerald was clearly not prepared for what Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker had in store for him during his trip to Athens. With another major test this weekend in a revenge game in Knoxville, Georgia hopes to prove that the East may have a true contender to compete with Alabama for the SEC crown this season.
After back-to-back fairly impressive seasons for the Washington State Cougars, they are off to a hot start in Mike Leach’s sixth year on campus and are undefeated through their first four games. Even though the competition may be sub-par at best, they have still looked rather impressive to start the season.
A triple overtime thriller with Boise State and two consecutive blowouts over Oregon State and Nevada have Washington State being considered an early threat in the Pac-12. The next three games include an extremely difficult test with a highly-ranked USC team on Friday night followed by road tests at Oregon and Cal. These games will likely be the deciding factor whether the Cougars are truly here to make some noise or not.
The looming question for the Washington State faithful over the next few months will have to be whether they will have to not only endure losing senior quarterback Luke Falk to the NFL, but also potentially losing Head Coach Mike Leach to another head coaching gig.
Considering the reputation that Gary Patterson has had while coaching the Horned Frogs, we should not be that surprised to see that TCU is 4-0 to start the 2017 season. The reason that they have been so surprising to most college football fans can be attributed to their two tremendous road victories early in this season. Not only did they go into Fayetteville and embarrass the Razorbacks 28-7, but this past weekend they found a way to outscore Heisman hopeful Mason Rudolph and the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater.
The next two games are crucial for Patterson’s team as they go up against conference foes West Virginia and Kansas State. Given that it is still early in this season, I would not be surprised to see Kenny Hill lead the Horned Frogs to a conference championship game at the end of the season.
Teams that just missed the cut: Virginia Tech, San Diego State, Kentucky, Memphis, Oregon.
These teams have not fared so well to begin the year:
The way that the 2017 season started for the Bruins would have had most people thinking we would see them on the other side of this argument. However, the past two weeks have not been so favorable for UCLA as they have lost back-to-back road games to Memphis and a struggling Stanford team.
Regardless of the fact that Josh Rosen will likely be a first round draft pick and starting on Sundays sooner rather than later, the Bruins season and Head Coach Jim Mora’s future may both be in trouble. With road contests still remaining against currently ranked teams such as Washington, Utah, and USC, we could very well be looking at the end of the Jim Mora era at UCLA as they could be fighting to even make it to a bowl game, better yet competing for the Pac-12 South.
A shootout with Missouri State to open the season had many people thinking Drew Lock may be able to lead the Tigers back to the top of the SEC East this year. The only problem is that Mizzou has eleven other teams on their schedule not named Missouri State. They followed their big season opening win with lackluster performances in three straight losses by double digits to South Carolina, Purdue, and Auburn.
The schedule will not get any easier for Mizzou as they will head on the road to both Kentucky and Georgia in the next two weeks. Regardless of how Missouri head coach Barry Odom feels about the potential of his team this season, their performance, as well as his own, will likely cost him his job at some point before next season.
While BYU may have decided to bring caffeinated drinks back to the Provo campus, that does not mean that any offense will come along with it. Following a 9-4 record in his first season at BYU, head coach Kalani Sitake set the bar pretty high for himself entering year two. After losing leading rusher Jamaal Williams to the NFL (4th round pick by the Packers), the BYU rushing offense currently ranks 124th in the nation in rushing yards per game.
After winning a low scoring game with FCS school Portland State, Brigham Young has been embarrassed by LSU and Wisconsin and also lost a close game to rival Utah. In those three games, BYU has been outscored 86-19. Although I do not believe that Sitake’s job is in jeopardy this season, the “Ty Detmer Experiment” at offensive coordinator could be over before we know it if the Cougars do not find a way to start scoring more points.
Teams that just missed the cut: Arkansas, Stanford, Nebraska, LSU, Texas A&M.
Which teams have stood out to you, good or bad? Discuss in the comments below!
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