Much like nude scenes and beach vacations, college football seasons seems to fly by all too quick. Although it feels like just yesterday we were talking about the season’s opening weekend, here we are five weeks later, separating the contenders from the pretenders. Here’s a look at some of the biggest surprises from the season’s first month.
Pac-12′s Fast Start
Late night college football fans are being rewarded in 2012 for their determination to finish Saturday nights strong, as the Pac-12 appears more formidable than in year’s past. The Oregon Ducks are doing their fast lane thing, and are one of six league teams ranked in the Top 25. Beaver state neighbor Oregon State is also undefeated, notching three solid wins, two of which were on the road. The USC Trojans were a sexy preseason pick, and may still be legit, but were defeated by a Stanford team that still looks bona fide despite being Andrew Luck-less. UCLA and Washington are also ranked after earning some notable early-season wins.
Sun Belt Conference Foes No Longer Mean Automatic Wins
Power conference schools are still shelling out big paychecks to host Sun Belt conference schools, but a few of the teams have started to push back. UL-Monroe upended Arkansas, Western Kentucky tipped UK, and Middle Tennessee State whipped Georgia Tech by 21 in Atlanta. Here’s to hoping Kentucky’s own Hilltoppers can come out on top in what figures to be an intriguing conference race that will also include Arkansas State, Troy, and probably a few other Louisiana schools you may or may not have heard of.
Big 10′s Disappearing Act
The conference’s kid with his nose in the corner, Ohio State, is one of only two undefeated teams in the conference, as Nebraska, Wisconsin, and both Michigan teams all came up short in their first early season tests. Northwestern (see below) and Minnesota were the only schools outside of Columbus to go unbeaten in the non-con, as the conference also dropped three games to MAC teams.
Northwestern is Ranked?!?!
Not since head coach Pat Fitzgerald was a middle linebacker for the Northwestern Wildcats has the team looked so promising heading into October. It was when Fitzgerald was a player that Northwestern last went to the Rose Bowl. While it’s a long time until they start handing out BCS berths, Northwestern did just crack the Top 25 and has earned victories over four BCS schools in the season’s first five weeks. Purple may be a sissy color, but it would hard to root against a Wildcats’ Cinderella run.
The Big 12 May Become a Logjam
The addition of the TCU Horned Frogs and the West Virginia Mountaineers is looking like it could offset the departure of Mizzou and Texas A&M, as the conference is looking pretty strong from top to bottom, with the exception of the Kansas Jayhawks, who focus their athletic budget dollars on paying basketball players. TCU and WVU are both undefeated, along with Texas, Texas Tech, and Kansas State. Also jockeying for position will be perennial power Oklahoma, along Okie State and Baylor, who both dropped wild conference shootouts this past weekend. There figure to be lots of scoreboards lit up over the next few months as this conference sorts itself out. No matter who comes out on top, there will probably be a few over bets hit in magnificent fashion.
Duke is 4-1
While Mike Kryzewski focuses on covering up the Lance Thomas jewelry story, the Duke Blue Devil football squad has quietly went 4-1 to start the season, putting them dangerously close to the unfamiliar territory of bowl eligibility. Last week’s win at Wake Forest was the team’s only “notable” win, and they were beat down by Stanford when they visited The Farm. The Dukies will find out quickly what they are made of, as they face V-Tech, Florida State, and Clemson over the next month.