UCLA, OKLAHOMA STATE, NORTH CAROLINA, TEXAS A&M AREN’T WHAT WE THOUGHT THEY WERE. WE ALL HAD OUR OPINIONS OF WHAT THEY WERE IN THE PRESEASON. I MEAN, WHO THE HELL DOESN’T DEVELOP PRECONCEIVED IDEAS ABOUT A TEAM BEFORE THE SEASON STARTS? THAT’S WHY WE HAVE PRESEASON RANKINGS! NOW, IF YOU WANT TO CROWN – OR NOT CROWN – THE FOLLOWING TEAM’S ASSES, THEN CROWN – OR DON’T CROWN – THEIR ASSES! BUT THESE TEAMS AREN’T WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE, AND I’M NOT LETTING THEM OFF THE HOOK!
Pundits billed the Bruins as a darkhorse national title team. With big names such as Brett Hundley and Myles Jack back, Jim Mora’s talented squad was supposedly ready to at least challenge for a conference crown.
Three games into the season, UCLA has yet to drop a game. The Bruins also have yet to look anything like a national power, squeaking by ACC also-ran Virginia, mediocre Memphis and a depleted Texas outfit. To date, UCLA ranks 22nd overall in F/+ — not bad, but nowhere near elite.
For the most part, UCLA’s defense is holding up its end of the deal. The offensive line, however, has given little reason to think it can protect Hundley, who was knocked out of the Texas game with an elbow injury. The boys from Westwood can’t really run the ball, either, averaging a meager 3.76 yards per carry, good for 91st nationally.
UCLA could win the wide open Pac-12 South, but don’t look for this team in the playoff in January.
Mike Gundy entered what appeared to be a sure rebuilding year with one of the most unproven rosters in the country. OSU lost something like 327 lettermen from the 2013 team, returning a mere nine starters. OSU starting QB J.W. Walsh is also on the shelf after suffering a leg injury in a win over Southwest Missouri State in the second game of the year.
But if the Cowboys have lost a step from last year, it wasn’t a big one. No team earned more respect for a loss this season than the Cowboys did when they took defending national champ Florida State to the limit in their season opener. They also throttled a solid Texas-San Antonio team.
The Pokes kick off Big 12 play Thursday night with a visit from Texas Tech, and the early returns suggest they’ll win that game and many more league contests this year.
As was the case under Butch Davis seemingly every year he was in Chapel Hill, Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels felt like a team on the verge of a breakout. Unlike the ACC Atlantic, where Florida State was a prohibitive favorite, the Coastal division was considered to be there for the taking, and pundits were tabbing UNC as one of the teams most likely to snatch it.
Maybe next year (again). The Heels messed around versus Jerry Falwell U. in their season opener and got pushed to the brink in a home game against San Diego State. They finally cratered last week when they got worked by East Carolina (again) in what should have been a revenge spot.
While Fedora’s offense keeps putting up big numbers, the defense looks to be regressing after allowing more than 8 yards per play (nearly 800 total yards) to the Pirates.
UNC’s next three games: at Clemson, Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame. If the Heels are going to live up to expectations, they will need to get things going in the right direction quickly.
Admit it: You thought the Aggies were toast post-Johnny Manziel. You lose one of the better college quarterbacks in recent history, and that’s to be expected. Given what Kenny Hill has shown so far this season, though, maybe spread guru Kevin Sumlin deserves a little bit more credit for Manziel’s eye-popping stats than he has received.
Aside from his prowess as an offensive strategist, Sumlin and his staff continue to recruit with the best in the country. Talented young prospects such as receiver Speedy Noil and pass rusher Myles Garrett are contributing right away.
A&M owns possibly the most impressive win of the season so far, a 24-point road shellacking of South Carolina to start the year. Since then, the slate has been full of lightweights, but the Aggies haven’t let off the accelerator. That’s a good sign for the rest of the season.
A&M probably won’t win the loaded SEC West this season, but the Aggies’ trajectory is pretty promising.