Gridiron: The year of the upset

first_imgThe first four weeks of the college football season have been filled with teeth-grinding finishes and shocking results. Teams that began the ’07 campaign with BCS bowl aspirations have already fallen out of legitimate contention and teams merely striving for some sort of postseason appearance are now undefeated and in the mix with the elite. Let’s take a look at some of the early surprises from around the nation:Stock RisingNo. 11 Oregon (4-0, 1-0)USC and Cal aren’t the only Pac-10 high-flying offenses dominating opponents thus far. Unranked at the season’s beginning, the now-No. 11 Oregon Ducks are showing critics across the nation that they too should be considered Pac-10 Championship contenders. Senior quarterback Dennis Dixon has executed the spread offense to perfection, which still gives fans in Ann Arbor, Mich. nightmares after the Ducks dismantled the Wolverines 39-7 in week two. Dixon has thrown for 11 touchdowns and run for four to lead the Ducks’ offense, which is averaging 48.5 points and 536.8 total yards per game. Junior running back Jonathan Stewart has led the Ducks’ rushing attack with 503 yards and four touchdowns while boasting a ridiculous 7.7 yards per rush.The Ducks will be tested this week when No. 6 California comes to town. But a win against the Golden Bears at home Saturday will solidify a spot in everyone’s top 10.No. 12 Boston College. (4-0, 3-0)Most teams schedule their nonconference matchups for the first three weeks of the season. Not Boston College. The Eagles took on the defending ACC champion Wake Forest Demon Deacons in week one, then beat North Carolina State at home before taking down then-ranked Georgia Tech in Atlanta. These impressive conference victories are why the Eagles have gone from being unranked to No. 12. Senior quarterback Matt Ryan has quickly become a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate, as he is on pace for over 4,000 yards passing and 30 touchdowns this season.The Eagles have to travel to No. 17 Virginia Tech Oct. 25, but get No. 13 Clemson at home Nov. 17. If Ryan can stay this consistent, the Eagles should be the favorites to succeed the Deacons as ACC champs, which would give them an automatic bid into the FedEx Orange Bowl.No. 14 Kentucky (4-0, 1-0)Senior quarterback Andre’ Woodson may be the best player in the nation most people have never heard of, and he will quite likely be a first round draft pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Woodson has led the Wildcats to back-to-back upset victories over then-No. 9 Louisville at home and Arkansas on the road. Woodson has thrown 6 touchdowns and no interceptions in those two games (11 TD, 0 INT on the season).Senior running back Rafael Little has rushed for 435 yards and 3 touchdowns while averaging 7.0 yards per rush.After facing Florida Atlantic this week, the Wildcats have to face No. 16 South Carolina, No. 4 Florida and No. 2 LSU in consecutive weeks. It doesn’t get much more brutal than that. Good thing Kentucky is playing some of the best football in the country right now.Stock FallingGeorgia Tech (2-2, 0-2)After starting 2-0 and climbing to No. 15 in the Associated Press Poll, the Yellow Jackets have dropped their last two games, both against ACC opponents. Georgia Tech lost to Boston College by 14 points at home and then got beat by a mediocre Virginia team on the road. Junior quarterback Taylor Bennett has been ineffective in the two Yellow Jacket losses, throwing for just one touchdown and one interception while completing less than 50 percent of his passes. The Tech defense hasn’t been much to brag about either, as it has given up 26.0 points per game in ACC play. No one has been able to fill the void that No. 2 overall pick Calvin Johnson left in Atlanta, either. Sophomore wideout Greg Smith leads the team with only 181 yards on 14 catches in four games.The road doesn’t get any easier for the Jackets, as they host No. 13 Clemson this week. However, a victory over the Tigers would certainly project them in the right direction.Louisville (2-2, 0-1)The Louisville Cardinals may be the most disappointing team in the country thus far. After being ranked as high at No. 9, Louisville has dropped two straight, falling completely out of the Top 25. A 40-34 loss against a solid Kentucky team on the road in week three wasn’t a total catastrophe, but a 38-35 loss to Syracuse (who may be the worst team in the Big East) at home was.Although senior quarterback Brian Brohm will likely still be selected in the first round of next April’s draft, he can kiss the Heisman Trophy goodbye. Although he has put up impressive numbers (1,697 yards, 15 touchdowns), it hasn’t been enough for the Louisville defense (giving up 37.0 points per game over the last three games) to withstand.With four games against currently ranked teams still on its schedule (No. 24 Cincinnati, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 18 South Florida, No. 10 Rutgers), Louisville’s chances of a Big East Championship are rapidly diminishing, unless the Cardinals’ defense drastically improves.Arkansas (1-2, 0-2)Despite losing to Wisconsin in last season’s Capitol One Bowl, many thought Arkansas could compete with LSU for an SEC West Championship. But after losing back-to-back games to Alabama and Kentucky, the Razorbacks sit at the bottom of the division standings.Explosive running backs Felix Jones and Darren McFadden have lived up to their end of the bargain, combining for 877 yards rushing and five touchdowns in just three games. But the Razorback defense has been atrocious, giving up 83 points over its last two games, plus another 26 to Troy in week one.With a schedule that lacks a matchup against Florida this season, Arkansas has done everything to not take of their boon. They still have to travel to Baton Rouge to take on an LSU team that could very well be playing for a National Championship in January. Needless to say, the future is not bright in Fayetteville, Ark.last_img

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