1. The Ole Miss Passing Attack
In the 4 seasons after Eli Manning's graduation following the 2003 campaign, Ole Miss quarterbacks threw 42 touchdowns passes and 61 interceptions. Following Jevan Snead's 4 touchdown performance in a last-second loss to Wake Forest, Ole Miss passers have thrown 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions through 2 games (one pick was thrown by wide receiver Dexter McCluster). The Rebs are also averaging a robust 34.5 points per game, after topping out at 20.1 per game in 2007.
Whether or not you agree with the penalty on Jake Locker (I do), the Cougars still had to block the kick. The Cougars survived their first of 4 stiff tests on their quest to qualify for a BCS bowl. Test 2 comes this week, at home against UCLA. Should the Cougars knock off the Bruins, the next big game comes at TCU on October 16th.
3. Arkansas State
The Red Wolves avoided a let down following their upset of Texas A&M as they obliterated Texas Southern (IAA). The Red Wolves put up 83 points and 670 yards against the overmatched Tigers and averaged an amazing 12.4 yards per play. The win sets up an intriguing home game this weekend against Southern Miss. The Eagles destroyed fellow Sun Belt member Louisiana-Lafayette to open the year, but were brought back to Earth by Auburn this past weekend. Last season, Southern Miss only won 16-10 in Hattiesburg, so a 3-0 start is not out of the question for the Red Wolves.
The school, not the state. The Golden Bears strolled into Pullman, Washington and laid a beating of biblical proportions on the Cougars. The Battle of Jericho was more competitive than this 66-3 game. That was the worst loss for the Cougars since UCLA celebrated the bicentenial by smoking them 62-3 in 1976. In their first 2 games, Cal has gone a long way toward convincing the public that their swoon to end the 2007 season was a big time fluke. Now they must travel cross country in a definite 'trap' game to face a Maryland squad beaten by Middle Tennessee State this past weekend. If the Bears keep their focus and walk out of College Park with a comfortable win, consider them Pac-10 title contenders.
5. The Miami Defense
While the offense once again did nothing against a competent team, the Miami defense held the mighty Florida Gators to a single touchdown through 3 quarters (in Gainesville no less) before wilting and allowing 17 points in the 4th quarter. Still, the Hurricanes held the explosive Gator attack to 345 yards and limited Tim Tebow to only 55 yards on 13 rushes. If the Miami defense is really this good, they are a legitimate contender in the offensively challenged ACC.
6. East Carolina
Of course, the big winner for the weekend is East Carolina. Holding a healthy Pat White-led offense to 251 yards and 3 points is certainly a remarkable feat, particularly for a Conference USA school. However, if the Pirates slip up at Tulane this weekend, all that hard work will go down the drain. A BCS bowl could await the Pirates and a new job likely awaits Skip Holtz at the conclusion of this season.
Football is a zero sum game, and for every good performance, there is a pathetic one to balance it out.
1. Oregon State Rush Defense
Last season the Beavers led the entire nation in rush defense, permitting only a little over 70 yards per game. This season, with the loss of their entire starting front 7, they have allowed 449 yards on the ground in 2 games. Ouch.
2. Notre Dame
The Irish were in serious trouble against San Diego State, down 13-7 before the Aztecs fumbled in the endzone on their way to a touchdown. The Irish rebounded to win, but struggling to put away a team that lost to Cal Poly should not inspire a lot of confidence for the Irish faithful.
3. Texas Tech Offense
The Red Raiders scored 35 points and Michael Crabtree had 158 yards receiving, but the offense did not have one of its better days. Quarterback Graham Harrell completed only 19 of 46 passes and threw for just a single score. In fact, Harrell's TD:Int ratio is only 1:1 and his completion percentage is 59.6%. Last season, Harrell threw 48 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions while completing 71.8% of his passes. Plus, the teams Texas Tech has played tus far, Eastern Washington and Nevada, are not exactly Big 12 squads.
4. The Big East
While the ACC had another embarrassing loss, (Maryland went down to Middle Tennessee State), thanks to West Virginia's defeat, the Big East has but 2 undefeated teams. South Florida, who won in OT against Central Florida (albeit in a game they dominated), and Connecticut, who also needed OT to dispatch Temple. The league's marquee team, West Virginia, still has a road game at Colorado and a home game against Auburn, so its possible the conference champion will have 3 or 4 losses. Congrats Big East on enjoying the worst week ever.