Skip Holtz and the East Carolina Pirates
Holtz's Pirates completely shut down West Virginia's supposedly powerful offense en route to a 24-3 victory. Looking at their schedule, this is a team that could very well go undefeated and cause some BCS confusion. They're not there yet: they still have out-of-conference matchups at NC State and at Virginia, as well as tough conference games at Central Florida and at Southern Miss. However, the Pirates look much better than those teams right now, and the rest of the schedule should be a cake walk. Look out.
Bobby Johnson and the Vanderbilt Commodores
Let me make this clear: I think that Vanderbilt's victory over South Carolina had as much to do with mental lapses and bad luck on the part of Carolina as it did with great play by Vanderbilt. However, you have to give Vandy credit for taking advantage, and at any rate I think it would be hard to underestimate how far Vandy has come over the past few years. Looking at their remaining schedule, they have winnable games against Rice, Ole Miss, MSU, Duke, and Kentucky, and they're certainly good enough to pull off an upset over the better teams they play. That means they have a good shot at bowl eligibility, and even seven or eight wins isn't out of the question. That says a lot about Bobby Johnson, who is succeeding at what is perhaps the toughest job in college football. If Vanderbilt does have a good season, expect Johnson to get some attention from the coaching carousel.
The Florida Gators
Yeah, they were in a close game against an unranked team that was playing over its head. Sure, the offense doesn't seem as flashy as it was last year. Sure, Tim Tebow still has some mechanical and accuracy issues when throwing the ball. Despite all these things, I was very impressed by this team last night. Their defense looked really good and, although the numbers might not be what they were last year, the offense made big plays down the stretch and broke the game open.
Other than Southern Cal, this is probably the most talented teams in the country. Last year, a soft defense and an at times undisciplined offense that didn't always make the plays it needed to inhibited that talent and cost them a few wins. It's still early, but this year's team seems much different. They could end up being a team that's much like the 2006 championship squad, only this time with a better offense that's led by a Heisman Trophy winner. That's a scary thought for opposing teams, and that's why I would rank them the best team in the country if it was up to me.
Bobby Petrino and the Arkansas Razorbacks
Like the rest of the world, I don't like Petrino, so I got kind of giddy when I saw that ULM was up by a couple of touchdowns late in the game. Arkansas managed to pull out the victory, but they got lucky, as ULM missed a makeable field goal as time expired. This marks the second straight week that the Razorbacks have nearly avoided a humiliating upset against an inferior opponent. It's only going to get worse from here, as Arkansas has a hell of a schedule for the next four weeks: Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Auburn. At this point, I doubt they get within 21 points of any of these teams.
Seriously, it seems like every weekend you hear about a controversial, game-changing call coming from the officials of this conference. They need to seriously get their act together.
The West Virginia Mountaineers
East Carolina is a good, talented team, so I'm not surprised that they beat WVU. But the way they did it is astonishing: they held the Mountaineers to just three points. This is a team loaded with offensive weapons, and yet they only gained around 250 yards for the game. Not a good start for Bill Stewart and crew.