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The Top Ten Head Coaches Exceeding Expectations through Three Weeks

Hard as it may be to believe, the 2013 college football regular season will pass the quarter-mile marker this weekend. Before we hit that milestone, we took a look at the 10 most impressive head coaches through three weeks. This is a list of coaches playing at or above their preseason expectations. Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and David Shaw need not apply. We already know those guys are good. 

1. Hugh Freeze - Does anyone else have two road wins over BCS programs that should be bowl bound, like Freeze has in victories at Vanderbilt and Texas? His biggest accomplishment, though, is getting his team to play up to the sum of its highly-talented parts. The Rebels have two weeks to prepare their best shot for Alabama in Tuscaloosa on September 28.

2. Kliff Kingsbury - Three impressive performances, three wins and most importantly, three games where everyone wearing red and black has played with poise beyond their years. Kingsbury's work with walk-on true freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield grabs the headlines, but the Texas Tech staff has put in similar work throughout the entire roster. Most observers thought Kingsbury would have Texas Tech back in the top 25, but nobody anticipated it happening by Week 4 of Year 1. 

3. Dabo Swinney
4. Al Golden

For both ACC head coaches, the early part of September boiled down to how they fared in one game against an SEC pseudo-rival that each fan base sure would like to win. They both won, and looked like complete football teams in doing so.

5. Matt Wells - The best thing you can say about Utah State's play through three games is that it's like Gary Andersen never left. The Aggies gave a valiant effort in a coin flip 30-26 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City, then hit Air Force and Weber State with a cannon ball, winning both games by a combined score of 122-26. A win over USC on Saturday would get Wells and the entire Utah State program on the lips of every single college football observer in the country. That's a whopper of a golden opportunity for the folks in Logan. 

6. Mike MacIntyre - The Buffaloes have already bested their one-win total of 2012, and were denied a shot at matching their three wins from 2011 when the Fresno State game was postponed. More important than their wins over Colorado State and Central Arkansas were how they happened. Namely, that Colorado looked like a cohesive football team for the first time in a while.

7. Curtis Johnson - Wins over Jackson State and Louisiana Tech are givens at lots of places in college football, but not Tulane. The Green Wave have already matched their 2011 and 2012 win totals, and the Louisiana Tech win snapped Tulane's 11-game road losing streak.

8. Tim Beckman - Like MacIntyre and Johnson above him, Beckman has already matched the 2012 team's win total and looked competent while doing so. The 45-17 drubbing of Cincinnati was one of the best pound-for-pound efforts any team has put forth this season, and the Illini even looked improved in a 34-24 defeat to Washington on Saturday.

9. Steve Sarkisian - A strong contender to the Illinois blowout of Cincinnati for best overall win so far this season, Washington did what many have tried and failed to do to Boise State through the years. They didn't just beat the Broncos, they dicated the terms of the how the game would go in a 38-6 win in which Washington held a 7.0-3.9 yards per play advantage. Going on the road to post a 10-point win over Illinois has Washington ranked No. 17 in the latest AP poll. 

10. Tim DeRuyter - An overtime win over Rutgers and a nice performance against Cal Poly have DeRuyter parked at No. 10 for the moment, but a win against a certain blue clad team from Idaho on Friday night could have Fresno State's second-year head coach near the top of the list - and the Bulldogs on their way to the inaugural Mountain West championship game and maybe more.