The grueling months without college football are filled with endless speculation, hot takes, and experts weighing in on the favorites for the national title
Then the season starts, and storylines emerge that no one could have seen coming. That’s one of the best parts about college football.
Here, we visit those storylines as a gentle reminder of the fun that college football bestows upon us every year.
1. We’ve got one week left with a full slate of games, and we’ve already seen 14 FBS head coaching openings.
Last off season, there were only 15 all year. Keep track of all the movement here.
2. Health issues force coaches to step down
3. The profession loses a couple of legends mid-season
4. Iowa is one of only two undefeated teams left at the FBS level
Iowa and Clemson are the only two undefeated teams in the country right now. Let that soak in because the he Hawkeyes have a real chance of surprising everyone by winning the national title.
5. The best defensive coordinator hire wasn’t Texas A&M snagging John Chavis or Auburn landing Will Muschamp, it was at UNC when Larry Fedora hired Gene Chizik.
Leading up to the season, Auburn and Texas A&M both hired defensive coordinators that many believed would make them national title contenders, but looking back on it, they didn’t even make the best hire of the off season cycle. That honor is bestowed on Gene Chizik.
Before Chizik arrived, UNC was allowing 39 points per game and ranked 119th out of 128 teams. This year the Tar Heels are giving up almost half that (19.5 points per game) and are ranked 21st. That’s a big reason the Tar Heels are 10-1 and in the drivers seat of the Coastal Division. And oh yeah, that one loss came the first week of the year against South Carolina, so they’ve rattled off 10 straight W’s.
6. Michigan State is 2-0 in games that it leads for 0 seconds.
How is that even possible? Well, you’ve got the crazy ending in The Big House and the Spartans kicked a field goal with no time left to beat Ohio State this past weekend.
7. UCF is winless through 11 games
The 2013 season was a historic one for UCF, as the Knights went 12-1. Last year, they went 9-4 and, somehow, through 11 games this year, UCF has dropped every single game. That includes some rather bad losses to FIU, Furman, and Tulane.
Surely, everyone would have predicted one win in there, right?
8. The gap at Boston College: BC has the nation’s best defense (#1 in total yards allowed) and rank second to last in offensive yards.
Boston College has had a rough year. They’re winless in the ACC, and have lost four games by three points or less (including a 3-0 decision to Wake Forest). Their defense has been lights out at times, but their offense isn’t doing them any favors.
9. Clemson had to replace one of the top paid coordinators in the country (Chad Morris) and the program hasn’t missed a beat.
After Chad Morris decided to take the SMU job, many expected Clemson’s offense to drop off a bit, bit co-coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott have the offense clicking on all cylinders.
10. Notre Dame started the season a national title contender, but then they lost their starting quarterback…and they might be better because of it.
During the off season, Notre Dame hired Boise State quarterbacks Mike Sanford Jr. to oversee their signal callers, and has proven to be a very important hire. After the Irish lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire in early September, Deshone Kizer has stepped in and lead the team to wins in nine of their next ten games, with the only loss being a two-point defeat at the hands of Clemson.
11. Todd Monken has the Southern Miss program back from the dead.
Just a few short years ago, Southern Miss made the decision to part ways with Ellis Johnson after going 0-12 in his one season leading the program. They brought in Todd Monken in December of 2012 and have seen steady improvement from 1 win in 2013, to three wins in 2014, and this season Monken has eight wins to his name.
The schedule was soft, wins came against Austin Peay, Texas State (a six point win), North Texas (who has since parted ways with their head coach), UTSA, Charlotte (a full-time first-year member of the FBS), UTEP, Rice, and Old Dominion); but you can only beat those teams on your schedule.
12. Boise State isn’t the same old Boise State
Boise may have started the season off with a bang, beating Chris Petersen’s new team (Washington) but for the first time in quite some time, you won’t find Boise State at the top of the Mountain West standings. To make matters worse, the Broncos have dropped two-straight home games (New Mexico and Air Force). In the past 14 seasons, Boise State lost a total of THREE home games.
13. Jim McElwain has led an impressive revival of the Florida program.
Heading into this past weekend, if you asked around who had orchestrated the most impressive turnaround of a program, Florida first-year head coach Jim McElwain would have been mentioned a healthy amount.
The Gators squeaked by FAU in OT this weekend, and their only loss has been to an LSU squad that was red hot at the time. Mac took over a struggling 7-5 team and has the program sitting at 10-1 going into the season finale against Florida State. They lost quarterback Will Grier a few weeks ago controversially, and they could be scary good if he was still leading the team.
14. Alabama didn’t just beat LSU, they broke their will
As Scott said in a recent article, “One month ago, LSU and Les Miles were on top of the college football world”, but after the Tigers lost to Alabama rather handily, the only things that you seem to hear about LSU and Les Miles now are in regards to his job security in Baton Rouge.
In the weeks that have followed, Les and the Tigers struggled mightily in losses to both Arkansas and Ole Miss, and they wrap up their season facing former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, now at Texas A&M, in what will amount to an emotional season finale.
15. Washington State lost to an FCS team to start the year, and then caught fire
Everyone let out an audible sigh thinking it was going to be a long year for Mike Leach and Washington State after their season opening loss to FCS Portland State. But in the ten games that have followed, Washington State has won eight of them and Leach has the team positioned at 8-3 with all three of their losses coming by single digits.
16. As some programs rise, others fall back to Earth
Duke has been one of the feel-good stories of college football the past few years, but the Blue Devils are sitting at 6-5 right now, and just lost last weekend to Virginia.
Georgia Tech finished last season at 11-3, and they’re a dismal 3-8 this season. They just got blasted by Miami on Saturday 38-21.
17. The amount of big names that college football lost to injury this year is disturbing
No doubt, injuries are part of our great game, but college football lost a ton of brand name talent this season. Guys that immediately come to mind are Nick Chubb (Georgia), Baker Mayfield (OU), Seth Russel and Jarrett Stidham (Baylor), Malik Zaire and C.J. Prosise (Notre Dame), Connor Cook (Michigan State), Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson (TCU), Everett Golson (Florida State), Cameron Smith and Lamar Dawson (USC), and Vernon Adams (Oregon).