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College Football Teams That Have Surprised Us in the First Half of the Season

Alex CallosCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2012

College Football Teams That Have Surprised Us in the First Half of the Season

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    We are almost to the midway point of the college football season, and there have certainly been some serious surprises along the college football landscape.

    Some teams have taken a turn for the worst, while others have emerged as serious national title contenders.

    Teams like Michigan, LSU, Michigan State, USC, Wisconsin, Georgia and others have been slight disappointments so far this season.

    For every disappointment, there is a team that has been a huge surprise.

    Here are some of the college football teams who have surprised us in the first half of the season.

Florida

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    Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far has been the Florida Gators.

    They started the season near the bottom of the national rankings, but have quickly climbed to the top five in the country.

    A huge win last weekend over LSU vaulted Florida up in the rankings and now has the Gators in national title conversation.

    So far, Florida has been doing it with defense. The group is sixth in the country in points against, allowing only 11.4 points a game.

    The emergence of senior running back Mike Gillislee and the continued development of quarterback Jeff Driskel will be big factor for Florida down the stretch.

Ohio

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    The state of Ohio is having an excellent football season so far, with three teams still undefeated.

    One of those is the Ohio Bobcats. After starting the season with a victory over Penn State, the Bobcats have vaulted onto the national scene and are now on the brink of entering the Top 25.

    They are undefeated at 6-0, and there is a chance they could run the table and finish the season 12-0. 

    The key has been quarterback Tyler Tettleton. He has already thrown for 1,193 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception.

    He is not only one of the best quarterbacks in the MAC, but one of the top in the entire country.

Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame is back on the national scene, and for a change, the Fighting Irish are doing it with defense.

    The team ranks second in the country, allowing only 7.8 points a game.

    On offense, there are still some question marks, but Notre Dame has a chance to not only qualify for a BCS game, but also contend for a national championship.

    The Fighting Irish have climbed steadily in the rankings, but have yet to play a top-tier team, and they will this week when Stanford comes calling.

    Either way, Notre Dame is a serious contender and will be for a while.

Kansas State

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    Kansas State is another team that has emerged as a national title contender, and after beginning the season No. 22 in the country, the Wildcats have jumped up to No. 6 in the rankings.

    Led by quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats are 11th in the country in total points and 16th in points allowed.

    Klein has quickly developed into a sleeper for the Heisman trophy and is as important to his team as any single player in the country.

    A showdown with West Virginia next weekend looms large, as it could have Big 12 title hopes on the line.

Oregon State

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    Most people considered Oregon State a pushover heading into the season with head coach Mike Riley on the hot seat.

    The Beavers began with a 10-7 win over Wisconsin and have not looked back.

    The defense has been steady all season long, ranking 24th in the country, allowing only 17 points a game.

    Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion has been solid for three of the four games, and a team that began the season nowhere near the rankings has now climbed into the Top 10.

Ohio State

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    Most people figured Ohio State would be good with Urban Meyer in charge, but not many figured it would come so quickly.

    The Buckeyes are off to a 6-0 start, ranked No. 8 in the country and could be headed for an undefeated season.

    There are still some questions at the skill positions, but it will only be a matter of time before Ohio State is playing for national championships once again.

    With the exception of Geno Smith, nobody has had a better season than Braxton Miller, and while he will not likely win a Heisman Trophy this season, he will be one of the front runners in 2013.

Rutgers

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    For most teams, a new head coach means a transition period, but Rutgers has not missed a beat since Greg Schiano left for Tampa Bay.

    Rutgers is 5-0 and ranked No. 20 in the country. The Scarlet Knights do it with a combination of running and defense.

    As a group, the defense ranks fifth in the country, only allowing 10.8 points a game.

    Running back Jawan Jamison is one of the best in the Big East and has already rushed for 601 yards.

    With four relatively easy games over the next four weeks, Rutgers could be undefeated and ranked in the Top 15 heading into a showdown on Nov. 17 at Cincinnati.

South Carolina

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    South Carolina has not been as big of a surprise because a lot of people had it as a serious national title contender, but most would be surprised to see it No. 3 in the rankings.

    The Gamecocks appear to be the class of the SEC East and could find themselves in the SEC Championship against Alabama less than two months from now.

    For South Carolina, like a lot of teams on this list, it is all about defense, and the group ranks No. 4 in the country, allowing only 10.5 points a game.

    They have a showdown on Saturday in Baton Rouge against LSU in what should be a good barometer as to how far it has come.

Louisiana Tech

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    There is no question that this season, the BCS buster to take notice of is Louisiana Tech.

    Not much is known about this school from the WAC, but the Bulldogs are 5-0 with victories over Illinois and Virginia, both coming on the road.

    This week, the Bulldogs have a huge matchup against No. 22 Texas A&M.

    Louisiana Tech struggles a little bit on defense, but offensively, there are no problems for this bunch. The Bulldogs rank 14th in the country, averaging 232.2 yards a game and third in total points at 53.2 a game.

Cincinnati

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    Cincinnati is one of three Big East teams still undefeated and just jumped into the rankings at No. 21 this week.

    The Bearcats are headed for a showdown at No. 18 Louisville on Oct. 26 in what could determine the winner of the Big East.

    For Cincinnati, it is all about defense, as the group ranks No. 13 in the country allowing only 13.8 points a game.

    Quarterback Munchie Legaux has been inconsistent for most of the season, but has come through when Cincinnati has needed him most.

    He continues to improve as does an offense that averages 34 points a game.

     

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