8 College Football Teams That Are Overachieving After Week 4

Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

8 College Football Teams That Are Overachieving After Week 4

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    Wyoming is one of a handful of teams that have had a surprising start to the 2013 season. But will it continue?
    Wyoming is one of a handful of teams that have had a surprising start to the 2013 season. But will it continue?USA TODAY Sports

    After four weeks of play we're still left with 29 undefeated teams in college football, nearly 25 percent of the entire FBS roster. Many of those were expected, either because those teams are damn good or played damn weak competition.

    Or both, in the case of Baylor and its oh-so-challenging slate of Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe.

    And while the AP Top 25 is chocked full of teams we figured would be in there, lurking outside the ranks of the ranked are a handful of squads that—at least to this point—are doing far better than was projected.

Central Florida

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    Central Florida went into Happy Valley and came out with an upset win over Penn State.
    Central Florida went into Happy Valley and came out with an upset win over Penn State.Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

    Central Florida (3-0) was one of the biggest winners in the most recent conference realignment uprising, as the Knights helped fill a void from the Big East mass exodus to jump from Conference USA into a spot in what for now is still a BCS league, the American Athletic Conference.

    But no one really expected much from UCF this season. Until it pulled off a 34-31 upset at Penn State two weeks ago.

    Now the Knights are getting noticed, and just in time for maybe the biggest game ever played in their cozy Bright House Networks Stadium: Saturday vs. No. 12 South Carolina.

    Win that one and UCF might finally be known as more than just the school that hired George O'Leary after Notre Dame decided his resume smelled fishy.

Kansas

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    Charlie Weis has already doubled his 2012 win total at Kansas. Any further victories would just be gravy.
    Charlie Weis has already doubled his 2012 win total at Kansas. Any further victories would just be gravy.John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Kansas (2-1) hasn't done anything spectacular this season, beating an FCS team and a trending downward Louisiana Tech program, those victories sandwiched between a loss at Rice.

    But the fact the Jayhawks have already doubled their 2012 win total (and actually beat an FBS opponent for the first time since September 2011) is cause for celebration in Lawrence.

    Sadly, though, Kansas might not have another winnable game on its schedule, save for maybe in its final two contests at Iowa State or home against in-state rival Kansas State. Either way, the Jayhawks have already exceeded most people's expectations for 2013.

Mississippi

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    Ole Miss ran over Texas two weeks ago. Could the Rebels run past Alabama?
    Ole Miss ran over Texas two weeks ago. Could the Rebels run past Alabama?Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

    Last year's 7-6 record was about the best Ole Miss fans could hope for in most years. But not this year.

    Not after the Rebels have raced—literally—out to a 3-0 start that included a thrilling season-opening win at Vanderbilt, then a decisive romping of Texas on the road two weeks later.

    Ole Miss has the misfortune of playing in the SEC's West Division, meaning even when it's looking good it could still finish sixth out of seven schools. But the way the Rebels have looked so far, many people are thinking they could be this year's Texas A&M and somehow steal a win at Alabama.

    And what do you know, who do those Rebels face this weekend? Yup, top-ranked 'Bama. And in Tuscaloosa, no less.

South Alabama

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    South Alabama has a chance to make a bowl game in its first year of FBS eligibility.
    South Alabama has a chance to make a bowl game in its first year of FBS eligibility.Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Football has only existed at South Alabama since 2009, but the quick transition to FBS has the Jaguars now playing a big-boy schedule that makes them eligible for the postseason.

    And though things didn't get off to a great start this year with a home loss to FCS Southern Utah, USA has rebounded to record its first-ever road win over a full FBS member (Tulane) followed by its first victory in Sun Belt action when it downed Western Kentucky last week.

    The Sun Belt is weak and wide open, which means the Jaguars (2-1) could find themselves in the running for a conference title (or at least a bowl berth) in its first year of eligibility.

Tulane

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    Tulane gets noticed because its quarterback is Joe Montana's son. The Green Wave would like to be known for quality play, instead.
    Tulane gets noticed because its quarterback is Joe Montana's son. The Green Wave would like to be known for quality play, instead.Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

    When you're at the bottom of the heap, as Tulane (2-2) has been for all but one or two seasons in the past 25 years, you need to do something to make a splash.

    Getting the son of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to play for you might just be the thing.

    With Nick Montana—son of Joe Montana—running the offense, Tulane has already matched its win total for each of the previous two seasons. Though it lost at home to transitional FBS member South Alabama and was blown out at Syracuse last weekend, Tulane has looked better than it has in years.

    And with Conference USA in a state of flux with so many new members, the Green Wave look like they could contend this year.

UTSA

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    UTSA has a coach with clout and a willingness to take on anyone. And not just for the paycheck.
    UTSA has a coach with clout and a willingness to take on anyone. And not just for the paycheck.Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp

    UTSA (2-2) isn't taking the easy route to success, and that approach is already paying off dividends.

    Though the Roadrunners' losses this season have been by 21 to Oklahoma State and 25 to Arizona, they've earned the respect of both teams' coaches, not to mention those at the helm of the teams they've beaten (New Mexico and UTEP).

    UTSA is not eligible for a bowl or for the Conference USA title as a transitioning FBS member, but the Roadrunners have certainly shown the ability to contend with postseason-eligible teams. And as they continue on in future years, the tough nonconference scheduling will continue, with scheduled series with Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas A&M.

     

Washington State

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    Washington State already has a win over USC under its belt. On the road.
    Washington State already has a win over USC under its belt. On the road.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    The Mike Leach-to-Pullman hire was one of the oddest storylines of the annual coaching carousel in between the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Some thought the eclectic coach was the perfect fit for Washington State, others figured it would never work.

    The Cougars struggled mightily in the first year under Leach, but this fall they're 3-1 and already have a program-defining upset win at USC under their belts. It doesn't matter if USC is a train wreck waiting to derail, Wazzu appears headed upward.

Wyoming

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    Wyoming so far has shown it's more than just a bunch of guys in digital yellow-and-brown camouflage uniforms.
    Wyoming so far has shown it's more than just a bunch of guys in digital yellow-and-brown camouflage uniforms.USA TODAY Sports

    Piloted by the country's most explosive dual-threat quarterback that no one's never heard of, Wyoming (3-1) is off to its best start since the high-flying Cowboys teams of the 1980s.

    Brett Smith is already the most prolific passer in school history in his junior season, and he's doing it both with his arm and his legs, averaging almost 329 yards passing and 75 yards rushing per game. He's led an offense that's been almost unstoppable in blowout wins the past three weeks, and in the season opener, he almost led the Cowboys to an upset win at Nebraska.

    Wyoming still has a crucial three-game stretch later this season when it visits San Jose State, hosts Fresno State and visits Boise State over a four-week span. For now, though, the brown and yellow are riding high in Laramie.