Coming into this season, it was all about BYU and Utah. The two Mountain West darlings were the ones destined to finish the regular season playing for a BCS bid. Utah has certainly lived up to it so far, knocking off Michigan in the big house. As for BYU, well, they've struggled, but remain undefeated. So far, so good.
But it's time for them to move over. They've already been replaced as the best "mid-major" in the country.
America, meet the East Carolina Pirates.
To finish off last season, East Carolina made some noise by knocking off 24th ranked Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl.
To start of this season, the Pirates shocked the world by beating No. 17 Virginia Tech at it's own game: defense and special teams.
And now, they've done it again.
ECU went out this weekend and flat out dominated West Virginia. That's No. 8 West Virginia, quarterbacked by a leading Heisman trophy candidate and led by a youtube sensation in the backfield. That's reigning Fiesta Bowl champion West Virginia.
Don't forget, last year this ECU team with first round pick RB Chris Johnson lost by 41 points to the Mountaineers. A year later, ECU won by 21. How did it happen?
One word: defense. They say defense wins championships and offense gives us upsets. The truth is, however, that defense can keep you in any game against any opponent. If you have the size, speed, and talent on defense, there is absolutely no limit to how high you can go.
For three plus years, I've followed West Virginia fairly extensively; I'm a football guy and I've been intrigued and fascinated by the spread option. And in those three years, never, NEVER, have I seen the Mounties' offense so thoroughly dominated.
Pat White accounted for 170 yards. Total. He's had games where he passed AND ran for 170 yards each. The Pirate defense was in the backfield the whole game, and White was running for his life all day long.
The vaunted WVU offensive line was completely over-matched by the ECU defensive line. Holes were few and far between for White and Devine. White had little or no time to throw, and his WRs were rarely open. It was one of the most electrifying displays of defense I've seen in a long time.
Utah, Boise State, and Hawaii have all had one thing in common: a high flying offense that could supposedly keep up with anyone. We know it worked for Utah and BSU. Hawaii, not so much.
But no matter who ECU plays, they will ALWAYS be in the game. They're the first mid-major to have a true BCS quality defense; and one of the best in the country at that.
With a talented, veteran quarterback in Patrick Pinkney, ECU looks primed to crash the BCS. And whoever they play had better watch out.