Many teams have had a reversal of fortune for the better after suspect or pitiful starts. I'm sure there are additional ones I haven't listed, and I'd love to hear your examples. Here are the ones that jumped out at me, listed alphabetically.
Florida State (4-1)
Though Bowden doesn't have his program humming in the manner his all-time victories competitor Joe Paterno does, the 'Noles are showing signs of life after coming up short against Wake Forest. They've since walloped Colorado and then held off Miami.
Georgia Tech (4-1)
Option wizard Paul Johnson took the reins from Chan Gailey, and it was naturally expected the Yellow Jackets would be in for a rebuilding season, especially featuring just nine returning starters (one of the lowest figures in the NCAA). After splitting two close ones against Boston College and Virginia Tech, Tech steamrolled Mississippi State (after Auburn had only beaten the Bulldogs by a point) and then overwhelmed a decent Duke squad this Saturday. Johnson's now 4-1.
Following back-to-back defeats to Ball State (unbeaten) and Duke, the Midshipmen are transitioning to their new coach quite well. They've reeled off three straight wins, including over Wake Forest and Air Force and again appear headed to another bowl and Commander-in-Chief trophy.
North Carolina (4-1)
After stumbling just short against Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels turned away Miami and blasted previously unbeaten Connecticut. Butch Davis, in just his second season, has this program on the path to big things after already matching last year's win total.
Ohio State (5-1)
The Buckeyes are expected to beat virtually everyone in the first place, especially with the loaded squad Tressel brought into 2008. But they struggled big-time after losing Beanie Wells (now returned). A change of quarterback and Wells’ return has brought about new life, with true freshman Pryor leading the clutch road win over Wisconsin. This followed an impressive triumph over previously unbeaten Minnesota. This is the Buckeyes we were expecting to see.
After losing to, of all teams, Bowling Green and feeling the heat of Venus, Dave Wannstedt has the Panthers quietly on a four-game winning streak and has silenced the shouters for now. Their most recent victory comes at the expense of previously unbeaten and 10th-rated South Florida.
South Carolina (4-2)
Despite starting just 1-2, Steve Spurrier now has the Gamecocks on a three-game roll, including overcoming Ole Miss (which had just beaten Florida in The Swamp) on the road. Maybe the quarterback play and offense are finally starting to suit the "ol' ball coach."
Maybe I'm overly rewarding the Miners for their severe early-season ineptitude, where it started 0-3 with a last loss to lowly New Mexico State. Regardless, Mike Price is a good coach who has now led the program to a rout of Central Florida and success on the road against Southern Miss.