College Football: The Five Most Suprising and Five Most Disappointing Teams

Jeffrey Fann@TalkinACCSportsAnalyst IOctober 5, 2008

The Five Most Surprising Teams

1) Vanderbilt Commodores (5-0, 3-0)

After years of being SEC's perennial punching bag, head coach Bobby Johnson has Vanderbilt in contention to win the SEC East.

Beating Auburn last night could be a watershed moment for the program, provided Johnson doesn't leave for a bigger name school. This wasn't a scheduling fluke either; Vandy has beaten South Carolina, won at Ole Miss, and beaten Auburn. Look for a 7-9-win season and their first bowl since 1982. 

2) Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0, 3-0)

Nick Saban decided that everyone's three to four year plan to return Alabama football to prominence was too long. So, he did it in two.

They are the nation's most physical team, just ask the Clemson Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs—two preseason top 10 teams who wilted under the Tide's massive lines. Also, John Parker Wilson is doing an efficient job at quarterback.

3) Penn State Nittany Lions (6-0, 2-0)

No team has stayed within two touchdowns of Penn State this year. This includes Oregon State, who beat the USC Trojans, and explosive Big 10 rival Illinois. Penn State was expected to be good, but not dominant.

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If they can get by a reeling Wisconsin team next week, only a game at Ohio State on October 25 may stand in the way of finishing undefeated.

4) Northwestern Wildcats (5-0, 1-0)

The beauty of college football is that when nearly at the midpoint of the season, schools like Northwestern and Vanderbilt are a combined 10-0. The Wildcats could be 9-0 before playing Ohio State, on Nov. 8. Don't think so? Next four are Michigan State and Purdue at home, and Indiana and Minnesota on the road. Those are all winnable games.  

5) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-1, 2-1)

Paul Johnson's critics said his triple option offense wouldn't work in the ACC, and many media types had the Jackets winning only three, four, or five games this year.

Johnson is proving them all wrong. With the ACC's best defensive line, as the anchor, and the offense rapidly improving, the Jackets will only get better as the season progresses.

The Five Most Disappointing Teams

1) Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, 0-2)

Predicted by many to at least be a contender in the SEC East, if not one of the favorites, the Vols are the Division's worst team.

Phillip Fulmer looks lost. His seat isn't hot, it's on fire.

Vol fans have just about had it with an inept offense. The SEC is already unforgiving and when in-state rival, Vanderbilt, surpasses you, well, these are tough times in Knoxville.

2) West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2, 1-0)

West Virginia was supposed to march through their schedule and be 6-0 when the Auburn Tigers came calling on October 23. It didn't work out that way.

They had two losses in their first three games.

Additionally, the nation's most dynamic player, Pat White, looks confused without backfield mates Owen Schmitt, and Steve Slaton. Bill Stewart is not off to a good start, either. However, the Big East is still there for the taking, so the season is not all lost... yet.

3) Clemson Tigers (3-2, 1-1)

C.J. Spiller, James Davis, and Cullen Harper were all returning, coming off a nine-win season. There was skill, talent, and a ready ACC. This was Clemson's year to win the ACC.

So far, the results have been far below expectations. First, there was an opening game where Alabama manhandled the Tigers, then the coaching debacle against Maryland. Now, the Tigers are close to wasting a golden opportunity for winning the ACC. Bowden is facing a major nightmare if the season doesn't turn around, and fast.

4) Auburn Tigers (4-2, 2-2)

Tommy Tuberville has to be wondering if he made a mistake overhauling his offensive scheme to employ the spread offense. It just hasn't caught on yet, and the Tigers are having a lot of trouble scoring and moving the ball. They looked like they were in total control after a quarter and a-half against Vanderbilt. Then, they couldn't score.

If there is something you don't want to be, it is the second best team in the state of Alabama.  

5) Arizona State Sun Devils (2-3, 1-1)

They were supposed to be the Georgia Bulldogs' toughest early-season test. Instead, they lost to UNLV, weren't competitive against the Dawgs, and simply went through the motions against California in another loss.

Next up is an angry USC squad. A 2-6 start is not out of the question, because after USC is Oregon, and after that a road game with Oregon State.