Who are the biggest surprises in the nation in college football this season? Did anyone have Western Michigan going unbeaten? No. The Broncos could very well wind up in one of this season’s New Year’s Six Bowls only one season removed from winning the first bowl in school history. They certainly have been a pleasant surprise.
How about the Auburn Tigers who many had left for dead early in the season? Had they not beaten LSU early in the season, Gus Mahlzahn could easily have been Les Miles, the first SEC head coach fired this year. Now Auburn is in the Top Ten and beating everyone this year. Suddenly, the Iron Bowl looks like it will be a good game. Auburn is ranked #9 and has a great shot at getting into the College Football Playoffs. Nobody saw this coming after they started 1-2.
There is also Washington. Who thought the Huskies would be unbeaten and in one of the four College Football Playoff spots this late in the season? UDub was thought to be pretty good in the preseason, but Stanford and Oregon were supposed to be the best teams in the PAC 12 North. The Huskies thumped them both. They have a big game with USC this weekend and then a really big one the last weekend if the regular season when they face another surprise team, Washington State.
How huge will the Apple Cup be if they can both win out until that meeting? Before last season, Wazzu was only famous for having that one crazed fan who would travel to every College Game Day and wave the school’s flag where the TV camera’s could pick it up in the background. Wouldn’t it be something if Gameday actually came to Washington State? It could happen. Washington State is 7-2 after starting the season 0-2.
Nebraska got smoked at Columbus last weekend by the Buckeyes and have lost their last two games. But they are still 7-2 after going only 6-7 last season. Not too many expected the Huskers to do much better under second year coach Mike Riley, but they have a shot at a 10-win season.
Colorado hasn’t has a winning record since 2005. But the Buffs are currently 7-2 and are ranked in the Top 15. They also lead the PAC 12 South and if they win out would likely get a shot at Washington in the PAC 12 Championship Game with opportunity to play a huge role in who gets to the Playoffs.
So while we tend to focus a lot on teams who were supposed to be good, but are having bad seasons, there are a lot of teams who are having a great year who were not expected to. Remember these teams when they are handing out bowl invites, because they will be fired up about going bowling this year.