One of the most important things to keep track of in college football is which teams are on the rise and which teams are sinking into the abyss. After 4 weeks at the quarter mark of the regular season it's time to unveil our first DGT™ Report.
Doing Good Things™
East Carolina (3-1)
The Pirates won 10 games last year and are well on their way to achieving that goal again. They've played 3 straight games against Power 5 conference teams and have defeated Virginia Tech and North Carolina over the last 2 weeks. Even their loss at South Carolina was competitive. On Saturday, ECU unleashed an unholy offensive output against the Tar Heels: 39 first downs, 789 total yards, 8.1 yards per play, and 70 points.
The Blue Devils haven't played anybody yet (just one Power 5 opponent which was Kansas and that doesn't count) but they're DGT because they have TCOB against weak competition. Their offense with quarterback Anthony Boone looks potent again while averaging 43.5 points per game, plus the team is +128 in point differential. This is Duke's first 4-0 start since 1992 which isn't nothing.
Penn State (4-0)
The Nittany Lions just sneak in on our list mostly because someone in the Big Ten has to fill some of the top bowl slots and they're now eligible again! The team looks like Christian Hackenberg (1,261 yards) and little else which is scary. They're averaging just 3.3 yards per carry with just one Power 5 opponent played so far. If they win in Ann Arbor in a couple weeks a 10-2 season is possible.
The Herd went a disappointing 10-4 last year which points out how high expectations are right now for their program. Their schedule is paper thin though and I'm not sure they'll face a single Top 50 opponent all season. Still, they've dominated 3 MAC teams this far and probably have the best odds in the country to finish the season undefeated.
Looks like I was way off to think Kyle Whittingham would be on the hot seat in 2014. The Utes totaled 105 points in their first two games and are now coming off a win on the road against Michigan.
Utah still has to make some noise in the Pac-12 (9-18 since joining the league) to stay on the DGT list. This is a good start.
Could BYU go unbeaten and get into the playoffs? Probably not, yet they've put together an impressive resume so far with wins over UConn, Texas, Houston, and Virginia. They're also +75 in point differential too. A few challenging games remain on the schedule (UCF, Boise State, California) to prove their worth. The Cougars are now sitting at No. 20 in the AP Poll.
I originally had California in this place but then late Saturday night this happened:
This was a historical collapse for Cal. They led 31-13 in the fourth quarter, scored two more touchdowns in the last quarter, and still lost. Arizona piled on 36 points in the 4th quarter and won on a Hail Mary. Just brutal. Anyway, Arizona is now unbeaten after this 627 yard performance.
Ole Miss (3-0)
The Rebels were off this past weekend but have looked quite strong so far in 2014. Bo Wallace is averaging almost 350 passing yards per game and the Ole Miss defense has been a handful to boot. They are tied with Notre Dame for 3rd place nationally in scoring defense. Their schedule gets very real very soon with 5 current ranked teams left to play.
Mississippi State (4-0)
We're used to Miss State quietly winning their first handful of games only to go 2-6 in league play. They were on pace for the usual (games against Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama) until they went into Death Valley and won a huge game. They did almost lose a 34-10 lead, though. In what should be a tight SEC West race this might end up being a very important victory.
Not Doing Good Things
A full game over .500 and Charlie Weis makes this list? Um, yeah. Kansas nearly blew their first game against SE Missouri State, were destroyed 41-3 by Duke, and scraped by Central Michigan this past weekend. Oh, and there's this:
Of all of the RTs and favorites we have gotten, the official ku football account favoriting a fire Weis tweet is my favorite.— RockChalkTalk (@RockChalkTalk) September 20, 2014
There was some thought that Northwestern could be a darkhorse contender in the Big Ten this year and through 4 weeks you'd think with the way the league has performed it would still be a reality for the Wildcats. However, when you lose your first two games to California and Northern Illinois it's probably not happening.
Kent State (0-3)
The Flashes might be the bottom of the barrel this year in FBS ball. Win-less through 3 games, only 27 points scored, a loss to South Alabama, plus a 66-0 drubbing at the hands of Ohio State.
North Carolina (2-1)
We mentioned above what happened to UNC this past weekend and now they look like perhaps the worst 2-1 team in the country. They were losing in the 3rd quarter to Liberty, trailed by 10 in the fourth to San Diego State, and just gave up a school record for points and yards to East Carolina. Among Power 5 teams the Tar Heels are now last in scoring defense, 3rd to last in rush defense, and last in passing defense.
Fresno State (1-3)
This time last year head coach Tim DeRuyter was one of the hottest names in the country. Prior to this season he was 20-6 at Fresno State. Now, the program looks inept. They did blowout Southern Utah this weekend but gave up 50+ in losses to USC, Utah, and Nebraska. Only UNLV and Bowling Green have given up more yards this season.
I figured the Commodores would give South Carolina a good fight this past weekend and they did just that by jumping out to a 14-0 lead. Good job, good effort. Unfortunately, the Derek Mason era has started with a blowout loss to Temple and Ole Miss plus a 22-yard missed field goal by UMass that would have tied the game with 2 seconds left, only for Vanderbilt to escape.
The end is near.