Posted: 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
By Eric Murtaugh
We are a third of the way through the college football regular season which means we have enough data to unveil a new series on our website. Welcome to the Doing Good ThingsTM Report, Volume 1. We'll come back with another volume after 8 games and then wrap things up once the season is complete.
What does it mean for a coach or program to be Doing Good ThingsTM? Here's a loose definition: Any school that is playing above expectations, or are currently meeting increased pre-season hype, or appear to be much stronger from top to bottom than we believed. Our focus isn't on the current powers that were supposed to be good (Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, etc.) bur rather the teams a little lower in the rankings, typically not an elite school, or are currently rebuilding toward something special.
There are also teams who are:
Being Eyed Optimistically: Programs that we typically should ‘know better' and not get so excited about but we're currently thinking about buying some stock in.
Being Eyed Skeptically: Programs that haven't imploded yet---and may still have a good record---but we're still not buying stock in.
Not Doing Good Things: Currently a tire fire, or damn close.
Where would Notre Dame fit into these categories? Most likely being eyed skeptically by many. Let's see what other teams across the country are doing.
Doing Good Things:
The Terps are back! For now. It's always nice to match last season's win total in the first month, right? Beware though, Maryland probably hasn't played a top 100 team yet but to their credit they've looked pretty good scoring almost 40 points per game while surrendering just over 10 per contest. This team could be 7-2 when they visit Virginia Tech in mid-November.
Don't look now but Baylor is playing defense this season. They've allowed just 23 points in 3 games and finally the fundamentals are taking root. Their offense is absolutely absurd so far in 2013 too. They already have 2,254 yards of total offense and are averaging 9.8 yards per play. The Bears are coming off a win over a decent Louisiana-Monroe team in which they scored 35 points in the first quarter, and 70 points through 3 quarters before taking their foot off the gas. That's incredible production.
The Huskies will open league play this weekend but so far the signs are pointing up in 2013. They dominated Boise State to open the season and have looked crazy explosive on offense in every game so far. Bishop Sankey is running the ball real well, and more importantly, quarterback Keith Price (879 yards, 77%, 7 TD) is looking like the darkhorse Heisman candidate many thought he'd be last year.
Ole Miss (3-0)
It's been a very solid start to 2013 for Hugh Freeze & Co. with road victories over Vanderbilt and Texas already on their resume. Life doesn't get any easier over the next month though as they face 3 teams from the top 10. The Rebels are DGT right now but could be 4-3 soon.
The vibes are crazy positive right now in Coral Gables. Even though they're still living off that victory over Florida and the offense didn't really play very well in that game they still passed a huge early season test. The Hurricanes should stay on this list all season long with only one currently ranked opponent (Florida State) left on the schedule.
Their comeback in Lincoln was super impressive, and they've dominated two weaker opponents so far. Jim Mora most definitely isn't messing around right now. The Bruins did lose 5 games last year and their win at Nebraska should go a long way to improving their record in Mora's second season.
Central Florida (3-0)
The Fighting George O'Leary's are coming off a bye but the last time we saw them they were taking a win out of Happy Valley. They also started the season outscoring Akron and FIU 56-7. Not too bad, right? Next up a huge game at South Carolina---is there an upset in the works?
Texas Tech (4-0)
The Kingsbury era is off to a great start with a road win at SMU and a home victory over TCU on the resume. Best of all, the Red Raiders look like they are fairly interested in playing defense (13.3 points per game allowed) which will go real nice with their emerging spread offense attack.
Fresno State (3-0)
This team might go 12-0 pretty easily. They've already faced their toughest competition (Rutgers & Boise State) and won each of those games by a single point. Now, road games at Wyoming and San Jose State are their likely toughest games left on the season. Giving up almost 40 points per game on defense might end up costing them at some point.
Being Eyed Optimistically:
Florida State (3-0)
They'll lose a game at some point along the way, right? Well maybe, but before the season I said if Jameis Winston was the real deal the Seminoles were going to really good in 2013. I guess going 50 for 68 with 718 yards, 8 touchdowns, and just 1 interception is pretty good. Oh, and the defense is only giving up 8.7 points per games so far.
Georgia Tech (3-0)
Paul Johnson needs a strong year down in Atlanta and so far he's getting it. The Yellow Jackets have trounced Elon and Duke and had a more-impressive-than-the-score-indicates come from behind win over North Carolina last week. The next two weeks against Virginia Tech and Miami will make or break their conference season.
The Illini were off this past weekend and 2 weeks ago they did lose to Washington but they've looked much better than last year' sad, sad team. Losing only by 10 to what's looking like a quality Washington team is nothing to be ashamed of and Illinois also roughed up Cincinnati.
The Buffaloes had their game two weekends ago against Fresno State postponed and are now coming off a bye. Sure, they've only defeated Colorado State and Central Arkansas---and neither decisively---but gosh darn it they've already doubled their win total from last year!
I'd really like to put Missouri in a category between optimistic and pessimistic but it does not exist here. Wins over Murray State, Toledo, and Indiana aren't impressive but the Tigers are on their way to a 5-0 start before the inevitably lose 5 of their last 7 in the SEC.
No team races out to a 4-0 record without anyone noticing quite like Northwestern. Heck, everyone already forgot this team won 10 games last year. Life gets more difficult in the coming weeks as Ohio State and Wisconsin are up on the schedule.
Being Eyed Skeptically:
It sure feels like the Trojans are worse than 3-1 on the season. Their offense is struggling and so far this season they've put together only one good performance. Will they continue to stay out of the tire fire section or maybe put together a bunch of wins and move up?
Virginia Tech (3-1)
This might be an overreaction because the Hokies played well against Alabama and they've won all their games since then, but their offense has been putrid and they should have lost to Marshall last weekend. If their schedule wasn't so weak this would probably be a .500 team by the end of the year.
I have no idea what's going on in Iowa City, nor have I watched a Hawkeyes game this season. Are we sure their games are televised? Well, the good news is that their offense has shown some life (35.3 PPG) but the bad news is they've already lost to a non-major conference opponent and barely squeaked by what looks like a terrible Iowa State team. There's no way this team finishes with a .500 or better record in 2013.
I bet James Franklin has been humbled rather quickly this season. A third of the way into the season and the Commodores already have losses to Ole Miss and South Carolina with three more ranked teams still left on the schedule. Playing in the SEC West could be worse, though.
Like USC, the Cornhuskers season feels a lot worse than 3-1. Their collapse against UCLA has left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, Pelini's job appears on the line for real right now, and they haven't even started league play yet. The defense, which is very young, has been awful this season and they've allowed 25 plays of 25 yards or more already. That's not a recipe for success.
The Panthers were roughed up by FSU to begin the season but since then their offense has settled in real nice for a combined 107 points in wins over New Mexico and Duke. The offensive explosion is nice but what isn't so nice is Pitt giving up 82 points to the Lobos and Blue Devils. From the look of things this could be the worst Pitt defense in quite some time.
Whoa, settle down Charlie. You still haven't beaten a major conference team yet while at Kansas. Yes, beating Louisiana Tech is progress so good for you on that.
Mississippi State (2-2)
Is the Dan Mullen era slowly winding down in Starkville? He hasn't posted any terrible records in recent years at Mississippi State but they are pretty empty seasons when you're losing every big game in the SEC. So far in 2013 the Bulldogs lost convincingly to Oklahoma State and dropped a road game at Auburn. That's not a good start when there are still 5 ranked teams left to go.
Not Doing Good Things:
No way is a 10-point win over Kansas State moving the Longhorns off this NDGT list. I believed in you this season, Texas! And now you've reverted right back to your stinky no good defense. Now your semi-competent quarterback has concussions issues? Great, this will end well.
Iowa State (0-2)
Welp, they're already in last place in the state with losses to Northern Iowa and Iowa so far. A loss to the worst Tulsa team in many years this week would be bad too.
Okay, the losses to Maryland and Michigan weren't that bad. Still, you're winless and we haven't forgot about that home loss to Towson.
This might be a 0-12 team which is really saying something in the new AAC conference. The Bulls have already been outscored 37-102 on the season and look all sort of terrible on both sides of the ball.
Wake Forest (2-2)
Will Jim Grobe coach here forever? He's in his 13th season at Wake Forest and is well on his way to a fifth straight non-winning season. Any time you can make Boston College look good it might be time to re-think your approach.
Western Michigan (0-4)
P.J. Fleck what did you do!?? Maybe Western was on the decline before he arrived or something but this season has been frighteningly bad even for Broncos standards. I mean, they just lost 59-3 to Iowa. Iowa with Greg Davis as their OC. Not good at all.
Florida International (0-4)
Somewhere Mario Cristobal is laughing maniacally. They Panthers are giving up almost 50 points per game while averaging under 6 points on offense. At least they have a running game to lean on as that baby has gained 195 yards on 136 carries. This is legitimately the worst football team in the United States of America, at any level of competition.
Southern Miss (0-3)
What's the last year and a half been like for Southern Miss fans? In 2011 they went 11-2 and they haven't won a game since then! 0-15 since the start of last season. Quite the face plant.
New Mexico State (0-4)
I continue to be amazed that we live in a world where New Mexico State still plays in the top division of American college athletics. Just week and weeks of not being competitive at all.
West Virginia (2-2)
The Mountaineers are lucky they aren't 1-3 with a loss to William & Mary. Coming off an embarrassing 37-0 loss to Maryland it might not get worse this season. But it probably will.