Utah: Urban Meyer has his Utes flying high and it doesn't look as if any end is in sight. Alex Smith is playing extremely well, his uncle John L. probably wishes he could use him in East Lansing. Alex currently has a 187 quarterback rating and has yet to throw an interception this season. In addition to throwing 8 touchdown passes Smith also has rushed for 4 scores. As a team the Utes are averaging an impressive 40 points per game while only giving up 17 in games against Texas A & M, Arizona, Utah State and Air Force. Utah has several things going for them the rest of the way as they get BYU at home and also with them being ranked highly this early in the season if they can win out they'll have a good shot at cracking the BCS. A couple of potential stumbling blocks do remain on the schedule however as they do still travel to Wyoming and San Diego State.
Wisconsin: The Badgers are coming off of an impressive victory in Camp Randall over the Nittany Lions and look to be a legitimate Big Ten title contender. The defense has been the key for Barry Alvarez's troops as Wisconsin has only given up a meager 4.8 points per game and opposing offenses have averaged less than 200 yards per contest. The Badgers have come at foes with a balanced attack as they average 162.8 passing yards and right around 140 yards rushing. They could be a bit of a risky investment though as they do travel to West Lafayette, Iowa City and Columbus. Michigan isn't on the schedule however. This week should be a cake walk as Illinois comes to town.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles were advantageous enough to turn a couple of late turnovers by Nebraska into scores to steal a win in Lincoln a few weeks back and that could be enough to propel this Jeff Bower squad into a conference championship. Unfortunately Hurricane Ivan delayed a home game against Cal until the end of the season that could be the determining factor as to how highly they will be regarded by the national media this season. Games at Alabama, TCU and Memphis along with the home game against Cal are all quality games for the Eagles. Working in their favor though is the fact that they don't have to play conference rival Louisville for the second season in a row. At 2-0 USM has yet to play a home game this season and goes on the road again this week as they will face a hungry South Florida team in Tampa.
Navy: The Midshipmen are 4-0 for the first time since the 70's and have a shot at a second consecutive bowl bid. Head Coach Paul Johnson has Navy headed in the right direction since taking over the struggling program in 2002. Currently they are averaging close to 400 yards per game with 280 yards rushing. Among those carrying the load are Aaron Polanco with 393 yards and 5 TD's, Kyle Eckel with 290 yards and 5 TD's and Frank Davis with 171 yards with two scores. Two key games upcoming for the Middies are against Air Force tonight on ESPN and a match up against Notre Dame in Annapolis on October 16th. A win in one or both of those two games and Navy would have an excellent shot at a Bowl game.
Long term investment:
Arizona: Sure the Wildcats are 1-3, sure they've come up short in the close ones, but they have shown enough to warrant a look from investors. They nearly knocked off both Wisconsin and Washington State in the past two games. The game against Utah was even closer than the score. The biggest indicator of the season thus far for Mike Stoops' squad is that the average point margin for them is only a deficit of half a point at 13.3 for and 13.8 against. The next two games should tell the tale for this season for the Wildcats as they travel to UCLA and Oregon, at least a split would be a strong message to the Pac 10. Even if Arizona doesn't have much of a season this year they are still worth holding on to as Coach Stoops clearly has this program in the right direction.
Time to sell these:
North Carolina: This is a program about to go into a tailspin…if it already hasn't. Yes we know they've already had two consecutive losing seasons. However they were pasted in week one against Virginia and after a shocking bounce back win against Georgia Tech was absolutely demolished by Louisville. Last week's 34-0 thrashing was just the beginning as they have a visit to Florida State this week as well as upcoming games against Utah and N.C. State not to mention a fantastic homecoming gift…Miami. The UNC defense hasn't been able to stop anybody thus far as they've given up an average of 459 yards per game. This team is in dire need of a change at the top.
Memphis: Many preseason publications had the Tigers listed in the top 25 and listed them as the favorites to win Conference USA. The conference coaches must have known something everyone else didn't however as they didn't put them atop the league. After a win against Ole Miss in the season opener many thought they were for real but after a two week stretch in which they were forced to score 28 in the 4th to escape against Arkansas State and then falling to underdog UAB last week they have looked very vulnerable on defense. Upcoming games against Houston, Cincinnati (with standout QB Gino Guidugli) and against Louisville will determine which direction the season goes for Memphis.
TCU: In keeping with the Conference USA theme attention is now turned to the horrible defense in Fort Worth. What was once a strength in past years has been the achilles' heel for the Horned Frogs this season. Granted two games have gone into overtime but they have given up a total of 208 points in 4 games this season. Somehow the team has managed to win 2 games despite the deficiencies on defense. Amazingly enough the team has just given up 82 yards on the ground per game but 360+ through the air! This team is in real trouble if they don't find a way to put the clamps on defensively as they enter conference play. Granted CUSA may not be the strongest league in America, but it does boast some solid offensive attacks.
Clemson: What looked to be a promising season for the Tigers has turned south in a hurry. Tommy Bowden is once again on the hot seat as Clemson has lost three straight games and two in a row in embarrassing fashion. Even worse, they could very easily have been 0-4 if they hadn't edged out Wake in an overtime thriller in week one. They've given up an average of 411 yards per game so far and it doesn't get any easier as they face Virginia, Maryland, N.C. State and Miami in 4 of their next 5 contests. Folks in South Carolina are already talking about Steve Spurrier.
Virginia Tech: Yes the Hokies are 2-2 and played tough against USC in the opener. Yes they average 33 points per game. Yes they get Virginia at home and don't face FSU this season. One caution however; this week they face West Virginia. The past two years VT has come into their game against the Mountaineers highly ranked and both times were pasted. WVU is hungry this week as they feel they've been disrespected by the media thus far so expect this one to get ugly. Last week the Hokie offensive line surrendered ten sacks against the Wolfpack so expect the backfield to be full of blue and gold this week. Afterwards watch out because the season could turn into a nightmare as they still have games against UVa, Miami, and Maryland.
Don't forget to tune in again next week to check out who made the list whether it's to buy or sell!!