These eight teams have raised eyebrows across College football with their success in September.
Now these programs all have tough tests in week five, but there’s an opportunity for each to make a statement with a victory.
The time has come to separate the weak from the strong, contenders from pretenders, and if these coaches can keep their teams unscathed after this weekend, they deserve to finally crack the AP top-25 that comes out Sunday afternoon.
Cincinnati, (3-1): The Bearcats have been destroying teams since their season-opening loss. That defeat happened on the road at No. 20 Arkansas, and it was by a touchdown. Luke Fickell’s boys have played lights out over their last three games, and outscored their opponents 146-51. Cincinnati is averaging 42.5 points per contest, which is more than the likes of undefeated Georgia and USC. The Bearcats are first in the AAC, and 16th in the FBS in scoring offense. Senior quarterback Ben Bryant has done a remarkable job replacing Desmond Ridder. He has thrown for 1,217 yards, which ranks 13th in the country, and has 11 touchdown tosses. Junior wideout Tyler Scott has hauled in a jaw-dropping, five touchdown passes. Now Cincinnati is opening up conference play at Tulsa, and has won 16-straight AAC games.
Coastal Carolina, (4-0): Jamie Chadwell continues to do a remarkable job with the Chanticleers, and rules the Sun Belt with an iron fist. Coastal Carolina has won its’ last seven games overall, and five of its’ last six against Sun Belt opponents. Not to mention the Chanticleers have one of the best gunslingers in the country in Grayson McCall. There’s no denying he has been one of the game’s most success quarterbacks over the past two seasons, and he’s off to a remarkable start in 2022. McCall threw for three touchdowns apiece in each of Coastal Carolina’s first three games, and has 11 overall. He’s also fifth in the FBS in passing efficiency. Sophomore running back CJ Beasley has rushed for 231 yards over the last two games. The Chanticleers has also scored 38 or more points in three of their last four contests.
Kansas, (4-0): The Jayhawks have been College football’s biggest surprise in 2022 thus far. Lance Leipold is doing a spectacular job in his second season in Lawrence, with Kansas off to its’ first 4-0 start since 2007. And the majority of the Jayhawks’ success has come from the amazing play of junior quarterback Jalon Daniels. He ranks first in the Big 12 and 20th in the FBS in total offense, averaging 304 yards a game. Not only has Daniels passed for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions over the past three contests, but he has also rushed for 283 yards and three scores. The Jayhawks have scored a jaw-dropping, 25 touchdowns, which ranks first in the conference. Senior All-Big 12 safety Kenny Logan has been a staple in Kansas’ secondary, with 19 tackles and an interception over the past three games.
LSU, (3-1): The Brian Kelly era in Baton Rouge has got off to a great start approaching October. LSU has won three-straight games, including an SEC tilt, after losing its’ season-opener to Florida State by a point. The Bayou Bengals are 20th in the FBS in total offense, thanks to the play of quarterback Jayden Daniels. The former Arizona State gunslinger has been stellar, and made an immediate impact for Kelly. Daniels has played very smart with the ball like a veteran should. He has passed for six touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. LSU’s defense has been impressive too. The Bayou Bengals are third in the SEC and 12th in the FBS in total defense, only allowing just 257.8 yards per game. Not to mention LSU is also coming off a shutout victory over New Mexico, which was its’ first since the 2018 season.
Pittsburgh, (3-1): The reigning ACC champs are looking very dangerous heading into ACC play against lowly Georgia Tech. Pittsburgh only loss this season has been to No. 8 Tennessee, and that was in overtime. The Panthers have scored 34 or more points in all three of their victories. Which solidifies that Coach Pat Narduzzi has kept the wheels rolling on offense without quarterback Kenny Pickett and Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple. USC transfer Kedon Slovis has been a spark for the Panthers’ offense, despite missing game three because of an injury. Junior running back Israel Abanikanda has played phenomenal over the past three contests. He rushed for 154 yards against Tennessee, 133 against Western Michigan and 177 against Rhode Island. And he combined for six rushing scores in those contests.
Syracuse, (4-0): The Orange has sent shockwaves throughout the ACC with their impressive start. Syracuse is off to its’ first 4-0 start since 2018, and second under Coach Dino Babers. It’s mind-boggling that the Orange have defeated three Power Five opponents, including two ACC foes and still hasn’t received the recognition they deserve. Quarterback Garrett Shrader has played lights out for Babers too. The gunslingers has thrown for 986 yards, eight touchdowns and an interception. Shrader also has four rushing scores and is 26th in the FBS in passing efficiency. Sophomore wideout Oronde Gadsden has made opposing secondaries look silly with three touchdown catches through four games. Gadsden had 112 receiving yards against Purdue and 107 against Virginia. Syracuse is currently fifth in ACC in total defense.
TCU, (3-0): New coach Sonny Dykes couldn’t have asked for a better start to his 2022 campaign. The Horned Frogs are 3-0 for the first time since 2017. TCU is second in the Big 12 and ninth in the FBS in total offense, averaging a jaw-dropping, 510 yards per game. The Horned Frogs are also averaging 46.3 points per contest, which is also second in the conference. Senior quarterback Max Duggan is one of the most experienced players in the league, and all of his leadership and production is paying off on the gridiron for Dykes. Duggan leads the country in passing efficiency, which is better than the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. He has eight touchdown tosses and no interceptions. The big measuring stick will come this Saturday at home against a ticked off Oklahoma team.
UCLA, (4-0): All of the talk in the Pac-12 has been about Lincoln Riley’s arrival to Los Angeles. However, Chip Kelly’s fifth season with the Bruins has been phenomenal. UCLA is 4-0 for the first time since 2015. The Bruins have scored 45 points in three of their four games. Kelly’s squad is averaging 508.2 yards of total offense per game, which ranks second in the conference and 12th in the FBS. Senior Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the country, and it’s all paying off in his fifth season as the Bruins starter. He’s currently second in the league in passing efficiency, and makes others around him better. Junior running back Zach Charbonnet is coming off a season-high, three rushing scores against Colorado. The Washington game will show if UCLA is contenders or pretenders.