You can’t win a national title in the first week of the season but you can satisfy the expectations of your fan base. For those hoping their football team would just “get better” then you’re in luck if you are a fan of one of these teams from each conference.
Virginia hung in there against UCLA Saturday and that’s a win for a 2-10 team in 2013. Heck, this was a squad that was trashed by Ball State at home last season 48-27 so losing 28-20 to No. 7 UCLA is amazing. The Cavaliers have an experienced team and should break their ACC losing streak this season given how weak the league is. Going to a bowl game will be tough but anything over 2 wins should be a plus.
Remember how California lost by two touchdowns to Northwestern in the season opener a season ago in Berkeley? Things changed as the 1-11 Golden Bears won their first game at Northwestern 31-24 in what I thought was the biggest upset of the weekend. Cal has already matched last season’s win total and now gets to host FCS Sacramento State this week.
Big Ten: Rutgers
Big Ten fans are happily claiming Rutgers after its road trip to Seattle where it knocked off Washington State 41-38. The Scarlet Knights did go 7-6 last season but not many were expecting them to do much in the Big Ten. Maybe Rutgers will avoid the Big Ten cellar after all.
Big 12: West Virginia
Going up against Alabama, many thought West Virginia would be cannon fodder but the Mountaineers made a game of it. It was a 33-23 defeat but the Mountaineers trailed by only three at halftime. After a 4-8 season, West Virginia has a chance to win four of its next five games. Its date with Maryland on Sept. 13 will be crucial.
Tennessee shutdown an explosive offense in Utah State Sunday night, holding it to seven points. Tennessee is looking to improve from 5-7 this season and should be favored in at least five more games this season. The Vols should be going bowling.
American Athletic Conference: Temple
One team in the SEC that did not improve was Vanderbilt, a school that was embarrassed by Temple on Thursday 37-7. Temple was 2-10 in 2013 and is a lock to surpass last season’s win total. Temple really made the new SEC Network look bad as all the “experts” called for a Vanderbilt rout. Nice job Owls.
— Temple Football (@Temple_FB) August 29, 2014
Mountain West: Hawaii
Hawaii only won one game last season but showed improvement in its one point loss to No. 25 Washington 17-16. The Rainbow Warriors should have won this game as they held the Huskies scoreless in the 2nd half. They will get another crack at a PAC 12 school as Oregon State comes to the islands Saturday.
Sun Belt: Georgia State
Georgia State surpassed last season’s win total with a victory over FCS Abilene Christian Wednesday 38-37 meaning it is already an amazing season for Panther fans. Seriously, everything from here on out is bonus money. The Panthers will have a great shot at beating a FBS team for the first time in school history this Saturday as they host the Aggies of New Mexico State.
— GSU Athletics (@GSUPanthers) August 28, 2014
The MAC East is has no clear favorite this season and maybe Akron can sneak in. The Zips blew out FCS Howard Thursday and that is an upgrade from last season. All five of Akron’s wins in 2013 had a margin of victory of a touchdown or less. This could be the year of the Zips. We’re pulling for you Terry Bowden.
Conference USA: UAB
UAB hasn’t even sniffed bowl eligibility in the last few years but that could be changing. UAB broke a three-game losing streak to in-state rival Troy State Saturday. In the rebuilt Conference USA look for the Blazers to do some damage despite a 2-10 record in 2013.