As in-season turnarounds go, the one being authored in Eugene could go down as one of the best ever. Bumped completely out of the Top 25 after an opening-night loss at Boise State, the Ducks have gained an epic head of steam, winning seven in a row, capped by Saturday's 47-20 demolition of USC. Oregon defrocked the Trojans for more than 600 yards of total offense, and the 47 points were the most allowed by a Pete Carroll-coached team. Sequels are typically frowned upon, but do you think the Ducks would like another crack at the Broncos?
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CFN's weekly look at Who's Hot in college football: The turnaround in Dallas has officially begun. And it's taking June Jones shorter than anyone expected. After shocking Tulsa on the road, 27-13, for a genuine breakthrough victory, the Mustangs are sitting at .500, with a legitimate shot of earning a bowl berth for the first time in a quarter-century. Just think of where this program might be had it not dropped heartbreakers in overtime to Washington State and Navy.
San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley
Without a lot of attention outside the Mountain West Conference, Lindley has been smoking hot over the last three games, throwing 12 touchdown passes and just a single interception. He's also the primary reason why the Aztecs are a surprising 4-4 and within shouting distance of bowl eligibility. Oddly, the sophomore has done most of his damage without star receiver Vincent Brown, who's been sidelined with an injury. In his place, DeMarco Sampson has gone berserk, catching 27 passes for 390 yards and seven scores during the three-game stretch.
Duke coach David Cutliffe
Can someone kindly refresh our memories why this guy got run out of Ole Miss a few years back? Boy, he can coach, as this brief stint in Durham is proving. There are just two remaining ACC teams with less than two conference losses. The Blue Devils, remarkably, are one of them. Winners of three straight league games for the first time in two decades, Duke is a win away from its first bowl appearance since 1994.
Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros
Paging Earl Morrall. O.K., so Tony Pike isn't quite Johnny Unitas, but he was off to an All-American-type campaign before injuring his wrist. Collaros has been a super sub in the two-plus games since, rushing for 132 yards and two scores in the win over South Florida and throwing seven touchdowns without a pick in the last two routs. Pike is a senior, so this experience for Collaros is going to benefit Cincinnati in 2010 and beyond.
The Volunteers entered Saturday night's game with South Carolina having gone 133 minutes without allowing an offensive touchdown. Now, the Gamecocks did finally hit paydirt in the third quarter, but it was too little, too late in a 31-13 rout. Tennessee collected four key turnovers, pressured Stephen Garcia all night, and held South Carolina to just 4-of-15 on third down attempts.
Penn State's defense
Sure, Daryll Clark has played well, but it's the Lion defense that has fueled five consecutive wins since a tough loss to Iowa. After keeping Northwestern in check, Penn State now leads the nation in scoring defense and is in the top 6 in run defense and pass efficiency defense. When healthy, this front seven, which includes DE Jack Crawford, DT Jared Odrick, and linebackers Josh Hull, Sean Lee, and Navorro Bowman, is among the best in America.
Houston QB Case Keenum
You know that when Keenum sets personal marks for passing something special took place. This past weekend, for instance, the junior threw for a career-best 559 yards and five touchdowns in the Cougars' 50-43 win over Southern Miss. In a year when no one seems to be taking command of the big individual awards, is the nation's total offense leader poised to channel former Houston QBs Andre Ware and David Klingler?
Texas' third-down defense
Really, the 'Horns have been fantastic on every down this season, but especially on third downs. Texas maintained its national lead in the category in Stillwater Saturday night, vexing Zac Robinson and forcing him into four costly interceptions. Two of those picks were taken backs for six, a common trend that's developed for Texas this fall. The combination of the pressure being brought up front and the coverage in the secondary has opponents converting just 23 percent of the time on third downs.