THE FIRST HALF OF THE 2016 SEASON HAS BEEN CHOCK-FULL OF THE UNEXPECTED
When we ranked Washington No. 7 in the preseason, we worried we'd fallen into the trendy-team trap. We might have had the Huskies too low. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning (below) has completed 72.2% of his passes, and Washington's defense has averaged four sacks a game. The Huskies look like a playoff team.
Last Friday, Duke slowed Louisville sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson in a 24--14 Cardinals win, but Jackson is still on pace to account for 60 combined rushing and passing touchdowns in regular-season play. Marcus Mariota accounted for 57 TDs in 15 games in his Heisman Trophy season in 2014.
Alabama's true freshman quarterback, Jalen Hurts, has helped make the top-ranked Tide—who can spread it out or bunch up and ram the ball down a defense's throat—the nation's most versatile offense.
Ohio State replaced 16 starters from a 12--1 team and might have gotten better. After a 30--23 overtime win last Saturday, in what may be the first of two meetings with Wisconsin, the Buckeyes are 6--0 and on a collision course with undefeated Michigan.
After being limited by injuries, neither LSU's Leonard Fournette (ankle) nor Stanford's Christian McCaffrey (lower body) is in the nation's top 10 in rushing yardage.
That LSU fired coach Les Miles wasn't surprising, considering that Miles ignored a direct order to evolve the offense. That Miles was fired in late September was shocking.
The Big 12 remains college football's least predictable league. Preseason favorite Oklahoma is 3--0 in Big 12 play but 1--2 outside the league. The conference's best hope to make the playoff could rest with West Virginia, which moved to 5--0 on Saturday after a 48--17 win at Texas Tech.