We are two weeks into the 2019 season and there are a number of storylines that have caught my eye.
Let me start out in the ACC. Like I discussed in these pages a few weeks back, the conference is hoping someone other than just Clemson can emerge. The Tigers, led by QB Trevor Lawrence, remains atop the latest top 25 polls after taking care of ranked Texas A&M last weekend, extending the program’s nation-leading win streak to 17. But, Virginia, ranked 25th in the nation, is the only other ACC program ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll, tying the league with the Big 12 for the fewest ranked schools among Power 5 conferences.
One team who may crack the Top 25 soon is North Carolina. The Tar Heels went back to the future during the offseason when they brought back Mack Brown to resurrect the program. Thus far, it is paying dividends as the Heels are 2-0 for the first time since 2014. North Carolina converted on fourth-and-17 during a game-winning drive against Miami last Saturday and held on for the victory.
Fans of Tennessee and UCLA may wish their Athletic Directors had lured Brown out of retirement. Yes, it is time to hit the panic button in Knoxville and at UCLA. Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt and UCLA’s Chip Kelly are just two games into their second seasons and the hot seat talk already is at hot levels after 0-2 starts. Both teams rank near the bottom nationally in turnover margin after giving up the football a combined 10 times so far this season. The Volunteers lost to Georgia State two weeks ago and to BYU last weekend. UCLA is coming off a 23-14 loss to San Diego State Saturday.
One new assistant coach is making waves in the SEC and will likely be a sought-after head coach this winter. The LSU Tigers have not been known for strong passing offenses for well over a decade now. But that appears to have changed thanks to new offensive coordinator Joe Brady. LSU is averaging more than 410 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Joe Burrow ranks fifth in the country in passing after completing 81% of his passes including nine touchdowns.
Speaking of new coaches and high-powered offenses, lets spend some time on Maryland. New coach Mike Lockley has quickly transformed the Terrapins into an offensive powerhouse after the team blasted No. 21 Syracuse 63-20 on Saturday. The 142 total points through the first two games is the most by a Big Ten team since Ohio State in 1996 and elevated Maryland into the AP top 25 poll for the first time since 2013.
College football out west no longer consists of just the PAC 10. While the PAC 10 has been spiraling downward of late, the Mountain West Conference has been on the rise. Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii and Wyoming all scored upsets over Power 5 opponents during their season openers. That trend continued in Week Two as Hawaii knocked off Oregon State and San Diego State beat UCLA. That’s six Mountain West wins over Power 5 foes during the first two weeks including Boise’s convincing success over Florida State.