Next week, I'll bring you the final regular season Conference Power Rankings. There will of course also be a post-bowl ranking, since there'll be plenty of non-conference matchups to discuss once the kicking tees have officially been put away and one school has a new crystal football. I'm not banging out my usual order this week, though, as I'm eagerly awaiting next week's results to see if the ACC passes the SEC for No. 2 behind the Big 12. Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, Wake Forest-Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech-Georgia will all face off next week. With LSU tanking, Tennessee losing to Wyoming and then beating Vanderbilt and only eight bowl eligible teams (assuming Auburn loses to Alabama), the SEC is sinking fast.
For this week, I'll revisit my Oct. 6 observations on each conference to see how they've played out.
Surprise team in early Oct.: Georgia Tech
Surprise team now: Boston College
The Eagles have put themselves in position to reach the ACC championship game with a home win over Maryland. A shutout against Notre Dame and road wins against Florida State and Wake Forest have promptly put a team that had few expectations on the cusp of its first BCS bowl in school history and first January bowl since 1994.
Disappointment in early Oct.: Clemson
Disappointment now: Wake Forest
Once Clemson flopped, Wake Forest was supposed to be the team to beat in a weakened ACC. But the Deacons have gone 3-5 in their last eight games and been held under 20 points six times this year, despite playing under experienced QB Riley Skinner.
Surprise team in early Oct.: UConn
Surprise team now: Cincinnati
The Bearcats only have to beat lowly Syracuse to advance to a BCS bowl, which is a high-water mark for the basketball-first school. Brian Kelly's club has won eight of nine since losing at Oklahoma and has emerged in a lacking Big East. QB Tony Pike threw three TDs with a broken non-throwing forearm on Saturday in a landmark win over Pitt.
Disappointment in early Oct.: Rutgers
Disappointment now: Louisville
The Cardinals went 0-for-November, losing four straight and landing in the Big East basement. Syracuse is 2-13 in its last 15 Big East games, with both wins coming over Louisville. That Orange Bowl win seems like a long, long time ago.
Surprise team in early Oct.: Penn State
Surprise team now: Michigan State
Despite Saturday's 49-18 loss to Penn State, the Spartans were the clear No. 3 in the Big Ten this
season, losing only to Ohio State and Penn State. Nine wins is the most for the Spartans since 1999.
Disappointment in early Oct.: Michigan
Disappointment now: Wisconsin
Four weeks into the regular season, Wisconsin was ranked No. 9 in the AP poll. Since then, Wisconsin has gone 4-5, including a loss to Michigan and an overtime win against Cal Poly (it took three missed extra points by the Mustangs in order for U-Dub to avoid a stunning upset).
Surprise team in early Oct.: Oklahoma State
Surprise team now: Texas Tech
Yep, the Raiders laid an egg in Norman on Saturday, but they are still No. 7 in the BCS standings
and may end up being the only team to beat Texas this year. One horrific night cannot take away a remarkable season that saw two Heisman candidates emerge out of Lubbock.
Disappointment in early Oct.: Texas A&M
Disappointment now: Kansas State
Any time a coach is fired during the season, there's clearly more than a little disappointment. The Wildcats saved a little face by keeping Iowa State winless in the Big 12 with a 38-30 win on Saturday, but fans and the KSU administration were expecting a lot more than 5-7 with a potential early-round NFL draft pick at quarterback this season.
Surprise team in early Oct.: Cal
Surprise team now: Oregon State
The Beavers are a win away from the Rose Bowl after toughing out a 19-17 win at Arizona on Saturday. Only a win over Oregon stands between Oregon State and its first Rose Bowl since 1965. OSU's lone Pac-10 loss is to Stanford.
Disappointment in early Oct.: Arizona St.
Disappointment now: Washington
How can it not be? The Huskies are an imperfect 0-11, have fired their coach and lost their rivalry
game to a team that had lost its first eight Pac-10 games by an average of 47 points. 'Disappointment' is way too kind of a label for the purple and gold, but this is a family website.
Surprise team in early Oct.: Vanderbilt
Surprise team now: Ole Miss
After Eli Manning left, the Rebels went 14-32 in the next four seasons. But under first-year coach Houston Nutt, the Rebs are 7-4 and in contention for the Cotton Bowl after whipping LSU on Saturday. Mississippi State should be win No. 8, and remember, Ole Miss lost to Vanderbilt and Wake Forest in the closing seconds and has not lost a game by more than seven points.
Disappointment in early Oct.: Tennessee
Disappointment now: LSU
The defending national champions have two wins over teams with winning records, South Carolina and Troy, the latter of which led the Tigers by 28 in Baton Rouge. LSU put together a strong effort against Alabama, but too many weeks either the offense or defense (or both) haven't shown up.