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Question of the day: What's been the biggest surprise of the college football season so far? [Updated]

September 20, 2010 | 12:07 pm

Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

Question-michigan_250 This may sound strange, given that it struggled at home against a 1-AA opponent, but the biggest surprise so far this year has to be Michigan.

A lot of it has to do with exceeding expectations. Almost everyone was predicting disaster for Rich Rodriguez in his third year given the problems of the offseason and the fact that his team lost seven of its last eight to end last year.

Consider this: Central Michigan received points in the USA Today preseason coaches poll, but Michigan didn't receive any.

So the fact that Michigan is No. 22 this week in the coaches poll has to be acknowledged. And although Michigan started 4-0 last year before it collapsed, the difference this year is Denard Robinson is starting at quarterback. The sophomore is off to a stunning start and gives you reason to think that Michigan may not wilt the way it did last year.

The Wolverines, who host Bowling Green this week, should match last year's 4-0 start and then get to 5-0 with a win at Indiana. And then the real season starts, with Big Ten games against Michigan State, Iowa and Penn State. And then we'll find out if Michigan is a contender or a pretender.

David Teel, Newport News

Question-jmu_200 As a senior at James Madison in 1980, I witnessed the Dukes’ first football game against Virginia Tech. Twas respectable but not pretty, a 38-6, call-off-the-dogs whipping. Even as JMU morphed into a quality Division I-AA program, the occasional encounter with the Hokies was predictably lopsided. In 2003, the season before their national championship, the Dukes lost to Virginia Tech 43-0. Aggregate score of their six games: 245-44.

So through these purple-tinted glasses, the shock of the season to date is JMU’s 21-16 victory over then-No. 13 Virginia Tech, an outcome Dukes Coach Mickey Matthews called bigger than the '04 playoff run. Moreover, the upset may cripple Boise State, which hoped a Labor Day conquest of the Hokies would propel it to the BCS title game.

[Updated at 1:27 p.m.:

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
Before the season, two things were known about Michigan’s Denard Robinson: He could run, and he didn’t tie his shoes. Robinson wasn’t even listed among the nation’s top 25 quarterbacks by Lindy’s (and others) because it wasn’t clear he would even start.
Look where he is now: At the top of every Heisman Trophy projection by completing 69.7% of his passes. The 502 yards he produced against Notre Dame led one Michigan radio station to create a tribute song that might make Simon and Garfunkel cringe: “And here’s to you, Denard Robinson. Rich Rod loves you more than you will know …”
With Robinson at the helm, Michigan just might finish in the top half of the Big Ten. That’s a ways off from its tie for last place in 2009.]

Upper photo: Denard Robinson of Michigan looks to pass against Notre Dame on Sept. 11. Credit: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Lower photo: Drew Dudzik, right, and Brian Barlow celebrate Dudzik's touchdown against Virginia Tech on Sept. 11. Credit: Don Petersen / Associated Press