After taking ondire rebuilding jobs last year, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and GregRobinson of Syracuse are seeing signs of progress. The Huskies, 2--9 inWillingham's first season, are 2--1 after a 21--20 upset of Fresno State lastSaturday. Quarterback Isaiah Stanback (above) produced 242 total yards and hada hand in all three touchdowns. "It's so important to have that trustfactor with your coach," says the fifth-year senior, whose class wentthrough two coaches (Rick Neuheisel and Keith Gilbertson) before Willinghamarrived following his ouster from Notre Dame. "You can tell our team has alot closer bond." Meanwhile Syracuse, 1--10 a year ago, snapped an 11-gamelosing streak with a 31--21 win at Illinois. A week earlier the Orange took No.14 Iowa to overtime before falling 20--13. Syracuse, which struggled in itstransition to the West Coast offense last season, ran for 202 yards against theIllini. "I could see us improving," says Robinson, a first-time headcoach who served as Texas' co--defensive coordinator in 2004. "The playerswatch film--they could see it too."
HEAD TO HEAD
Arizona State QBRudy Carpenter versus Cal cornerbacks Daymeion Hughes and Syd'Quan Thompson
September 24, 2006
The Sun Devilsand the Golden Bears hope to contend with USC for the Pac-10 title. Carpenter(right), the sophomore whom ASU coach Dirk Koetter promoted to starter oversenior Sam Keller (who has since transferred to Nebraska), hasn't looked likethe freshman who led the country in pass efficiency last season; he threw foronly 248 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in last week's 21--3win over Colorado. Meanwhile, Hughes, an All--Pac-10 selection last season, andThompson, a redshirt freshman thrown into the fire early due to injuries, willbe looking to redeem themselves after their opening-week debacle againstTennessee, whose receivers caught four passes of 40 or more yards againstthem.
THREE AND OUT
Georgia second-year defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, 43, is a risingstar. The Bulldogs, who ranked 18th nationally in total defense last season,have had consecutive shutouts (over South Carolina and UAB) for the first timein 26 years.
A soft schedule hasn't hurt the ranking of No. 4 West Virginia, but it couldstill have a detrimental effect. The Mountaineers' defense, which next facesEast Carolina, Mississippi State, Syracuse and Connecticut, will not be testedmuch between now and a Nov. 2 showdown at No. 8 Louisville.
Navy, 3--0 following a 37--9 rout of Stanford, has a chance at the first 11-winseason in school history. The Midshipmen figure to be favored against all buttwo of their remaining opponents: Rutgers and Notre Dame.
• Read more fromStewart Mandel at SI.com/collegefootball.