2.) James Madison
Yes! James Madison is on the list. After moving up to the FBS level, JMU has been one of the best teams in the Sun Belt Conference. After going 8-5 last season, they improved to 11-1 this year, beating FBS teams such as UConn and the University of Virginia.
With no 3- or 4-star recruits, the former CAA FCS champions proved they could hang with the big boys. The Dukes were ranked in the top 25 in the country the past two weeks, furthering their case as one of the biggest surprises in college football.
3.) USC Defense
Besides generational quarterback Caleb Williams and freshman phenom Zachariah Smtih, USC was surprisingly bad. No one besides USC fans expected the Trojans to compete in the college football playoffs, but we did expect better than the 7-5, possibly 7-6 team (which plays #15 Louisville in the Holiday Bowl) that was put on the field this season.
After barely escaping a Colorado team full of transfers, it was clear this USC team was going to struggle defensively, and it absolutely did. USC ranked last in the Pac-12 in run defense, giving up 183.7 yards per game while also giving up the most points, 35 per game. USC was a shoe-in for the list.