College Football – Our Most Memorable Moments of September
Forty names, games, teams and details making the news in college football, where Kansas State is now the only Big 12 team Texas has beaten more than once in a row:
MORE DASH: QBs saying ‘I said so’ to old teams | League standings
We turn the page on October on Saturday, leaving behind us a fabulously chaotic season-opening month. It’s time to review everything that’s happened, to congratulate the winners and castigate the losers, to celebrate the weird and understand how we got here.
Heisman race until September (21): Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker. The Volunteers are 4-0 for the first time since 2016, have their best AP ranking since 2006 and have their first live Heisman nominee since Peyton Manning was runner-up in 1997. Hooker is eighth nationally for the passing efficiency, fifth overall. offense and produced his two games with the most yards against the best competition (Pittsburgh and Florida). The latter came without first receiver Cedric Tillman, who was injured. Hooker also reminded everyone of his running ability against the Gators with 112 rushing yards on 13 carries, in addition to throwing for 349. Credit for Tennessee’s quick start begins at the top, with the sophomore coach Josh Heupel, but the player making it go is Hooker.
Hooker’s top pursuers, more or less in order: CJ Stroud, Ohio State QB; Washington QB Michael Penix; Kansas QB Jalon Daniels; USC QB Caleb Williams; Bryce Young, QB of Alabama; Stetson Bennett, QB of Georgia; Brock Bowers, Georgia TE; Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota RB; Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders.
Cold Blooded Dismissal of the Month (22): Arizona State either terminated Herm Edwards or notified him of a meeting to terminate him while he was still on the court immediately after losing to Eastern Michigan. It might have been the first on-field dismissal since Bret Bielema at Arkansas in 2017, but at least he was able to finish the season. Edwards was fired after three games (although one could easily say he should have left before the start of the season).
Arizona State is no stranger to a sharp fire during the season. The school got rid of legendary coach Frank Kush the day before a game in October 1979, in part following allegations of player abuse. And ASU was on the administrative side of USC’s Whack on the Tarmac, when Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin when the coach got off the plane after a loss to the Sun Devils in 2013.
Miracle of the month: Kansas (23) is 4-0. And it’s not even a 4-0 fluke. The Jayhawks have yet to trail in the fourth quarter this season, have been unlucky on a streak of fortuitous turnovers, and are outpacing opponents by 2.19 yards per play. They are objectively fun to watch, averaging 48.5 points per game. The level of competition, other than the first match, has been legit. Still, for some reason, Kansas is unranked. Ballot voters need to stop rearranging the usual suspects and make room for the Jayhawks if they beat Iowa State on Saturday.
Bottom line: Lance Leipold is the first runaway leader for National Coach of the Year.
Smoldering Dumpster Fire of the Month: Miami (24). Hurricanes narrowly outstrip Michigan State, Wisconsin and other assorted dysfunctional programs. While the Spartans have been choked twice in a row, both opponents are undefeated. Miami followed up its touchdownless loss to Texas A&M by failing to show up against mighty Middle Tennessee State on Saturday to fall to 2-2. Middle’s 45 points were the most against The U since 2015 and the most by a non-Power Conference opponent since the Power Conferences began. The last time to give up that many points to a comparably level opponent would likely be a 48-2 loss to Tulsa in…1944. Mario Cristobal isn’t paid $8 million to give up 507 total yards and three touchdown passes of 69 or more yards at Middle Freakin’ Tennessee.
Unbalanced Team of the Month: Iowa (25). The defense is a work of art, leading the nation in the fewest points allowed (5.8) and the fewest yards per pass attempt (4.6). Offense, meanwhile, is a crime against football — last in the nation in yards per game (232.5) and 120th in scoring, but that scoring average is helped by the defense’s 16 points. Take them out of the equation and Iowa’s offense is producing just 13 points per game. It will take some semblance of balance against Michigan on Saturday.
Odd Team News of the Month: Utah (26). Strange things keep happening around the 2022 Utes. There was the theft issue leaving the home opener against Florida that stranded the team in Gainesville and returned to campus more than 24 hours later. kick off the game the night before. There were the women who only wore body paint on their upper bodies during the home game against Southern Utah, creating a stir that led to a school investigation. And there was the engineering student who took to the social media platform YikYak (that’s one thing, apparently) and threatened to blow up the school’s nuclear reactor if the Utes lost to the game. State of San Diego. Utah won and the campus was spared.
(If you’re curious about what other campuses might be susceptible to nuclear threats to YikYak related to soccer performance, here is a list of potential candidates.)
The Utes have some big games coming up; stay alert, everyone.
Self-Sabotage of the Month: Missouri (27) added to its living history of calamitous losses with a trio of disasters that each directly contributed to a 17-14 loss at Auburn on Saturday. The recap: A missed field goal from 26 yards in the last regulation play for the victory of kicker Harrison Mevis, who had 45 career field goals; an offside penalty that gave Auburn a second chance to score an overtime field goal for the lead after the first was missed; and a fumble in the end zone by Nathaniel Peat when he reached forward with the ball and simply dropped it inches short of the pylon, ending the game.
Even by Mizzou’s standards, it’s an all-time pile of mistakes.
Radio call of the month: The Appalachian State (28) Hail Mary to beat Troy is just a cacophony of unintelligible joy that meets the moment.
Miserable Fanbase of the Month: Oklahoma (29). Lots of candidates here too, but the double whammy that hit Sooner Nation on Saturday night was powerful. First, Oklahoma were stunned at home by Kansas State (which has the Sooners’ number to an odd degree, having beaten them three times in four years as a heavy underdog each time). Then fans couldn’t even enjoy USC and former coach Lincoln Riley against Oregon State after the Trojans rallied for a fourth quarter win. Now USC is 4-0 after going 4-8 last season. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is 3-1 under new coach Brent Venables. And the presumed defensive savior who would bolster the team after Riley had to explain why K-State scored their most points (41) in Norman.
Miserable State of the Month: Colorado (30). There are only three winless teams left among FBS’ 131, and two of them are from the same state. The Buffaloes are 0-4 with their narrowest margin of loss being 25 points. The Rams are 0-4 with their narrowest margin of loss being 15 points, and with a 31-point loss to an FCS program on the ledger of shame as well. Too bad Colorado and CSU stopped scheduling each other, because one of them would have already won. The Air Force, with its 3-1 record, carries the state’s tattered banner for now.
MORE DASH: QBs saying ‘I said so’ to old teams | League standings