Best and worst performances after a memorable first month of the college football season

We eagerly await college football for months only to have the season go by at a blazing pace. Life is simply unfair.

October is almost here. Halloween follows that. Next, rivalry weekend begins. The College Football Playoff follows that. Bring on the tedious wait till the following year. Continue to rinse and repeat the process.

So let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on the frantic first month of the 2023 season, which featured a few headlines that may have been the greatest story of any other season. For openers, there was Deion Sanders’ eye-catching debut at Colorado, Alabama’s early exit from the playoff picture, and the Pac-12’s last game.

Optimal group: Washington

Seven or eight teams, including the two-time defending national champion Georgia, the resurgent Florida State, and the Big Ten’s top three teams (Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State), could be given this designation. However, Washington is the pick because through four games, they have closely resembled the 2019 LSU against a rather challenging September schedule that includes Boise State, Tulsa, Michigan State, and California. The Huskies outscore opponents 164-41 in the first three quarters before losing ground in the fourth quarter. They also top the Bowl Subdivision in both yards per game (593.3) and yards per play (9.2).

Texas is the squad that has made the most progress.
Given the Crimson Tide’s well-documented difficulties, the 34-24 victory at Alabama may not hold quite the same significance, but let’s face it: Texas is back under coach Steve Sarkisian and is positioned to win the Big 12 and compete for a playoff spot before departing for the SEC. If they win the conference final, the Longhorns have the depth to withstand league play and the leeway to drop one game during the regular season and still finish in the top four.

Fresno State is the best Group of Five team.

After starting the season 4-0 and defeating Purdue and Arizona State, two teams from the Power Five, Fresno State is the first team to drop out of this week’s US LBM AFCA Coaches Poll. With a record of 14-4 going back to the beginning of last year, the Bulldogs have the second-longest active winning streak in the country with 13 games, just behind Georgia.

Most surprising results: Duke and Kansas

The Blue Devils and Jayhawks, who were formerly college football joke teams but are now on the rise, are a combined 8-0 going into big matchups on Saturday: Duke hosts Notre Dame while Kansas travels to Texas. Both schools have benefited greatly from hiring individuals from various ball-related backgrounds. In terms of yards allowed per play (4.1), Mike Elko’s defense at Duke is second in the ACC, while Lance Leipold’s offense at Kansas is still among the best in the country.

Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) is sacked by Texas linebacker David Gbenda (3) during the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 9, 2023 in Tuscaloosa,

Pac-12 is the best Power Five league.

And better late than never, the Pac-12. The conference had six teams this week’s Top 25 and as many as eight ranked teams earlier this month in its final season. Utah, Washington, Oregon, and Southern California comprise the greatest quartet in the Power Five.

SEC is the Power Five conference with the worst record.

Georgia, Kentucky, and Missouri are the only unbeaten teams in the SEC. Other non-conference defeats for the SEC include Utah, North Carolina, Florida State, Texas, Miami, and Brigham Young. Despite the fact that the SEC virtually always receives a pass, this start should have an effect on the league’s reputation when the playoff selection committee meets for the first time in late October.

Leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy is quarterback Michael Penix Jr. of Washington State.

Penix is second in the FBS in terms of yards per attempt (11.9) and efficiency rating (210.6), and he just defeats junior Caleb Williams of Southern California. Although the Heisman Trophy winner from the previous year has played excellent, with 15 touchdowns and no interceptions, Penix has the advantage due to Washington’s more difficult schedule and superior offense overall.

Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is the best coach.

While using two backup quarterbacks in place of an injured Cam Rising, the most frequently underestimated coach in the nation once again leads the Utes to a 4-0 start with three Power Five victories—Florida, Baylor, and UCLA.

 

 

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