Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
September football is now officially over and what a first month it was. October is sure to provide plenty more lasting memories as the top teams in the country begin to rise above the rest and begin to jockey for position in the race for the national title. Some remaining schedules seem to provide clear sailing, while others are peppered with pratfalls just waiting to dash championship dreams. Here are just a few observations heading into the second month of the season.
I mentioned Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe last week with good reason. However, what the diminutive Husky tailback (5-7, 177) did last week against Ball State cannot go unheralded. The 2,000-yard plateau has been mentioned with Wolfe all season long, but after putting up 353 yards against the Cardinals last week, Wolfe now has 1,181 yards rushing and it is now only a question of when he will eclipse the 2,000-yard mark. He is averaging a national-best 236.2 yards per game, on 9.3 yards per carry and has only played in five games thus far. He is now on pace for the best rushing season in Division I-A history, topping Barry Sanders' 2,628 yards in 1988.
Garrett Wolfe is averaging a national-best 236.2 yards per game, on 9.3 yards per carry and has only played in five games thus far.
LACKING STAR POWER IN NAME ONLY
There are plenty of players across the nation that are putting up huge numbers only to find no love from the national media. Here are just a few of the offensive stars from the month of September that fit into this category: New Mexico State QB Chase Holbrook (.698 completion percentage and 1,711 yards passing); Houston QB Kevin Kolb (.687 completion percentage, 1,389 yards, 12 TDs and just one INT): Rutgers RB Ray Rice (161.2 ypg, 5.7 ypc and 11 TDs); Boise State RB Ian Johnson (142.8 ypg, 7.1 ypc and nine TDs); UTEP WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (123.25 ypg, 30 receptions, for 493 yards and six TDs); Rice WR Jarett Dillard (102.2 ypg, 38 receptions, for 511 yards and seven TDs).
HOT SEAT CANDIDATES
Fires are being lit under the seats of some of the nation's most notable coaches and with good reason. The Miami Hurricanes certainly don't tolerate mediocrity, and neither does the fan base. This season has been especially tough, with the 'Canes sitting at just 2-2 on the year and lucky to be there. A 14-13 win over Houston this past weekend did little to rally support around head coach Larry Coker, who, even if the team runs the table and finishes with 10 wins, will still get his share of criticism. John L. Smith has failed to bring Michigan State to the pinnacle of the Big Ten and has yet another underachieving bunch in East Lansing this season. The team should have never allowed Notre Dame back in the game a couple of weeks ago and lost to Illinois (ILLINOIS) this past weekend at home. This is a team heading in the wrong direction, with Smith perhaps heading out of town in the near future. Last but certainly not least, Ralph Friedgen's honeymoon in College Park is over. After posting 31 wins in the first three seasons with his alma mater, Friedgen's Terrapins have gone just .500 since. This year's team is 3-1, but lacks any real fire. Upcoming games against Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Miami and Boston College will fail to provide the team with many opportunities for wins. Maryland seems bored at times (just look at the 14-10 win over Florida International), or perhaps just boring to watch.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Last season I touted Pitt's Tyler Palko as one of the better quarterbacks in the nation. However, the then junior disappointed most of the college football world with a less than mediocre campaign. Of course, there was plenty of blame to go around in Western Pennsylvania in 2005. Fast forward to this season, as the senior leads the nation in passing in terms of efficiency (191.3 rating). Palko has completed a sizzling 68 percent of his passes, for 1,312 yards, with 14 TDs and just three picks.
THEN THERE WAS ONE
Boise State has been a big fish in the WAC's small pond for a couple of years, but the Broncos are now the only team from a non BCS conference that remains undefeated on the year. Dismantling Utah last week on the road was impressive and if the team runs the table, which looks more and more like a certainty, the BCS might have no choice and send out an invite to a major bowl game.
OCTOBER GETS OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
This week features several high profile games. The Red River Rivalry for one, as powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas square off in what looks to be a drag-out brawl. The SEC is host to a pair of anticipated matchups, with LSU and Florida getting it on in Gainesville, while Tennessee travels between the hedges to battle Georgia. However, the game that holds the most appeal for this writer is 11th-ranked Oregon making the trip to Berkeley to battle 16th-ranked California. Both of these teams can light up a scoreboard. USC is still officially the team to beat in the Pac-10, but that may only be until the Trojans meet up with one of these juggernauts.