Skip to main content
Publish date:

Its October - The Top Ten: Mora, Sark, Briles, Kliff, Freeze, Dabo, Jimbo, Golden, Butch & Strong

1. How good are UCLA and Washington really? - If the undefeated Bruins and Huskies remain that way through the end of October, they will have earned it seven times over. Washington visits Stanford on Saturday, then hosts Oregon on October 12 and, for a nice little cherry on top, visits Arizona State and hosts Cal to close the month. UCLA visits Utah on Thursday, then hosts Cal, then takes its turn with the West Coast 1-2 punch, visiting Stanford and Oregon on October 19 and 26. 

2. Will we learn anything about Baylor and Texas Tech? - Texas and TCU were supposed to be the Lone Star State teams ready to challenge for the Big 12 title. One month into the season, they're a combined 4-4 and their overlooked counterparts are a combined 7-0. Thanks to some Big 12 bottom-feeding, Baylor and Texas Tech could each be 7-0 before either faces a top 25 opponent. Kliff Kingsbury's team gets Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia before visiting Oklahoma on October 26, and Art Briles' bunch meets West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas before they host the Sooners on November 7. All that said, Oklahoma State reminded all of us that nothing should be taken for granted in this league. 

3. Where does Ole Miss stand in the SEC West pecking order? - Hugh Freeze's team goes on the road for the third straight time and fourth time this season on Saturday. After visiting Vanderbilt to open the season and trips to Texas and Alabama in their last two games, the Rebels will head to Auburn on Saturday night. After that, though, Ole Miss won't leave Oxford again until heading to Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night. That's not to say things will get any easier, however. After last week's loss to Alabama and this week's trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Rebels get Texas A&M and LSU on October 12 and 19.

4. Will Clemson, Florida State or Miami actually matter after October? - It's been a dozen years since an ACC team played for a national championship and six years since the conference had a team within a whiff of the No. 2 spot (Virginia Tech finished third in 2007). Heck, the only top 10 team the ACC has produced in the last handful of seasons was No. 9 Georgia Tech in 2009. That could change this season if Clemson or Florida State emerges from their October 19 date unscathed. No. 14 Miami, who visits Florida State on November 2, could have something to say about the ACC's relevance drought as well.

5. How much can Fresno State's defense improve? - You would think unbeaten Fresno State can stay that way with an October slate of Idaho, UNLV and San Diego State, but you also wouldn't think Hawaii could come this close to completing a 42-3 comeback on Tim DeRuyter's Bulldogs, either. Fresno State has managed to stay undefeated despite allowing 51 (45 in regulation), 40 and 37 points. With dates ahead against Wyoming and San Jose State, quarterbacked by two of the nation's top 30 total offense producers, this tightrope walk can only continue for so much longer.

6. How long will Illinois and Iowa's resurgence continue? - What's the best way to say this? Iowa and Illinois were borderline unwatchable last season. They went a combined 6-18 and didn't look good doing so. This September, though, the Illini and Hawkeyes quietly put together fantastic Septembers, going a combined 7-2 and showing marked improvement on one side of the ball in particular. After ranking 122nd nationally in total offense in 2012, new coordinator Bill Cubit has Illinois ranked 35th this season. And one year removed from a No. 49 ranking in total defense, Iowa is up to No. 7 so far this year. 

7. How much will Butch Jones age in the next 31 days? - If there's one positive about Tennessee's murder's row of a schedule, it's that Butch Jones will know exactly how far Tennessee stands from being nationally elite. The Vols met No. 2 Oregon and No. 19 Florida already, and then took a one-week break against South Alabama in a game that was supposed to be a layup, but bounced off the backboard and four spots on the rim before it finally fell in. Now Tennessee hosts Georgia this Saturday, takes a week off, hosts South Carolina and then closes the month at Alabama.

8. Will USC and Connecticut show any improvement? - 126 FBS head coaches started this season, and 124 remain after the Trojans and Huskies made changes to open the week. USC in particular emphasized multiple times they want their eight remaining games to be fun, but with a schedule that includes six likely bowl-bound opponents, that's going to require winning some games. Connecticut's schedule actually lightens from here as the Huskies enter American Athletic Conference play. 

9. Can Louisville actually grab anyone's attention? - Charlie Strong's team has built a 4-0 record while bashing opponents by a score of 192-27. They've joined Baylor and Oregon as the only teams to rank in the top seven nationally in scoring offense and scoring defense. Those numbers will only get worse after they visit winless Temple on Saturday. And they've ridden that success from a No. 9 preseason ranking all the way up to... No. 7. Back-to-back weeknight October games are the best chance the Cardinals have to actually impress voters, with a Thursday, October 10 game against 3-1 Rutgers and a Friday, October 18 date with 3-1 Central Florida.

10. How much will offenses slow down this month? - Last year there were eight teams that finished the season averaging at least 40 points per game. Through five weeks of 2013, there are 26. You may think offenses will naturally slow down when the familiarity and parity of conference play settles in, and you may very well be right. But you might not. As Paul Myerberg noted Saturday (during the LSU-Georgia game, and before Texas A&M beat Arkansas 45-33), there were 26 FBS-only games involving an SEC team to reach the 60-point barrier in 2012. Through a third of the 2013 season, there have already been 18.