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September Superlatives: Best games, teams, coaches and moments so far

We're through the first third of the college football season -- okay, there's still one more game before the calendar flips to October and it's a fairly massive one in No. 7 Stanford at No. 10 Washington on Friday night, but go with me here -- and chances are most of us won't remember most of what happened by the time someone lifts the oblong Playoff trophy in Tampa this January. That's just the way sports works. So with the season hitting the one-third mark, we thought it was time to dish out some awards before we move on to October.

Best performance: Louisville 63, Florida State 20. The Cardinals handed Florida State its worst lost since 1973, which might as well be the mesozoic era of Seminoles football considering where the program is today. Bobby Petrino's team jumped out early -- knifing 75 yards in six plays in the game's opening drive -- and led 14-3 after one frame, 35-10 at the half and 63-10 before finally letting the 'Noles off the mat.

Runner-up: Ohio State 45, Oklahoma 24.

Best player: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson has moved through defenses like a poisonous vapor in cleats. He ranks second in total offense, first in yards per touch, 10th in passing efficiency and eighth in rushing. Just look at these numbers:

Runner-up: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Best team: Ohio State. In his attempt to explain how North Dakota State would stack up in each FBS conference, USA Today's Paul Myerberg stumbled upon something remarkable -- Ohio State has been the nation's best team thus far, and it hasn't been particularly close. Using a formula that combines strength of schedule, adjusted offensive and defensive performance and the Sagarin ratings, Ohio State registered a score of 6.4. (The lower the better.) No. 2? Alabama at 13.0. Louisville was third at 16.8. The Buckeyes leave the month ranking...

  • 13th in yards per play, 8th in yards per play allowed
  • 3rd in scoring, 9th in scoring defense
  • 4th in passing efficiency, 1st in pass efficiency defense
  • 7th in rushing, 19th in rushing defense
  • 8th in third down conversions, 14th in third down defense
  • 4th in takeaways, 5th in giveaways and 1st in total margin

And, as mentioned above, Ohio State also has the second-best individual win of the season to date.
Runner-up: Miami

Best game: Texas 50, Notre Dame 47 (double overtime). It already hasn't aged like we thought it might back on Labor Day Sunday, but everything about this game -- the twists, the turns, the brands, the Tess Effect -- was college football at its absolute finest.

Runner-up: Arkansas 41, TCU 38 (double overtime).

Biggest surprise: Colorado. The last time the Buffs went on the road to beat one of the Pac-12's legacy programs was, uh, never. Mike MacIntyre's bunch opened the season with a thorough beatdown of Colorado State, put up a fight at Michigan and then pulled victory from the grasp of defeat at Oregon last Saturday.
Runner-up: Army.

Biggest disappointment: LSU. The fall from No. 5 to 2-2 made them the clear leaders for this dubious title, but the decision to fire Les Miles confirms it.
Runner-up: Everything about the Big 12's collective performance on the field and in the boardroom.

Best new hire, head coach division: Mark Richt, Miami. I suspected the change of venue and change of duties -- Richt is now calling plays at Miami -- would rejuvenate Richt, and his club's September performance confirmed those suspicions. The 'Canes are an astounding No. 2 nationally in yards per play and No. 1 in yards per play allowed.
Runner-up: D.J. Durkin, Maryland.

Best new hire, assistant coach division: Jim Turner, Texas A&M. You may not want him running your organizational sensitivity meetings, but the man can coach offensive line. After finishing last season ranked 70th nationally in yards per carry a year ago, the Aggies are up to fourth this season while placing among the top 30 in sacks and tackles for loss allowed.
Runner-up: Greg Schiano, Ohio State.

Best moment: Nebraska's remembrance of the late punter Sam Foltz.

Runner-up: James Conner leads Pittsburgh on the field to start the season after spending his off-season battling cancer.

Worst moment: Everything about the ending of the Oklahoma State-Central Michigan game.

Runner-up: Everything that led this knuckle head to light Toomer's Corner on fire. After a win, no less.

Best play: This catch won't be stopped all year. Or all decade.

Runner-up: It's been his month, so why not close with Lamar Jackson?