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College Football's 10 Biggest Surprises of September

Carl StineCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2016

College Football's 10 Biggest Surprises of September

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    College football in September of 2012 is a thing of the past.

    Boy was it interesting.

    There were plenty of unexpected events—enough to keep us talking about them for a very long time, if the season didn't keep going with games in October.

    This list runs down the top 10 biggest surprises of the month, from unexpected team performances, to a conference that has disappointed, to huge statements by individual players.

    Read on for the biggest surprises of the first month of college football.

Next Five

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    Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: Horribly disappointing start to the season.

    Morgan Breslin, DE, USC: Led the nation in tackles for loss going into Week 5.

    Kansas State Wildcats: Bill Snyder continues to show us why he is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.

    Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: It's not surprising that Smith has been excellent so far this season, but 20 touchdowns and no interceptions? Ridiculous.

    Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State: It's not often NMSU gets some positive attention. Franklin is bringing that with his monster season of 33 catches for 627 yards and seven touchdowns.

10. Big Ten's Flop

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    Piling on the Big Ten is extremely fashionable right now, despite the fact that 2012 has not been anything unusual for the conference.

    It's the fact that the expected front-runners have not looked that great that is dragging this conference down.

    Wisconsin has struggled with inferior opponents, and the Badgers already suffered a loss to Oregon State.

    Michigan has lost two games already this season, and the only remaining undefeated teams are Northwestern and Ohio State.

    The fact that the conference is 0-3 against Notre Dame and can't beat a MAC team could be contributing to the perception of the conference's collapse.

9. Pac-12 Depth

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    I don't know about you, but I did not expect the Pac-12 to be this deep.

    The conference has six teams in the Top 25, is 23-9 in non-conference play and has already had two top-10 teams upended by conference foes.

    Oregon appears to be the class of the conference, with USC and Stanford not far behind. Oregon State has been a pleasant surprise, as has UCLA, while the Arizona schools have been better than expected.

    After the Big 12, this conference may be the deepest in the nation.

8. David Ash, QB, Texas

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    Ash has taken a step in the right direction and provided the balance to the 'Horns offense that has not been there the past two seasons.

    His completion percentage last season was only 57 percent through 174 attempts, and he threw eight interceptions and only four touchdowns.

    My, what a difference a year makes!

    Ash has completed 78 percent of his attempts on the season and thrown only one pick, while tossing 10 touchdowns.

    It's still early, and the Big 12 slate is looming, but so far, Ash has done his part to help balance Texas' offense and make this team a legit BCS title contender.

7. The Sun Belt Conference

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    September was full of Sun Belt surprises.

    Louisiana-Monroe started it all off by upsetting top-10 foe Arkansas. Then, it kept us entertained by pushing Auburn and Baylor to the edge in consecutive weeks.

    The conference that has been the worst in FBS for some time has taken significant steps in the right direction, with significant non-conference victories.

    While ULM has the signature win, Western Kentucky has a win over last season's 2011 Conference USA champion, Southern Miss, and another against SEC foe Kentucky.

    A good start to 2012 for a conference that many still consider to be the worst in the nation.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Before the season, there were many in the media who thought the Irish's schedule was far too tough to allow a trip to a BCS game.

    How about now?

    Notre Dame has cut back on turnovers despite starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback, and its supposedly two toughest opponents, USC and Oklahoma, have already lost a game apiece and looked vulnerable in doing so.

    Brian Kelly's defense is not just good, it's slightly south of great right now, and it continues to improve despite injuries and lack of depth in the secondary.

5. Florida Gators

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    The Gators are off to a perfect 4-0 start, including a 3-0 record against the SEC already this season.

    Young quarterback Jeff Driskel has done a solid job for Will Muschamp's squad, throwing only one interception so far this season despite back-to-back road trips to Texas A&M and Tennessee.

    But he is not alone. The Gators defense has been good when needed, having made a huge impact on each of the team's games to date.

    Not many predicted the Gators to win the SEC East, but right now they look as good as any team in the division.

4. Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa

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    It's touchdowns such as his last one of Week 4 that have Hawkeye fans (and the rest of us) raving about this guy.

    Iowa's running back issues have been well documented, and Weisman has been the solution so far.

    This Air Force transfer who walked on at Iowa is on pace to shatter the 1,000-yard mark, despite only getting two carries in the Hawkeyes' first two games.

    The man is a tank.

3. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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    It might be time to start paying attention to this team.

    The Scarlet Knights boast a new head coach, a perfect record and a top-10 rush defense.

    Kyle Flood's team had three road games out of their first four contests, including one to Arkansas, and it has emerged unscathed.

    While the predicted powers in this college football season continue to stumble or struggle, Rutgers just keeps rolling. In a weak Big East, this team a shot at finishing the season without a loss.

2. Stefphon Jefferson, RB, Nevada

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    Jefferson leads the nation in rushing, and it's not even close.

    His 877 yards are 120 more than the running back right behind him. He's averaging over 5.4 yards per carry and has already found pay dirt 11 times on the ground.

    Last season, he averaged 6.1 yards per carry, so maybe we should not be surprised, but even so, I don't think anybody expected him to be the most productive back in football.

1. Oregon State Beavers

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    How many of you predicted Oregon State to be undefeated and ranked at this point in the season?

    Put your hands down; you are all lying.

    The Beavers have already beaten three teams that have been in the Top 25 this season (Wisconsin, Arizona, UCLA), and they continue to surprise with their stout defense and productive passing game.

    Head coach Mike Riley was on the hot seat after a disappointing 8-16 record in 2011 and 2010, but not anymore. The Beavers defense has derailed the Heisman hopes of two running backs (Montee Ball and Johnathan Franklin), and a team that was hampered by injury last season continues to make a statement.


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