College Football's Winners and Losers of October 2013
The month of October is finally coming to a close, and the college football landscape is starting to take shape.
Florida State had a great month, slaughtering the Clemson Tigers all the while bolstering Jameis Winston's Heisman Trophy resume. The Texas Longhorns also bounced back from a tough start to the season with a perfect record in October.
However, teams like Louisville and Georgia weren't as lucky this month and saw their national title dreams dashed.
With that, check out the winners and losers from the month of October.
Winner: Famous Jameis and the Florida State Seminoles
How about the freshman sensation Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles?
In October, FSU rolled through its three games, including two wins over ranked opponents Maryland and Clemson. In those two games, the Seminoles won by a combined score of 114-14.
That's right, 114-14. They beat two ranked opponents by a combined 100 points.
Winston also continued to make the case that he's the best football player in America with 1,129 passing yards and 12 total touchdowns.
The marquee win of the month, for arguably any team in the nation, was FSU's 51-14 rout of the Clemson Tigers on the road. That win has people thinking the Seminoles should be playing for a national title at season's end.
Loser: The Louisville Cardinals
The Louisville Cardinals saw their slim BCS national title chances slip away in October with their 38-35 loss to the UCF Knights on Oct. 18.
While he's played well, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater hasn't played to the level that many expected out of him this year. He's been limited to two or less touchdown passes in four of his last six games.
The Cardinals also fell to No. 19 in the BCS rankings, which not only eliminates them from the national title conversation but doesn't bode well for them making a BCS bowl at all.
Winner: Undefeated Non-BCS Schools
It's time to start paying attention to the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Both teams are undefeated and are led by some of the best signal-callers in the nation. The Bulldogs have Derek Carr at the reins, while NIU has dual-threat Jordan Lynch running the show.
Fresno State is 7-0 and survived a scare from San Diego State last week.
Meanwhile, Lynch and Co. have been rolling through teams and won every game in October by at least a touchdown. The only close game was against Akron, the same team that nearly upset the Michigan Wolverines.
As teams in the SEC, Big 12 and other automatic qualifying conferences continue to beat up on each other, these teams are making a serious bid to earn a BCS berth.
Winner: The Texas Longhorns Surge
At the end of September, the Texas Longhorns were 2-2, and fans in Austin were calling for Mack Brown's head on a platter.
Well, Brown seems to have saved his job and has the Longhorns poised to make a run at a Big 12 title with a 3-0 record in October, including a 36-20 rout of Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry game.
The Longhorns are 4-0 in the Big 12, which has them tied for first place in the Big 12 along with Baylor. The two schools face off in the season finale in early December.
Texas' resurgence is largely in part due to the play of Case McCoy. The former backup and oft-criticized younger brother to Colt McCoy earned a 130.2 quarterback rating and threw for 662 yards.
The Longhorns' first two games in November are against Kansas and WVU, so they should be undefeated at 6-0 before facing Oklahoma State on Nov. 16.
Loser: Georgia's Slide
After losing to Clemson in Week 1, the Georgia Bulldogs had rattled off four straight wins and were back in the national title conversation heading into an Oct. 12 matchup with the No. 25 Missouri Tigers.
But then, Mizzou pulled off a huge upset on the road to knock the Bulldogs out of BCS contention. One week later, Vanderbilt stunned the Bulldogs 31-27 and forced Georgia out of the rankings all together.
Aaron Murray's struggled in October are a huge reason for the Bulldogs' slide. After completing 67 percent of his passes in September, he completed just 55 percent in October, threw five less touchdowns and one more interception, per ESPN.
After a bye week, the Bulldogs will look to pick up the pieces this weekend against Florida, the team's first game since its loss to Vandy.
Winner: Auburn and Missouri's Rise in the SEC
Auburn's upset of Texas A&M on Oct. 19 on the road put the Tigers squarely in the SEC title race and made the statement that Auburn is back after two lackluster years.
The Tigers also beat a ranked Ole Miss team to start off the month on Oct. 5.
Auburn is now 7-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC, with its only loss coming to LSU. Nevertheless, the Tigers still control their own destiny to the SEC title game as they still have Alabama slated for Nov. 30.
Running back Tre Mason was one of the best runners in the nation in October, racking up 415 yards and five touchdowns over the span of four games.
Auburn hits the road for two straight weeks to start off November with games at Arkansas and Tennessee.
Loser: FAU's Former Coaches
In what turned into a TMZ-style situation, former FAU head coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis resigned from their posts after reports of illegal drug use on Oct. 30.
According to CBS Sports:
Florida Atlantic athletic director Pat Chun, Pelini and Rekstis "tendered their resignation after I confronted them with reports of illegal drug use."
Chun also said both Pelini and Rekstis both admitted to "illegal drug use" and that no other members of the FAU coaching staff or the student-athletes were involved.
A coach getting fired for drug use is certainly not what a team that just went 1-2 in October and is 2-6 overall needs.
FAU will start to pick up the pieces, but this latest debacle certainly puts the team in a bad place for the time being.
Loser: Illinois' Downfall
The Fighting Illini were 3-1 going into October and it looked like Tim Beckman was starting to earn some job security.
Not so fast. Illinois went 0-3 overall in October, with all three losses being by at least 20 points to Big Ten competition. Now it's back to the same old story with Beckman as it looks like 2013 could be his last season.
Defensively is where Illinois struggles the most, as they give up over 33 points per game, according to ESPN.
Things don't get any easier for Beckman as the Illini face Penn State, Indiana and Ohio State in their next three games.
Winner: The Oregon Ducks and Their BCS Chances
The Oregon Ducks rolled through easy competition in September. And while the nation was buying into them as a national title contender, they also wanted Oregon to prove themselves in October.
Well, with double-digit wins over all four teams they faced, including Washington and UCLA, the Ducks proved they are for real in 2013 under new head coach Mark Helfrich.
Marcus Mariota is also among the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy as he had a great month, putting up 1,278 yards passing and 15 total touchdowns.
Oregon faces Stanford to start off November. Should the Ducks get past the Cardinal, they should coast to the Pac-12 title game as they don't face a ranked opponent after Stanford.
Loser: Bo Pelini and the Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska's 34-23 upset loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers continued the discussion surrounding Bo Pelini's job security.
Pelini suffered a huge hit to his image earlier in the season when Deadspin posted audio of Pelini cursing out Nebraska fans.
Now, sitting at 2-1 in the Big Ten with games against Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State coming up, the Cornhuskers are unlikely to compete for a BCS berth or a conference title.
Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald wrote that Pelini's seat is getting hotter and hotter by the day.
What is clear is that mind-numbing losses like Saturday's in the sixth year of a regime are what put coaches in administrators' crosshairs. So I wouldn't be shocked if things have heated up substantially following the debacle at Minnesota.
Nebraska would seemingly need a huge turnaround in November in order to save Pelini's job.