College Football 2011: 20 Teams That Should Win All of Their September Games
If programs like No. 1 Oklahoma or No. 2 Alabama really think they are going to play for a BCS Championship, then the winning attitude needs to begin in September.
I'm pretty sure Bob Stoops and Nick Saban understand this simple fact.
September might be the easiest month to pull off this feat, as the big dogs normally schedule a few patsies at the beginning of the season.
So which teams have what it takes to start the season without any losses in September?
Let's look at the 20 that have the best shot.
Alabama Crimson Tide
If you believe a team is going to play for a BCS Championship then you better think they are going to go undefeated in the first month of the season.
Alabama needs to go undefeated in September because November is much tougher.
The second-ranked Crimson Tide will cruise to 3-0 with big wins over Kent State (Sept. 3), at Penn State (Sept. 10) and North Texas (Sept. 17).
Alabama’s only serious threat to being perfect is a home game with No. 15 Arkansas on Sept. 24. It’s in Tuscaloosa, so it’s a safe bet.
Arizona State Sun Devils
This is the year Dennis Erickson and the Sun Devils catch some breaks.
The September slate is not easy, especially considering Arizona State has two ranked opponents. But both games—No. 21 Missouri (Sept. 9) and No. 25 USC (Sept. 24)—are in the desert.
Arizona State also plays UC-Davis (Sept. 1) and at Illinois (Sept. 17).
After pulling off this 4-0 start, ASU will be ranked in the top 15 and the rest of the nation will take notice of players like Brock Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict.
No one really believes Connecticut can repeat as Big East champions, but it’s not unrealistic to see how the Huskies could open the season 5-0.
First-year coach Paul Pasqualoni was welcomed with a manageable non-conference schedule that starts with Fordham on Sept. 1.
The biggest challenge may come at Vanderbilt the following week on Sept. 10. The Huskies also get Big 12 bottom-feeder Iowa State at home on Sept. 16, before closing the month with a trip to Buffalo on Sept. 24.
UConn should also open October with a victory against Western Michigan, as the Huskies finish their Mid-American Conference schedule at 2-0.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech may have endured a rough 2010, but the Yellow Jackets and their triple-option offense will be piling up yards on the ground again this season.
Paul Johnson’s squad should roll to a 3-0 start with wins over Western Carolina (Sept. 1), at Middle Tennessee State (Sept. 10) and Kansas (Sept. 17).
The biggest challenge comes from North Carolina, which has to travel to Atlanta. The Tar Heels are talented, but still adjusting to the abrupt coaching change.
The Yellow Jackets just may be the buzz of the ACC heading into October.
Iowa will start the month (Tennessee Tech on Sept. 3) and end the month (Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 24) with victories.
What the Hawkeyes do at Iowa State on Sept. 10 and back at Kinnick Stadium with Pittsburgh on Sept. 17 could dictate if Iowa has an average season or well above-average season.
Pittsburgh will still be in a bit of transition under a new coach, while Iowa State doesn’t have the same talent. But rivals can be stingy.
Kirk Ferentz is a good coach and he’ll maneuver the month of September to the tune of 4-0.
Louisville has just three games in September, and even if Steve Kragthorpe were still coaching the Cardinals, it would be hard to see how they wouldn’t go 3-0.
The Cardinals must re-establish their running game again this year, and they will learn a lot by opening with Murray State on Sept. 1. A week and a day later, Louisville welcomes Florida International to Papa Johns Stadium.
FIU may be the defending Sun Belt champs, but the Golden Panthers went 1-4 in games outside of their conference.
Kentucky is the only serious threat to Louisville’s perfect September. The Wildcats are a low-end SEC team and this is actually a good in-state rivalry.
But Strong wants to exact a little revenge and the Wildcats are in his crosshairs.
Much like Alabama, No. 4 LSU believes it can win every game this season.
I’m not sure they go 13-0, but the Tigers will fend off three serious challenges in September and come out the other side 4-0.
This could all come crashing down on the opening weekend, but LSU’s defense should shut down No. 3 Oregon’s powerful offense enough to win a close game.
The Tigers get a break the second week against Northwestern State, before traveling to No. 20 Mississippi State just five days later.
If Les Miles finds a way to navigate the first three weeks with a perfect record his reward is a challenging non-conference game in Morgantown against No. 24 West Virginia.
Nebraska begins the season as the Big Ten favorite and a reasonable pick to reach the BCS Championship.
Add in the talent that Bo Pelini has surrounded himself with and it's easy to pick the Cornhuskers to win a lot of games.
Last year Nebraska opened with five straight wins. It's easy to see how the Cornhuskers will win four straight.
The 4-0 run in September is relatively easy with Tennessee-Chattanooga (Sept. 3), Fresno State (Sept. 10), Washington (Sept. 17) and at Wyoming (Sept. 24).
It appears Dan Persa is going to be healthy and playing quarterback for Northwestern when the season opens Sept. 3 at Boston College.
It won't be an easy road trip, but the Wildcats are more talented than the Eagles so Pat Fitzgerald's team will be off to the right start.
From there Northwestern should be just fine against Eastern Illinois (Sept. 10) and at Army (Sept. 17).
North Carolina State Wolfpack
When your toughest game of the month is a faltering Big East team, there shouldn’t be much cause for concern.
Even without Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Wolfpack should cruise past Liberty (Sept. 3), at Wake Forest (Sept. 10), South Alabama (Sept. 17) and a Thursday night ESPN game at Cincinnati (Sept. 22).
The Sooners are the No. 1 team in the nation, so they are expected to win every game of the season.
But winning three straight in September is going to be a huge challenge, even for Oklahoma.
The Sooners will have their hands full in the opener with Tulsa at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
It’s the next two games that will really challenge OU. On Sept. 17, Oklahoma will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to face No. 6 Florida State in one of the more anticipated games of the season. FSU is better and ready to challenge anyone.
It doesn’t get much easier a week later when the Sooners host No. 21 Missouri, a team that knocked off Oklahoma last year 36-27.
Even with the recent loss of quarterback Rob Henry, Purdue should host Notre Dame on Oct. 1 with a 3-0 mark.
It might be time for Robert Marve (pictured above) to finally live up to the hype and lead the Boilermakers to a winning season.
If Purdue gets on a roll, who knows how good it will finish.
Purdue gets a manageable start in September with Middle Tennessee State (Sept. 3), at Rice (Sept. 10) and Southeast Missouri State (Sept. 17).
South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier has spent a great deal of the offseason talking about the talent they have accumulated at South Carolina.
So this may be the year the Gamecocks challenge for an SEC Championship.
A 4-0 start would give them a perfect September and also two wins within the conference.
South Carolina shouldn’t have too many issues taking down East Carolina (Sept. 3), Navy (Sept. 17) and Vanderbilt (Sept. 24).
The toughest foe is SEC East-rival Georgia. The Gamecocks travel to Athens, Ga., on Sept. 10. The timing might be perfect as the No. 19 Bulldogs will be coming off an emotional game with No. 5 Boise State.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Led by quarterback Austin Davis, Southern Miss is considered a favorite in Conference USA.
The Golden Eagles are also coming out a new 4-2-5 defense this fall to help slow down all of the spread offenses in the league.
Coach Larry Fedora is starting his fourth season and it should all click early as Southern Miss takes care of Louisiana Tech (Sept. 3), at Marshall (Sept. 10), Southeastern Louisiana (Sept. 17) and a tough road game with Virginia (Sept. 24).
Stanford comes into the season ranked in the top 10, and the Cardinal have the favorite to win the Heisman in Andrew Luck.
Of course Stanford will open the season 3-0 despite two road games.
Luck will likely be pulled by the fourth quarter against San Jose State (Sept. 3) and at Duke (Sept. 10). The biggest challenge comes from a road game with Arizona on Sept. 17.
TCU Horned Frogs
No. 14 TCU is coming off a memorable 13-0 season that included a win in the Rose Bowl.
So going undefeated in a month is not a huge deal.
Nothing on the September slate presents what you might consider a major obstacle, but having to travel to Baylor (Sept. 2) and Air Force (Sept. 10) during the first two weeks could take a toll.
Home games with Louisiana-Monroe and Portland State are cupcakes.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Tommy Tuberville is expecting the Red Raiders to take another step further in his second season in Lubbock.
Texas Tech has the talent to be better and a 3-0 start is very realistic.
Of course it is when you face Texas State (Sept. 3), at New Mexico (Sept. 17) and Nevada (Sept. 24).
If Utah opens the season 3-0, it won’t be because of lack of skill on the other sideline.
The Utes may be new to the Pac-12 and the BCS thing, but Utah has one of the top coaching staffs in the nation and the personnel on the field to play with anyone.
After an easy opener against Montana State (Sept. 1), Utah goes on the road to USC (Sept. 10) in its first Pac-12 game. That’s a tough way to open, but the Utes might be primed for an upset in Los Angeles.
If Utah pulls it off Kyle Whittingham’s team won’t slip up at BYU a week later.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies might have the easiest schedule of any BCS team out there.
So unless Frank Beamer’s team has a meltdown like last year in September, the Hokies should be on the road to winning the Coastal Division again.
It would be a good bet to take the over on points for No. 13 Virginia Tech as it plays Appalachian State (Sept. 3), at East Carolina (Sept. 10), Arkansas State (Sept. 17) and at Marshall (Sept. 24).
The only realistic upset could come in Huntington, where the Herd can be tough to play.
No. 11 Wisconsin is a physical team with great leadership. Now add North Carolina State transfer Russell Wilson at quarterback and the Badgers should roll through September.
Bret Bielema’s team doesn’t play a true road game until Oct. 22, and the Badgers only leave Camp Randall to face Northern Illinois in Chicago.
So Wisconsin should roll over UNLV (Sept. 1), Northern Illinois (Sept. 17) and South Dakota (Sept. 24).
The biggest challenge is an Oregon State team that should be better than last season.
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