25 Biggest Takeaways from 1st Month of 2013 College Football Season

Alex Callos@@alexcallosCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2013

25 Biggest Takeaways from 1st Month of 2013 College Football Season

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    From thrilling finishes to major upsets, the first month of the college football season has had a little bit of everything.

    A lot of teams have lived up to expectations, while many others have fallen flat on their faces.

    The big boys like Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State have certainly looked the part, while others like TCU, Boise State and Notre Dame have failed to meet the standards we've become accustomed to.

    Some have won ugly, such as Michigan, and others, like UCLA, have been flat-out dominant.

    Either way, the first month of the season has certainly lived up to expectations.

    With October nearly upon us, here are the biggest takeaways from the month of September.

The FBS vs. FCS Games Are Getting Out of Hand

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    Even though the FCS schools had a solid showing during Week 1, it appears more and more like these games are getting out of hand.

    On opening weekend, FCS schools posted eight wins over FBS squads. Some big-name programs went down in defeat. Kansas State was knocked off by North Dakota State, and Oregon State lost to Eastern Washington.

    Both of those schools were FCS powers last season, so the wins were not complete surprises.

    Since Week 1, the story has been a little different. Dominating victories in Week 4 by FBS teams certainly turned some heads and made some realize it is time to take a second look at the games.

    The divide between the top-tier FBS teams and middle-of-the-line FCS schools is just too wide right now. Scores like 76-0 and 77-7 are not good for college football, and a change might be in order.

A Good Quarterback Is Very Important

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    When it comes to the quarterback position, college football is starting to look like the NFL.

    An excellent quarterback can go a long way in the NFL. That seems to be the case this season in college football.

    Nearly all of the top teams in the country have All-American-level quarterbacks.

    At the top of the rankings, teams like Alabama (AJ McCarron), Oregon (Marcus Mariota), Clemson (Tajh Boyd), Ohio State (Braxton Miller/Kenny Guiton), Louisville (Teddy Bridgewater), Florida State (Jameis Winston), Georgia (Aaron Murray) and Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel) all have great quarterbacks.

    The only two highly ranked teams that do not have All-American-caliber quarterbacks are LSU and Stanford.

    Needless to say, the quarterback position has been huge this year in college football.

Texas Might Be Worth Considering for Nick Saban

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    While most Alabama fans certainly do not want to admit it, it is not a guarantee that Nick Saban is going to finish out his career in Tuscaloosa.

    The past few weeks have certainly proven that to be true.

    Alabama might be a dream job, but Texas is a university that is on a completely different level.

    According to AP, conversations are already underway between a Texas booster and Nick Saban's agent regarding the possible opening at Texas, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

    Now, it is certainly still a long shot to think he would leave the Crimson Tide, but it is not out of the question.

    With the money Texas can offer, discussed by Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports, and everything that comes with it, it might be hard for Saban to turn down.

Freshmen Continue to Make a Larger Impact

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    The days of freshmen not making a huge impact are a thing of the past.

    There are some youngsters across the country who have made a dramatic impact this season.

    Leading the way is explosive Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. He is following in the footsteps of Johnny Manziel and is leading the Seminoles near the top of the national rankings.

    The SEC is a league that has some very talented freshmen. Running back Alex Collins has made an impact for Bret Bielema and his squad. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is already one of the best cornerbacks in the country.

    At Penn State, quarterback Christian Hackenberg has been solid all season long. At USC, safety Su’a Cravens has made a huge splash for the Trojans in the secondary.

    There are plenty of other teams loaded with talented freshmen.

    No question that some of the youngest players in college football are also some of the best.

Coaches' Wives Need to Keep Their Mouths Shut

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    It is one thing when coaches get into heated discussions, but when their wives start taking part, that is a completely different story.

    That was the case with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema's wife after her husband's former team Wisconsin fell, 32-30, on the road against Arizona State.

    A simple one-word tweet with reading "#karma" was all she said, but it went a long way.

    That was not the end of the debate, as the wife of Ohio State linebacker's coach Mike Vrabel decided to get in on the action a week later.

    Bielema's Arkansas team fell to Rutgers 28-24, and Jen Vrabel was quick to jump on that fact with this tweet.

    Thankfully, it has ended there, but these ladies need to stay away from social media for a little while.

The Hot Seat Comes About Earlier Every Year

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    Every year, the college football hot seat comes around sooner and sooner. The 2013 season is no different.

    There are plenty of coaches on the hot seat, but without question, the biggest name right now is Mack Brown.

    His squad is off to disappointing start, but it is still very early in the season. There is a lot of time to go, but do not be surprised if he is looking for a job at the end of the season.

    A possibility that he will be fired before the season ends also remains.

    Other coaches who might be looking for a job as early as a few weeks from now include Charlie Weis at Kansas, Terry Bowden at Akron and, with his latest comments, possibly Bo Pelini at Nebraska.

    Paul Pasqualoni of Connecticut became the latest coach to get fired when he was relieved of his duties on Monday.

    The hot seat is certainly a topic of conversation this year.

Depth Is Necessary at Every Position

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    While excellent starters at every position are important, depth is a key to the success of any college football team.

    That has proven to be true in 2013. One example is the Ohio State Buckeyes. Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton has stepped in during the absence of Braxton Miller. Without Guiton, the Buckeyes might have been in bad shape a few weeks ago.

    Depth is not only an issue when it comes to injuries, but it is also very important for the sustained success of a team.

    Offenses that run 80-90 plays a game, such as Oregon and Texas A&M, need to have depth to keep their players fresh.

    The Ducks not only have De’Anthony Thomas, to whom they are willing to hand the ball, but also Byron Marshall among others at running back.

    Texas A&M has a bevy of skill players it is not afraid to employ in any situation. Those weapons are necessary for the speed of the offense, which is led by quarterback Johnny Manziel.

    No question, depth has been a big positive for a lot of college football teams this season.

Jadeveon Clowney Is Clearly out of the Heisman Race

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    For a player with so much hype coming into the season, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney certainly has not lived up to the hype in 2013.

    Needless to say, his Heisman hopes have been dashed.

    So far this season, he has only recorded two sacks in the first four games.

    Clowney is playing with bone spurs, so he is clearly not 100 percent.

    With that being said, it has still been a huge down year for Clowney.

Johnny Manziel Is Still the Best Player in the Country

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    After one month of the season, there are a lot of standout players, but one player who has stood out, once again this season, is Johnny Manziel.

    Manziel has thrown 14 touchdowns so far this year, despite not playing the first half of Week 1 and most of the second half of two other games because of blowout victories.

    The reigning Heisman Trophy winner is one of many players having an excellent season, but nobody else has put up 42 on a defense like Alabama's.

    There is still a long way to go, but Manziel has made some amazing plays, much like he did last year.

    He still needs that Heisman moment, but after a month, it is easy to see that he is as good as it gets in college football.

The "U" Is Back

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    It took a few years, but it finally appears the Miami Hurricanes are back. It is still early in the year, but they have a signature win against Florida on their resume.

    Miami has the talent at the skill positions with Duke Johnson at running back and Stephen Morris at quarterback.

    The team ranks in the top 10 nationally in both points scored and points allowed. There is youth, talent and speed on both sides of the ball.

    The schedule is very favorable the rest of the year for the Hurricanes. The only ranked team remaining is Florida State on the road.

    That showdown on Nov. 3 could be the only thing separating the Hurricanes from a possible berth in the national championship.

The Mountain West Conference Is Loaded at Quarterback

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    Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and the Mountain West Conference has plenty of talented ones.

    Leading the way is Brett Smith from Wyoming. He ranks third in the country with 1,607 yards passing. He has also thrown 14 touchdowns with only four picks.

    Derek Carr of Fresno State is also near the top of the country in passing yards. He has thrown for 1,445 yards and 14 scores.

    Another excellent Mountain West quarterback is Chuckie Keeton of Utah State. Keeton can do it with both his arm and his legs.

    Joe Southwick of Boise State and David Fales of San Jose State rank in the top 20 nationally in passing yards.

    While other conferences might have bigger-name quarterbacks, the Mountain West Conference has nearly as much talent at that position as anybody.

    There are a handful of quarterbacks who have the skill to play at the next level.

The Pac-12 Conference Is Clearly the Second-Best in America

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    There is no question that the SEC is still the top conference in college football, but one league that is gaining quickly is the Pac-12.

    While it is still not at the level of the SEC, it is as deep and talented this year as it has been in quite some time.

    At the top of the conference are national title contenders Oregon and Stanford. Not far behind are Washington and UCLA. All four of those schools are undefeated.

    Along with those undefeated teams are one-loss schools who have improved. Arizona, Utah and Arizona State have been impressive this season.

    What has helped to set the league apart from others are some marquee wins. Arizona State knocked off Wisconsin, UCLA dominated Nebraska, Washington beat Illinois and Utah won at BYU.

    With a 29-4 overall record, this is a league on the rise.

The Luck of the Irish Does Not Last Forever

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    It appears Notre Dame used most of its luck during its 2012 undefeated regular season because this year has been a completely different story for the Fighting Irish.

    That magic of last year has worn off. Dare we say the luck of the Irish has run out?

    It might be magic, but it could also be a lack of skill players for Notre Dame. Losing names like Tyler Eifert and a pair of running backs from the 2012 season certainly hurt. The defense is not playing at the same level it was last season, allowing nearly 24 points a game.

    So far this season, Notre Dame is 3-2. With some challenging games coming up, it might be a long year in South Bend for the Fighting Irish.

    But do not count out the Irish just yet.

SEC Defenses Have Taken a Step Back

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    For all the success the SEC has had in recent years, particularly on defense, that is not the case in 2013.

    Last year, teams like Alabama, Florida and LSU dominated opposing offenses. This season, that has not been the case.

    There are only three SEC teams ranking inside the top 40 in scoring defense. Only Florida at No. 9 is ranked in the top 10.

    There could be a number of different reasons for that, but one of the main reasons is the emergence of excellent offenses in the SEC and across the country.

    The other leagues are starting to catch up with the speed and talent of the SEC defenses.

    It will be interesting to see if a SEC team makes the national title game and has to take on a team like Oregon or Ohio State.

Ohio State Has Two Heisman-Level Quarterbacks

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    The injury to Braxton Miller in Week 2 could have been devastating to Ohio State, but the emergence of senior Kenny Guiton calmed the nerves of Buckeyes fans.

    In five games, the two have combined for 19 touchdowns and only three interceptions. The combination has also rushed for 351 yards and another touchdown.

    The return of Miller gives Ohio State one of the best backup quarterbacks in the country in Guiton. He likely missed too much action to be in the Heisman conversation, but these two Ohio State quarterbacks could put up some astronomical numbers in 2013.

    Both certainly have Heisman-level talent.

Building a Dynasty Is Not Easy

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    What Nick Saban has done at Alabama and what Urban Meyer is in the process of accomplishing at Ohio State is certainly not easy.

    Building a dynasty in college football has proven to be no easy task.

    While Les Miles is accomplishing the feat once again at LSU, there are a number of college football head coaches who have had a lot of success in the past, but are struggling in 2013.

    Brian Kelly is finding things difficult at Notre Dame, as is Gary Patterson at TCU.

    Building a perennial top-10 team and keeping it there year in and year out is no easy task.

Patience Is Something That Does Not Exist in College Football

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    Most people could see it coming, but USC wasted no time this year in firing head coach Lane Kiffin.

    Here is another example that patience does not exist in college football.

    While USC was off to a slow start, the Trojans were still 3-2 after Saturday’s defeat at Arizona State.

    It was clear the team was headed in the wrong direction, so the university did not waste any time in getting rid of Kiffin.

    When a college football head coach takes a job, he knows that winning immediately is a must.

Some Offenses Simply Can't Be Stopped

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    As college football offenses continue to advance, the defenses seemingly fall farther and farther behind.

    This season, there are currently 25 teams averaging over 40 points a game.

    The struggles of the SEC defenses are a clear indication that offense is the name of the game in college football.

    There are certain teams, in particular, that are scoring nearly every time their offenses get the ball. Teams like Baylor, Oregon and UCLA are virtually unstoppable no matter what defense they are going up against.

    Offense is clearly the name of the game this college football season.

A Playoff Might Be Needed This Year

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    We are going to have to wait until the 2014 season for a playoff, but one might be needed this year.

    There are currently 20 undefeated college football teams. There are likely 10 teams with a legitimate chance for a berth in the national title game.

    If Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Clemson all end up undefeated, it will be bad news for two of those teams.

    While that is not likely to happen, there is an excellent chance we will have four or more undefeated teams at the end of the regular season.

    A playoff would be excellent to have this year.

Winning on the Road Is Not Easy

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    Winning on the road is not easy in any sport, but in college football, it is the ultimate challenge.

    The home team has a huge advantage, and that has proven to be the case in 2013. Some of the biggest games of the season have gone to the home team.

    Georgia lost on the road against Clemson, but then knocked off LSU at home. Miami beat Florida in South Beach, and Arizona State knocked off Wisconsin at home. Those are just some of the toss-up games that have gone to the home team this season.

    There are some tough college football venues this season, and home-field advantage has proven to be huge in 2013.

The SEC Is Still the Cream of the Crop

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    Even though there are only two undefeated teams remaining in the SEC, the league has stood out, once again this year, as the best in college football.

    There are currently seven teams ranked in the AP poll, and the league is 32-7 in nonconference games.

    That is pretty impressive—even for the SEC.

    This league is as deep and talented as it has been in years past.

    While the Pac-12 is making a run, the SEC is still heads and shoulders above the rest of the country.

The Running Game Is Making a Comeback

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    The spread and hurry-up offenses are popular this season. Most would think so many points are being scored because teams are making a concerted effort to throw the football.

    That is not exactly the case in 2013. Teams are running the ball with consistency, but scoring more points because plays are being run at a faster pace.

    The Oregon Ducks are second in the country in points and also fifth in the country in rushing yards. The speed of the offense has allowed the Ducks to average just under 60 points a game.

    Ohio State is another offense that loves to run the football, ranking fourth in the country.

    These are just two of the teams with a handful of talented running backs picking up huge yardage on the ground this season.

Coaching Can Make a Huge Difference

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    An excellent head coach is a huge advantage in college football. The top teams in the country are those not only with talented quarterbacks but also with coaches who know exactly what they are doing.

    A coach is not only important during games but also off the field for recruiting purposes.

    The most important aspect of any college football program is having a top-tier head coach.

    If a university hires the right man, the program can be turned around in a hurry. Just ask Ohio State, Louisville or Texas A&M.

It Is Time for a FBS Split

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    With the way college football appears to be heading, a split between FBS teams is looking more and more like it is going to happen.

    Talk of a "super division" heated up over the summer and continues to be a topic of conversation so far this season.

    It is not certain when exactly it will happen, or the details of the possible split, but it appears likely it is going to take place soon.

    It has not been said exactly which teams will form this super division, but these high-revenue football programs will have some power to make their own rules with the possibility of athletes getting paid some type of stipend.

    That leads us into the next topic.

It Is Time to Pay the Athletes

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    The Johnny Manziel autograph saga over the summer might have been the last straw when it comes to payment for college athletes.

    Manziel was accused of signing autographs for cash. While this happens all the time, when a player the caliber of Manziel comes under scrutiny, it makes national news.

    This has been a topic of conversation all season long and the consensus from most is that it is time to pay these athletes, an opinion shared by Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com.

    This topic will continue to be talked about in months ahead.