Five biggest storylines of September

As we turn the calendar to October, Fifth Down wants to take a look back at the month that was September.

The first four weeks of the season was not short on big games, big names, and plenty of shame. Here is a recap of the best stories so far.

LeGarrette Blount goes AWOL

The Oregon Ducks kicked off their season on the “smurf turf” in Boise with hopes of making a statement to the rest of the country. They sure made a statement, all right. Immediately following the Ducks’ abysmal performance in a 19-8 loss to the Broncos, Blount was approached by Broncos defensive end Byron Hout.

In the midst of the post game handshakes, Hout verbally taunted Blount, who responded with a sucker punch that sent Hout to the blue turf. That is when all hell broke loose. Blount had to be restrained by his teammates as he ran across the field erratically. He eventually would run at a Boise State student who stood along the fence leading to Oregon’s locker room.

The embarrassing act by Blount led to his suspension for the rest of the season, costing the Ducks and head coach Chip Kelly their NFL-caliber running back. The post-game fiasco overshadowed what was a dominant performance by Boise State, who by beating Oregon secured a signature win over a prominent BCS opponent. 

2009: the year of the Cougars

The best football team in the city of Houston might not be the Texans of the NFL, but the Cougars, coached by Kevin Sumlin. In the first four weeks of the season,

Houston has already taken down Big 12 South powers Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. I for one had believed Oklahoma State to be a national championship contender, and Texas Tech was coming off a close loss to Texas when Houston took them down.

Case Keenum’s legend is slowly growing in Texas, and it’s spreading throughout the country. Keenum led the late game-winning touchdown drive to be the Red Raiders, saving his team’s undefeated season.

Against the Cowboys in Stillwater, Keenum threw for 366 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

That performance put him on the map for Hesiman Trophy consideration, and has launched Houston to the front of the pack in terms of non-automatic qualifying teams knocking on the door for a BCS bowl bid.

The concussion heard ‘round the world

With one crushing sack, the stomach of every Gator fan in America was in his or her throat, as Tim Tebow lay motionless on the grass. Tebow took a shot from Kentucky defensive end Taylor Wyndham on Saturday that knocked him out of the game and sent him to the hospital.

It appears Tebow will recover quickly and be ready to play in the Gators’ next game at LSU, but the world has now seen a dent in Superman’s armor. The senior quarterback has made a career out of running like a fullback, punishing defenders who dare step in his path. For the first time in his four years at Florida, Tebow was knocked out of a game.

Even when he returns to action, it’s hard to believe he will be the Tebow we have all come to know. The Gator coaching staff will surely place more emphasis on protecting its quarterback in the pocket, which means fewer playmakers running free down the field.

Also, don’t expect to see any designed runs from Tebow, either. Since he has been on campus, short-yardage situations are almost automatic conversions with Tebow in the backfield.

Urban Meyer will surely not run Tebow up the middle in the next few games to keep him safe. With the road trip to Baton Rouge and a game against Georgia looming in October, that could spell disaster for Florida’s championship dreams.

The plight of the Atlantic Coast Conference

The opening weekend said it all for this conference. Virginia lost to William and Mary. Duke fell to Richmond. NC State didn’t even score a touchdown in a loss to South Carolina. Wake Forest lost to Baylor. Maryland was embarrassed in a 39-point blowout loss to California.

As the doomsday of the conference unfolded, its last hope rested on the Virginia Tech Hokies, who were in Atlanta playing the fifth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Tech led much of the way before a big fourth quarter from Mark Ingram clinched the game for the Tide.

Since that awful initial weekend, things have not gotten much better for the league. North Carolina needed a fluke safety against Connecticut late in the game to beat the lowly Huskies. Maryland needed overtime to defeat the James Madison Dukes, then followed that up the following week with a one-point loss to Middle Tennessee State. Virginia blew a 20-point lead in the second half to Southern Miss to lose again.

In the month’s final week of games, Florida State laid an egg at home against South Florida, who was led by a freshman quarterback making his first career start. Miami, which had been the league’s lone bright spot early in the year, never looked competitive in a 31-7 drubbing at the hands of Virginia Tech.

The fate of the conference now rests squarely on the shoulders of the Hokies, who are now ranked sixth in the polls. They are the most consistent team in the conference, and must run the table in the regular season to salvage any respect for the ACC.

Don’t worry, though: basketball season is only a month away.

The most talked about right shoulder in the Midwest

In the closing minutes of the second quarter against BYU, the Oklahoma Sooners witnessed the impossible. Their defending Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford rolled around in severe pain, suffering from a sprained shoulder.

Bradford elected to return to school after a dominant 2008 season, despite the fact he would have likely been the NFL Draft’s first overall selection. That decision was looking like a mistake after news spread that Bradford would miss at least a month of action if not more.

Landry Jones, a freshman, replaced Bradford in the lineup against BYU, but failed to carry the Sooners to victory. A 14-13 Cougar victory added insult to injury, literally, and the Sooners fell from the ranks of the elite.

Thankfully, Jones has since recovered to play lights-out football, including a six-touchdown performance against a good Tulsa team.

Bradford is expected to return this week against Miami. However, unless he is 100 percent healthy, head coach Bob Stoops would be well served to keep Jones in the lineup. After all, he looks very comfortable in the offense at this point, and being Bradford back against a defense as physical as Miami’s might not be the best remedy for his recovery.

The four-month period of college football’s regular season is the best time of the year. We are through with the metaphorical first quarter of the season, and it was a thrilling one. The craziness has only just begun, so let’s all sit back and watch the madness unfold together.


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