OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH: COLLIN KLEIN, KANSAS STATE
The catalyst of Bill Snyder’s ball control style and presumptive Heisman front runner, Collin Klein led Kansas State to wins over nationally ranked Big 12 foes Texas Tech and West Virginia, completely outclassing fellow bronze statue contenders Geno Smith and Seth Doege. Klein is the quintessential dual threat quarterback, exhibiting that in his evenly distributed rushing (6) and passing (5) touchdowns in the last two games.
- Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
North Carolina’s sophomore running back rushed for six touchdowns, scored No. 7 on a reception and returned a game-winning punt for No. 8 in October. Giovani Bernard has emerged as the nation’s No. 3 leading rusher after hitting or surpassing 135 yards in each of the month’s four games. His complement to quarterback Bryn Renner in the passing game has made Bernard the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards, and a dark horse candidate for the Heisman.
- Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois is unbeaten since dropping its Week 1 contest to Iowa, and the emergence of Jordan Lynch is paramount to the Huskies’ success. Lynch is the most dynamic dual threat quarterback in college football not named Collin Klein. Lynch is actually more prolific statistically, having already rushed for 1185 yards on the season.
- Marqise Lee, USC
Teammate Matt Barkley’s Heisman candidacy is likely toast, but Marqise Lee’s is just starting to cook. He set a Pac-12 receiving record against Arizona with 335 yards. Earlier in the month, he torched Utah’s secondary for 192 yards.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH: KHASEEM GREENE, RUTGERS
Khaseem Greene has been a one-man turnover machine. In October alone, the Rutgers linebacker intercepted two passes, forced four fumbles, and returned one for a touchdown. Rutgers’ hopes of an undefeated season were flashed out by Kent State, but Greene should very much be in the hunt for the Butkus Award — what’s that? You mean the linebacker with 74 tackles and the nation’s second most fumbles was left off the Butkus semifinalist list? Alright, then.
- Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jarvis Jones has had an outstanding season, and had his masterpiece thus far in Georgia’s defeat of Florida. Jones forced two fumbles in a win that keeps the Bulldogs’ BCS hopes alive, made three sacks, and four tackles for loss.
- Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
The Heisman Trophy candidate made interceptions in the Irish’s final two games of the month, one a momentum-shifting game changer against Oklahoma. But Te’o’s contributions to the stingy Notre Dame defense go far beyond his five interceptions. He plays all over the field, exhibited this month with 43 tackles. Two against Oklahoma were for losses.
- Quanterus Smith, Western Kentucky
The nation’s leader in sacks closed out the month with a flourish, getting to FIU’s quarterback five times. He now has 11.5 on the season.
- Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Aggie defensive end Damontre Moore made at least one tackle for loss and one sack in all four of A&M’s October outings, accounting for 27 yards lost to the opposing offense. His ability to burst off the line and into the backfield is a building block for the Aggie defense.
TEAM OF THE MONTH: NOTRE DAME
This was a tough honor to delegate. Kansas State was certainly a contender, having obliterated two Big 12 championship dreams and two Heisman candidacies in as many weeks. However, K-State started the month with a real cupcake via in-state rival Kansas. Notre Dame had no doormats in its 4-0 October.
Each of the opponents the Fighting Irish dispatched are bowl bound in all likelihood. Three of the four boasted top 20 defenses. One was a top 10 offense and massive favorite among both Las Vegas and pundits. Notre Dame went through them all to extend the program’s best start in nearly two decades.
- Kansas State
K-State’s 10-win 2011 season was treated almost as a novelty during the off-season, the result of eight single digit wins. When faced with the competition of top 15 opponents, K-State’s old school style didn’t stack up — particularly against Oklahoma and Arkansas. Such a recipe couldn’t work a second time in the high octane Big 12, could it?
It could. It has. K-State won’t replicate its 10-win total of 2011 — the Wildcats should surpass it, if Collin Klein and Co. continue to roll off the 48 points per game they averaged in four October wins.
- Kent State
Kent State is headed to its first bowl game since 1972, likely sealing the deal with an upset of Rutgers last Saturday. The Golden Flashes averaged nearly 37 points per game in October behind the explosive play of Dri Archer.