SEC September in review: Leonard Fournette rises, Auburn falls

Tacklers, whether they are flying through the air or not, have not been able to slow down LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sport

We’re a month into the season, and the SEC has stayed on script. Alabama and Auburn are undefeated, destined for another epic Iron Bowl. Arkansas and Tennessee are making noise in their respective divisions. And Jim McElwain is still learning how to coach in the SEC.

Oh wait, that’s not right?

Evidently, you can toss that script out the window. Here’s a look back at what really happened the first month.

Offensive player of the month: Leonard Fournette, LSU

We’re running out of ways to describe Fournette’s September, but it’s safe to say he has taken the sport by storm, rushing for an FBS-leading 210.3 yards per game and scoring eight touchdowns in three games. The toughest contests on LSU’s schedule are still ahead. It will be beyond impressive to see Fournette post these kinds of numbers against Alabama or Ole Miss. But for now, he’s on pace to have one of the best rushing seasons in SEC history. -- David Ching

Runner-up: Nick Chubb, Georgia

Defensive player of the month: Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

The sophomore defensive end is already more than halfway to his 2014 sack total (11.5) by compiling 6.5 sacks in September, which leads the SEC. His dominant performance in the Aggies' season-opening win over Arizona State yielded two sacks as well as effective run defense. Against Arkansas, he was kept in check for much of the night but made his biggest play at a critical time, sacking and stripping quarterback Brandon Allen on the Razorbacks' final regulation possession of a tie game.

Runner-up: Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

True freshman of the month: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

The receiver from Arizona has been one of the SEC's best players in the first four weeks. He leads the SEC in receiving yards (442), is second in receptions (24) and receiving touchdowns (four), leads Power 5 players in punt return average (37.25 yards per return) and is tops among Power 5 receivers in yards after catch. A&M already had what some considered to be the top receiving corps in the SEC and Kirk walked in and became the best of the group in a month's time. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Runner-up: Daylon Mack, Texas A&M

Best play: Ole Miss' miracle TD pass against Alabama

Funniest moment (unless you're Auburn): Leonard Fournette running over Auburn

Somebody set Fournette’s runs against Auburn to that “Yakety Sax” song from the old “Benny Hill Show” and post the video on YouTube. It was comical watching some of the failed tackle attempts as Fournette gashed Auburn’s defense for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Fournette’s performance, punctuated by his runs through tackle attempts by Auburn defensive backs Blake Countess and Tray Matthews -- was only sweeter for those at LSU because of Auburn defensive back Johnathan Ford's comments earlier in the week that stopping Fournette shouldn’t be difficult. -- Ching

September surprise: Florida goes undefeated

With his folksy charm and straight-shooting attitude, Jim McElwain had us fooled. He had us thinking Florida was a long way from competing. But while the job is nowhere near finished, McElwain getting Florida out to a 4-0 start is one of the best stories of the SEC. The O-line isn't a total disaster, QB Will Grier is doing just enough and the defense hasn't lost a step. Whether the Gators upset Ole Miss or not, Florida fans should be pleased with how their team is building. -- Alex Scarborough

Biggest disappointment: Auburn's fall from grace

In just a month’s time, Auburn has gone from playoff contender to a team that will have to scratch and claw its way to six wins. As for Jeremy Johnson, the Heisman contender at quarterback, he threw six interceptions and was benched after three games. And the defense, a unit that was supposed to improve with the addition of Will Muschamp, it’s still at the bottom of the SEC, allowing 413.5 yards per game. After Saturday’s loss to Mississippi State, even the players and coaches had accepted the fact this will be a rebuilding year. -- Greg Ostendorf

Best war of words: Bret Bielema vs. Kliff Kingsbury

The off-field battle between Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury might have been more entertaining than the on-field contest. Kingsbury fired the opening salvo after Texas Tech's 35-24 win over Arkansas on Sept. 19:

"At the Texas high school coaches convention this summer he stood up and said 'If you don't play with a fullback we'll kick your ass, if you throw it 70 times a game we'll kick your ass' and he just got his ass kicked twice in a row and probably next week by A&M as well. So that did feel good."

Bielema responded two days later: "I'm happy he got to vent and hopefully he feels a lot better. As a coach who has been in it for 10 years, I know better than to worry about somebody that's been around for a couple and they're .500. So we'll just go forward."

For good measure, Bielema added this, referencing Arkansas' 49-28 win over Texas Tech in 2014: "It's a perfect storm. I realize we haven't won in two weeks and it's an opportunity to jump on and have some fun with it. If that was an ass-kicking, I'd love to see what last year was. Obviously, it's all, 'What you've done for me lately?'" -- Khan