It was an interesting week in the SEC. Alabama made another huge statement with a convincing win at Arkansas, but the most noteworthy game took place in Knoxville. Florida was sensational in the second half of a 37-20 win over Tennessee. The Gators are already 2-0 in the SEC with both wins coming on the road.
Post-Week 3 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Aaron Murray, Georgia — The junior quarterback is completing 63.8 percent of his passes for 842 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw for a career-high 342 yards in the Bulldogs’ win over FAU last weekend.
2. Mike Gillislee, Florida — The Gators’ rejuvenated offense has leaned on Gillislee in key road wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee. Saturday night in Knoxville, he ran for 115 yards on 18 carries, and he leads the SEC after three games with 346 yards.
3. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — The Texas high school legend has been terrific through two games for the Aggies. He has thrown for 467 yards and four touchdowns (with no INTs) and has added 184 yards and three scores on the ground.
Post-Week 3 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia — Jones remains on top of the this list despite sitting out the FAU game with an injury. The junior outside linebacker has emerged as one of the most disruptive forces in the nation.
2. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State — Banks is one of the nation’s premier cornerbacks. He has two interceptions and 12 total tackles for the 3–0 Bulldogs.
3. C.J. Mosley, Alabama — The junior linebacker has been a consistent force on the dominant Alabama defense. He had five tackles in the Tide’s 52–0 win over Arkansas on Saturday.
Post-Week 3 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Nick Saban, Alabama — He is the coach of the nearly unanimous No. 1 team in the nation. His offense is brutally efficient, and his defense is dominant.
2. Will Muschamp, Florida — Two weeks ago, many were wondering if Muschamp was the right fit in Gainesville. Now, after two come-from-behind wins on the road in league play, he is being mentioned as a possible SEC Coach of the Year.
3. Mark Richt, Georgia — The Bulldogs survived a Week 2 scare at Missouri and then returned home and pounded Florida Atlantic. This team remains the favorite to win the SEC East.
Post-Week 3 SEC Power Rankings
1. Alabama (3-0, 1-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 1 Week 3 result: Beat Arkansas 52-0
In one of the most impressive performances of the Nick Saban era, Alabama routed the Tyler Wilson-less Razorbacks with surprising ease. Bama outgained Arkansas 438-to-137 with a balanced offense (200-plus yards passing and rushing) and a dominating defense that allowed an average of only 2.2 yards per play. The Crimson Tide has recorded two straight shutouts and has only allowed points in two of 12 quarters this season. Next Game: FAU
2. LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 2 Week 3 result: Beat Idaho 63-14
LSU completed its season-opening three-game homestand with its third straight blowout victory. The Tigers blew open a relatively close game — they only led 21–14 late in the second quarter vs. the winless Vandals — by scoring the final six touchdowns of the game. Zach Mettenberger, making his third career start, completed 17-of-22 passes for 22 yards and two touchdowns. LSU has now won an NCAA FBS record 40 straight regular-season non-conference games. Next Game: Auburn
3. Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 3 Week 3 result: Beat Florida Atlantic 56-20
Georgia averaged a staggering 11.3 yards per play on the way to setting a single-game school record with 713 total yards in the easy win over Florida Atlantic. Junior quarterback Aaron Murray threw for a career-high 342 yards (on only 19 attempts) and two running backs, true freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, topped the 100-yard mark despite each getting only 10 carries. Georgia has scored more than 40 points in its first three games for the first time in school history. Next Game: Vanderbilt
4. Florida (3-0, 2-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 6 Week 3 result: Beat Tennessee 37-20
Since struggling to beat Bowling Green in Week 1, Florida has been one of the most impressive teams in the nation. First the Gators won at Texas A&M in the Aggies’ first-ever SEC game. Then, on Saturday night, Florida dominated Tennessee in the second half on its way to an eighth straight victory over the Volunteers. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was sharp (he threw 219 yards on 20 attempts), but the Gators did most of their work on the ground. Mike Gillislee gained 115 yards on 18 carries to lead a running attack that gained 336 yards on 43 attempts. The Gators are the only team in the nation with two conference wins. Next Game: Kentucky
5. South Carolina (3-0, 1-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 4 Week 3 result: Beat UAB 49-6
The Gamecocks cruised to their second straight lopsided win at home, pulling away in the second half to defeat UAB 49-6. After struggling on offense in the season-opening win over Vanderbilt, South Carolina has topped the 500-yard mark in consecutive games. Connor Shaw returned to the starting lineup after sitting out last week’s game vs. East Carolina, but he had to leave the game in the second quarter after taking a big hit to his shoulder. South Carolina has only given up two touchdowns in 12 quarters this season. Next Game: Missouri
6. Mississippi State (3-0, 1-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 7 Week 3 result: Beat Troy 30-24
Mississippi State is 3–0 for the first time since 1999 after holding on to beat Troy on the road. It was a big night for two Bulldog skill players: Tailback LaDarius Perkins rushed for 179 yards on 23 carries, and wide receiver Chad Bumphis became the first MSU player with three touchdown catches since 1969. Bumphis caught six passes for 180 yards. The Bulldogs gave up 572 total yards but won the turnover battle 4-to-0. Next Game: South Alabama
7. Missouri (2-1, 0-1 SEC) Last week’s rank: 8 Week 3 result: Beat Arizona State 24-20
Playing with a backup quarterback in front of a patchwork offensive line, Missouri gutted out a four-point win over a solid Arizona State team Saturday night. Corbin Berkstresser made his first career start in place of the injured James Franklin, and the redshirt freshman from Lee’s Summit, Mo., completed 26-of-46 passes for 258 yards and one touchdown. This game, however, was won on defense. The Tigers forced four turnovers and held an Arizona State offense that topped 500 yards in its first two games to 296 yards. Next Game: at South Carolina
8. Texas A&M (1-1, 0-1 SEC) Last week’s rank: 9 Week 3 result: Beat SMU 48-3
The Aggies bounced back from the emotional loss at home to Florida in the school’s SEC debut by rolling past SMU in Dallas with ease. Redshirt freshman Johny Manziel was sensational for Texas A&M, throwing for 294 yards and four touchdowns and adding 124 yards and two scores on the ground. The Aggies struggled a bit in the first quarter, but scored touchdowns on seven of eight drives during one stretch — four of which that went for 70 yards or longer. Next Game: South Carolina State
9. Tennessee (2-1, 0-1 SEC) Last week’s rank: 5 Week 3 result: Lost to Florida 37-20
The Volunteers weren’t quite ready for the national stage. In the most anticipated game of the Derek Dooley era, Tennessee watched Florida score the game’s final 24 points — including two on touchdowns that covered at least 75 yards — of a disheartening 37–20 loss. Tennessee struggled to run the ball, averaging only 3.0 yards on 28 rushing attempts. Conversely, Florida ran for 336 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per rush. Next Game: Akron
10. Auburn (1-2, 0-1 SEC) Last week’s rank: 11 Week 3 result: Beat UL Monroe 31-28 in OT
Auburn averted disaster — and its first 0–3 start since 1950 — by edging giant killer UL Monroe in overtime. The biggest positive for the Tigers was a running game that picked up 255 yards on 42 carries. Onterio McCalebb led the way with 128 yards on 11 carries, and Tre Mason added 90 yards on 22 carries. Kiehl Frazier continued to struggle at quarterback. The sophomore completed 10-of-18 passes for 130 yards with one touchdown and one pick. Those aren’t bad numbers, but the Tigers would like see more production against a Sun Belt foe. Next Game: at LSU
11. Arkansas (1-2, 0-1 SEC) Last week’s rank: 10 Week 3 result: Lost to Alabama 52-0
In one of the low points in Arkansas football history, the Razorbacks put up little fight in a 52–0 loss to Alabama on national television. The Hogs, playing without quarterback Tyler Wilson, managed only 137 yards of offense and averaged a paltry 2.2 yards per snap. Brandon Allen went 10-of-18 for 60 yards and two interceptions, and Brandon Mitchell, last year’s backup quarterback who had moved to receiver, completed 1-of-7 for 19 yards. Next Game: Rutgers
12. Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC) Last week’s rank: 12 Week 3 result: Beat Presbyterian 58-0
The Commodores broke into the win column with an easy victory over FCS foe Presbyterian. The Commodores scored on their first nine possessions and rolled up over 600 yards of offense en route to their most decisive win since blanking The Citadel 58–0 in 1999. In a surprising move, second-year coach James Franklin went with junior Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback in favor of senior Jordan Rodgers. Carta-Samuels, a transfer from Wyoming, completed 13-of-20 for 195 yards and one touchdown. Next Game: at Georgia
13. Ole Miss (2-1, 0-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 13 Week 3 result: Lost to Texas 66-31
After starting the Hugh Freeze era with two wins over inferior competition, Ole Miss was ambushed at home by a Texas offense that totaled 676 yards. The Rebels had success of their own on offense — they had nearly 400 yards and 31 points against one of the nation’s top defenses — but had no answer for the balanced Longhorn attack. Texas rushed 350 yards and threw for 326 more. Next Game: at Tulane
14. Kentucky (1-3, 0-0 SEC) Last week’s rank: 14 Week 4 result: Lost to Western Kentucky 32-31 in OT
Joker Phillips' worst fears became a reality: His team lost at home to Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers were in control for most of the night — they held leads of 17–0 and 24–10 — but Kentucky forced overtime by scoring on a 22-yard touchdown strike from Maxwell Smith to DeMarcus Sweat in the final minute. That, however, just delayed the agony for UK fans, who watched in horror as WKU converted a 2-point conversion for the win after scoring a touchdown in the first overtime session. Kentucky has now lost to the other two FBS schools in the state. Not good for Joker. Next Game: at Florida
Notre Dame hosts Purdue; three key showdowns in SEC
College football's second weekend of action is highlighted by three key games in the SEC. Here's a prediction on every game this weekend.
No. 32 Utah at No. 85 Utah State
Utah has won 12 straight over its in-state rivals from Logan, and only two games have been decided by 10 points or less. But it would be a surprise if this one got away from the Aggies, especially on their home field. Not sure if Utah State can win, but it should be close. Utah 28-20
No. 102 Western Kentucky at No. 1 Alabama
They’ve won eight of their last nine games dating back to the 2011 season with the only loss coming against LSU. No, not Alabama. We’re talking about Western Kentucky, which was the only seven-win team last season that did not go to a bowl game. Alabama 44-10
No. 2 USC vs. No. 62 Syracuse (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Syracuse rolled up 596 yards of offense against Northwestern in Week 1 at home — and lost. Now, they head to the Meadowlands to face one of the elite teams in the nation. The Orange might have some success through the air against the USC defense, but they will have a very difficult time slowing down the dynamic — and balanced — Trojan attack. USC 41-14
No. 24 Washington at No. 3 LSU
Washington is embarking on a stretch that will feature three of its next five against teams currently ranked among the top four in the nation. In addition to this trip to the Bayou, UW travels to Oregon on Oct. 13 and hosts USC on Oct. 20. The Huskies are making strides under third-year coach Steve Sarkisian, but the program isn’t yet in position to seriously threaten any of the three looming superpowers. LSU 30-17
No. 83 Fresno State at No. 4 Oregon
The most important thing that we learned in Oregon’s Week 1 win over Arkansas State? That the quarterback’s last name is pronounced MAR-ee-oh-tah. Oregon 44-17.
Florida A&M at No. 5 Oklahoma
Florida A&M scored 14 points last week against Tennessee State. The Rattlers will probably need to score about 50 to win this game. Don’t see that happening. Oklahoma 48-13
No. 61 UCF at No. 6 Ohio State
UCF boasts some quality talent on offense. The Knights have an outstanding quarterback (Blake Bortles) and deep backfield that includes former Miami Hurricane Storm Johnson. This game could be interesting into the second half. Ohio State 31-14
No. 7 Georgia at No. 29 Missouri
Missouri’s journey into the SEC begins Saturday in Columbia, Mo., when the Tigers host Georgia, the defending champs of the East. Both teams won their respective openers with ease, though Georgia couldn’t have been thrilled about allowing 347 total yards (199 on the ground) in its 45–23 win over Buffalo. Georgia 27-21
Savannah State at No. 8 Florida State
Savannah State’s march of death continues. Last week, the Tigers fell behind Oklahoma State 35–0 after one quarter en route to an 84–0 loss that could have been much, much worse. This week, Savannah State makes the short trip to Tallahassee. This, too, will get very ugly. Florida State 58-0
No. 116 New Mexico at No. 9 Texas
The Bob Davie era got off to a nice start with a 66–21 win over Southern. Now, however, the real fun starts for the Lobos. They play five of their next seven on the road, beginning with Saturday’s trip to Austin. Texas 41-3
No. 71 East Carolina at No. 11 South Carolina
Conner Shaw is questionable for Saturday’s home opener after suffering a bruise to his left (non-throwing) shoulder against Vanderbilt. If Shaw can’t go, sophomore Dylan Thompson would be the next man up. The South Carolina offense sputtered with Thompson in the game last Thursday. He went 0-of-3 (and didn’t come close) and was sacked twice. This could be a struggle if Shaw isn’t healthy. South Carolina 28-10
No. 101 UL-Monroe at No. 12 Arkansas
Arkansas struggled a bit in the first half with Jacksonville State before pulling away for a 49–24 win. The Hogs had trouble, at times, stopping the Gamecocks’ passing attack. UL-Monroe features a solid quarterback (junior Kolton Browning) and some experienced playmakers at wide receiver. The Hogs’ secondary could be tested. Arkansas 38-14
No. 13 Nebraska at No. 42 UCLA
It was no great surprise Nebraska beat Southern Miss with such ease — the final was 49–20. Nor that the Cornhuskers had 632 yards of offense. But what was surprising was the play of quarterback Taylor Martinez. The junior, who is known more for his running exploits, completed 26-of-34 passes for 354 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The Nebraska staff would be thrilled to get that type of production from Martinez on a consistent basis. Nebraska 27-21
No. 104 Ball State at No. 14 Clemson
Andre Ellington played his way into some (very) early Heisman talk by rushing for 231 yards in the Tigers’ win against Auburn. He can remain in the conversation with a big game against the Cardinals. Clemson 51-24
No. 91 Air Force at No. 15 Michigan
The Wolverines need a get-well game after their humbling loss to Alabama at Cowboys Stadium. I’m guessing that Denard Robinson will have more than 27 yards rushing. Michigan 37-17
Austin Peay at No. 16 Virginia Tech
The Hokies’ secondary doesn’t figure to be threatened too much this weekend. Austin Peay threw for 11 yards in a season-opening 49–10 loss at Western Kentucky. Virginia Tech 61-0
No. 17 Michigan State at No. 111 Central Michigan
Michigan State makes its first-ever trip to Central Michigan in a game that is expected to set an attendance record at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. The Chippewas’ coach, Dan Enos, was a starting quarterback at Michigan State in 1989-90. Michigan State 38-10
No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 51 Arizona
Somehow, Arizona only scored 17 points in regulation vs. Toledo last week despite rolling up 599 yards of offense through the four quarters. The Wildcats will need to be far more efficient this weekend against a powerful Oklahoma State team that puts points on the board in a hurry. Oklahoma State 34-20
No. 53 Purdue at No. 19 Notre Dame
The matchup to watch in South Bend will be Purdue’s underrated defensive tackle tandem of Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston vs. Notre Dame’s interior offensive line. Notre Dame 28-17
Grambling at No. 20 TCU
TCU begins its 2012 season after sitting out Week 1 with a bye. Grambling is 0-1 after losing at Alcorn State 22–21. TCU 48-0
No. 21 Wisconsin at No. 59 Oregon State
Wisconsin’s 26–21 win over Northern Iowa was a little too close for comfort. Danny O’Brien played well in his debut at quarterback, but the Badgers did not run the ball as efficiently as usual. Montee Ball topped the 100-yard mark but averaged only 3.8 yards on his 32 carries. Oregon State is making its 2012 debut. Wisconsin 28-17
Missouri State at No. 22 Louisville
Louisville is feeling pretty good about itself after dominating rival Kentucky on Sunday afternoon. Teddy Bridgewater was terrific at quarterback, and two running backs (Senoris Perry and Jeremy Wright) ran for more than 100 yards. Louisville 44-14
Georgia State at No. 25 Tennessee
After an impressive Week 1 win over NC State in Atlanta,
the Vols return home to Neyland Stadium for what will be a stress-free Saturday. Georgia State poses absolutely no threat. Tennessee 51-0
No. 33 South Florida at No. 26 Nevada
Cody Fajardo did his best Colin Kaepernick impersonation last week, throwing for 230 yards and rushing for 97 in the Wolf Pack’s 31–24 win at Cal. South Florida held Chattanooga to 151 total yards in a 34¬13 win last week. Nevada 30-21
No. 43 Miami (Fla.) at No. 27 Kansas State
Kansas State is looking for quarterback Collin Klein to be more of a threat throwing the ball this season. He should have a big game, both with his arm and legs, against the suspect Miami defense that gave up 542 yards to Boston College last week. Kansas State 34-28
No. 28 North Carolina at No. 73 Wake Forest
Wake Forest struggled to beat Liberty last week, holding on for a 20–17 win in Winston-Salem. North Carolina, meanwhile, dominated Elon (62–0) with surprising ease. North Carolina 34-21
No. 63 Duke at No. 30 Stanford
Duke posted a solid Week 1 win, rolling past FIU 46-26 in Durham. The Blue Devils broke open a close game with a 30-point second quarter. Stanford had some trouble in its first game of the post-Andrew Luck era, beating San Jose State 20–17. Josh Nunes threw for 125 yards on 26 attempts for a very un-Luck-like 4.8 yards per completion. Stanford 27-17
No. 34 Florida at No. 32 Texas A&M
Florida’s search for competent quarterback play continues. Jeff Driskel received the majority of the snaps in the Gators’ tougher-than-expected 27–14 win over Bowling Green. His numbers weren’t bad (10-of-16 for 114 yards and one TD), but Florida only had one pass play that went for longer than 18 yards. This offense must be more balanced if the Gators plan on being a factor in the SEC East. Texas A&M 17-14
No. 35 Auburn at No. 47 Mississippi State
This a huge early season showdown between two teams that will be jockeying for position in the middle of the SEC West. Auburn remains a work in progress on defense under first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder. The Tigers, who gave up an average 421.1 yards in 10 games vs. AQ conference opponents in 2011, struggled to stop Clemson despite giving up only 26 points. Mississippi State, however, doesn’t have offensive weapons like Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington at Clemson. Auburn 24-21
Presbyterian at No. 36 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech returns home after a gut-wrenching overtime loss at Virginia Tech on Monday night. The Yellow Jackets’ option attack should have little trouble with the Blue Hose defense. Georgia Tech 50-10
Weber State at No. 37 BYU
BYU was one of the most impressive teams in Week 1, holding the Mike Leach-coached Washington State Cougars to 224 total yards in a 30–6 win in Provo. BYU 38-7
No. 57 Penn State at No. 38 Virginia
Penn State is fresh off a humbling loss at home to Ohio in the debut of coach Bill O’Brien. Now, the Nittany Lions take their show on the road against a Virginia team that threw for 361 yards in a 43–19 win over Richmond. Virginia 27-14
No. 115 New Mexico State at No. 40 Ohio
Ohio must avoid a letdown after its big win at Penn State last week. Frank Solich is a veteran coach who will make sure his team is ready to play. Ohio 31-13
No. 44 Illinois at No. 54 Arizona State
This would be a tough spot for Illinois at full strength, but the Fighting Illlini might be without starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who injured his ankle in the win over Western Michigan. Arizona State scored 63 points in the first showing of the Todd Graham Experiment. Now, we will see what happens against a quality defense. Arizona State 30-24
No. 41 NC State at No. 48 UConn
UConn didn’t allow UMass to cross its own 40-yard line in a 37–0 Week 1 win over the Minutemen. Don’t expect a repeat of that dominant defensive effort, but also don’t be surprised if the Huskies pull off the mild upset. UConn 27-24
No. 45 Vanderbilt at No. 48 Northwestern
Vanderbilt struggled to move the ball with consistency in a 17¬–13 loss to South Carolina last Thursday. The Dores picked up 276 total yards, but 28.7 percent of the yards came on one play, a 78-yard touchdown from Jordan Rodgers to Jordan Matthews. This week, they will face a Northwestern defense that gave up 596 yards to Syracuse in a thrilling 42¬–41 win at the Carrier Dome. Vanderbilt 34-24
No. 46 Iowa State at No. 52 Iowa
The ’12 season got off to a good start offensively for Iowa State. The Clones, a surprising home underdog to Tulsa, rolled up 441 yards in a 38–23 win over the Golden Hurricane. This rivalry game often doesn’t go as expected. This is just a hunch, but I like the Clones on the road. Iowa State 21-20
Howard at No. 49 Rutgers
Rutgers survived a mild scare from Tulane in the opener, holding on for a 24–12 win over the Green Wave in New Orleans. Now, it’s time for a tune-up before a difficult road swing through South Florida and Arkansas. Rutgers 41-3
Southern Utah at No. 50 California
The Golden Bears should take out the frustrations from last week’s loss at home to Nevada by pounding a Southern Utah club that gave up 569 yards to Utah State last week. California 38-6
No. 87 Texas State at No. 56 Texas Tech
Texas State was the biggest mover in the post-Week 1 Athlon 124, jumping from No. 121 in the preseason to No. 87 after its stunning win at Houston. The magical run will end in Lubbock. Texas Tech 31-17
No. 60 Louisiana Tech at No. 100 Houston
Houston, meanwhile, fell from No. 70 in the preseason to No. 100 after losing at home, 30–13, to Texas State. This is a very important game for first-year coach Tony Levine. Louisiana Tech 31, Houston 20
New Hampshire at No. 64 Minnesota
This won’t be a gimme for Minnesota. New Hampshire rolled up 531 yards of offense in a 38–17 win at Holy Cross last weekend. Minnesota 34–20
No. 122 Memphis at No. 65 Arkansas State
Memphis lost at home to UT Martin last week in Justin Fuente’s debut as the Tigers’ head coach. This could get ugly. Gus Malzahn will be eager to score a ton of points in his first game in Jonesboro. Arkansas State 56-10
No. 98 Maryland at No. 66 Temple
People who are surprised that Maryland is a 10-point underdog at Temple must have forgotten that the Terps lost at home to the Owls 38–7 last September. Temple 17-14
No. 97 Kent State at No. 67 Kentucky
Perhaps no coach in American needs a win this week more than Kentucky’s Joker Phillips, who is 0–1 after losing badly to rival Louisville in Week 1. Kentucky 24-14
No. 68 UL-Lafayette at No. 105 Troy
UL-Lafayette has an opportunity for a big early season road win in the Sun Belt. Troy played well last week in a win at UAB, but UL-Lafayette is a more formidable foe with a bunch of offensive weapons. UL-Lafayette 33-23
No. 80 UTEP at No. 70 Ole Miss
Ole Miss hosts a UTEP team that went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma into the fourth quarter before losing 24–7. The key to avoiding the upset for Ole Miss will be slowing down tailback Nathan Jeffery, who rushed for 177 yards on 21 carries vs. Oklahoma. Ole Miss 17-14
No. 72 Toledo at No. 93 Wyoming
Toledo gave up 624 yards but only 24 points in a Week 1 overtime loss at Arizona. Wyoming isn’t as skilled as Arizona, but the Cowboys did manage 345 yards of offense last week against a very good Texas defense. Wyoming 41, Toledo 34
No. 114 Rice at No. 74 Kansas
Rice ranked last in the nation among the 117 teams that played last week by giving up an average of 9.36 yards per play in its loss to UCLA. That is not good. Kansas 41-10
No. 113 Tulane at No. 76 Tulsa
Tulsa has won all seven meetings (by an average of 30 points) between these two teams since Conference USA formed in 2005. Don’t expect this game to be any different. Tulsa 43-10
Eastern Illinois at No. 77 Western Michigan
Eastern Illinois scored 49 points and rolled up 522 yards vs. Southern Illinois last week. Western Michigan should win, but the Broncs will have to play well. Western Michigan 38-17
North Dakota State at No. 78 Colorado State
Jim McElwain began his tenure in style, beating rival Colorado 22–17 in Denver. Now, he makes his debut at home against a North Dakota State team that outgained Robert Morris 495-to-88 in a 52–0 win. Colorado State 24-14
Maine at No. 79 Boston College
Boston College opened the season with 41–32 loss at home to Miami, but the Eagles did show signs of significant improvement on offense, recording 542 total yards. Boston College 34-10
Eastern Washington at No. 81 Washington State
The Mike Leach era opened with a six-point, 224-yard effort against BYU. Not exactly what the Cougar faithful had in mind. Wazzu will have an opportunity to pick up a W this week, but it might not be easy. Eastern Washington won at Idaho last Thursday night. Washington State 27-10
Tennessee-Martin at No. 82 Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois came close to knocking off Iowa in Chicago despite picking up only 201 yards of offense (73 on one play). The Huskies should have more success in Week 2. Northern Illinois 37-14
No. 124 Idaho at No. 84 Bowling Green
These are not good times for the Idaho Vandals. The team without a conference — the school recently declared its Independence — lost last week 20–3 at home to Eastern Washington. Bowling Green 34-0
No. 119 Akron at No. 86 FIU
FIU has to be a bit disappointed after losing its opener by 20 points at Duke. The Golden Panthers will take out their frustrations on Terry Bowden and the Zips. FIU 37-10
UC Davis at No. 88 San Jose State
The Spartans played well in their opener, falling 20–17 at Stanford. Last year, the lost to Stanford 57–3. San Jose State 31-10
Sacramento State at No. 89 Colorado
Jon Embree’s second season at his alma mater didn’t start in fine fashion. The Buffs lost to rival Colorado State — and didn’t look good doing so. Colorado 37-13
No. 90 Indiana at No. 12 UMass
The Hoosiers avoided disaster by holding on for a seven-point win over Indiana State in Week 1. Now, they hit the road to play a UMass team that has yet to advance the ball past its own 40-yard line this year. Indiana 28-7
Western Carolina at No. 92 Marshall
Marshall had some trouble on the defensive end last week, getting torched by West Virginia for 69 points. The Herd will be eager to do the torching this Saturday. Marshall 34-10
Stephen F. Austin at No. 94 SMU
SMU did some good things on offense in a 59–24 loss at Baylor last Sunday. The Mustangs picked up over 500 yards of offense but were undone by some costly turnovers. This has a chance to be a good team. SMU 37-17
No. 96 Army at No. 95 San Diego State
San Diego State played well defensively in its 21–12 loss at Washington last week, holding the Huskies to a total of 326 yards. Army is making its 2012 debut. San Diego State 24-17
Southern Illinois at No. 103 Miami (Ohio)
The Red Hawks held their own early vs. Ohio State before being overwhelmed by the Buckeyes’ offense in a 56–10 loss. Zac Dysert threw for 303 yards to lead the one-dimensional Miami attack. Miami (Ohio) 33-10
Texas Southern at No. 106 North Texas
Think the talent differential is great between North Texas’ first two opponents? First LSU. Now Texas Southern. North Texas 33-10
Illinois State at No. 107 Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan needs to get out of this game as healthy as possible with trips to Purdue and Michigan State looming. Eastern Michigan 30-17
Morgan State at No. 110 Buffalo
Buffalo can’t be too disappointed with its performance at Georgia. The Bulls picked up 347 yards of offense and only trailed 24–16 at the half. Buffalo 28-7
Northern Arizona at No. 112 UNLV
UNLV missed a golden opportunity to beat a Big Ten team, losing to Minnesota in triple-overtime. The Rebels should improve to 1-1 against a Northern Arizona team that gave up 66 points to Arizona State in Week 1. UNLV 28-13
Nicholls State at No. 118 South Alabama
South Alabama dropped its first game as an FBS school last week, falling to Texas-San Antonio (another FBS newbie) 33–31 in Mobile. South Alabama 31-10
No. 120 FAU at No. 121 Middle Tennessee
This game is depressing. Middle Tennessee lost at home to McNeese State last week, while FAU “escaped” with a 10–7 win over Wagner. Both teams desperately need a win. Middle Tennessee 20-3
SEC Newcomers Mizzou and Texas A&M take center stage
College football’s second week of action features the debut of the two newest members of the SEC and a huge road trip for Nebraska.
10 Biggest Games of Week 2
Georgia (-3.5) at Missouri
Missouri’s journey into the SEC begins Saturday in Columbia, Mo., when the Tigers host Georgia, the defending champs of the East. Both teams won their respective openers with ease, though Georgia couldn’t have been thrilled about allowing 347 total yards (199 on the ground) in its 45–23 win over Buffalo. On a positive note, it doesn’t appear the Bulldogs will miss Isaiah Crowell too much; true freshman Todd Gurley, a 6-1, 218-pound North Carolina native, ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries. Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who underwent major shoulder surgery in the spring, was relatively sharp in the Tigers’ 62–10 win over Southeastern Louisiana. He completed 13-of-21 for 131 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Franklin, one of the top playmakers in the SEC when healthy, will have to be at his best on Saturday. Georgia 27, Missouri 21
Florida (+2.5) at Texas A&M
The other new SEC member, Texas A&M, also plays its first league game this weekend. It will also be the first game of the season for the Aggies, who had their opener vs. Louisiana Tech in Shreveport postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. Now, quarterback Johnny Manziel will make his first career appearance against an outstanding Florida defense that gave up fewer than 300 yards per game in 2011. Speaking of quarterbacks, Florida’s search for a competent signal-caller continues. Jeff Driskel received the majority of the snaps in the Gators’ tougher-than-expected 27–14 win over Bowling Green. His numbers weren’t bad (10-of-16 for 114 yards and one TD), but Florida only had one pass play that went for longer than 18 yards. This offense must be more balanced if the Gators plan on being a factor in the SEC East. Texas A&M 17, Florida 14
Miami (Fla.)(+7) at Kansas State
Beating Boston College, even on the road, is no reason to get overly excited, but Miami has to feel good about its offense after a 41–32 win in Chestnut Hill. Junior quarterback Stephen Morris was sharp (28-of-45 for 207 yards), but the big story for the Canes was true freshman tailback Duke Johnson, who ran for 135 yards and two scores on only seven rushes. The Miami defense, however, was not quite as impressive. Boston College, which ranked 112th in the nation in both total offense and scoring offense last season, rolled up 542 total yards — 441 through the air and 101 on the ground. Kansas State struggled early against FCS foe Missouri State before pulling away in the fourth quarter in a 51–9 win. The Wildcats are looking for quarterback Collin Klein to be more of a threat throwing the ball this season. He should have a big game, both with his arm and legs, against the suspect Miami defense. Kansas State 34, Miami (Fla.) 28
Nebraska (-5) at UCLA
It was no great surprise Nebraska beat Southern Miss with such ease — the final was 49–20. Nor that the Cornhuskers had 632 yards of offense. But what was surprising was the play of quarterback Taylor Martinez. The junior, who is known more for his running exploits, completed 26-of-34 passes for 354 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. The Nebraska staff would be thrilled to get that type of production from Martinez on a consistent basis. There was some bad news in Lincoln, however. Tailback Rex Burkhead went down with a sprained MCL in his left knee in the first half and isn’t expected to play this weekend. UCLA pounded Rice in Houston in coach Jim L. Mora’s debut with the Bruins. Tailback Johnathan Franklin ran for 214 yards and three scores on 15 carries, and quarterback Brett Hundley, playing in his first career game, threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. This is one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. Nebraska has the edge in the trenches, so go with the Huskers. Nebraska 27, UCLA 21
Washington (+23.5) at LSU
Washington is embarking on a stretch that will feature three of its next five against teams currently ranked among the top four in the nation. In addition to this trip to the Bayou, UW travels to Oregon on Oct. 13 and hosts USC on Oct. 20. The Huskies are making strides under third-year coach Steve Sarkisian, but the program isn’t yet in position to seriously threaten any of the three looming superpowers. Washington features some high-quality offensive players — most notably quarterback Keith Price — but its defense will have a tough time against quality competition. LSU will be tested for the first time after disposing of North Texas in predictable fashion (41–14) in Week 1. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, in his first start at LSU, completed 19-of-26 for 192 yards and a touchdown. If he plays well — and gives the Tigers’ offense balance — this team will very difficult to beat. LSU 30, Washington 17
Purdue (+14.5) at Notre Dame
Notre Dame returns to the mainland after an impressive 50–10 win over Navy in Dublin, Ireland. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson was solid in his first career start, but the Irish got it done with their rushing attack. With starter Cierre Wood back in South Bend while serving a two-game suspension, Notre Dame turned to Theo Riddick (19 carries, 107 yards) and George Atkinson III (nine for 99) to power a ground game that averaged 6.4 yards per attempt. Purdue had no trouble with Eastern Kentucky, the alma mater of Boilermakers coach Danny Hope. Starting quarterback Caleb TerBush was suspended for the opener, leaving Robert Marve and Rob Henry, who have played significantly at Pudue, to handle the snaps. On Monday, Hope announced that TerBush will get the start for Notre Dame. Notre Dame 28, Purdue 17
Vanderbilt (-3.5) at Northwestern
Vanderbilt struggled to move the ball with consistency in a 17¬–13 loss to South Carolina last Thursday. The Dores picked up 276 total yards, but 28.7 percent of the yards came on one play, a 78-yard touchdown from Jordan Rodgers to Jordan Matthews. This week, they will face a Northwestern defense that gave up 596 yards to Syracuse in a thrilling 42¬–41 win at the Carrier Dome. Rodgers and Matthews figure to test the Wildcats’ shaky secondary with frequency. Northwestern, too, will present some problems on offense for Vanderbilt. The Wildcats are likely to play two quarterback; Kain Colter, the starter (if healthy), is a runner who is developing as a passer, while Trevor Siemian is a polished passer who came off the bench to lead NU’s game-winning drive at Syracuse. This is an important game for two programs who are hoping to find six wins to reach bowl-eligibility. Vanderbilt 34, Northwestern 24
Iowa State (+4) at Iowa
Iowa State scored a total of 15 points en route to losing three straight to Iowa from 2008-10. Last year, however, the Cyclones erupted for 44 points in a three-point win in Ames. The ’12 season got off to good start offensively for Paul Rhoads’ club. The Clones, a surprising home underdog to Tulsa, rolled up 441 yards in a 38–23 win over the Golden Hurricane. Yards will be tougher to come by in Iowa City this weekend. Iowa gave up only 201 total yards (73 on one play) in an 18–17 win over Northern Illinois in Chicago. Take out that one big play — a run by NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch — and the Iowa defense gave up an average of 2.4 yards per play. Offensively, Iowa had to be thrilled to get a big game from tailback Damon Bullock. A sophomore who rushed for a total of 20 yards last season, Bullock carried the ball 30 times for 150 yards. Now, Iowa just needs to keep him healthy. This rivalry game often doesn’t go as expected. This is just a hunch, but I like the Clones on the road. Iowa State 21, Iowa 20
Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State
This a huge early season showdown between two teams that will be jockeying for position in the middle of the SEC West. Auburn remains a work in progress on defense under first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder. The Tigers, who gave up an average of 421.1 yards in 10 games vs. AQ conference opponents in 2011, struggled to stop Clemson despite giving up only 26 points. Mississippi State, however, doesn’t have offensive weapons like Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington at Clemson. Mississippi State barely broke a sweat in a win over in-state “rival” Jackson State. The Bulldogs’ offense showed nice balance, with 202 yards rushing and 193 yards passing. They have some playmakers at the wide receiver position; it will be up to quarterback Tyler Russell to get them the ball. Auburn 24, Mississippi State 21
Pittsburgh (+4) at Cincinnati (Thu)
Paul Chryst appears to be the ideal fit at Pittsburgh, but his tenure as the Panthers’ head coach got off to a miserable start — a 31–17 loss to FCS foe Youngstown State. The most alarming part of the loss? It wasn’t a fluke. The Penguins were the better team. Youngstown State outgained Pitt (381 to 369), converted 11-of-16 on third down and did not commit a turnover. Tino Sunseri, who struggled in Todd Graham’s system, completed 19-of-30 for 239 yards but missed on some key throws. He will need to play better to give this team a chance to be successful. Despite their poor showing, the Panthers are only a four-point underdog on the road to a Cincinnati team that has won or shared three of the past four Big East titles. The Bearcats, however, must replace several significant contributors on both sides of the ball, most notably tailback Isaiah Pead, quarterback Zach Collaros and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe. We’ll find out early this season if the 2012 Bearcats are rebuilding or if they have reloaded for another Big East title run. Cincinnati 24, Pittsburgh 17
Athlon hands out some hardware for the opening weekend of college football
The first week of college football action is complete in the SEC. Here is our look at the week that was.
Team of the Week — LSU
The Tigers outclassed Oregon in the marquee game of the opening week of the college football season. The LSU run defense was dominant, holding Oregon to 95 yards on 28 carries. The Ducks did pass for 240 yards, but Darron Thomas averaged only 4.4 yards on his 54 attempts — a number that LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis would take every single week. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee didn’t do much — 98 yards passing with one TD — but he didn’t make many mistakes, either. The Tigers’ offense was powered by tailbacks Spencer Ware (99 yards on 26 carries) and Michael Ford (96 yards on 14 carries).
Disappointment of the Week — Auburn
Auburn deserves credit for keeping its focus and rallying for 14 points in the final three minutes of its 42–38 win over Utah State, but there were far more negatives than positives. Led by a true freshman at quarterback, Utah State rolled up 448 yards of offense and did not turn the ball over once. And on the other side of the ball, Auburn managed only 364 yards against an Aggie defense that allowed 428.8 yards per game in 2010. It’s not necessarily time to panic, but it’s clear — as we all knew heading into the season — that the ’11 Tigers are a work in progress.
Player of the Week — Vick Ballard, Mississippi State
All he does is score touchdowns. After leading SEC running backs with 19 rushing scores last season, Ballard reached the end zone three times on only 10 carries in Mississippi State’s 59–14 win at Memphis. The senior leads the league in rushing after one week, with 166 yards on a gaudy 16.6-yard average.
Freshman of the Week — Trey Depriest, Alabama
It was a relatively quiet week for freshmen in the SEC, but Alabama’s Trey Depriest played very well in his collegiate debut. The true freshman from Springfield, Ohio, led the Tide with 10 total tackles and added one quarterback hurry.
Around the SEC
• Nine of the league’s 12 teams played more than one quarterback in the opening week. Some were by design (Alabama, South Carolina and Ole Miss) while most the of the others were due to the lopsided scores. Some of the notable relievers were Arkansas’ Brandon Mitchell, who completed 10-of-11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, and Vanderbilt’s Jordan Rodgers, who threw a 30-yard touchdown on his first pass attempt of his FBS career.
• Kentucky had only 190 yards of total offense in its 14–3 win over Western Kentucky, with 58 coming on a late scramble by quarterback Morgan Newton.
• Ole Miss’ defensive effort against BYU looks pretty good on paper — the Cougars scored only one offensive touchdown and had a total of 316 yards — but the Rebels struggled to get off the field in the second half. BYU’s two drives in the third quarter went for 67 yards and 59 yards and the first drive of the fourth quarter went for 72 yards and a touchdown.
• Utah State had five drives of 65 yards or longer against Auburn. Four of Auburn’s six second-half drives went for 43 yards or more.
• Alabama’s defensive effort against Kent State — 90 yards allowed — is even more impressive if you consider that the Golden Flashes ran 70 plays from scrimmage. The Crimson Tide allowed an average 1.29 yards per play, by far the best in the nation in the opening week.
• There were a couple positives for Georgia in its 35–21 loss to Boise State. Tight end Orson Charles caught six passes for 109 yards, and true freshman wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell caught three passes for 64 yards and had one carry for 18 yards.
• Bruce Ellington, the starting point guard for South Carolina’s basketball team, had the first two carries of his Gamecock career, running for a total of 18 yards in USC’s 56–37 win over East Carolina. Ellington did not play football for South Carolina last fall.
• Vanderbilt redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Boyd became the first Commodore to catch two touchdown passes in the same game since D.J. Moore scored twice against Kentucky in November 2008. Moore, an All-SEC cornerback, played sparingly as a wide receiver late in the ’08 season.
• LSU did not play a game against a Pac-10 opponent from 1982-2003 but has played five since. The Tigers have defeated Oregon State (2004), Arizona State (’05), Arizona (’06), Washington (’09) and Oregon (’11) over the past seven-plus seasons.
Are you as ready for college football to start as we are at Athlon? Our daily countdown will take us right up to kickoff on September 1. Some days our number might represent an All-American player, a great stat or just something fun about the game we all love.
The quarterback position is easily the most important, and most difficult, position on the football field. Do the necessary skills needed to succeed change from high school to college football to the NFL? Of course, the need for accuracy, efficiency and touch increases exponentially from Friday night to Sunday afternoon.
The two-year starter at left tackle for The U, McKinnie was one of the most dominant blockers in college football history. Helping Miami to a National Championship in 2001, McKinnie did not allow a sack during the his entire career in Coral Gables. The two-time All-American won the 2001 Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman and finished eighth in the Heisman voting. He was also named the CNN/SI Player of the Year. He was the seventh overall pick by the Vikings in the 2002 NFL Draft.
This Sun Devil was virtually impossible to stop from getting the quarterback. Suggs set a school record with 44 sacks and 14 forced fumbles. He also set a school record with 65.5 tackles for a loss and finished his career with 163 total tackles. As a junior, Suggs set the NCAA single-season sack record with 24 quarterback stops. He won the Hendricks, Nagurski and Lombardi Awards in 2002 and was selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.
This elite recruit was an elite performer all over the secondary in Knoxville. As a freshman All-American, Berry set a Tennessee interception return yards mark with 222 yards on five interceptions and led all freshman in the SEC with 86 tackles. He was the SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year. As a sophomore, Berry broke his own record with 265 interception return yards on a nation-leading seven picks. He was used some on offense and special teams as well in 2008 and was a Finalist for the Thorpe, Lott and Bednarik defensive awards. He was a unanimous first-team All-America pick and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. As a senior he became a two-time consensus All-American and took home the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. He finished with 241 tackles, three sacks and 14 interceptions in only three years. Berry was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs.
There is little doubt that Bradford is the best quarterback ever to suit up for the Sooners. He owns all three yardage records: single game (468), single-season (4,720) and career (8,403). He owns the single-season (50) and career (88) passing touchdown records. He posted the two most efficient seasons in OU passing history in both completion percentage (69.5 percent in 2007, 67.9 percent in 2008) and quarterback rating (180.84 in 2008, 176.53 in 2007). He became only the second underclassman (albeit a redshirt) to even win the Heisman Trophy and led his team to the national championship game against Florida. He also set an NCAA freshman record for touchdown passes with 36. Oh yeah, and he did all this in only two seasons — both of which ended in a Big 12 Championship. Bradford threw only 69 passes his junior season after sustaining an injury that ended his college career. He declared for the NFL Draft and was taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
After redshirting, Crabtree burst onto the scene with the best single season a freshman player had ever had in college football history. He set freshman receiving records with 134 receptions for 1,962 yards and 22 touchdowns — all of which were school and conference records as well. He became the first freshman ever to win the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver, and was a first-team All-American. After 97 catches, 1,165 yards and 19 more touchdowns as a sophomore, Crabtree became the first player ever to win the Biletnikoff Award twice. He also became a two-time consensus All-American. However, his most famous accomplishment might have come on national TV against the hated Longhorns. With Texas Tech down by one point with eight seconds left in the game, Crabtree caught a pass over two Texas defenders, tip-toed down the sideline and into the endzone for the upset win over the No. 1-ranked Longhorns. After playing only two seasons in Lubbock, Crabtree was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
One the best tacklers in the history of college football, Willis was a two-time All-American, two-time All-SEC pick and won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2006. Willis was recognized that year as the nation’s best linebacker when he won the Butkus Award. He also claimed the Jack Lambert Award that season. He led the SEC in tackles per game two seasons in a row: 12.8 in 2005 and 11.4 in 2006. He finished with 355 total career tackles and was drafted with the 11th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Willis was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Pollack is the most decorated defensive player ever to put on the Red and Black. His 14-sack 2002 season set a school record for sacks in a single season; he is also No. 3 with his 12.5-sack 2004 campaign. His 36.0 career sacks are the career benchmark for any Bulldog. He is one of only two three-time All-Americans in school history. On his mantle sit two Ted Hendricks Awards for the nation’s top defensive end (2002, 2004), the Lombardi Award given to the nation’s top lineman (2004), the Bednarik Award given to the nation’s top defensive player (2004) and the Lott Trophy given to the nation’s top impact defensive player (2004). The 2004 SEC Player of the Year started 44 of his 50 career games, finishing with 283 tackles, 58 tackles for a loss, four INTs and 18 passes broken up. Pollack was drafted with the 17th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Three games into his sophomore season, Long earned his starting spot for good and never looked back. As a second-team All-Big Ten pick, he helped Michigan to the conference championship and Rose Bowl berth. Long battled injuries as a sophomore but flourished again as a junior, helping Michigan to a 11-0 start. The All-Big Ten selection was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and earned consensus All-American honors. After playing in his second Rose Bowl as a junior, Long returned to Michigan and claimed his second straight Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year award and all-league honor. He was a unanimous All-American and a finalist for the Outland and Lombardi awards. Long was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.
Arguably the most talented Wisconsin Badger of all time, Thomas appeared in 48 games, starting 39 of them (including one at DE against Auburn in the 2003 Music City Bowl). The two-time first-team All-American was the school’s first winner of the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top lineman. He was also a two-time finalist for the Lombardi Award. Thomas was the cornerstone of what was arguably the best overall offense in school history in 2005, a season that culminated in the upset demolition of the Auburn Tigers in the 2006 Capital One Bowl. The 24-10 win was head coach Barry Alvarez’s final game on the Wisconsin sideline. Thomas played some on the depleted defensive line in that game as well, helping the Badgers to out-gain the SEC power 548 to 236 total yards. As a senior, Thomas led the Badgers to a 12-1 record and a return trip to the Capital One Bowl — yet again beating another SEC power. UW won 17-14 over Darren McFadden, Peyton Hillis, Felix Jones and Arkansas.
The most decorated running back in NCAA history, Ron Dayne is currently the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher with 7,125 yards (6,397 without bowl games). As a freshman, Dayne set an NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,863 yards, although with the bowl game his 2,109 yards made him only the 10th player in history to top 2,000. He claimed Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Copper Bowl MVP honors as a freshman. He rushed for 1,457 yards and 15 TDs in 1997, becoming the first sophomore in history to be a finalist for the Doak Walker. He rushed for 1,525 yards and 15 TDs as a junior. His junior season finished with a Big Ten title and shocking Rose Bowl upset win over previously No. 1-ranked UCLA. As a senior, Dayne again topped the 2,000-yard mark (2,034) and scored 21 TDs en route to the Badgers' second straight Big Ten title. He was only the fourth player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons. He became the Big Ten’s first player ever to lead the league in rushing three different years. He earned two Rose Bowl MVPs and owns every major BCS Bowl rushing record — attempts (34, 2000 Rose Bowl), rushing yards (246, 1999 Rose Bowl) and rushing TDs (4, 1999 Rose Bowl). The consensus All-American won the 1999 Doak Walker, 1999 Maxwell, 1999 Big Ten Player of the Year and the 1999 Heisman Trophy. Dayne finished his career with 1,220 attempts for 7,125 yards and 71 TDs. He left Wisconsin with 48 school records and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
This dynamic dual-threat passed up a six-figure salary and potential MLB career with the Angels organization to play at WVU. He began his first college season as the co-starter, but in the seventh game, an injury to Adam Bednarik gave the reins to White for good. He finished unbeaten that season en route to the Big East crown and the school’s first-ever BCS bowl bid (and win) over Georgia. White was a Freshman All-American. After another stellar season in 2006, White led the Mounties to a second straight bowl win over Georgia Tech and claimed Big East Player of the Year honors. As a junior, White took WVU back to a BCS bowl and won Fiesta Bowl MVP after his stirring performance in a win over Oklahoma in head coach Bill Stewart’s first game. White finished sixth in the Heisman voting in 2007. After a Meineke Car Car Bowl victory in 2008, White became the first quarterback in NCAA history to start and win four bowl games. White finished as the NCAA all-time leading rusher among QBs with 4,480 yards. He is the single-game (424, 2006) and career total offense leader at WVU with 10,529 yards. He is second all-time in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns (47). He finished with 6,049 passing yards and 56 TDs on 64.8% passing. His 34-8 record as a starter is unmatched in WVU history.
A three-time consensus All-American, Reed was a cornerstone defender for the 2001 National Championship Miami team. He led the nation in interceptions that year with nine — returning three of the them for touchdowns. Reed was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, a semifinalist for the Nagurski Trophy and was Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Reed holds the school record for career INTs with 21, career INT return yards with 389 and interceptions returned for a touchdown with five. Reed was also a Big East Champion on the Track and Field team excelling at the javelin. He was the 24th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
As a freshman, Peppers burst onto the scene by leading North Carolina in tackles for a loss (10) and sacks (6). He earned freshman All-America honors. As a first-team All-ACC pick and second-team All-American, Peppers only got better as a sophomore, leading the nation in sacks with 15 and setting a school record with 24 tackles for a loss. After a third year of production, Peppers ended his Carolina career with 53 tackles for a loss and 30.5 sacks — both good for second all-time in UNC history. The 2001 consensus All-America defensive end also walked on to the Tar Heels’ basketball team and was a key reserve on the 1999-2000 Final Four team. The Bednarik and Lombardi Award winner was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft and immediately won the Rookie of the Year award.
Few redshirt freshmen — or any freshmen for that matter — have ever made an impact on a football field like Vick did in 1999. Whether he was flicking the ball 65 yards with ease or making speedy defensive backs look they were running in sand, Vick was and is unquestionably one of the greatest physical specimens ever to step onto a football field. His 180.4 QB-rating set an NCAA freshman efficiency record, as the talented dual-threat led the Hokies to an unlikely National Championship appearance. Vick finished third in the Heisman voting that season and nearly led Tech on an improbable comeback in the title game. Vick battled injuries during his sophomore season and finished his career with 3,279 passing yards, 21 TDs, 1,216 rushing yards and 17 TDs on the ground. Vick was the first overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons — who traded up to select the dynamic passer.
After he hung around Minnesota Vikings’ practices as a child because his father was a sportswriter, it should come as no shock at just how gifted physically and mentally Fitzgerald is on the football field. In only two seasons of play at Pitt, Larry-Fitz was a unanimous All-American in 2003 while claiming the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. He finished second in the Heisman voting to Jason White as only a redshirt sophomore. He was given the Walter Camp Award as the nation’s top player that year as well. He finished his career — which lasted only 26 games — with 161 receptions, 2,677 yards and a Pitt-record 34 touchdowns. He became the first Panther to record back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons and broke Antonio Bryant’s school record with 14 100-yard games. Fitz also holds an NCAA record with a touchdown catch in 18 straight games. He was selected with the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
Newton originally signed with Florida but left school after multiple off-the-field incidents led to an indefinite suspension. Newton transferred to Blinn Junior College in Brenham, Texas, where he won a NJCAA National championship before signing with the Auburn Tigers in 2010. In his first game as a Tiger, Newton accounted for five scores and topped 350 yards of total offense en route to SEC Player of the Week honors. The rest is history. His late-game heroics against Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina, Kentucky, LSU and Alabama earned Newton the 2010 Heisman Trophy, and provided more magic in the BCS National Championship game victory over Oregon. Newton led the SEC in rushing at 105.21 yards per game as well as QB efficiency (182.05). He finished his one-year Auburn career with 2,854 passing yards, 30 TDs, 7 INTs, 1,473 rush yards and 20 rush TDs.
LT was an unheralded recruit when he arrived at TCU in 1997 from Waco’s University High. After two solid seasons — 538 yards and six TDs as a freshman, 717 yards and eight TDs as a sophomore — Tomlinson exploded onto the national scene. His 269 yards against Arkansas State and 300 yards against San Jose State merely set the stage for his NCAA record-breaking 406 yards against UTEP. He carried the ball 43 times and set a school record with six touchdowns against the Miners. His 1,850 yards led the nation in rushing in 1999, but Tomlinson upped the ante as a senior when he posted the Frogs’ first 2,000-yard season. His 2,158 yards were not only a school and conference record, but also led the nation in rushing and placed as the fourth-best rushing season in NCAA history (at the time). He owns every major rushing record at TCU, while his 5,263 yards rank sixth all-time in NCAA history. As a senior, Tomlinson was a Heisman finalist and claimed the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in the nation. He finished his TCU career with 907 carries — at a 5.8 yards per attempt clip — and 54 rushing TDs. As the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Chargers, LT went on to become arguably the greatest NFL running back ever to play the game.
McFadden is very simply the most decorated player in school history, and he holds virtually all school rushing records. His 4,590 career rushing yards are tops in Arkansas history and are second in SEC history to Herschel Walker's 5,259 yards. His 325 carries in 2007 are a school mark as are his 785 career carries. He a school and SEC record with 321 yards rushing against South Carolina in 2007. He owns the top two rushing totals in school history (1,830 and 1,647). His 41 rushing TDs are second-best in Hog history. His 22 100-yard efforts are a school record as well. His 5,881 all-purpose yards are a school record. After Texas' Ricky Williams, McFadden became only the second player in NCAA history to claim two Doak Walker Awards (2006, 2007), and the explosive back finished second in the Heisman voting two years in a row. The two-time consensus All-American would have shattered SEC rushing records had he returned for his final season, but instead McFadden was drafted by the Raiders with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Other Arkansas Content:
2011 Athlon Sports Arkansas Team Preview
2011 SEC Predictions
2011 All-SEC Team
7. Matt Leinart, QB, USC
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Leinart became USC's first junior to the win the Heisman Trophy when he did so in 2004 while leading the Trojans to their — and his — second National Championship in a row. He completed 65.3% of his passes for 3,322 yards and 33 touchdowns with only six INTs that season. The three-time All-American was 37-2 as the starter and ranks second all-time on USC's career completions, passing yards and total offense charts. His 99 passing touchdowns are not only a school record but also a Pac-12 record. He owns 16 school records and led his team to three straight national title games.
With his trademark dreadlocks, a rare combination of strength and speed and a flair for the dramatic, Williams left an indelible mark on the University of Texas. As a freshman fullback, he broke Earl Campbell’s freshman school rushing record with 990 yards, claiming Southwest Conference Freshman of the Year honors. He helped Texas to one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history when the Horns beat Nebraska in the inaugural Big 12 title game as well. Williams earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors and claimed the Doak Walker Trophy as the nation’s top running back after his 1,893-yard, 25-TD junior season. As a senior, Williams ran his way to a Heisman Trophy and became the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher with 6,279 yards (since broken by Ron Dayne). Williams set 21 NCAA records and received the greatest percentage of first-place votes cast in Heisman history. He also became the first two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award in NCAA history. He won the Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards in 1998 as well. The two-time consensus All-American is currently second all-time in NCAA history with 452 points scored and owns 38 Texas school records.
Suh was arguably the most dominant defensive lineman of the last twenty seasons in all of college football; there are fewer awards that he didn't win than those he earned. He earned freshman all-league honors as a redshirt freshman. As a junior, Suh became the first defensive tackle to lead the team in tackles (76) since 1973. He also led the team in tackles for a loss (19.0), posted 7.5 sacks and returned two INTs for touchdowns. He also caught a TD while moonlighting as a fullback. In 2009, Suh made 85 stops, 12 sacks, 24 tackles for a loss, three blocked kicks and had one very huge interception against Mizzou. Suh dominated awards night that season, earning the Nagurski Trophy for top defensive player in the nation, the Outland Trophy for best interior lineman, the Lombardi for the top lineman or linebacker and Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player. The unanimous All-American was a Heisman finalist in 2009, finishing fourth. Suh was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and took home NFL Rookie of the Year honors.
It didn't take long for Peterson to establish himself as a star. He set an NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards and led the nation with 339 carries in 2004. Peterson helped lead the Sooners to the National Title game and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Despite missing four games as a sophomore, A.D. still managed to top the 1,200-yard mark. As a junior, Peterson injured his collarbone in a flukey dive into the end zone after a 53-yard touchdown run. Even though he missed big chunks of time over his final two seasons, Peterson still managed to rush for the third-highest total in school history with 4,045 yards. He "fell" to the Minnesota Vikings at the seventh overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Bush was one of the most electrifying players ever to step on a college football field. He earned the 2005 Heisman Trophy with 1,740 yards rushing and a Pac-10-record 2,890 all-purpose yards — including a conference-record 513 yards in a memorable performance against Fresno State. He finsihed his career with 3,169 yards rushing, good for seventh-best in school history. He won two Pac-10 Player of the Year awards and the 2005 Doak Walker as well. He finished with 6,617 career all-purpose yards. He was a key member of back-to-back National Championship teams in 2003 and 2004 before falling just short of a three-peat against Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
This is completely subjective, but in my limited viewing experience (since 1993), VY is the greatest player I have ever seen on a college gridiron. Young was 30-2 as a starter at Texas, became the first player in NCAA history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same year, won the Davey O’Brien Award, was a Heisman Finalist and put on, according to Pete Carroll, “the best performance I’ve ever seen by one player” in the 2005 National Championship win over USC. Young left after his redshirt junior season holding school records for career completion percentage (61.8%), single-game efficiency (85.7%), rushing yards by a QB (3,127), total offense for a career (9,167) and single-game total offense (506). The Big 12 Freshman of the Year (2003) and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (2005) is one of only four players in history to claim two Rose Bowl MVP trophies. Many believe that had voting for the Heisman taken place after the bowls, Young would have easily beaten out Reggie Bush for the coveted trophy.
Tebow's cult following began with his recruitment process and grew during his freshman season, when he played his jump-passing back-up role perfectly and enjoyed being a part of an SEC and National Championship in 2006. In his first season as the starter, Tebow shattered all expectations with 3,286 yards passing, 895 yards rushing and 55 total touchdowns (32 pass, 23 rush). Tebow was a consensus All-American, Davey O’Brien winner and became the first underclassmen to win the Heisman Trophy. As a junior, he led the Gators back to the SEC and National Championship, breaking Emmitt Smith’s rushing touchdown record along the way. He finished with 2,747 yards passing, 30 TDs and only four INTs to go with his 673 rushing yards and 12 more rushing trips to paydirt. As a senior, the legend led the Gators to an unbeaten regular season before falling just short of a third SEC and BCS national title berth at the hands of the Crimson Tide. Tebow rushed for an SEC-record 57 TDs over his career. In 985 passing attempts, he threw only 15 career interceptions. Tebow ended his career with a 176.0 QB rating, 9,286 yards and 88 passing TDs to go with 692 carries for 2,947 yards and 57 TDs on the ground.