Welcome to the Week 4 edition of The Professor, a weekly wrap-up of everything you need to know about the weekend in the college football.
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With four games under their belt, many teams are already a third of the way through their 2013 college football regular season. Yet, with the shortest season in major American sports, we don't have nearly a big enough sample size to truly know much of anything. Sure, we can make educated guesses about how things will turn out. Based on all available evidence, from recent history to big wins so far this season, we are 99 percent sure of some things: Alabama is one of the best teams in the country, Oregon's offense is impossibly explosive, Louisville is as good as its schedule is bad, etc. But so much is still conjecture, and Saturdays like Sept. 21 prove just how much there is to come to allow us to form more complete opinions of teams and players.
We entered Week 4 knowing that it was perhaps the weakest slate of the season, and while college football often delivers the unexpected, that held true. Despite some near-surprises, chalk mostly ruled the day, 50-point favorites won by 50 and very little happened to alter our perceptions of how the 2013 season will ultimately play out. So let's start by looking at the key storylines from Saturday and figuring out what they mean.
What we probably know
The beauty of college football is its versatility. We live in an era of spread offenses, of up-tempo running and wide-open passing, but no offenses ever really die. They adapt, they blend with each other, and in some cases the overarching philosophies don't need to evolve much. At Stanford and LSU, the offenses can keeping running right over you.
Stanford and LSU entered Week 4 ranked fifth and seventh in the USA TODAY coaches' poll, respectively, but both had some lingering concerns. Stanford simply hadn't blown anyone away in only two games, both outside the spotlight, against San Jose State and Army, with questions about gaps to fill on offense. LSU, meanwhile, beat TCU in the opener, but TCU's loss to Texas Tech left us unsure about the quality of the win over the Horned Frogs, and between an up-and-down quarterback, a new offensive coordinator and a rebuilt defense, uncertainty reigned in Baton Rouge entering the season. But Saturday night presented nationally televised showcase opportunities for both Stanford and LSU to swat away improving conferences foes.
Stanford manhandled Arizona State for a half, jumping out to a 29-0 first-half lead before taking the foot off the gas too early in the second half and winning 42-28. Make no mistake, the final score was misleading -- the Sun Devils were overmatched by Stanford's physicality, with the Cardinal rushing 49 times for 240 yards and three TDs in their usual methodical style, in addition to QB Kevin Hogan averaging 8.9 yards on only 17 pass attempts. Most importantly, the Stanford defense looked every bit as impressive as anyone could have hoped, even without starting end Henry Anderson. The Sun Devils' final four drives of the first half gained a total of four yards on 14 plays. Only Stanford's lackadaisical play in the second half opened the door for the Sun Devils to move the ball.
As for LSU, it too showed weakness in the second half, when an energized Auburn team looked a lot different than the one that would have folded much of last season under Gene Chizik. But LSU won 35-21, and the game was never seriously in doubt. Jeremy Hill ran for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, while Zach Mettenberger, despite throwing his first interception, averaged 10.4 yards per attempt on 22 passes while playing in horrible weather. This LSU offense is different than it has been, in that Cam Cameron is much more willing to take chances and incorporate downfield passing, but LSU's identity is still the same as it's always been under Les Miles: overpower opponents on defense, force turnovers and run the ball down their throats. Mettenberger's development as a passer only makes all of it easier, and makes LSU more capable of keeping pace with the more explosive offenses that have infiltrated the SEC.
Like Stanford, LSU showed that it is still in a different class, and should be mentioned among national contenders. So now we look forward. Stanford and LSU appear to be on par with past iterations. Are they good enough to take down Oregon, in the case of the Cardinal, and Alabama/Texas A&M/Georgia/Florida, in the case of the Tigers?
What we're still figuring out
Then there are the teams that have glaring issues that have been evident for weeks and could remain in place for the season. Florida and Texas both won on Saturday, while Michigan State lost, and in the process, all three only added to the confusion about their status moving forward.
Florida's offense. Well, unfortunately, Florida's offense is now forced to change. QB Jeff Driskel left Saturday's 31-17 win over Tennessee with a broken fibula, ending his season and leaving Florida dangerously thin at quarterback. However, in his place, junior Tyler Murphy provided a spark. The Gators have suffered from a total lack of explosiveness on offense, but Murphy allowed them to be a little more creative, rushing 10 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and completing 8 of 14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown as he helped Florida sustain a few drives and win rather comfortably. Still... we'll see what happens. Florida has games against LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State left, and Murphy is hardly proven. We need to see the offense protect the ball better, and, ideally, we need to see guys like Solomon Patton emerge as consistent playmakers on the outside. Tennessee is one thing; sustained success against a brutal schedule is another.
Texas' everything. I can't be the only one who thinks that two Thursdays from now, Texas will go to Iowa State and lose to a bad Cyclones team before the Red River Rivalry, right? No? For one week, at least, Texas can be happier. Not content or thrilled with its long-term prospects, but at least happy with a win -- its first win over Kansas State since 2003. Playing shorthanded, with QB David Ash (head) leaving the game early and RB Daje Johnson, WR Mike Davis and OT Josh Cochran all out, the Longhorns beat the Wildcats 31-21, moving back to .500 behind the running of Johnathan Gray. Amazingly, the defense -- which gave up 550 rushing yards to a BYU team that lost to Utah and Virginia -- shut down the Wildcats' running game, holding them to 115 yards on 38 attempts.* It was an impressive performance, and certainly a better outing for new coordinator Greg Robinson than his first against Ole Miss. Still, this is not a particularly good Kansas State team, and what really hurt the Wildcats is their complete lack of trust in backup/running QB Daniel Sams as a passer. He was expected to play a big role given the Longhorns' struggles with running QBs, but he carried eight times for 48 yards and didn't attempt one pass, meaning even Texas could predict what he was going to do. So, it was undoubtedly a positive night, but teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor are all still on the horizon. The adventures in Austin are far from over, unless Vince Young's son is ready to suit up soon.
*Not all the news was good on Saturday night. For the second year in a row, starting linebacker Jordan Hicks is out of for the season. He ruptured his Achilles during the game.
Michigan State's offense. Look, it was bad again, and unless Youngstown State magically appears on the schedule several more times, it's probably going to stay rather bad. But it has to get better, right? The Spartans managed only 13 points in a four-point loss to Notre Dame, averaging a paltry 3.6 yards per play against a Notre Dame defense that has shown weakness in coverage in the first month of the season. QB Connor Cook looked solid at times, but he ended up completing 16 of 32 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, and watching as Andrew Maxwell weirdly replaced him and went 0-for-3 on the final drive. In three games against FBS opponents, the Spartans have four defensive touchdowns and three offensive touchdowns. The QB carousel just won't stop, and everyone, from the players to the coaches, can't stop getting in their own way.
What we're clueless about
Sigh. In Week 2, it all seemed so meaningful. In a beloved rivalry game under the lights in front of 115,000 people, Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon dazzled as Michigan beat defending national runner-up Notre Dame 41-30. The Wolverines looked like they might push for the Big Ten title, and Notre Dame looked like it could have beaten Michigan on a neutral field. All was well. Then Michigan decided to stop playing football for two weeks against bad teams.
In Week 3, perhaps experiencing a Notre Dame hangover, Michigan needed all the luck in the world to edge out an Akron team that outplayed it. Yes, the same Akron that has four wins since 2009 held a late lead at the Big House and had the ball at the two-yard line in the final moments but came up short. A loss would have certainly been worse than the loss to Appalachian State.
And then this Saturday happened, and Michigan needed a fourth-quarter comeback to shake off its turnover problems and win 24-21 at UConn -- yes, the same Huskies team that opened its season by losing to Towson.
The Big Ten is flawed, and it's possible the Wolverines will stop giving the ball to the other team and cruise to a Legends Division title. It also seems possible they'll finish fifth in the division, or anywhere in between. Notre Dame didn't help matters by nearly losing to Purdue, but it's impossible to tell where the Fighting Irish stand when we don't know where Michigan stands.
We'll learn plenty about Notre Dame against Oklahoma next Saturday. As for Michigan, it has a much-needed off week, and then we'll go back to trying to learn something about it every game, no matter the opponent.
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Grading the Weekend
A+: Baylor. OK, Baylor hasn't played anyone of significance. A season's worth of conclusions cannot be made based on a nonconference schedule featuring Wofford, Buffalo and UL Monroe. But UL Monroe was hardly Nicholls State or Florida A&M. The Warhawks are a living, breathing Sun Belt contender that nearly beat Baylor and Auburn last year, did beat Arkansas last year and beat Wake Forest last week. And, this year, on Saturday afternoon, the Bears absolutely demolished them, 70-7. They have now out-scored opponents 209-23, and on Saturday they even scored two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter. Bryce Petty threw for 351 yards and four touchdowns, Tevin Reese and Antwan Godley both had 100 receiving yards and Lache Seastrunk ran for 156 yards. Art Briles' offense is nothing short of unstoppable, and as the Bears flashed in games late last season, the defense is not a total pushover anymore. No, we can't suddenly anoint Baylor as a national title contender until it proves itself in a few key Big 12 games, but it's OK to be impressed.
A: Maryland and Rutgers. There is a lot to be concerned about within the current Big Ten, but at least the future members are pulling their weight. The road gets much tougher soon for Maryland, but Randy Edsall earned a lot of goodwill for himself as the Terrapins shut out West Virginia 37-0 in Baltimore. Not everything was perfect for the Terps: The running game didn't manage much, star wideout Stefon Diggs was an afterthought and they had only two drives longer than 50 yards. But the defense dominated the game and forced six Mountaineers turnovers, and Maryland capitalized. Winning 37-0 is somehow even more impressive when the offense didn't play that well.
As for Rutgers, it struggled much of the way against an Arkansas team missing starting QB Brandon Allen, but the Scarlet Knights dug themselves out of a 24-7 hole behind a 58-yard punt return touchdown by Janarion Grant and a memorable night for QB Gary Nova to win 28-24, sweeping a home-and-home series with the Razorbacks.
A-: Texas A&M. While some other SEC heavyweights looked sluggish, the Aggies would have none of that in a convincing 42-13 dismissal of SMU, which didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Johnny Manziel did Johnny Manziel things, throwing for 244 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and coach Kevin Sumlin was his aggressive self, with the Aggies recovering an onside kick up 14-0 in the first quarter. SMU QB Garrett Gilbert threw for 310 yards, but he needed 62 attempts to do it with the Mustangs trailing the whole way.
B+: Iowa. It takes a special kind of sorcery for Kirk Ferentz to get 59 points out of one of his Iowa football teams, or maybe it just takes an opponent as terrible as Western Michigan. Remember, this is a winless Broncos team that became the first non-NAIA team to lose to Nicholls State since 2010. Miraculously, Iowa actually had a run over 20 yards, although it was from QB Jake Rudock, and the Hawkeyes more than doubled the Broncos' total yards. Still, the 59 points came in Iowa fashion, with two defensive touchdowns and two Kevonte Martin-Manley punt return touchdowns balancing out the four offensive touchdowns.
B: Minnesota. The first half looked bad, but it's not as if San Jose State is a pushover. So while David Fales' near-300-yard first half was alarming, it wasn't that surprising. So kudos to the Golden Gophers for rallying to a big second half after taking a 20-17 lead into halftime. They ultimately won 43-24 to move to 4-0, despite a 5-for-12 passing effort from freshman QB Mitch Leidner, who instead paced the ground game with 24 carries for 151 yards and four touchdowns. RB David Cobb chipped in another 125 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, meaning the Gophers rushed for 353 yards as a team without starting QB Philip Nelson (hamstring) or starting RB Donnell Kirkwood (ankle).
B-: Clemson. How can we describe the Tigers' somewhat ugly 26-14 win at N.C. State on Thursday? Adequate survival. The Wolfpack aren't a bad team, and Carter-Finley Stadium has proven to be a house of horrors on occasion for highly rated teams. But the Tigers, with the help of questionable officiating that shifted the flow of the game, pulled themselves together and walked out of a hostile environment with a solid win. Tajh Boyd threw for 244 yard and another three touchdowns, with 10 completions to Sammy Watkins and, perhaps most importantly, two TD passes to promising but inconsistent wideout Martavis Bryant, who the team needs to step up as a reliable big-play threat.
B-: USC. A few years ago, a B- grade for a 17-14 win over Utah State would be unthinkable. But circumstances have changed, for both programs. The good news for USC is that Clancy Pendergast has admirably reshaped the defense through four games. The Trojans entered the game fourth nationally in total defense, and they stifled dynamic QB Chuckie Keeton and the Aggies' potent offense. Keeton finished with 179 passing yards and -15 rushing yards, as he was sacked four times by USC's talented front seven. After last week's blowout of Boston College, Lane Kiffin's offense regressed back toward reality, with Cody Kessler completing only 13 of 26 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown, but at least we know USC's defense is going to give it a chance to beat almost anyone. Keeton's the second or third best QB the Trojans will see all season.
C: Nebraska. South Dakota State is a good FCS team, ranked sixth nationally, but it has no business walking into Memorial Stadium and being competitive. That's why, for one quarter, it looked like it might get Bo Pelini fired after an already tumultuous week. But, after trailing 17-14 through the first 15 minutes, the Cornhuskers rattled off 38 straight points en route to a 59-20 win over the Jackrabbits, with freshman Tommy Armstrong filling in at QB for the injured Taylor Martinez. Ultimately, Nebraska did what it usually does: It ran for 335 yards, but it also struggled on defense, giving up 202 yards and two touchdowns to SDSU's Zach Zenner. The good news for the Huskers is, in a troubled Legends Division, their Ohio State/Wisconsin-free schedule looks manageable, perhaps landing Pelini in his famous four-loss territory, again.
C-: Alabama and Georgia. Let's just forget these sandwich game hangovers ever happened. In between an exhausting win at Texas A&M and a home date with Ole Miss, Alabama had to entertain former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain's Colorado State Rams, who are now 1-3. With several key players (WR Amari Cooper, WR Kevin Norwood, G Anthony Steen and CB Deion Belue) sitting out and RB T.J. Yeldon temporarily benched for last week's taunting, the Crimson Tide mostly sleepwalked, holding only a 17-6 edge at the end of the third quarter before AJ McCarron went to work and gave them a 31-6 win late. Georgia, meanwhile, had a week off after its big win over South Carolina, but it too had its issues before next week's showdown with LSU. North Texas pulled even at 21-21 with the Bulldogs early in the third quarter thanks to a 99-yard kick return and a blocked punt, but after that the Bulldogs cruised, out-gaining the Mean Green 641-245 and winning 45-21 behind 408 yards from QB Aaron Murray. These games occasionally happen. There's little reason to actually be concerned.
D+: Oregon State. In a week in which upsets didn't really happen, somebody has to get stuck at the bottom of the grades, and through four games Oregon State is a mystery. After Mike Riley engineered a massive turnaround from 3-9 to 9-4 a year ago, the Beavers were expected to keep pace, especially because of a backloaded schedule that set them up for a possible 7-0 start. Then they lost to FCS power Eastern Washington 49-46 in the opener, and all bets were off. But the Beavers, fresh off a 51-48 OT win at Utah, are 3-1 after a 34-30 win at San Diego State. In the preseason, that would have been thought of as a solid road win. Now, we know that San Diego State lost 40-19 to Eastern Illinois in Week 1 and did not appear to be the 9-4 team that returned almost all of its defensive starters. It's impossible to know what to think, except for the fact that the Sean Mannion-Brandin Cooks (14 catches for 141 yards) connection is nearly unstoppable, and with Colorado, Washington State and Cal next, the Beavers could still start 6-1.
D: Michigan. Perhaps Devin Gardner's one awful decision against Notre Dame shouldn't have been overshadowed by an otherwise brilliant game against the Fighting Irish. In the Wolverines' 24-21 escape act at UConn (which lost to Towson) on Saturday, Gardner threw two picks and lost a fumble, completing only 13 of 25 passes for 111 yards. This comes after he threw three picks and lost a fumble against lowly Akron.
D-: West Virginia. It's amazing how much of a 180 the reputation of Dana Holgorsen has undergone in the last year. Last Oct. 6, the Mountaineers were 5-0, with Geno Smith leading the Heisman race and West Virginia continuing to light up the scoreboard after a 70-point effort in the previous January's Orange Bowl. Now West Virginia is 2-2, with wins over William & Mary and Georgia State, and it just lost 37-0 to Maryland. The Mountaineers' offense was so bad that they had as many turnovers (six) as first downs, and starting QB Ford Childress completed 11 of 22 passes for 62 yards with two picks, enough to apparently hold onto the job over Paul Millard and Clint Trickett. Dana Holgorsen, off-the-wall offensive genius, has been replaced by a guy who looks in over his head as head coach.
F: Whatever happened involving Florida International and the clock at Louisville. Maybe it's overkill to even talk about FIU again, but it really can't be repeated enough how ridiculous the decision was to fire Mario Cristobal and hire Ron Turner. So while Cristobal's now busy guiding the offensive line of the No. 1 team in the country at Alabama, Turner's Golden Panthers are 0-4, having lost to Maryland, UCF, BETHUNE-COOKMAN(!!!) and Louisville by a combined score of 187-23. During Saturday's 72-0 debacle at Louisville, the clock appeared to be running in the second half, which would be an unbelievable admission of defeat by an FBS team if it agreed to do so. That in itself would warrant an F, if true. But the other explanation would also deserve an F: Turner denied asking for a running clock, and, according to the Courier-Journal, Conference USA coordinator of officials Gerald Austin said, "Coach Turner made a comment to one of the officials that, given the amount of injuries and the limited numbers of players he had available, he wanted to run the ball in the second half. One official misinterpreted that comment. Coach Turner at no time requested that the clock run. FIU threw just one pass in the second half." Austin also said there were five instances in which the clock ran but should have stopped in the second half. Either way, most certainly F-worthy.
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More Lessons Learned
Fresno State is king of the non-AQs. At the moment, there is no debate: Fresno State is the best -- and maybe the only -- threat to crash the BCS in its final season. On Friday, the Bulldogs notched their second impressive win of the young season, beating Boise State in a wild 41-40 finish for their first win in the series since 2005 to join the opening thriller against Rutgers. Star QB Derek Carr played a brilliant game, throwing for 460 yards and four touchdowns, causing his school to launch a Heisman campaign built around him.
With Texas State's loss to Texas Tech, only Fresno State (3-0), Navy (2-0) and Northern Illinois (3-0) are left undefeated among non-AQ schools. (NIU has looked sloppy since beating Iowa, struggling to a 10-point win at Idaho and edging FCS Eastern Illinois 43-39 on Saturday.) The Bulldogs' road has stumbling blocks, including trips to Wyoming and San Jose State and a possible Mountain West title game against Boise State or Utah State, but any ranking of non-AQ schools has to have Fresno State on top.
It may not matter, but the ACC Coastal race will be one of the nation's best. Georgia Tech tends to be forgotten, which I suppose is excusable given that it's gone 21-19 over the last three seasons. But the Yellow Jackets' option offense notched a solid 28-20 home win in the rain over North Carolina, erasing a 13-0 first-half deficit. The rain certainly played into the Yellow Jackets' hands, as they methodically controlled the game with 71 carries for 324 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, on top of the defense's second-half shutout.
At 3-0 overall, Miami is the obvious favorite in the Coastal, especially given its win over Florida, but Georgia Tech, North Carolina and, yes, Virginia Tech (which needed three ugly overtimes to beat Marshall 29-21 but still has a great defense) will make things interesting. It's entirely possible that they'll all end up something like 5-3 in the conference -- and that's not to mention the bottom of the division, which featured a wild 58-55 Pitt shootout win over Duke on Saturday -- and somebody will win a tiebreaker to get the honor of losing to Clemson or Floirda State in the conference title game.
At least Baylor and Louisville technically played FBS opponents. Ohio State (Florida A&M), Washington (Idaho State) and Miami (Savannah State) beat their FCS bottom-feeder opponents by a combined score of a 209-7. We can talk about things like how great Ohio State backup QB Kenny Guiton was again (six touchdown passes), but ultimately, these games were worthless, except literally for the hundreds of thousands of dollars Florida A&M, Idaho State and Savannah State got for their troubles. Savannah State didn't even stay for the whole 60 minutes at Miami: The teams agreed to a 12-minte fourth quarter when things got out of hand, which hopefully doesn't give Ron Turner any ideas.
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Honor Roll: Week 4's Best Players
Reserved for performances against FBS teams.
1. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State. Friday's win over Boise State was a landmark victory for the Bulldogs, with Carr doing what his brother, David, couldn't in what was supposed to be the program's BCS-crashing season in 2001. Carr completed 39 of 60 passes for 460 yards and four touchdowns, as he tore apart the Broncos' green secondary with the help of Isaiah Burse (10 for 148) and Davante Adams (12 for 110 and a touchdown).
2. Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson. As a situational pass rusher in 2012, the undersized Beasley boosted the much-maligned Tigers defense with eight sacks despite recording only 18 total tackles. Now, he's the star of Brent Venables' aggressive front. After sacking Aaron Murray twice in the opener, Beasley starred on Thursday night at N.C. State, with three sacks, a forced fumble, two pass breakups and five total tackles.
3. Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU. The troubled Hill has worked himself back into the team's good graces, and the cynic may think there's an obvious reason. But let's just, at the moment, deal with the football reality: Hill is one of the best running backs, not just in the SEC, but in the entire nation. At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, he's an impossibly nimble runner, and the Auburn defense was no match for him Saturday night, as he rushed 25 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns. LSU typically operates with a committee approach, but Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee saw a total of 11 carries as Hill stole the show.
4. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin. As expected, the Badgers bulldozed Purdue on Saturday, rushing 48 times for 388 times and five touchdowns in a 41-10 home win. And Gordon continued to make the position of running back look easy. While he didn't have a carry longer than 27 yards, he still managed 147 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries (9.2 yards per attempt). It's worth noting that teammate James White also had 16 carries for 145 yards with a 70-yard touchdown, but what's so impressive about Gordon is the consistency. On only 62 carries all last season, he averaged 10 yards per carry, and his 9.2 average against Purdue was his lowest in four games this season. He's now totaled 624 yards on 53 carries (11.8 average).
5. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh. I never thought I'd say this, and I may never say this again, but for this spot, pick almost any offensive player from the Pitt-Duke game. In their second game as members of the ACC, the Panthers walked into Wallace Wade Stadium and scored 58 points, giving just enough cushion for a defense that allowed 55 despite intercepting four passes. Among the stars: Pitt QB Tom Savage (424 yards, six TDs), RB James Conner (173 yards, one TD) and WR Devin Street (six catches, 166 yards, two TDs); and Duke WR Jamison Crowder (seven catches, 141 yards, one touchdown, and this ridiculous 82-yard punt return). Over all the worthy candidates, let's go with Boyd, Pitt's star freshman wideout, a four-star recruit who caught eight passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. This comes after he had six catches for 134 yards and a touchdown and a 33-yard rushing touchdown against New Mexico, and it appears that Pitt has a young star at wide receiver on its hands.
6. Kevonte Martin-Manley, WR, Iowa. Another unexpected inclusion: an Iowa wide receiver. Of course, while Martin-Manley has been solid as a receiver this season, in true Hawkeyes style he's not on this list for offense. In a 59-3 win over Western Michigan, he caught only one pass for six yards, but in a span of just 59 seconds in the second quarter, he managed two punt return TDs of 83 and 63 yards.
7. Yawin Smallwood, LB, Connecticut. There's no getting around it: Michigan played a miserable football game for the second week in a row on Saturday. But let's give some credit for UConn, which does, actually, have some good players underneath those awful helmets. On top of the list is Smallwood, a tackling machine at linebacker who finished with 13 stops (including one of Devin Gardner on a fourth-and-two in the fourth quarter), two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup against the Wolverines. He now has 43 tackles in three games, and you will hear his name on Sundays in the future.
8. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State. Let's not pretend the Texas defense doesn't still have issues, despite its 31-21 win over the Wildcats. But instead of running all over the Longhorns, Kansas State ended up with a huge receiving performance out of arguably its best player. Of Jake Waters' 19 completions for 275 yards, 13 for a school-record 237 yards went to Lockett, who also averaged 24 yards on four kick returns.
9. Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota. While coach Jerry Kill insists Philip Nelson is the starter when healthy, Leidner gave Gophers fans something to think about with his performance against San Jose State. A 233-pound redshirt freshman, Leidner completed only five passes for 71 yards, but he rushed 24 times for 151 yards and four touchdowns to carry Minnesota past a solid San Jose State team.
10. Tyler Kroft, TE, Rutgers. Let's continue with the unexpected. Rutgers QB Gary Nova struggled to consistently make plays last season, and through the first three weeks Rutgers had the nation's leading rusher in Paul James. But against Arkansas, Nova threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, with the previously unknown Kroft (eight career catches) hauling in six passes for 133 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 42-yarder to help set up the first TD of the fourth quarter.
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Week 5 Syllabus
1. LSU at Georgia. It's possible TCU's defense was actually a bigger test for LSU's improved offense in the opener, but this is still a different story. Georgia is a more complete team, this will be played in Athens and the Bulldogs will also test the Tigers' rebuilt defense. The game has both SEC title and national title implications.
2. Wisconsin at Ohio State. Finally, a true test for the Buckeyes, whose young defensive front will collide with Wisconsin's unstoppable running game. One would think Braxton Miller will be back under center, despite the fact that the offense didn't skip a beat behind Kenny Guiton.
3. Ole Miss at Alabama. Probably Alabama's second-toughest game remaining in the regular season. Ole Miss has road wins over Vanderbilt and Texas and a mix of experienced and young talent.
4. Oklahoma at Notre Dame. Two mystery teams. Oklahoma's Blake Bell will try to keep the Sooners' passing game rolling against a vulnerable Irish defense that is still much, much better than Tulsa.
5. South Carolina at UCF. The biggest challenger to Louisville in the American, UCF was last seen escaping Penn State with an impressive three-point win. South Carolina's biggest weakness may be linebacker, and Penn State had issues tackling the Knights.
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