Welcome to the Week 12 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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For the unbelievable amount of effort put into a sport like college football, sometimes everything comes down to dumb luck. The Nick Sabans of the world can't do anything about it: All the preparation imaginable might not necessarily matter when the outcome comes down to one play, one flukish but miraculous play.
This is not to disparage Auburn in any way, but that's exactly what happened in Saturday's Marshall Miracle or Hail Aubie or whatever you want to call it. Nick Marshall heaved a fourth-and-18 pass deep in the direction of receiver Ricardo Louis, despite double coverage from safeties Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons; Matthews tipped it, and the ball somehow landed in the hands of Louis, in stride, who raced for a 73-yard touchdown with 25 seconds left.
Think about how many different actions had to converge for such an improbable ending. First, Georgia had to stage a shocking comeback from a 37-17 fourth-quarter deficit, scoring three touchdowns in eight minutes thanks to a furious Aaron Murray-led rally -- a rally capped by a controversial touchdown. Auburn, behind the running of Marshall and Tre Mason, controlled much of the game, making it seem like there was no chance of an improbable ending. But Murray led the Bulldogs back, and Jordan Jenkins sacked Marshall on a third-and-12 to set up that fateful fourth-and-18 prayer, and instead of knocking the ball down Matthews tipped it, and instead of dropping it, Louis hauled it in en route to the end zone, and instead of making it irrelevant, Murray ran out of time at the Auburn 20-yard line. So many things had to happen for a one-in-a-million outcome, to make a game of inches work in Auburn's favor instead of Georgia's, for a long shot to set up one of the most anticipated Iron Bowls ever.
In two weeks, a 10-1 Auburn will host assumed 11-0 Alabama in perhaps the most heated rivalry in American sports, and over these next two weeks we can be sure that all fans in the state of Alabama will act calmly and rationally, and that the Paul Finebaum radio program will surely be mundane. What's on the line? The SEC West title, for one, with a spot in Atlanta for the SEC title game, plus Alabama's quest for a third straight national title. An Auburn win means the SEC's streak of seven straight championships is probably over; an Alabama win means an anticipated clash with Florida State remains on track.
Of course, even if Louis didn't catch the pass, or if Murray led Georgia for a game-winning score anyway, the Iron Bowl would have plenty of importance. After all, Gus Malzahn has clearly done an incredible job reinventing Auburn as a competitive contender again, which apparently means increased business for the local Waffle House. But Alabama would have already wrapped up the SEC West title, and Auburn wouldn't be riding this wave of hype into the game. A year ago, even the most optimistic predictions couldn't have seen Auburn being 10-1 heading into the Alabama game, but here we are. Sometimes, one break can make all the difference.
In this case, it appears to make Auburn a more worthy adversary for Alabama, and in doing so, it gives renewed hope to those in Columbus and Waco longing for a loss from Alabama to open the door to the BCS title game in Pasadena. A year after Alabama beat Auburn 49-0, the future of the college football season rests in Auburn's hands, and, miraculously, Auburn put itself in position to make its own luck, from 0-8 in the SEC to playing for the West title.
The entire sport is often a matter of putting yourself in the right position to benefit from a break, and rarely has that been more evident than on Saturday. At the cruel expense of Georgia, Auburn's miracle will go down as one of the greatest in history, and it could change the course of the entire season.
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Bizarro College Football
OK, so picture yourself 10 years ago. It's 2003. Go back in time to then, and please try to explain to your younger self that these two things would happen on the same Saturday: USC beating Stanford would result in Trojans fans storming the field, and Duke would beat Miami 48-30 and control its own destiny to go to its first ACC title game before Miami.
Sure, crazy things happen in college football all the time, as we surely saw on Saturday, but these are the sorts of things that seem impossible. A decade ago, USC was on the cusp of national supremacy, while Stanford was mired in a streak of seven seasons without a bowl appearance. A decade ago, Miami was expected to run rampant over the ACC after appearing in back-to-back national title games, while Duke was in the middle of a 17-year streak without a bowl.
But on Nov. 16, 2013, we ended up with what was previously unthinkable: USC interim coach Ed Orgeron hoisting a sword in front of the band after upsetting Stanford, and Duke beating its second ranked opponent (Virginia Tech was ranked at the time) for the first time since 1971 as fans jokingly chanted "We want Bama."
The Trojans played Stanford's game, and they did it with almost no depth. The post-Kiffin offense has finally transformed into something resembling competence, with QB Cody Kessler continue to mature and completing 25 of 37 passes for 288 yards, including a bold fourth-and-two completion to Marqise Lee to set up the game-winning field goal. And he did this while Stanford's relentless defensive front stifled the Trojans running game, holding them to 23 rushing yards. Andre Heidari's 47-yard field goal went straight through, and six years after Stanford pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2000s in shocking USC at the Coliseum, USC climbed back to respectability with an 8-3 record, 10 wins in sight and Orgeron likely in demand for another shot at a head coaching job somewhere, if not in L.A.
Meanwhile, Duke lined up and physically handled Miami, rushing 52 times for 358 yards and five touchdowns, scoring the game's final 20 points to win going away. The Blue Devils haven't lost since a 58-55 shootout vs. Pitt on Sept. 21, and they're now 8-2 overall, 4-2 in the ACC, with road trips to Wake Forest and North Carolina separating themselves from an ACC title game date with Florida State. Lose one, and the ACC Coastal race devolves into an unseemly mess, with four teams currently sitting behind Duke with three conference losses (Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Miami). But just the mere fact that Duke controls its own destiny, after already beating Miami and Virginia Tech, is one of the most baffling statements in years. David Cutcliffe is a wizard.
Rarely will the greater sports world celebrate wins by USC and Duke, but in this case -- USC under Orgeron, Duke winning football games -- they're becoming two of the best stories of the season.
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Alabama. Really, there wasn't any doubt, no matter how ugly. Alabama did not play its best game Saturday night in Starkville, but it didn't matter. After Mississippi State closed within three in the third quarter on a fumble recovery for a touchdown, Alabama did what Alabama does, stepping on the Bulldogs' throat on a six-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that ended with an 11-yard pass from AJ McCarron to Kevin Norwood. McCarron played a bad game, throwing two picks, and in all Alabama turned the ball over four times, but against a team like Mississippi State (even if it was "probably the best 4-5 team in the country"), the Crimson Tide has a significant margin for error. So the offense screwed up; the defense was there to hold a Mississippi State offense handcuffed by the absence of Dak Prescott to just 197 total yards and lead a 20-7 win. Unless Alabama beats Chattanooga 6-4 or something next week, style points do not matter. Alabama has its back-to-back championships and its wins over Texas A&M, Ole Miss and LSU to fall back on, with a gloriously important Iron Bowl against Auburn in two weeks followed by the SEC championship game. Alabama can afford to not look perfect -- maybe not in the eyes of Nick Saban, but at least from the perspective of voters. Still left: Chattanooga, at Auburn, possible SEC title game.
Florida State. As the Jameis Winston investigation continues, Florida State looked exactly the same on the field against Syracuse. Only Baylor can match Florida State's penchant for thoroughly beating inferior opponents, and that was again the case in a 59-3 win over the Orange. Winston completed 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns, as the Seminoles out-gained the Orange 523 to 247 and proved that time of possession is frequently meaningless in holding the ball for only 18:18. Florida State's schedule may be bad, but it can coast into the national title game because its 51-14 thrashing of Clemson in the national spotlight continues to serve as the season's biggest trump card. Still left: Idaho, at Florida, ACC title game.
Ohio State. It really just doesn't matter what Ohio State does, unless Florida State loses (which it won't) or Alabama loses (which it probably won't). In the slim event that Ohio State has an opportunity to move into the top two, style points may actually matter, because Baylor could start nipping at its heels with an impressive win over Oklahoma State next Saturday. So, again, Ohio State's offense played a brilliant game against an inferior opponent, dropping 60 on Illinois to bring the total to a Baylor-like 179 points in three games. However, the Buckeyes did falter a bit, weirdly letting Illinois almost make a game of it in the fourth quarter, ultimately ending up with 35 points before Carlos Hyde shut the door with two long touchdown runs. (If things weren't bad enough for Illinois, which has lost six straight games, coach Tim Beckman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit nearly fought on the sideline.) Still left: Indiana, at Michigan, likely Big Ten title game.
Baylor. Overcame an early 14-0 deficit like it was nothing, which is what we should expect from Baylor. QB Bryce Petty, WR Levi Norwood and third- and fourth-string RBs Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin starred for the shorthanded Bears in a dominant 63-34 win over Texas Tech in Arlington, as the Bears put up 675 total yards and forced three turnovers. Baylor still doesn't have a win over a great team, but Oklahoma and Texas Tech are undoubtedly steps up from most of the previous opponents, and now the Bears get their biggest stage next Saturday night with a trip to Oklahoma State and the Big 12 championship likely on the line. Baylor still needs a lot of help, but it's hard to come up with reasons to doubt the Bears anymore. Still left: at Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas.
Fresno State. Off this week, with the Fiesta Bowl still in its sights. Still left: New Mexico, at San Jose State, likely Mountain West title game.
Northern Illinois. MACtion season is upon us, and the Huskies did their part in a dramatic 48-27 win over Ball State that was closer than the final score appeared. The game was tied at 27 deep into the fourth quarter, but the Huskies scored three touchdowns in the final six minutes to stay undefeated with two more weekday games still on tap, including Wednesday's showdown at Toledo. Still left: at Toledo, Western Michigan, possible MAC title game.
BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Stanford
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. UCF
These BCS picks continue to operate under the possibly misguided assumption that both Fresno State (to Boise State in the MWC championship?) and Northern Illinois (to Toledo?) will lose. If one of those teams ends up in the BCS, only one of the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 would get a second bid.
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Grading the Weekend
A+: Wisconsin. Good news, Indiana: The new East/West Big Ten divisions beginning next season will no longer require you to play Wisconsin every season. Last year, the Badgers attempted seven passes in pounding the Hoosiers 62-14, rushing for 564 yards. On Saturday, the Badgers achieved a similar result, attempting 15 passes in a 61-3 win in which they ran 50 times for 554 yards and six touchdowns, with James White, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement each surpassing 100 yards. It marked the third time this season that all three did that, and with only two losses by a total of nine points (one to Ohio State, and one the chaotic finish at a good Arizona State team), the Badgers need to be taken seriously as a possible BCS at-large team, which would give them four straight BCS bowl appearances.
A: Washington State. Finally, progress. Mike Leach has had a rough time trying to transform a depleted Cougars program into what we think of as a Leach team. But on Saturday he notched another good road win, as the Cougars went to Arizona and won 24-17 thanks to a 25-yard touchdown pass from Connor Halliday to Isiah Myers with 2:15 left. Wazzu hasn't been to a bowl game since the 2003 Holiday Bowl, but it's within striking distance now. The Cougars have three Pac-12 wins and five overall, with Utah and Washington on tap. It's hardly guaranteed, but just the fact that it's possible is a big step in the right direction for a program that's been down for so long. And it's not like there's a bad loss: Their five defeats have come against Auburn, Stanford, Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State.
A-: UCLA. Jordon James' injury problems, along with a questionable offensive line, have hampered UCLA's running game for much of the season, but for the second week in a row, powerful linebacker Myles Jack came to the rescue. He bulldozed Washington for four rushing touchdowns on Friday night, leading UCLA to a solid 41-31 win to keep it alive in the Pac-12 South race with a big game against division-leading Arizona State coming on Saturday. UCLA is far from perfect, and this season has made it pretty clear that QB Brett Hundley should return for another season of college ball, but the Bruins are now 8-2, with their only losses coming on the road at Stanford and Oregon. In only two seasons, Jim Mora has two of UCLA's three eight-win seasons in the last 11 years. In other injury news, the hits keep coming for Washington, which is 6-4 now and is dealing with an injury to QB Keith Price's shoulder.
B+: Clemson. It's amazing how one blowout loss to Florida State essentially made Clemson irrelevant on the national stage, but the Tigers are still humming along in the back half of the top 10, recovering nicely from that defeat by scoring 154 points in three games since. On Thursday, they manhandled Coastal contender Georgia Tech 55-31, as Tajh Boyd threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns before leaving with what appears to be a minor collarbone injury. Regardless of what happens Nov. 30 against rival South Carolina, Clemson will almost certainly end up in the Orange Bowl as an ACC replacement for Florida State, assuming the Seminoles successfully coast to Pasadena.
B: Arizona State. The offense was unspectacular, with a total of 339 yards and an unspectacular outing from QB Taylor Kelly (4.9 yards per attempt, two picks), but the Sun Devils defense continues to play out of its mind. They forced five Oregon State turnovers in a 30-17 win, and they haven't given up 400 yards since the Oct. 5 loss to Notre Dame. This is a good, balanced Arizona State team that is really clicking on defense after some early struggles, and the Sun Devils can clinch the Pac-12 South with a win at the Rose Bowl against UCLA on Saturday.
B-: Oklahoma. OK, maybe this grade is somewhat harsh for a 48-10 win over Iowa State, but the Cyclones are terrible at 1-9, it was at home, and the game was tied 10-10 at halftime. Adding further uncertainty to the Sooners' QB situation in November, Trevor Knight replaced an injured Blake Bell and rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown to help fuel a second-half rout. In total, the Sooners rushed for 405 yards on 44 attempts, averaging 9.2 yards per carry to the Cyclones' 3.0, and got a spark in the return game from Jalen Saunders.
BONUS A+: To this Oklahoma state trooper who notched the biggest hit of the weekend on a field stormer.
C+: South Carolina. There was a time not so long ago that any sort of win over Florida would require an A grade for South Carolina, but times have changed. The Gamecocks kept their SEC East title hopes alive and well, edging Florida 19-14 thanks to a 32-yard touchdown by Bruce Ellington and two Elliott Fry field goals in a second-half shutout. To be fair, Florida's defense remains talented, but the game was more of a struggle than expected, especially given that Florida started freshman Skyler Mornhinweg, who had never played a down before. At 6-2 in the conference, the Gamecocks' SEC schedule is already finished, meaning they just have to wait and hope for a Missouri loss to either Ole Miss or Texas A&M. Thanks to Georgia's loss to Auburn, that's all South Carolina needs to head to Atlanta, because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Mizzou.
C: Michigan. I'm vehemently anti-tie in football, but if any game deserved to have overtime cancelled, this was it. Michigan and Northwestern ended regulation tied 9-9 thank to a miraculous hurry-up 44-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons as time expired. That's the most positive thing that can be said. Otherwise, the game was mostly awful, with dropped interceptions and more bad playcalling. Ultimately, Michigan prevailed 27-19 in three overtimes, partially saving Brady Hoke from that time he went for it and missed on fourth-and-two at the four-yard line in the fourth quarter with an offense that was 0-for-10 converting third downs to that point in a 9-6 game. It was the type of game that played right into all the negative Big Ten narratives, and now Northwestern has lost all six games since College Gameday came to town for Ohio State on Oct. 5.
C-: UCF. Amazingly, UCF could have lost to Temple and still probably gone to a BCS game. Nevertheless, the Golden Knights managed to avoid disaster in Philly, thanks to arguably the catch of the year from J.J. Worton:
That tied the game at 36 with 1:06 left, and because the opponent was 1-9 Temple, UCF managed to get the ball back and kick a 23-yard field goal before time expired. UCF will probably have to lose twice to miss out on the BCS, and with games remaining against spiraling Rutgers and USF before a trip to SMU, that's highly unlikely. Then again, the Knights almost lost to Temple.
D+: Virginia Tech. They could still win the ACC Coastal, because you and I are mathematically still alive in that race, but the Hokies are essentially built to disappoint. They were rolling behind their great defense, then lost to Duke and Boston College. Their offense somehow scored 42 points against Miami, then they lost 27-24 to Maryland in their final home game on Saturday. The Hokies are now 7-4, with a trip to hapless rival Virginia still on tap, but this season has mostly been ugly and forgettable. Against the Terps, they actually didn't turn the ball over, but the run game was abysmal and managed 54 yards on 38 attempts. Kudos to Maryland, though, as it reached six wins, meaning Randy Edsall will go to his first bowl game since taking the job. Needless to say, he's quite excited about a bowl appearance that will probably end up down the road at RFK Stadium in the Military Bowl.
D: Rutgers. What a disaster. Most importantly, Rutgers was in the news on Friday because of an accusation of bullying by former defensive back Jevon Tyree against defensive coordinator Dave Cohen, according to NJ.com. Then, the Scarlet Knights went out on Saturday and got pasted by Cincinnati, losing 52-17 and getting outgained 619-357 on their home field. The Knights gave up 404 passing yards to Bearcats QB Brendon Kay, and their only win since the OT thriller against SMU on Oct. 5 was a three-point nail-biter against Temple.
D-: California. Somewhat surprisingly, former San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre ended up at Colorado instead of in the Spartans' backyard at Cal, and in the first meeting of the Pac-12's two worst teams under new coaches, he got the best of Sonny Dykes. The Buffaloes moved to 4-6 with a 41-24 win over Cal -- already their best season since joining the Pac-12 -- while Cal dropped to a dismal 1-10. The Golden Bears have Stanford left, meaning Dykes' first season in Berkeley is going to end without a win over an FBS team (they beat Portland State by seven in September). Dykes is a smart offensive mind who took over a program in decline, but it's a bit unsettling that the Golden Bears appear to have regressed over the course of the season.
F: West Virginia. Dana Holgorsen's job may be safe because of his $11 million buyout, but there is certainly nothing worse that one can do in the Big 12 than lose to Kansas. Holgorsen even said it himself:
#WVU's Holgorsen: "This would be an all-time low."- Geoff Coyle (@GFCoyle) November 16, 2013
The Mountaineers did, somehow, beat Oklahoma State, and they took Texas to overtime last week, but otherwise this season has been a disaster, raising questions about whether Holgorsen is equipped to run a program or better off sticking with an offensive coordinator job in which he could just worry about calling plays. Kansas won 31-19, and that's only because West Virginia scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes to make the score somewhat closer. It was the Jayhawks' first Big 12 win since 2010, resulting in a Gatorade bath for Charlie Weis and a field storming.
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More Lessons Learned
Oregon fans can start looking into Rose Bowl tickets. Arizona State's defense could pose an interesting threat, but it seems that Stanford is the only Pac-12 team really capable of slowing Oregon's potent offense. With the Cardinal's loss to USC on top of the earlier loss to Utah, the Ducks are back atop the Pac-12 North and need to beat Arizona on the road and Oregon State at home to move on to the conference title game. On Saturday, they rebounded nicely from the Stanford debacle, beating Utah 44-21 despite playing a mediocre game against a solid Utes defense. Marcus Mariota threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns but did not run thanks to his banged-up knee, but the Ducks didn't need him to do everything as their defense kept Utah from accomplishing much of anything. Both had have higher aspirations, but it would be hard to ask for a better Rose Bowl than Oregon-Ohio State, should the next three weeks break that way.
Oklahoma State-Baylor is your Big 12 game of the year. Ultimately, it's not too surprising. Oklahoma State was the media's preseason favorite in the conference, and Baylor was either the darkhorse pick or actual favorite of others, including me. On Saturday, Oklahoma State dominated Texas 38-13 in Austin, behind three total touchdowns from quarterback Clint Chelf and three interceptions of Case McCoy, thus setting up a prime-time showdown between the Bears and Cowboys in Stillwater in Week 13. Oklahoma State's offense is still inconsistent, but it appears that its defense may actually be the biggest challenge the Bears face all season. Throw in the fact that the game's at Oklahoma State, and there's a decent chance we get a high-scoring thriller with BCS hopes on the line.
Michigan State continues to help Ohio State. Even if everything in the BCS race seems like it may be a foregone conclusion, every little bit helps for Ohio State, especially with Baylor still in the mix. So, we should probably acknowledge that Michigan State could plausibly be a top-10 team by the time the Spartans and Buckeyes meet in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Michigan State still has Northwestern and Minnesota, but it has built a commanding two-game lead in the Legends Division after a 41-28 win over Nebraska. Finally, the offense has seemingly sprung to life, scoring 112 points in three games since an ugly 14-0 win over Purdue. Not that the Spartans were brilliant: They simply capitalized on bad Nebraska turnovers (Michigan State won the turnover battle 5-0). But simply scoring, even with good field position, is an improvement over the beginning of the season, plus Jeremy Langford gashed the Nebraska defense for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. Michigan State may have allowed a 100-yard rusher for the first time in the talented Ameer Abdullah, but it didn't matter. The offense is at least decent enough to make an upset of Ohio State not totally out of the realm of possibility, and it's also good enough to make a decisive Ohio State win look good on the Buckeyes' resume.
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Honor Roll: Week 12's Best Players
1. Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State. For a moment, Illinois made it interesting. The Illini cut Ohio State's lead to 47-35 in the fourth quarter, undoubtedly making Baylor fans excited for a moment. But then Hyde shut the door. With four minutes left, he broke off a 51-yard touchdown run. With two minutes left, he added a 55-yarder. In all, Hyde ran 24 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns and caught two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown in carrying the Buckeyes to their 60-35 win over Illinois. The 242-pound Hyde has been vital in the Buckeyes' explosion recently, rushing for an average of 164 yards per game over the last five, with 11 touchdowns. And all that's on top of the work of QB Braxton Miller, who ran for 184 yards against the Illini.
2. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois. The Huskies are obviously a good, well-coached MAC team with solid talent all around. But Lynch carries them. His numbers, again, have been incredible, regardless of conference, and he had one of his best games on Wednesday when it mattered most against MAC contender Ball State. In the 48-27 win that was close most of the way, Lynch completed 26 of 32 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns and ran 20 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Remember, he ran for an FBS quarterback record 316 yards against Central Michigan a month ago. Last year, he became the first player to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,500 yards in a season. He's probably going to do it again.
3. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College. The Eagles have mostly been off the radar, but Williams has been the biggest workhorse running back in college football. He has a national-high 288 carries after rushing 42 times on Saturday against N.C. State. More importantly, he ran for 339 yards and two touchdowns on all those opportunities in a 38-21 win to make Boston College bowl eligible for the first time since 2010, with two more possible wins still left. Williams has now run for an absurd 634 yards the last two weeks after he carried the Eagles in a near-disaster at New Mexico State, and he has four games with more than 200 rushing yards.
4. Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State. Williams has stolen the thunder of Bibbs, who's put up astounding numbers himself over the last two weeks: 603 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. After putting up 312 yards against Nevada, he ran 38 times for 291 yards and six touchdowns in the Rams' 66-42 win at New Mexico. Bibbs was only a rotational back in September, but he's emerged as one of the most productive rushers in the nation lately, albeit against motly inferior competition. Special mention also goes to Rice running back Charles Ross, who ran for 215 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-14 win over Louisiana Tech.
5. James White, RB, Wisconsin. Not that moving the ball against Indiana is particularly difficult, but Wisconsin appears to be operating behind some sort of running game cheat code. The Badgers have rushed for a staggering 1,118 yards in the last two meetings against the Hoosiers, and this time White was the biggest star of the team's three 100-yard rushers. Thanks to a 93-yard touchdown in the game's first two minutes, White finished with 205 yards on 20 carries for his seventh 100-yard game out of 10.
6. James Sims, RB, Kansas. A significant amount of credit for Kansas' first Big 12 win in the Charlie Weis era has to go to Sims, who has been a solid producer for a Jayhawks team sorely lacking playmakers. In the 31-19 win over West Virginia, Sims ran 22 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns, highlighted by a 68-yarder to give the team a 17-7 lead heading into halftime.
7. Brendon Kay, QB, Cincinnati. The Bearcats were written off when they lost to a terrible South Florida team, after losing to Illinois too, yet Tommy Tuberville's squad is actually 8-2, 5-1 in the American. Of course, that doesn't mean it's all been impressive: They've really beaten nobody in a bad conference, with UCF absent from the schedule and Houston and Louisville coming in the last two games, meaning they could finish 8-4. Still, Saturday was their most impressive performance of the season, as they tramped Rutgers 52-17 on the road, behind a brilliant game from Kay, who completed 24 of 38 for 405 yards and four touchdowns and has thrown for at least 299 yards in four straight games. Remember, while carrying some experience, he didn't open the season as the starter, as he replaced the injured Munchie Legaux.
8. Myles Jack, RB/LB, UCLA. It's impossible not to love the rare two-way player in the 21st century, but that's even truer when the two-way player happens to be an impact player at both positions. Jack has already been on track to be a Freshman All-America at linebacker, but over the last two weeks he's reinvigorated a stagnant UCLA running game. Against Arizona, he ran for 120 yards and made eight tackles. On Friday against Washington, Jack had five tackles and scored four touchdowns, rushing 13 times for 59 yards as he overpowered Huskies defenders.
9. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson. Boyd's Heisman chances were crushed by Florida State, but he's still putting together another brilliant season in Chad Morris' offense. In an impressive 55-31 win over Georgia Tech, he completed 20 of 26 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns with a pick, and ran 15 times for 43 yards and a touchdown. He left with a collarbone injury, but x-rays were negative, meaning he should be fine going forward. Boyd also broke Philip Rivers' ACC career passing touchdown record.
10. Cartel Brooks, RB, Heidelberg. Of course, Williams' 339-yard game was nothing … in comparison to Brooks, a D-III back, who ran for 465 yards against Baldwin Wallace to set an NCAA record. The record he broke was only a few weeks old, as Western Connecticut's Octavias McKoy had run for 455 yards on Oct. 26.
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If I had a Heisman vote
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Status quo. A lot may change over the next few weeks, depending on Jameis Winston's off-the-field situation, but we still don't really know anything, so there's nothing to change. On the field, Manziel has two chances to put on a show against LSU and Ole Miss, while Mariota may get an extra chance to get back in voters' good graces with a likely Pac-12 title game.
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Week 13 Syllabus
1. Baylor at Oklahoma State. The Big 12's game of the year, and Baylor's most likely loss, if one is to happen. Both defenses are good, but of course we'll all expect both teams to hit 50.
2. Texas A&M at LSU. Johnny Manziel threw three picks in a loss to LSU last year. The Tigers defense is weaker, and with Mike Evans, plus LSU's improved offense, we should see many more points than 2012's 24-19 LSU win.
3. Missouri at Ole Miss. Missouri needs to beat Ole Miss and Texas A&M to win the SEC East, with South Carolina lurking one game behind. Ole Miss has played Idaho, Arkansas and Troy since beating LSU.
4. Northern Illinois at Toledo (Wednesday). The MAC West's second game of the year, again with possible BCS implications. NIU took care of Ball State at home, but now it needs to beat Toledo in the Glass Bowl. The Rockets lost to Ball State but have rebounded with impressive wins over MAC East leaders Bowling Green and Buffalo.
5. Arizona State at UCLA. At 6-1, Arizona State can clinch the Pac-12 South with a road win. A UCLA win would create a three-team mess with USC.
N/A. Chattanooga at Alabama, Idaho at Florida State and Indiana at Ohio State. Indiana's offense could always make things interesting, like last year, but the top three should all walk through blowouts.
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