Welcome to the Week 13 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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There is always danger in making assumptions.
We expect perfection and consistency, because that is what college football's championship system ultimately rewards, therefore we make definitive judgments every week. I'm guilty all the time; from reading Twitter and media outlets everywhere, it's apparent that we're all guilty all the time. In the NFL, the Patriots losing to the Bills doesn't necessarily matter. In college football, Alabama losing to Arkansas would wreck a season. It's that weekly must-win feeling that makes college football's regular season so meaningful, but it also breeds overreactions and judgments that are made in haste.
Saturday was an eventful day despite the absence of quality opponents for the nation's top three teams, as it ended up making a significant impact on the BCS and Heisman races, centered around Baylor's 49-17 loss at Oklahoma State, on top of the struggles/losses of Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota. The Bears dropped from the unbeaten ranks, out of the national title race, while quarterback Bryce Petty's Heisman push was dealt a severe blow. But before we do crazy things like call Baylor a fraud or hand the Heisman to AJ McCarron, let's step back and take a calmer, rational view of the events of Week 13 and where college football stands with two more weeks left in the regular season. One week never explains everything.
Baylor could still blow out 90 percent of the teams in the country. Make no mistake: The Bears were soundly beaten by the Cowboys in every phase of the game on Saturday. From the moment Bryce Petty stumbled on his way to what should have been an easy touchdown in the first quarter, just about everything that could go wrong went wrong for Baylor. Shock Linwood fumbled at the goal line two plays later, Oklahoma State went on a 99-yard touchdown drive and little did we know that the game was already over. Baylor turned the ball over three times, could not run the ball and was outgained 594-493.
But let's be reasonable. One embarrassing road loss doesn't wipe out a season filled with blowout wins, including ones against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. One awful game doesn't erase the progress the defense has made under Art Briles and Phil Bennett, or the fact that very few teams (Oklahoma State does have arguably the best defense in the Big 12) are equipped to defend a healthy Baylor offense. Perhaps Baylor was never good enough to be an undefeated team, but it is clear that depth finally caught up with the Bears. Receiver Tevin Reese, tackle Spencer Drango, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin and linebacker Bryce Hager all missed the game, and while Baylor has done an admirable job replacing key players, it all proved to be too much against an Oklahoma State team at the height of its game. So Baylor is not Alabama or Florida State. Instead, it's probably Clemson, and that's not such a bad thing.
Oklahoma State's loss to West Virginia was hardly inexplicable. The natural reaction is to treat teams as static entities that don't change over the course of the season. But what we see in September is not necessarily what we see in November. Teams get better; teams get worse. In Oklahoma State's case, the Cowboys weren't actually very good early in the season. They certainly weren't the team we saw Saturday night in Stillwater. In September, they were adjusting to another new offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich from D-II Shippensburg; they didn't have a consistent running back; the quarterback situation fluctuated between Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh. Oklahoma State lost to West Virginia without Chelf, but even then he was hardly the quarterback we saw on Saturday and might not have made a difference had he played. Entering Week 13, Chelf had completed only 53.4 percent of his passes, including a 10-of-26 effort for 78 yards against Iowa State. On Saturday, he played out of his mind and looked like the Heisman candidate in the game, not Petty. There's no excuse for a team like Oklahoma State to lose to this year's West Virginia team, but the Cowboys were directionless and inconsistent in September. Only in the last few weeks have they actually hit their stride.
Play this game in September, and a healthy Baylor team probably wins. Play it now, and Oklahoma State is in position to take advantage and win the big 12. Sometimes timing is everything.
Don't hand anyone the Heisman yet, let alone AJ McCarron. First, let's acknowledge that our knowledge of the Jameis Winston investigation is far from complete. The Heisman Tropy does not matter at all in this context, so all that can be said is that, at the moment, an eligible/uncharged Winston has been the best player in college football.
So let's talk about the rest of the field, which requires hitting the reset button. Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota may both have been eliminated from contention because of their lackluster performances in convincing losses to LSU and Arizona, respectively. Bryce Petty may have been eliminated because of his embarrassing loss to Oklahoma State. The race is suddenly a mess, which means an inevitable push for McCarron from those who mistakenly 1) value wins above all else for individual awards and 2) treat the Heisman as a lifetime achievement award. To be clear, I believe McCarron is a great college player. But he is not the best player on his team, let alone the best player in college football. He just happened to win national titles in past seasons, which, again, shouldn't matter this season, and he just happened to go 10 of 23 for 110 yards in the season opener, long forgotten, instead of late November. No one game, good or bad, should be used to definitively seal a player's fate, especially when there are still games to be played. For all we know, McCarron will throw four picks in a loss to Auburn. Or he'll throw four touchdowns in a blowout win. Or it'll more than likely be somehwere in between. Regardless, it's part of the entire body of work, and just because McCarron "beat" Johnny Manziel doesn't make McCarron a better player.
But the chaotic events of the last few weeks should undoubtedly cause all voters to step back, start from scratch, and re-evaluate everyone. Manziel, Mariota and Petty have still had great seasons. Andre Williams already has 2,000 rushing yards. Jordan Lynch, Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater are all putting up impressive numbers against weak competition. Despite the Florida State loss, Tajh Boyd still exists. A linebacker finished second last year; this year's national landscape is littered with talented and productive linebackers.
A lot can happen in the next two weeks, and a lot has happened in the first 13. Evaluate everything, not just one week on a whim.
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BCS National Championship: Alabama vs. Florida State
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. UCF
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Fresno State/Northern Illinois
Alabama. Beat FCS Chattanooga 49-0 in exactly the type of result anyone could have expected. The Crimson Tide outgained the Mocs 435-175 and used about the same amount of energy as Auburn did in a bye week. Games left: at Auburn, possible SEC title game
Florida State. Technically played an FBS team, but Idaho barely counts. The Seminoles won 80-14 behind four touchdowns from Jameis Winston, 100 rushing yards each from Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams and two defensive touchdowns. Games left: at Florida, ACC title game
Ohio State. Feasted on Indiana's defense, like anyone else with a pulse. The Buckeyes rolled to a 42-0 lead before two garbage-time Hoosiers touchdowns made it 42-14. Both Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde ran for more than 100 yards with two rushing touchdowns each (Miller also threw two TD passes). Games left: at Michigan, Big Ten title game
The events of Saturday may have actually expanded the potential national title pool. Baylor is out, giving hope to both Auburn and Missouri. If Auburn beats Alabama and wins the SEC title, or if Missouri beat Texas A&M and wins the SEC title, all a one-loss SEC champion would need is an Ohio State loss to Michigan or Michigan State to get to the national championship vs. Florida State.
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Grading the Weekend
A+: LSU. It's now overshadowed by Oklahoma State's evisceration of Baylor, but LSU's defense put together one of the most impressive performances of the season. Coordinator John Chavis has solved Johnny Manziel better than anyone, as Manziel threw three picks in LSU's win last year, and on Saturday he completed only 16 of 41 passes for 224 yards with a touchdown and two picks. The Aggies' 299 total yards were easily the worst of the Kevin Sumlin era, as they had been held under 500 yards only once all season -- in the opener against Rice, when Manziel was suspended for a half. LSU did this with a rebuilt and still-young defense that has been inconsistent all season, but between the dominant defense, two touchdowns from Zach Mettenberger to Jarvis Landry and Terrence Magee's 149 rushing yards, LSU beat down Texas A&M in every aspect of the game to win 34-10 and put itself in prime position for a Cotton Bowl bid. That's not quite what LSU fans have come to expect over the last decade, but given the excessive attrition of last offseason, it wouldn't be too bad at all.
A: Missouri. Lest we forget, the Iron Bowl is not the only potential roadblock for Alabama on its way to Pasadena. The SEC East champion remains in the way as well, and Missouri continues to control its fate. With South Carolina finished with conference play, Missouri needed to win out against Ole Miss and Texas A&M to lock up the East and move on to Atlanta. On Saturday, the Tigers accomplished the first half of that and again reminded us just how great they are, walking out of Oxford with a dominant 24-10 win. It's not that any individual was even particularly impressive: James Franklin returned at QB and threw for 142 yards and a pick; leading rusher Henry Josey had 95 yards and two touchdowns; no receiver had more than three catches for 72 yards; the talented defensive front recorded just one sack. But it didn't matter. Missouri is strong across the board, deserves to be the favorite against Texas A&M at home next Saturday and could feasibly give Alabama a run in Atlanta.
A-: Michigan State. The Spartans, amazingly, are making it look easy. Since losing to Notre Dame 17-13, they've gone undefeated in Big Ten play, winning all seven conference games by at least 13 points. The trend continued Saturday in Evanston against a disheveled Northwestern team that hasn't won since September and is now out of bowl consideration. Michigan State won 30-6 with one of its best all-around efforts of the season. Connor Cook was efficient, completing 16 of 23 for 293 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers (plus this 87-yard catch-of-the-week nominee from Bennie Fowler). Jeremy Langford ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The defense held Northwestern without a touchdown and to only 80 rushing yards. The Spartans defense continues to be as good as any in the country, and regardless of the result against Minnesota in the finale, they have punched their ticket to Indianapolis for a Big Ten title showdown with Ohio State.
B+: Wisconsin. It's a shame Wisconsin-Michigan State is not on the schedule this season, as neither has lost since September. The Badgers' two losses have come to Arizona State and Ohio State -- two division champs -- by a total of nine points, and since then they've rattled off six in a row, capped by one of their most impressive yet: 20-7 over rival Minnesota. The Badgers have won 10 in a row in the series, and against Minnesota's best team in a decade they suffocated the Golden Gophers, holding them to 185 total yards and without an offensive touchdown. Wisconsin's run game wasn't as dominant as usual, but it didn't need to be, and James White ran for 125 yards and a touchdown anyway. Beat Penn State, and there's a good chance the Badgers will head to the Orange Bowl for their fourth straight BCS appearance.
B: Notre Dame. It's amazing how irrelevant a decent-but-not-great, defending national runner-up Notre Dame can seem. Saturday's game with BYU was a solid matchup of teams with the same record, but nobody particularly cared, because it had zero impact on anything. BYU is already going to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Notre Dame is waiting for a conference to fail to fulfill its bowl obligations (ideally the ACC/Pinstripe Bowl). Not that winning on Saturday wasn't important, of course. Notre Dame allowed two 101-yard rushers for BYU, but strong games from running back Cam McDaniel (117 yards) and receiver DaVaris Daniels (six catches, 107 yards and a touchdown) propelled the Fighting Irish to a 23-13 win to move to 8-3 with only Stanford left on the schedule.
B-: Oklahoma. Points deducted for the secondary's disappearing act in the first half that allowed Kansas State to throw for more yards in those 30 minutes than in the last two games in this series combined. But other than not being able to cover Tyler Lockett (who caught 12 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns), Oklahoma turned in an impressive performance to win 41-31 in Manhattan behind 301 rushing yards -- 200 from running back Brennan Clay, with Damien Williams out, and 82 from quarterback Trevor Knight, with Blake Bell out. The Sooners are mostly playing for bowl positioning at this point, one loss behind Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas, but this was an important road win to move to 9-2 with Bedlam against the red-hot Cowboys in two weeks.
C+: Illinois and Connecticut. Beating Purdue and Temple in one-score games doesn't exactly qualify for lavish honors, but simply winning games is an astonishing feat for two schools that were miraculously in BCS games in recent memory. In the worst game of the Big Ten season, Illinois beat Purdue 20-16 to notch its first Big Ten win since Oct. 8, 2011, a losing streak of 20 games. In the worst game of the American season, UConn notched its first win of any kind in 2013, beating one-win Temple 28-21 despite trailing 21-0 at halftime and finishing with 235 total yards. But, hey, it doesn't matter how these teams get wins.
C: Miami. Still alive in the ACC Coastal as one of four three-loss teams trailing two-loss Duke in what could be one of the messiest races ever if Duke loses to North Carolina. The Hurricanes used turnovers to propel them to a 45-26 win over hapless Virginia on Saturday, scoring two defensive touchdowns and intercepting three David Watford passes. It's hard to complain about a 19-point win, although the Duke Johnson-less run game was sluggish and Stephen Morris completed only 13 of 26 passes. Still, Miami finally stopped its downward spiral, snapping a three-game losing streak.
C-: Louisville. Yawn. One blown lead against UCF meant everything, as the Cardinals, despite sitting at 10-1 with a top-five NFL draft talent at quarterback, are totally off the national radar. Winning 24-17 with a sluggish second half against Memphis isn't going to do anything to change that. Bridgewater completed 26 of 36 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown, while the Louisville running game managed only 122 yards on 40 attempts. It's just hard to get excited about this team, given the schedule, although the Dec. 5 finale against Cincinnati for the Keg of Nails could be memorable given the Bearcats' recent surge and the looming realignment breakup.
D+: Tennessee. First, credit to Vanderbilt. Somehow Vandy wins always end up turning into descriptions of the more well-known opponent's struggles, but for the first time ever the Commodores beat SEC East stalwarts Georgia, Florida and Tennessee in the same season. But, yes, Saturday's 14-10 loss in Knoxville was rather terrible for the Vols. One, at 4-7 they're now out of bowl contention. Two, Vandy won on a Patton Robinette fake jump pass five-yard run with 16 seconds left. Three, Vols quarterback Joshua Dobbs completed 11 of 19 passes for 53 yards and two interceptions. Butch Jones was faced with a near-impossible situation this season, given Tennessee's brutal schedule on top of the rebuilding, but Saturday was a step backwards, an ugly loss to continue a four-game losing streak that, to be fair, also includes Alabama, Missouri and Auburn. It's the first time Vanderbilt has won back-to-back games in this mostly laughable rivalry since 1925-26.
D: Michigan. Losing at Iowa isn't totally inexcusable, but it's the way Michigan lost, again. The Brady Hoke/Al Borges offense has been an absolute disaster, and a week after scoring nine points in regulation in a win at Northwestern, Michigan managed just 158 total yards in blowing a 14-point lead to lose 24-21 to the Hawkeyes. The Wolverines didn't score in the second half, and again the running game went nowhere, managing 60 yards on 29 attempts as Devin Gardner completed only 13 of 28 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. It's rather difficult to lose to Iowa when winning the turnover battle 4-1, but ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Michigan Wolverines. If you need me, I'll be working ahead on my offseason "2014 Hot Seat: Brady Hoke" article.
D-: Rutgers. OK, Rutgers lost to a clearly superior UCF team that's on its way to the Sugar or Fiesta Bowl. But the Scarlet Knights have lost the plot, losing four out of five games, all by double digits, with the only win by three points over lowly Temple. This is on top of the investigation into alleged bullying for a player by an assistant coach, as well as a rash of recruiting decommits. On Thursday, Rutgers lost to UCF 41-17, recording only 221 total yards as Gary Nova completed 11 of 34 passes for 107 yards and a pick. Rutgers fell to 5-5, meaning it needs a win over UConn or South Florida to become bowl eligible. There's no reason that shouldn't happen, but then again the Scarlet Knights haven't made anything look easy this season.
F: Florida. OK, fine: I'm OK with Florida fans who do not want to be patient with Will Muschamp now. It's still quite possible that the Gators will retain him, but Saturday marked the lowest of lows, no matter how many injuries the roster has sustained: a 26-20 loss to four-loss FCS team Georgia Southern. Not only did the Gators lose, but they were trampled for 429 rushing yards by a team that DID NOT COMPLETE ONE PASS. For Florida, this wouldn't even have been excusable back when Georgia Southern was an FCS juggernaut; now the Eagles are just a middle-of-the-road Southern Conference team. And Florida, yes, behind third-string quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, managed only 279 yards. The Gators have not won since Oct. 5 against Arkansas. They are 4-7, officially out of the bowl picture, and Florida State is prepared to unleash hell in The Swamp next Saturday. It is Florida's worst season since 1979. And Georgia Southern got more than $550,000 out of its visit to Gainesville.
Worse than F: The State of Oregon. Nothing could do more to destroy any anticipation for the Civil War than Saturday's results. Instead of Oregon trying to clinch the Pac-12 North, the Ducks and Beavers will play for nothing but salvaging pride after participating in total meltdowns in Week 13.
First, Oregon followed up De'Anthony Thomas' proclamation that the Rose Bowl is "not a big deal at all" by playing itself out of Rose Bowl contention. Arizona demolished Oregon 42-16 in Tucson, as Marcus Mariota threw his first two interceptions of the season (one circus play not his fault) and Wildcats running back Ka'Deem Carey ran 48 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns. Throw in quarterback B.J. Denker's 102 rushing yards, and Arizona's spread system accomplished a lot of what Stanford's power game did, steamrolling the Ducks to bounce back from a home loss to Washington State. Instead of the Rose Bowl, hopefully the Ducks are excited for San Antonio.
And then came Oregon State. The Beavers' backloaded schedule set them up for a collapse, but it was hard to envision one of this magnitude. After double-digit losses to USC and Arizona State, the Beavers were embarrassed at home by Washington, losing 69-27 to the Huskies, who racked up 530 rushing yards. Oregon State's once-prolific offense didn't score until the fourth quarter, and Washington did this without starting quarterback Keith Price (shoulder). With the Civil War in Eugene next, Oregon State will likely finish 6-6 and end up somewhere like the New Mexico Bowl.
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More Lessons Learned
Stanford and Arizona State will play for the Rose Bowl. Fortunately for the Cardinal, there are no more opportunities to choke against an unranked conference foe. So thanks to Oregon's generosity, they wrapped up the Pac-12 North title with a 7-2 conference record after thrashing rival California 63-13. (For a depressing thought for college football fans, Cal's season is already finished, so we've reached that landmark of 2013.) It was an emphatic recovery for Stanford after the USC loss against a get-well Cal defense, as they put up a season-high 603 total yards, led by an enormous day from receiver Ty Montgomery, who scored five touchdowns.
But while Stanford beat Arizona State in September, it may have to travel to Tempe for the Pac-12 title game. The Sun Devils wrapped up the Pac-12 South by beating UCLA 38-33 on the road, holding on despite blowing a 35-13 halftime lead. When the inconsistent Sun Devils are clicking, they are a fast opponent and scary opponent, led by players like running back Marion Grice (95 rushing yards, seven catches, 72 receiving yards), receiver Jalen Strong (six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown) and active defensive front that beat the Bruins' shaky offensive line to sack Brett Hundley nine times. The Sun Devils were overmatched in the first half against Stanford early in the season, but if they beat Arizona, they'll host the Pac-12 title game, with a legitimate chance to turn the tables and get to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the Jake Plummer era.
Duke and East Carolina are the best teams in North Carolina. Duke could still lose at UNC next week, of course, but so far this season the Blue Devils and Pirates are 4-0 against FBS foes from the state of North Carolina. Duke took another step toward winning the ACC Coastal by beating Wake Forest 28-21 on the road, shaking off a slow start in a key game behind quarterback Anthony Boone, who completed 24 of 29 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns and led the team with 57 rushing yards. East Carolina, which needs a win over Marshall to win the Conference USA East next week, pummeled N.C. State 42-28 on the road, holding a 35-7 lead at the end of the third quarter before a late Wolfpack rally. Shane Carden threw for three touchdowns and Vintavious Cooper ran for 148 yards as East Carolina has scored 97 points in road wins at North Carolina and North Carolina State.
Also of note in the state, UNC is finally hitting its stride, winning its fifth straight game by beating Old Dominion 80-20 -- with all of those points scored in the first three quarters with a fourth quarter shortened to 10 minutes.
Mike Leach has Wazzu bowling. All of a sudden, Leach clearly has the Cougars on the right path. After dropping four out of five, they've rallied with a 24-17 win at Arizona and now a 49-37 home win over Utah to get to 6-5 -- meaning they'll head to their first bowl since 2003. Turnover-prone quarterback Connor Halliday played out of his mind against a Utah defense that suffocated Stanford, completing 39 of 62 passes for 488 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers -- his first game without an interception all season. The Cougars have a long way to go still, but Leach has won nine games in two seasons, with two games left to go in 2013. Paul Wulff won a total of nine games in four seasons before Leach took over.
We may need a Northern Illinois-Fresno State play-in game. Please? Can we make that happen? Assuming both stay undefeated, on Dec. 14 can't we play Huskies vs. Bulldogs somewhere for a Fiesta Bowl bid? It would all be simpler. On Wednesday, Northern Illinois overcame a first-half deficit to slam the door on Toledo 35-17 and clinch the MAC West title, and in the BCS, NIU actually jumped Fresno State, who rolled over New Mexico 69-28 behind seven touchdowns from Derek Carr on Saturday. Again, QB Jordan Lynch stole the show for NIU, rushing for 161 yards and three second-half touchdowns. Both Carr and Lynch continue to put up absurd numbers against lackluster competition, and both have two more opportunities to attempt to sneak into the Heisman discussion and lock up undefeated seasons: Fresno State against San Jose State and Utah State/Boise State; Northern Illinois against Western Michigan and Buffalo/Bowling Green.
There's hope for Bo Pelini to avoid a four-loss season. 9-4, 10-4, 10-4, 9-4, 10-4. Pelini cannot avoid it. Every season ats head coach of Nebraska, Pelini has lost exactly four games and fallen short of the BCS. At 8-3, the BCS, again, is not an option, but after escaping Penn State with a 23-20 win in overtime behind Ameer Abdullah's 147 rushing yards, Nebraska needs to beat Iowa at home and then win a bowl game to go 10-3. Of course, the Cornhuskers will probably end up in the Outback Bowl against an SEC team like South Carolina or Missouri, so, yeah, maybe 9-4 is still likely.
Aaron Murray's injury is some of the worst news of the season. The SEC's all-time leading passer left Saturday's 59-17 win over Kentucky early, and on Sunday morning Georgia announced that murray would undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL. His steady and impressive career ends with 13,166 passing yards, 121 touchdowns and 41 interceptions, and last year he led the Bulldogs within mere yards of a BCS national title appearance.
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Honor Roll: Week 13's Best Players
1. Clint Chelf, QB, Oklahoma State. It's been a weird year for Oklahoma State and its quarterbacks. After losing offensive coordinator Todd Monken to Southern Miss, Mike Gundy brought in D-II Shippensburg's Mike Yurcich, and the results were less than stellar early on in the season. Neither Chelf nor J.W. Walsh distinguished himself, and in a game in which Chelf was sidelined, Oklahoma State lost to West Virginia. But things are much different now, and Chelf played the game of his life against the No. 4 team in the BCS. In leading a 49-17 win, Chelf completed 19 of 25 passes for 370 yards and four total touchdowns with no turnovers.
2. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh. It's unfortunate that he's overlooked playing for perhaps the most consistently mediocre program in college football right now, but an argument can be made that Donald is having the best season of any player in the country. He's unblockable, and in a 17-16 win over Syracuse to get to six wins, Donald's blocked extra point in the first quarter turned out to be the difference. On top of the block, Donald recorded nine tackles, three and half for a loss, building his commanding lead in the category nationally with 26 tackles for loss in 11 games. Best of all, while Pitt is bowl eligible, its new ACC status will allow it to avoid its January home in Birmingham.
3. Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford. Stanford doesn't always use Montgomery as much as it should, given its conservative, run-first philosophy, but Montgomery is one of the best playmakers in college football. Unsurprisingly, Cal's abysmal defense had no answer for him. In Stanford's 63-13 win, Montgomery scored five touchdowns in the first half, finishing with two carries for 31 yards and five catches for 160 yards.
4. Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy. The record comes with an obvious asterisk given that three of his touchdowns were in three overtimes, but in Navy's thrilling 58-52 triple-OT win at San Jose State, Reynolds set an NCAA quarterback record with seven rushing scores. He completed only four passes all game, but one of those also went for a touchdown, and he ran 36 times for 240 yards in the Midshipmen's option offense. He's rushed for at least three touchdowns in six of 11 games, giving him the national lead in the category with 26.
5. Andre Williams, RB, Boston College. Williams, who colleague Michael Weinreb spoke to last week, has been on an awe-inspiring tear lately, serving as one of the few remaining running backs totally carrying his offense. In a 29-26 comeback win over Maryland won by a 52-yard Nate Freese field goal as time expired, Williams carried the ball on 32 of the team's 55 offensive plays, rushing for 263 yards and two touchdowns. Over the last three games, he has 897 rushing yards and six touchdowns against New Mexico State, N.C. State and Maryland, allowing him to become college football's first 2,000-yard rusher since UConn's Donald Brown in 2008. And at 7-4, Boston College still has two games left -- Syracuse and a bowl -- for Williams to continue this unbelievable roll.
6. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State. New Mexico is hardly a quality opponent, of course, but Carr's spectacular season continues in leading Fresno State to a 10-0 record. In a 69-28 win over the Lobos, Carr completed 27 of 37 passes for 527 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions, with five touchdowns of at least 39 yards. Favorite target Davante Adams caught nine passes for 246 yards and four scores, while Josh Harper and Isaiah Burse also cracked the 100-yard mark. Carr has thrown 20 touchdowns and no picks in the last five games.
7. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin. There is a ridiculous surplus of linebacking talent nationally, meaning Borland could get squeezed out of some recognition. He certainly shouldn't. He was at his best in Wisconsin's 20-7 win over Minnesota, recording 12 tackles, one for loss, with a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries as the Badgers held the Golden Gophers offense out of the end zone.
8. Running backs against the state of Oregon. Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey's yardage came via volume, as he needed 48 carries to pick up 206 yards and four touchdowns, but he paced the Wildcats in their shocking blowout of Oregon. And in Washington's 69-27 thrashing of Oregon State, Washington had three 100-yard rushers: Bishop Sankey (23 for 179 yards and three TDs), Deontae Cooper (11 for 166 and two) and Dwayne Washington (11 for 141 and two). Between them, Washington and Arizona rushed for 834 yards against Oregon State and Oregon, respectively.
9. Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming. Poor winless Hawaii. The Warriors traveled all the way from Honolulu to Laramie to play in 25-degree weather, pushed the Cowboys to overtime but lost 59-56 to fall to 0-11 with one game against Army left. Obviously, Hawaii doesn't play much defense, and Smith took full advantage: Not only did he complete 29 of 48 passes for 498 yards, seven touchdowns and no picks, but he also ran 19 times for 182 yards and a touchdown, setting a Mountain West record for single-game total offense.
10. Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo. Plays in the MAC, but would star for any team in the country. In a 44-7 Tuesday win over winless Miami (Ohio), Mack was again everywhere, finishing with eight tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles. His 16 career forced fumbles set an NCAA record, and he's closing in on the NCAA's career tackles for loss record as well.
11. Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State. Ultimately, it didn't matter in an Oklahoma win, but the Big 12's best receiver took advantage of Oklahoma's odd lack of coverage in the second quarter. He finished with 12 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns.
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If I had a Heisman vote
Come back next week. The Heisman isn't decided in mid-November for a reason.
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Week 14 Syllabus
1. Alabama at Auburn. The Iron Bowl of the Century. Alabama is undefeated and searching for its fourth national title in five years. Auburn is 10-1 and now has an outside chance at the national title too. First: The Crimson Tide and Tigers decide the SEC West title.
2. Ohio State at Michigan. Ohio State already locked up the Big Ten Leaders title, but now it needs to win in the Big House against Michigan's hapless offense to keep its national title hopes alive. Win at noon, then root for Auburn to take down Alabama at 3:30.
3. Texas A&M at Missouri. Texas A&M took a big hit on Saturday at LSU, but we know how dangerous Johnny Manziel still can be. After beating Ole Miss, it's one of the biggest games in Missouri history, as the Tigers need a win to advance to the SEC title game.
4. Florida State at Florida. You might not actually want to watch it, because Florida State will win by 50, but it's the Seminoles' second-to-last obstacle before Pasadena.
5. Clemson at South Carolina. A nonconference game with slim-to-none championship implications, this game is one of the more intense rivalries in the country, and both teams are top-10 caliber. South Carolina needs a Missouri loss to go to the SEC title game; Clemson is likely headed to the Orange Bowl no matter the result of this one. Still, the Tigers are trying to beat the Gamecocks for the first time since 2008.
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