Who's Hot? Week 4: ODU, Kiffin, Justin Thomas

The stud teams, players, coaches and trends from Week 4

2014 Who's Hot ... Week 4

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Old Dominion
The Monarchs traveled to Houston and knocked off defending Conference USA champion Rice, 45-42, for their first win in a new league. It was a signature moment as Ricky Segers’ field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired. Old Dominion, with senior QB Taylor Heinicke lighting up defenses with his arm and legs, now knows it can compete in its new digs.

Memphis LB Tank Jakes
Few know the name or the player, which is a shame. He’s a defensive wrecking ball, and one of the reasons the Tigers are 2-1 for the first time in a decade. Jakes has a nose the ball, the instincts of a defender who can change the tenor of a game with his tenacity. Through three games, he already has 25 tackles, nine stops for loss, four sacks, a pick, two forced fumbles and a safety. Even UCLA couldn’t handle No. 13 when it faced him two weeks ago.

Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Lane Kiffin, Alabama
Say what you will about Kiffin, but he’s off to a nice start in Tuscaloosa. He’s got the Crimson Tide cranking at historically prolific levels, and he’s getting it done with a first-year starting quarterback, Blake Sims. In Saturday’s 42-21 statement win over Florida, Bama amassed 645 yards, the most ever yielded by a Gator D. Florida had its share of lapses and breakdowns, but Kiffin called a great game.

Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Tom Hayes, Kansas State
Yeah, the Wildcats fell to Auburn Thursday night, 20-14, but not for anything Hayes’ kids did wrong. K-State yielded just 128 rushing yards and no touchdowns on 45 carries, snapping the vaunted Tiger running game’s streak of 13 games with at least 200 yards on the ground. Hayes did a brilliant of preparing for this matchup, which could end up becoming the SEC blueprint for slowing the Tigers the next two months.

Stockpile more shares in … Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas
Maybe the unexpected transfer of QB Vad Lee to James Madison was the best thing to happen to the Yellow Jackets. Thomas is thriving as the new leader of Paul Johnson’s option, both as a runner and a passer. He leads the team with 443 yards on the ground, has thrown seven touchdowns to just one pick and had guided Tech to back-to-back comeback wins over Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech.

Madden Cover Material: Indiana RB Tevin Coleman
Who can figure the Hoosiers, losing to a bad Bowling Green team a week before a stunning upset of Mizzou in Columbia? Coleman, though, is the one constant in Bloomington. The junior has rushed for more than 100 yards in five straight games dating back to last November, including 132 yards and a score against the Tiger D. Coleman has the size and the jets to be the rare IU player to leave school with eligibility remaining.

Bucking for a promotion: East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley
Pirate head coach Ruffin McNeill might want to start interviewing for a new offensive leader, because someone is going to make Riley a head man at some point soon. Yeah, it helps to call QB Shane Carden your triggerman, but ECU did things to Carolina Saturday that teams normally wouldn’t do versus FCS opponents. It gashed the Heels for 789 and 70 points to notch a second straight win over an ACC team.

He’s how young?! Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine
Learn how to pronounce Perine’s name, because you’ll be tossing it around plenty over the next couple of years. The four-star recruit from the 2014 class enjoyed his coming-out party at the expense of the West Virginia defense, stampeding for 242 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries. At 5-11 and 243 pounds, Perine brings an added dimension of brute strength to the Sooner offense.

He’s how young?! Maryland CB Will Likely
Likely isn’t very big, just 5-7 and 175 pounds, but he leaves a gigantic imprint on every game he plays. In just his second season out of Glades Central (Fla.) High School, he’s made 27 tackles, three stops for loss, two picks, five pass breakups and a forced fumble. In Honey Badger-like fashion, Likely has also scored touchdowns on an interception and a punt return.

Can I be your agent … Amari Cooper?
No one is stopping Cooper this season, not even lockdown Florida corner Vernon Hargreaves. In his toughest assignment of the year, Alabama’s mercurial wide receiver rose to the challenge by catching 10 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He’d be a top 10 NFL Draft pick right now, which means even double-teams aren’t going to stop him over the next eight regular-season games.

Start designing the Fathead of … Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
It was vintage Gordon in Saturday’s record-setting decimation of Bowling Green. The junior sprinted for a career-high 253 yards and five touchdowns on only 13 touches, running through and around the confused Falcon D. One of the game’s most electrifying offensive weapons officially has his 2014 Heisman campaign off the ground.

The Big Ten
The Big Ten needed to make a statement in Week 4, which is exactly what it did. The league won 12-of-13 games, with Michigan being the lone outlier. It showed some collective punch on offense, while Iowa, Maryland and Indiana authored statement road upsets of Pitt, Syracuse and Missouri, respectively. The Big Ten is not out of the woods, but this past Saturday stopped the bleeding, and provided a foundation on which to build.

Team of the Week: Mississippi State
Every breakthrough season needs a signature win. The Bulldogs got theirs on Saturday night, beating LSU in Baton Rouge for the first time since 1991. And until a late Tiger rally in the final minutes, Mississippi State made it look easy. Dan Mullen’s team has never been this confident, the defense is nasty and QB Dak Prescott is making a strong case to be considered as a serious Heisman contender.

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