2014 Who's Hot ... Week 8
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The Broncos are on the verge of getting over the hump for second-year coach P.J. Fleck. After going 1-11 in 2013, Western Michigan has unexpectedly jumped above .500 with a second straight conference upset on the road. It rallied in the second half to snap Bowling Green’s three-game winning streak, while keeping postseason hopes alive.
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Seth Littrell, North Carolina
Is Carolina about to go on a second-half run similar to what it did in 2013? If so, Littrell and the rest of the offensive staff will deserve most of the credit. The Tar Heels have scored 91 points over the last two games, including 48 in Saturday’s mild upset of Georgia Tech. QB Marqise Williams was terrific in all phases, and Littrell is beginning to do a better job of incorporating his talented ensemble of receivers.
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Kirby Smart, Alabama
Sure, Texas A&M began Week 8 with a cloud hanging above their heads. But shutting out the Aggies? It seemed like an impossible challenge, yet that’s exactly what Smart’s Tide did over the weekend. ‘Bama held A&M to eight first downs, and is allowing just 13 points per game in 2014. Unlike in recent years, Smart isn’t coaching as many household names, but the unit’s play has been outstanding anyway.
Stockpile more shares in … TCU QB Trevone Boykin
Boykin has been a hand-in-glove for the new up-tempo offense installed this season by coordinator Sonny Cumbie and the Horned Frogs. The junior from Dallas helped dismantle Oklahoma State over the weekend, throwing for three scores and a career-high 410 yards. Boykin and WR Josh Doctson enjoyed a Vulcan mind meld against the Cowboys, connecting for 225 yards and two scores on seven receptions.
Stockpile more shares in … The Pitt D
Very quietly, coordinator Matt House has done an exceptional job with a Panther defense that was expected to retreat now that Aaron Donald is in the NFL. Instead, it’s been one of the ACC’s biggest surprises by ranking among the nation’s leaders. Sophomore CB Reggie Mitchell, a Wisconsin transfer, is a budding star, but Pitt is predominantly a blue-collar unit that does a lot of little things well. After stifling Virginia Tech Thursday night, the Panthers have now held all seven opponents to no more than 25 points.
Madden Cover Material: The quarterbacks in the Notre Dame-Florida State game
The Irish and the ‘Noles lived up to the hype because Everett Golson and Jameis Winston lived up to the hype. Both quarterbacks performed like champions at Doak Campbell Stadium, rising to the challenge over and over again, especially down the stretch. Winston was Heisman-worthy in the second half, while Golson performed like a champion, as he distributed the ball to young receivers Corey Robinson and Will Fuller.
Bucking for a promotion: Duke head coach David Cutcliffe
Would Cutcliffe leave Durham, a place he’s grown to love? Maybe not. But it shouldn’t keep ADs from larger programs from making a run at one of the game’s best teachers. Cutcliffe sealed his third straight bowl game with a quality win over Virginia, 20-13. In year when the defense has had to carry more of the weight for a change, Duke has found a way to get to 6-1, while remaining atop the Coastal Division.
He’s how young?! Georgia RB Nick Chubb
Since the suspension of star RB Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs haven’t skipped a beat, burying Missouri and Arkansas on the road in back-to-back games. Chubb has been a key reason why the Dawgs remain a one-loss team, with a stranglehold on the SEC East. The Cedartown (Ga.) High School rookie rushed for 345 yards and three scores in his two starts, while outshining heralded Hog backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams on Saturday.
He’s how young?! Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
The Vols are quickly sinking, but Barnett provides plenty of hope for the future. The rookie from Nashville showed at Ole Miss Saturday night why he’s a sure-fire Freshman All-American, whipping the Rebel O-line for 10 tackles, four stops for loss and a couple of sacks. Barnett has a great motor to go along with a skill set that’ll continue to improve with time.
Can I be your agent … Gerod Holliman?
He’s huge. He’s smart. And he can cover. He’s exactly what the NFL craves in a defensive back. Holliman has gone from part-time starter at Louisville a year ago to the nation’s leader with eight interceptions. The 6-2, 213-pound safety picked off a Jacoby Brissett pass in Saturday’s win over NC State, helping spearhead a D that’s yet to allow an opponent to score more than 23 points in a game.
Start designing the Fathead of … West Virginia WR Kevin White
Without a ton of warning, White has blossomed into one of the game’s most dominant pass-catchers. In his second season removed from Lackawanna (Penn.) College, he already looks NFL-ready, amassing 69 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. Baylor had no solutions to White, who showcased his ideal size and advanced ball skills by making eight catches for 132 yards and two scores, including a brilliant one-hander to help seal the win.
The Buckeyes have amassed a wicked head of steam. And who knows where it’ll take them? Since losing to Virginia Tech in Week 2, Ohio State has regrouped around young QB J.T. Barrett to score at least 50 points in four straight routs. Over the last two games, the Buckeyes have outscored Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers, 108-41, in a rude welcome to the league.
Utah on the Road
The resurgent Utes have now played at the Big House, at the Rose Bowl and at Corvallis. Win. Win. Win. Kyle Whittingham has Utah off to its best start since the pre-Pac-12 days, riding the powerful legs of RB Devontae Booker and a Nate Orchard-led defense that’s assumed squatter’s rights in opposing backfields. Booker went for 229 yards and three scores in Thursday’s double-overtime defeat of the Beavers, while Orchard owns 10.5 of his team’s 33 sacks.
Team of the Week II: Kansas State
Just think of how close the ‘Cats are to being one of the top 3 teams in America. Their only loss was to Auburn, 20-14, in a game that they did enough, especially on defense, to win. The genius that is Bill Snyder continued in Norman on Saturday with an upset that bumped Oklahoma to the outskirts of Big 12 contention. While K-State isn’t the nation’s best team, it continues to rank among the most dangerous and well-coached.
Team of the Week: West Virginia
The Mountaineers have won three straight, capped by Saturday’s breakthrough upset of previously-unbeaten Baylor. Dana Holgorsen has achieved some long-awaited job security, Clint Trickett to Kevin White is one of the country’s most dangerous pitch-and-catch combos and West Virginia is a Big 12 contender. This team has come a long way from the one that went 4-8 a year ago.
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