2014 Who's Hot ... Week 12
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Western Kentucky RB Leon Allen
Allen singlehandedly out-armied Army by rushing for a Conference USA-record 345 yards and three touchdowns in the Toppers’ 52-24 mauling of the Black Knights. The academy prepared for an onslaught of passes from prolific QB Brandon Doughty, yet wound up being stampeded by Allen, who’s been a solid complement all year to the aerial attack.
The time has arrived to begin sending more love to the Thundering Herd, that conundrum of perfection in the face of a laughable schedule. Marshall has maintained its focus as a weekly heavy favorite, winning all 10 games by at least two touchdowns. After throttling a solid Rice squad, 41-14, to earn redemption for last year’s Conference USA title game loss, the Herd continues doing all it could to show that it belongs in a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Offensive Coordinator of the Week: John Garrett, Oregon State
The Beavers’ shocking upset of Arizona State was sealed by a Michael Doctor pick-six, but it was made possible by Garrett’s offense. Facing one of the game’s hottest defenses late Saturday, Oregon State furthered its penchant for delivering Corvallis upsets by amassing almost 500 yards in freezing conditions. QB Sean Mannion was unusually tight, the line held up and the backfield tandem of Storm Woods and Terron Ward gashed the Sun Devils for back-breaking gallops.
Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Robb Smith, Arkansas
The Hogs took back the boot on Saturday night, thanks in large part to the play of Smith’s markedly improved defense. Arkansas held LSU to a season-low 123 total yards, while becoming the first team to blank the Tigers in the regular season during the Les Miles era. The Razorbacks swarmed LSU for 60 minutes, collecting four sacks and allowing just two trips into the red zone.
Stockpile more shares in … Georgia Tech
It’s time to start mentioning the Yellow Jackets as a serious at-large Orange Bowl contender, especially after Duke loss to Virginia Tech. Paul Johnson and his staff have Tech playing at its highest level in years, winning its last four ACC games by at least three touchdowns. In Saturday’s demolition of Clemson, Georgia Tech won with defense for a change, allowing 190 yards and producing two defensive scores for the second straight weekend.
Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs
It’s been a small sampling size so far this season, but the future looks extremely bright with Dobbs behind center in Knoxville. Since replacing Justin Worley on Oct. 25, the sophomore has accounted for 11 touchdowns, while leading the Volunteers to back-to back wins over South Carolina and Kentucky. UT scored 92 points in the victories, while showcasing its budding array of skill position talent. Even better, the Vols are a win away from their first bowl game in four years, which would afford Butch Jones and his staff valuable practice time with his young kids.
Madden Cover Material: Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
In the Badgers’ most important game of the season so far, Gordon delivered one of the epic performances by a running back in FBS history. The gamebreaker smashed LaDainian Tomlinson’s 15-year mark for single-game rushing yards in just three quarters, bolting for an incomprehensible 408 yards and four scores on just 25 carries. And it’s not as if an Ohio Valley Conference D was on the other side of the line. No, Gordon gashed Nebraska, which began the game allowing just 3.7 yards per carry.
Bucking for a promotion II: Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey
Get a load of who’s back on top of the MAC West. In what was supposed to be a mild rebuilding year as QB Jordan Lynch was being replaced, the Huskies have rallied to four straight wins, including Tuesday’s pivotal defeat of Toledo. Carey is proving he can win without Lynch carrying the team, which is going to resonate with larger programs, possibly the coach’s alma mater, Indiana.
Bucking for a promotion: Kansas interim head coach Clint Bowen
The Jayhawks fell to a more talented TCU team, 34-30, but Bowen continued to make his case to be the permanent successor to Charlie Weis. Despite lacking the talent of most opponents on the schedule, Kansas has been a more competitive team under the guidance of the former Jayhawk DB. And that was never more evident than on Saturday, when his kids gave the No. 4 Frogs a tougher fight than Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech or Kansas State did earlier in the fall.
He’s how young?! Georgia RB Nick Chubb
The return of Todd Gurley did little to stifle the production of Chubb, who’s rushed for at least 143 yards in each of the last five games of his rookie season. In the last four games, Chubb has averaged no fewer than 6.7 yards a carry, leaving no doubt that the Bulldog running game will be in good hands in the event that Gurley’s knee injury suffered in Saturday’s Auburn blowout win puts him back on the shelf.
He’s how young?! Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
Barrett is impervious to pressure, which has become increasingly clear with each passing week. In the past two games, with the stakes ratcheting up exponentially, the redshirt freshman led his Buckeyes to back-to-back road wins in East Lansing and Minnesota. This past Saturday, Barrett also proved to be impervious to the elements, throwing for three touchdowns and running for an Ohio State quarterback-record 189 yards and another score at snowy TCF Bank Stadium.
Can I be your agent … Jalen Ramsey?
Ramsey is Florida State starting free safety. But he’s technically anything Jimbo Fisher wants him to be on defense. The 6-1, 204-pound sophomore was the seminal Seminole in Saturday night’s come-from-behind win over Miami, doing a little bit of everything for the D. Using his long wingspan and closing speed, Ramsey flashed a sky-high ceiling by making three tackles, including a stop for loss, forcing a fumble, breaking up four passes, blocking a kick and making the game-sealing pick with 39 seconds left.
Start designing the Fathead of … Pitt RB James Conner
The Panthers are on the brink of postseason extinction, despite the continued heroics of their one-man wrecking ball. Everyone knows when Conner is getting the ball, yet he still gets his yards … lots and lots of yards. Even at 250 pounds, he’s averaged near eight yards a touch the past three games, abusing Duke and Carolina for well over 200 yards the past two outings.
It’s happening, folks. The Longhorns have begun their gradual ascent under head coach Charlie Strong. This is a different team than the one that stumbled out of the gate in September. Texas has won three straight behind a bare-knuckle, Malcom Brown-led D that’s allowed just 36 points to the wide-open offenses of Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. And now that the ‘Horns are bowl-eligible, Strong and his staff are going to get 15 valuable practices and one additional game to work with their young players.
Team of the Week II: Missouri
Mizzou is not handing the SEC East to Georgia. That much was made clear on Saturday night. The Tigers went on the road to College Station to face a confident Aggie team fresh off a stunning upset of Auburn. The Dawgs were about to get a gift from A&M, right. Uh-uh. Behind the running of Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, Missouri used a monster third quarter to move a step closer to a return trip to Atlanta.
Team of the Week: Alabama
In a big-game setting, don’t ever count out Nick Saban or his Crimson Tide. This program is typically at its best when the stakes are highest. Look at what ‘Bama has done the past two weeks in the equivalent of playoff elimination games, beating LSU in Baton Rouge in OT, and then handing Mississippi State its first loss of 2014. This is not the most talented team Saban has had in Tuscaloosa, but at 9-1 it’s closing in on another SEC crown and a seat at the playoff table.
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