Who's Hot & Not ... Week 7
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Who's Hot ... From the Bowl Season
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Not ... Week Seven
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10. The UCF Defense
Now 4-2 and looking like the Conference USA frontrunner, the Knights are being fueled by a defense that's giving up just 265 yards and 14 points a game. Fresh off suffocating Marshall's Brian Anderson, opposing quarterbacks are completing well below 50% of their passes and have yet to throw more than a single touchdown pass in a game.
9. East Carolina QB Dominique Davis
The former BC Eagle continues to look like a steal for the Pirates. While at times erratic, he's led the program to pivotal consecutive wins over Southern Miss and NC State, throwing four touchdown passes a week ago and accounting for three more, including the game-winner, in Saturday's upset of the Pack.
8. Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
If not for the early losses to Boise State and James Madison, Taylor might be on the short list of Heisman frontrunners. The MVP of the Hokies' five-game winning streak, he leads the team in rushing and is No. 14 nationally in passing efficiency, throwing a dozen touchdown passes to just three interceptions.
7. Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers
Inspired by the sudden death of his father in August, Bowers is enjoying the breakout season many expected when he was one of the nation's top recruits of 2008. Virtually unblockable over the last month, he now has 15 tackles for loss and nine sacks after completely overwhelming the Maryland offensive line.
6. The Michigan State D
A little spotty back in September, the Spartans have really turned things around on this side of the ball. A week after taking a big bite out of Denard Robinson's Heisman chances, Michigan State collected a season-high four sacks and held Illinois more than 100 below its season average for rushing.
5. The Mizzou D
Sure, Blaine Gabbert will get most of the headlines for throwing three touchdown passes, but Dave Steckel's defense has been the big story in the Tigers' 6-0 start. Spearheaded by seven sacks, three by young DE Brad Madison, Mizzou kept Texas A&M out of the end zone for the first 52 minutes, and hasn't yielded a touchdown in the first three quarters of the last three games.
4. Matt Barkley-to-Robert Woods
The USC quarterback has found a new BFF in the passing game, a lethal combination that's going to torment Pac-10 defenses at least through the 2011 season. With Ronald Johnson getting so much attention on the other side, Woods, a true freshman, has hauled in 19 receptions for 340 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games alone.
3. North Carolina
Forget what's happened away from the field, which might prove to be the death knell for head coach Butch Davis. On the field, he and his Tar Heels have been nothing short of remarkable, recovering from an 0-2 start and more than a dozen suspensions to win four straight. Carolina beat Virginia in Charlottesville for the first time in almost three decades, getting another huge day from QB T.J. Yates and DT Quinton Coples.
2. Mississippi State
Dan Mullen put an exclamation point on his rebuilding plan in Starkville, beating Florida in the Swamp for the first time since 1965. Winners of four straight, the Bulldogs only need to beat UAB this weekend to end a three-year bowl drought. The unsung hero has been new coordinator Manny Diaz, whose defense has only allowed an average of 16 points in games with Auburn, LSU, Georgia, and Florida.
1. Auburn … late
The Tigers are learning how to win close games, an invaluable skill separating good teams from great ones. By rallying for four touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Arkansas, Auburn pulled out a close game in the waning moments for the fifth time in the first seven games. Best of all, everyone got in the act, from the scrambling of QB Cam Newton and two Josh Bynes picks to a timely 99-yard kickoff return from Onterio McCalebb.
Not ... Week Seven