Who's Hot ... MSU, USC & Eastern Michigan?!
Eastern Michigan QB Alex Gillett
Eastern Michigan QB Alex Gillett
Posted Oct 23, 2011

The players and teams that rocked and stunk in Week Eight.

2011 Who's Hot & Not

Week 8

 By Richard Cirminiello | 2010 Hot & Nots
- Who's Hot & Not  Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
Week 6 | Week 7

- 2011 Who's Not ... Week 8

Who's Hot ...

10. Eastern Michigan

It matters not that absolutely no one is paying attention to it, but Ron English is doing a remarkable job in Ypsilanti. After upsetting Western Michigan on Saturday, the coach has his Eagles over .500 this late in a season for the first time since 1995. That also happened to be the last time that 4-3 Eastern Michigan won more than four games in a year. The team is gradually breaking old habits with a committee ground game composed of QB Alex Gillett and backs Javonti Greene, Dominque White and Dominique Sherrer.

9. The Louisville D

The Cardinals might be a game under .500, but the defense has been first-rate all year long. Louisville has allowed more than two offensive touchdowns in a game just once all season, yielding an average of just 17 points per outing. While the unit may lack star power, it's long on fundamentals and intensity, trademarks of Charlie Strong-coached teams. The Cards were at it again on Friday night, silencing Big East-leading Rutgers, 16-14, behind three timely picks.

8. NC State CB David Amerson

The true sophomore has snuck up on a lot of people this season, including opposing quarterbacks. Amerson is on the verge of running away with this year's interception title after picking off a pair of passes for the second straight game. The second one off the right arm of Virginia QB David Watford was taken back for six in the final quarter to seal an important victory for the Pack in Charlottesville. Amerson now has eight interceptions on the season, putting him within mathematical range of Washington DB Al Worley's single-season record of 14 picks in 1968.

7. Penn State RB Silas Redd

Yes, they still do play some offense in Happy Valley. Redd has been the big fish in a shallow pond this fall, his first as a full-timer, rushing for no less than 129 yards in each of the last four games. The sophomore went for a career-high 164 yards and a score on only 18 carries against Northwestern Saturday night. By winning for the sixth straight time, coupled with Wisconsin's loss at Michigan State, Penn State now stands alone atop the Big Ten's Leaders Division.

6. USC

The Trojans have caught fire since losing to Arizona State on Sept. 24, capping a three-game winning streak with an impressive win in South Bend Saturday night. QB Matt Barkley has been sharp as the leader of the offense, throwing nine touchdowns to one pick during the run, and the pass defense has unexpectedly turned the corner. The secondary, which has been without top cover corner Torin Harris, did not allow a touchdown pass in the last two games to Cal's Zach Maynard or Notre Dame's Tommy Rees.

5. Cincinnati

Not only have the Bearcats won five straight since losing to Tennessee on Sept. 10, but losses by West Virginia and Rutgers have propelled them to the top of the Big East standings. Cincinnati's latest victory was a huge one, rallying behind the heroics of QB Zach Collaros to upend South Florida in Tampa with a last-minute touchdown. The senior continued his push for league Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for three scores and running for two more, including the game-winner with 20 seconds left.

4. The Stanford O-line

David DeCastro, David Yankey, Jonathan Martin, Sam Schwartzstein and Cameron Fleming were the unsung heroes of the Cardinal's pivotal 65-21 rout of Washington over the weekend. The unit paved the way for a school-record 446 yards on the ground, obliterating the Huskies at the point of attack. Stanford, which broke in three new starters this fall, has also allowed Andrew Luck to be sacked just twice all season, fewest in America.

3. Clemson QB Tajh Boyd

Boyd has been so remarkable in 2011 that it's easy to forget that it's his debut as a starter. The sophomore, who has now accounted for 28 touchdowns to just three picks, emasculated a pretty good North Carolina defense this past weekend. Not only did he spread out five touchdown passes to five different receivers, but he also accounted for a sixth score on a run as part of a 59-38 mauling in Death Valley.

2. Ball Protection in Baton Rouge

Is it any wonder that LSU is absolutely cruising through its schedule with four regular-season games remaining? The Tigers have gone five straight games without committing a turnover, an amazing run, and have only given the ball away three times in eight games. One pick out of 176 attempts. Two fumbles lost. When you couple that kind of mistake-free football with a suffocating D, it should come as no surprise that LSU has won its games by an average score of 39-11.

1. Michigan State

The newest favorite to capture the 2011 Big Ten title has won four in a row, capped by a three-game run over Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Spartans have been using a surly defense and a power running game to ascend up the conference and national pecking orders. Late on Saturday night, they employed a little bit of magic, delivering one of the plays of the year, when QB Kirk Cousins' 44-yard heave at the end of regulation caromed into the arms of WR Keith Nichol to upset the unbeaten Badgers.

- 2011 Who's Not ... Week 8