2011 Who's Hot & Not
2010 Hot & Nots
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Who's Not ... Week 12
Who’s Hot ...
Without any attention outside of the MAC borders, head coach Frank Solich just keeps doing an underrated job in Athens. Since sputtering in the middle of the season, the Bobcats have rallied to four consecutive wins, capped by Wednesday night’s 29-28 nail-biter over Bowling Green on the road. By virtue of that win, and a Miami loss to Western Michigan on the same night, Ohio has wrapped up the East Division. Spearheaded by a no-nonsense ground attack that meshes with Solich’s personality, the team has flourished with first-year starter Tyler Tettleton behind center.
9. Wyoming QB Brett Smith
Just a freshman, Smith has become the face of the revival that’s taking place under head coach Dave Christensen in Laramie this fall. The Cowboys won for the seventh time to become bowl-eligible, getting 140 yards rushing and three total touchdowns from their precocious signal-caller. The rookie out of Salem, Ore. has now gone five straight games without throwing an interception, and has accounted for 25 total touchdowns during this highly improbable debut in Wyoming.
8. MAC Receivers
Recent mid-week games involving Mid-American Conference teams have turned into NFL auditions for the league’s best receivers. Seniors Jordan White, Kamar Jorden and LaVon Brazill, junior Eric Page and sophomore Nick Harwell are treating opposing defensive backs like inanimate objects once the national cameras turn on. Western Michigan’s White has caught seven touchdown passes over the last three games. Miami’s Harwell has pulled down video game-like numbers in his past two, 29 grabs for 367 yards and five scores. Bowling Green’s Jorden has had at least eight receptions in each of the last three games.
7. Louisiana Tech
LSU isn’t the only streaking team in the state these days. Head coach Sonny Dykes has something very special brewing in Ruston. Without any notoriety outside the region, Louisiana Tech seized control of the Western Athletic Conference with Saturday’s upset of Nevada in Reno. The Bulldogs have now won six in-a-row since starting 1-4, and have come closer than anyone to being the first team to knock off perfect Houston. If the defense and QB Colby Cameron and Lennon Creer can spark one more win, Tech will be the most unlikely conference champ of 2011.
6. Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
The junior from the state of Missouri might be having the quietest 30-touchdown season in NCAA history. Maybe QB Russell Wilson has stolen some of the spotlight this fall, but Ball doesn’t seem to be getting quite enough attention for this year’s heroics. After shredding a pretty good Illinois D for well over 200 yards on the ground and three total scores, the Big Ten’s leading ground gainer is now averaging 6.7 yards a carry.
5. Houston LB Sammy Brown
Brown has been to the Cougars defense what Case Keenum has been to the offense. Okay, so the senior doesn’t make as many headlines, or break as many records, but he’s quietly having a spectacular year for Houston. The nation’s leader in tackles for loss was again unstoppable against SMU on Saturday afternoon, collecting 4.5 stops behind the line, three sacks and 10 tackles. A beast coming off the edge on the blitz, he’s one of the unheralded reasons the program is 11-0, and thinking first-ever BCS bowl game.
4. Missouri QB James Franklin
It’s official. Franklin is going to be the next in a growing line of dynamic Mizzou quarterbacks that includes Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert. The sophomore gives reason for hope as the Tigers prepare for life in the SEC, leading his team to bowl-eligibility with a couple of clutch fourth quarter touchdowns to get past Texas Tech. After rushing for well over 100 yards, and scoring four times on Saturday, the dual-threat has now accounted for 31 touchdowns and well over 3,000 yards in his first season at the controls.
3. Iowa State
The Cyclones didn’t just win a third straight game or become bowl-eligible for the second time under Paul Rhoads on Friday night. By shocking No. 2 Oklahoma State in Ames, they put the BCS on a merry-go-round that won’t stop for another couple of weeks. Iowa State had absolutely no business being in this game as a four-touchdown underdog, yet battled back from 17 down in the second half behind redshirt freshman QB Jared Barnett, LB Jake Knott and CB Leonard Johnson. And emptied the stands in double-overtime on a Jeff Woody plunge.
Can’t the NCAA just make an exception, and allow the Trojans to win the Pac-12 South this year? It’s worth considering bending a few rules rather than watch Oregon or Stanford gut UCLA on Dec. 3. USC has evolved into one of the big stories of 2011, gradually regrouping from its NCAA sanctions. It basically won its version of a de facto bowl game late Saturday night, knocking the Ducks out of the national championship race with a near-complete effort from QB Matt Barkley and the Trojans defense. Troy has lost just once in the last two months, a triple-overtime classic at the hands of 10-1 Stanford.
1. Baylor QB Robert Griffin III
Griffin III is simply a magnificent all-around talent, the kind of playmaker at quarterback that comes around only once every few years. What he’s done for the Bears program will pay dividends for some time, guiding the school back to the postseason, and raising its profile on a national scale. The junior was otherworldly Saturday night versus Oklahoma, accounting for more than 500 total yards, and throwing four touchdown passes, including the game-winner from 34 yards out in the waning seconds. If he’s not at least in the Heisman discussion at this point, the award shouldn’t be given out this December.
Who's Not ... Week 12