2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Not ... Week 5
Who's Hot ...
10. Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Weisman has become the poster child for every try-hard athlete who gets his long-awaited chance to shoulder the load. The former walk-on reserve fullback has earned his scholarship in recent weeks, becoming the go-to guy on the ground for the injury-ravaged Hawkeyes backfield. Doing quite a John Riggins impression, the 6-0, 225-pound Weisman has powered his way to 507 yards and seven rushing touchdowns over the last three games, helping bring Floyd of Rosedale back to Iowa City with Saturday's win over unbeaten Minnesota.
9. BYU on Defense
With Kyle Van Noy and the rest of the Cougars linebackers are setting the tone in Provo, the blue and white defense has gone more than nine quarters without allowing a team in the end zone. Boise State was unable to do it a week ago. Ditto Hawaii this past Friday night, which was shut out, 49-0, for the first time since 1998. BYU has now gone a staggering 11 straight games without giving up more than 300 yards, a streak that would make Nick Saban and Alabama nod in admiration.
8. Arizona State
The Sun Devils are for real in the Pac-12 South. A week after pasting Utah, 37-7, ASU picked up a rare win in the state of California, outclassing Cal in Berkeley. Todd Graham has quietly done a terrific job with this team, transforming them into a physical and imposing group. Sophomore Taylor Kelly continues to look like the right choice behind center, and DT Will Sutton has been the ringleader of a rejuvenated D. The unit is yielding just 13 points a game, forming the backbone of a surprise team that could give USC a run for the division this season.
7. Alabama CB Dee Milliner
He gets sort of lost in the parade of defensive playmakers who call Tuscaloosa home, but Milliner just might be the very best of a very good bunch. The junior will be a candidate to bolt for the NFL at the end of the regular season, possessing the size, cover skills and instincts that lead to high draft selections and fat signing bonuses. Milliner broke up four passes and had a pick in Saturday's win over Ole Miss. He's already broken up nine passes, an overlooked reason why the Crimson Tide had seven more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed in September.
6. Texas Tech
The time may have come to start taking the Red Raiders just a little more seriously. Obviously, no one knew what to expect out of Tommy Tuberville's third team in Lubbock after it coasted against Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Those three blowouts proved little. However, by beating Iowa State in Ames, Tech has scaled a rung on the Big 12 ladder. Seth Doege continues to move the ball through the air, and the non-name D is at least better than anyone imagined. Without a sure-fire all-star, the Red Raiders gave up a total of 670 yards and three offensive touchdowns … in the month of September.
5. Georgia's Young Backs
Thank goodness for crackerjack recruiting. The Bulldogs have not missed ousted former feature back Isaiah Crowell thanks to the emergence of a pair of precocious rookies, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The pair combined for 294 yards and five scores on the ground this past weekend, running through and past the Tennessee defense. Gurley, in particular, is having a Herschel-like debut in Athens, leading the SEC in rushing, and getting held below 100 yards just once in five games. As long as the rookies keep rolling, Georgia has as good a chance as anyone this side of Tuscaloosa of winning a national title.
Has anyone noticed that the Hurricanes are off to a 3-0 start in ACC play, courtesy of back-to-back exciting wins over Georgia Tech and NC State? As the defense has struggled, the offense has more than picked up the slack behind the passing of QB Stephen Morris. The junior has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in the wins over the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack, teaming up with Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott on a spate of long balls. Miami remains an unfinished product, but at 4-1, head coach Al Golden clearly has this young team headed in the right direction.
3. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion
The Beavers learned in Tucson on Saturday night that they can win games even when the defense struggles. Mannion, a sophomore, deserves plenty of credit for Oregon State's improbable start and appearance in the Top 25. Over the last two games, wins over Pac-12 foes UCLA and Arizona, he's thrown for 812 yards, five touchdowns and just one pick. Not only are receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks flourishing as Mannion's playmates, but redshirt freshman RB Storm Woods is starting to roll on the ground as well.
2. Texas (in games decided by five points or less)
The Longhorns won a crucial game over Oklahoma State in Stillwater, with a little help from the refs and with some clutch passing down the stretch from emerging sophomore QB David Ash. For the program, it was their 11th win in the last 12 games decided by five points, an impressive run that began with a 2006 Alamo Bowl win over Iowa. Week 5 could go down as a turning point for Texas, which had spent the last two seasons searching for the kind of victory that would propel it back into Big 12 contention.
1. West Virginia QB Geno Smith
At long last, a true Heisman frontrunner. No, Smith hasn't faced a Texas-like defense yet, but his start to the season has been no less staggering. Highlighted by Saturday's record-setting eight-touchdown, 656-yard effort in a 70-63 win over Baylor, the senior is soaring up NFL Draft boards, while carrying his Mountaineers into BCS National Championship contention. While the Bears don't have an air-tight D, Smith to receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey appears to be literally unstoppable at this stage of the season. Smith, by the way, has now thrown 20 touchdown passes without a pick through four games.
Who's Not ... Week 5