2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Not ... Week 9
Who’s Hot ...
10. U-Dub in the Clink
The way Washington has performed in the Seattle Seahawks home, CenturyLink Field, it might not want to go back to Husky Stadium after renovations are completed. The Huskies are now 4-1 in their adopted home following a stirring upset of then-No. 7 Oregon State late Saturday night. They also handed Stanford their first loss of the year back on Sept. 27, and put a scare into USC two weeks ago. Most remarkable has been the contrasting play of Justin Wilcox’s D, which is allowing 16 points a game in Seattle, and almost 50 points a game outside of the city.
9. Hugh Freeze in Debut Seasons
Has anyone noticed what Ole Miss has been doing for Freeze lately? The Rebels are steadily moving up in the uber-tough SEC West, surpassing Auburn and Arkansas on the field the last two weekends. Saturday’s win in Fayetteville on a Bryson Rose field goal as time expired marked the school’s first back-to-back league wins in three years, and pulled it within a victory of bowl eligibility. All of this from a school that won two games a year ago, and began 2012 on a seven-game losing streak. Freeze has been nothing short of revelatory, much the way he was in his lone season at Arkansas State in 2011.
8. Louisville in Nail-Biters
That Keg of Nails the Cards captured on Friday night ought to be filled with Tums for head coach Charlie Strong, whose team has played in six straight tight games decided by no more than 10 points. And won them all. While Louisville isn’t quite as air-tight as many had hoped, the young squad is learning how to win around sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater, a quality that leads to championships. Over the last two weekends alone, it’s beaten rivals South Florida and Cincinnati on a touchdown pass with 95 seconds left and an overtime field goal, respectively.
7. Clemson’s Offense
After starting slowly in the opener with Auburn, the Tigers have put the offense into hyperdrive, producing at least 37 points in each of the last seven games. Clemson can whack opposing defenses with speed on the ground or through the air, with QB Tajh Boyd as a very capable orchestrator. He was razor sharp in Thursday night’s rout of Wake Forest, throwing five touchdown passes to five different receivers. Boyd’s favorite target, though, was Sammy Watkins, who had his best game of the year, and stands to make the Tigers even more potent down the stretch.
6. The MAC
It’s been a huge year for the Mid-American Conference, which has delivered major upsets and close calls almost on a weekly basis. The latest breakthroughs came at the expense of the Big East, which saw unbeatens Cincinnati and Rutgers lose to Toledo and Kent State, respectively. But there was also Ohio’s win over Penn State in Happy Valley, Western Michigan’s escape of Connecticut, a Central Michigan win at Iowa and Ball State’s consecutive upsets of Indiana and South Florida. It’ll be a long time before the Big Ten or the Big East takes a MAC team lightly.
5. North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard
Bernard has been operating lately as if he knows that NFL scouts are watching his every move. The junior was the hero in a thrilling Tar Heel win over in-state rival NC State, rushing for 135 yards and two scores, leading the team with eight receptions … and beating the Pack with a brilliant 74-yard punt return for six with 13 seconds left on the clock. It was a Heisman-esque performance, even if he’ll never be considered seriously for the award. Bernard has now rushed for well over 100 yards in four consecutive games, shaking off a quiet start to the season.
4. Kansas State (in the Second Half)
There hasn’t been a better second-half team this side of Gainesville than the one in purple from Manhattan. The Wildcats are a resilient, well-coached bunch that makes halftime adjustments about as well as anyone in the FBS. They were at it again on Saturday versus Texas Tech, shooing aside a 13-10 lead at the break to outscore the Red Raiders 42-14 over the final 30 minutes. Through eight games, Kansas State has now produced 216 combined points in the third and fourth quarters. Opponents? Just 67.
3. Georgia’s SEC Title Hopes
On Oct. 6, the Bulldogs were abused by South Carolina, 35-7, in a game that set the program back immensely. On Oct. 28, the Bulldogs are in the East Division driver’s seat. In between, they’ve gotten a few breaks, and an immense effort from their defense in Jacksonville on Saturday. Georgia snuffed out old nemesis Florida over the weekend, combining with two Gamecocks losses earlier in the month to move an improbable step closer to a date with the West Division champ on Dec. 1. LB Jarvis Jones delivered an epic performance, one that’ll go down in the annals in program history.
2. Matt Scott and the Arizona Offense
Ever since getting shut out by Oregon on Sept. 22, the Wildcats attack under Rich Rodriguez has been virtually unstoppable. RichRod and his staff have done a remarkable job with the talent they inherited, outplaying feisty defenses, such as Oregon State, Stanford and USC, over the past month. Held to less than 35 points just twice in eight games, Arizona made its loudest statement of the year, knocking off No. 10 USC on Saturday, 39-36. Scott was exceptional, accounting for 469 yards and four scores, while getting ample help from RB Ka’Deem Carey and WR Austin Hill.
1. Defensive Players and the Heisman
Typically, defensive players only contend for Heisman honors when they also touch the ball as return men or occasional offensive options. This is shaping up as a very atypical Heisman race.
Week 9 was a special one for defenders, especially linebackers Manti Te’o and Jarvis Jones, two of the nation’s clear-cut best players. Te’o enhanced his Heisman resume by helping lead Notre Dame to a monumental upset of Oklahoma. Jones joined the discussion as well, delivering one of the season’s best individual efforts by a player at any position. He played like a man possessed in the Dawgs’ win over Florida, making 13 tackles, 4.5 stops for loss, three sacks, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles, including a strip of Jordan Reed as he headed toward the potential game-tying touchdown in the fourth.
Who's Not ... Week 9