2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Not ... Week 10
Who’s Hot ...
Two weeks ago, the Knights learned that their appeal of an NCAA postseason ban in 2012 would not be heard until 2013. The team has responded by taking control of the East Division of Conference USA, setting the stage for what could be a showdown with Tulsa in a month. UCF has only lost to Ohio State and Mizzou this season, reeling off five straight wins. The defense remains the best in the league, while the offense continues to roll up big numbers, including 10 total touchdowns over the last three games from RB Latavius Murray, who’s been on an NFL salary run lately.
9. Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch
With all due respect to Braxton Miller, Denard Robinson and Johnny Manziel, Lynch belongs in any discussion involving the best rushing quarterbacks of 2012. Chandler Harnish’s successor leads all hurlers with well over 1,000 yards on the ground, breaking the 100-yard mark in each of the last eight games. The quiet leader for a team that made it nine straight wins after defeating Massachusetts, 63-0, Lynch has now thrown 19 touchdown passes, run for 16 more and has only been picked off three times on 258 passing attempts.
Alright, no one put away the basketballs yet in Bloomington, but has anyone noticed what the Hoosiers football team has been up to lately? Second-year coach Kevin Wilson has the squad just a game below .500, a rarity this late in a season in these parts, and just a game off the lead in the Leaders Division. Sure, it’s an odd year in this half of the Big Ten bracket, but wouldn’t it be a hoot if Indiana can extend its current two-game winning streak next week in Madison? Even when losing, the Hoosiers have made considerable strides, dropping four of five games, including to Michigan State and Ohio State, by no more than four points.
Have the ‘Horns righted the ship? Not completely, but they’re headed on the right track. They have won three straight games since bottoming out on Dallas on Oct. 13, winning consecutive games over Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech. Saturday’s win in Lubbock was particularly special for head coach Mack Brown, who’s been feeling a lot of heat for his underachieving team. Texas got a tight effort from QB David Ash, who appears to have solidified his hold on the starting job after throwing three touchdown passes and no picks against the Red Raiders defense.
6. San Diego State
The Aztecs are one of the nation’s hottest teams that no one is currently talking about. They’ve won five in a row, none more impressive than Saturday night’s upset of Boise State in Idaho, which very few opponents have pulled off over the last decade. San Diego State has rallied from an awkward 2-3 start to surge into Mountain West contention in its finale in the conference. The stories throughout the run have been provided by a very deep and talented running game and a no-name defense that keeps making plays when it needs to.
5. Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore
Get a good look at Moore over the next few games, Aggies fans. The NFL is likely to be employing the junior at this time next season. While QB Johnny Manziel and the offense have justifiably created most of the headlines in College Station this season, Moore and his defensive mates have been key contributors as well. No. 94 has used his next-level speed and get-off to collect 19 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks through the first nine games. He’s looked every bit like an SEC pass rusher all season, even when playing with a gimpy ankle in the rout of Mississippi State on Saturday.
On Oct. 6, the Huskers were humbled in Columbus by Ohio State, 63-38. Ever since that tough evening when the bottom dropped out, the program has played like the team to beat in the Big Ten. Nebraska has won three straight, handling Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State in games that could have gone either way to seize control of the Legends Division. With the Buckeyes ineligible, the Huskers are beginning to carry the conference torch, with the fuel coming from the running of QB Taylor Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah.
Someone in Los Angeles is on a timely late-season tear, and for a change it isn’t USC. Jim Mora’s Bruins have bounced back from an awful loss to Cal on Oct. 6 to win three straight games, and move into the Pac-12 South driver’s seat. UCLA has been building to a crescendo, beating Utah and Arizona State, in Tempe, before absolutely annihilating once-hot Arizona at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night. It was able to empty the bench shortly after halftime in a game pegged as a toss-up, getting enormous efforts once again from QB Brett Hundley and RB Johnathan Franklin. The Bruins are on the verge of passing the Trojans, an amazing achievement in Mora’s debut season at the helm.
2. Kenjon Barner and the Oregon Offense
USC began playing football in 1888. Until Saturday night, no one had ever scored 62 points on the Trojans. Oregon is once again unstoppable with the ball, spreading the field and allowing its playmakers to burn opposing defenses with their speed and elusiveness. On a team that once had no singular candidate for individual awards, such as the Heisman Trophy, Barner has clearly built separation on teammates De’Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota. The back, who wisely returned for his senior year, erupted for a school-record 321 yards rushing and five touchdowns on 38 carries in the pivotal win over the Trojans.
1. Bama’s Hopes of Repeating
On a night when its offense misfired and its defense showed more cracks than normal, the Crimson Tide still managed to get out of Baton Rouge with a clutch win on a last-minute drive.
LSU was clearly Alabama’s tallest remaining hurdle to a repeat national championship, an opponent and a venue that have snuffed out plenty of dreams throughout the years. The Tide is done playing regular season road games, and will return to Tuscaloosa knowing that it still controls its own destiny in the quest for another crown. ‘Bama wasn’t perfect on Saturday night, but its record still is unblemished, which is all that matters at this stage of the season.
Who's Not ... Week 10