2012 Who's Hot & Not
Who's Not ... Week 13
Who's Hot ...
10. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
Is it possible to have a quieter big season in a BCS conference than Bell has come up with? Asked before the year to be the workhorse, he has responded and then some with a phenomenal 1,648-yard, 11 touchdown season on a whopping 350 carries to go along with 30 catches. How much was he needed down the stretch? 36 carries for 188 yards and two scores against Nebraska; 32 carries for 133 yards against Northwestern; and just when the team needed him most, needing to beat Minnesota to become bowl eligible, he ran 35 times for 266 yards and a score.
A compelling argument could be made that the Orange might win the Big East championship if the season started today. It finished the regular season on a roll, going 5-1, with wins over Louisville and Missouri. The offense located an extra gear in the middle of October, moving the chains behind the running of Jerome Smith and the passing of Ryan Nassib to Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. The league-leaders in total offense briefly fell behind Temple in the third quarter on Friday, but rallied for three touchdowns in the final 20 minutes, two on the ground and one on a Keon Lyn pick.
The Bears have found a winning formula … and just in the nick of time. A week after shocking the college football world by handing top-ranked Kansas State its first loss of 2012, Baylor survived an overtime shootout with Texas Tech in Arlington, 52-45, to become bowl-eligible. With a visit from Oklahoma State up next, the Bears may have gotten in just under the wire in terms of bowl-eligibility. Art Briles' offense continued to light it up, especially now that Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk is providing a big-play complement on the ground to the passing of Nick Florence to Terrance Williams.
7. Kent State
One of the great stories of 2012 in college football, the Golden Flashes finished the regular season by winning their final 10 games, capped by Friday's 28-6 suffocation of Ohio. Kent, which has delivered the best campaign in the program's 90-year history, produced two more defensive scores than the Bobcats offense, which only managed a pair of Matt Weller field goals. Dual-1,000-yard rushers Dri Archer and Trayion Durham once again paced the offense, setting the stage for Friday night's MAC championship showdown with an equally hot Northern Illinois team.
6. Oklahoma QB Landry Jones
He's been off the radar ever since the Sooners lost to Notre Dame on Oct. 27, and maybe that's been a good thing for the oft-maligned quarterback. Since the game with the Irish, Oklahoma has won four straight to remain in the hunt for the Big 12 title or an at-large BCS bowl bid. The last two victories have been high-scoring thrillers, with survival made possible by the poise and the right arm of Jones. He's thrown 15 touchdown passes during the winning streak, but more important, rallied OU to a 50-49 win in Morgantown last week and a 51-48 victory in Bedlam on Saturday afternoon.
5. The Georgia D
Georgia Tech arrived Between the Hedges having scored 143 points in its previous three games. On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets managed just 10, with the lone touchdown coming after the outcome had long been decided. The Bulldogs, which experienced hiccups at midseason, have really gelled on defense for coordinator Todd Grantham by holding the last five opponents to no more than 14 points. LB Alec Ogletree and S Bacarri Rambo, who were suspended early on in September, are playing at an extremely high level, complementing LB Jarvis Jones extremely well.
4. Western Kentucky RB Antonio Andrews
The Hilltoppers' late-season slide can be blamed on myriad things—the junior running back is not one of them. Andrews went well over 200 yards rushing for a second straight game, and scored the game-winner to help rally Western Kentucky to a win over North Texas that snapped a three-game losing streak. The nation's leader in all-purpose yards has now rushed for more than 1,600 yards on the year and caught 34 balls, while ranking in the top 20 nationally in both punt and kickoff returns.
3. Ohio State in Close Games
The Buckeyes not only swept their schedule in 2012, but they proved to be resilient in the nail-biters as well.
While this team wasn't good enough to run away and hide every weekend, it was sharp when it needed to be for Urban Meyer. Half of Ohio State's 12 victories were decided by a touchdown or less, and naturally the team survived all of them. Last weekend, it got by Wisconsin in Madison in overtime. And on Saturday, the Buckeyes got by Michigan with an incredible second-half effort by the D. Ohio State's season is over. But this first Meyer team in Columbus laid a foundation that subsequent squads are going to build on once the program emerges from NCAA probation.
2. The Stanford D
The Cardinal has risen to the top of the Pac-12 pecking order on the strength of a nasty D that just got done holding Oregon and UCLA well below their season scoring averages. The front seven is as stout and physical as any in the country, abusing the Bruins O-line for seven sacks behind the play of DE Ben Gardner and linebackers Chase Thomas, Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy and A.J. Tarpley. Stanford has regained the nation's lead in run defense from Alabama, yielding only 71 yards a game and 2.4 yards per carry.
1. Notre Dame at the Goal Line
For the second time this year, the Irish used an epic goal line stand to secure a win over a Pac-12 opponent. On Oct. 13, Notre Dame shut down Stanford and Stepfan Taylor in overtime. And on Saturday night, it stuffed a late comeback bid versus USC. Actually, the Irish have been impenetrable inside the five-yard line all season, making it nearly impossible for opponents to run on them in tight quarters. You almost wondered why the Trojans bothered running the ball at some point when Louis Nix, Manti Te'o, Stephon Tuitt, Prince Shembo and Kapron Lewis-Moore essentially formed a brick wall for them to try and scale.
Who's Not ... Week 13