Who's Hot (Sept. 19) ...
Auburn DE Jake Ricks
Auburn DE Jake Ricks
Posted Sep 20, 2009

Auburn is red hot with a 3-0 start, helped by Jake Ricks and the defense. From Georgia QB Joe Cox and the Iowa defense, to the Cincinnati QB Tony Pike to California RB Jahvid Best, Richard Cirminiello shows who the hot players, coaches and programs are in the Week Three Who's Hot.

Who's Hot & Not - Week 3

Sept. 19 Games

Past Hot and Not: 2007 Hot & Not | 2008 Not & Not

- Week 1 (ACC & BYU) | Week 2

By Richard Cirminiello

- ... and Who's Not? (Week 3)

Who’s Hot …

10. Cincinnati QB Tony Pike
Did this guy really have to labor to win the job vacated by Ben Mauk a year ago? He’s been a revelation ever since, leading the Bearcats to an unexpected 3-0 start, including road wins at Rutgers and Oregon State. No. 13 nationally in passing efficiency after throwing for 332 yards and two scores in Corvallis, he’s also becoming very popular among NFL scouts.

9. The North Carolina Defense
The Heel offense continues to be spotty, but the defense has picked up the slack. Spearheaded by an athletic and deep front seven, Carolina is No. 6 nationally in total defense and is allowing less than two yards a carry. The first really big test of the year comes next Saturday in the form of the Georgia Tech triple-option.

8. Georgia QB Joe Cox
The season started badly for Cox. Once he shook the flu bug and got out of Stillwater, however, it’s been all good for the senior. Looking like the second-coming of D.J. Shockley, he’s helped lead the Dawgs to 93 points in back-to-back wins over South Carolina and Arkansas. On Saturday night, he outdueled the Hogs’ Ryan Mallett, throwing for a school-record five touchdown passes and 375 yards on 18-of-26 passing.

7. The Iowa D
Through three weeks, the Hawkeyes have been an immovable object on defense. A veteran, sure-tackling unit that’s getting support from up and down the depth chart, it’s yet to allow more than 17 points in a game. This past weekend, the Hawkeyes stuffed Arizona, holding the ‘Cats to 253 total yards and just 2-of-12 on third downs. Is Penn State ready for this group after opening with lightweights, Akron, Syracuse, and Temple?

6. Oklahoma
The Sooners were so sharp against Tulsa, it’s hard to single out one player or one unit. Let’s start with QB Landry Jones, who threw a school-record six touchdown passes, three to Ryan Broyles, and has begun to do a fair Sam Bradford impression. The defense also deserves special mention. Oklahoma has been racking up stops for losses by the bushel, and shutting out the Golden Hurricane is no small accomplishment.

5. The Florida D
When Tennessee RB Montario Hardesty scored from 17 yards out in the fourth quarter, it was the first touchdown the Gators had allowed all season. Now, the competition was weak early on, but going 172 minutes without allowing anyone in the end zone is still pretty amazing. Get used to it. Loaded with speed and stars at every level, there’s never going to be much room for opposing players to navigate.

4. Auburn
It’s official. Auburn is a different team than a year ago. Sporting a new offense and a new staff, the Tigers have jetted to a 3-0 start with wins over Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, and West Virginia. Beating the ‘eers, 41-30, was a bit of a coronation since the Tigers had yet to amass many believers in the first two weeks. Gus Malzahn’s offense has shown tremendous flexibility, leaning on Chris Todd and the passing game Saturday night when running lanes weren’t open. Auburn scored 37 points just once in 2008. It’s yet to score less than 37 points in a game so far in 2009.

3. Miami QB Jacory Harris
Certain quarterbacks possess that special, hard-to-define quality that helps make then winners. Harris appears to have it. Halfway through the country’s toughest September schedule, he’s got the ‘Canes off to a surprising 2-0 start, ranking No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency and coming off a near-perfect effort in a rout of Georgia Tech. He wound up going 20-of-25 for 270 yards, three touchdowns, and no turnovers.

2. Cal RB Jahvid Best
While the Big 3 quarterbacks have gotten out of the gate slowly in the Heisman race, Best has picked up where he left off in 2008. He already leads the country in scoring, courtesy of Saturday’s five-touchdown outburst in Minnesota, and is averaging just under eight yards a carry. If he can remain hot in upcoming games with Oregon, USC, and UCLA, the sky will be the limit for No. 4 and his Bear teammates.

1. Washington
This was huge—for the program, for the kids that didn’t win a game in 2008, and for the new staff that has visions of restoring the glory on Montlake. The Huskies were supposed to play well against USC and then eventually fade into the land of moral victories, but it never happened. Special attaboys belong to Nick Holt’s defense, which prevented the Trojans from converting a single third or fourth down and kept them out of the end zone over the final 48 minutes.

- ... and Who's Not? (Week 3)