FIRST DOWN: Team of the Week
Nebraska Cornhuskers: There were a lot of games where teams had to play closer and tougher opponents this week. Arizona, Michigan State, Arkansas, Florida and Texas could all make claims to having been the best team on the field this weekend. However, in Seattle there seemed to be a heavy case of déjà vu and a college football renaissance taking place, as the Huskers broke out in a way they haven’t in what seems like a decade. All eyes were on Washington’s alledged heir apparent NFL top pick Jake Locker, but soon those watching him were forced to hide those same eyes from the carnage that soon took place. Bo Pelini’s Huskers SMASHED the Huskies 56-21 and had THREE different players rush for over 100 yards. Freshman QB Taylor Martinez was chief amongst them all, with 137 rushing yards and 3 TD himself, including an 80 yard sprint past the whole Huskie “defense” (I use that lightly). While it’s a bit early to crown him the heir apparent to Husker QB kings Gill, Frazier, Frost or Crouch, he’s doing a damn good job of trying to get a seat at the table eventually.
SECOND DOWN: Player of the Week
Ryan Mallett-QB-Arkansas: Big time players make big time plays at big time times. While a week 3 win over a Georgia team that fell from the Top 25 and is missing their dynamo wide receiver doesn’t qualify as a great moment in NCAA history, it did provide a chance for the Arkansas gunslinger to make an early season big play moment. The 6’7” Mallett finished with 380 yards and 3 touchdowns, but none of the yards were bigger than the last few. With the Razorbacks and Bulldogs knotted up at 24 with 15 seconds left, the Heisman candidate hit WR Greg Childs with strike between the Georgia secondary for a 40 yard score than got the Razorbacks the win. This keeps them undefeated headed into this weekend’s showdown with #1 Alabama, where he will need a few more of these moments to have a real shot at the champs.
THIRD DOWN: Trophy Contenders
Here’s how my Heisman ballot looks after week 3
1. Terrelle Pryor-QB-Ohio State: 235 pass yards, 2 TD; 35 rush yards, 1 TD in 43-7 win vs. Ohio
The Buckeyes leader stays steady in his spot after easily leading the #2 Buckeyes to a victory over in-state foe Ohio. Despite throwing 2 interceptions and only gaining 35 yards on the ground, he turned in on big time in the 2nd half, completing a school record 16 consecutive passes & putting the game away. Season: 715 pass yards, 6 TD/2 Int, 63% comp.; 165 rush yards, 2 TD
2. Denard Robinson-QB-Michigan: 241 pass yards, 2 TD; 104 rush yards, 1 TD in 42-37 win vs. UMass
The country’s most exciting player was once again pegged with having to do everything to pull out a Michigan win, which he once again did. He surpassed 200 passing & 100 rushing yards for the 2nd consecutive week and saved the Wolverines from potential huge home upset. Season: 671 pass yards, 4 TD/1 Int, 69% comp; 559 rush yards, 4 TD
3. Kellen Moore-QB-Boise State: 370 pass yards, 2 TD, 69% comps. in 51-6 win vs. Wyoming
It was an easy day at the office for Boise State’s leader and he had the Broncos up 34-0 by halftime. He finished up connecting on 20 of his 30 attempts and had an easy warm up for what may be BSU’s last real test of the season vs. Oregon State on Saturday. Season: 585 pass yards, 5 TD/ 1 Int, 63% comp.
4. Ryan Mallett-QB-Arkansas: 380 pass yards, 3 TD, 63% comps. in 31-24 win at Georgia
Mallett continued his air assault on the Heisman with a thrilling last-minute win in Athens versus Georgia. Winning tough games versus conference opponents, on the road in the SEC no less, is what counts the most in the end. The good news is this week he doesn’t have to go on the road for his conference matchup. The bad news is its Alabama coming to see him. If there’s a better way to make a case for the #1 spot on this list, I can’t think of it over winning this week. Season: 1081 pass yards, 9 TD/2 Int, 70% comp.
5. Mark Ingram-RB-Alabama: 9 carries, 151 rush yards, 2 TD in 63-13 win at Duke
The defending winner of sport’s most prestigious award returned this week, and he wasted no time making his presence felt. Ingram only carried the ball 9 times, but made the most of it, taking his first run of the year for 48 yards and coming back with a 50 yard touchdown run later on. With him back and clearly healthy, the Tide may make rolling back to the BCS Championship look even easier. Season: 9 carries, 151 rush yards, 2 TD
Worth Watching: Landry Jones-Oklahoma, Christian Ponder-Florida State, Patrick Peterson-LSU, Andrew Luck-Stanford, Greg McElroy-Alabama
FOURTH DOWN: BUST OF THE WEEK
Jake Locker-QB-Washington: Last April, all I heard were rumors and discussion of a QB in Washington that had all
the tools and ability to be the number one pick in the NFL draft whenever he choose to enter. They said this player would be the perfect hybrid between athlete and passer, especially working with “offensive guru” Steve Sarkisian. The warning flags were that he was both learning the system and playing with an extreme lack of talent around him. Well, I finally saw this great and heralded package of NFL potential on Saturday, and all I can say is that if this is what the NFL considers “can’t miss, top pick” caliber talent, then the lockout can’t come quick enough to save us from this coming to be. Locker hit on 20% of his passes versus an average Nebraska defense, on the way to a 4 for 20, 71 yard, 2 interception performance, which made Troy Smith’s BCS Championship game from ’07 (remember the horrors?) look like a masterpiece.
I know there are bad games and this probably was an aberration of what type of player he is. However, I just didn’t see anything that says this is the type of player I would hand the keys of my franchise over too in the hopes of turning it around. A good athlete, but he can only make the scramble or throw deep over the top. This reminds me of another current QB in college (who is mentioned in the top spot on the list above), who at least is a force on the level he’s on right now, yet nobody realistically (and me either) expects him to be beast on the next level. He’s not a bad player, but he’s not top 10, or even top 20, pick material either (none of which will stop him from still becoming one, especially with the NFL’s hard on for QB prospects).
Things to look for in Week 4: #1 Alabama vs. #10 Arkansas: A battle of multiple Heisman candidates and SEC West foes in the first big conference matchup of the year….#16 Stanford heads to Notre Dame in national showcase game for QB Andrew Luck….#9 Florida faces undefeated Kentucky in a show and prove game for the Wildcats….#3 Boise State faces a quick #24 Oregon State team in potentially their last big obstacle in route to an undefeated season, already.