Dallas Colleges: weekend rewind 102113

Hot and Not in the SEC: Week 8

October, 21, 2013
The college football season is heating up as we head to the final week of October.

In some quarters, though, it’s starting to feel a little chilly.

Here’s our weekly look at who’s hot and who’s not in the SEC:


[+] EnlargeAuburn
Soobum Im/USA TODAY SportsAuburn has plenty to be happy about after Saturday's upset victory over Texas A&M.
Momentum on the Plains: There’s been quite a buzz in the state of Alabama over one college football team in particular during the last few years. The last four BCS National Championship trophies currently reside there. Obviously, three of them belong to Alabama, which has won the last two. But Auburn won in 2010. Given the Crimson Tide’s incredible success under Nick Saban, the Tigers had sort of been a forgotten entity in the state over the last two years. But not anymore. First-year coach Gus Malzahn has Auburn rolling after a gritty 45-41 win at Texas A&M this past weekend and, more importantly, Malzahn has done something he promised to do when he got the job. He’s restored Auburn’s edge, and the Tigers (6-1 overall, 3-1 SEC) are playing with the kind of confidence, chemistry and purpose they did in 2010 when they won the national title. They debuted at No. 11 in the first BCS standings Sunday night and are probably too far down to climb into the national championship mix this season, but this is a team that’s improving each week and could very realistically get to 10 wins this season. Not only that, but Auburn gets Alabama at home to close the season. If the Tigers can take care of business against Arkansas and Tennessee on the road and then Georgia at home, the Iron Bowl would be for the Western Division championship and the right to go to Atlanta and play for the SEC title. After a miserable season a year ago, things are looking up on the Plains.


Bo Wallace on third down: Ole Miss’ junior quarterback was money on third down in the Rebels' 27-24 win over LSU. The Rebels were 11-of-18 on third down, and Wallace was responsible for nine of those conversions. He kept the winning drive alive with a 6-yard scramble on third-and-6 and came back a few plays later and connected with Ja-Mes Logan for 13 yards on third-and-9. Wallace was 7-for-8 for 140 yards on third down.


Quarterbacks’ health: At least nine of the 14 teams in the SEC this season have had injuries at the quarterback position, some more serious than others. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (shoulder), South Carolina’s Connor Shaw (knee) and Vanderbilt’s Austyn Carta-Samuels (left leg) were all injured last weekend. Manziel was able to return to the game but had to play through obvious pain. Shaw won’t need surgery but is iffy for South Carolina’s game at Missouri this Saturday, and Carta-Samuels could be lost for the season.


Marquez North's catch: In each of his last two games, the Tennessee freshman receiver has made fabulous catches. He had a toe-tapping 19-yard touchdown catch against Georgia on Oct. 5 and followed that up with the play of the game (and maybe the catch of the year) in Tennessee’s 23-21 win over South Carolina. On third-and-10, North pulled in a 39-yard heave from Justin Worley with his left hand as he was falling backward to keep the Vols’ game-winning drive alive.


Bret Bielema’s SEC welcome: Arkansas was hammered 52-0 at No. 1 Alabama last weekend, extending the Hogs’ losing streak to five straight games. In their last three games, they’ve been outscored 134-17. It’s the first time in Bielema’s head coaching career that he’s lost five in a row. Not that Bielema needed to be reminded, but he ain’t in the Big Ten anymore.


Missouri defensive end Michael Sam: Anybody pick Sam back in the preseason to be the SEC’s leader in sacks at this point? The Tigers’ fifth-year senior defensive end is playing lights out. He had three more sacks Saturday in the win over Florida and leads the league with nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. He also had a fumble return for a touchdown two weeks ago in the win at Georgia.


South Carolina in the fourth quarter: The fourth quarter hasn’t been kind to the Gamecocks this season, and their late woes caught up to them in their 23-21 loss at Tennessee. They managed just 12 total yards in the fourth quarter against the Vols and seemed to forget that Mike Davis, the SEC’s leading rusher, was on the field.


Texas A&M’s defense: Watching the Aggies play offense is about as entertaining as it gets. But boy, you have to feel for the Aggies’ fans when that defense trots out onto the field. They’re not just bad on defense, they’re woefully bad. And holding anybody under 30 points right now is a pipe dream. Most of the problem is up front and at the linebacker positions. The Aggies are 112th nationally (out of 123 teams) in rushing defense. They're giving up 226.6 yards per game on the ground and, even worse, 5.87 yards per carry. Only five teams in the country are giving up more yards per rush -- Eastern Michigan, UTEP, New Mexico, New Mexico State and Nevada. That's not the company you want to be keeping when it comes to stopping (or not stopping) people on the ground in the SEC. The Aggies are also 104th nationally in scoring defense and are giving up 33.9 points per game. They've allowed more than 30 points in five of their seven games, and one of those came against an Arkansas team that has scored a combined 17 points in its last three contests against Alabama, South Carolina and Florida.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 8

October, 21, 2013
Taking stock of Week 8 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Texas Tech was on the brink of dropping its first game of the season, trailing West Virginia 27-16 in the third quarter. But then tight end Jace Amaro took over, QB Davis Webb made some clutch throws and the Tech defense allowed just one first down over five West Virginia possessions to end the game. Now Tech is ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings, with a chance to surge even higher this weekend at Oklahoma.

[+] EnlargeJace Amaro
AP Photo/Chris JacksonTight end Jace Amaro caught nine passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Raiders' win over West Virginia.
Disappointment of the week: TCU had to win in Stillwater to have any chance of factoring in the Big 12 race. But after another inept performance offensively, the Horned Frogs could be on the brink of missing out on a bowl game instead. Through three quarters, TCU did virtually nothing offensively in a 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State, as Trevone Boykin threw three more interceptions and had the lowest Big 12 Total QBR (5.9) and Adjusted QBR (27.4) of the week. TCU still needs three wins to get bowl-eligible, and as poor as the offense has looked, that might not be so easy.

Big (offensive) man on campus: For the second straight week, Webb broke the Texas Tech freshman single-game passing record with 462 yards through the air. More importantly, he quarterbacked the Red Raiders to their most impressive victory of the season yet, with two huge completions in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. The first converted a third-and-6 on a 27-yard loft to Jordan Davis. The second converted a third-and-goal from the West Virginia 10-yard line into a touchdown, putting the Red Raiders up by two scores to clinch the victory. All told, Webb completed 36 of his 50 passing attempts, and avoided taking a sack or throwing an interception. If he had scored instead of fumbling at West Virginia 1-yard line on a quarterback draw, it would have been a flawless performance.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Linebacker Eddie Lackey spearheaded Baylor’s most impressive defensive performance of the season. Lackey led the Bears with a team-high eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery, as Baylor held Iowa State to just 41 yards rushing. Even though the game got out of hand early, Lackey & Co. nearly pitched a shutout. But the Cyclones finally got on the board with 47 seconds remaining on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Grant Rohach to DeVondrick Nealy. The Baylor offense gets all the headlines. But after eight weeks, the Bears also lead the Big 12 in scoring defense (No. 7 in the country).

Special-teams players of the week: Josh Stewart could not be corralled in Oklahoma State’s win over TCU. Basically a one-man show offensively with 10 catches for 141 yards, Stewart also delivered the highlight of the game, taking a punt return 95 yards for a touchdown that put the Cowboys on the scoreboard in the first quarter. Stewart later somehow hauled in a pass from fellow receiver Charlie Moore over three defenders, which set up the Cowboys’ game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. "We doubled him, we played over the top of him,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson, “and he still found ways to get there.”

Play of the week: Late in the second quarter with the Sooners still trailing Kansas, QB Blake Bell handed off to wide receiver Lacoltan Bester on an end around. Instead of continuing to run, Bester pulled up and floated a pass in stride to Sterling Shepard, who coasted into the end zone to give Oklahoma a 15-13 lead. The play energized the Sooners, who never trailed again. Had Bester not converted the trick pass, Oklahoma probably would have been in a fourth-quarter dogfight with the last-place Jayhawks.

Stat of the week: Over four Big 12 games, TCU is averaging 2.5 points per first half. The Horned Frogs have been shut out in first half already three times this season.

Quote of the week: “That’s great. I hope they keep saying it. I saw 'GameDay,' [Kirk] Herbstreit picked against us. That’s good. I hope they keep giving us that locker room material.” -- Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, on those who say the Red Raiders’ 7-0 start is a bit of fool’s gold.