NCF Nation: 2010 Helmet Stickers Week 1

SEC helmet stickers: Week 1

September, 5, 2010
Week 1 in the SEC is in the books. Time to dole out the helmet stickers:

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley: Granted, it wasn’t an SEC opponent, but Dooley’s young Vols gave the Big Orange Nation a reason for hope with a 50-0 rout of Tennessee-Martin. It was the Neyland Stadium debut for Dooley and a long list of first-year players on the Vols’ roster. Tennessee gained 537 yards of total offense, while holding Tennessee-Martin to 142 yards and three first downs. More importantly, this was a program in desperate need of a steady hand to run it, and Dooley has provided that.

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham: Georgia’s defense needed a dose of energy, confidence, swagger, just about everything. It’s only a first game, but the Bulldogs played with all of the above on defense in trouncing Louisiana-Lafayette 55-7 on Saturday. Switching over to Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme, Georgia collected three sacks, intercepted three passes and held Louisiana-Lafayette to 128 total yards.

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton: Not a bad debut for the junior quarterback, who showcased his versatility in a big way for the Tigers. He accounted for five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) in rolling up 357 yards of total offense in Auburn’s 52-26 win over Arkansas State. Newton rushed for 171 yards, a school record for a quarterback, and that included a 71-yard touchdown romp.

LSU cornerback/kick returner Patrick Peterson: Already one of college football’s top cornerbacks, Peterson put on a show in the return game in LSU’s 30-24 win over North Carolina. He flirted with an SEC record and set a school record with 257 combined yards on kickoff and punt returns. Included was an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. He had 244 return yards by halftime.

Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell: The Mississippi State fans had been waiting to see Russell in a Bulldogs’ uniform, and he didn’t disappoint. The redshirt freshman tied a school record with four touchdown passes in a 49-7 pummeling of Memphis. Russell, who didn’t start the game, took over for Chris Relf and completed 13 of 16 passes for 256 yards and was nearly perfect in running the Mississippi State offense, which cranked out 569 yards of total offense.

Big Ten helmet stickers for Week 1

September, 5, 2010
It's time to recognize the best and the brightest from the first weekend of games in the Big Ten. There were 11 games and many more outstanding performances, so getting the list down to five (or six) wasn't easy. Honorable mentions certainly go to Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Wisconsin's John Clay, but those guys get enough love for their accomplishments.

Michigan QB Denard Robinson: "Shoelace" was amazing in his first career start, a 30-10 victory over Connecticut, predictably with his feet and surprisingly with his arm. Robinson broke Michigan's record for single-season quarterback rushing with 197 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, eclipsing Steve Smith's mark in the third quarter. He was just as brilliant as a passer, completing 19 of 22 attempts for 186 yards and a touchdown with several big third-down conversions.

Penn State QB Rob Bolden: Bolden looked like he belonged Saturday in his first career start (and game), continuing his rapid rise at the college level. How many freshmen don't enroll early and still win a starting quarterback job, much less at a big-time program? After some early jitters, Bolden completed 20 of 29 passes for 239 yards with two touchdowns in a 44-14 win over Youngstown State. He also had an interception that wasn't really his fault. He'll have some ups and downs in the coming weeks, but Bolden appears to be the answer for the Lions.

Minnesota FB Jon Hoese: Hoese almost didn't make the trip to Middle Tennessee on Thursday after his father suffered a severe stroke six days earlier. He decided to play and ended up rushing for a career-high three touchdowns, including the game-winner, as Minnesota rallied for a 24-17 win. Hoese also recovered a Middle Tennessee fumble on a kickoff to seal the win. Just a tremendous performance amid adversity.

Michigan State RBs Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker: The Spartans rediscovered their run game in a big way during Saturday's 38-14 win over Western Michigan, as Bell and Baker combined for 258 rush yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. As projected starter Larry Caper sat out with a hand injury, Baker set the tone and Bell sparkled in his first college game with a 75-yard run. Bell's 141 yards mark the most ever by a Michigan State freshman in his first college game.

Northwestern QB Dan Persa: Persa likely saved Northwestern from what would have been a crushing loss to SEC bottom-feeder Vanderbilt. Despite getting no help from an anemic rushing attack, Persa completed 19 of 21 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, all to different targets in the 23-21 victory. He added 82 rushing yards in a performance that mirrored what Mike Kafka did for NU in 2009.

ACC Helmet Stickers: Week 1

September, 5, 2010
Here they are, the rewards for the five top performers in the ACC each week. Don't worry, Hokies and Terps, I'll put out a special edition on Monday for you guys, but on regular game weekends five's the limit, so they've gotta be good. Here are your helmet sticker winners for Week 1:

Virginia TB Keith Payne: He rushed for a single-game career-high 114 yards and four touchdowns in the Cavaliers' 34-13 win over Richmond. It was the most rushing yards by a Virginia player since Cedric Peerman rushed for 118 yards against Georgia Tech in 2008. Payne scored his first touchdown since Nov. 10, 2007 against Miami in the Hurricanes' final game at the Orange Bowl. He became the first Cavalier to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Mikell Simpson did it against Indiana in 2009, and he was a big reason Virginia won its season opener for the first time since 2005.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher: He led the Seminoles to a convincing 59-6 win over Samford in his first game as a head coach. Not bad for following in the footsteps of a living legend with 389 wins.

NC State quarterback Russell Wilson: He completed 21 of 31 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns and led seven consecutive scoring drives as the Wolfpack defeated Western Carolina 48-7 won their season opener for the first time in four tries under coach Tom O'Brien.

Wake Forest's running backs: The Demon Deacons had six rushing touchdowns and ran for 415 yards in a 53-13 route of Presbyterian. Each of Wake's three running backs -- Brandon Pendergrass, Josh Adams and Josh Harris -- scored at least once.

UNC quarterback T.J. Yates: It was a valiant performance in a losing effort, and the LSU players were raving about how much better Yates was on Saturday night than what they saw from him on tape. Had tight end Zack Pianalto caught either of two passes in the final six seconds, Yates would have been the team's hero. He threw for a career-high 412 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. There were many impressive performances by ACC quarterbacks this weekend, but none against competition of LSU's caliber.

Big East helmet stickers: Week 1

September, 5, 2010
Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville: The player who Charlie Strong called the face of the program ran 16 times for 153 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, in a 23-16 loss to Kentucky.

Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse: In his starting debut, Nassib completed 17 of 27 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception, as the Orange beat Akron 29-3. Nassib also rushed for 58 yards.

Brandon Bing, CB, Rutgers: Bing blocked two punts, including one that was recovered for a touchdown, in the Scarlet Knights' 31-0 win over Norfolk State on Thursday.

B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida: The sophomore completed 15 of 22 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 23 yards and a score in the Bulls' 59-14 win over Stony Brook.

Pac-10 helmet stickers: Week 1

September, 5, 2010
Who deserves a sticker on his helmet for a job well-done?

Matt Barkley, USC: Barkley completed 18 of 23 passes for 257 yards with five TDs in the Trojans 49-36 win over Hawaii.

Arizona: There was little not to like about the Wildcats 41-2 win at Toledo. A rebuilt defense gave up just 183 yards. Quarterback Nick Foles completed 32 of 37 passes for 360 yards with two TDs. Receiver Juron Criner caught 11 passes for 187 yards and a TD. Co-coordinators on both sides of the ball seemed to make beautiful music together.

Kenjon Barner, Oregon: With starting running back LaMichael James suspended, Barner accounted four five touchdowns in the Ducks 72-0 stomping of New Mexico. He rushed for 147 yards on 17 carries -- 8.6 yards per rush -- and turned a short pass into a 60-yard TD.

Keenan Allen, California: The true freshman made the most of his four receptions in a 52-3 win over UC Davis, gaining 120 yards on them, including a 48-yard TD pass from Kevin Riley.

Doug Baldwin, Stanford: Baldwin only caught four passes last year and fell off the radar. But in the Cardinal's 52-17 win over Sacramento State, the senior caught two of Andrew Luck's four TD passes among his four receptions for 111 yards.

Notre Dame helmet stickers

September, 5, 2010
Handing out the helmet stickers from Notre Dame's 23-12 win over Purdue on Saturday:

Armando Allen Jr., RB: Purdue coach Danny Hope called Allen the difference. He had 18 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Gary Gray, CB: Gray tied for the team lead in tackles with nine and helped cause an interception by batting a pass away near the goal line.

David Ruffer, K: Ruffer won the kicking competition late in the week before the game and rewarded the coaches' decision by making all three of his field goal attempts.

Non-AQ Helmet Stickers

September, 5, 2010
Now it is time to give out helmet stickers for some of the top non-AQ performances.

Utah freshman safety Brian Blechen: He saved the day for the Utes with his interception of Tino Sunseri on the first play of overtime. That allowed Joe Phillips to kick a 21-yard field goal to give Utah the 27-24 win over No. 15 Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Utah had blown an 11-point lead until Blechen came up big in his first career game.

Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel: Yes, Borel threw an interception with five minutes remaining in a 31-24 loss to Oklahoma, but Utah State would not have been in the game if it was not for him. He threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 20.1 yards per completion. Utah State players said earlier in the week they would have something to show Oklahoma, and they backed up that talk. For a team that many believe could be in the mix for a bowl berth, Utah State drew plenty of eyes for its performance Saturday.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum: Shocking that Keenum makes the list. He threw five touchdown passes in a 68-21 win over Texas State. Keenum ended up throwing for 274 yards and just five incompletions in one half of work. He also had two interceptions. Keenum broke Kevin Kolb's career school records for completions with 1,098 and yards passing with 13,179.

TCU rushing offense: The Horned Frogs ran for 278 total yards in their 30-21 win over Oregon State behind Ed Wesley (134), Matthew Tucker (74) and Andy Dalton (64). Wesley had his second career 100-yard game. TCU coach Gary Patterson talked all summer about the depth at the position, which lost its top rusher from last season in Joseph Turner. The option play worked again and again, allowing the Horned Frogs to control the ball for nearly twice as long as the Beavers. TCU is now 46-2 under Patterson when gaining at least 200 yards rushing.

Troy kicker Michael Taylor: He kicked the game-winning 34-yard field goal with 4 seconds left to give the Trojans a 30-27 win over Bowling Green. The Falcons had a 17-7 lead early in the game, but Troy quarterback Corey Robinson led the comeback. It was Tony Davis who intercepted a pass with 1:07 left to give Troy the ball at its 34 and set up the winning drive.

Big 12 helmet stickers: Week 1

September, 5, 2010
Here's eight guys who'll sleep well tonight ... after they're done celebrating.

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State: Hunter went nuts in his return from a frustrating 2009 season, when he missed five games with an ankle injury and was hampered by the ankle in his return. Saturday night, he reclaimed a spot as one of the Big 12's best running backs, ripping off 257 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries for a staggering 12.2 yards per carry average in a 65-17 win over Washington State. Hunter was running angry, and ran over almost as many defenders as he ran around.

T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: Down 13-3 at halftime, T.J. Moe hauled in the first touchdown of Missouri's season, a 7-yarder in the back of the end zone that helped shift the momentum back to Missouri's side of the Mississippi River. He finished with 13 catches for 101 yards to lead the Tigers to a 23-13 win.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State: Kansas State's quarterbacks were uninspiring once again (though starter Carson Coffman estimated he vomited 10 times during the game), and once again, it didn't affect Thomas' production. The Wildcats' workhorse rumbled for 234 yards on 28 carries, and the second of his two touchdowns -- a 35-yard run with under a minute to play-- clinched the 31-22 win.

Dana Holgorsen, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State: The Cowboys scored seven points in their final two games of 2009, and hired Holgorsen to bring in his Air Raid system that led the nation in scoring last year at Houston. In his debut, with a quarterback making his first start, four new offensive linemen and a host of inexperienced receivers, his offense racked up 38 first-half points. The Cowboys finished with 544 yards and beat Washington State 65-17, earning the status of the only Big 12 team to top 50 points on Saturday.

Keenan Robinson, LB, Texas: Robinson strung together an impressive first-half highlight reel, notching an interception, a sack and a fumble return for his first Longhorns' touchdown, all by the break. He finished with six tackles in the Longhorns 34-17 win over Rice.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma: The knock on Murray is his durability, but he looked plenty durable on Saturday night, toting the ball 35 times for 218 yards -- both career highs -- and two touchdowns, including a 63-yard score that put Oklahoma up 14 points in the second half. Oklahoma struggled in plenty of places in its 31-24 win over Utah State. Running back wasn't one of those places, and Murray was one of three Big 12 backs to top 200 yards on Saturday.

Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska: Martinez earns the sticker on his first play alone: a 46-yard score on his first carry as a Husker. Plenty of room for improvement, of course, but if Martinez thought he had Huskers fans talking already, he's in for a surprise this week after Nebraska's 49-10 win over Western Kentucky.

Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: We didn't forget the Cyclones performance on Thursday night. Knott, a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder, came away with a pair of interceptions in his first start, one of which stopped a Northern Illinois drive in the third quarter and the second of which sealed the game for the Cyclones. Knott earns a helmet sticker from the Big 12 blog, but he got a big bear hug from coach Paul Rhoads for icing the 27-10 win. I'll ask which one means more to him the next time I run into him.