Week 6 - Who’s Not?
10. BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah
The Ghana native has become a microcosm for a Cougars that D that’s now gone three consecutive games without allowing a touchdown. Relatively new to football, he’s a 6-6, 270-pounder, with uncommon speed and quickness for such a big defender. Making yet another statement for intrigued NFL scouts, he collected three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks in Friday night’s 6-3 win over a dangerous Utah State rival. Ansah is a player worth following very closely in the next two months because his stock is soaring now that more people are beginning to learn about his immense physical ability.
9. USC WR Marqise Lee
Lee has surpassed teammate Robert Woods as the Trojans’ most dangerous weapon, astonishing since the latter is a next-level star and the former is only in his second year on campus. Lee is a silky-smooth athlete who can glide past defensive backs or juke them into a catatonic state. He toyed with the Utah secondary in Thursday night’s win at Rice-Eccles Stadium, catching a dozen passes for 192 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore has registered double-digits in catches in five of his last six games, and was last held below seven grabs by Notre Dame … almost a year ago.
8. Football in Raleigh-Durham
It’s the first week of October and Duke is one win away from bowl eligibility. Yeah, these are heady times for football in the Raleigh-Durham area, especially since NC State also shocked No. 3 Florida State late on Saturday night. The Blue Devils are 5-1 for the first time since 1994, which also happens to be the last time the program went bowling. They’ve won four in a row, including back-to-back games against ACC opponents. However, Saturday’s rout of Virginia, 42-17, was a particularly important turning point because it came with sophomore QB Anthony Boone starting for the first time in place of senior Sean Renfree.
7. Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Haven’t heard of him? You will before too long. The second-year sophomore from Chino Hills, Calif. has been one of the catalysts for the opportunistic Ducks D, playing as if he’s channeling an eligible version of Tyrann Mathieu. Ekpre-Olomu is always in the middle of the action, making the kinds of plays that change momentum and get the ball back in the hands of the Oregon offense. In his last three games, all against Pac-12 opponents, he’s broken up eight passes, intercepted two balls, forced a pair of fumbles and scored on a pick-six.
6. The Michigan D
The Maize and Blue are playing defense as if they took copious notes during the opening day loss to mighty Alabama. The Wolverines have allowed just 13 points in each of the last three games, with the exclamation point coming in Saturday’s 44-13 dismantling of Purdue in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers managed just 213 yards against the Michigan D, while turning the ball over four times and converting just once in 11 tries on third downs. The linebackers, Kenny Demens, Jake Ryan and Desmond Morgan, were all over the field, helping keep the team unbeaten in Big Ten play.
5. Penn State QB Matt McGloin
The Nittany Lions have improbably won four games in a row following an 0-2 start. McGloin has been one of the linchpins of the resurgence. A member of the scrap heap under the previous regime—and a limited overall athlete—he helped rally Penn State from a fourth quarter deficit to hand Northwestern its first loss of the year. McGloin has now accounted for 17 touchdowns—12 through the air and five on the ground—a credit to the coaching being done by Bill O’Brien and his staff.
4. Notre Dame on Defense
The Irish D is becoming boring and predictable … unless you’re in South Bend. In an era when 40-point games and 400-yard passing efforts are commonplace, Notre Dame has now gone three straight games without allowing a touchdown. Michigan State, Michigan and now Miami made seven combined red zone trips against ND, yet walked away with just 12 total points. When the Hurricanes arrived at Soldier Field, they’d gone three straight games of scoring at least 38 points. Against the Irish, they had more punts than points.
3. The Florida D (in the second half)
The Gators have been stout at all times in 2012, but have been especially surly after Will Muschamp and his staff have had time to make halftime adjustments. In five games, Florida has yielded just 13 second-half points, including none in the fourth quarter, a testament to its coaches and conditioning. The Gators put LSU in a headlock on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, giving the offense the time it needed to mount a comeback that resulted in a fifth win in a row to start the year.
2. NC State (when Florida State is ranked)
The Pack shocked the nation’s No. 3 team, but considering recent history, should everyone really have been that surprised by the outcome? NC State has had Florida State’s number when the Seminoles are ranked, beating them five times in a little over a decade. There seems to be a calm and a steely confidence that comes over the Pack when they see garnet and gold on the other sideline. Despite trailing 16-0 at halftime, and getting nothing done on offense, State methodically rallied, getting the game-winning touchdown pass to Bryan Underwood with 16 second left.
1. South Carolina
It was a night of streaks and memorable moments as the Gamecocks defeated Georgia, 35-7, for the third straight time. South Carolina has now won 10 straight for the first time in school history, is 6-0 for the first time since 1988 and hasn’t won a game by fewer than 21 points since the opener. However, what the Cocks did to the Dawgs over the weekend, holding them 41 points below their season average, transcended just numbers and bullet points in a post-game wrap-up. It stamped South Carolina as one of the six or seven remaining legit contenders for a shot at a national championship.