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What we learned from Week 13 in college football

  • By Chase Goodbread, Mike Huguenin and Dan Greenspan
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Gerald Herbert / Associated Press
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel attempts to bring LSU's Craig Loston down after throwing one of his two INTs.

With Week 13 of the college season still rolling along, here are some of the things we learned on Saturday:

1. Tiger bait

It's official: LSU has Johnny Football's number. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel fell to 0-2 in two seasons against the Tigers, and in doing so, turned in by far his worst performance of the season. How did Manziel react in postgame comments? We have video.

2. Williams stays hot

Boston College's Andre Williams turned in another 200-yard performance Saturday to remain the nation's hottest rusher. He's had a season's worth of yards in November alone.

3. Dennard leads Michigan State defense

Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard already has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, and he proved again with his performance in a 30-6 win at Northwestern that he is one of the nation's best at his position. Dennard led the Spartans with nine tackles and added an interception -- his fourth of the season -- and a half-tackle for loss. Junior FS Kurtis Drummond had two picks, and junior TB Jeremy Langford ran for 150 yards and two TDs on 25 carries. It was his sixth consecutive 100-yard game, the longest such streak for a Spartan since Lorenzo White had seven in a row in 1985. Michigan State won its 10th game and clinched a spot in the Big Ten title game opposite Ohio State. All 10 wins have come by double-digits.

4. McCarron to McCarron

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's final career home game was a one-half exhibition against Tennessee-Chattanooga, eventually a 49-0 rout, replete with a sentimental moment when Alabama coach Nick Saban called for a pass to his quarterback's walk-on younger brother, Corey. The younger McCarron sees very limited game action. The McCarron-to-McCarron connection went for 3 yards.

5. Decisions, decisions

Two of at least three potential NFL draft early-entry candidates at South Carolina addressed those decisions in Gamecocks cornerback Vic Hampton and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles. It looks like South Carolina may, after all, get Quarles back in Columbia, S.C., for another year.

6. No clowning around

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was expected to play against Coastal Carolina Saturday despite foot pain from bone spurs, but ultimately he sat out along with several other starters, including the above-mentioned Quarles. This time, however, Clowney was clearly on the same page with the coaching staff about the decision.

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7. Losing effort, winning performance

Donte Moncrief of Ole Miss was the highlight of the day for the Rebels' offense in a loss to Missouri on Saturday. But will he make any highlights next year at all for Ole Miss, given his pending decision whether to enter the NFL early? Based on his play of late, the junior would appear to have little else to prove.

8. Matthews tops new mark

Sounds like a broken record. Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews reached the top of yet another chart Saturday, this time becoming the SEC's all-time leader in catches. He's well on his way to finishing his career with more than 250 of them. And he hung 13 on a beleaguered Tennessee team Saturday.

9. Sad ending?

Georgia star quarterback Aaron Murray saw his day end early against Kentucky with a knee injury, and it appears he might have seen his season end early, as well. Not the way one of the league's most prolific passers ever should have to call it a career, but in a 56-17 win over Kentucky, not everything was perfect for UGA.

10. Hot seat

Florida fans that thought a home loss to Vanderbilt was the season's low point, you may want to move along. All else who care to see the train leave the tracks in Gainesville, enter here.

11. Baylor ground game dries up

Quarterback Bryce Petty and his stable of wide receivers were getting all the attention, but it turns out running back Lache Seastrunk and the ground game was the heart of Baylor's offense. It only became obvious on a cold night at Oklahoma State, as backups Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin managed 62 yards on 21 carries and lost two fumbles. Without the serious threat of play-action, the Cowboys could use their safeties to deny the Bears any deep passes.

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12. Pitt's Donald again stands out

Pitt senior DT Aaron Donald, the nation's leader in tackles for loss with 22.5, added 3.5 more to his total in a 17-16 win over Syracuse. Donald also blocked an extra-point attempt, which ended up being the margin of victory. Donald had nine tackles and added two quarterback hurries. Pitt won despite rushing for just 21 yards.

13. Ducks' defensive line exposed

The Ducks don't have "a Stanford problem," but a defensive line problem. Oregon simply does not have enough dominant front line players capable of overpowering the Cardinal or, as everyone found out Saturday, Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey.

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has prioritized smaller, faster and more athletic defenders that he can sub in and out in waves, matching the offensive style Chip Kelly brought to Eugene, Ore. But defending a committed power running game has clearly become an issue this season, as Carey and Cardinal bruiser Tyler Gaffney carried the ball 48 and 45 times, respectively, in upset bids.

It doesn't become an issue when the Oregon blur goes into effect and forces opponents to abandon the run, but adding a couple of blue-chippers in the trenches is a priority when you can't outscore the opponent into submission.

14. Never disparage the Rose Bowl

Mock the Granddaddy of Them All at your own peril, Oregon, especially when you've won it twice dating back to 1917 and are going to play a team that has never been to the Promised Land.

15. Buckeyes defenders make presence felt

Ohio State's defense was solid Saturday in a 42-14 win over Indiana. The best player on the field was junior LB Ryan Shazier, who had a career-high 20 tackles and added five tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Junior CB Bradley Roby, who Urban Meyer says is going pro after the season, added 10 tackles and three pass breakups. Junior DT Michael Bennett, who has vastly exceeded expectations this season, had three tackles for loss, including two sacks, and a quarterback hurry.

16. Arizona State rises to the challenge

After letting UCLA back into the game, head coach Todd Graham issued the order for his defense to finish things off and secure a berth in the Pac-12 championship game. The Sun Devils forced two holding penalties and sacked Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley to wrap up the 38-33 win.

With defensive tackle Will Sutton (3 tackles, 1 sack) and outside linebacker/defensive end Carl Bradford (8 tackles, 1 sack, interception returned 18 yards for a touchdown) finally returning to the dominant form they showed last year, ASU is more than capable of upending Stanford and reaching its first Rose Bowl since 1997.

17. Hundley needs an internal clock

Hundley has plenty of attributes to be a future first-round pick: the frame and mobility of a prototypical modern QB, a good arm, innate charisma and leadership. But Hundley simply holds on to the ball too long and doesn't know when to throw it away. That spells doom for any NFL signal-caller and must be addressed for Hundley to have a successful career on Sundays.

18. QB leads Duke to share of ACC Coastal title

Duke QB Anthony Boone threw three TD passes in a 28-21 win at Wake Forest. Duke (9-2 overall, 5-2 in the ACC) claimed at least a share of the ACC Coastal Division title; a win next week over North Carolina gives Duke the title by itself. Duke has won nine games for the first time since 1941; the Blue Devils never have won 10 games in a season. Boone was 24 of 29 for 256 yards and the three TDs, and he also rushed for a team-high 57 yards.

19. "Buck" stops with Allen for Trojans

Of all the mistakes Lane Kiffin made at USC, the easiest way to sum them up is one name: Javorius Allen. The running back from Florida never played under the Kiffin regime but has emerged as the best offensive player the Trojans have under interim coach Ed Orgeron and showed it again in a 47-29 win at Colorado.

Allen rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, even after apparently jamming his shoulder on his first score, adding 24 yards on three receptions. When he lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to open the third quarter, Allen ran harder and restored order.

Allen has now scored 12 touchdowns since Kiffin was fired, 10 in the last four games, and is on of the main reasons USC can pick up its 10th win next week against crosstown rival UCLA.

20. Huskers' Abdullah has another 100-yard game

Nebraska junior TB Ameer Abdullah, the Big Ten's leading rusher, ran for 147 yards on 25 carries as the Huskers downed Penn State 23-20 in overtime. It was Abdullah's eighth consecutive 100-yard game and his 10th of the season; the performance gives him 1,483 yards this season. That total is sixth on the school's single-season list. The Huskers have two games left -- the regular-season finale next week against Iowa and a bowl game -- and Abdullah should become just the fourth back in school history to reach the 1,600-yard plateau. Mike Rozier did it twice, and Ahman Green and Lawrence Phillips each did it once.

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21. Clay carries Oklahoma to record win

Brennan Clay has long been an effective running back for the Sooners, but he has not had chances to show his skills as the feature back with a plethora of other options available. But with Damien Williams suspended, Clay had 31 carries for 200 yards against Kansas State, both career-highs. Showing a nice combination of power and speed, a performance like this could play Clay (5-11, 201) into the late rounds of the NFL draft.

22. Lockett's last game in the Little Apple?

As the focus begins to turn toward potential draft declarations, Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett could face one of the toughest decisions of any Big 12 player. Lockett (5-11, 175) has speed for days, a style of play reminiscent of DeSean Jackson, and shredded the Oklahoma secondary, to go along with huge performances against Texas and TCU. However, he got shut down by Oklahoma State corner Justin Gilbert, a big physical NFL talent. There will be arguments on both sides for Lockett to consider.

23. Iowa defense does the job

As usual, Iowa's three senior starting linebackers were productive. But junior DT Carl Davis stood out, too, as the Hawkeyes rallied from a 21-7 halftime deficit to beat Michigan 24-21. Davis was tied for the team lead with eight tackles and added 2.5 tackles for loss, a half-sack and a pass breakup. OLB Anthony Hitchens also had eight tackles, along with three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry. MLB James Morris was the third Hawkeye with eight tackles, and he added 1.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. OLB Christian Kirksey had six tackles and a half-sack. Michigan finished with just 158 yards of offense and punted 10 times in losing for the fourth time in six games.

24. Carden, East Carolina roll past North Carolina State

East Carolina junior QB Shane Carden was 23 of 30 for 255 yards and three TDs as the Pirates thrashed North Carolina State, 42-28. Don't let the final score fool you; it was a thrashing. NC State scored two TDs in the final 51 seconds to make it somewhat respectable. Carden (6-2, 218) has 32 TD passes on the season and thrown for 3,575 yards. ECU beat North Carolina earlier this season; it's the first time in school history ECU beat UNC and NCSU in the same season.

25. Iowa State senior defenders go out on a good note

The Cyclones haven't had much go right this season, but senior linebacker Jeremiah George (14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble) and safety Jacques Washington (13 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) led the way in a 34-0 romp over Kansas in their final home game. George and Washington have been very productive over their college careers and will get a look at the next level.

The same is true of Jayhawks running back James Sims, who had 114 rushing yards to become the first KU player with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

26. Long road back for Cooper

Washington RB Deontae Cooper is probably never going to play on Sundays. Heck, he would probably be a longshot to ever pass the medical exams after suffering three torn ACLs. But there was Cooper, rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries to help the Huskies steamroll Oregon State, 69-27, in a game that wasn’t even that close. Cooper was one of three Washington running backs to top 100 yards with two touchdowns, joining Bishop Sankey (179 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Dwayne Washington (141 yards, 2 touchdowns), the freshman likely to take over as the featured back if Sankey declares for the NFL. But tip your cap to Cooper and the work he has put in.

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