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Packers' RB James Starks Wins Rookie Award

Packers' Running Back Starks Wins Weekly Rookie Award

Photo - James Starks - Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers threw three TD passes and unheralded rookie running back James Starks ran for 123 yards as the Packers beat Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles, 21-16 in an NFC Wild Card game. Starks was a rookie 6th-round draft pick who injured his hamstring prior to training camp and proceeded to miss the first 11 games of the season while on the PUP list. He pounded the Eagles for 123 rushing yards on 23 carries to give the Packers their first 100 yard rusher on the season and instrumental in their 21-16 Wild Card playoff win.

QB Aaron Rodgers called Starks’ playoff effort perhaps the most important factor in the Packers winning the game. His yardage shattered the previous Green Bay rookie record for rushing yards in a playoff game. Travis Williams had 88 yards back on Dec. 23, 1967, against the Los Angeles Rams in Milwaukee.

Starks got off to a great start against the Eagles when he burst through a big hole for a 27-yard gain on his first carry. He carried three more times for 9 yards on that early drive that ended with a 7-yard TD pass to TE Tom Crabtree.

“He established a hot hand early, and I rode it,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “James was a difference-maker.”

Starks also added two receptions for 9 yards along with his 123 yards rushing. This came in his first playoff game and late season play following nearly two years off with a shoulder injury. Starks averaged 5.3 yards per carry and gained at least 4 yards on 12 of his 23 rushes. The production was pretty consistent, and it gave the Packers several manageable third downs as the offense converted 8-of-13 on the critical down.

Running Back Rankings in Draft Insiders’ - Yearbook March 2010
Starks was ranked #12 in March 2010. He was not ranked in the top 25 in any other scouting service. His March 2010 scouting report is below along with LaGarrette Blount and Anthony Dixon, two other unheralded first year backs who had an impact over the 2010 season.

Running Back Rankings
1. C.J. Spiller - Clemson
2. * Ryan Mathews - Fresno St
3. * Jonathan Dwyer - Georgia Tech
4. * Jahvid Best - California
5. * Toby Gerhart - Stanford
6. * Joe McKnight - Southern Cal
7. Ben Tate - Auburn
8. Dexter McCluster - Ole Miss
9. Montario Hardesty - Tennessee
10. Anthony Dixon - Mississippi St
11. LaGarrette Blount - Oregon
12. James Starks - Buffalo

12. James Starks #19 - 6’2” 220 lbs. - Buffalo - Sp. 4.50
Hindu Theory - Matt Forte

Tough strong senior tailback completed an injury riddled career playing only a few ’09 games before a shoulder injury that ended his season. James failed to duplicate his outstanding junior effort last season. As a junior, he made a significant contribution to the Bulls bowl season. He displayed definite pro potential after finishing with over 1300 yards rushing and 16 TDs despite missing three games due to injuries. He displays a powerful slashing style with the ability to run through tacklers and get the most of each attempt. Over his earlier career, he had several big games that improved his draft status entering his critical final season. He is a strong runner between the tackles with the power to move the pile and break tackles. He has a quick burst to the hole and uses his a big frame well that allows him to run through tacklers and consistently finish his runs with fine body lean. He is a tough runner with good vision, power and balance to be one of the hidden gems of this class if healthy. He has burst to the hole, allowing him to get through the line and use his strong frame to run through tacklers with enough speed to get the corner. His game is getting the tough yardage between the tackles. As a receiver, he has sure hands and has developed well as a route runner and displays good defense recognition skills. He is a natural runner with fine power and quickness, getting huge amounts of yardage after contact. He is a back with a low center of gravity who is very effective when he runs with good pad level and not allowing defenders a clean shot at him. He finishes each rushing attempt with excellent body lean. He has fine lower body strength, including thick thighs, allowing him to run through defenders consistently. He has some natural running skills making defenders miss initially, though he is mainly a one cut runner who runs in a north-south style. His running skills include – decision-making, vision, balance and power with good speed to break into the secondary. As a senior, he started every game before an early season shoulder injury. As a junior, he rushed for 1333 yards and 16 TDs despite missing 3 games with injuries. At the NFL Combine, he ran fine 4.50 and 4.57 times with 15 reps. He added 36” VL and 9’11” BJ with 6.89 three cone and 4.23 short shuttle times. He completed an excellent workout in the positional drills. His quickness and power is what will win an NFL roster spot, showing the AA to make the tough critical inside yardage and possibly start in time. He can be a solid change of pace runner with the ability to contribute in a few roles including a key goal line runner, in addition to projecting to FB in a West Coast offense. Over his career, he displayed the toughness to be a weekly power back with consistent production and ball security his strongest traits. He will probably fall to the late rounds off his injury history. Good late round steal, though he must answer the durability issues to realize his NFL starting potential.

Frank Coyle writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season and a regular Blog @ draftinsiders.com. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

Clemson's Da’Quan Bowers Wins Nagurski Award

Da’Quan Bowers Wins Nagurski Award

Photo – DE Da’Quan Bowers – Clemson

Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has been named the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Award. The honor is presented each year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Touchdown Club of Charlotte to the top defensive player in the nation.

Bowers is the first Clemson player to win a national award of this magnitude since 1982 when Terry Kinard was named the National Defensive Player of the Year.

The other finalists for the Nagurski Award were DT Nick Fairley of Auburn, LB Justin Houston of Georgia, LB Luke Kuechly of Boston College and CB Patrick Peterson of LSU.

Frank Coyle voted for Auburn’s DT Nick Fairley for the Nagurski Award.

"This is a great honor for Da'Quan," said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney, who was the keynote speaker for the banquet. "He has had a terrific year, a dominant year. He has come to play every single game this year and is very deserving of this award."

Bowers led the nation in sacks with 15.5 and was second in tackles for loss with 25. His sack total is second in Clemson history for one season, best among defensive linemen and is the most by an ACC player since 1999 when Keith Adams had a Clemson record 16 sacks.

Bowers's tackle for loss total is the most by a Clemson defensive lineman since 1991 when Rob Bodine had 27. Bowers had a streak of nine straight games with a sack during this season, the longest streak in Clemson history. Last week, Bowers was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. The junior is also finalist for the Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award and Hendricks Award. Those announcements will come later this week.

Playing with a heavy heart following the deaths this year of his father, Dennis, and close friend Gaines Adams of the Chicago Bears, Bowers burst onto the scene this fall after two average seasons. The 6’4” 275 lbs. junior had shed 15 pounds and was performing well in preseason camp in August when his father collapsed while performing in his gospel band. Bowers was later visiting him in the hospital when his father suffered a seizure and died. Bowers spent two weeks away before rejoining the team.

Bowers wore Adams' old #93 this and had a sack in nine straight games, breaking Adams' record by a game. He's surpassed Adams' record for sacks by a defensive lineman and needs one sack when Clemson (6-6) meets South Florida (7-5) in the Meineke Bowl on Dec. 31 to break Keith Adams' overall school sacks record.

Bowers first met Adams when he attended a Clemson camp in the eighth grade. Adams would later set numerous Clemson records and was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy in 2006 before being a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following spring. Adams, who was later traded to Chicago, died in January of cardiac arrest. The autopsy report said he had an enlarged heart.

Bowers had tough competition for the Nagurski award named after the former Minnesota college star and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Fairley has 10½ sacks and 21 tackles for a loss, Kuechly leads the country with 171 tackles, Houston has 10 sacks and 18½ tackles for a loss and Peterson has four interceptions.
Bowers' big season puts him among an elite group of past winners that includes Warren Sapp, Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, Roy Williams, Glenn Dorsey, Brian Orakpo and Ndamukong Suh.
"It's incredible," Bowers said. "It's just an honor to be here in this situation."

Frank Coyle writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

Big Three Remain Undefeated – Top 25 Polls

Top 25 Teams - Week 12
Draft Insiders' - BCS - AP - Coaches - Harris Polls

Photo - Cam Newton - Auburn

Team of the Week - Auburn

Draft Insiders' - Top 25 Teams
1. Texas Christian (12-0)
2. Oregon (11-0)
3. Auburn (12-0)
4. Wisconsin (11-1)
5 Stanford (11-1)
6. Ohio St (11-1)
7. Michigan St. (11-1)
8. Arkansas (10-2)
9. Oklahoma (10-2)
10. LSU (10-2)
11. Boise St (10-1)
12. Virginia Tech (10-2)
13. Nevada (11-1)
14. Missouri (10-2)
15. Oklahoma St. (10-2)
16. Nebraska (10-2)
17. Alabama (9-3)
18. South Carolina (9-3)
19. Texas A&M (9-3)
20. Florida St. (9-3)
21. Utah ((10-2)
22. Mississippi St (8-4)
23. West Virginia (8-3)
24. Northern Illinois (10-2)
25. Arizona (7-4)

Frank Coyle is a longtime Member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

BCS Rankings - Week 7
Rank School Total Prev Rank

1 Auburn (12-0) .9779 2
2 Oregon (11-0) .9777 1
3 TCU (12-0) .9167 3
4 Stanford (11-1) .8413 6
5 Wisconsin (11-1) .8185 7
6 Ohio State (11-1) .7632 8
7 Arkansas (10-2) .7189 12
8 Michigan State (11-1) .6980 10
9 Oklahoma (10-2) .6780 13
10 LSU (10-2) .6067 5
11 Boise State (10-1) .5805 4
12 Missouri (10-2) .5148 14
13 Nebraska (10-2) .5071 15
14 Oklahoma State (10-2) .4630 9
15 Virginia Tech (10-2) .4396 16
16 Alabama (9-3) .4201 11
17 Nevada (11-1) .4043 19
18 Texas A&M (9-3) .3910 17
19 South Carolina (9-3) .3817 18
20 Utah (10-2) .2254 20
21 Florida State (9-3) .2125 22
22 Mississippi State (8-4) .1630 25
23 Arizona (7-4) .0713 21
24 West Virginia (8-3) .0542 NR
25 Northern Illinois (10-2) .0482 NR

The Harris Interactive poll, Coaches' poll and computer rankings each comprise one-third of the BCS standings.

To derive the three percentages, each team is assigned a point total (1 for No. 1, 2 for No. 2, etc.) The two poll percentages are calculated by dividing each team’s point total by a maximum 2825 possible points (Harris) and 1475 possible points (USA Today). The computer rankings percentage is calculated by dropping the highest and lowest ranking for each team and then dividing the remaining total by 100 (the maximum possible points). The BCS Average is calculated by averaging the percentage totals of the Harris Interactive Poll, USA Today poll, and computer rankings. The teams’ BCS Averages are ranked to produce the BCS standings. The six computer ranking providers are Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe. Each computer ranking provider accounts for schedule strength within its formula.

AP Top 25 Teams
Rank / Team / Record / Points (1st) / Previous Week Ranking

1 Oregon (11-0) 1475 (36) 1
2 Auburn (12-0) 1456 (23) 2
3 TCU (12-0) 1383 (1) 4
4 Wisconsin (11-1) 1289 5
5 Stanford (11-1) 1283 7
6 Ohio State (11-1) 1184 8
7 Michigan State (11-1) 1098 11
8 Arkansas (10-2) 1094 12
9 Boise State (10-1) 908 3
10 Oklahoma (10-2) 886 14
11 LSU (10-2) 856 6
12 Virginia Tech (10-2) 761 13
13 Nebraska (10-2) 740 16
14 Nevada (11-1) 736 19
15 Missouri (10-2) 691 15
16 Oklahoma State (10-2) 599 10
17 Alabama (9-3) 597 9
18 South Carolina (9-3) 591 18
19 Texas A&M (9-3) 582 17
20 Florida State (9-3) 356 22
21 Utah (10-2) 249 23
22 Mississippi State (8-4) 224 25
23 West Virginia (8-3) 147 NR
24 Northern Illinois (10-2) 130 NR
25 Hawaii (9-3) 43 NR

Others: Arizona (34) , Maryland (29) , Tulsa (28) , Connecticut (16) , Navy (14) , UCF (12) , San Diego State (5) , North Carolina State (2) , Air Force (2)

Coaches Poll -Top 25 Teams
Rank / Team / Record / Points (1st) / Previous Week Ranking

1 Oregon (11-0) 1459 (46) 1
2 Auburn (12-0) 1419 (10) 2
3 TCU (12-0) 1343 (3) 4
4 Wisconsin (11-1) 1282 5
5 Stanford (11-1) 1233 8
6 Ohio State (11-1) 1213 7
7 Michigan State (11-1) 1083 10
8 Arkansas (10-2) 1012 12
9 Oklahoma (10-2) 943 13
10 Boise State (10-1) 869 3
11 Virginia Tech (10-2) 843 14
12 LSU (10-2) 796 6
13 Nebraska (10-2) 773 15
14 Missouri (10-2) 666 16
15 Oklahoma State (10-2) 661 9
16 South Carolina (9-3) 626 17
17 Nevada (11-1) 621 19
18 Texas A&M (9-3) 503 18
19 Alabama (9-3) 501 11
20 Florida State (9-3) 353 21
21 Utah (10-2) 291 22
22 Mississippi State (8-4) 223 25
23 Northern Illinois (10-2) 130 NR
24 West Virginia (8-3) 110 NR
25 UCF (9-3) 62 NR

Others: Arizona (47) , Hawaii (40) , Maryland (34) , North Carolina State (18) , San Diego State (11) , Navy (4) , Tulsa (3) , Iowa (1) , Air Force (1) , South Florida (1)

Harris Poll -Top 25 Teams
This was the 7th week of the Harris Poll. It will be weekly through the championship game.

Rank / Team / Record / Points (1st)
1 Oregon (11-0) 2804 (70) 1
2 Auburn (12-0) 2769 (42) 2
3 TCU (12-0) 2621 (2) 4
4 Wisconsin (11-1) 2441 5
5 Stanford (11-1) 2417 7
6 Ohio State (11-1) 2301 8
7 Michigan State (11-1) 2080 10
8 Arkansas (10-2) 1997 12
9 Oklahoma (10-2) 1809 13
10 Boise State (10-1) 1802 3
11 LSU (10-2) 1569 6
12 Virginia Tech (10-2) 1503 14
13 Nebraska (10-2) 1446 15
14 Missouri (10-2) 1291 16
15 Nevada (11-1) 1231 19
16 Oklahoma State (10-2) 1171 9
17 South Carolina (9-3) 1142 17
18 Alabama (9-3) 1113 11
19 Texas A&M (9-3) 1032 18
20 Florida State (9-3) 650 22
21 Utah (10-2) 567 20
22 Mississippi State (8-4) 393 25
23 West Virginia (8-3) 251 NR
24 Northern Illinois (10-2) 161 NR
25 Arizona (7-4) 120 21

Others: Maryland (75) , UCF (74) , Hawaii (65) , Navy (36) , Connecticut (32) , Iowa (23) , Tulsa (23) , North Carolina State (16) , San Diego State (7) , South Florida (7) , Notre Dame (6) , Air Force (3) , Miami (OH) (1) , Ohio (1)

'College Football Monday'

HunterOklahomaSt.preview.jpg

'College Football Monday'
Frank Coyle's New Weekly Column

Mikel LeShoure Wins Player of the Week

Photo - RB Kendall Hunter – Oklahoma St

The top four clubs remained unbeaten with three clubs idle and only Boise St. playing this week. The Broncos pounded Fresno St 51-0 as they march through the WAC undefeated. They face their biggest test this week at Nevada in what should be a high scoring affair. Boise St’s QB Kellen Moore put on another excellent performance directing the potent offense that has them in the title chase.

Auburn rested last week up along with Alabama waiting for their much anticipated ‘Iron Bowl’ contest this Friday. Auburn hopes to secure a BCS berth for #1 here vs a tough two loss Bama club. The Tide is the defending champion and are capable of pulling an upset here. The Tigers’ QB Cam Newton will be the focus of attention on his march to the Heisman Trophy and possible national championship. TCU and Oregon were also idle. Oregon faces a tough matchup vs Arizona this Friday on a game that has national title implications.

LSU has quietly moved into national title contention but they need a lot of help to move up as a one loss team. They have faced the toughest schedule among top ten teams, but with four undefeated clubs ahead of them they need an upset weekend over Thanksgiving to move up the rankings.

Maybe the biggest win last week was Texas A&M beating Nebraska 9-6. There is no better place for college football than College Station, the scene of many great Aggie victories. The huge win put the Aggies at 8-3 and eligible for a good bowl invitation. Virginia Tech continues their recovery from a 0-2 start with a nice win over Miami. The Hokies are now 9-2 and knocking on the door for the top ten.

The Oklahoma St Cowboys are one of the great stories of the year. HC Mike Gundy has done a remarkable job leading them to their first 10 win season with a 10-1 record. They rank in the top ten and face rival Oklahoma (9-2) in a huge Bedlam matchup this Saturday. The Cowboys (10-1 overall and 6-1 Big 12) are looking to lock up the Big 12 South championship with a win over the Sooners (9-2 overall; 5-2 Big 12). Running back Kendall Hunter rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries and is headed for another Big 12 rushing title at the conclusion of the season. HC Gundy ranks right at the top of the Coach of the Year honors in what should be a very difficult vote.

In one of the most bizarre college football games in history, Illinois blasted Northwestern 48-27 at Wrigley Field. What made the game so bizarre is that both offenses had to play in the same direction due to the bleachers being to close to the playing field at one end. This was the first college game at Wrigley in 40 years and will fit into Chicago lore along with Billy goats and black cats plus the infamous Cubs losing streaks. Illinii running back Mikel LeShoure rushed for a school record 330 yards and 2 TDs.

In the first football game at the new Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame beat Army 27-3. In the home of champions in the Bronx, the Irish became bowl eligible with the victory with another strong defensive performance. They complete their season at Southern Cal before entertaining bowl invitations.

College Football Week Ten Notes
Oklahoma St receiver Justin Blackmon extended his Cowboy receiving records with his 10th straight 100 yard receiving and TD game. Blackmon had 10 catches for 130 yards and 1 TD. It brings his 2010 season totals to 85 receptions for 1415 yards and 16 TDs, working with emerging passer Brandon Weeden. As a third year sophomore, he could declare for the NFL Draft 2011 in January if he wants to leave Stillwater.

Nevada running back Vai Taua is an integral part of the Wolf Pack’s high-powered attack. He has set a new NCAA record with 24 games of over 100 yards on the ground. He is a highly developed back with the power to run inside and the quickness to get to the outside. He shows fine hands as an outlet receiver and is one of the more well-rounded and developed backs in the nation. He has moved up the charts as a pro prospect and with a strong showing in the postseason, he could be selected right after the top tier of running back prospects.

Frank Coyle writes ‘College Football Monday’ weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

Texas Christian Remains #1 Draft Insiders' Rankings

Oregon Tops BCS, AP, Coaches & Harris Polls

Top 25 Teams - Week Nine
Insiders' /BCS / AP/ Coaches / Harris Polls

Photo - RB John Clay - Wisconsin

Draft Insiders' - Top 25 Teams
1. Texas Christian (9-0)
2. Oregon (8-0)
3. Auburn (9-0)
4. Boise St (7-0)
5. Alabama (7-1)
6. Utah ((8-0)
7. LSU (7-1)
8. Oklahoma (7-1)
9. Wisconsin (7-1)
10. Nebraska (7-1)
11. Ohio St (8-1)
12 Stanford (7-1)
13. Arizona (7-1)
14. Iowa (6-2)
15. Michigan St. (8-1)
16. Missouri (7-1)
17. Oklahoma St. (7-1)
18. Florida St. (6-2)
19. South Carolina (6-2)
20. Arkansas (6-2)
21. Virginia Tech (6-2)
22. Mississippi State (7-2)
23. Baylor (7-2)
24. N.C St. (6-2)
25. Nevada (7-1)

Frank Coyle is a longtime Member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

BCS Rankings
Rank Rank School Total Prev Rank

1 Oregon (8-0) .9777 2
2 Auburn (9-0) .9599 1
3 TCU (9-0) .8911 4
4 Boise State (7-0) .8824 3
5 Utah (8-0) .7318 8
6 Alabama (7-1) .7185 7
7 Nebraska (7-1) .6869 14
8 Oklahoma (7-1) .6849 9
9 Wisconsin (7-1) .6740 10
10 LSU (7-1) .6540 12
11 Ohio State (8-1) .6127 11
12 Missouri (7-1) .5940 6
13 Stanford (7-1) .5780 13
14 Michigan State (8-1) .5136 5
15 Arizona (7-1) .4936 15
16 Iowa (6-2) .4291 18
17 Oklahoma State (7-1) .3868 17
18 Arkansas (6-2) .2944 19
19 South Carolina (6-2) .2725 20
20 Mississippi State (7-2) .2428 21
21 Baylor (7-2) .1792 25
22 Virginia Tech (6-2) .1595 23
23 Nevada (7-1) .0957 24
24 Florida State (6-2) .0737 16
25 North Carolina State (6-2) .0546 NR

AP Top 25 Teams
Rank / Team / Record / Points (1st) / Previous Week Ranking

1 Oregon (8-0) 1487 (49) 1
2 Boise State (7-0) 1403 (7) 2
3 Auburn (9-0) 1396 (2) 3
4 TCU (9-0) 1350 (2) 4
5 Alabama (7-1) 1228 6
6 Utah (8-0) 1147 8
7 Wisconsin (7-1) 1113 9
8 Ohio State (8-1) 1010 10
9 Nebraska (7-1) 974 14
10 Stanford (7-1) 950 13
11 Oklahoma (7-1) 928 11
12 LSU (7-1) 872 12
13 Arizona (7-1) 779 15
14 Missouri (7-1) 739 7
15 Iowa (6-2) 700 18
16 Michigan State (8-1) 644 5
17 Arkansas (6-2) 500 19
18 South Carolina (6-2) 497 17
19 Oklahoma State (7-1) 457 20
20 Virginia Tech (6-2) 332 21
21 Mississippi State (7-2) 302 23
22 Baylor (7-2) 247 25
23 North Carolina State (6-2) 113 NR
24 Florida State (6-2) 97 16
25 Nevada (7-1) 91 NR

Others: Hawaii (50) , Syracuse (22) , Oregon State (16) , Maryland (11) , USC (10) , San Diego State (9) , Illinois (8) , UCF (5) , Pittsburgh (4) , Miami (FL) (3) , Northwestern (3) , Florida (2) , Northern Illinois (1)

Coaches Poll -Top 25 Teams
Rank / Team / Record / Points (1st) / Previous Week Ranking

1 Oregon (8-0) 1464 (51) 1
2 Auburn (9-0) 1384 (4) 3
3 Boise State (7-0) 1361 (3) 2
4 TCU (9-0) 1292 (1) 4
5 Alabama (7-1) 1213 6
6 Utah (8-0) 1141 7
7 Wisconsin (7-1) 1100 9
8 Ohio State (8-1) 1049 10
9 Oklahoma (7-1) 990 11
10 Nebraska (7-1) 961 12
11 LSU (7-1) 861 13
12 Stanford (7-1) 846 14
13 Arizona (7-1) 704 16
14 Missouri (7-1) 676 8
15 Michigan State (8-1) 652 5
16 Iowa (6-2) 647 19
17 South Carolina (6-2) 517 17
18 Oklahoma State (7-1) 466 20
19 Arkansas (6-2) 446 18
20 Virginia Tech (6-2) 379 21
21 Mississippi State (7-2) 320 23
22 Baylor (7-2) 250 24
23 Nevada (7-1) 112 NR
24 Florida State (6-2) 107 15
25 North Carolina State (6-2) 96 NR

Others: Hawaii (59) , Northwestern (24) , Syracuse (14) , UCF (13) , Maryland (9) , Miami (FL) (5) , Illinois (4) , Florida (4) , San Diego State (4) , Michigan (3) , Northern Illinois (2)

Harris Poll -Top 25 Teams
This was the 3rd week of the Harris Poll. It will be weekly through the championship game.

Rank / Team / Record / Points (1st)
1 Oregon (8-0) 2823 (92) 1
2 Auburn (9-0) 2683 (10) 3
3 Boise State (7-0) 2635 (12) 2
4 TCU (9-0) 2529 4
5 Alabama (7-1) 2346 6
6 Utah (8-0) 2171 7
7 Wisconsin (7-1) 2041 9
8 Ohio State (8-1) 1986 10
9 Oklahoma (7-1) 1891 11
10 Stanford (7-1) 1797 13
11 Nebraska (7-1) 1793 14
12 LSU (7-1) 1705 12
13 Arizona (7-1) 1378 15
14 Iowa (6-2) 1307 17
15 Missouri (7-1) 1293 8
16 Michigan State (8-1) 1279 5
17 Arkansas (6-2) 971 18
18 Oklahoma State (7-1) 925 20
19 South Carolina (6-2) 903 19
20 Virginia Tech (6-2) 631 21
21 Mississippi State (7-2) 574 23
22 Baylor (7-2) 422 25
23 Nevada (7-1) 288 24
24 Florida State (6-2) 252 16
25 North Carolina State (6-2) 139 NR

Others: Hawaii (73) , Florida (54) , Syracuse (53) , Oregon State (28) , Northwestern (16) , Maryland (13) , Miami (FL) (10) , San Diego State (10) , Michigan (9) , UCF (7) , Virginia (4) , Temple (4) , Texas A&M (4) , Pittsburgh (1) , West Virginia (1) , Navy (1)

Rams’ Bradford & 49ers' Mays Win Rookie Awards

Bradford & Mays Win Rookie Awards
Sam Bradford Wins Award for 2nd Week

Photo - Safety Taylor Mays - San Fran 49ers

The top overall selection of the NFL Draft 2010, QB Sam Bradford wins the Draft Insiders' weekly rookie award for the second week in a row after another outstanding performance. Bradford is joined by 49ers’ rookie safety Taylor Mays who had a strong showing on both the San Fran defensive and special team units.

Bradford had another solid performance that was instrumental in the Rams second consecutive win of the season, the first time they have achieved back to back victories in two years. It was only the third victory for St. Louis in the past 30 games overall, as they already surpass their poor 1-15 record from 2009. Bradford went 23 of 41 passes for 289 yards for 1 interception and 2 TDs. It was another strong performance for the top overall pick last April who shows a fine understanding of the defense and fast developing recognition skills of pro defenses. Over his first two games, he had four interceptions while being sacked five times.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers safety Taylor Mays had a breakout performance when he made 11 total tackles, 2 unassisted and recovered a blocked punt at the back of the end zone for a TD. That score gave the 49ers’ 14-0 first quarter lead they failed to hold through the game. The 49ers lost a tough 16-14 contest to Atlanta that brought their early season record to a disappointing 0-4 after being highly touted to win the NFC West over the preseason.

Taylor beat out the Titans CB Alterraun Verner, a 4th round pick gem last April. Verner made 11 tackles and broke up 3 passes in the Tennessee heart breaking 26-20 loss to Denver. Several other defensive backs have made their presence felt in the early action. The Browns top two selections, safety T.J. Ward (2nd round) and CB Joe Haden (1st round) have established themselves as regulars in their young developing secondary. Rookie defensive backs Nate Allen of Philadelphia and Seattle’s Earl Thomas continue to make plays from the free safety spots and look to become fixtures on young defenses.

Weekly Player Winners
Week 4

Offense - QB Sam Bradford - Rams
Defense - Safety Taylor Mays - 49ers

Week 3
Offense - QB Sam Bradford - Rams
Defense - Safety Earl Thomas - Seahawks

Week 2
Offense - RB Jahvid Best - Lions
Defense - DT Nda Shu - Lions

Week 1
Offense - RB Dexter McCluster - Chiefs
Defense - Safety Eric Berry - Chiefs

Alabama Faces Arkansas in SEC Game of Week

Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0) @ Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0)
Key SEC West Division matchup

TE D.J. Williams – Arkansas

QB Ryan Mallett Faces SEC Acid Test vs #1 Alabama

Game Facts
QB Ryan Mallett leads nation with 360 yards passing per game with 9 TDs to 2 interceptions on a 70% completion rate. McElroy again has the best passing efficiency in the nation in 2010. He has not lost a game since pre high school. Last year vs Arkansas, he went 17 of 24 passes for 291 yards and 0 interceptions. This kid just does not make mistakes and clearly outplayed Mallett in last year’s matchup. He manages a game flawlessly and allows his club to gain field position over the course of a game even when drives stall and they have to punt. McElroy also outplayed both Tim Tebow and Colts McCoy in SEC and national title games that were instrumental in the Tides national title last season. Arkansas has averaged just under 116 yards rushing vs 111 yards rushing allowed per game. They have scored 5 TDs rushing this year with 6 fumbles losing 3 in three games, a disturbing fact. While averaging 116 yards per game, their 5 rushing TDs came from 5 different runners.

Arkansas totaled only 63 yards rushing vs Alabama last season for less than 3 yards per carry. They got behind 14-0 into the 3rd Q that forced Arkansas to abandon the ground game and throw the ball 41 times. Mallett was only 12 of 35 passing for 160 yards and 1 interception and 1 TD in Bama lost last season. Last week, the Hogs rushed for only 53 yards on 23 carries in win over Georgia. Last year, Arkansas had only a 3-5 SEC record and overall scored 234 points while surrendered 233 points over the schedule.

This year
Arkansas has been almost perfect in the Red Zone with TDs in 9 of 10 opportunities and a FG in other time. He has been sacked 4 times while the Arkansas defense has 12 sacks from 9 different defenders. They also have 26 TFL from 12 defenders, though only 1 FR and 3 FF this season.

Quarterbacks
QB Ryan Mallett is one of the premier passers in the nation and enters his second season as the Razorback starter. He is off to a fast start and showcases the premier passing arm in the collegiate game. He missed spring drills after breaking his foot last winter and had toe surgery. He returned 100% for summer camp and has had a hot hand over the first three games. He makes all the throws, the complete route tree, displaying a powerful arm with touch, accuracy and timing. He gets the ball into tight windows with fast improving decision-making. He shows fine pocket presence and has learned to go through his progressions better and the ability to locate secondary receivers quicker. He has shown progress in his initial reads and looking off the safety. He goes through his progressions quicker and better along with better decisions and few attempts to force the ball into heavy coverage. Last season, he forced the ball too much, attempting to do too much especially when the Hogs got behind.

After playing one season at Michigan, Mallett transferred to Arkansas with the arrival of HC Bobby Petrino. After sitting sat out the ’08 season, Mallett had a huge ’09 performance that included throwing for over 3400 yards, 29 TD passes and just 7 interceptions. They are very impressive statistics for a first year starter vs a very high level of competition. Unfortunately, he struggled vs the top SEC clubs, Alabama, LSU and Florida, failing to complete 50% of his passes in each of those key losses. In each of those losses, they were behind at halftime and their opponents rushed for at least 134 yards in those games. Mallett struggled in each of those defeats, facing a strong pass rush especially as the game progressed and the Hogs were down by more than two scores by mid game.

Nevertheless, Mallett is a big time player and capable of being a difference maker in this conference. He has a full array of weapons and will use them regularly, in what is an explosive high scoring attack and probably more balanced than most observers expect. This offense is in great hands, and the numbers should reflect his talented passing skills and well-rounded group of highly developed weapons. His big game performance has been questioned off a few subpar key ’09 games. This matchup with the defending champions can be a signature game for Mallett who has yet to beat a top ranked club over his short career. His maturation as a leader and passer will determine if he can take a good club to the next level on smarts, leadership and toughness that utilizes both his and teammates chip physical skills to the fullest.

The Tides QB Greg McElroy directs a potent offense that can beat a defense both on the ground and through the air. McElroy manages a game flawlessly and rarely forces the ball into difficult situations. He has fine accuracy and goes through his progressions quickly with sound decision making. His record is perfect over his HS and college career and his level of maturity is rare for a senior starting passer. He is very dangerous on the play action with most defenses loading the box to stop runners Ingram and Richardson regularly.

Running Backs
The Bama tandem of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson is the best collegiate backfield duo since the Auburn pair of runners Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown almost a decade ago. Ingram is coming off a Heisman Trophy season. He played in his first game last week and produced a 48 yard run on his very first rushing attempt. He can pound a defense with the burst of speed to go the distance. He has shown good ball security and the toughness to carry the weekly load. Richardson is an awesome 1A compliment and more diversified as a runner and athlete than Ingram. He is a terrific kickoff returner and receiver with both power and speed. As a runner, he puts his foot in the ground and explodes to the second level with the speed to go the distance. He usually comes in after Ingram takes a break and has the speed to shock a defense with his change of pace talent. He also can pound with a compact frame that delivers a blow to tacklers. In that aspect, Richardson and Ingram are very similar – compact strong runners with low centers of gravity to be difficult to tackle and capable of finishing rushing attempts well. Richardson started last year’s rout with the first score on a 52 yard TD run.

The Hogs rely on sophomore runner Ronnie Wingo who has build on a solid ’09 season finish that included a fine performance vs rival LSU. He is a big hard-hitting workhorse type back with fine natural abilities including receiving skills. Wingo heads an unheralded trio that includes punishing tailback Broderick Green and fast compact runner Dennis Johnson. This young trio of backs may be one of the deeper sets of runners this season. They have slow to produce this season with the air game providing the catalyst for the Hogs undefeated season. This trio is capable of giving this offense the power to run inside and control games plus some big play ability to keep defenses honest and not focused on QB Mallett. Wingo combines power and speed that gives him the inside edge on the starting job. Green is a former USC runner that cannot be minimized to play a key role in this offense. He finished the ’09 season with 7 TDs in the last five games and one of the better red zone runners in the SEC. He will push Wingo for touches especially in short yardage and goal line situations. As a receiver, he is still raw that puts Wingo in the starting 3rd down role. Johnson is a big play weapon with good kickoff return skills. He had one of the Hogs’ three 100 yard rushing game last season vs highly rated Florida. He needs some development as a receiver, but gives the Hogs an interesting feature runner in some games and a change of pace back that can be highly successful in this potent attack.

Receivers
The Hogs return their top five receivers from last season to work with QB Ryan Mallett. Starters Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright are the best returning trio in a deep SEC group of pass catchers. Childs and Adams are big play specialists who have taken it up a notch with experience working with the fast emerging Mallett who has the talent to get them the ball. Childs will command double coverage after scoring another big TD last week vs Georgia. He scored in half of the Hogs games last season while beating double coverage at times. Adams is a burner with the ability to separate deep and hit the home run. He has scored a TD in 9 of the 12 regular season games he played in the past two years. He opens the offense up and forces the safeties to play deep and respect his speed and Mallett’s arm. The combination of Adams and Childs should guarantee an improving ground game with dual deep threats. Childs is the go to receiver but Adams is the home run hitter with a 22 yard average. Childs has fine run after the catch ability (winning TD vs Georgia) TE D.J. Williams is the best movement weapon in the nation. He lines up at tight end, H-back and fullback that give this offense one of the most versatile weapons in the nation. His ability to shift positions gives the Hogs offense the unique ability to run a diverse number of sets on the clock that they should be able to create many mismatches in coverage and run/pass play alignments. He probably faces premier strong safety Mark Barron in one of the critical matchups in the game. Mallett looks for him on the 2nd and 3rd and long in the intermediate zones where he shows excellent hands and run after the catch ability.

The Tides’ Julio Jones may be the best receiver in the nation. He has incredible raw talent that has developed nicely over his short career. McElroy looks for him in big situations especially after the ground game has been established and he faces an eight man front. McElroy works play action well with good ball handing and fine touch to give receivers a chance to make big plays. Jones is a very difficult matchup on size and speed and will probably command heavy double coverage in many situations, though McElroy will exploit any single coverage quickly using the ground attack to set him up.

Offensive Line
The Hogs return four of their five starters including bookend tackles DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez. They are proficient pass protectors who were instrumental in the fast development of first year starting QB Mallett and the quick progress of their young receivers and runners. This unit helped the Hogs offense that led the SEC in scoring and passing offense and 2nd in overall offense. Center Seth Oxner is a savvy pivotman in the mold of former Hog Jonathan Luigs. He is an anchor inside and an unsung leader on this blue-collar unit. This unit looks to take another step up vs top SEC talent and further extensive over a fine ’09 experience.

The Bama line returns three starters and have been instrumental in the overall offensive success. They get a consistent strong push at the point of attack that has allowed Ingram and Richardson to pound defenses with the potential to break long gains consistently. With little fanfare, this unit has been the key unit that has allowed this ground game to dominant and QB Greg McElroy to be the most efficient passer in the nation over the past two seasons.

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