College Football: Week 9 Who’s Hot & Who’s Not

    Week 9 was all about a few big plays, a few big flops, and some key players stepping up. Check out Who's Hot and Who's Not.

    November 2, 2015


    E-mail Rich Cirminiello

    Who’s Hot

    The hottest, the best and the brightest from Week 9 of the 2015 college football season.

    Western Michigan

    The Broncos have rebounded from a rocky September that included a Week 2 blowout loss to Georgia Southern, winning their last four games. The balanced offense is rolling, with unexpected help from rookie RB Jamauri Bogan, and head coach P.J. Fleck is once again generating talk about a future promotion. WMU is deadlocked with ranked Toledo in the MAC West, with a showdown between the two looming at the end of the month.

    Washington LB Travis Feeney

    The Huskies were pining for a win in Week 9, needing to bounce back from consecutive losses to Oregon and Stanford. They got that victory against Arizona, 49-3, led by a dominant performance from Feeney and the rest of the defense. The senior continues to play his way into NFL scouts’ minds, racking up a game-high 11 tackles, 4.5 stops for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup.

    Louisville OLB Trevon Young

    In Young, the Cardinals mined a gem from Iowa Western Community College that’s only begun to scratch the surface of his considerable potential. The 6-5, 237-pound junior has always possessed the burst and the get-off of an elite pass rusher. But he’s now combining that natural ability with improved technique, resulting in 8.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in just the last three games. Young is a perfect fit for the 3-4 Louisville D.

    Texas A&M QB Kyler Murray

    The Murray era in College Station has begun. And if Saturday against South Carolina was any indication, it might not come to an end for another three years. The true freshman was as prolific as advertised in his debut as the starter, completing 20-of-28 for 223 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 156 yards and another score. Murray is mature, a great fit for the offense and only going to get better with more reps in the system.

    Oklahoma State

    The Cowboys are an imperfect squad. And their ceiling will be determined by what happens in November, when TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State visit Stillwater. But this program deserves a ton of credit for rallying from 17 down—three separate times—to avoid a landmine in Lubbock. After trailing Texas Tech, 31-14, early in the second quarter, Oklahoma State finished on a 56-22 tear to get through the season’s first two months without a blemish.

    Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg

    For all of the—legitimate—debate over whether Hackenberg is overrated, he has quietly been tight over the last six games. Despite continuing to get tepid support form his blockers and receivers, he’s accounted for 13 touchdowns since Sept. 26 without throwing an interception. And in Saturday’s 39-0 whitewash of fading Illinois, Hackenberg went 21-of-29 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, while catching a 14-yard touchdown pass.

    North Carolina

    After passing by far their biggest test of the season, the Tar Heels appear to be the real deal, at least in terms of the ACC Coastal measuring stick. Carolina feasted on a soft early schedule, leaving behind a wake of doubters. But by outclassing Pitt at Heinz Field Thursday night, Larry Fedora’s kids are 7-1, haven’t lost since opening night and are gathering believers. And the win sets the stage for this weekend’s biggest Duke-Carolina football game in generations.

    Clemson QB Deshaun Watson

    There were some rocky moments and picks in the first half of the year, but Watson has settled down and begun to play like one of the best young hurlers in America. He’s been dynamite in the Tigers’ last two games, shredding NC State for six touchdowns Saturday on an afternoon that his team’s D was unusually generous. Watson has everything except titles that a coach wants in a quarterback, but the hardware could start arriving a little over a month from now in Charlotte.

    Florida

    The Gators’ remarkable turnaround season under first-year head coach Jim McElwain continued with a wire-to-wire suffocation of rival Georgia in Jacksonville. A year after going 7-5 and firing Will Muschamp, Florida seized control of the SEC East with Saturday’s 27-3 rout. The Gators will be heavily favored to be 10-1 by the time Florida State visits on Nov. 28. And the way the D is performing, no goal, from an SEC title to a playoff berth, is out of reach at this point.

    Who’s Not

    The disappointments from this week in the college football world.

    Boston College

    Steve Addazio better figure something out at quarterback this offseason, because all the D in the world isn’t going to save this Eagle program. Yeah, it hurt when QB Darius Wade was injured in Week 3, but a lot of teams lose their quarterback without going in the tank. After coming up small against Virginia Tech, 26-10, BC is 1-6 versus FBS opponents, while averaging just nine points in those seven games.

    West Virginia

    After going 0-for-October, the Mountaineers might want to redact the month from next year’s media guide. Even worse, the team was competitive against only Oklahoma State, bowing to Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU by an average of 24 points. Now a game below .500, West Virginia must start taking care of business, beginning with this week’s visit from Texas Tech, just to qualify for a bowl game. At best, the ‘Neers are a mid-tier Big 12 squad.

    Arizona State D

    How do you possibly lose a game in which you produce 742 yards and 37 first downs? Insanely bad defense. The Sun Devils continue to crank up the pressure, but penalties and a lack of timely stops are just killing this team. Mike Bercovici threw five touchdown passes and both Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage rushed for more than 100 yards … yet ASU fell to Oregon in three overtimes, 61-55, for its third loss in the last five games.

    Arizona

    The Wildcats are in danger of becoming the Pac-12’s Georgia Tech, going from a divisional champ in 2014 to sans a bowl invitation in 2015. After bowing meekly to Washington, 49-3, Arizona has now lost to its four toughest opponents by an aggregate score of 205-92. And there’s no evidence that RichRod’s 5-4 team has the confidence or the personnel to upset USC, Utah or Arizona State and become bowl eligible.

    Duke

    Inexcusable. Under no circumstances should the Blue Devils have allowed Miami to traverse 75 yards on some sandlot, eight-lateral kick return as time expired. Where was the safety valve? How were the Canes, which lost to Clemson by 58 a week ago, fired Al Golden and didn’t have star QB Brad Kaaya, even in this game in the first place? Next week was supposed to be the first Duke-Carolina matchup since 1939 in which both rivals were ranked. And then the Blue Devils went out and choked in a memorable special teams meltdown.

    Kentucky

    The Wildcats’ fast start, 4-1 with the only loss coming by five points to Florida, is now a distant memory. Kentucky has dropped three straight to drift back to .500. And the losses are becoming increasingly ugly. A week after being crushed by Mississippi State, 42-16, the Cats were decimated by QB Joshua Dobbs and Tennessee, 52-21. Kentucky still has a pretty good shot of bowling for the first time since 2010, but nothing is certain the way this team is operating on both sides of the ball.

    Texas

    Remember that goodwill and momentum the Longhorns had amassed with consecutive wins over Oklahoma and Kansas State? Gone. Evaporated after UT was shutout by Iowa State. Yup, same Cyclone team that entered the weekend with wins over just Northern Iowa and Kansas. It was the first time since 1961 that Texas had been blanked by an unranked opponent, another sign of the program’s inconsistency under the current staff. The Horns must win three of their final four games just to qualify for a bowl game.

    Football in Georgia

    The Falcons have been terrific. The local college teams? No so much. Georgia was hammered by Florida for its third loss in the last four games. The offense is dreadful and head coach Mark Richt is once again bearing the brunt of the criticism. Over in Atlanta, Georgia Tech couldn’t build off last week’s thriller over Florida State, stumbling to UVA. The Yellow Jackets, defending ACC Coastal champs, must now win their final three games just to reach .500 and become bowl eligible.

    Nebraska head coach Mike Riley

    It’s Year 1, so there’s no sense in overreacting. But Riley and his Huskers are doing an awful job, capped by Saturday’s dreadful 55-45 loss to Purdue, which hadn’t defeated an FBS opponent all year. Nebraska was snakebitten prior to Week 9, losing five times by five points or less. This past weekend, though, the team was just plain awful, turning the ball over five times and making Boilermaker David Blough look like the second coming of Drew Brees. Those four-loss Bo Pelini seasons don’t look so bad now, do they?

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