College Football All-Week 10 Team
College football saw some great games powered by some great individual performances this weekend.
Conference races are tightening up, and the jockeying for those ever-important BCS bowl berths is fiercer than ever now that we've made it into the month of November.
Here are the players who gave it their all this past week and earned a spot on our All-Week 10 Team for the 2012 college football season.
We'll start with special teams.
While there are a number of great plays on special teams each and every week, it takes a special player in a special moment to make our list.
This week's honor goes to San Diego State's Colin Lockett, whose 100-yard return on the game's opening kickoff propelled the Aztecs to a shocking 21-19 upset win over Boise State...in Boise.
We'll give two defensive backs a coveted position on our All-Week 10 List, starting with Florida junior Matt Elam.
The Gators had four total interceptions against Mizzou on Saturday, including Elam's late in the third quarter and deep in Florida territory. With the score tied at 7-7, Elam returned the pick 42 yards, setting up what turned out to be the winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Gators escaped and kept their slim BCS hopes alive with a 14-7 victory.
Our second defensive back selection is Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard.
Dennard was on the receiving end of two errant passes from Nebraska's Taylor Martinez on Saturday, but his game contribution will likely be overlooked because of a very questionable pass interference call late in the fourth quarter on 3rd-and-long.
That unfortunate turn of events put Nebraska in a position to take the lead with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, dropping the slumping Spartans to 5-5 on the season.
With many great performances from Week 10, it was hard to nail down one standout to name All-Week 10, but we've settled on Houston's Phillip Steward.
Houston is clearly not the team it was a year ago and has stumbled to a 4-5 record through 10 weeks. Clearly, quarterback Case Keenum and head coach Kevin Sumlin were the main reasons for success, and without their services, the Cougars have become a second-rate team in a third-rate conference.
But that hasn't stopped Steward from putting up some very impressive numbers this season—a trend that continued Saturday against East Carolina.
Steward had seven tackles, and his one sack against the Pirates now gives him nine on the season—more than any other FBS linebacker.
The first of two defensive line selections is Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt.
With 1.5 sacks against Pitt, Tuitt now has 10 sacks on the season—just 1.5 behind the national leaders.
Tuitt had six tackles on the day and was a big part of Notre Dame's narrow triple-overtime victory over the Panthers.
Joining Tuitt on our All Week-10 team is another sophomore, Oregon State's Scott Crichton.
Crichton had one sack, 1.5 tackles for loss and five total stops on Saturday against Arizona State.
Along with his team as a whole, Crichton has been a pleasant surprise for head coach Mike Riley, and the Beavers are still in the hunt for a Pac-12 title this season—something no one thought would be possible in early November.
Incidentally, with nine sacks on the year, Crichton is now tied for sixth in the FBS.
Rather than selecting a couple of individuals for our All-Week 10 offensive line honors, we've decided to name an entire unit to the team.
Louisiana State's offensive line was clearly one of the better, if not the best, offensive lines of the week and had more success against the vaunted Alabama defense than any team all season.
In fact, LSU's O-line did such a superb job that the Crimson Tide can no longer claim the top defense in the nation in total defense.
The LSU line gave quarterback Zach Mettenberger the time he needed to put up nearly 300 yards passing against the Tide, by far the most given up by Alabama all season.
LSU ball-carriers also gained 139 yards against Alabama when the Tide had held all other opponents to 80 yards or less on the ground.
The 85 offensive plays ran by the Tigers were also more than any team had been able to manage against the Tide all season (68 was the previous high).
No matter how you slice it or what stat you pick, LSU's offensive line was a major part of the Tigers' offensive successes in Saturday's 21-17 loss to the Crimson Tide.
It probably isn't a surprise at this point that Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert keeps showing up on award lists.
The senior tight end is probably a bigger part of his team's offensive scheme than any tight end in the nation, and Week 10 was no exception.
Eifert added a season-high six receptions for 62 yards (10.3 yards per reception) against Pitt to his already impressive season totals.
Add in his unmatched ability to flatten defenders in blocking assignments, and you have all the makings of a Mackey Award winner.
Our two All-Week 10 wide receivers are USC's Marqise Lee and Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton.
Lee had another outstanding performance in Saturday's narrow loss to Oregon, hauling in 12 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
Lee now has 1,286 receiving yards on the year, second in the FBS, while his 12 scoring catches rank third. Last week was also the sixth time this season Lee has exceeded the 100-yard receiving mark.
Patton also had heck of a weekend as a target, amassing 152 yards on 10 receptions, one of which was for a touchdown.
Patton has been a major reason why Louisiana Tech finds itself the top-ranked non-AQ program in the nation. With a few more wins and just a little help in the polls, the Bulldogs heading to a BCS bowl this season isn't completely out of the realm of possibility.
Patton, now with exactly 1,000 receiving yards this season, is one of just seven FBS receivers to reach that mark in 2012, and his continued week-in, week-out contributions are a major reason why we can say "Louisiana Tech" and "BCS" in the same sentence without giggling.
No question here. Oregon's Kenjon Barner rushed for a staggering 321 yards and five—yes, five—touchdowns against USC on Saturday.
Did we mention five rushing touchdowns?
Just wanted to make sure you got that.
He added 26 yards on two receptions for a contribution of 347 offensive yards in Oregon's win over the Trojans.
Our final selection to the B/R All-Week 10 Team is the quarterback, and we've decided Louisiana State's Zach Mettenberger will get the honor.
It's not often you'll see a losing quarterback given such an award, but no one can ignore the fact that Mettenberger performed well beyond any expectations we all had for him in Week 10 against Alabama.
Mettenberger picked apart the Crimson Tide secondary like no quarterback has done since Cam Newton. His 298 yards through the air are the most surrendered by the Tide all season by a wide margin, and avoiding turnovers meant Alabama had to battle for 60 full minutes to pull out the win in Baton Rouge.
There have been a lot of lingering questions about the junior signal-caller for LSU, but Tigers fans should be able to rest comfortably about the future of the quarterback position now that Mettenberger has shown he is up to the challenge of a big game.
After all, it wasn't really the offense that let the team down in the end.
Mettenberger's surprisingly stellar performance against the nation's top defense coming into Week 10 is more than enough cause for recognition, and it's why he headlines Bleacher Report's All-Week 10 Team for 2012.