Studs and Duds from Week 10 in College Football
The calm before the storm.
Aside from the matchup between Florida State and Miami, that's exactly what Week 10 of the 2013 college football season was supposed to be in anticipation of next week's Oregon-Stanford, Baylor-Oklahoma and Alabama-LSU games.
But Saturday gave us a healthy slate of exciting football filled with fantastic performances and signature moments for several players and teams still dreaming big.
Let's take a look at the studs and duds of Week 10.
All stats via ESPN unless otherwise noted.
Stud: RB Tre Mason, Auburn
The Auburn Tigers were suddenly facing the Arkansas Razorbacks in hopes of keeping their SEC West title hopes alive.
Running back Tre Mason made sure there was never a doubt, toting the rock 32 times for 168 yards and four touchdowns. While quarterback Nick Marshall was efficient, going 7-of-8, it was the ground game that powered the offense throughout the evening. Mason showed that he can put the team on his back and lead it to victory.
Moving forward, Tigers fans have to feel good about the rushing attack, which produced 233 yards of offense.
Dud: RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee
Against Alabama last Saturday, Tennessee running back Rajion Neal carried the ball 13 times for 70 yards and a score. Those aren't flashy numbers, but they're nothing to scoff at given the opponent.
One week later, the Volunteers star had just eight yards on eight carries in a 31-3 loss to Missouri. Needless to say, it was Neal's lowest output of the season by a wide margin, and it contributed to a ground attack that produced just 94 yards of offense.
There's little doubt about the senior's abilities, however, given recent performances against South Carolina and Georgia. But the Tigers defense was all over the place, stopping runs before they ever really got started and holding Butch Jones' team to just three points.
Neal is a solid running back capable of having big days. Unfortunately for him, Saturday wasn't one of them.
Stud: RB Anthony LaCoste, Air Force
There haven't been many highlights in Air Force's season thus far, as the Falcons have won just two games.
The second victory came Saturday thanks to the effort of running back Anthony LaCoste, who carried the ball 23 times for a whopping 263 yards and three scores.
With the game tied at 21, LaCoste found room in the Black Knights defense and made his way to the end zone for a 78-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He would add a one-yard score to open the final quarter, and that was all the team needed to secure the win.
Air Force isn't going to make a bowl game, but Saturday's rivalry game against Army will be one to remember because of LaCoste.
Dud: QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott opened the scoring against South Carolina with a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give his Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. He added a second touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter as well.
But he'd probably like to forget everything in between, as the Gamecocks ultimately routed Dan Mullen's team 34-16.
On the ground, Prescott had 15 carries for 78 yards and the two aforementioned scores, which is excellent for a quarterback. But he threw three interceptions on the day, with two coming in the first quarter, which allowed South Carolina to jump out to the early lead.
Prescott has been intriguing to watch this season, and he may end up being a real star in the conference. But despite a solid effort on the ground, he didn't bring his A-game with him to South Carolina.
Stud: LB Denicos Allen, Michigan State
Football is very much about offense in 2013, but Michigan State linebacker Denicos Allen had himself a solid day on defense.
Against Michigan, Allen had nine tackles, which included three for loss and a pair of sacks. He was a key cog on a unit that held the Wolverines to minus-48 yards on the ground.
Brady Hoke's team was also held to just six points in the loss, which is 18 less than its previous low this season, a 24-point effort against Connecticut.
The Spartans had a national stage and used it to demonstrate to everyone that they boast perhaps the best defense in the country. Allen, who made himself cozy in the backfield, was one of the stars of the show.
Dud: Michigan Ground Game
Not a whole lot went right for Michigan against Michigan State on Saturday.
Devin Gardner completed just over 50 percent of his passes and failed to throw a touchdown. In fact, the offense as a whole was unable to reach paydirt even once.
But the most startling statistic of all is the Wolverines' negative-48 rushing yards. Without placing the blame squarely on one player, Michigan gained just 168 yards of offense in the 29-6 defeat. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint had just 20 yards on eight carries, and Gardner had negative-46 yards on 18 rushes.
Overall, it was a day to forget for Michigan's rushing attack, which must draw up a new plan of attack after this one.
Stud: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
The quality of the opponent is certainly considered in determining who makes the "stud" portion of the list, so anybody playing a team like UTEP would need to have a monstrous day given the Miners' 1-7 overall record.
That's exactly what quarterback Johnny Manziel did, and try as you might to ignore the sensational sophomore, he just keeps doing things that make you shake your head—even if they sometimes come against inferior competition.
On Saturday, Manziel completed 16 of 24 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball seven times for 67 yards and two scores, giving him six total touchdowns on the evening.
You can expect this sort of effort to continue next Saturday against Mississippi State before tougher games against LSU and Missouri round out the season.
Dud: RB Mark Weisman, Iowa
When the Iowa Hawkeyes are playing good football, they are running the ball effectively and playing tough defense.
Kirk Ferentz's team entered the fourth quarter trailing 14-9 to Wisconsin, and the defense was certainly doing its job. But the running game never really got going, which was especially true for go-to back Mark Weisman, who had four 100-yard games heading into Saturday.
Against the Badgers, Weisman carried the ball just nine times for 15 yards and failed to reach the end zone. In fact, eight of those yards came on a single carry, meaning he was held to less than a yard on the majority of his touches.
The junior has proved himself to be a bruising runner in 2013, capable of flattening defenses and helping his team move the ball while burning clock. But Saturday just wasn't his day.
Stud: WR Josh Harper, Fresno State
While Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr gets all the attention, he might not be a name at all without the outstanding play of receiver Josh Harper.
Against Nevada, Harper had 17 catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which came on a 17-yard pass just before halftime to give the Bulldogs a 24-7 lead.
Most running backs don't even carry the ball 17 times, so for Harper and Carr to connect that many times through the air says something about the rhythm of the Bulldogs passing game.
For Harper, the 253 yards more than double his previous season high of 123 yards, and his performance helped Fresno State remain unbeaten in 2013.
Dud: QB Sean Mannion, Oregon State
Sometimes, you judge a player based on his previous performances, which tell you whether or not he's playing up to his abilities. For Sean Mannion, who had been throwing for more than 400 yards a game, 277 yards in a loss to USC just doesn't cut it.
The mark itself isn't a bad one, but it came with three costly interceptions. The Beavers' prolific offense, which had scored more than 33 points in each of its first seven games, has suddenly failed to hit the 15-point mark in back-to-back weeks.
Mannion ended the day 26-of-45 through the air, but he was unable to get his offense in a rhythm, and the Trojans left Corvallis with a 31-14 victory.
Stud: QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
With apologies to Braxton Miller and Maty Mauk—two dual-threat quarterbacks who had outstanding performances (and barely missed the "stud" list)—this piece would be incomplete without highlighting the phenomenal effort by Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly in the Sun Devils' 55-21 victory over Washington State on Thursday.
Kelly completed 22 of 31 passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns in the win, but he also ran for 66 yards and a pair of scores to finish with seven touchdowns.
Kelly is often overshadowed in the Pac-12 by guys like Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, but the junior proved Thursday that he is capable of playing just as well as anybody, and his performance keeps the Sun Devils' hopes of a South Division title very much alive.
Dud: QB Tyler Murphy
Despite Florida's anemic offensive production throughout the season, it seemed like a game against Georgia would be the perfect remedy to jump-start the unit because the Bulldogs had been allowing more than 30 points per game.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy was charged with leading the effort, and he was unable to deliver, especially in the first half of the Gators' 23-20 loss.
Murphy ended up completing just 13 of 29 passes for 174 yards, and he managed just 28 yards on the ground.
In the end, the result was an offensive output against Mark Richt's team which failed to eclipse that of teams like Vanderbilt, Tennessee and even North Texas.