Week 9 College Football: Charting the Best Performances
Week 9 has brought us plenty of superb performances. With only a few weeks left until bowl season begins, we must all enjoy the last little bit of college football available.
From the record setting performance of Houston quarterback Case Keenum to the amazing physique and ability of Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, college football amazes us week in, week out with stellar performances and highlights.
As we head into Week 10, we will gloss over some of the more notable performances and players of Week 9 that stepped it up as the Bowl Championship Series roller coaster continues.
Oklahoma State Wide Receiver Justin Blackmon
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It was business as usual for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They remain undefeated with their 59-24 victory over Baylor University, a game in which Robert Griffin threw for over 400 yards, yet they were still unable to overcome the Cowboys' dynamic players on offense.
One of the biggest performances included a 172-yard receiving performance by receiver Justin Blackmon, who added two touchdowns that day and remains the biggest threat on the Cowboys' offense.
A tall, strong, and physical receiver, Blackmon's decision to return to school and forgo the draft was beneficial to both him and the Cowboys, who now have the edge in the National Championship game.
Blackmon's ability to gain separation, coupled with his impressive size and ability to stretch the field, truly makes him one of the best receivers in the country. He is likely to be the top-rated receiver come the spring as he impresses scouts in Indianapolis. By then, it's possible he will add a national championship ring to an already impressive list of accolades.
Oklahoma State Running Back Joseph Randle
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Oklahoma State may have a dynamic receiving threat in Justin Blackmon who will be catching passes on Sunday. But Cowboys running back Joesph Randle gave upcoming defensive coordinator fits as they must prepare for an underrated ground game that Randle sparked in Week 9.
The running back gained 152 yards on 14 carries while also rushing for four touchdowns, amassing a very respectable average of 10 yards per carry. Randle gave the Cowboys a spark on the ground against a weaker Baylor team that has had plenty of struggles this season, and it allowed the Cowboys to keep Griffin on the bench, who still managed to throw for over 400 yards.
The Cowboys' running game these last few weeks have also allowed for the passing game to open up for quarterback Braden Weeden and the rest of the offense.
The Cowboys offense can become more dangerous with a more consistent running game, and if Randle can continue his hot streak, there is no doubt that Oklahoma State has the ability to win out.
Oklahoma Quarterback Landry Jones
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The Oklahoma Sooners both bounced back, triumphed, and exposed Kansas State as they knocked off the formerly undefeated Wildcats 58-17.
They were lead in Week 9 fashion by battle-hardened quarterback Landry Jones. Jones was instrumental and bounced back from his shaky performance against Texas Tech in their 41-38 loss in Week 8.
Jones was phenomenal, completing 35 of 47 passes for 505 yards and five touchdowns, along with two interceptions. When you throw the ball so much, interceptions eventually come, as bad as interceptions are. But Jones threw five touchdowns, and one cannot discount his bounce back performance against a well-tested Kansas State team that is having a good season in the Big 12.
Jones and the Sooners are out to prove that they are worthy of the BCS and are trying to get back into the race after the setback by Texas Tech.
Assuming they do not have another one, their remaining test is in-state rivals, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are thinking national championship and are hitting their stride with their high-octane offense. Jones must continue to play his best football and prove he can come through in a clutch.
Oklahoma Receiver Ryan Broyles
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One of Jones' favorite Sooner targets is the another one of the nation's top receiving threats in wide receiver Ryan Broyles.
Broyles, like his counterpart Blackmon of Oklahoma State, is a little different. While he doesn't have his size, he is still just as physical and is the primary threat in the Sooners' passing game that any secondary must respect at all times.
This week was no exception, as Broyles snagged 14 balls for 171 yards and one touchdown, including an acrobatic catch down the sideline that ended up becoming his touchdown of the day.
Broyles is a steady possession receiver that catches most of the balls that come his way, is more athletic than many give him credit for, and is able to stretch the field enough to warrant attention from opposing secondaries, despite his shorter stature.
Broyles is one of the best receivers in the country that should be impressing scouts along with Blackmon at Indianapolis in the spring.
Rice Running Back Tyler Smith
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Despite their blowout loss against Houston, Rice University Owls running back Tyler Smith had a great showing against the Cougars, gaining 170 rushing yards on only 13 carries and totaling two touchdowns.
While both teams are in the weak Conference USA, both had impressive offensive numbers, but Rice's inability to respond on offense and contain Houston quarterback Case Keenum proved to be their downfall.
Smith also led the team in receiving yards with 73 and added a receiving touchdown to his two other rushing touchdowns. Smith is a well a balanced back that can handle the ball well in between the tackles and catch well out of the backfield.
He is Rice's biggest playmaker on offense at this point in the season and is an invaluable asset who can be used in a myriad of ways.
Clemson Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins
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Freshman receiving sensation Sammy Watkins has exceeded lofty expectations since coming out of Fort Myers, Florida and has given Clemson Tigers faithful plenty to look forward to in the near future.
Despite a disappointing loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, Watkins had a good game, gaining 159 yards on 10 catches.
Watkins has yet to be completely stopped, with only Virginia Tech being the most successful at holing him to 38 receiving yards—but still lost the game without scoring a touchdown. Watkins presents an interesting problem to opposing defenses in that it must plan for so many factors.
Clemson has so many weapons on offense in not only Watkins but also fellow receiver Deandre Hopkins, tight end Dwayne Allen, and running back Andre Ellington. Watkins provides the speed and versatility that Clemson was desperately missing last season and is part of the reason that the Tigers are where they are right now, along with Dabo Swinney's progression as head coach.
Houston Receiver Patrick Edwards
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Houston University Cougars' offense continues to rack up points and establish dominance over the Conference USA as it demolishes Rice 73-34, clearly not letting their foot off the pedal with their fast-paced spread system.
One primary threat was receiver Patrick Edwards, who seemed to become a favorite target for Houston quarterback Case Keenum, as he catched seven balls for 318 yards, and, yes, five touchdowns.
Edwards is clearly a threat in this pass first offense, shown by the fact that he caught over half of the quarterback's touchdown passes. Houston's offense has gained plenty of attention for being able to rack up points against anybody it plays, yet are still kind of to the side due to their schedule and their conference, which is even weaker than the Mountain West Conference, Boise State's own conference.
Houston will continue to shatter offense production as long as they have the guy that made Edwards' 318 receiving yards and five touchdowns all possible.
Houston Quarterback Case Keenum
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Houston quarterback Case Keenum continues to set and break records in Houston's spread offense as he throws for 534 yards and nine touchdowns with only one interception, despite completing 24 of 37 passes. Keenum has now set the record for FBS touchdown passes after their victory against Rice. Keenum has 139 career touchdown passes, surpassing the likes of former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and current Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.
Keenum has been the driving force of Houston's offense for quite some time, and as a sixth year senior, knows the Houston offense like the back of his hand and runs it to perfection. Keenum has 32 touchdown passes to only three interceptions in the season. He is a sports information magnet, constantly racking numbers week in, week out.
Because his team is in the Conference USA and their weaker schedule, Houston does not get attention, their conference not being a BCS qualifier—Houston will only hold the position of an undefeated team and nothing more.
But no one can deny the skill of quarterback Case Keenum, nor need anyone question who the best player is for the Cougars.