October 16, 2010

Winners and losers: Newton out-slings Arkansas

In this season of the mobile quarterback, Auburn's Cam Newton has established himself as the best of the bunch.

Newton cemented his status as a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender Saturday by accounting for four touchdowns and 328 yards as Auburn defeated Arkansas 65-43 in an unlikely quarterback duel.

"We refuse to lose, man," Newton told reporters afterward. "The closer the game gets, the closer this team gets."

The Tigers needed a huge performance from Newton to win the highest-scoring non-overtime game in SEC history. Arkansas backup quarterback Tyler Wilson threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns after starter Ryan Mallett suffered a head injury in the second quarter.

Wilson completed 15 of his first 17 passes to help Arkansas keep pace with Newton and Co. His final touchdown pass of the day gave Arkansas a 43-37 lead early in the fourth quarter before three Razorbacks turnovers - including two interceptions - allowed Auburn to pull away in the game's final 12 minutes.

Arkansas couldn't afford to make any mistakes because Newton was just about perfect. He rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns, and he also threw for 140 yards and one score.

"I don't have the opportunity to watch everybody in America, but I can tell you this: No. 2 [Newton] is one spectacular football player," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "I am not one to go out on a limb, but everybody in the world sees it. It's not like I'm telling anybody anything new. He's a competitor. He wants the ball. He's humble. He keeps working. And he gives us a chance to win every week."

Newton isn't the only quarterback who has used his legs to make the leap to stardom this season.

Michigan's Denard Robinson was everyone's Heisman front-runner after almost single-handedly leading the Wolverines to a 5-0 start. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez rushed for 737 yards and 12 touchdowns in the Huskers' first five games.

A scheduling coincidence had Robinson, Martinez and Newton playing nationally televised games against big-name opponents at the same time this week. Fans across the nation could make their own scouting reports while flipping from one channel to the next.

There's no doubt which quarterback left the biggest impression.

Robinson threw an interception and accounted for only one touchdown before an injury knocked him out in the third quarter of Michigan's 38-28 loss to Iowa. He rushed for 105 yards and threw for 96 yards.

Martinez completed 4-of-12 passes for 63 yards and rushed for just 21 yards on 13 carries before being replaced by Zac Lee in the third quarter of Nebraska's 20-13 loss to Texas.

While Robinson and Martinez were watching their teams lose from their respective sidelines, Newton was running into the end zone again and again.

He has rushed for 860 yards and 12 touchdowns and thrown for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has had four games with at least 170 rushing yards this season.

The Florida transfer's amazing start has brought inevitable comparisons to a famous former teammate.

"The Tebow comparison, I'll take that any day," Newton said. "Tebow's an excellent person, an excellent leader, an excellent individual. To be compared to somebody like that, I'll take that. We're two different players, two different people. Tebow's Tim Tebow. I'm just Cam Newton."

Here's a rundown of the other winners and losers from Week 7.


Texas' defense: Nebraska's defense had generated much of the attention in the Big 12 this season, but the Longhorns showed the Huskers they also know how to stop people. Texas upset Nebraska 20-13 by allowing just 202 total yards to a team that had been averaging 494 yards. Nebraska was ranked second in the nation in rushing, but the Huskers gained less than three yards per carry against Texas.

Iowa RB Adam Robinson: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson wasn't the best Robinson at the Big House on Saturday. Iowa's Adam Robinson rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the Hawkeyes' 38-28 victory over the Wolverines. He also delivered a 26-yard reception that led to Michael Meyer's game-clinching 30-yard field goal.

Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers: The nation's premier pass rusher delivered three sacks in a 31-7 rout of Maryland that ended Clemson's three-game losing streak. After totaling four sacks in his first two seasons at Clemson, Bowers already has nine sacks this season.

The underrated unbeatens: Michigan State, Missouri and Oklahoma State headed into the weekend outside the top 10 despite having unbeaten records while playing in one of the six major conferences. Maybe that's about to change. All three teams won Saturday. Michigan State rallied from a three-point halftime deficit to beat Illinois 26-6, Missouri rolled to a 30-9 triumph at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State capitalized on a big start to win 34-17 at Texas Tech.

Purdue's resourcefulness: Purdue could have wallowed in self-pity after losing its starting quarterback (Robert Marve), top running back (Ralph Bolden) and leading receiver (Keith Smith) to season-ending injuries. The Boilermakers (4-2) instead remain unbeaten in Big Ten competition. Rob Henry threw a touchdown pass and ran for three more scores as the Boilers followed up last week's upset of Northwestern with a 28-17 victory over Minnesota.

Virginia Tech's offense: The Hokies scored 49 points before halftime on their way to a 52-21 rout of Wake Forest. The Hokies reached the end zone on seven of their first eight possessions to withstand a big performance from Wake Forest running back Josh Harris, whose 241 rushing yards were the most Virginia Tech ever has allowed to a player.

USC QB Matt Barkley: He threw for 352 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes in a 48-14 rout of California. This wasn't the first time he's tied the record. Barkley also threw five touchdown passes in a season-opening victory over Hawaii.

UGA VIII: We're not saying the unveiling of a new mascot was the sole reason for Georgia's rebirth, but how else to explain the Bulldogs' 43-0 victory over a Vanderbilt team that often had played them close in recent seasons? Georgia (3-4) has won two in a row and could salvage its heretofore disappointing season by sweeping an upcoming two-game swing against Kentucky and Florida.

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English: In the 19th game of his head-coaching career, this former Michigan defensive coordinator finally got his first victory. Eastern Michigan rallied from a 21-point deficit and beat Ball State 41-38 in overtime to win for the first time since Nov. 28, 2008. The Eagles had lost 18 in a row since.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd: His 80-yard touchdown catch on the game's first play from scrimmage set the tone for the rest of his day. Floyd finished with nine catches for 157 yards and three touchdowns in Notre Dame's 44-20 victory over Western Michigan.

TCU's defense: The Horned Frogs couldn't quite deliver a third consecutive shutout, but they allowed only 14 total yards in the first half of a 31-3 rout of BYU. Mitch Payne's 27-yard field goal late in the third period ended TCU's shutout streak at 10 quarters.

Wisconsin RB John Clay: The All-America candidate rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-18 victory over top-ranked Ohio State. Clay's big game ended the Buckeyes' string of 29 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. No individual had run for 100 yards against OSU since USC's Joe McKnight gained 105 yards early in the 2008 season.

North Carolina WR Dwight Jones: He caught seven passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns as the Tar Heels beat Virginia 44-10 for their first win in Charlottesville since 1981. Not bad for someone who entered the game with only 12 catches for 104 yards.

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray and WR Ryan Broyles: Each of the two Sooners stars delivered a record performance in a 52-0 blowout of Iowa State. Murray reached the end zone three times to break 1969 Heisman winner Steve Owens' school record of 57 career touchdowns. Broyles collected 15 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown to break his school record for catches in a game.


Officiating controversies in the Auburn-Arkansas game: Auburn's Mario Fannin was awarded a touchdown in the second quarter even though replays appeared to show he had fumbled before crossing the goal line. Auburn also scored in the fourth quarter on Zac Etheridge's 47-yard fumble return, though replays were inconclusive on whether Broderick Green's knee was down before he coughed up the ball. In addition, Arkansas capitalized on a questionable pass interference penalty to score a second-quarter touchdown and reached the end zone in the third quarter after receiving a generous spot on a fourth-down conversion.

Nebraska's hands: Nebraska still might be undefeated if a few of its receivers had hung on to some deep passes against Texas. Rex Burkhead and Niles Paul dropped potential touchdown passes in the Huskers' 20-13 loss.

Minnesota coach Tim Brewster's job security: A Minneapolis radio report leading up to the Minnesota-Purdue game indicated Brewster might lose his job if the Gophers failed to beat the Boilers. Minnesota responded by delivering a flat performance and falling 28-17 to Purdue for its sixth loss in seven games.

The decision-making of ACC quarterbacks: Duke's Sean Renfree threw five interceptions and fumbled a snap in a 28-13 loss to Miami. North Carolina State lost 33-27 to East Carolina in overtime when Russell Wilson threw his third interception of the day on the game's final play. Virginia's Marc Verica threw three interceptions and had one returned for a touchdown in a 44-10 loss to North Carolina. Florida State overcame Christian Ponder's three interceptions and one fumble in a 24-19 victory over Boston College.

The theory that you have to run the ball to win: Army rushed for 289 yards against Rutgers, while the Scarlet Knights ran 35 times for minus-1 net yards. Rutgers won 23-20 in overtime after Chas Dodd threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to erase a 14-point deficit.

Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson's gamble: After his team scored an apparent game-tying touchdown as time expired against Temple, Clawson decided to go for a two-point conversion rather than settling for an extra-point kick that would have forced overtime. Marquise Liverpool broke up the pass from Matt Schilz, allowing Temple to escape with a 28-27 victory.

California (whenever it faces USC): There's something about USC that brings out the worst in California. The Bears have lost to USC seven consecutive times and have been outscored 95-20 in their past three meetings with the Trojans.

South Carolina's ability to handle prosperity: The Gamecocks annually fail to live up to expectations, in part because of their maddening inconsistency. South Carolina often follows surprising wins with puzzling losses. It happened again Saturday. One week after knocking off top-ranked Alabama, Steve Spurrier's troops blew an 18-point halftime lead against a Kentucky team that was playing without injured star RB Derrick Locke. South Carolina allowed Randall Cobb to get wide open on the game-winning touchdown, mismanaged the clock on its final drive and threw an interception in the end zone after driving into position for a game-tying field goal in the closing seconds.

The Heisman hopes of Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor: We already mentioned the struggles of Michigan's Denard Robinson and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez, but they weren't the only notable quarterbacks who likely fell out of Heisman consideration. Pryor threw an interception and had no touchdown passes or runs in the Buckeyes' 31-18 loss to Wisconsin.

Florida's offense: Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio already was feeling the heat even before the Gators lost 10-7 to a Mississippi State team coached by his predecessor, Dan Mullen. Mississippi State did not score after the first quarter, did not throw a pass in the second half and won despite gaining just 246 yards of offense. Florida, which has lost three in a row for the first time since 1999, committed two turnovers and missed two field goals.

The SEC East: Florida loses. South Carolina loses. Does anyone from this division actually want to get to Atlanta? Or should we just hand the conference title to the West Division winner?

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.


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