Studs and Duds from Week 9 in College Football

Jeff Bell@@JrayBellCorrespondent IOctober 27, 2013

Studs and Duds from Week 9 in College Football

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    One week after a major shakeup to the SEC and Top 25 overall, college football returned to normal on Saturday, as many of the top teams cruised to comfortable victories.

    Several notable performances highlighted the day, and the theme of dual-threat quarterbacks making their presence known continued.

    Also of note were some not-so-great outings from players who likely had high hopes before their games began.

    Let's take a look at some of the studs and duds from Week 9 of the 2013 college football season.


    All stats via ESPN

Stud: QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State

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    Winning a Heisman probably isn't in the cards for Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in 2013, but the junior showed everybody why he's still considered one of the most dangerous players in the game.

    In a matchup with Penn State that many expected to be relatively close, Miller and company dominated from start to finish, notching an impressive 63-14 victory over the Nittany Lions.

    Miller completed 18-of-24 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 68 yards and two more scores.

    The five total touchdowns led the Buckeyes to perhaps their biggest win of the season, as the team finally put together a game that drew rave reviews around the country.

    It probably won't be enough to mess with the BCS standings, but it sure was a nice reminder that Miller and his team are capable of playing as well as anybody.

Dud: QB Brett Hundley, UCLA

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    We never want to take away credit from defenses in these slides, so it should be noted that Oregon's effort on Saturday was outstanding in holding the Bruins to just 14 total points.

    That said, quarterback Brett Hundley did not appear ready to lead his team to an upset victory in a game where UCLA had plenty of opportunities.

    The talented sophomore completed 13-of-19 passes for just 64 yards and one touchdown to go along with two interceptions. He also managed to rush for 72 yards and a score, but the future NFL'er was incapable of making an accurate throw downfield.

    As one of the more intriguing talents in the game, Hundley had a chance on Saturday to post a signature win in a hostile environment over one of the nation's best teams. He fell way short of reaching that goal in the 42-14 loss to the Ducks.

Stud: WR Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma

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    So which team are you, Oklahoma? The one that gets picked apart by Texas or the squad that notched a major victory over previously undefeated Texas Tech?

    Saturday, wide receiver Jalen Saunders made sure the best version of his Sooners was on display for the nation to see. The junior caught just six passes, but they went for 153 yards and included a pair of scores.

    After the Red Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, Saunders caught touchdowns of 15 and 76 yards to give the Sooners a 14-7 lead heading into halftime.

    Sterling Shepard was the team's second-leading receiver with 43 yards, which means Saunders managed to put up a video-game performance despite being quarterback Blake Bell's clear No. 1 target.

    The victory showed why Oklahoma still has a great chance to make some noise in the Big 12.

Dud: QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

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    When you're a true freshman quarterback starting on a BCS-conference team, some days will be better than others.

    Saturday was not one of those days for Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who couldn't get anything going on offense against Ohio State.

    He completed 12-of-23 passes for just 112 yards and two interceptions. He did throw a touchdown in the second quarter, which made the score 28-7 and momentarily stopped the bleeding. But he failed to lead his team on another scoring drive, and the result was an embarrassing 63-14 loss.

    The bright side for Nittany Lions fans is that Hackenberg is young, poised and clearly capable of doing some big things. The hope is that he can take a game like this and use it as fuel to become better.

    But while praise is something he'll receive throughout his career, Saturday's game puts him on our dud list for Week 9.

Stud: WR Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

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    There are many adjectives you might use to describe wide receiver Bruce Ellington, but "clutch" has to be at the top of the list following the Gamecocks' 27-24 victory at Missouri on Saturday.

    Through three quarters, the inconsistent South Carolina offense had failed to score, which is precisely when Ellington decided to make his presence known.

    For the game, the junior caught 10 passes for 136 yards and two scores. The first touchdown came on a six-yard pass from quarterback Connor Shaw that brought the score to within 10.

    But the second touchdown will not be forgotten anytime soon in Columbia, especially if South Carolina manages to sneak by the Tigers in the SEC East.

    Facing a fourth down with just seconds left in the first overtime and down by seven points, Ellington got open for a 15-yard touchdown that pushed the game into double overtime, where his team ultimately prevailed.

    Big numbers will help you make this list, and Ellington certainly had 'em, but his effort down the stretch is what truly stands out here.

Dud: K Andrew Baggett, Missouri

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    It almost feels dirty to pick on a kicker, but there's no way to ignore what Andrew Baggett did on Saturday evening.

    It was smooth sailing for the sophomore through three quarters, as Baggett nailed his only kick, a 27-yarder, to give his Missouri Tigers a 17-0 lead over South Carolina

    Then, Baggett made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons as only a kicker can.

    He missed a 46-yard attempt in the final period, which is forgivable. But in double overtime, Baggett missed a chip-shot field goal that would have tied the game and sent it into a third overtime. The kick clanged off the left upright and the Gamecocks danced off into the night, victorious.

    This isn't the first time a big game rested on the foot of a kicker who couldn't get it done, and it definitely won't be the last.

Stud: QB Bryce Petty, Baylor

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    Great performances against bad teams are often dismissed, but Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty still managed to make some noise against a punchless Kansas squad.

    In a 59-14 victory, Petty completed 20-of-32 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 22 yards on the ground to go along with another score.

    If you're doing the math, that's more than 21 yards per completion, which is typical of the Bears' offense in 2013. On the season, Petty has now thrown for nearly 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns with just one interception.

    What makes this stand out among the many great performances from Saturday is that Petty dominated despite sharing the backfield with one of the nation's top running backs, Lache Seastrunk.

    Apparently, there is no shortage of yards to be had in Art Briles' offense, and Petty took full advantage against the Jayhawks.

Dud: QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech

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    Was Logan Thomas finally turning the corner? Could the big-armed talent at last be ready to lead Virginia Tech back to greatness?

    Those were questions to be pondered as the Hokies reeled off six straight victories following a season-opening loss to Alabama. In the latter three, Thomas didn't throw a single interception, something that would have seemed remarkable at any point last season.

    Against Duke, he threw four.

    The costly mistakes led to a 13-10 upset by the Blue Devils, and all the positive momentum of the last month is suddenly gone forever.

    For the game, Thomas completed 21-of-38 passes for 214 yards, and he rushed for 101 more. But the turnovers will be remembered above all else, and throwing four interceptions absolutely cannot happen at home against a Duke team that doesn't have nearly as much talent as Virginia Tech.

Stud: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

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    You gotta give credit where credit is due, and quarterback Johnny Manziel deserves plenty of it following his team's 56-24 victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

    Say what you want about the Commodores defense, but Manziel simply did what we've come to expect from him, throwing for 305 yards and four touchdowns before getting pulled in the third quarter.

    This particular performance stands out from the others because the sophomore managed to spread it around to his receivers instead of relying solely on Mike Evans. Which isn't to harp on the fact that he often looks for Evans, a surefire NFL'er in his own right, but there's something to be said about the ability to get everyone involved.

    Now with UTEP and Mississippi State up next, the Aggies will have a chance to get right before a final two-game stretch on the road against LSU and Missouri.

Dud: QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska

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    Not a lot went right for Nebraska in its 34-23 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

    You could easily pin the lion's share of blame on the defense, which shouldn't be giving up that many points to the Golden Gophers.

    But the quarterback is the guy who often gets the most praise in victories, and in this case, he'll receive the blame in defeat.

    Taylor Martinez completed just 16-of-30 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown in the loss, his first game back from injury. He also threw a pick and ran for only 16 yards on eight carries.

    The biggest issue with Martinez is that he doesn't appear to be significantly better than he was last season, and not improving is not acceptable at a school like Nebraska. Granted, he may have been rusty from the time off, but his effort on the ground was particularly disturbing considering that when all else fails, his wheels usually get the job done.

    It will be very interesting to see how he bounces back against Northwestern next Saturday.

Stud: QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

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    With Louisville's loss to Central Florida, making a BCS bowl for the second straight season became a realistic possibility for quarterback Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois.

    It would be natural for that kind of pressure to have a negative effect, even in a game against hapless Eastern Michigan.

    Instead, Lynch put together another signature performance in the Huskies' 59-20 victory over the Eagles.

    He completed 16-of-20 passes for 223 yards and four scores while also rushing for 99 yards and a touchdown.

    There were a lot of great performances from Saturday, but one thing that jumps out here is the completion percentage. Lynch simply does not make mistakes, and it has his team on the verge of another MAC championship.

Dud: QB Justin Worley, Tennessee

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    We could be picking the low-hanging fruit here by calling out a quarterback who had the unenviable task of going up against Alabama, but you have to believe quarterback Justin Worley has a better game inside of him than what he put out on Saturday against the Crimson Tide.

    Yes, we've seen Worley manage to look pitiful in losses to Florida and Oregon, but he's also coming off a decent game against South Carolina in which his Volunteers upset the Gamecocks.

    However, Worley completed just 8-of-15 passes for 120 yards in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. He was picked twice, and the Volunteers didn't score a single point until kicker Michael Palardy knocked one through the uprights in the third quarter.

    Not many quarterbacks can slice through this Alabama defense, so hopefully Worley doesn't become too discouraged. But playing the Crimson Tide doesn't give you a free pass to have a bad game, either.