Studs and Duds from Week 13 in College Football
If anybody started to forget how crazy college football could be after a relatively mild Week 12, Saturday's slate of games was a swift reminder about how no one can ever predict how the games will play out.
Saturday was an evening to remember for Oklahoma State fans. The Cowboys put on a brilliant performance against a darn good Baylor team (no, we're not changing that narrative simply because the Bears lost) and joined schools like Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan State as those who will be exiting the weekend with a smile.
If you're a Duck or a Gator, however, we understand simply pulling the covers over your eyes for a little while.
Which performances caught our attention, and who needed to do more to help their team out?
Let's take a look at the studs and duds from Week 13 of the 2013 college football season. Remember, this is a snapshot from one week of the season, and making either side of the list does not necessarily reflect the totality of the campaign for that player or coach.
All stats via ESPN
Stud: QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
If you're still searching for a Heisman candidate, why not Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr? Yes, this appearance on the "studs" list rewards a fantastic performance in one game, but what Carr did on Saturday in the Bulldogs' 69-28 win over New Mexico is what we've been seeing from him throughout the season.
Well, maybe not anything this special. Carr completed 27 of 37 passes for 527 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception. Just for good measure, he carried the ball twice for 26 yards.
It was a banner day for the senior, whose team remained undefeated and is in excellent position to snatch a BCS bowl bid. While it's an easy response to simply scoff at big numbers put up against bad competition, Carr had a truly incredible game that shouldn't go unnoticed.
Dud: QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Quarterback Johnny Manziel is still one of the best players this season, and his innovative brand of football is already legendary.
However, Saturday was not his day. Perhaps we're being too harsh on the super sophomore, but Manziel has led us to expect greatness week in and week out, even in losses, and that wasn't the case in the Aggies' 34-10 defeat at LSU.
Manziel is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes on the season, but only 16 throws out of 41 reached their desired target against the Tigers. He was intercepted twice and threw for only 224 yards. He did manage to tack on 54 rushing yards, but he never reached the end zone.
It's been a remarkable year for Manziel, who has somehow managed to continue playing at an extremely high level after his sensational freshman season, but he was bottled up by the Tigers, and his team failed to score a point in the second half. For that, he finds himself on the wrong side of this list.
Stud: QB Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State's 49-17 win over Baylor begs just one question: What the heck is Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy feeding his quarterbacks in Stillwater?
The head man got another excellent effort from his quarterback in the Cowboys' upset, as Clint Chelf had himself a whale of a game. The senior completed 19 of 25 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The most impressive part was that he remained poised and accurate throughout the contest and was in a rhythm from the very start.
In order to beat the Bears, Oklahoma State probably figured it had to score quite a few points. Turns out the number to beat was only 17. But Chelf and the rest of this offense left no doubt and scored one of the biggest victories in school history.
Dud: Florida Gators
We're choosing not to single out anybody on Florida after the Gators' 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern because the whole team was just downright awful, from the linebackers all the way up to the coaching staff, led by Will Muschamp.
The worst part for the home team has to be giving up 429 yards on the ground to the Eagles, an FCS team. But then you look deeper into the box score to discover that Georgia Southern failed to pass for a single yard, it's hard to select the worst part of it all.
We've been trying to shed some positive light on Florida throughout the season by maintaining its defense was still was still a force to be reckoned with, but after six straight losses, including the latest defeat, there is just nothing nice to say anymore. And if Gator fans call it a season before the upcoming game at Florida State, it would be hard to blame them.
Stud: RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey picked up where Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney left off on Nov. 7 against what can now only be described as a porous Oregon defense.
But don't let that part fool you: Carey is as good as it gets in college football, and he showed it against the Ducks. The junior rushed for 206 yards and four scores on a whopping 48 carries, proving his durability and productivity all at once.
It was Carey's second 200-yard game on the season, but he's eclipsed the 100-yard mark in every single start. Up next is the fast and physical front seven of Arizona State, but if Saturday was any indication, Carey appears hungry for whatever comes next.
Dud: QB Philip Nelson, Minnesota
The stage was set for Minnesota to capture one of the biggest wins in program history, and the defense did its part in holding the powerful Wisconsin Badgers to just 20 points.
But quarterback Philip Nelson and the rest of the offense failed to hold up their end of the deal, and the result was a disappointing 13-point loss. Nelson completed just seven of 23 passes for 83 yards and rushed for only eight yards on nine carries.
The offense never really got going, and when you don't score, you don't give your team a chance to win. What Minnesota has done this season is pretty remarkable, and Nelson has had his moments. Unfortunately, Saturday was not one of them, and the loss takes the Golden Gophers completely out of the conference-championship race.
Stud: RB Andre Williams, Boston College
The name Andre Williams should sound familiar by now, because this marks the third week in a row that Boston College's running back has made the "studs" list. And if he continues to put up wild numbers, he'll surely keep his place.
This time around, Williams carried the ball 32 times for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 29-26 win at Maryland.
His latest effort gives him a total of 897 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games. It also marks the fifth straight game in which Williams has rushed for at least 150 yards. The Eagles play one final game at Syracuse, so you still have time to catch part of the historic run by Williams.
As Bruce Feldman of CBS also noted, the senior back now has 17 runs of 30 yards or longer, while the back with the next highest total has just nine.
Dud: State of Oregon Head Coaches
To be blunt, it was not a pretty day of football in the state of Oregon. The Oregon State Beavers fell to Washington 69-27 (scoring all of their points in the fourth quarter), and the Oregon Ducks lost at Arizona 42-16.
While a number of players that needed to have big games failed to do just that, you have to blame the majority of these disappointing showings on the programs' respective head coaches, Mike Riley and Mark Helfrich.
Riley is a beloved figure in Corvallis who probably won't be leaving anytime soon, but the Beavers were once 6-1, and to be losing 48-0 at one point to a four-loss Washington team is embarrassing.
Helfrich has a bit of a leash as well because it's his first year. But it's clear that the Ducks were not ready to play on Saturday even with a potential conference-championship appearance waiting in the wings.
Stud: QB Connor Halliday, Washington State
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday must have been the happiest man in Pullman when the program hired head coach Mike Leach, and after a season of struggles, the move is finally starting to pay off.
Halliday now plays in an offense that is every quarterback's dream, as he gets to chuck the ball around the field to a handful of talented receivers. In the Cougars' 49-37 victory over Utah on Saturday, Halliday completed 39 of 62 passes for 488 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
More importantly, the victory makes Washington State bowl-eligible, which is a phrase not heard much in a program that has played poor football for the better part of a decade now. Halliday brought his A-game at the perfect time, and now he'll get a chance to beat the Washington Huskies in the annual Apple Cup game.
Dud: QB Devin Gardner, Michigan
The Michigan Wolverines led the Iowa Hawkeyes 21-7 at halftime, and it seemed like they might be poised for a breakthrough performance and a return to how they were playing at the beginning of the season. But quarterback Devin Gardner and company failed to score a point in the second half, and the Wolverines lost 24-21.
On the game, Gardner completed just 13 of 28 passes for 98 yards and two scores. He also managed just 12 yards on the ground. The result was an offense unable to move the ball down the field consistently and, ultimately, the team's fourth loss on the season.
For Gardner, the effort is yet another in a string of head-scratching performances from a guy who, at times, has displayed all the talent in the world. The Wolverines' 41-30 victory over Notre Dame in September sure feels like a long time ago, huh?
Stud: DE Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
It's been an up-and-down season for Pittsburgh, but not for defensive end Aaron Donald, who had yet another dominating performance in the Panthers' 17-16 win over Syracuse.
When the offense is struggling, it's up to the defense to make things happen, and that's exactly what Donald did against the Orange. He tallied nine tackles in the game, which included 3.5 for loss as well as a blocked kick.
The win makes the Panthers bowl-eligible, and surprisingly, this probably wasn't Donald's best game in 2013. He also put together an outing in which he notched six tackles for loss (Nov. 2 at Georgia Tech), as well as another in which he made four (Sept. 14 vs. New Mexico). The do-everything defensive end has been a major bright spot for Pittsburgh, and he'll look to continue his dominant ways against Miami in the season finale.
Dud: QB Gary Nova, Rutgers
Nobody expected Rutgers to beat Central Florida, but quarterback Gary Nova didn't really give his team a fighting chance. And before we launch into the effort from the Scarlet Knights signal-caller, remember that the defense didn't do its part in the 41-17 loss either.
Still, Nova's bad day stands tall among his teammates because he completed just 11 of 34 passes for 107 yards and an interception. He carried the ball four times for nine yards and failed to account for a single score.
A week after slipping past Temple, it seemed like the Golden Knights might be in for another white-knuckler against Rutgers. Unfortunately, Nova and the rest of his team didn't play very good football, and Rutgers fell to 5-5.