Time to hand out a few helmet stickers for a job well done.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville. Is it getting old seeing Bridgewater listed in this space again? Bridgewater was outstanding once again in a 45-17 win over Temple, going 19-of-28 for 324 yards with a career-high five touchdown passes. Facing a 17-all tie in the second quarter, Louisville scored four straight touchdowns to end the game. Bridgewater accounted for three of them, and was pulled in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach. He now has surpassed his touchdown passes total from a year ago, with 18 and counting. He had 14 last season.
Ray Graham, RB, Pitt. You guys know I very rarely hand out helmet stickers in a loss. But I am making an exception for Graham, who had his best game of the season in a heartbreaking 29-26 triple-overtime loss to Notre Dame. Graham ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and added six catches for 25 yards in a performance that was the biggest reason why the Panthers had a chance to pull the upset. Graham was available to play in the game despite being charged with assault earlier in the week.
George Winn, RB, Cincinnati. Winn was outstanding in a 35-24 win over Syracuse. He set career highs for carries (30), rushing yards (165) and rushing touchdowns (three), and also threw the first touchdown of his career. Winn is the first Bearcat since Isaiah Pead to record at least three rushing touchdowns in a game (Rutgers, 2010). The performance also marked Winn’s fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. He has run for at least 75 yards in nine consecutive games.
USF defense. Give it up for the much-maligned Bulls defense, a particular target of criticism during the Bulls' six-game losing streak for its inability to hold a lead. Well, they held a fourth-quarter lead in a big way against UConn, preserving a 13-6 victory with some key plays down the stretch. USF had three takeaways and its first two interceptions of the season. Both came in the fourth quarter: the first by Jon Lejiste and the second by defensive tackle Elkino Watson to preserve the win. USF also had four sacks and got a strong performance from true freshman linebacker Tashon Whitehurst, who had team-high eight tackles, a sack, hurry and fumble recovery.