What sophomore slump?
Dyer, from Little Rock, Ark., ran for 1,093 yards in 2010, helping Auburn finish 14-0 and win a BCS national championship. Lattimore, from Duncan, S.C., ran for 1,197 yards with 17 touchdowns last season, helping South Carolina win its first SEC East title.
On Saturday, Dyer and Lattimore picked up where they left off, helping their teams win key SEC openers with dominating performances.
Dyer ran 18 times for 150 yards with two touchdowns in Auburn's 41-34 upset of No. 16 Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. A week after the defending BCS national champions looked so sloppy in a 42-38 victory over Utah State, the Tigers gained 381 yards of offense and scored 31 points in the first half against the Bulldogs.
Dyer gave Auburn a 7-0 lead with a 35-yard touchdown run in the first half, then his 2-yard run late in the first half put the Tigers ahead 28-21.
"[Offensive coordinator Gus] Malzahn creates opportunities for everyone in this offense, not just one player," Dyer said. "We can do anything on offense, and he allows us to do it. We just try to make the most of every situation."
With quarterback Stephen Garcia struggling in his first start of the season, the Gamecocks had to rely on Lattimore even more on Saturday. Lattimore ran 22 times for 176 yards with one touchdown in No. 12 South Carolina's 45-42 victory at Georgia. His 3-yard touchdown with 3:30 left put the Gamecocks ahead for good and helped send the Bulldogs to their first 0-2 start since 1996.
"We weren't going to forget about him," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "He gives us our best chance to win. At the beginning, there wasn't much room to run there because Georgia's line was able to stuff us. It opened up some in the second half, and he was able to move the ball. He's a great back, and we had to keep going to him. He gives us hope to make any kind of run."
Dyer and Lattimore weren't the only SEC sophomores who played big on Saturday. Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray threw for a career-high 405 yards with four touchdowns on 34-for-41 passing while running for one other score in the Volunteers' 45-23 victory over Cincinnati at Neyland Stadium. Bray's favorite targets were two more sophomores -- Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. Hunter, from Virginia Beach, Va., caught 10 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown. Rogers, from Calhoun, Ga., caught 10 passes for 100 yards with two touchdowns.
"I've never had three of them like this, this young," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "I hope they keep doing what they are doing. The tests are going to get harder, but it is good to see where they are. That's two pretty good games by a quarterback and two really good games by those two wideouts. They made a lot of plays."
Texas' unexpected spark
AUSTIN, Texas -- Before he took the field, Jaxon Shipley had a decision to make.
Gloves or no gloves?
Facing a third down near midfield with just less than three minutes to play, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin dug inside the most famous bag of tricks in college football.
This wasn't Boise, where Harsin used to be the offensive coordinator -- Texas still has a ways to climb before it's back on the big stage -- but it looked like it.
A running back handed the ball to a streaking Shipley, who tossed it downfield to dual-threat, zone-read specialist quarterback David Ash.
BYU didn't touch the ball again. Texas won 17-16 after trailing 13-0 at the half.
"That was something we tried to set up," Harsin said. "Their third-down defense was pretty good, and we needed to get some kind of spark there. It was an opportunity -- we felt it would work in that situation."
That word -- spark -- seemed to come up a lot after Saturday's win. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert struggled early. Texas' offense needed a spark. It won't be the last time that word comes up, but most often, it'll be aimed at the revolving door behind center that replaced Gilbert, filled by Ash and Case McCoy.
But on Saturday night, with Texas trailing 16-10, it was Shipley, the true freshman receiver, who provided it to spark a go-ahead touchdown drive with two plays before the Boise-influenced razzle dazzle took over Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
His first catch of the night? He made it in traffic for 14 yards -- and hurdled two defenders as he caught it. Not after he caught it.
To read the rest of David Ubben's story, click here.
Auburn's winning ways continue
AUBURN, Ala. -- All week, Auburn's football players heard how their winning streak would end. They heard that they weren't physical enough or tough enough to stop Mississippi State and its red-hot offense.
Yet when the game was over -- for a second time -- Saturday, the Tigers were pounding their chests as Jordan Hare Stadium erupted at the sight of the 41-34 win. Those same Bulldogs who were meaner and tougher were left battered and beaten on the Plains.
"We beat a good football team today. It's that simple," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. "It's really good to see a group of young guys figure out different ways to win.
"There are a lot of young guys right now that are learning what it takes to continue to fight every down and have a chance to win in this league. That was a fight out there today. That was a brawl out there today. It was hot; it was physical; both sides were tired. It really became like one of those old heavyweight fights, and it's the last man standing."
This team is young and inexperienced, but it's also resilient and knows how to play for four quarters. More importantly, it finds ways to win.
To read the rest of Edward Aschoff's blog, click here.
No moral victories for Utah
LOS ANGELES -- Losing is misery. Losing a close game is doubly so. Utah center Tevita Stevens and his teammates trudged off the Coliseum field and into the long, cavernous tunnel that leads to the locker room thinking about all the what-ifs, all the moments that make a game what it is instead of what it might have been.
Misery, yes, but Stevens couldn't help but look up and notice something a bit surprising, particularly in jaded L.A. USC fans weren't jeering them. They weren't even ignoring them.
"It kind of impressed me that when we were walking out all of the USC fans were standing up applauding us," he said.
There are no moral victories. Utah didn't come to the Coliseum, didn't join the Pac-12 expecting to be satisfied with being competitive, with not being an easy out.
The Utes expect to win.
"There's no happiness in a loss," Utes quarterback Jordan Wynn said to reporters who were plumbing for some consoling parting gifts in a 23-14 nail-biter that wasn't decided in USC's favor until the final ticks clicked off the game clock.
Said coach Kyle Whittingham after praising his team's fight, "In no way am I trying to paint the picture of a moral victory. There is no such thing in my mind."
USC mostly had control of the line of scrimmage: It rushed for 152 yards, and the Utes managed just 81. It outgained Utah 416 yards to 319. But the Trojans also were sloppier: three turnovers to one for Utah, including two deep in Utes territory. And that helped the Utes hang around and be in position to win -- or at least force overtime -- in the end.
Utah took over at its 33-yard line with 1:01 left and no timeouts, trailing 17-14. Wynn found Dres Anderson for 18 yards to get things going. Then, on fourth-and-10 from the USC 49-yard line, Wynn connected with DeVonte Christopher for just enough for a first down -- it was so close, the play required a review and a changed spot that added critical inches to the Utes' cause.
Anderson drew a pass interference penalty on Tony Burnett, and that left Utah on the 24 with 11 seconds remaining.
"I thought we were going to get overtime," Wynn said.
But Coleman Petersen's 41-yard field goal attempt was low and was easily blocked by Matt Kalil. Game over. (Hours after the game, the Pac-12 office ruled that Torin Harris' return of the block counted as a touchdown, so the extra points were added after the fact.)
"Honestly, I thought we had it," Stevens said. "It was heartbreaking."
To read the rest of Ted Miller's story, click here.
Helping hand (and foot) for Michigan
Robinson threw it high. He needed to give Roundtree a chance. He did -- and in the process capped off what had been a wild and wacky evening for both the quarterback and the guys he relies on to make him look good when he throws the ball.
Fitting, too, that on a night when Michigan honored its most well-known receiver, Desmond Howard, it came down to a wide receiver making a game-winning play to beat Notre Dame.
In 1991, Howard had "The Catch," when Elvis Grbac pump-faked and hit a diving Howard in the end zone to beat Notre Dame. Twenty years later, Robinson found Roundtree with two seconds left for a 35-31 win.
Roundtree fought with Gray and got one foot down in the end zone before falling out of bounds. The officials reviewed the play, but there was no question to Roundtree. He was in. He made sure he got his foot down.
To read the rest of Michael Rothstein's story, click here.
Three weekend observations
1. Auburn and South Carolina are the early leaders in the Western Athletic Conference. Oh, wait a minute. They play in the Southeastern Conference. After the Tigers beat Mississippi State 41-34, and the Gamecocks won at Georgia 45-42, my confusion is understandable. Alabama, LSU and Arkansas, considered the class of the league before the season, have confirmed that prediction by being dominant on defense in the first two weeks. But the size of the gap between them and the others is surprising.
2. Let the grumbling among North Carolina State fans begin. As former quarterback Russell Wilson becomes a Heisman candidate at Wisconsin, North Carolina State lost Saturday at Wake Forest 34-27. Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien, who sent Wilson packing, had senior Mike Glennon as a fall-back. Glennon's numbers are ordinary (42-72-1, 471 yards, 128.8 QB rating). His third-quarter pick led to a Wake touchdown and a 27-6 lead. After that, Glennon got hot and made a game of it. He has a tough standard to meet.
3. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz replaced Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry 13 years ago and has become an iconic coach in his own right with the Hawkeyes. He is 90-61 and has won two Big Ten championships. Yet after Saturday's 44-41, triple-overtime loss at Iowa State, he is 6-7 against his perpetually struggling cross-state rival. Ferentz is 4-4 against Michigan, 6-5 against Wisconsin. And he's below .500 against the Cyclones, who are 66-82 under three different coaches in Ferentz's tenure. Try figuring that out. You can't.
Highlights: Notre Dame vs. Michigan
GameDay crew final thoughts
"You expect to see greatness in the clutch, maybe not at the level of Denard Robinson, but greatness nonetheless. Look at Melvin Ingram at South Carolina. He has a 68-yard touchdown run on a fake punt, the scoop-and-score in the fourth quarter, and there he is on the hands team on a crucial, late onside kick attempt. Some days, you get a chance to etch your name in your school's lore, and Melvin Ingram etched his name in South Carolina history. The other thing that stuck out to me this weekend was how difficult it is for coaches to make decisions in clutch moments. Gary Pinkel calling two timeouts against Arizona State trying to do one thing, but he may have ended up icing his own kicker as the result. And Dan Mullen electing to go for one play instead of two in the final seconds of Saturday's loss at Auburn. Then Brady Hoke taking a shot at the end zone and getting the game-winning touchdown instead of being conservative and settling for the tying field goal. That's what stuck out to me. Coaches trying to make the right decisions in the most crucial moments."
Helmet stickers go to:
• DL Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
1 rushing TD, 1 fumble returned for TD in win versus Georgia
• LB Jamil Cooks, Air Force
3 tackles, 1.0 sack, FF, fum recovery versus TCU
"Each week we say it can't get any crazier, and each week it does. Every season is different, yet every season is the same. You know there's going to be great plays and some dumb plays. You just don't know who. And the emotions! When you see how jubilant Michigan is after such a great win, you have to think about the depth of depression Notre Dame is going through. When you see the joy from Auburn, you realize the hurt Mississippi State is feeling. That's what makes college football great -- the emotions. It's not the money or the salaries or the glory; it's the experience."
Helmet stickers go to:
• QB Tyler Bray, Tennessee
Career-high 405 passing yds, 4 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD in win versus Cincinnati
• QB Trent Steelman, Army
157 rushing yards, three TDs in loss versus San Diego State
"What Denard Robinson has done to Notre Dame the past two seasons is incredible, particularly in the fourth quarter. He just found a way to get it done when it mattered most. That comeback is one of the most exciting things I've ever seen, especially in a Michigan-Notre Dame game. Every time you want to count Auburn out, they come back and prove you wrong. I don't know if the Tigers have a lucky rabbit's foot or what, but they just continue to pull games out. Alabama did just what we expected to Penn State for the second year in a row. Trent Richardson and the running game and the stifling defense just shut Penn State down. And Ohio State is playing with fire. The Buckeyes can't continue to play like they did against Toledo and escape consistently."
Helmet stickers go to:
• QB Denard Robinson, Michigan
Career-high 338 pass yds, 108 rush yds, 4 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD versus Notre Dame
• RB John Howell, Navy
3 Rush, 113 yds, 2 TDs in win versus Western Kentucky
Highlights: Auburn-Mississippi State
Blog Network: What we learned
Virginia Tech is not invincible. It looks as though there's less of a gap between the Hokies and the rest of the division.
Oklahoma State is all kinds of legit. The offense is rolling. The defense looks good. The Cowboys are looking like a Big 12 contender.
UConn has QB issues. That's even more glaring after the Huskies' anemic performance in the pass game versus Vanderbilt.
USC can win in the fourth. Considering how badly things went in the final quarter in 2010, that might be a big thing.
Georgia's not dead yet. The Bulldogs will be a tough out the rest of the way if some of their younger talent develops.
Highlights: Toledo vs. Ohio State
Blog Network: Helmet stickers
Every week our bloggers will hand out helmet stickers to the week's top players, coaches, teams or anything else worth this honor.
• ACC: Tanner Price; Tevin Washington; Virginia Tech defense
More ACC stickers
• Big 12: Steele Jantz; Joseph Randle; James Franklin
More Big 12 stickers
• Big East: B.J. Daniels; Ray Graham; Ryan Nassib
More Big East stickers
• Big Ten: Denard Robinson; Russell Wilson; Kain Colter
More Big Ten stickers
• Pac-10: Marshall Lobbestael; Tyler Hansen; Brock Osweiler
More Pac-12 stickers
• SEC: Tyler Bray; Michael Dyer; Jeff Scott
More SEC stickers
• Notre Dame: Michael Floyd; Theo Riddick; Jonas Gray
More Notre Dame stickers
Rough day for Big Ten
• After being beaten by a combined score of 87-0 in its only two meetings with Ohio State, Toledo scored its first points against the Buckeyes and actually outgained Ohio State 335-303. But the Buckeyes held on (27-22) to extend their unbeaten streak against in-state opponents to 44 games.
• Penn State's 27-11 loss to Alabama was its fifth straight loss against a ranked opponent. (In fact, the Lions have lost nine straight games against teams ranked in the top five of the AP poll.) Two of those five losses have come against the Crimson Tide, who outscored the Nittany Lions 51-14 in those games.
• In its first three-overtime game in school history, Iowa lost to Iowa State 44-41, the most points the Hawkeyes have given up to the Cyclones.
To read the rest of the story, click here.