Lowsman Trophy Watch: Ohio State's O-Line Clears A PathS

Each week, Football Outsiders recognizes the most outstanding college linemen, defenders and other darkhorses from the previous weekend who are habitually overlooked in the hype for that other award (whatever it's called). These are the Lowsmen.

OHIO STATE'S OFFENSIVE LINE
Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde cemented their status as the best running backs in the Big Ten against Michigan, but the success of the Buckeyes' ground game in Ann Arbor began up front, with Jack Mewhort, Darryl Baldwin, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Taylor Decker paving the way for 393 yards rushing on 8.5 per carry. (For his part, starting guard Marcus Hall also accounted for two birds in the aftermath of a first-half ejection.) Before Saturday, no opposing offense had rushed for more than 168 yards against the Wolverines, and only Notre Dame (5.1) and Indiana (4.9) had averaged four yards per carry.

KENDALL FULLER • CB, Virginia Tech
A blue-chip recruit, Fuller has lived up to the hype, emerging from the shadow of his older brother Kyle to become one of the most reliable cover corners in the nation as a true freshman. Saturday, the younger Fuller recorded eight tackles, a sack, an interception, and four passes broken up in the Hokies' win over Virginia, moving him into the ACC lead for passes defended on the season. As a team, the Cavaliers managed a single reception over 20 yards and did not score a touchdown.

JACKSON JEFFCOAT and CEDRIC REED • DEs, Texas
Manning opposite ends of the defensive line, Jeffcoat and Reed converged on Texas Tech quarterbacks for five sacks and six QB hurries between them, ultimately racking up 17 total tackles (including seven for loss) in the Longhorns' most impressive win of the seasons. Altogether, Texas put up nine sacks and held the Red Raiders to a season-low 16 points.

DAMARIOUS RANDALL • S, Arizona State
A juco transfer who began the season as a backup, Randall came into his own against Arizona, finishing with a team-high 12 tackles (one for loss), a forced fumble, and a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 58-21 blowout that clinched home-field advantage in this weekend's Pac-12 championship game. As a team, the Devils forced four turnovers for the fifth time this season, leaving them with a conference-best 30 takeaways.

KELCY QUARLES • DT, South Carolina
Although a certain hyped lineman came through with one of his best games of the year against Clemson, Quarles was the driving force in the middle of the defensive line, dropping Tiger QB Tajh Boyd three times in a 31-17 win for the Gamecocks. In three starts against the Gamecocks, Boyd has been sacked 16 times, and Clemson has averaged just 15.6 points in three consecutive defeats.

COREY MILLER • DE, Tennessee
A senior playing in his final college game, Miller had a hand in five sacks and a forced fumble against Kentucky, matching his career sack total over the previous four years combined. That's going out in style, Corey, but what took you so long? The Vols really could have used that kind of production with more at stake than a 5-7 record.

OUTSIDER OF THE WEEK: David Fales • QB, San Jose State
With bowl-eligibility at stake, Fales dropped a 547-yard, six-touchdown bomb on Fresno State, clinching a sixth win for SJSU and ruining the Bulldogs' undefeated record in a wild, 62-52 shootout. Fales and his counterpart, Fresno QB Derek Carr, combined for a dozen touchdown passes in the first half alone, which ended with the Spartans clinging to a 42-41 edge. For the game, both offenses combined for 1,382 total yards, a little over a third of that courtesy of the Spartans' top three receivers (Tyler Winston, Kyle Nunn and Chandler Jones), who went over 145 yards apiece.

SEASON STANDINGS
1. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
2. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
3. Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
4. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
5. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
6. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
7. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
8. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
9. Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor
10. Leonard Williams, DT, USC


The Lowsman Trophy Watch was created by Robert Weintraub. Want to nominate a player? Drop us a line.

Matt Hinton writes about college football for Football Outsiders and SB Nation's Football Study Hall. Follow on Twitter, @MattRHinton.