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Lowsman Trophy Watch: UCLA's Freshman Two-Way Threat

Illustration for article titled Lowsman Trophy Watch: UCLA's Freshman Two-Way Threat

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.


For 55 minutes, Stanford played as close to a perfect game against Oregon as you're going to see this year, which is not something you're supposed to be able to say in 2013 about a team that finished with 377 yards of total offense. (The median average for total offense this season is around 410 yards.) But the results don't lie. After punting on its first series, the offense proceeded to score on its next six by reenacting the Battle of Ypres: Linemen marching foot-to-foot, biting and holding ground four yards at a time. The first scoring drive covered 96 yards in a dozen plays, milking six minutes off the clock. The next covered 58 yards in five minutes, extending the lead to 14-0. The next, a 20-play, 96-yard slog that chewed up the final 8:26 of the second quarter, leading to an easy field goal on the final play of the half. The first three possessions of the second half also resulted in chip-shot field goals, at the expense of another 15 minutes off the clock. For the game, the Cardinal churned out 274 yards rushing with a long gain of 16, converted 14 third downs and amassed a 25-minute advantage in time of possession; at one point, between its last possession of the first half and its first possession of the second, Oregon's warp-speed offense didn't get off a snap for nearly an hour.

The raw numbers aren't overwhelming, but the offensive line visibly dominated, none of them more than Yankey, who lived up to his billing an All-American mauler on third-down power after third-down power. Defensively, Skov was the most disruptive member of a unit that consistently overwhelmed Oregon's offensive line and rattled the previously unflappable Marcus Mariota, finishing with a team-high nine tackles, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two QB hurries. With the game still very much in doubt in the second quarter, Skov's strip of De'Anthony Thomas and subsequent recovery at the goal line was the play of the game.

Jack was one of UCLA's most productive defenders in a 31-26 win at Arizona, which comes as no surprise: As a true freshman, he's started eight consecutive games at linebacker and came in tied for the team lead in solo tackles. But then they handed him the ball Saturday night as a tailback, just to see what would happen, and it turns out Jack may be the Bruins' best player on offense, too.

After three days of practice at running back, Jack ran six times for 120 yards and broke UCLA's longest carry of the season, by far, on the 66-yard touchdown sprint seen above. In fact, five other defensive starters were part of the experiment, including senior linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, who caught a pass for 12 yards. But only one of them had reporters wondering after the game whether his cameo might grow into a full-time role.

Back from a two-game absence, the Badgers' senior anchor was his usual, omnipresent self against BYU, finishing with 13 total tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks in a defensively-driven, 27-17 win, Wisconsin's best of the year. Altogether, BYU finished with 370 total yards on 4.6 per play, its worst output in both categories since a water-logged loss at Virginia in the season opener.

C.J. MOSLEY • LB, Alabama
Mosley never looks as impressive in the box score as he does on the field, which is saying something for a guy who's been credited with almost twice as many total tackles as anyone else on the nation's No. 1 scoring defense. Although he doesn't have an interception, a forced fumble or a sack this season, Mosley makes every routine play, every time: Against LSU, he matched a season high with 12 tackles (seven solo, five assists), two of them coming in the Tiger backfield, and also broke up two passes in coverage. Despite a pair of extended touchdown drives in the first half, LSU managed just 67 yards in the second, and finished with season lows for yards (284) and points (17) in a lopsided loss.


A redshirt freshman making just his second career start, Edwards accounted for three touchdowns in a come-from-behind, 38-20 win over N.C. State, clinching Duke's first winning season since 1994. The first score came with Duke trailing in the third quarter, 13-10, when Edwards broke a 100-yard kickoff return to put the Blue Devils back in front. In the fourth, Edwards followed a late, go-ahead touchdown drive by the offense with back-to-back interceptions off N.C. State QB Brandon Mitchell on consecutive plays, taking both to the house to turn a 23-20 nail-biter into a 38-20 rout in a span of 20 seconds.

Oh, and Edwards was also credited with 10 total tackles (six solo, four assists)…you know, if you're into your defensive backs tackling people and so forth. N.C. State is the third opponent in the last four games that Duke–Duke!–has held to a single offensive touchdown.


RYAN MUELLER • DE, Kansas State
A former walk-on, Mueller accounted for three of the Wildcats' five sacks Saturday in a 49-26 upset over Texas Tech, leaving him (improbably) as the Big 12 leader with eight sacks for the year. Although the Red Raiders finished with 459 yards of total offense, that was nearly 100 yards below their season average coming in, and it took them 96 plays (most of them in garbage time) to even get that far. The only defense to hold Tech to fewer points, yards, or yards per play in its first nine games was TCU's.

OUTSIDER OF THE WEEK: • Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
A junior-college transfer making just his fourth career start, Bibbs set a school record with 312 yards rushing on 10.4 yards per carry against Nevada, including touchdown runs of 28, 54, and 85 yards in 38-17 win for the Rams. With that, he's one of only five players this season with two 200-yard games to his credit, and the only one in that club with a 300-yard game.


1. David Yankey, OG, Stanford
2. Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
3. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
4. Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
5. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
6. Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
7. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
8. Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
9. Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
10. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

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.