College football has become so infatuated with new that sometimes it takes an effort to put in perspective the greatness of a familiar name.
Marcus Mariota has been in the college game longer than Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston, so it’s too easy to gloss over another 300-yard passing game in a three-score win for the Ducks.
Mariota, though, did more than just add another notch to ridiculous numbers for Oregon. He did it against one of the top defensive programs and coaches in the country during the last four years.
In completing 17-of-28 passes for 318 yards with three touchdowns, Mariota led a comeback against a stout Michigan State defense and earned Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.
“I should have to pay to watch that guy play,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich told reporters. “It’s just unbelievable to watch him train, to watch him prepare, and then to see him come to fruition in this game.”
Not only did Mariota lead the Ducks to 28 unanswered second-half points in 46-27 win, he led arguably the best passing performance against a Pat Narduzzi-coached defense since 2010.
He’s only the second quarterback to top 300 yards against Michigan State during the last five seasons. At the same time, the third-highest efficiency rating against the Ducks the last five seasons.
Opposing passers vs. Michigan State since 2010
National Defensive Player of the Week: Brian Walker, North Carolina
Cornerback Brian Walker helped North Carolina avoid a home upset with a pair of interceptions in a 31-27 win over San Diego State. Walker started the game with a 100-yard pick six of Quinn Kaehler in the first quarter. He added an interception in the final 5:44 to set up Carolina field goal — a three points that came in handy as San Diego State drove to the Tar Heels’ 3 before a turnover on the Aztecs’ final play.
National Freshmen of the Week: Royce Freeman/Devon Allen, Oregon
Oregon needed playmakers beyond Mariota to beat Michigan State, especially with a quiet day from running back Byron Marshall. Royce Freeman rushed for 89 yards and the final two touchdowns on 13 carries while receiver Devon Hall caught three passes for 110 yards and two scores.
National Coordinator of the Week: Bud Foster, Virginia Tech
The Hokies turned in a vintage performance against the passing game in a 35-21 win over Ohio State in Columbus. Boosted by a dominant fourth quarter, Foster’s defense made J.T. Barrett’s second career start a nightmare. The Hokies had seven sacks, two interception and held Ohio State to 9-of-29 passing.
Conference Players of the Week
ACC: Pittsburgh running back James Conner rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in a 30-20 win over Boston College.
Big 12: Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters completed 16-of-29 passes for 239 yards and rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 32-28 win over Iowa State.
Big Ten: Minnesota running back David Cobb rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in a 35-24 win over Middle Tennessee.
SEC: Missouri wide receiver Bud Sasser caught five passes for 121 yards with two touchdowns and forced a fumble on an interception return in a 49-24 win over Toledo.
American: Memphis linebacker Tank Jakes had 12 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks in a 42-35 loss to UCLA.
Conference USA: Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in a 48-20 win over UL Lafayette.
MAC: Central Michigan running back Thomas Rawls rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries in a 38-17 win over Purdue. He also caught three passes for 50 yards.
Mountain West: Boise State running back Jay Ajayi rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in a 37-24 win over Colorado State.
Sun Belt: South Alabama running back Jay Jones rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in a 23-13 win over Kent State.
Independents: Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson completed 23-of-34 passes for 226 yards with three touchdowns in a 31-0 win over Michigan.