Week 3 of the 2017 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments from the SEC. The weekend slate featured Texas A&M's win over Louisiana, Florida's last-second Hail Mary to beat Tennessee, Mississippi State's dominant victory against LSU, and Vanderbilt's non-conference upset against Kansas State. Kentucky also knocked off South Carolina, and Alabama cruised to an easy victory against Colorado State.
With the third weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances from the SEC. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 3:
SEC Week 3 College Football Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State
For the second week in a row, Fitzgerald picks up SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors by Athlon Sports. The junior was instrumental in leading Mississippi State to a dominant 37-7 victory over LSU. Fitzgerald completed 15 of 23 passes for 180 yards and two scores and added 88 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Defensive Player of the Week: Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
The Commodores had a strong collective effort on defense Saturday night, limiting Kansas State to just seven points and 277 total yards (4.4 per play). A couple of defenders deserve consideration here, but the honor goes to Burks after making eight tackles (1.5 for a loss). The final tackle for Burks was the biggest play of the night for Vanderbilt’s defense. With Kansas State driving for a potential touchdown to tie the game, Burks stopped quarterback Jesse Ertz one yard shy of a fourth-down conversion.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Todd Grantham, Mississippi State
Grantham was one of the SEC’s top coordinator hires, and his arrival in Starkville is already paying big dividends for Mississippi State. LSU entered Saturday’s game averaging 36 points a game, but the Bulldogs limited the Tigers to just seven points, 270 yards, limited the offense to just three third-down conversions on 13 attempts and only one drive went longer than 50 yards. Additionally, Mississippi State held LSU running back Derrius Guice to just 76 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Feleipe Franks, QB, Florida
In the second start of his career, Franks delivered a play that won’t be forgotten in Gainesville anytime soon. With less than 10 seconds remaining in a tied game against Tennessee, Franks connected on a 63-yard touchdown pass to Tyrie Cleveland to give the Gators a critical 26-20 victory over the Volunteers. Franks finished with 212 passing yards and two touchdowns on 18 completions.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Marco Wilson/CJ Henderson, DB, Florida
Wilson and Henderson were two key cogs for Florida’s defense in Saturday’s win over Tennessee. Wilson tied for the team lead with seven stops and recorded three pass breakups. Henderson posted five tackles and recorded an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Team of the Week: Mississippi State
The Bulldogs delivered a statement win over LSU on Saturday night. Coach Dan Mullen’s team thoroughly dominated LSU on both sides of the ball in a 37-7 victory. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald accounted for 268 total yards and four touchdowns, and running back Aeris Williams also chipped in 146 yards on the ground. Under new coordinator Todd Grantham, Mississippi State’s defense held LSU to just 270 yards and seven points. Additionally, Derrius Guice was held to 76 yards on 15 carries, and the Tigers managed only 133 yards overall on the ground.
Unsung Hero of the Week: Stephen Johnson, QB, Kentucky
Johnson’s efficient performance helped Kentucky engineer a 23-13 upset at South Carolina on Saturday night. The senior quarterback completed 16 of 25 throws for 169 yards and also added 74 yards on seven carries. A 54-yard rush in the fourth quarter led Kentucky into position for a late field goal, which extended the lead to 10 points and put the game out of reach.