Just as teams begin to build their credentials this time of year for rewards down the road, so do individuals.
Preseason Heisman favorites like quarterback Marcus Mariota, Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty had excellent starts (although Petty’s back injury is worrisome).
Reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston turned in a highlight-reel play in an otherwise average performance for Florida State, so no big shake-up among the favorites.
But add a couple of names, actually the same last name, to the observation list. Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill torched South Carolina, and Oklahoma State all-purpose speedster Tyreek Hill rolled up nearly 300 total yards against Winston’s Seminoles.
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Considering the previous two Heisman winners were first-year starters, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Winston, it’s no shock to see off-the-radar players make an early impression.
“We know he’s fast,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of his Hill, “because the guys chasing him are fast.”
Saturday’s SEC games
Florida Atlantic at Alabama, 11 a.m. on SEC Network: Crimson Tide linebacker Trey DePriest will be back after serving a one-game suspension.
Missouri at Toledo, 11 a.m. on ESPN: The coach with the most wins for both programs will be on the Mizzou sideline. Gary Pinkel amassed 73 victories in 10 years at Toledo, including a major upset of Penn State in 2000.
Arkansas State at Tennessee, 11 a.m. on SEC Network: In one sense, Tennessee is trying to get where Arkansas State is: a bowl-game regular. It’s been three straight bowl seasons for the Red Wolves, while the Vols have missed out the last three years.
Alabama-Birmingham at Mississippi State, 1 p.m. (no KC-area TV): As good as the Bulldogs and quarterback Dak Prescott were in a 49-0 roll over Southern Mississippi, the Blazers were just as good in pounding Troy 48-10.
Ohio at Kentucky, 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU: A nice start for the Wildcats last week in a rout of Tennessee-Martin, but the competition climbs this week. Coach Frank Solich’s Bobcats have played in five straight bowl games.
Eastern Michigan at Florida, 3 p.m. on SEC Network: This is the Gators’ opener after last week’s game against Idaho was washed out, and Florida missed getting game speed for its new up-tempo offense. Eastern Michigan got in its opener, slipping past Morgan State 31-2827.
Nicholls State at Arkansas, 3 p.m. on SEC Network: Nicholls State, an FCS school, owns a seven-game losing streak and is meeting an SEC school for the first time. The Colonels haven’t fared well against FBS schools lately, losing to Oregon (66-3) and Louisiana (70-7) last season, and Oregon State (77-3) in 2012.
Mississippi at Vanderbilt, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN: It’s the second straight year for the Rebels at Vandy because of a scheduling quirk. Ball control is the big issue for the Commodores, who committed seven turnovers in the loss to Temple.
East Carolina at South Carolina, 6 p.m. on ESPNU: After calling running back Mike Davis’ status for this game “sort of doubtful” earlier in the week, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier upgraded that to “he should be ready to go” for the Pirates.
San Jose State at Auburn, 6 p.m. on ESPN2: Two large speakers set up 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage have been blasting the Auburn fight song, “War Eagle” at San Jose State’s practice this week to prepare for the din at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Sam Houston State at LSU, 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network: Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler said LSU isn’t a money opponent for the Bearkats, though the school will receive $500,000 for the game. Sam Houston has played two games, losing at Eastern Washington two weeks ago and beating Alabama State last week.
Lamar at Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network: The Aggies’ Kenny Hill wasn’t the only quarterback in this game chosen conference offensive player of the week. Larmar’s Caleb Berry passed for 389 yards and five touchdowns in a victory over Grambling last week and won the Southland Award.
Saturday’s Big 12 games
Kansas State at Iowa State, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports 1: The Cyclones had to shuffle their offense line when center Tom Farniok went down early because of a knee injury,and after that, Iowa State had trouble sustaining drives in the loss to North Dakota State. The Wildcats won this matchup big last season, but the previous four meetings since Bill Snyder’s return were won by K-State by a touchdown or less.
Oklahoma at Tulsa, 11 a.m. on ABC (Chs. 2, 9): The Golden Hurricane got a 438-yard passing game from Dane Evans in the double-overtime victory over Tulane, but they’re running into an Oklahoma team that delivered a stout defense effort in its opener, holding Louisiana Tech to 245 total yards.
Missouri State at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: All-purpose speedster Tyreek Hill and havoc-creating defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah were breakout stars last week against Florida State. The Bears overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to beat Northwestern State last week. These teams played the first official overtime game in FBS history in 1996, won by the Cowboys 23-30.
Southeast Missouri at Kansas, 6 p.m. on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel: Nice start to the Tom Matukewicz era at Southeast, a 77-0 victory over Missouri Baptist. Matukewicz returns to his home state. He’s a Fort Hays State graduate who coached there and Pittsburg State, Coffeyville Community College and Emporia State. He was Toledo’s defensive coordinator last year.
Northwestern State at Baylor, 6 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: Bryce Petty has said a back injury won’t keep him out of action, but the opponent should. The Bears figure to roll, and that should allow Petty to rest. He has two cracks in the bones that stick out from the spine.
Brigham Young at Texas, 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1: Tyrone Swoopes gets his first start at quarterback with David Ash out because of concussionlike symptoms. This was the matchup that accelerated the Mack Brown demise last year as the Cougars embarrassed Texas 40-21 in Provo .
Towson at West Virginia, 6:30 p.m. (No KC-area TV): Towson lost to North Dakota State for the FCS championship last year and has won 11 straight road games, but the Tigers lost their opener last week to Central Connecticut 31-27 and surrendered 465 total yards.
Texas Tech at Texas-El Paso, 10 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t like how his team approached Central Arkansas. Let’s see how they do with a 10 p.m. (body clock) start in El Paso. Davis Webb threw for 452 last week after a slow start.