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October 24, 2010
Third time's the charm? Newton tops again
If there's a script to a Heisman campaign, Auburn QB Cameron Newton is following it.
Newton has put up gaudy numbers, lifted his team to new heights and has done it against top competition. Saturday's 24-17 victory over visiting LSU was the latest as Newton rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns against what had been the nation's sixth-ranked run defense.
He is averaging 201.0 rushing yards over his past three games, and his performance against LSU makes him the Rivals.com National Player of the Week for the third time this season.
Newton added another critical component of a Heisman quest: a signature play.
In the third quarter, he rushed up the middle, slipped through the LSU front to his right and, after that, made four LSU defenders miss on the way to a 49-yard touchdown run.
"It was just a simple play we were calling all night," Newton said. "Coach [Gus] Malzahn and the staff called that play numerous times, but that particular play, the offensive line did their job. And I guess it was left to me to do my job. A lot of missed tackles, and I just tried to make the most of it. It's just a play that is in my job description to make."
Martinez went into Saturday without a 200-yard performance or a multi-touchdown game as a passer. He exceeded career marks in a big way against Oklahoma State with 323 yards and five passing touchdowns in a 51-41 victory over the previously undefeated Cowboys.
He did all that without losing much in the running game as he rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries.
Making the performance more important was Martinez's ability to rebound from the worst outing of his career. In the last game, against Texas, Martinez accounted for only 84 yards of total offense. He showed no sign of lost confidence against Oklahoma State after being benched in the third quarter last week against the Longhorns.
Say what you want about Les Miles and LSU, but the Tigers' defense had been one of the nation's best through a 7-0 start. But that's no longer the case.
LSU had allowed only 83.6 rushing yards per game coming into the game against Auburn. Malzahn's offense put a huge dent in those numbers as Auburn rushed for 440 yards and three touchdowns against LSU. That was Auburn's highest total against an SEC foe in school history.
Cameron Newton was the leader for Auburn, but the Tigers' tailbacks were effective as well. Michael Dyer rushed for 100 yards on 15 carries, and Onterio McCalebb rushed for 84 yards on four carries, including the 70-yard winning touchdown.