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November 3, 2008

Rivals.com Week 10 National Awards

Picking this week's national player and coordinator of the week was an easy call.

Georgia Tech backup FS Cooper Taylor got the start because of an injury to Dominique Reese and had 10 tackles and an interception and forced the last-minute fumble in the end zone that sealed the Yellow Jackets' 31-28 win over Florida State.
Syracuse RB Curtis Brinkley ran for 166 yards and a touchdown in a 28-21 upset of Louisville. He is the first Orange back with five consecutive 100-yard games in a single season.
Northwestern's Mike Kafka pulled double-duty of sorts in subbing for injured quarterback C.J. Bacher; Kafka was 12-of-16 for 143 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Kafka also picked up the slack for injured TB Tyrell Sutton, who is out for the season. Kafka carried 27 times for 217 yards.
Rice QB Chase Clement helped the Owls win a 49-44 shootout over UTEP by going 28-of-41 for 372 yards. Clement had a hand in six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) and did not throw an interception.
Central Michigan backup QB Brian Brunner came up big in a 37-34 win at Indiana. Brunner was 35-of-53 for 485 yards, with five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) and an interception.
For the second consecutive week, BYU TE Dennis Pitta caught the winning touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Pitta finished with 12 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 22 seconds left, in a 45-42 victory over Colorado State.
Oregon State DE Victor Butler finished with eight tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception of the potential game-tying two-point conversion in a 27-25 win over Arizona State.
Florida QB Tim Tebow was 10-of-13 for 154 yards and two touchdowns to go with 39 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 49-10 rout of Georgia.
Louisiana-Monroe QB Kinsmon Lancaster was 15-of-26 for 125 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 42 yards before leaving with an injury in a 31-30 upset of first-place Troy.
Utah State QB Diondre Borel was 14-of-19 for 223 yards and two touchdowns and added 87 rushing yards in a 30-14 win over Hawaii.
Navy LB Ross Pospisil, from Temple (Texas) High School, helped the Midshipmen beat Temple University with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. He forced the game-tying fumble return for a touchdown in the Midshipmen's 20-point comeback against the Owls.

In the two biggest games of the week, perhaps two of the biggest of the season, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong turned in season-defining performances for national championship contenders.

Not to be ignored, a Georgia Tech freshman provided the game-turning play to beat the latest ACC front-runner.

NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB Graham Harrell, Texas Tech

Harrell went from Heisman outsider to perhaps the Heisman favorite in one week. He outdueled Colt McCoy, helped lead an upset of the No. 1 team in the country and created a Heisman highlight with the 28-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with a second remaining against Texas.

Harrell was 36-of-53 passing for 474 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He helped Texas Tech storm to a 22-6 first-half lead, then led the winning drive in the final two minutes.

FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: FS Cooper Taylor, Georgia Tech

Taylor stepped in for Dominique Reese and helped Georgia Tech remain one of the front-runners in the ACC.

Taylor whose dad, Jim Bob, was a quarterback for Tech in the early 1980s had 10 tackles and an interception, but his most important play came at the end of the game. Taylor forced a Marcus Sims fumble in the end zone in the final minute to secure the Yellow Jackets' 31-28 win over Florida State.

Also considered for freshman of the week:

QB Jacory Harris led another Miami comeback, going 12-of-21 for 160 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 overtime victory over Virginia.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd caught 10 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-33 quadruple-overtime loss to Pittsburgh.

In his first career start at quarterback, Kentucky's Randall Cobb was 7-of-13 for 56 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 14-13 victory at Mississippi State. Splitting snaps with Mike Hartline, Cobb also added 31 rushing yards and a touchdown and 33 receiving yards.

Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers carried 30 times for 133 yards and added 55 receiving yards in the Beavers' 27-25 win over Arizona State.

COORDINATOR OF THE WEEK: Charlie Strong, Florida

Georgia found out how much Florida's defense had improved since their last meeting. Knowshon Moreno ran for 188 yards against the Gators last season, but was held to 65 yards on 17 carries on Saturday.

Strong's defense held Georgia to one fourth-quarter touchdown and forced four turnovers, including three Matthew Stafford interceptions.

Also considered for coordinator of the week:

Ruffin McNeill's defense came up big again by holding Texas to 374 yards (91 came on one play), including just 80 rushing, in Texas Tech's 39-33 win over Texas.

Joe Tresey's defense kept Cincinnati in the Big East race by intercepting USF QB Matt Grothe three times and stopping the Bulls twice in the red zone in the fourth quarter. The Bearcats won 24-10.

West Virginia became the first team this year to hold Connecticut RB Donald Brown to fewer than 100 yards. Jeff Casteel's defense held Brown to 82 yards and forced five turnovers in a 35-13 win over the Huskies.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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