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November 27, 2011

Week 13 awards: Mathieu grabs top honor

As backup plans go, Tyrann Mathieu isn't a bad option.

LSU went into Friday's game against Arkansas, its biggest test since facing Alabama on Nov. 5, without free safety Eric Reid, who came up huge in the win over the Tide.

CONFERENCE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
ACC
N.C. State QB Mike Glennon was 36-of-55 for 306 yards and five touchdowns, and he also rushed for a score in a 56-41 victory over Maryland. The Wolfpack scored 42 unanswered points in the final 21:47.
BIG 12
Baylor TB Terrance Ganaway rushed for 246 yards and two touchdowns on 42 carries in a 66-42 victory over Texas Tech.
BIG EAST
West Virginia DT Julian Miller had 12 tackles and four sacks in a 21-20 win over Pittsburgh.
BIG TEN
Michigan QB Denard Robinson was 14-of-17 for 167 yards and three touchdowns, and he also rushed for 170 yards and two scores in a 40-34 victory over Ohio State.
CONFERENCE USA
Houston QB Case Keenum was 33-of-46 for 457 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-16 rout of host Tulsa.
MAC
Western Michigan QB Tyler VanTubbergen was 19-of-21 for 252 yards and six touchdowns in a 68-19 romp over Akron in his first career start. He also rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Air Force QB Tim Jefferson was 9-of-12 for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 win over Colorado State.
PAC-12
USC QB Matt Barkley was 35-of-42 for 423 yards and six touchdowns in a 50-0 thrashing of UCLA.
SUN BELT
Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries in a 41-18 win over Troy.
WAC
Louisiana Tech LB Adrien Cole had 12 tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and an interception return for a touchdown in a 44-0 rout of New Mexico State.
INDEPENDENTS
Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd caught eight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in a 28-14 loss to Stanford.
As a result of Reid's absence, Mathieu moved from cornerback to free safety, and he turned in the game-changing performance LSU is used to getting from its secondary.

Mathieu had eight tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as the Tigers held the SEC's best pass offense to 202 yards in a 41-17 win. He also returned a punt for a touchdown, and his effort earned Mathieu the Rivals.com National Player of the Week honor.

The turning point was the punt return. With LSU trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, Mathieu returned a punt 92 yards to open the floodgates for LSU. The Tigers outscored Arkansas 34-3 starting with the Mathieu punt return.

"We were trying to get the ball punted to the sideline, but he mishit it a bit and punted it to the middle of the field," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "We had guys right there, and he made a tremendous run. He made a great cut and made us miss at the point of attack. He made a great play."

[Forde: LSU leaves no doubt]

No defensive player made a bigger impact through the first six weeks of the season than Mathieu. Through that span, he intercepted two passes, forced four fumbles and recovered three.

With Reid out, Mathieu reassumed his role as the top playmaker on LSU's defense.

"You have to have confidence in yourself," Mathieu said. "You never want to give up on yourself, and you never want to give up on your team. When you get the chance, you make that big play."

NATIONAL FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville still needs help to reach its first BCS game since 2006, but the Cardinals took care of their end of the deal with a 34-24 win Friday over USF in Tampa.

The Cardinals' transformation from a team that lost to Florida International and Marshall early in the season to a team with a share of the Big East title has been because of a handful of factors, but the most visible is the play of Bridgewater.

He was 19-of-28 with 241 yards and a career-high three touchdowns in the comeback win over the Bulls. Louisville trailed 24-20 with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter before Bridgewater's 11-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open DeVante Parker in the end zone against a confused USF secondary.

NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF THE WEEK
Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst

Wisconsin could have called it a day after the first half and still had the best effort of any team this season against Penn State's defense.

The Badgers scored touchdowns on four of their six first-half possessions against the Nittany Lions, opening up a 28-7 halftime lead. The most points Penn State had allowed in a game all season was 27 to Alabama on Sept. 10.

Chryst's offense finished with 264 rushing yards, a season-high against Penn State, and 186 passing yards as Wisconsin clinched a trip to the Big Ten championship game.

"We have a lot of talent on offense, and Coach [Paul] Chryst does a great job of exposing the defense," Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson said. "No matter what it is, running the football or throwing it, we can do a lot of different things."

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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