Every Monday, we will highlight the best and brightest performances from the weekend with the CBSSports.com Players of the Week. The honors will run through the end of the regular season right up until the CBS Sports All-America Team announcement on Dec. 17.
Derek Carr was a man on a mission Friday night, determined to end the Bulldogs' losing streak to Boise State. The Broncos entered the game having won 11 of 12, including every meeting since 2005, and when Fresno State's 34-19 lead evaporated in the fourth quarter it looked like status quo in the rivalry. Carr completed 8 of 11 passes on a game-winning touchdown drive, finishing with 460 yards and four touchdowns in the 41-40 win. After the game Carr talked about watching his brother, David, lose to Boise State in 2001 and how that setback -- the Bulldogs were No. 8 in the country at the time -- motivated him to attend Fresno State and knock off the Broncos.
Now Fresno State, ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll, is in the national spotlight again. Carr has thrown 12 touchdowns to just one interception and has maintained a 68.9 completion percentage despite being among the nation's leaders in pass attempts. With Boise State behind them, the challenge for the Bulldogs is to maintain this potent offensive attack through conference play. If they do, we could see a rematch of Friday night's thriller in the inaugural Mountain West title game in December.
The Huskies defense did just about everything they needed to do in order to give UConn a chance to pull the upset against Michigan in front of a capacity home crowd, eventually falling 24-21. The unit forced four fumbles, recovering two, and intercepted Devin Gardner twice. In the game, Yawin Smallwood lived up to his billing as the team's defensive leader and NFL prospect. The junior linebacker recorded 13 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass break up against the Wolverines, including a stop of Gardner on fourth-and-2 in the fourth quarter outside the Huskies' red zone.
In 2012, NFL scouts studied UConn's defense to break down Sio Moore, and were blown away by the play of Smallwood, then a sophomore and eventually a First Team All-Big East selection. Should he declare for the 2014 draft after the season, Yawin Smallwood could easily be one of the first five linebackers drafted in May.
Redshirt freshman Matthew Wyman helped end one of the more embarrassing streaks in college football with a game-winning 52-yard field goal against Louisiana Tech. The 13-10 victory, in a game which the Jayhawks never led, ended the program's 22-game losing streak against FBS opponents. Wyman, a walk-on, got off to a rocky start with a missed 28-yard field goal, but bounced back to connect on longer attempts from 39 and the game-winner from 52.
Also recognized: Iowa wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. As noted in Bruce Feldman's Big Picture, Iowa hadn't returned a put for a touchdown in five years. Martin-Manley took two punts to the house in the span of a minute of game time in the 59-3 victory. His 184 punt return yards were the second most in Big Ten history.
David Fales threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns, but the San Jose State signal caller could not outshine the impressive performance of redshirt freshman backup quarterback Mitch Leidner in Minnesota's 43-24 victory. With Phillip Nelson nursing an injured hamstring, Jerry Kill -- back on the sidelines -- called on the 6-4, 240 pound Leidner to be more than a change-of-pace quarterback.
Leidner and running back David Cobb, who carried 25 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns in his own right, tormented the San Jose State defense on the ground, answering San Jose State's challenge and pulling away down the stretch. Leidner finished with 151 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries, tying a school record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.