Senior College Football Columnist

Weekend Watch List: In Lattimore South Carolina trusts


Marcus Lattimore was last spotted lifting a SUV off a nun. South Carolina's sophomore tailback apparently once leapt over the Whitney Hotel in a single bound.

The kid doesn't run, he gets the ball behind the line of scrimmage and suddenly transmogrifies 10 yards downfield.

OK, not really. Just seems like it. Regardless, the Most Interesting Man in the World has nothing on this guy. You might have noticed that Marcus "Little Herschel" Lattimore does just about everything in a pinch for South Carolina.

Need a first down? Give it to Marcus. Need to kill some clock? Give it to Marcus. Need to get to Atlanta (again)? Give it to Marcus. Kitten trapped in a tree? You get the point.

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Give it to this 6-foot, 232-pound hoss. That has become the season philosophy for Steve Spurrier who is no dummy when it comes to, you know, winning. On a weekend when Alabama and LSU face significant challenges, the story in Columbia, South Carolina, cannot be ignored.

The current runaway Heisman leader vs. a current national coach of the year favorite. One runs to daylight. The other is leading his team out of the basement. An SEC East showdown. Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina.

WWL is proud to interrupt the conference realignment blather to bring you some actual football. A week that started with REM still together and the Big 12 breaking apart has once again turned upside down. Vandy is off to its best start in three years (3-0). James Franklin has stabilized the SEC's doormat with a ball-hawking defense (nation-leading 10 interceptions). Franklin, Maryland's former offensive coordinator, has put himself in that National Coach of the Year conversation.

Between the time the Commodores started 5-0 in 2008 and the beginning of this season, Vandy was Vandy, going 6-26. The No. 12 Gamecocks not only need a win, they need a distraction. The program received its NCAA notice of allegations this week centering around the incredibly cheap Whitney ($14.59 a night? Call in the suite life.).

In that sense, South Carolina's long-term future is less than bright. Lattimore's is unlimited. We are watching him mature into the best back in the country before our eyes. With Navy punching back last week, he carried 37 times for a career-high 246 yards. Spurrier called for the nation's leading rusher to carry the ball on 26 of 37 second-half plays in a 24-21 victory. Three times in his 16-game career, Lattimore has run it at least 37 times.

As his current pace, he would become the nation's first 2,000-yard rusher from a current BCS school since Donald Brown at UConn in 2008.

Hoss. Hersch. Whatever you want to call him. Marcus has become the default setting for everything wrong in Columbia from weather to taxes. Problem? Give it to Marcus.

"When things start happening in the passing game, you wonder, 'Why in the world are those guys trying to pass?' Spurrier said. "So you end up running, running, running trying to win the game."

You've got to hand it Marcus. No, you've really got to hand it to Marcus. Spurrier's old Fun-n-Gun has become a modern day Run-n-Fun.

Scoping the Nation

Those without seats when the music stops, please see your commissioner ...

Hogs up to their haunches in Red Tide: Someone will have to explain this to me: Arkansas is going to Alabama without Knile Davis and Jake Bequette. Ryan Mallett's replacement, Tyler Wilson, is starting his fourth career game a season after the Tide barely won at Arkansas. Somehow the Razorbacks are expected to have a better chance at beating the Tide?

Concentrate on the obvious. Arkansas' receivers are being called the best in the country. The same might be said of Alabama's secondary. If you're conflicted, consider that Alabama is the only team in the country with two players averaging 100 rushing yards -- Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Arkansas-Alabama preview

From Pick Six to just sick: Eighteen LSU players have come forward saying Jordan Jefferson did nothing wrong in that infamous Shady's bar fight. My take going into the West Virginia game: Every day that Jarrett Lee plays, Jefferson becomes less of a story. If and when he ever gets back, JJ ought to be more worried about a spot on the depth chart rather than starting.

Lee has thrown the fewest interceptions (one) of any SEC starter. Only two other SEC quarterbacks are more accurate.

Mountain Low: This was going to be quarterback Geno Smith's coming out week. He is coming off a career-high 388 passing yards. Three West Virginia receivers went for more than 100 yards against Maryland. Then West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen went ahead and kept LSU on the schedule.

If you haven't seen them already, LSU's secondary is so athletic, the members could have starred on the old Ed Sullivan Show. They jump, they twist, they contort. In the end, they frustrate. Only six schools have allowed fewer touchdown passes than LSU's one. (That would be zero for you math majors.) LSU-West Virginia preview

Watch your back: Arizona State's Vontaze Burfict remains one of the dirtiest players in college football. That's the perception from Southern California's Matt Barkley, who doesn't care who knows it going into a key Pac-12 South game.

"He's a dirty player," Barkley told the Los Angeles Times. The quarterback remembers Burfict diving at his knees during a high school game.

"His switch is always on. And it's not a good switch."

Watch your defensive backfield: I want to see Justin Blackmon catch 14 balls. I went to see Cyrus Gray rush for 150. I want to see 70 points.

In the first Big 12 game involving top 10 teams in three years, I will get all those things in College Station.

Texas A&M 38, Oklahoma State 35. Oklahoma State-Texas A&M preview

Amber alert for Ohio State offense: Yeah, it was that bad for the Buckeyes against Miami (Fla.). National television. Barely competitive. Combined four of 18 from quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller.

This is going to be worse than we thought. Colorado this week, then the Big Ten opener against Michigan State. The return of the Buckeye Four (Oct. 8 at Nebraska) might not even help this crew.

Rebound Week: Or so Florida State hopes heading to Clemson.

The 'Noles seem to be OK if quarterback EJ Manuel can't go (non-throwing shoulder). Backup Clint Trickett threw for 134 yards against Oklahoma. But you wonder where FSU's heads are at after the devastating loss to the Sooners. We know Dabo ("We Got Greatness In Us") Swinney's state of mind. Florida State-Clemson preview

Sticky fingers: Wisconsin hasn't had running back fumble since Week 2 of 2010. That's 642 consecutive touches including rushing, receiving and returning without turning it over. That doesn't mean much this week against South Dakota. It will mean a hell of a lot next week against Nebraska.

Something to chew on and spit out: Jerry Kill knows he always has a home here. Minnesota's coach is dealing with those recent seizures. Someone made the mistake this week of asking him if he should keep coaching:

"What the hell am I supposed to do, stop? I mean, sit in the chair and wait for the next god-dang seizure to come along? There's people that [have] them every day. I've had about 20 of them in the last six damn days, and I'm still walking, still coaching."

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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