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Weekend Review: No. 1 LSU starting to feel 'whole again'

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So what did we learn over the weekend?

1. Here's a scary thought. LSU is just now starting to feel whole again: With quarterback John Brantley on the shelf for Florida's game at LSU on Saturday, the Gators did not need to hear this: The No. 1 LSU Tigers are feeling even better about themselves today because of the return of quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Russell Shepard. Jefferson has been off the team since an altercation at a Baton Rouge bar prior to the season. Last week the charges were knocked down to a misdemeanor and Jefferson played briefly in Saturday's 35-7 win over Kentucky, scoring on a quarterback sneak on his first snap. Shepard, LSU's fastest receiver, missed the first three games because of an NCAA violation and is now back in the fold. LSU players are now talking about the team "being whole again." You mean that the LSU team that dominated Oregon in Arlington, Mississippi State on the road and West Virginia on the road was NOT whole? Geez.

Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson has compiled 1,531 of total offense on 133 plays -- an average of 11.51 yards per play. (Getty Images)  
Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson has compiled 1,531 of total offense on 133 plays -- an average of 11.51 yards per play. (Getty Images)  
2. If college football had an MVP, it would be Russell Wilson: No single player has done more to elevate his team this season than Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, the transfer from N.C. State. With Wilson calling the shots Wisconsin is 5-0, ranked No. 4, and is starting to get attention as a legitimate contender for the BCS national championship. There are a bunch of numbers that illustrate how valuable Wilson has been to the Badgers. The mere fact that he has thrown 13 touchdown passes and only one interception (after throwing 14 picks last season) is certainly of note. But here is a great one: In five games he has 1,531 yards of total offense on 133 plays. That is an average of 11.51 yards per play. No other quarterback among the top 50 NCAA total offense leaders is averaging double digits in yards per play.

3. Tyler Wilson gets this week's Courage Award: The Arkansas quarterback opened the Sept. 24 game at Alabama by completing 12 of his first 13 passes. Then Wilson really got beat up by the Alabama defense in a 38-14 loss at Tuscaloosa. Undaunted, Wilson came back against Texas A&M, a team that was leading the nation in sacks (and still is with 18 in four games). Down 35-17 at halftime, Wilson fueled one of the better comebacks in Arkansas history with a school-record 510 yards passing (281 of those yards going to Jarius Wright), and the Hogs beat the Aggies 42-38. He was sacked four times. There were questions going into this season about whether or not Wilson had the right stuff to replace Ryan Mallett in Bobby Petrino's offense. Those questions can now be put to rest. Arkansas looks like a team that can win a lot of football games.

4. Clemson is the real deal: OK, I'll admit it. I was totally wrong about Clemson's trip to Virginia Tech. The Tigers were 4-0 but all of those games had come within the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium. Clemson had a new quarterback (Tajh Boyd) making his first career start on the road at Lane Stadium, a notoriously tough place to play. But it was the Clemson defense that won this game for the Tigers, holding Virginia Tech to only 258 yards of total offense and no touchdowns. Clemson won the game convincingly despite a relatively subpar performance from Boyd, who completed 13 of 32 passes for 204 yards. Boyd had posted four straight games of over 300 yards passing before last Saturday. Now Clemson has become the first team in ACC history to post three straight wins (Auburn, Florida State, Virginia Tech) over ranked teams. At No. 8, Clemson is in the top 10 for the first time since the preseason poll of 2008. That year Clemson got smacked in the mouth in the opener against Alabama and never recovered. Tommy Bowden resigned as coach before the year was over.

5. In case you're wondering, Illinois hosts Wisconsin on Nov. 19: Illinois is 5-0 for the first time since 1951 thanks to three consecutive wins by three points over Arizona State (17-14), Western Michigan (23-20), and Northwestern (38-35). Now Illinois is ranked No. 19 with a trip to Indiana (1-4) coming up on Saturday. Illinois trailed 35-31 when with only 1:15 play. But quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase executed the two-minute drill to perfection and sneaked over for the winning touchdown with only 13 seconds left. "That's [the two-minute drill] something we work on every day, sometimes to the point where Coach [offensive coordinator Paul] Petrino gets upset with me," said Zook. Illinois plays three of its next four games on the road. The lllini host No. 4 Wisconsin on Nov. 19 in a game that may be for the Leaders Division championship.

Watch The Tony Barnhart Show Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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