A couple of coaching staffs truly got the most out of their players this weekend.
Here, we recognize those staffs that truly deserve credit...
Head Coach of the Week: Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Four weeks ago Penn State was 0-2 and left for dead by many across the country. Today they sit at 4-2 and tied for first place in the Leaders Division. In the face of undoubtedly the roughest regime change in college football history, O’Brien’s team has gotten better as the season progresses. Under O’Brien’s direction, Penn State’s scoring average has jumped by two touchdowns per game during their current four-game winning streak when compared with last season. Quarterback Matt McGloin has looked like a completely different player thus far under O’Brien. After throwing for just 131 yards per game with an 8-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2011, McGloin currently leads the Big Ten with 1,499 passing yards with 12 touchdowns against just two picks. Saturday’s win was Penn State’s most impressive to date as the Nittany Lions outscored previously-unbeaten Northwestern 22-0 in the fourth quarter for a 39-28 win.
Offensive Staff of the Week: Lane Kiffin, Kennedy Polamalu, Clay Helton, James Cregg, Tee Martin and Justin Mesa - USC
USC’s game at Utah could not have started worse on Thursday night. Center Khaled Holmes returned from injury only to see wayward snaps turn into turnovers twice within the game’s first 76 seconds. After finding itself in an early 14-0 hole, USC’s offensive unit kept it's season on track by turning to the players that made USC a preseason national championship favorite in the first place. Matt Barkley completed 23-of-30 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns, and wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods the majority of that total. The duo accounted for 18 grabs, 261 yards and two touchdowns. The most significant drive of the game for the USC offense came early, as the Trojans immediately posted an eight-play, 75-yard drive after falling behind by two scores. Then USC wrested back control of the game in the second quarter by marching a total of 130 yards in 15 plays, only being stopped when the clock hit all zeros, in taking a 24-21 lead to the locker room. The "Knockout Shot" late in the game to Marqise Lee was vintage Kiffin.
Hear Kiffin describe that playcall
Defensive Staff of the Week: Bob Diaco, Kerry Cooks, Bob Elliott and Mike Elston - Notre Dame
We all knew it would be Brian Kelly’s defense that turned into a dominant unit in Year 3, right? Diaco’s crew befuddled an explosive Miami offense to the tune of a 41-3 whitewashing in Chicago. The Hurricanes arrived at Soldier Field averaging north of 41 points per game in their four wins, and left as Notre Dame’s third consecutive opponent to not reach the end zone. In fact, going back to the end of the Purdue game (when Notre Dame sealed a 20-17 win with an interception on the final play of the game), Diaco and co. are working on a streak of 190 consecutive snaps without allowing a touchdown. During that streak the Fighting Irish have forced eight turnovers and surrendered only 12 points. Notre Dame ranks second nationally in scoring defense (7.8), and has allowed two fewer touchdowns than anyone else in college football.
Special Teams Coordinator of the Week: Jerry Petercuskie, N.C. State
N.C. State was able to stun No. 3 Florida State in large part to flawless play from its special teams unit. Punter Wil Baumann’s seven kicks totaled 301 yards, with a long of 50 yards and one touchback, and most importantly held the Seminoles to a sum of 10 yards on two returns. Kicker Nicklas Sade pinned Florida State deep with three touchbacks on four kickoffs, connected on his lone field goal attempt and, in a year of shaky kicking across the country, nailed the game-winning extra point with 16 seconds to play.
Call of the Week: Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
This honor isn’t given for any one decision Holgorsen made Saturday night, but for five of his decisions. Despite arriving in Austin 0-of-4 on fourth down this season, the Mountaineers went a perfect 5-of-5 on fourth down and needed every one of them in a 48-45 win over Texas. West Virginia’s excellence on fourth down allowed them to overcome going just 3-of-12 third down, which permitted Holgorsen and co. to run 77 plays to Texas’ 68 and wage a tie in time of possession. West Virginia’s second touchdown came on a drive in which it converted two fourth downs (including a 40-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Tavon Austin on fourth-and-4). They also moved the chains on fourth-and-9 on their third touchdown drive. In the fourth quarter, Smith again found Austin on fourth-and-6 and gained eight yards on a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak to extend a drive that ultimately put Holgorsen’s team up for good at 41-38.