SEC West dominant through early weeks of season
Sep. 15, 2014
Outside of the Southeastern Conference's footprint, it's become commonplace to hope for stumbles by college football's most dominant league.
There's only one problem with that.
The conference — at least its West division — just doesn't lose all that often.
Led by Arkansas' dismantling of Big 12 Conference member Texas Tech in a 49-28 win on Saturday, the SEC West turned in its second straight undefeated weekend in the season's third week. Five of the division's seven teams are ranked in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, and all seven teams received votes.
More impressively, the teams are a combined 19-1 overall — with the only loss coming by the Razorbacks in an intra-divisional matchup with No. 5 Auburn.
The West's nearly flawless record will be tested this week by several difficult out-of-division matchups, including the Tigers at No. 20 Kansas State, Florida at No. 3 Alabama and Northern Illinois at Arkansas.
Also, divisional matchup Mississippi State at No. 8 LSU will add at least one loss.
Regardless, the SEC West is alive and well — with no weak link having shown itself yet.
Here's a look at some of the other notable performances from the third week of the college football season:
RESURGENT RAZORBACKS: Sticking with the SEC West, the division's worst team from a season ago appears to have turned the corner under second-year coach Bret Bielema. Arkansas was 3-9 last year in Bielema's first season, but it was tied with Auburn at halftime before falling and has reeled off two dominating wins since. After a 438-yard rushing performance against the Red Raiders, the Razorbacks — led by the running back duo of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins — are third nationally with an average of 362 yards per game on the ground. Williams is averaging 9.8 yards per carry, and he and Collins have combined for 11 touchdowns — exactly the style Bielema hoped to bring when he left Wisconsin.
AIR RAID WEST: Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday topped the 500-yard passing mark for the second time in three games this season with his 544-yard, six-touchdown performance in a 59-21 win over Portland State on Saturday. The senior leads the nation with 1,465 yards passing through three games, and he's improved his quarterback rating from 126.5 last year to 155.2.
BEAR MARKET: Baylor freshman wide receiver KD Cannon leads the nation in receiving yards after his second straight dominating performance, a six-catch, 189-yard effort in a 63-21 win over Buffalo. The 6-foot, 170-pound Cannon now has 471 yards receiving through his first three collegiate games, and he's averaging 33.6 yards per catch for the Bears — who lead the country with an average of 59.3 points per game.
RUNNING MINER: A week after nearly leading Texas-El Paso to a win over Texas Tech, Miners running back Aaron Jones continued his torrid start to the season with a 25-carry, 168-yard rushing effort in a 42-24 win over New Mexico State on Saturday. The sophomore leads the country with 552 yards rushing after three games, and he's already closing in on last year's total of 811 yards rushing.
EFFICIENT EFFORT: Duke running back Shaun Wilson led the nation in rushing last week, rushing for 245 yards on just 12 carries — an average of 20.4 yards per rush. The freshman had three touchdown runs of 45 yards or longer, including 69- and 68-yard scoring bursts as the Blue Devils improved to 3-0 with a 41-3 win over Kansas.