Commentary

Stoops and the Sooners moving up; Weis and the Irish wavering

Things are looking up for Oklahoma's defense, but not so much for the Notre Dame offense. Todd McShay has that and more in his Week 13 stock report.

Originally Published: November 24, 2008
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

The opportunity is there every week. Some players seize it; others let it slide away. Here's a look at the players who shone or slipped in Week 13:

[+] EnlargeTravis Lewis
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiTravis Lewis picked off a pass and led Oklahoma in tackles in the Sooners' signature in over Texas Tech.
Stock up
1. Oklahoma's defensive front
There were not enough game balls to go around in the Oklahoma locker room following its 44-point thumping of Texas Tech. Most impressive from my vantage point was the play of the Sooners' defensive front, which limped into the contest without two of its best players -- MLB Ryan Reynolds and DE Auston English. The Sooners never allowed Red Raiders QB Graham Harrell to settle into a rhythm as a passer, sacking him four times and forcing a pair of turnovers. Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy overwhelmed the interior of Tech's offensive line before suffering a knee injury in the second quarter, and OLB Travis Lewis was all over the field, as well. Lewis finished with a team-high 13 tackles and an interception, and the end result was a signature victory that could propel coach Bob Stoops' team into the BCS title game, provided the Sooners take care of business this week against Oklahoma State.

2. Utah QB Brian Johnson
The fifth-year senior has had his ups and downs this season, but the Utes have come to count on Johnson performing in the clutch. True to form, he saved his steadiest performance for Utah's biggest challenge: the Holy War rivalry game against BYU. Johnson exploited holes in the Cougars' defense throughout the evening, completing 83 percent of his passes (30-of-36) for 303 yards and four touchdowns. The 48-24 victory caps off an undefeated regular season for Utah, which claims the outright Mountain West Conference title and a spot in a BCS bowl.

More Ups and Downs
Todd McShay takes a look at other big names rising and falling across college football after Week 13. Insider Insider

• California RB Best shreds Stanford
• Northwestern's much-improved defense
• Miami 'D' destroyed by Georgia Tech
• Pittsburgh offensive line struggles in loss

Stock down
1. Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Rarely do we include a coach in the weekly Stock Report, but it does not take Knute Rockne to recognize some of the problems in South Bend right now -- the most glaring of which is the declining offense. Against Syracuse, Weis' second consecutive game as the offensive play-caller, Notre Dame posted just 23 points against the Orange. That's 11 fewer than the average allowed by Syracuse, which came into the weekend ranked 106th out of 119 schools in the FBS. With so much young talent on offense, the Irish should be building momentum for the 2009 campaign, but instead the group is regressing and confidence is wavering, particularly in the case of sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen. Next up: A trip to the L.A. Coliseum to face USC's top-ranked defense. Good luck with that one, Coach.

2. Maryland's offensive line
Maryland's erratic play continued against Florida State, which administered a 37-3 beatdown to the Terrapins. There's more than enough blame to go around for this embarrassing performance, but the struggles of the offensive line stood out the most. The unit failed to open running lanes early and was overmatched in pass protection (six sacks allowed) when Maryland was forced to play catch-up in the second half. Chalk it up as yet another opportunity squandered in the wildly unpredictable ACC.

It should be noted that Florida State DE Everette Brown played a big role in the undressing of the Terps' pass protection. He consistently used his speed to disrupt plays in the backfield, and he finished with 3.5 sacks. Brown has now notched 9.5 sacks in the Seminoles' past five outings.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider. Listen to Todd McShay break down the biggest games and give you all the scores on "College GameDay" on ESPN Radio every Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. ET. He also is a frequent contributor to ESPNU.