BY DAVID CHOUGH
Jonathan Duhart, WR, Old Dominion
Casual fans may never have heard of Old Dominion’s team before, and even those who do follow college football might not be aware of where the school is located. But after this weekend, everyone should know that Old Dominion is in Norfolk, Virginia, and despite entering their game at 0-3, the Monarchs shocked the world by upsetting No. 13 Virginia Tech, 49-35..
An upset of that magnitude, with Old Dominion in the Conference USA cellar heading to the matchup against the Hokies, requires peak performances from everyone on the team, especially the seniors. And when the Monarchs turned to their backup quarterback, Jonathan Duhart and his fellow wideouts made sure to step up big time.
Duhart had already started off the season strong, registering back-to-back weeks of over 100 yards receiving, but it was hard for him to break into the national spotlight. He had missed most of last season, and though he caught nine touchdowns in 2016, there was no telling whether that would transfer over into a game like this.
Each time his team needed someone to make a play, Duhart delivered. In the first quarter, after Virginia Tech had just scored a long touchdown, Duhart and the offense capped off their own 75-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown grab by the senior wideout to tie the score at 7 apiece. The two teams traded blows for the rest of the first half, and despite a missed field goal by ODU, the offense never wavered, as Duhart got open in the end zone with just four seconds remaining to tie the score again at halftime.
The back-and-forth continued in the second half, and thanks to Duhart reeling in more passes from quarterback Blake LaRussa, the Monarchs kept pace. With the score tied at 28, Duhart snagged a 27-yard catch that led to an ODU touchdown. After the Hokies again knotted the score, Duhart delivered with a highlight reel, over-the-shoulder grab despite a defender draped over him to register the touchdown that would ultimately seal victory.
None of his touchdowns were pretty; they were all hard-fought, and if it was someone else, maybe they couldn’t have made the play. But Duhart, with his innate body control and strong hands, made sure to secure the ball almost every time as he finished with nine catches for 142 yards, three touchdowns, and of course, a sweet upset as the Monarchs would have their day.
David Blough, QB, Purdue
Old Dominion wasn’t the only unranked, winless team with an upset over a ranked opponent. The Boilermakers also made light work of Boston College. The Eagles had no answer for Purdue’s Blough, who connected with six different receivers for 296 yards and three scores, all while completing 75 percent of his passes as Purdue rolled to a 30-13 win.
Tre Watson, LB, Maryland
Maryland started the season strong with a win over Texas that is looking better by the week, but the Terps needed to show their worth in Big Ten conference play if they wanted to be taken seriously. Cue the music, as Watson might as well have taken up residence in the Minnesota offense. He finished the day with 11 tackles, a sack, and a beautiful interception that he returned 36 yards for the score.
Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
Armstead was known to have a nose for the end zone as a sophomore when he found pay dirt 14 times, but this season has been a bit tougher. Despite two 100-plus-yard rushing efforts, the featured back had yet to find the end zone. That “streak” came to an end against Tulsa, as Armstead ran all over the defense for 108 yards and that elusive touchdown.
Isaiah Buggs, DE, Alabama
Another year, another dominant Alabama defensive lineman. Buggs had already started off strong with two sacks in his first two games, and this past weekend against Texas A&M, he was nearly unstoppable. Not only did he have seven tackles, but he also notched three sacks as the Crimson Tide defense looks as intimidating as ever.