Top Performers: Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph and Chad Whitener, Florida's Austin Hardin
Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State flew under the radar for the first ten weeks of the season, but after a huge performance by quarterback Mason Rudolph, the Cowboys knocked off No. 5 TCU in a 49-29 win. Rudolph and the offense fired on all cylinders in the first half, scoring four touchdowns through the air en route to a 28-9 halftime lead. James Washington caught a 48- and 50-yard touchdown, Jeff Carr caught another from eight yards out and Marcell Ateman burned defenders for an 82-yard score to cap off the big half for the Cowboys. Rudolph and Washington connected a 74-yard touchdown late in third to effectively put the game away, and the Cowboy quarterback finished a near-flawless game with 378 total yards, 352 coming through the air, and five touchdown passes.
Chad Whitener, Oklahoma State
While the offense put up big numbers against TCU, the Oklahoma State defense held the Horned Frogs to only 29 points and forced four Trevone Boykin interceptions. Whitener was the most disruptive for the Cowboys, finishing with 12 tackles and two interceptions. After TCU scored 13-straight points to cut the Oklahoma State deficit to 13, Whitener snagged his second and the team’s fourth interception of the day with under a minute to play and returned it 42-yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
Austin Hardin, Florida
Austin Hardin hadn’t kicked a field goal in almost two months, but the Florida placekicker shook off the rust and nailed a 43-yard field goal to give the Gators a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt to lock up the SEC East. Despite his lack of experience this season, Florida coach Jim McElwain said he felt confident in Hardin’s skill in the high-pressure situation. Down only one point with 2:27 remaining, Hardin’s kick had the distance and accuracy to slice through the uprights and clinch a spot in the SEC Championship game for the Gators.