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October 31, 2007

Moreno shows Georgia the way

Knowshon Moreno
Running Back, Georgia

Knowshon didn't know much about the Georgia-Florida rivalry.

A redshirt freshman from Bedford, N.J., Georgia's Knowshon Moreno hadn't been exposed to nearly 17 years of futility for Georgia in the series.

A tailback with a short memory turned out to be just what Georgia needed to turn the tide in the Bulldogs' rivalry with Florida. The Gators are 15-5 against Georgia in Moreno's lifetime.

Moreno rushed for a career-high 188 yards and three touchdowns and put a damper on Florida's SEC East title hopes in a 42-30 victory to earn Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week honors.

"I wasn't really aware (of the Georgia-Florida history)," Moreno said. "I heard about it, but it wasn't a big deal to me."

In the process, Moreno put Georgia back into the race for the SEC East title. At 4-2 in the conference, Georgia still needs to win its remaining games and needs Tennessee to lose once for a chance to go to the SEC title game. More of the same from Moreno would inspire optimism in Athens, Ga. Moreno has run for 345 yards on 61 carries the past two games, both against SEC East opponents.

His emergence couldn't have come at a better time for the Bulldogs.

Georgia went into the season using a three-man rotation at tailback before seniors Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin were sidelined by injuries. Behind Moreno, who had been a solid contributor in the rotation, the injuries left little depth at tailback. There was seldom-used senior Jason Johnson and true freshman Caleb King, who is redshirting.

Johnson carried the ball once against Florida, and there was no need to burn King's redshirt.

It was an unexpected result against a defense that had allowed just one other team (LSU) to rush for more than 100 yards.

"They're a really good defense," Moreno said. "The offensive line did a good job blocking. They opened up some big holes."

In the process, Moreno sparked the two biggest Georgia celebrations of the day. His first touchdown run set off a bench-clearing celebration at the goal line, which resulted in two personal-foul penalties on the Bulldogs. The outburst set the tone for Georgia for the rest of the game, which ended on another Moreno touchdown.

Georgia's lead was cut to 35-30 after a touchdown run by Tim Tebow with 9:40 left. Moreno then took over, running seven times for 32 yards on the ensuing drive, which lasted 5:46 and ended in a 3-yard touchdown run by Moreno.

It was exactly the kind of drive Georgia needed at the time, but just like the history of the Florida-Georgia series, Moreno didn't put too much thought into the big-picture implications.

"I didn't do anything out of the (ordinary)," Moreno said. "I wasn't really putting extra pressure on myself."

OTHER NOMINEES FOR FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK:

TBs Jeremy Avery/D.J. Harper, Boise State
No Ian Johnson, no problem. Avery and Harper combined for 277 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-21 victory at Fresno State


QB Cody Hawkins, Colorado
Hawkins has the Buffaloes competitive again in the Big 12. He passed for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-26 victory over Texas Tech.


TB LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
McCoy had his fifth 100-yard game of the season with 120 yards and a touchdown in a 24-17 win over Louisville.


QB Jake Locker, Washington
Another tough-luck loss for Locker. He passed for 336 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, along with 157 rushing yards and two TDs in a 48-41 loss to Arizona.




Jamaal Charles
Running back
Texas


Charles' 216 fourth-quarter yards would have been a career-high on their own. Throw in the first three quarters and Charles, a junior, finished with 290 yards on 33 carries.

His fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 25, 86 and 40 yards saved Texas the indignity of losing to Nebraska at home. The Longhorns won 28-25 after trailing 17-9 entering the final period.

OTHER NOMINEES:

QB Pat White, West Virginia
White helped the Mountaineers stay in the Big East title chase with 300 total yards - 144 passing yards and 156 rushing yards - and a touchdown in a 31-3 rout of Rutgers.


QB Willie Tuitama, Arizona
Tuitama led a 22-point, fourth-quarter rally in a 48-41 win over Washington. He finished with a school-record 510 passing yards and five touchdowns.


CB Terrence Wheatley, Colorado
Wheatley helped shut down Texas Tech's offense by intercepting three Graham Harrell passes in a 31-26 win over the Red Raiders in Lubbock.


TB Dwight Tardy, Washington State
Tardy, a sophomore, had a career-high 214 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries in a 28-7 upset of UCLA.



Ellis Johnson
Defensive Coordinator
Mississippi St.


Some of the SEC's best defense's couldn't do it, but Mississippi State's did.

Johnson's Bulldogs held Kentucky to a season-low 319 total yards and intercepted Andre' Woodson three times.

Mississippi State's defense likely knocked Kentucky out of the SEC East race and also put the Bulldogs one win away from bowl eligibility with a 31-14 upset in Lexington.

OTHER NOMINEES:

Jim Bollman, Ohio State
The Buckeyes' defense gets most of the praise, but the offense stole the show with its balance against Penn State. Ohio State had 200 rushing yards and 253 passing yards in a 37-17 win in State College.


Nick Aliotti, Oregon
Oregon turned to its defense rather than its high-powered offense to hold USC to 378 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-17 win.


Todd Orlando, Connecticut
USF moved the ball more than Connecticut would have liked, but the Huskies made big plays - including two interceptions and three sacks - when it counted. Connecticut prevented USF from scoring in three of five trips to the red zone.


Mike Levenseller, Washington State
The Cougars torched the normally solid UCLA defense for 274 rushing yards and 271 passing yards in a 27-7 upset.



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