For all of this week’s players of the week, it was time to step up. All three players were crucial in their teams’ victories that kept them in contention for their respective conference titles. Carson Palmer finally backed up all the hype that followed him into Los Angeles, Terrence Edwards took control of Georgia’s game against Kentucky when a few of his teammates were sidelined and Cedric Benson helped Texas play to its full potential for the first time this season.
Why Palmer?: In his first three seasons at Southern Cal., Carson Palmer was considered a disappointment – all hype. This season, Palmer has backed it all up, and Saturday, he threw for a career-best 448 yards and five touchdowns in the Trojans’ 44-33 victory over Oregon in Autzen Stadium. Palmer and the Trojans were losing by five at the half, but Palmer said he knew that his offense would be able to catch fire in the second half. The Trojans will need Palmer to continue his consistent play if they want to stay in the Pac-10 race with Washington State and Arizona State, which are both undefeated in conference play. Palmer was 31-of-42 and threw just one interception Saturday.
Why Edwards?: Most people wrote the fifth-ranked Bulldogs off on their trip to Lexington to play Kentucky. Georgia was playing without starting running back Musa Smith and wide receiver Fred Gibson, which put a lot of pressure on Edwards, the senior, to step it up. In a record-breaking performance for Edwards, he caught five passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 52-24 romp of the Wildcats. Edwards broke Georgia’s all-time record for career receptions, which was previously 182 catches, as Georgia made all the naysayers forget about the absences of Smith and Gibson. Edwards caught touchdown passes of 41, 22 and 12 yards.
Why Benson?: The Texas Longhorns have been a disappointment in many ways so far this season, but more so than any other, the Texas running game has not been up to snuf. In a big game for Texas’ dwindling Big 12 title hopes against Iowa State in Austin, Benson finally broke out of his slump, rushing for 199 yards on 30 carries. Benson scored two touchdowns, helping the Longhorns to a 21-10 victory over Seneca Wallace and the Cyclones. Benson, who said he was “sick” of how the Longhorns had played this season, got loose for a 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to put Texas on top for good. The most important thing about Benson’s performance was that he kept Wallace and the Cyclones’ attack off the field.