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December 3, 2006

Top performers: Taking big bites

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On a day when USC was eliminated from national title contention for the first time in the last four seasons, it was fitting the week's top performers were far from the usual suspects.

Leading the way in the final week of the season is true freshman Percy Harvin, who was brought to Florida as a receiver - and the No. 1 rated recruit of the 2006 class by Rivals.com - but on Saturday outrushed Arkansas star Darren McFadden.

Also making the list this week is the UCLA defense. The Bruins engineered a 57-point turnaround from the 66-19 loss to USC in 2005. The Bruins surprised everyone but themselves in a 13-9 win over the Trojans.

Pat White missed West Virginia's game against Rutgers, but the Mountaineers still received plenty of production from their quarterback position. Backup Jarrett Brown amassed 317 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.

While Rutgers couldn't crash the Bowl Championship Series party, another unlikely conference champion did. Wake Forest, led by linebacker Jon Abbate, beat Georgia Tech for the ACC championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl.

Find out who else stood above the rest and who lagged behind in this week's top performers - and top goats:

Rivals.com Top Performers
1. Percy Harvin, Florida wide receiver
The numbers: Six carries, 105 yards, TD; five receptions, 62 yards, TD
The result: Florida 38, Arkansas 28 in the SEC Championship Game
The last time we saw Harvin, he was carted off the field at Doak Campbell Stadium with a neck injury. He returned for the SEC Championship Game as Florida's offensive sparkplug, leading the Gators in rushing for the second consecutive game. With a 37-yard touchdown catch and a 67-yard touchdown run, Harvin averaged 15.2 yards per touch.
2. UCLA defense
The numbers: 329 yards allowed, 55 rushing yards allowed, nine points allowed
The result: UCLA 13, USC 9
The Trojans outgained the Bruins by nearly 100 yards, but UCLA's defense put up numbers where it counted. After USC handed UCLA a 66-19 loss a year ago, the Bruins ended USC's NCAA-record 63-game streak in which the Trojans scored at least 20 points. In the process of knocking USC out of the national championship game, UCLA forced three three-and-outs while allowing only two USC drives of 40 yards or more.
3. Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma wide receiver
The numbers: 10 receptions, 142 yards, two TDs
The result: Oklahoma 21, Nebraska 7 in the Big 12 Championship Game
Running backs Adrian Peterson and Allen Patrick have received most of the attention on the Oklahoma offense, but the Sooners won the Big 12 with the passing game. Kelly broke the Big 12 title game record of 140 receiving yards set in 1998. Paul Thompson's favorite target gave OU a 14-0 lead with a 66-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Kelly sealed the win with a 3-yard TD catch in the third quarter.
4. Jarrett Brown, West Virginia quarterback
The numbers: 14 of 29 passing, 244 yards, TD; 17 carries, 73 yards, TD
The result: West Virginia 41, Rutgers 39 (3 OT)
No Pat White, no problem. The redshirt freshman Brown was a surprise fill-in for White, who was a game-time scratch with an ankle injury. Brown didn't disappoint and knocked Rutgers out of a BCS bowl game in the process. Brown ran for a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give West Virginia a 20-10 lead. In the final minutes of regulation, he passed for 39 yards on a 69-yard drive for the game-tying touchdown.
5. Jon Abbate, Wake Forest linebacker
The numbers: 15 tackles, two tackles for loss, sack
The result: Wake Forest 9, Georgia Tech 6 in the ACC Championship Game
The junior led Wake Forest's defensive charge on the way to the Demon Deacons' first ACC championship since 1970. Abbate and the Wake Forest defense forced Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball into two interceptions. Abbate himself was in on a critical tackle on Ball in the third quarter when Abbate stopped Ball on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 on the Wake 13-yard line.
6. Brian Brohm, Louisville quarterback
The numbers: 20 of 28 passing, 341 yards, four TDs, INT
The result: Louisville 48, Connecticut 17
7. Matt Moore, Oregon State quarterback
The numbers: 11 of 17 passing, 245 yards, three TDs
The result: Oregon State 35, Hawaii 32
8. Chase Holbrook, New Mexico State quarterback
The numbers: 41 of 54 passing, 514 yards, three passing TDs, rushing TD
The result: New Mexico State 50, Louisiana Tech 23
9. Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan quarterback
The numbers: 22 of 30 passing, three TDs, INT; seven carries, 34 yards
The result: Central Michigan 31, Ohio 10 in the MAC Championship Game
10. Mike Teel, Rutgers quarterback
The numbers: 19 of 26 passing, 278 yards, TD
The result: West Virginia 41, Rutgers 39 (3 OT)
The Goats
1. The BCS
Is there any question? A flawed system continues to show its cracks. Either Florida or Michigan will be less than pleased Sunday evening when one of them is left out of the national title game.
2. Arkansas punt returner Reggie Fish
Fish's muffed punt became a turning point in Florida's 38-28 win over Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game. Fish attempted to field a punt inside his 5-yard line. The problem was he tried to catch it over his shoulder while on the run. Florida's Wondy Pierre-Louis fielded the bobble in the end zone to give the Gators a 24-21 lead.
3. Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball
The quarterback's frustrating career is ending on a difficult note. In the ACC title game he was 9-for-29 with two interceptions. He went 6-for- 22 with two interceptions against Georgia the previous week.
4. The ACC
A rough year for the conference had a bittersweet ending. Although Wake Forest wrapped up a Cinderella season, the Demon Deacons won the conference title in a game that included no touchdowns. There were also many empty seats at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
5. Florida International
The Golden Panthers ensured there would be as many winless teams as undefeated teams in the regular season. FIU (0-12) lost to Sun Belt Conference champion Troy 26-13 to join Duke (0-12) among the winless. Ohio State and Boise State have yet to lose a game this season.

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