When the dust settled and the smoke cleared on the Northern Illinois-Northwestern slugfest on Saturday, Tyrell Sutton's stat line read more like a fantasy football owner's dream than a true freshman's second collegiate performance.
The Wildcats' emerging star wasn't even listed as the first-string back before the game, but that didn't stop Sutton from racking up 214 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a nail-biting home win. For his efforts, Sutton has been named the Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week.
Most people would have expected an explosive ground game in the matchup, although the predicted performer would have been Northern Illinois' Garrett Wolfe. Wolfe also had a huge game, piling on 245 rushing yards, but it was Northwestern's Sutton who landed the final blow.
After having found the end zone on runs of 17, 6 and 7 yards, Sutton and the Wildcats still found themselves tied with the Huskies, 31-31. So coach Randy Walker stuck to the game plan that had kept Northwestern in the game - he gave the ball to his rookie tailback.
Sutton carried the ball on three of the Wildcat's last six offensive plays, adding a tidy 46 more yards in the clutch, including the go-ahead touchdown scamper from 5 yards out with 1:02 remaining. He has been named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
After the game, Sutton was able to appreciate the rare nature of the day's ground games.
"It's phenomenal to see running backs be able to do what we did today, putting up 400 or 500 yards," Sutton said. "Wolfe is a great running back (and) a great guy, so it's phenomenal to run against a back like that, especially in your own house, (and) especially when you come out on top."
Though Sutton's game was certainly impressive, it hardly came as a shock to Northwestern fans. Those who saw the freshman hang 104 yards and two scores on 17 carries on a formidable Ohio Bobcats team knew Sutton was something special.
Sutton and the Wildcats will face a taller task this Saturday when they travel to Tempe to take on the No. 18 Arizona State Sun Devils.
Other freshmen of note: • Texas running back Jamaal Charles was instrumental in the Longhorns victory at Ohio State. Though he gained only 26 yards on the ground, Charles had 69 receiving yards, including a key 36-yard reception which set up a Texas field goal at the end of the first half. • Florida State had several freshman contribute in its 62-10 drubbing of The Citadel. Drew Weatherford passed for 342 yards and two touchdowns, and receiver Greg Carr caught three passes for 104 yards and two scores. Rod Owens also had two catches and a score, and former five-star prospect Fred Rouse pulled in one catch for 54 yards. • Wyoming redshirt freshman Wynel Seldon had 17 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys 38-0 shutout of UL-Monroe. • Michigan had a couple of bright spots during its 17-10 loss to Notre Dame. True freshman Kevin Grady had 79 yards on the ground after Mike Hart left the game with an injury. Mario Manningham also caught a touchdown pass. • Clemson's James Davis followed up his Rivals.com Freshman of the Week performance with another strong outing against Maryland. Davis logged 82 yards in a comeback victory in College Park. • Oklahoma State got a boost from Mike Hamilton against Florida Atlantic on Saturday. The redshirt freshman piled up 104 yards at 5.0 yards per carry.