College Football Notebook: September 9

By Don Wade

University of Memphis sophomore quarterback Paxton Lynch apparently likes the big stage. Lynch passed for a career-high 305 yards as he completed 27-of-41 passes (one touchdown, no interceptions) in the Tigers’ 42-35 loss at then-No. 11 UCLA.

Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch was named American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week after passing for a career-high 305 yards in the loss at No. 11 UCLA.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Lynch was at the controls for 81 plays and 489 yards of total offense. He scored the Tigers’ first points of the game on an 8-yard touchdown run.

“They threw the kitchen sink at us,” UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich told The Los Angeles Times. “We had a simple game plan. Maybe it was too simple.”

The American Athletic Conference named Lynch its Offensive Player of the Week.

“At times he played well, at times he didn’t,” Tigers coach Justin Fuente said. “I am proud of him. That defense (which scored 21 points in week one against Virginia) will make you make mistakes. Operating in a great environment and playing a great defense will be beneficial to him.”

The league also named Tigers linebacker Tank Jakes to its weekly Honor Roll. Jakes led Memphis with 12 total tackles, 11 of them solo. He made a career-best four tackles for lost yardage and had two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Jakes also was selected the National Linebacker of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards and was Athlon Sports’ Conference Player of the Week for the American.

The Tigers (1-1) have a bye week. Their next game is Saturday, Sept. 20, vs. Middle Tennessee State at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The game has been moved to 6 p.m. and will be carried online by ESPN3.

The SEC West has established early dominance in the A.P. Top 25 poll with five teams ranked in the Top 15: Alabama (3), Auburn (5), Texas A&M (7), LSU (10) and Ole Miss (14). All five teams are 2-0. Among SEC East teams, Georgia is ranked sixth and this week has a showdown with No. 24. South Carolina (1-1, 0-1).

Worth noting: Of those five SEC West teams, only Alabama is still seeking its No. 1 quarterback. True, fifth-year senior Blake Sims has made two starts. But Florida State transfer Jake Coker got real time against Florida Atlantic last Saturday, too, and each passed for more than 200 yards.

Saban’s message in his Monday, Sept. 8, media briefing: butt out.

“It doesn’t matter what you think or what anyone else thinks,” Saban said in response to a quarterback question.

Meanwhile, LSU coach Les Miles had a couple of things to say about his freshman running back Leonard Fournette, who after scoring the first touchdown of his career Saturday struck the Heisman pose. Fournette did rush for 92 yards, but still …

“I think it’s a little premature to launch a Heisman candidacy,” Miles said. “He needs to realize too that this is a team. It has nothing to do with personal liberty. There’s a lot of guys blocking for that run.”

Big Tin: What a disastrous weekend for the league that loves to howl about the SEC being over-hyped. Ohio State, an early favorite for the first College Football Playoff this season until losing its starting quarterback, took a 35-21 loss at home to Virginia Tech. Oregon, which leaped over Alabama to No. 2 in the Top 25, rallied to defeat Michigan State 46-27. Notre Dame shut out Michigan 31-0.

And Nebraska needed a miracle at game’s end to avoid a possible upset by McNeese State. The Cornhuskers had been ranked 19, but slid out of the polls. Also, No. 18 Wisconsin started the season with a loss to LSU.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s public response: “I would hate to think after two weeks we would pick any teams for anything.”

Yes, much too early for that. But it’s not too early to assume the Big Ten won’t be in the four-team playoff.