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December 5, 2010
As if Cam Newton needed a bump to his Heisman campaign, he received it in Atlanta.
Newton accounted for a season-high six total touchdowns and tied a season high with 408 yards of total offense in Auburn's 56-17 rout of South Carolina in the SEC title game. That performance helped Auburn secure a spot in the national championship game and earned him Rivals.com National Player of the Week honors for the fifth time this season. He also was the SEC's player of the week.
Newton was 17-of-28 passing for 334 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for 73 yards and two scores.
"Words can't explain how I feel right now," Newton said. "[Last year at this time], I was at Blinn College [in Brenham, Texas], winning a junior college national championship. It's a wonder what God can do in a person's life, in such quick fashion."
Newton, who scored his final touchdown with 11:20 left in the fourth quarter to provide a 49-14 lead, has proven in recent weeks he can win with more than his legs. Newton is the SEC's leading rusher, but he topped 100 rushing yards just once in the past five games (151 vs. Georgia). Newton could break the single-season passing efficiency record held by Hawaii's Colt Brennan. Newton's rating is at 188.2, while Brennan's record is 186.0, set in 2007.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who was defensive coordinator at Auburn for its undefeated season in 2004 and at Texas when Vince Young led the Longhorns to the 2005 national title, said he never has seen a better college player than Newton.
"No. It's that simple. No," Chizik said. "If you look over a 13-game span, I've never seen anything like it."
NATIONAL FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Going into a Nov. 10 game at Bowling Green, redshirt freshman Boucher was a backup who had played scant minutes in two games for a team that had yet to earn bowl eligibility. Friday, Boucher led Miami to its first MAC title since 2003.
Boucher became the starter when Zac Dysert suffered a ruptured spleen against Bowling Green. Boucher had made two starts before the MAC title game appearance.
Boucher was 29-of-46 for 333 yards with a touchdown in a 26-21 upset of Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game. NIU entered on an eight-game winning streak and undefeated in the MAC, having beaten conference opponents by an average of 32 points.
After a rough start -- two incomplete passes and a sack -- Boucher handled the final drive of the game like a veteran. He completed a 31-yard pass to Chris Givens on fourth-and-20 to extend the possession before completing a 33-yard touchdown pass to Armand Robinson with 39 seconds left for the winning score.
Conference USA has been the home of some of the nation's most prolific passing offenses and running backs in recent season, but once again, the best defensive team won the league.
UCF held SMU to a season-low 97 rushing yards and 220 passing yards to defeat the Mustangs 17-7 for the Conference USA title and earn National Coordinator of the Week honors for Huxtable.
UCF sacked SMU's Kyle Padron five times and intercepted him twice.
UCF finished the regular season leading Conference USA and in the national top 20 in rush defense, total defense and scoring defense. The Knights also led C-USA in pass efficiency defense.