Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Zack Sanchez, CB, Oklahoma (NCAA) — The Sooners are competing for a spot in college football’s first-ever national championship playoffs. The Longhorns are just trying to rediscover what it’s like to be competitive as they undergo a rebuilding process. This year’s Red River Rivalry game wasn’t supposed to be close, and after Sanchez’s 43-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter gave OU a 17-3 lead on Saturday, it was looking like the blowout everybody predicted. Texas came back to make it a game in the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma was able to hang on for a 31-26 victory. Sanchez, a redshirt sophomore who added eight tackles and three pass breakups, now has one INT in each of Oklahoma’s five wins this season. In the one game in which he didn’t get a pick, the Sooners lost to TCU.
Aqib Talib, CB, Broncos (NFL) — In another game that was closer than anybody expected, the Jets had the ball and a chance to tie in the final minute against the Broncos on Sunday. But before NY’s Geno Smith could pull a John Elway on John Elway’s team, Talib ended the threat with an interception that he returned 22 yards for a score to give Denver a 31-17 victory. Talib added four tackles and two pass breakups.
Geoff Tisdale, CB, Montreal (CFL) — The Alouettes’ 40-9 rout of Saskatchewan on Monday puts them in a three-way tie for first place in the Canadian Football League’s East Division with just four weeks remaining in the regular season. The defensive star of Montreal’s crucial win was Tisdale, who hauled in two interceptions; including one that he snagged with one hand.
Landon Collins, SS, Alabama (NCAA) — Despite all of the jubilation that followed Bama’s loss to Ole Miss last week, the Crimson Tide are still in the national championship picture. (Remind me again why it’s cute and fun for college students to tear down a goal post and parade it around town, but student-athletes will be penalized and called immature for a harmless celebration after a big play.) Collins saved Bama’s title hopes on Saturday with his fourth-quarter interception that prevented what would’ve been Arkansas’ go-ahead TD. The junior safety added eight tackles, including one tackle for loss, and two pass breakups.
Rashad Johnson, FS, Cardinals (NFL) — At best, he’s the fourth or fifth most popular player in Arizona’s secondary, but on Sunday he was the standout in a 30-20 win over Washington. Johnson had a team-high eight tackles and two interceptions; the second one he took back 28 yards for a score with 18 seconds left that was the dagger for the Cardinals.
Jay Hughes, SS, Mississippi State (NCAA) — The senior’s interception on Auburn’s first play from scrimmage helped set up Heisman-contending QB Dak Prescott for another touchdown and helped set the tone in the Bulldogs’ 38-23 win on Saturday, a win that vaulted MSU to No. 1 in the polls.