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Week 2 top performers: Murray flawless for Bulldogs

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Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was named the SEC's offensive player of the week after throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-30 win over South Carolina. (Source: Georgia Athletics) Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was named the SEC's offensive player of the week after throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-30 win over South Carolina. (Source: Georgia Athletics)
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(RNN) – Here's a weekly look at five of the SEC's top performers in Week 2 and who to watch in Week 3.

Week 2 top performers:

1. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia – Following his 309-yard, four-touchdown performance in a 41-30 win over South Carolina, Murray was named the SEC's offensive player of the week.

That honor is familiar to Murray, who has nine career games with at least four touchdowns and moved to second place for total offense in Georgia history. He spread the ball to eight receivers, seven of whom had at least two catches, and each touchdown went to a different player.

Murray is as steady a performer as there is in college football, but Georgia showed in the fourth quarter that it has the ability to play ball control as well, and the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) gained 229 yards on the ground. If that balance continues, Murray will be in for more wins over highly ranked teams. His next shot comes in two weeks against LSU.

2. Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina – Davis rushed for 149 yards on 16 carries against Georgia and had a 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter where he fought for the entire distance before reaching across the goal line.

Davis averaged more than 9 yards per carry and helped bring the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1) to within one score of taking the lead early in the fourth quarter. It was his second 100-yard game this year, and second averaging more than 9 yards per carry, but he was stopped short of the goal line late in the fourth quarter.

Davis has easily filled the hole left by Marcus Lattimore, and provides a power punch to the Gamecocks' passing attack, which has also been consistent. That balance will be crucial later in the season when South Carolina could be battling for a berth in the SEC championship game.

3. Brian Randolph, S, Tennessee – Western Kentucky's seven turnovers were a boon for Tennessee's defense, and Randolph was able to play in a big role by intercepting two passes. Both Randolph's interceptions were in the end zone and he earned the SEC's defensive player of the week award.

It's the first time since 2008 a Tennessee player has been the defensive player of the week. The Volunteers (2-0) will need their defense to be at its peak this week against Oregon.

4. Austyn Carta-Samuels, QB, Vanderbilt – Carta-Samuels threw for 223 yards and a touchdown and picked up two rushing touchdowns in a 38-3 win over Austin Peay.

Vanderbilt (1-1, 0-1) looked good offensively at times in the season opener against Ole Miss, but if the Commodores want to win eight games in the regular season again, they will need to upset a ranked team. This week could be a good opportunity for that against South Carolina.

5. Odell Beckham, WR, LSU – Beckham returned a missed field goal for a touchdown from nine yards deep in the end zone, which tied for the longest play in LSU history and was the first time an LSU player had ever returned a missed field goal for a score.

He added 136 receiving yards and three touchdowns – all of which were longer than 20 yards – and was named the SEC's special teams player of the week following the Tigers' 56-17 win over UAB. LSU (2-0) starts conference play in two weeks.

Who to watch in Week 3:

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – As long as he's healthy, Manziel will belong in this category every week because he's such a dynamic player, and most weeks he'll end up in the above category as well. But this week is its own special circumstance because of the hype surrounding A&M's matchup with No. 1 Alabama.

The game has many storylines, but the one that will get the most hype is the "rematch" angle between last year's national champion and the only team that handed it a loss. Manziel threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 93 yards against Alabama last year, and will be playing at home this time around.

Because of that game, Manziel is seen as the ideal threat to the Crimson Tide (1-0), and his blend of talent was specifically cited in a recent Sports Illustrated article as one of the things needed to beat them.

ESPN and CBS will both have their pregame shows on-site in College Station, and CBS, which is broadcasting the game, is adding a camera to its usual game coverage specifically to follow Manziel. The "Johnny Cam" will be pointed at Manziel the entire game, according to CBS' Craig Silver.

2. Cyrus Kouandjio/Arie Kouandjio/Ryan Kelly/Anthony Steen/Austin Shepherd, OL, Alabama – Another angle sure to draw plenty of analysis – maybe even some extra camera focus – are the five players charged with making sure Alabama's offense runs smoothly.

They didn't do that in the season opener against Virginia Tech. Manziel will make plays and the Aggies (2-0) will score points, but if Alabama can't muster more than the 96 rushing yards it gained against the Hokies or protect AJ McCarron better (he was sacked four times), it will be tough to keep Manziel off the field, the Tide defense rested and the game from getting out of hand.

The unit has three players – Arie Kouandjio, Kelly and Shepherd – who are first-year starters but even left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who is considered the best player of the group, struggled to hold blocks and protect McCarron in the season opener.

The team is coming off a bye week, but it won't be known if that was a good thing until the game starts. Even if the problems the unit faced in Week 1 have been solved, the problem of a hostile crowd will be an unfamiliar challenge.

3. Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – Ole Miss is facing Texas this week, which gave up 550 rushing yards to BYU last Saturday and fired its defensive coordinator Sunday.

If there was ever an opportunity to knock off the Longhorns (1-1), this is it. The Rebels (2-0, 1-0) have shown the ability to run, and Wallace himself is a shifty running threat from the backfield. BYU's quarterback was its leading rusher against the Longhorns with 259 yards and three touchdowns.

Coupled with the speed of running back Jeff Scott, the Rebels' ground game could exploit the same weaknesses targeted by BYU. Wallace is also a more than capable thrower, amassing 283 yards in a season-opening win against Vanderbilt.

4. Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee – Tennessee's best chance at pulling off an upset of Oregon is to play ball control, drain the clock and keep Oregon's explosive offense on the sideline. The Vols have shown they have the ability to run following wins over Austin Peay and Western Kentucky, but neither of those teams comes close to matching Oregon's talent.

Neal already has four rushing touchdowns and is averaging nearly 7 yards per carry on the year. Against Oregon, Tennessee will need that running game to continue to keep the score low and prevent the Ducks (2-0) from getting out in front or the game could get out of hand fast.

5. Tre Mason/Corey Grant/Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn – In the early going, Auburn has shown a three-headed monster of sorts with its stable of running backs. Mason is the primary runner, but wasn't the Tigers' leading rusher in either of their first two games (it was Grant against Washington State and Artis-Payne against Arkansas State).

The Tigers (2-0) open conference play this week against Mississippi State, which is trying to get consecutive wins over Auburn for the first time since the 1999 and 2000 seasons. The Bulldogs (1-1) showed they were vulnerable against the run in a season-opening loss to Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys rushed for 286 yards and had two players gain more than 100 yards against Mississippi State and scored all three of their touchdowns on the ground.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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