COLUMBIA — C'mon, admit it. You've never heard of Earl Bennett.
No, he's not that guy two cubicles down from you. Or the bassist from Miles Davis' quintet.
Point is, if you haven't heard of him, you should.
Bennett is a junior receiver at Vanderbilt. By now, he's probably not the most underrated guy in the Southeastern Conference. Teams and fans are finally beginning to take notice. But, nationally, Bennett's as under the radar as it gets.
While Appalachian State was soaking in America's spotlight, Bennett quietly put together the best individual day this side of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan (400-plus yards, six TDs in a half. Yikes.).
All Bennett had to do to jump on Athlon Sports' Heisman watch list — at No. 25, no less — was catch 13 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns.
Thirteen passes. Two-hundred, twenty-three yards. Three scores.
You want those fantasy points Sunday, don't you?
Yes, it was against Richmond. But what have we learned about the Football Championship Subdivision in recent days?
Munch on these nuggets as you pile on to the Bennett bandwagon:
--The 223 yards set a school record (insert Vandy joke here). Hey, it's still a program that's been in existence since 1890. That, of course, was the Benjamin Harrison administration.
--The 161 catches he hauled in during his freshman and sophomore seasons were the most ever by an SEC receiver after two seasons.
--He's the first receiver in the SEC to have 75 or more catches in two different seasons. He's off to a good start toward a third.
This week, Bennett will test Alabama's defense in Nick Saban's official reunion with the SEC.
Someone other than Bennett? How about Georgia's Matthew Stafford? Everyone was in frenzy mode about Oklahoma State's offense and then Stafford shames the Pokes. Coach Mark Richt has been extremely complimentary of the true sophomore this week, saying he's got the potential to be his best quarterback. A reminder: Richt coached two Heisman winners, Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, at Florida State. Good company. Stafford missed on just six passes and threw for a pair of scores against the Cowboys. More importantly, he made the Bulldogs offense chug without the expected first-game hiccups. Look out, South Carolina.
Game of the week
This is a no-doubter. Virginia Tech visits previously mentioned LSU for a primetime matchup of top-10 teams.
The Tigers have won 11 consecutive home games and have the most talent this side of Los Angeles. The Hokies' defense is undeniably talented, but Tech doesn't play in stadiums like LSU's in the ACC. Give the edge to the Tigers.
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