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Dr. Saturday

Superlatives: In which Vontaze Burfict gets in your head

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

Snap judgments on Saturday's best.

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APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY • Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley initiated the head games last week when he called Burfict out as "a dirty player" in the Los Angeles Times. But it was Burfict who won the mental tug-of-war when he leapt in front of a Barkley screen pass in the second quarter for his first career interception — and then went out of his way to oh-so-politely help Barkley to his feet after barreling over him during the return:

From there, the Sun Devil offense took the ball in for a touchdown that extended the ASU lead to 21-6, and the defense forced three more Trojan turnovers in the second half en route to a 43-22 win — the Devils' first over USC on any field since 1999.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP • Tyrann Mathieu, LSU.
The Tigers' resident ballhawk achieved vertical integration of LSU's booming "hidden yardage" business at West Virginia, forcing a fumble, downing a punt at the Mountaineer one-yard line and returning an interception to the goal line in a 47-21 Tiger win. With his second forced fumble of the season, Mathieu tied the school record with seven strips in 17 career games, and also held on to his position as the team's leading tackler.

EUCLIDEAN GEOMETRY • Kansas State's Defense.
Applying a surprisingly strong grasp of the nature of two intersecting planes in a three-dimensional space, K-State kept Miami from crossing the goal line on four consecutive plays from the Wildcat two to preserve a 28-24 upset in the most dramatic finish of the day:{YSP:MORE}

I barely made it out of my only math class as a freshman with a very generous 'D,' but even I can grasp this: With their first non-conference road win since 2005, the Wildcats are 3-0.

MATHEMATICS • LaMichael James, Oregon.
As usual, the Ducks' favorite human calculator made big numbers look easy, turning in a school-record 288 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in a 48-31 rout at Arizona. That means LaMichael averaged… what, class? That's right, he averaged 12.5 yards per carry. With another 60 yards as a punt returner and 15 as a receiver, his 363 all-purpose yards for the game was good for the second-highest total in the nation over the first month of the season.

CROSS-DISCIPLINARY STUDIES • Trent Richardson, Alabama; Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina; and Chris Polk, Washington.
Three old-school workhorses handled their traditional duties between the tackles, churning out 263 yards and two touchdowns on 57 carries between them. But the highlight-reel moment for all three came in the passing game, on routine screen passes that went the distance — Richardson took it in from 61 yards out, Polk from 70 yards and Lattimore from 52 — for back-breaking touchdowns in key divisional wins over Arkansas, Cal and Vanderbilt.

It's really not as hard as it looks, when they never lay a hand on you.

ENVIRONMENTALISM • South Carolina's Defense.
Lattimore's versatility notwithstanding, four interceptions from the arm of quarterback Stephen Garcia left a toxic mess for the Gamecock defense, which responded in turn by converting the Vanderbilt offense into a compost heap: Carolina held the Commodores out of the end zone, yielded just 77 total yards on five first downs, sacked Vandy quarterback Larry Smith six times, created three turnovers and added a touchdown of its own on a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Melvin Ingram — his third Fat Guy Touchdown in as many weeks.

CHEMISTRY • Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, Clemson.
Following up their explosive afternoon in last week's win over Auburn, Clemson's young, highly combustible duo connected eight times for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-30 win over Florida State, the last one burning the 'Noles for 62 yards en route to the decisive score:

Four games into his career, Watkins is tied for the national lead with six touchdown catches for the year — four coming against ranked competition over the last two weeks — and Boyd (a redshirt sophomore in his first season as a starter) is among the top five in both yards and touchdowns as a passer.

Honorable Mention: Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma. Altogether, Jones spread the ball among nine different receivers in the Sooners' 38-28 win over Missouri — not including the two Mizzou DBs who picked him off — but still kept coming back to his favorite target, Broyles, who found himself on the back end of 13 catches for 154 yards and all three of Jones' touchdown passes.

EDUCATION • Keith Price, Washington.
In just his fifth career start, Price continued to demonstrate an advanced grasp of the Husky offense, hitting 19 of 25 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a 31-23 win over California. To date, Price has thrown for at least three touchdowns in all four games in Washington's 3-1 start, and is currently tied for the national lead with 14 TD passes for the season.

POLITICS • Oklahoma State's Defense.
Backs against the wall, the Cowboys launched a full-throated campaign for the redistribution of wealth in a 30-29 win at Texas A&M, forcing four second-half turnovers to negate a 470-yard afternoon by the Aggie offense and lift OSU out of a 20-3 halftime hole. A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill personally racked up 309 yards through the air and 69 more as a runner, but was picked off three times by three different OSU defenders, tying his career high against LSU in last year's Cotton Bowl.

CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY • Will Muschamp, Florida.
At some point in the Gators' 48-10 obliteration of Kentucky — presumably for recruiting purposes — Muschamp became the first coach to openly declare his allegiance to the West Coast:

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Well, almost. Keep working on it, coach: If these girls can do it, you'll get there soon enough.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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