With Week 8 in the books, it's time to look back at the players who made the biggest differences in key games. Two of our selections this week had huge nights running the ball. Our national selection scored three touchdowns in a pivotal win to push his team into the playoff hunt, while our SEC selection had his best performance of the season. Meanwhile, our Freshman of the Week selection tied for the most receiving yards for the week.
Here are our weekly award winners and SEC scholar athletes.
National Player of the Week
Notre Dame running back Josh Adams: Notre Dame's potent rushing attack was anchored by Adams in a 49-14 statement win over USC on Saturday. Adams averaged just north of 10 yards per carry for 191 yards and three touchdowns. His 19 touches tied for a season high. Between Adams and quarterback Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame's backfield may just help this team make a run towards the College Football Playoff.
SEC Player of the Week
LSU running back Derrius Guice: Guice has been through plenty this season battling injuries, but he was back to his old self in LSU's 40-26 win over Ole Miss. Guice had a season-best 276 yards, which led all rushers in the FBS in Week 8, and a touchdown. In all, he averaged 12.5 yards per carry. With Russell Gage having an exceptional past couple of weeks rushing and receiving, it's almost as though Guice became an afterthought. Not anymore.
Freshman of the Week
Appalachian State wide receiver Jalen Virgil: Virgil had a season-best five receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was an 83-yard score, during Appalachian State's 37-29 win over Coastal Carolina. Virgil's second touchdown came on a 53-yard catch-and-run that put the Mountaineers up in the third quarter, 23-22. His 186 yards through the air tied for most of any wideout in Week 8.
Week 8 Scholar Athletes
Tennessee offensive lineman Brett Kendrick: The redshirt senior carries a 3.33 GPA and graduated in 3.5 years last December with a degree in Recreation and Sport Management. He is currently working on his master's degree in Agricultural Leadership. Kendrick is a Vol Scholar and a member of the 2016 SEC Academic Honor Roll. Saturday's game against Alabama marked his 20th consecutive start along the offensive line; he has starts at both tackle spots and left guard this season.
Alabama offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher: The redshirt junior graduated in August with a bachelor's degree in marketing and is currently working toward his master's degree in Sports Business Management. Pierschbacher has already earned SEC Academic Honor Roll selections in 2015 and 2016.