The opportunity is there every week. Some players seize it. Others let it slide away. Here's a look at the players (and coaches) who shined or slipped in Week 8:
1. USC QB Mark Sanchez
This former super recruit lived up to his hype during USC's blowout of Notre Dame on Saturday. In his second start for the injured John David Booty, Sanchez completed 21 of 38 passes for 235 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He displayed a strong arm and good field vision in spreading the ball around to eight different receivers. He also showed more mobility to create positive yardage once the initial play broke down.
Don't automatically "insert disclaimer" because his success came against a one-win Notre Dame team, either. The Irish's pass defense is better than people think. It ranks 39th nationally in pass efficiency defense and, comparatively speaking, it held Heisman candidate QB Matt Ryan (Boston College) in check. In addition to picking him off once, Notre Dame's defense is the only one that prevented Ryan from reaching the 300-yard passing plateau when attempting 35-plus passes -- and Ryan attempted 49 in that contest.
Sure, Sanchez still has much to prove. However, his showing in South Bend certainly gives Pete Carroll and his staff something to mull over when Booty is healthy enough to return.