For a game that featured plenty of fireworks on offense, a linebacker helped make the difference Saturday in Missouri's 52-42 victory over Illinois.
Sean Weatherspoon made two fourth-quarter interceptions to preserve Missouri's victory in the season opener for both. Weatherspoon picked off a pass at Missouri's 35 with the Tigers clinging to a 45-35 lead. He later returned an interception 35 yards for a game-clinching touchdown.
Weatherspoon also recorded nine tackles in a performance that helped make him the new No. 1 linebacker in the Rivals.com Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.
"We were all on the sideline talking about (how) someone really needs to make a play here," Weatherspoon said, "and I just wanted to be that guy to step up and do the best I could."
Weatherspoon wasn't the only Missouri player to move to the top of the rankings this week. Chase Coffman moved atop the tight end rankings after catching nine passes for 120 yards and a touchdown against Illinois.
The only other newcomer at the top is UCLA's DeWayne Walker, who displaced Virginia Tech's Bud Foster as the No. 1 defensive coordinator. Although UCLA sacked Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton only one time in a 27-24 overtime victory, the Bruins applied constant pressure against a team that allowed the fewest sacks in the nation last season.
Weatherspoon and Coffman joined a growing Missouri fraternity atop the power rankings. Jeremy Maclin remained the nation's top special teams performer after scoring on a 99-yard kickoff return and compiling 234 all-purpose yards against Illinois. Missouri's 52 points and 549 yards in total offense also helped Dave Christensen maintain his position as the No. 1 offensive coordinator.
The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.