Is the Pac-12 invasion of college football upon us?
Last week, it was UCLA beating the LSU Tigers in dominant fashion. This week, it was the Oregon Ducks going into "The Shoe" and beating the no. 3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
The one thing we know for certain about this game, is that nothing is certain.. ask Ohio State.
1. CJ Verdell - Running back - Oregon
Stats vs. Ohio State: 20 carries, 161 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 34 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
In essence, Oregon's improbable victory over Ohio State would not have been possible without Verdell's production. He did everything you could ask a running back to do in the game, and more. In addition to gaining over100 yards on the ground, he was a tremendous asset in the pass catcher role, as he flexed out often and gained important yards when it mattered. If one has followed Verdell throughout his career, this type of performance is expected, as he has proven to be one of the most important players in their program's history.
2. Sam Howell - Quarterback - North Carolina
Stats vs. Georgia State: 21 completions, 352 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 104 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
To say the least, Howell was an absolute monster in this game. After last week's disappointing performance against Virginia Tech, Howell decided to take matters into his own hands, and carried the team to an impressive victory. He was sharp, efficient, and displayed the type of mobility that should have NFL Draft analysts buzzing. This year's version of the Tar Heels may not have nearly the depth of talent it had last season with names such as Javonte Williams and Dyami Brown. As long as Howell can continue playing at this level, they should remain in the conversation of teams who could win the ACC.
3. Brennan Armstrong - Quarterback - Virginia
Stats vs. Illinois: 27 completions, 405 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 75.0 completion%
Armstrong picked the right time to have the best game of his college career. In their victory over Illinois, he finished with the third-most passing yards in a game, in the program's history. In two games, Armstrong is averaging 372 passing yards and a passer rating of 196.4. He is a player that is on the rise and quickly becoming a household name in the ACC.
4. C.J. Stroud - Quarterback - Ohio State
Stats vs. Oregon: 35 completions, 484 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 64.8 completions %
There is an occurring theme in the games Stroud has played so far this season. In the first half he struggled; missed throws, questionable reads, and taking unnecessary hits. Yet, somehow in the second half of his games, he is able to figure it out, as his efficiency and decision-making skills dramatically improve. The ebbs and flows of a young quarterback like Stroud, have been on full display; this game was no exception. He was exceptional in the second half, accounting for two touchdown passes, and helped put three different pass catchers up with 100+ receiving yards. He played a near-flawless half until his interception late in the game. Stroud is still a work in progress, but his talent is undeniable at this point.
5. Chris Rodriguez Jr. - Running back - Kentucky
Stats vs. Missouri: 27 carries, 206 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 7.6 yards/carry
At this point, Rodriguez Jr. should be considered one of the top running backs in college football. There are few players at his position that possess his brand of game-breaking speed and acceleration. Both these aspects were on full display against the Tiger's defense. The aspect of his game that needs the most improvement is his ball security. Before halftime in the contest, he fumbled at the goal line inches before crossing into the end zone, which the Tigers recovered and drove 80 yards for a touchdown. This aside, Rodriguez Jr. was as good as any offensive player in the nation this week.
6. Jermaine Johnson II - Defensive End - Florida State
Stats vs. Jacksonville St.: 11 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss.
So far this season, things have not gone as planned for Florida State. After a respectable defeat to Notre Dame last week, the Seminoles were upset by Jacksonville State this week. The only bright spot for this team was the dominant performance by Johnson in this game. After a strong performance last week, Johnson took it to another level and made the entire team look good. With the way he has been playing so far, there is good reason to believe that he could be a potential first rounder in the upcoming NFL Draft. Perhaps his transfer from Georgia was a good idea after all.
7. Anthony Richardson - Quarterback - Florida
Stats vs. South Florida: 3 completions, 152 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 115 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdowns.
At 6'4 236 pounds, Richardson is not your average freshman quarterback. Blessed with immense athletic gifts, which he displayed during pre-game warmups in the form of a backflip, Richardson did not hold back and gave everyone in attendance a show. His 80-yard touchdown run may have been enough for Gators fans to want him as their new starting quarterback, considering Emory Jones' struggles in this game. Richardson became the first Gators quarterback since Tim Tebow to gain 100+ yards in the air and on the ground. It will be interesting to see if head coach Dan Mullen sticks with Jones, or moves ahead with Richardson in their big game next week against Alabama.
8. Cartavious "Tank" Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter - Running Backs - Auburn
Stats vs. Alabama St. (combined): 19 carries, 269 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Coming into this season, all eyes were focused on Bigsby and rightfully so, after a phenomenal true freshman year. The one person that was missed in this equation was Jarquez Hunter, who rushed for 110 yards in his college debut last week, against Akron. Well, the two together are arguably the best running back tandem in college football. Their domination of Alabama State served as a message to all teams, that this duo will be a problem going forward.
9. Bailey Zappe - Quarterback - Western Kentucky
Stats vs. Army: 28 completions, 435 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 70.0 completion%
Another week, another colossal performance by Zappe. At this point, producing 400-yard passing gameshas become routine, as he did it this time against Army. After two weeks, Zappe has accumulated 859 passing yard, with 10 touchdowns, and just one interception. If you don't have him on your list of top quarterbacks in the nation at this point, you are not doing it right.
WR Jaxson Smith-njigba - Ohio State
LB Noah Sewell - Oregon
RB Treyson Potts - Minnesota
LB JD Bertrand - Notre Dame
RB Blake Corum - Michigan
QB Stetson Bennett - Georgia
DT Byron Young - Alabama
WR Devin Maddox - Toledo
WR Jaivon Heiligh - Coastal Carolina
DL Perrion Winfrey - Oklahoma
DL Habakkuk Baldonado - Pitt
QB Hank Bachmeier - Boise State
WR Khalil Shakir - Boise State
RB Bryant Koback - Toledo
WR Jayden Reed - Michigan State