Week 7 gave us mixed results as fans. Some games were duds, while others produced non-stop action for four quarters.
Luckily, I put out last week’s article later than usual because Appalachian State at Louisiana-Lafayette would have been a featured matchup, and the 17-7 game was even less exciting than the scoreline would suggest. The two featured matchups were competitive, high-scoring games that had some standout production.
But the best games of the week took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, which is why our highlight players of the week mostly come from these two games.
Patrick O’Brien, QB Colorado State
Colorado State has been one of the most pass-friendly offenses in college football for the last few seasons, and O’Brien is continuing the tradition with his production in his first season as a starter. In Week 7, O’Brien passed for the third-most yards in the FBS. The former Nebraska QB has a 9.1 AY/A in his six games and is completing 62.4 percent of his passes. His AY/A ranks 20th in the nation. O’Brien started his college career with Nebraska and was a highly regarded four-star prospect, so he brings a unique pedigree to the group of five. It’s unlikely that he’ll declare for the draft following this season, but if he finishes this season similar to his start, a strong senior campaign could make him a draft sleeper.
Colorado State has a bye in week eight, but returns on October 26 against Fresno State.
Bryson Carroll, RB New Mexico
New Mexico may not have gotten the win over Colorado State, but that wasn’t because of New Mexico’s running game. Bryson Carroll led all college football RBs in rushing yard 1 with 193 yards and a TD on 26 carries. This was easily Carroll’s top performance of the season. His previous best was a 13 carry game for 61 yards and he’s only accounted for 389 rushing yards for the year. And even this game had some miscues as he fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line celebrating too early on a 57-yard run.
SHEESH fumbled on the 1 yard line… 😳 pic.twitter.com/fjlnHPQyVd— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 12, 2019
But this type of game is a positive for the sophomore back who began his college career as a three-star pro-style QB prospect. If he can avoid the mental lapses, his production should earn him more opportunity.
New Mexico travels to Wyoming this week. Wyoming has been strong against the run this season.
Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Mississippi
Southern Mississippi has been an under-the-radar passing offense, this season. They rank sixth in passing yards per game with 331, and Quez Watkins has been a big part of their success. He leads all FBS receivers in average reception with 26.4 yards per catch and has 528 yards for the season. For the season, he holds a 27% market share of receiving yards. And this week was his best of the year. He ranked second in FBS in receiving yards with 198 and a TD in Southern Mississippi’s win.
The Golden Eagles are tied for first in the Conference USA and take on Louisiana Tech in a game that will break the tie.
Other Notable Players
Jack Abraham threw for the second-most yards in the FBS with 421 yards and three TDs in a win against North Texas. That brings him to 1,936 yards and 12 TDs for the year.
Warren Jackson helped Patrick O’Brien out in a big way this week with 214 receiving yards, which led all receivers. He added two touchdowns as well. Colorado State has been a WR prospect factory in recent years, and Jackson might be next in line.
Toa Taua rushed for 158 yards and 2 TDs in Nevada’s win over San Jose State. The sophomore now has 429 yards and three TDs for the season.
Boise State’s win over Hawaii was the shootout I expected, but it wasn’t Khalil Shakir leading the passing attack2 for the Broncos. It was the senior, John Hightower, who accounted for 141 yards and two TDs.
Week 5 Group of Five Matchups of the Week
Temple at SMU
SMU is 6-0 and has been, arguably, the best group-of-five team, this season. Temple has halted the early-season success of Maryland and Memphis, but slipped up, strangely, against Buffalo. Both QBs, Shane Buechele and Anthony Russo, have found success this season. But the more intriguing prospects are likely at the skill positions. For Temple, Re’Mahn Davis has emerged as the top rusher on his team during his freshman season. And for SMU, it’s the receivers James Proche and Reggie Roberson Jr. who stand out. SMU is a 7.5-point favorite, but Temple has outright won games as an underdog this season.
Southern Mississippi at Louisiana Tech
As I mentioned above, this game will break the tie for first place in Conference USA, but it also features a myriad of meaningful sleeper prospects. Abraham ranks seventh in the FBS with an 11.1 AY/A and ranks fourth in total passing yards. Watkins’ season, if it continues at this pace, could also earn him some NFL buzz. Louisiana Tech’s most talented prospects are Justin Henderson and Adrian Hardy. Henderson has 478 rushing yards this season on an 8.2 YPC average. Hardy had over 1,100 receiving yards in 2018 but hasn’t quite repeated his success, this season. He’s accounted for 349 yards and a TD on 26 receptions so far. Southern Mississippi is a slight favorite (-1) in this game, so it should be a good opportunity to see some undervalued prospects in a competitive game.