BCS contenders dropped like flies last weekend, as mayhem is about to engulf the national title picture. The biggest upset came Friday night when Iowa State shocked Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and previously undefeated Oklahoma State in double overtime. Saturday brought no reprieve for the favorites, as USC held on to stop a furious Oregon comeback, dashing the Ducks' championship dreams. Oklahoma's tilt with Oklahoma State on Dec. 3 won't have the same buzz either, as the Sooners were downed by RG3 and the Baylor Bears on a last-minute touchdown toss.
So who's left? With Clemson also falling to N.C. State, Tyler Wilson and the Arkansas Razorbacks could hold the keys to determining the BCS championship game. Arkansas faces LSU in Baton Rouge the day after Thanksgiving; a win by the Hogs would vault them into contention and send the computers into overdrive.
Let's look at the rest of the college football landscape in this week's College Football Barometer.
Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple - Pierce was forced to miss a Nov. 9 tilt against Miami, Ohio, due to concussion-like symptoms. He did not start Saturday against Army either, but went off for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries for the Owls. With a 7.5 yard-per-rush average, a healthy Pierce will look to finish the season off with a bang against Kent State. He has 1,192 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground in 2011 despite missing the above-referenced contest.
Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma - Desperate for a quarterback? Playing in a touchdown-only league? Bell just could be the answer. Bell has become the goal-line back for the Sooners with his Tebow-like forays into the end zone. Bell rushed for four touchdowns at Baylor on Saturday in the 45-38 loss. He has seven plunges for scores in his last three contests, easing the loss of starting running back Dominique Whaley. Oklahoma faces Iowa State this weekend; though the Cyclones shocked high-flying Oklahoma State on Friday, ISU is still allowing 29.9 points per game. In a game which could get out of hand quickly, Bell should be able to find the promised land almost at will.
Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee - Don't forget about Bray, who came back from a broken thumb to toss two touchdowns against Vandy and nearly lead the Vols to an upset victory. Bray was having a dynamite season before the injury, posting a 14:2 TD:INT ratio in five games. Just 1-6 in the SEC, the Vols have a very winnable contest at Kentucky, also 1-6 in conference. Look for Bray to hook up with star Da'Rick Rogers and make life difficult for the Wildcats.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State - A hip injury couldn't stop Wilson from performing at high level Saturday, as the sophomore wideout hauled in eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown against Utah. Just a week prior, Wilson torched Arizona State for 223 yards and three touchdowns, marking his second contest of the year with at least 220 yards receiving. After a five-game dry spell in which he found the end zone just once, Wilson has now found pay dirt four times in the last two tilts. He's riding high heading into the rivalry game with Washington. The Huskies have been less-than-stellar on defense this season, allowing a putrid 34.5 points per game. This game has all the makings of a shootout, which obviously bodes well for the Cougars' main playmaker.
B.J. Daniels, QB, USF - For the second straight season, Daniels was knocked out of the Miami game. This time around, he suffered a sprain of his throwing shoulder in the third quarter and did not return. Bobby Eveld took his place, but lacks the dual-threat ability of the versatile Daniels. The Bulls have a home game against a stout Louisville defense this weekend, so make sure Daniels is deemed fit to play before deploying him. However, also be advised that Louisville has won four of its last five and allows just 18.7 points per game, good for 12th in the nation.
Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M - The Aggies running game could be down to its third string, as Gray had to leave Saturday's contest with Kansas due to an undisclosed injury. The Aggies were already missing stud junior Christine Michael, lost for the year with a torn ACL on Nov. 5. A&M has a short week to boot, with a Thanksgiving contest against Texas looming. That could leave sophomore Ben Malena as the featured back; the sophomore has found the end zone in two of his last three games.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - Watkins was dressed, but missed Saturday's game against N.C. State due to a shoulder injury, and was dearly missed in a 37-13 thrashing at the hands of the Wolfpack. The Tigers have clinched a berth in the ACC title game already, meaning they could choose to keep Watkins sidelined at South Carolina on Saturday. Although this is not likely, make sure the freshman phenom is deemed fit to play before deploying him in a very tough environment at South Carolina.
Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina - How good is Lewis? He is still the leading receiver for the Pirates' high-flying offense, and he hasn't even sniffed the field in the last three games due to a foot injury. He was supposed to come back last week against UCF, but couldn't make a go of it. With eight touchdowns in eight games before the injury, Lewis is a great bet to score this week at Marshall - that is, if he is healthy enough to play. Check on Lewis' status during the week, as he is a fantasy monster when he steps onto the field.
Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas - It's been a lost season for the once-explosive Childs despite the overall success of the Razorbacks. Childs has been in and out of the lineup en route to just 13 catches for 152 yards and no touchdowns. Compare that to his sophomore and junior seasons, in which he averaged 47 catches for 778 yards and almost seven touchdowns. With Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and the rest of the receiving corps more than picking up the slack, along with a date with top-ranked LSU this weekend, Childs should not be trusted heading into the big game.
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - The Yellow Jackets' lone wide-receiver threat has been held out of the end zone since Sept. 24 at North Carolina. In fact, since that time the 6-foot-5 junior has not had more than two catches in any contest, while also failing to surpass 56 yards through the air in those games. The Ramblin' Wreck also face the tough task of playing the Georgia Bulldogs this week, a squad riding a nine-game winning streak. Georgia is 11th in the nation in points allowed per game at 17.8. Hill does not make the best play this week.
Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn - The Iron Bowl this year might not be as kind to Auburn as 2010, when Dyer could rely on Cam Newton. Even still, Dyer rushed nine times for 27 yards in that game just one year ago. Although Dyer is older, wiser and having a superb sophomore campaign, he has struggled against the SEC's elite teams. Against LSU earlier this season, Dyer rushed for 60 yards. Against Georgia on Nov. 12, Dyer rushed for just 48 yards on 13 carries, averaging a mere 3.7 yards per carry. Dyer failed to find the end zone in each of those contests. Bama leads the nation in points against; as a result, Dyer could be stymied by the Tide.
Lance Dunbar, RB, North Texas - Although his last game is not until Dec. 3 against Middle Tennessee State, Dunbar is going to need a Herculean effort to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season. He's averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry as a senior and has also been battling a knee injury lately. He has failed to cross the 100-yard plateau in each of the last three games, while also failing to find the end zone in November. He managed three carries for just two yards against Western Kentucky on Saturday. A disappointing last hurrah for Dunbar could be in the cards.