A bumpy offseason for the Arkansas Razorbacks leaked into regular season action this week, as Louisiana-Monroe pulled the biggest upset of the young season with an OT victory over the Hogs. Quarterback Kolten Browning rushed for the game-winning touchdown during the extra session in the 34-31 win. Browning finished 42-of-67 passing for 412 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, along with 16 rushes for 69 yards and the final score. A stunning triumph for the Warhawks; they can't rest on their laurels, though, as they travel to Auburn to face War Eagle next week.
Let's look at the rest of the college pigskin scene in this week's College Football Barometer.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA - Franklin is an obvious upgrade, but warrants mentioning due to his mammoth first two games of the season for the Bruins. He has posted back-to-back 200-plus-yard rushing outbursts to start the 2012 campaign, amassing 431 yards in the process. Franklin is averaging an absurd 10.5 yards per tote and has found the end zone four times through the first two contests. His last opponent was no slouch, either, as Franklin ran all over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Bruins look to be resurrected under coach Jim Mora Jr., and Franklin is helping to lead the charge. Houston is up next; the senior could run wild once again.
Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky - Smith has been dynamite in his first two starts this season for the Wildcats, completing 65-of-89 throws for 634 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was particularly impressive this last week against Ken State, completing a near pristine 30-of-39 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns, slicing up the Golden Flashes defense in the Wildcats' up-tempo offensive onslaught. Kentucky faces a Western Kentucky squad that was shut out by Alabama, meaning Smith could be in line for another standout performance.
Ralph Abernathy, RB, Cincinnati - The diminutive Abernathy led the Bearcats in receiving Thursday against Pittsburgh, catching four passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-foot-7, 161, sophomore also received five carries for 20 yards. Senior George Winn is the primary rusher for Cincy, and quarterback Munchie Legaux will get his share of touches as well. However, the Bearcats play lowly Delaware State this weekend, and as a result Abernathy should get extensive playing time and plenty of touches to make his presence felt.
Austin Hill, WR, Arizona - Hill has fit in seamlessly with coach Rich Rodriguez's new spread offense, hauling in 12 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown through the Wildcats' first two games. Hill is averaging 21.9 yards per catch, flashing big-play ability with each touch of the football. The 6-3 sophomore has surpassed 100 yards in each game so far this year and should be in for a monstrous output against South Carolina State this week.
Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State - Tuel did not return to Saturday's tilt against Eastern Washington due to a left knee injury. However, the quarterback remains mum on the severity of the injury. Tuel can certainly become a valuable fantasy quarterback should he grow into the offense, particularly with coach Mike Leach's pedigree and past success in the spread system. Thus far in 2012, Tuel has completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 400 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Coach Mike Leach is notoriously difficult to gauge regarding injuries as well, leaving fantasy owners with a wait-and-see approach. WSU plays at UNLV on Friday.
Alex Amidon, WR, Boston College - Amidon has benefited from the progress of quarterback Chase Rettig, catching 16 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown this season. The 5-11 junior is averaging 15.5 yards per catch and has nearly surpassed his stats from a season ago already. However, Amidon broke out against a porous Miami defense, and the lowly Maine Bears. The Eagles face Clemson and Florida State in the next four weeks, so make sure Amidon can perform against higher-caliber opponents before safely deploying him.
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming - Smith was taken off the field on a stretcher in the fourth quarter of Saturday's contest with Toledo. He was taken to a hospital due to a possible head injury, but is reportedly doing well. Nevertheless, one has to wonder whether the Cowboys will risk playing Smith next week in a cupcake matchup against FCS Opponent Cal Poly. When healthy, Smith is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. He was 20-of-28 for 339 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions before the injury, while also rushing for 62 yards in the game. Continue to monitor his status.
Zac Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt - Stacy has been largely held in check through two games for the Commodores, rushing 26 times for just 84 yards and failing to find the end zone. While he should have a bounce-back game this week against Presbyterian, Stacy will have four conference games thereafter, including battles with Georgia and Florida. Add the presence of freshman speedster Brian Kimbrow and the possible return of 2009 SEC Freshman of the Year Warren Norman, and Stacy could be in for a down year.
Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas - Wilson was knocked out of the above-referenced loss to ULM with a head injury and is day-to-day. Wilson was electric in 2011, completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,638 yards, 24 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Even more is expected of Wilson this season due to the departures of various wide receivers as well as former coach Bobby Petrino. The timing of the injury could not be worse for the Razorbacks, as they host the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide this week. A banged-up Wilson against the best defense in the country does not make for a favorable matchup.
Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, Texas A&M - It's probably best to not overreact after one game, but Nwachukwu failed to record a single catch against Florida on Saturday. The senior caught 50 passes for 639 yards and two scores in 2011, but that was with Ryan Tannehill under center. Freshman gunslinger Johnny Manziel is athletic and likes to run with the football, while also throwing quick, short passes. Nwachukwu has been mostly a deep threat during his career at A&M, leaving fantasy owners to wonder whether his talents will be used to the fullest in the new offense of Kevin Sumlin.
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin - Abbrederis left Saturday's game against Oregon State with a chest injury, which forced him to the hospital. He had six grabs for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the Badgers' opener against Northern Iowa. The top receiver for Wisconsin and new quarterback Danny O'Brien, Abbrederis also returned both kickoffs and punts for the Badgers. His status remains in the air, and Wisconsin clearly struggled in his absence, losing to the Beavers, 10-7.
Derek Day, RB, Penn State - The Nittany Lions suffered a huge blow when Silas Redd transferred to USC. Bill Belton started the opener against Ohio but suffered an ankle injury and did not play at Virginia. Day had 18 carries against the Cavaliers, but managed just 47 yards en route to 2.6 YPC. Although Belton's status is still unknown for PSU's game with Navy, and the Midshipmen got destroyed by Notre Dame in their opener, the Nittany Lions are simply struggling too much to recommend rolling with either of their running backs.
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