The Stanford Cardinal roughed up Matt Barkley on Saturday, putting USC's supposed dream season in serious jeopardy. Barkley completed just 20-of-41 passes for 254 yards and two interceptions, falling to 0-4 against the Cardinal in his collegiate career. The senior gunslinger was sacked four times, including twice on the final drive. Meanwhile, inexperienced Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes showed poise under center and also relied on bulldozing tailback Stepfan Taylor, who totaled 213 yards and two touchdowns for the Fighting Trees. Stanford is no slouch despite the loss of Andrew Luck, while Barkley and the Trojans have to regroup from an early, unexpected bump in the road.
Let's look at who else is surging, and who might be stumbling, in this week's College Football Barometer.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - Bridgewater has dinked and dunked his way to a pristine 81.8-percent completion rate through three games this season. He's not afraid to throw the long ball either, though, as he amassed 855 yards and five touchdowns through the air over that span. Bridgewater has yet to throw an interception as well, proving himself as one of the most efficient passers early this season. The Cardinals are the class of the Big East in 2012, yet have games against FIU and Southern Miss before getting into the meat of their conference schedule. As a result, Bridgewater should continue to reel off big games for the foreseeable future.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss - Moncrief is quietly having a standout start to the season for the Rebels, catching a touchdown in each game this year. He has also crossed the 100-yard plateau on two occasions while showing his big-play ability. Moncrief has receptions of at least 50 yards in each of the first three games of the season for Ole Miss. The Rebels travel to Tulane this week to take on the Green Wave, a team that is 102nd in the nation in points allowed in 2012. Moncrief could be in line for another huge output.
Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida - Coach Will Muschamp caught a lot of flak for using the Gators' first game against Bowling Green as essentially a tryout for the starting quarterback slot between Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel won the job, but it took until Saturday to prove he really earned it. Driskel completed 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns at Tennessee, while also rushing eight times for an 81 yards. Driskel consistently avoided sacks and made the correct decisions in an efficient performance. He is the clear-cut signal caller for the 3-0 Gators and should find more success against a struggling Kentucky defense next week.
Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh - So much for expecting a slow start to the season for Graham. It was thought that Graham might not be ready for the beginning of 2012 after tearing his ACL last year. That couldn't have been further from the truth, however, as he has rushed 57 times for 268 yards and two scores on the ground through three games for the Panthers. His load has increased each game, and he scored three touchdowns total in Pitt's stunning upset at Virginia Tech on Saturday. With lowly Gardner-Webb up next, Graham should have a field day, as he appears healthy and raring to go.
John White, RB, Utah - During the week, White proclaimed himself fully healthy from an ankle injury allegedly suffered against Utah State one week earlier. However, he did not take the field Saturday against BYU. Coach Kyle Whittingham implemented a new policy of not discussing injuries last Monday, which kept most fantasy owners in the dark regarding White's status. White had rushed 51 times for 215 yards and a touchdown in the Utes' first two games of the season. With such uncertainty surrounding White and his injury status, it is tough to recommend him despite his obvious talent, at least until we can figure out the extent of his injury.
Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern - Mark left Saturday's contest with BC due to an unspecified lower body injury. The leader of the Northwestern rushing pack, Mark was averaging five yards per carry en route to 282 yards and a touchdown before the injury. With the Wildcats alternating quarterbacks between Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian, they have become more and more reliant on the run. Mike Trumpy filled in admirably in place of Mark, rushing for 106 yards on 16 carries as well. Make sure Mark is deemed fit to play before deploying him this week against lowly South Dakota, as he could be held out for precautionary reasons against an inferior opponent.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - Eifert did not record a catch at Michigan State on Saturday. One of the nation's top tight ends, Eifert had been dealing with a concussion suffered against Purdue. Eifert had 98 yards receiving against the Boilermakers in that game, while finding the end zone in Notre Dame's opener against Navy. The Irish face another stiff test against Michigan this week; while it may be tough to bench Eifert, make sure he is at least experiencing no recurring symptoms before activating him.
Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina - Bernard has missed UNC's last two games due to discomfort in his knee. He has a history of knee injuries, including an ACL tear in 2010. Tar Heels officials claim this new injury is unrelated, but not much information is available. When Bernard is healthy, he is among the nation's better runners. He rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman in 2011, while also catching 45 passes for 362 yards out of the backfield. The versatile rusher carried the ball nine times for 93 yards and a score against Elon in UNC's opener before exiting with the knee injury. His status for the game against ECU this week, and perhaps beyond, is questionable. A.J. Blue and Romar Morris will split touches in his stead.
Nick Harwell, WR, Miami (OH) - Harwell was a monster in 2011, hauling in 97 balls for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. He started off 2012 with a bang as well, catching eight passes for 120 yards and a touchdown at Ohio State. However, he injured his knee against Southern Illinois the following week, and then sat out last week's contest at Boise State. Quarterback Zac Dysert would love to have his top target back as soon as possible, but it remains uncertain as to when that will actually happen.
Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina - Shaw re-injured his throwing shoulder against UAB on Saturday, leaving his future status in question. He has barely been able to stay on the field this season despite attempts to gut it out for the Gamecocks. South Carolina now enters the meat of its SEC conference schedule, making even a banged-up Shaw an extremely risky play. A dynamic dual-threat option, Shaw rushed for 92 yards in the opener at Vandy before suffering the initial injury. He had 107 yards through the air against UAB before injuring the shoulder again.
Matt Miller, WR, Boise State - The 6-foot-3, 215, sophomore was the leading returner receiver for the Broncos, a team which lost the best player in program history in quarterback Kellen Moore. Miller caught 62 passes for 679 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011, but had just two catches in a tough opening loss at Michigan State as new quarterback Joe Southwick struggled. Southwick was better against Miami of Ohio on Saturday, finding Miller for seven grabs and 71 yards. The two should continue to develop a rapport as the season goes on, but it's difficult to expect other-worldly stats out of this duo.
Danny O'Brien, QB, Wisconsin - The Badgers hoped to catch lightning in a bottle for the second straight year with another transfer quarterback. O'Brien has proved to be no Russell Wilson, though, struggling in his last two games for Wisconsin and eventually being replaced Saturday against Utah State by Joel Stave. O'Brien completed just 5-of-10 throws for 63 yards for the game. Wisconsin looks to be relying on defense and running Montee Ball to win games this season; Maryland transfer O'Brien has not been a savior for the Badgers in 2012.
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