Geno Smith put up video-game numbers Saturday against Baylor, pushing himself to the forefront of the Heisman conversation. Smith completed 45-of-51 passes for an astounding 656 yards and eight touchdowns, five of which went to wideout Stedman Bailey. Overall, Smith has completed an absurd 83.4 percent of his passes in 2012, tossing 20 touchdowns while failing to throw a single interception.
It was a banner day for quarterbacks overall Saturday, as Smith's counterpart on Baylor, Nick Florence, threw for 581 yards and five touchdowns in the 70-63 defeat. Meanwhile, Miami's Stephen Morris set an ACC record with 566 yards passing with five touchdowns as Miami beat N.C. State, 44-37.
Who else is surging, and who is stumbling as we barrel into October? Let's take a gander in this week's College Football Barometer.
David Ash, QB, Texas – What a difference a year makes. Ash split time under center with Case McCoy in 2011 and looked lost as a freshman, completing just 56.9 percent of his passes and posting an ugly 4:8 TD:INT ratio. Flash forward to 2012, and Ash has completed 78 percent of his throws for 1,007 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one pick. In his last two games he has been even better, throwing for at least 300 yards in each of those contests while compiling a 7:1 TD:INT ratio. With dangerous weapons around him in Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley, Malcolm brown and Marquise Goodwin, Ash should continue his stellar play heading into this week's likely shootout with West Virginia.
Alonzo Russell, WR, Toledo – Although running back David Fluellen gets much of the publicity for the Rockets, Russell has been a pleasant surprise for Toledo during his freshman campaign. Russell has snagged 25 passes for 459 yards and two touchdowns through five games. The 6-foot-4 target has caught at least five passes for at least 87 yards in each of his last three games, including a 152-yard outburst Sept. 15 against Bowling Green. With quarterback Terrance Owens completing at least 65 percent of his passes in the high-octane Toledo offense, Russell should get plenty more opportunities to make his mark this season.
Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia – There seems to be plenty of ball to go around in the Georgia backfield these days. While fellow freshman Todd Gurley has been an absolute stud for the Bulldogs, Marshall has broken out in a big way as well. Marshall torched Tennessee for 164 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's 51-44 victory. Marshall averages 8.2 yards per carry, scoring five touchdowns in his last three contests. Marshall has received at least 10 carries in every game, so despite 536 yards and nine scores on the ground for Gurley, Marshall still makes for a standout play in his own right.
Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State – Woods has seized the starting tailback job for the Beavers after his last performance, a 29-carry, 161-yard outpouring in Saturday's 38-35 win over Arizona. Over his last two games, the freshman has rushed 50 times for 257 yards and two touchdowns. The Beavers are 3-0 behind Woods, quarterback Sean Mannion and wideouts Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, and show no signs of slowing down as they have defeated three quality opponents in Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama – Fantasy owners expecting Lacy to produce like Trent Richardson or Mark Ingram have likely been disappointed thus far in 2012. After averaging more than seven yards per carry with limited touches as a freshman and sophomore, Lacy is managing 4.9 yards per tote in 2012, while breaking the 100-yard rushing mark just once in five games. He has yielded touches to freshman T.J. Yeldon as well, while failing to find the end zone in three of Bama's five tilts. The Tide don't play again until Oct. 13 at Mizzou, so Lacy should be healthy and raring to go by then. However, he has simply not been the dominating rusher many expected.
Nathan Jeffery, RB, UTEP – Jeffery showed no ill effects Saturday from the groin injury that limited him in UTEP's previous few games, rushing 27 times for 134 yards at East Carolina. Jeffery ran for 177 yards in the Miners' opener against Oklahoma, showing the ability to put up some standout numbers against better defenses. If he can stay healthy, as well as eventually start finding the end zone, Jeffery could make for a sneaky fantasy play.
Josh Nunes, QB, Stanford – Nunes looked cool, calm and collected as Stanford took down USC on Sept. 15. However, from a fantasy perspective he has not been as serviceable, completing just 52 percent of his passes and averaging just 6.28 yards per attempt in 2012. He did not have a touchdown in Thursday's ugly 17-13 loss at Washington, and has now tossed four interceptions in his last three games. With zero 300-yard passing games under his belt, Nunes has been more of a game manager for the Cardinal as they rely on defense and the running of Stepfan Taylor.
Matthew Tucker, RB, TCU – Much was expected of Tucker entering his senior season after finding the promised land 12 times in 2011. However, he has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry en route to 208 yards and one touchdown in four games for the Horned Frogs. He has failed to sizzle even in the absence of junior tailback Waymon James, who averaged 9.9 yards per tote in two games before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury. TCU hasn't gotten into the meat of its Big 12 conference schedule either, which will include a murderer's row of West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma to finish off the season. With Casey Pachall playing well under center recently too, Tucker will need to show he can be dominant with the ball to warrant more touches.
Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest – Campanaro suffered a broken hand in Saturday's 34-27 loss to Duke and is out indefinitely. One of the most productive receivers in the ACC, Campanaro caught 38 balls for 429 yards and three touchdowns through five games for the Demon Deacons, while also rushing for 63 yards and another score. He was off to a blistering start in 2012 after hauling in 73 passes for 833 yards and two touchdowns last year. The next leading receiver on Wake Forest has 11 catches on the year, meaning the Deacons and fantasy owners alike will have a difficult time replacing him.
Riley Nelson, QB, BYU – Nelson has been battling a bad back for a few weeks and was unable to take a snap in Saturday's 47-0 rout of Hawaii. Nelson started the season strong with 285 yards and two touchdowns against Washington State, but was just 4-of-9 for 19 yards and three picks at Boise State on Sept. 20 and was eventually replaced by dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill. The versatile Hill threw for 112 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 143 yards and another score against Hawaii in place of Nelson. Although coach Bronco Mendenhall has reiterated that Nelson is his starting quarterback upon his return, it remains to be seen when that will be. There could end up being a quarterback controversy if Hill continues to shine.
Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan – Carder recently underwent right hand surgery and will miss a chunk of the regular season. The senior had a five-touchdown performance against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 8 and has thrown at least 30 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons for the Broncos. It will be tough to replace that kind of consistent production, though Tyler Van Tubbergen will give it a shot.
Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas – Gragg sat out Saturday's blowout loss to Texas A&M with a bone bruise in his leg. The second-leading receiver for the Razorbacks, Gragg has caught 19 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. However, both touchdowns and 110 of those yards came in the opening win against Jacksonville State, before the wheels came off on the Arkansas season. In his last two games before the injury, Gragg caught just five passes for 41 yards. With three straight SEC contests looming, Gragg likely won't have much success even if healthy.
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