The usual suspects shined in Week 1, as the 2013 college football season kicked off in grand fashion. Tajh Boyd found the end zone five times in Clemson's 38-35 statement victory over Georgia. Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks showed no signs of slowing down despite coach Chip Kelly's departure, piling on 66 points against lowly Nicholls State. Miami's Duke Johnson rushed for 186 yards in less than three quarters. Johnny Football scored three touchdowns in less than one half.
Those are the obvious fantasy stars, however. Who has emerged from the rubble, made a comeback or surprised as a freshman? Let this week's College Football Barometer be your guide.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss - One of the top-ranked recruits at wide receiver, the freshman Treadwell caught just one pass in the first half of Thursday's opener at Vanderbilt. However, he exploded in the second half with eight catches, using his size and athleticism at 6-foot-3, 215, to have his way with the Commodores defense. Although he finished with "only" 82 yards receiving and did not find the end zone, Treadwell showed the promise that made him one of the prizes in the recruiting class for Ole Miss. He should only get better, and could be poised for a huge output against lowly Southeast Missouri State next weekend.
J.W. Walsh, QB, Oklahoma State - Starter Clint Chelf stumbled early against Mississippi State on Saturday. Enter Walsh, the 6-2, 205, dual-threat sophomore quarterback. Walsh assumed control of the offense, completing 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards, while also rushing 13 times for 125 yards and Oklahoma State's first touchdown of the season. The Cowboys face UTSA of the Sun Belt this week, followed by an FCS opponent in Lamar the following week. Should Walsh be handed the reins to the offense, he could be in for a couple of monster games this month.
Russell Hansbrough, RB, Missouri - Henry Josey was the story of this game for the Tigers, making his way back from two leg surgeries after a gruesome injury late in 2011. While Josey rushed 13 times for 113 yards and a touchdown, Hansbrough matched him, carrying the pigskin eight times for 104 yards and two scores. Hanbrough backed up Kendial Lawrence last season but will get more opportunities this season as Josey makes his way back into game shape. The two could form a potent 1-2 punch similar to that of Georgia's "Gurshall" combination of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
Paul James, RB, Rutgers - With Jawan Jamison in the NFL, former high-prized recruit Savon Huggins was expected to inherit the role of lead dog out of the backfield for the Scarlet Knights. However, it was James who stole the show at Fresno State on Thursday. Huggins got off to a sluggish start on the ground, rushing six times for 15 yards out of the gate. James entered the mix and responded with 22 carries for an outstanding 182 yards. Only the aforementioned Duke Johnson had more rushing yards than James this week. James will certainly receive plenty of touches the next two weeks against inferior opponents (Norfolk State and Eastern Michigan). As such, the junior should be added in all formats and started with confidence in the short term.
Demarco Robinson, WR, Kentucky - Christian Jones of Alabama was the special teams star of the weekend in college football, but Robinson was no slouch himself. Robinson returned three kicks for 74 yards and two punts for 54 yards at Western Kentucky on Saturday. He sparkled in the passing game as well, hauling in five balls for 69 yards and a touchdown to lead the Wildcats in receiving as well. There are several reasons why Robinson is not an Upgrade, however. First, his value takes a hit in leagues that do not reward return yards. Second, the Kentucky passing game is struggling to find its rhythm, as both Max Smith and Jalen Whitlow took snaps under center during this contest. Robinson appears to be the most talented receiver on the roster and should benefit from the new "Air Raid" offensive system being installed. If the passing game gets going, Robinson will be the chief beneficiary. Finally, the Wildcats face four highly-ranked opponents following this week's tilt with Miami of Ohio (Louisville, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama). As a result, Robinson may find little room to operate during those contests. Still, he remains a player to watch due to his home-run ability.
Mack Brown, RB, Florida - With starter Matt Jones sidelined due to a viral infection, Brown took full advantage of his first collegiate start. The junior running back rushed 25 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns against Toledo on Saturday. Jones is expected back for this weekend's tilt at Miami, but it remains to be seen what kind of shape he'll be in since he spent so much time away from football over the last month. As a result, Brown could still receive a decent amount of touches against a Miami squad that allowed 133 yards rushing to Florida Atlantic in its opener.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State - It was a successful debut for the freshman starting quarterback, who completed 22-of-31 throws for 278 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Syracuse. Hackenberg developed an instant connection with stud wide receiver Allen Robinson, finding the junior wideout seven times for 133 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half. Hackenberg is a true freshman, though, so expectations have to be tempered. He'll have his share of head-scratching moments, particularly when facing the likes of Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Hackenberg, however, showed excellent promise and production.
Casey Pachall, QB, TCU - Pachall battled a substance abuse problem last season, eventually entering an alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and missing the final nine games of the season for the Horned Frogs. However, he made his way back to TCU this season and won the starting job over Trevone Boykin. He was rusty in his first game back, though, completing just 9-of-16 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by Trevone Boykin. Boykin wasn't exactly spectacular either, completing 6-of-12 passes for 70 yards. The Horned Frogs faced a tough defense in LSU, and Pachall did throw for 2,921 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011. In other words, perhaps Pachall gets a pass for this contest. However, a timeshare clearly would not bode well for fantasy purposes. Check back after this week's game against patsy Southeastern Louisiana to see if there is some sort of resolution to this quarterback quandary.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia - Mitchell suffered a knee injury in Saturday's 38-35 loss to Clemson. Mitchell did not record a catch before the injury, which happened while jumping to celebrate a Georgia touchdown. Mitchell started last season at cornerback but emerged as a potent offensive threat down the stretch in 2012. He finished the campaign with 40 catches for 572 yards and two touchdowns. It is uncertain how long Mitchell will be out. This is the second straight season the Bulldogs have had a significant knee injury to one of their wideouts. In 2012, starter Michael Bennett tore his ACL and missed the final nine games of the season.
Joe Southwick, QB, Boise State - The Boise State offense apparently isn't as easy to run as Kellen Moore made it look. For four years, Moore sliced and diced opponents for the Broncos. Southwick has been the starting quarterback since last season and has not looked nearly as sharp. Although he passed for 2,730 yards and 19 touchdowns a season ago, he has not found the same comfort level running the offense. His 2013 campaign started poorly Saturday at Washington; Southwick completed 25-of-40 passes for just 152 yards, including an interception, in a resounding 38-6 defeat. Southwick averaged a putrid 3.8 yards per completion, showing an inability to find receivers downfield. The Broncos get Tennessee-Martin next week, so Southwick will bounce back in the short term. However, once conference play starts, the same issues likely will return for the senior quarterback.
Brandon Mitchell, QB, NC State - Mitchell broke his foot in the first quarter of Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks following surgery. Mitchell was only announced as starter before game time as the replacement for departed gunslinger Mike Glennon after competing with Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas for the QB job in camp. The senior has seen only limited action throughout his career at NC State. Thomas was only adequate in relief, completing 15-of-27 passes for 212 yards and a pick.
Kain Colter, QB, Northwestern - Colter left Saturday's victory over Cal with a concussion, leaving his status for this week's tilt with Syracuse in the air. Colter was a dynamic dual-threat option last season, throwing for 872 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 894 yards and 12 touchdowns. With the serious treatment concussions are given these days, it appears likely that Trevor Siemian will take over under center against the Orange. Siemian has some experience, having played fairly extensively last season. He passed for 1,312 yards and six touchdowns in 2012, splitting time with Colter at the beginning of last season. He could be a solid pickup for the ranked Wildcats for those in dire need of a quarterback.