Alabama and Florida State appear to be on a collision course for the BCS National Championship game. Oregon's loss to Stanford takes the Ducks out of the title picture and gives hope to Ohio State and even Baylor should something outrageous happen the last couple weeks. Still, all signs point to a matchup between the Tide and the Seminoles. The lackluster performance from Marcus Mariota last Thursday also puts Famous Jameis Winston in the driver's seat for the Heisman, though defending champion Johnny Football will have something to say about that. Manziel's statistics are actually better to this point in the season than they were during his freshman campaign last year.
As teams gears up for the stretch run, let's look at this week's version of the College Football Barometer.
Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama - Alabama doesn't usually rely on its passing game to lead the Tide to victory, instead pounding the ball on the ground and playing ferocious defense. However, quarterback A.J. McCarron is a more than capable passer, shedding the "Game Manager" label the last two seasons and showing off his abilities with his arm. Although McCarron likes to spread the ball around, Norwood has been the go-to receiver for Bama the last few games. Norwood has found the end zone in three of the last four contests, while crossing the 100-yard receiving mark for the first time this season in the Oct. 26 victory over Tennessee. The senior wideout has now matched his touchdown total from a season ago (4), and will almost certainly set career highs in receptions and yards by the time the year is through. Sophomore Amari Cooper was supposed to be the star performer in the passing game, but Norwood has stolen the show recently.
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss - Wallace has quietly been tearing it up the last month or so for the Rebels. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in four of his last five games, including a 407-yard outburst Saturday in the 34-24 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Two of those outputs came against stellar SEC defenses in the form of LSU and Auburn. Wallace has completed 64.5 percent of his passes en route to 2,383 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions this year. Wallace and the Rebels get a conference breather this week against the Troy Trojans of the Sun Belt; as a result, expect Wallace to cross the 300-yard passing mark once again.
Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado - Welcome to this week's edition of "Start whoever is playing against the Cal Bears." Liufau has been up-and-down as a starting quarterback for the Buffs but has a standout wide receiver at his disposal in Paul Richardson. The freshman gunslinger has also found the end zone in every game he's started since taking over at Arizona State on Oct. 12. This week's opponent allows 44.7 points per game, good for 124th in the nation. The Bears and the Buffs are both winless in conference play, so something has to give in this contest. One thing is for certain, though; neither team is good on defense. Offensive players should be salivating at the possibilities heading into this tilt.
William Stanback, RB, Central Florida - Storm Johnson carries the mail for the Knights, but Stanback has been a touchdown machine his last few games. The freshman from Hempstead, N.Y., has rushed for five scores in his last four contests, despite failing to reach double-digit carries in any of those games. Stanback has flashed big-play ability, averaging 5.7 yards per rush. The ranked Knights travel to Temple on Saturday; the Owls allow 30 points per game. As such, Stanback is a great bet to continue his recent string of success and find the end zone yet again.
Javorious Allen, RB, Southern California - Allen has come out of virtual anonymity to lead the Trojan rushing attack the last two weeks. He has received 27 touches over that span, turning those opportunities into 268 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards and six total touchdowns. The sophomore had barely received any work leading up to the Nov. 1 game at Oregon State due to an incredibly crowded backfield. Allen has pushed his way into the picture, though he will face his first real test Saturday against the vaunted Stanford Cardinal defense. The Cardinal made mincemeat out of the supposedly unstoppable Oregon offense last Thursday. As a result, Allen might not run with nearly as much efficiency as he has over the previous two tilts.
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri - DGB came to Mizzou with much fanfare, but really didn't hit his stride until late in his freshman campaign in 2012. He started 2013 on a tear but had a rough five-game stretch in the middle of the season in which he posted just 12 catches for 145 yards. However, the 6-foot-6 sophomore finally had the breakout Saturday that fantasy owners had craved. DGB hauled in four touchdown passes from quarterback Maty Mauk, gaining 100 yards through the air for just the second time in his career. Hopefully this is the game that will springboard the talented neophyte to new heights; he should find great success in two weeks at Ole Miss.
Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana - Sophomore Tevin Coleman has been outstanding as the featured back for the Hoosiers this season, finding the end zone in every game in 2013. And Coleman should surpass 1,000 yards rushing for the season in his next contest. Houston has been no slouch as Coleman's backup, though, particularly over his last two games. Over that span, Houston has rushed 30 times for 261 yards and three touchdowns. On the year, Houston averages an impressive 7.3 yards per carry. Why isn't Houston an upgrade, you ask? The next two weeks, he will face stiff defenses in Wisconsin and Ohio State. As a result, the Hoosiers likely will fall behind early and be forced to pass, subsequently abandoning the run. Houston has been stellar lately, but his run could come to an abrupt end.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Nebraska - If Abdullah is on your squad, he is likely starting and viewed as matchup-proof. Abdullah averages 6.6 yards per rush, having run 184 times for 1,213 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. However, bear in mind that this weekend he will face the Michigan State Spartans; MSU is third in the nation in total defense, allowing a mere 11.6 points per game in 2013. The Cornhuskers will also once again be without quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has barely sniffed the field this season due to a nagging turf toe injury. As a result, an already fearsome Spartans defense will almost certainly focus all its efforts to stop Abdullah in his tracks. The junior will still get his touches, but it may be tough for him to reach his usual production.
Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas - Gray will miss the remainder of the 2013 campaign due to a left Achilles' injury that will require surgery. Gray rushed 159 times for 780 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore for the Longhorns, averaging 4.9 yards per tote. Junior Malcolm Brown has been a beast the last month, though, so the Longhorns may not miss the dynamic Gray as much as initially feared. In his last four games, Brown has accumulated 379 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, as Texas remains undefeated in the Big 12.
Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor - The Bears will be without a huge part of their high-octane passing attack the rest of the regular season, as Reese dislocated his right wrist in the first half of Thursday's victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. Reese and fellow wideout Antwan Goodley have formed arguably the most potent wide-receiver combination in the country this season. While Goodley leads Baylor and has amassed 44 grabs for 974 yards and 10 touchdowns, Reese has been no slouch himself, with 33 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Bryce Petty may be forced to spread the ball around a bit more due to the injury, though, as the next best receiver on the squad, Levi Norwood, has 19 catches for just 312 yards and two touchdowns. Norwood did have four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown Thursday in place of Reese, however. The Bears passing attack will still be potent, but Reese will be a difficult player to replace for fantasy owners.
Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois - Scheelhaase has been exceptional in his last two games, combining for 771 yards passing and four total touchdowns. However, the Illini are 0-5 in conference play and play host to the bully of the Big Ten this weekend in the form of the Ohio State Buckeyes. OSU allows a meager 18.0 points per game this season, placing the Buckeyes eighth in the nation. Facing Urban Meyer's squad a season ago, Scheelhaase managed just 96 yards passing, as well as an interception in a 52-22 drubbing. As a result, the senior QB is best left riding the pine this weekend.
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State - Stewart left Saturday's contest with Kansas early due to an ankle injury, failing to record a single grab before exiting. Stewart's status for Saturday's crucial tilt at Texas is up in the air. Stewart is the leading receiver for OSU, hauling in 40 balls for 510 yards and two touchdowns. Tracy Moore and freshman Jhajuan Sales would receive more targets if Stewart can't suit up for the Cowboys. Moore has been particularly useful the last two games, snagging three touchdowns over that span. Check Stewart's status during the week.