An incredible story could result if the Ohio State Buckeyes win the remaining games on their schedule but do not get to play in the BCS National Championship. That would make consecutive years in which OSU has won every game on its schedule but failed to play in the title contest. Of course, last season the Buckeyes were bowl banned due to the Jim Tressel-Terrelle Pryor tattoo saga, but it would not change the fact that the Buckeyes could go undefeated in consecutive seasons and not even get a shot at the title.
Interestingly, the Buckeyes have succeeded this season not just because of the dual-threat abilities of Braxton Miller, but due to Carlos Hyde's superior production out of the backfield. In his last five games, the senior has rushed for an outrageous 821 yards and 11 touchdowns. This includes the 246-yard, four-touchdown virtuoso performance at Illinois on Saturday. The Buckeyes have Hyde to thank for keeping their record unblemished during the later part of the 2013 campaign.
Who else is surging or hurting in the world of college football? Let's look in this week's Barometer.
Cody Kessler, QB, USC - The Trojans have won five of six games since the dismissal of Lane Kiffin, relying largely on a standout running game. While interim coach Ed Orgeron has done a masterful job, more consistent quarterback play has also been a big reason for the elevation of USC's play. Kessler was dynamite in Saturday's stunning 20-17 win over Stanford. Kessler was 25-of-37 for 288 yards and a touchdown against one of the best defenses in the country. USC faces Colorado this weekend; the Buffs allow 38.8 points per game. With a favorable matchup and much more confidence under center, expect Kessler to go off in Colorado.
Jojo Kemp, RB, Kentucky - The Wildcats have been tough to watch the last few seasons, and 2013 has been no exception. UK has had a revolving door at quarterback between Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow en route to a winless conference record. Kemp could give the Cats some hope for the future, though. The freshman tailback has found the end zone in three of the last four games for Kentucky. He averages 5.2 yards per carry and has almost as many total yards as incumbent Raymond Sanders despite nearly 20 fewer carries. The Wildcats will almost certainly be outmatched by Georgia on Saturday, but the Bulldogs are not as ferocious as in years past on the defensive side of the ball, giving up more than 30 points per game. As such, Kemp could find the end zone once again this weekend.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford - Montgomery hasn't been great his last few games but has an enticing matchup against the lowly Cal Bears this weekend. The Bears are a putrid 1-10 on the year and are winless in the Pac-12. Cal gives up an astonishing 44.4 points per game, putting the Bears 124th in the nation. Although Stanford is mostly a running squad behind Tyler Gaffney, expect quarterback Kevin Hogan to open things up against an inferior defense. Hogan should rebound after last week's disappointing loss to USC, and Montgomery should be the chief beneficiary. Montgomery is the leading receiver on the Cardinal with 45 catches for 662 yards and five touchdowns.
Shon Carson, RB, South Carolina - If you're in a bind at running back, think about giving Carson a shot. Stud running back Mike Davis left Sunday's tilt against Florida briefly due to injury, though he returned in the second half. During his absence, Carson rushed 13 times for 102 yards against a downtrodden Florida squad. The Gamecocks get a break from SEC conference play this weekend, taking on Coastal Carolina. Even though the Chanticleers are 10-1, they reside in the Big South and have not faced a team quite like South Carolina. As a result, this game could get out of hand quickly, and Carson should get plenty of work, particularly if Davis is banged up.
Paul James, RB, Rutgers - James missed four games due to a leg injury for Rutgers, but returned Saturday against Cincinnati following a bye for the Scarlet Knights. James rushed 19 times for 78 yards in the lopsided 52-17 loss. However, James was also dinged up during the game and had to leave briefly before returning. James faces the 8-1 UCF Knights this weekend; the Knights allow 20.6 points per game, good for 21st in the nation. James had three straight 100-yard games to begin the 2013 campaign, but the injury has taken away his explosiveness. Add in a difficult opponent, and James could find little room to roam.
Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP - The freshman has been a pleasant surprise for the Miners, rushing 155 times for 811 yards and four touchdowns this season. However, he suffered a rib injury at North Texas on Nov. 9, and as a result missed the following game against FIU. The Miners have two road games remaining against Tulane and Middle Tennessee State, and junior Nathan Jeffery proved more than capable against the Golden Panthers last weekend. Jeffery rushed 25 times for 130 yards and two scores in the 33-10 rout. The Miners would certainly love to have their leading rusher back for the final two games of the season, but Jeffery could be stealing touches from Jones as the latter makes his way back from the injury.
Deontay Greenberry, WR, Houston - Greenberry is the leading receiver in the high-powered spread offense at Houston. The sophomore has hauled in 70 passes for 1,042 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. However, he had to leave Sunday's tilt early in the first half with Louisville due to a head injury. If he sustained a concussion, Greenberry will have to follow the appropriate protocols to prove healthy and get back on the field for Saturday's matchup with Cincinnati. No other receiver for the Cougars has more than 600 yards receiving. Greenberry will be difficult to replace, so keep close watch on his progress.
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor - Seastrunk's groin injury has been borderline catastrophic for fantasy owners. The junior running back averaged 8.7 yards per touch en route to 888 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground before the injury. He missed Saturday's win over Texas Tech and is questionable for Saturday's crucial matchup at Oklahoma State. With the Bears averaging a staggering 61.2 points per tilt, including 300 yards rushing per game, anybody receiving meaningful carries in this offense is worth owning in fantasy circles. Freshmen Shock Linwood and Devin Chafin filled in admirably, but Seastrunk is the real star out of the backfield. Check back during the week to see if Seastrunk will give it a go at OSU on Saturday.
Kasey Carrier, RB, New Mexico - Carrier left Saturday's game against Colorado State due to an undisclosed injury. His loss for any time would be a huge blow to both the Lobos as well as fantasy owners. Carrier already crossed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season prior to the injury. He is averaging a career-high 5.9 yards per tote and was poised to score double-digit touchdowns for the second consecutive year, as well. Monitor Carrier's status as the week progresses; the Lobos face Fresno State this week and Boise State in the regular-season finale. Both games should be shootouts. Carrier would clean up if he could play.
Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma - Bell appeared to suffer a concussion in the first quarter of Saturday's 48-10 rout of the Iowa State Cyclones, and his status is questionable. Freshman Trevor Knight, who was the original starter when the 2013 season began, struggled throwing but rushed for more than 100 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Cyclones. He would be the likely starter at Kansas State on Saturday should Bell be unable to suit up. The Belldozer has performed better than expected as a passer this season, tossing five touchdowns in three games before the injury. The junior still has room to improve, but it would be a big loss if the injury keeps him sidelined.
Travis Wilson, QB, Utah - There are rumors swirling that Wilson's absence from the Oregon game this past weekend was more than just due to the concussion suffered against Arizona State. No word yet on what that actually means, but Wilson has been the starting quarterback for the Utes for the majority of the 2013 campaign. Wilson has passed for 1,827 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions this season, though he struggled the last month or so. Wilson began the season with six straight games of multiple touchdown passes thrown, as well as surpassing 230 yards passing in each of those contests. Wilson's decline has been swift, so monitor this situation.
Dezmon Epps, WR, Idaho - Epps and the rest of the Vandals have the pleasure of going against the vaunted Florida State Seminoles this weekend. Epps is the leading receiver for the Vandals, grabbing 66 passes for 811 yards and four touchdowns in 2013. In fact, Epps has scored all of his touchdowns in the last five games for Idaho. However, he will have an incredibly difficult time getting open against No. 2 FSU. The Noles are yielding just 11.1 points per game, good for third in the land. As a result, Epps is not going to have much production Saturday.