CFB Barometer: Who's Up, Who's Down Week 15

CFB Barometer: Who's Up, Who's Down Week 15

This article is part of our CFB Barometer series.

Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper threw his hat into the Heisman ring Saturday with an epic Iron Bowl performance. Cooper hauled in 13 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns in the Tide's 55-44 victory over the Tigers. The 224 receiving yards matched a career high for Cooper, while also setting an Iron Bowl record. Cooper has a staggering 103 catches for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns heading into Saturday's SEC Championship Game against Missouri.

Not to be outdone, however, quarterback Marcus Mariota was equally electric in Oregon's dismantling of Oregon State in the Civil War. Mariota tallied six total touchdowns for the Ducks, while also passing for a season-high 367 yards. Mariota has scored at least four touchdowns in each of the last five games for Oregon. The Ducks face Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Friday, with Mariota looking to put the finishing touches on an absolutely sensational regular season.

Let's see what else was learned from rivalry weekend, as well as what to expect during championship weekend and beyond. The College Football Barometer awaits.


Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State - With all the attention being given to Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman, a pair of 2,000-yard rushers, it's easy to forget about the nation's other running backs. The Broncos are back on the map, but led by a ferocious running game instead of a high-flying aerial attack. Ajayi punctuated a standout 2014 regular season with 27 carries for a career-high 229 yards and five touchdowns against Utah State on Saturday, leading Boise State to the Mountain West Title game. Ajayi has seven-straight 100-yard outputs, while scoring at least two touchdowns in each of those contests. Ajayi has 1,619 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground; only the aforementioned Gordon has scored more rushing touchdowns in 2014. The Broncos face a Fresno State squad Saturday allowing 33 points per game this season.

Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn -
Coates nearly matched the above-mentioned Cooper with a scintillating display of speed, strength and athleticism in the Iron Bowl. Cooper caught several deep balls from quarterback Nick Marshall, parlaying those bombs into five catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns. An athletic freak, Coates burned the Alabama DB for a 68-yard strike late in the second quarter, then went up over the top of two Alabama defenders to haul in a 40-yard pass just before the end of the half. Coates battled injury and inconsistency as a junior this season, but averaged 23.9 yards per grab, flashing his big-play ability. If fellow wideout D'haquille Williams decides to jump to the NFL, Coates should play a huge role in 2015, even in a run-happy Auburn offense.

Brandon Radcliff, RB, Louisville -
The ACC took care of business against the SEC this past weekend. The much-maligned Atlantic Coast Conference went 4-0 against their supposedly superior brethren, including Louisville's wild 44-40 win over Kentucky. Radcliff scored the winning touchdown for the Cardinals, his second jaunt to the end zone of the game. The sophomore finished the regular season on a high note; over the last three games, Radcliff notched 253 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. With senior Michael Dyer moving on after this year, and wide receiver DeVante Parker likely headed to the NFL, Radcliff should be the focal point of the Louisville offense in 2015.

Bud Sasser, WR, Missouri -
Lost in the SEC West hype this season is Mizzou's second-straight SEC East crown. Quarterback Maty Mauk has had a rollercoaster season passing the football, but Sasser has been extremely steady in the featured role. Taking on a much larger part of the offense than ever before, the senior has responded with 65 catches for 904 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014. Sasser has at least four receptions for at least 74 yards in each of the last five games for the Tigers. He has also scored five touchdowns over that span. The Tigers get the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game, and figure to be playing from behind in that contest. The Tide also gave up a staggering 456 passing yards to Auburn in the Iron Bowl this past weekend. As a result, expect a heavy dose of Sasser and teammate Jimmie Hunt as Mizzou looks to pull the upset.


Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor - The Bears may need to score some style points this weekend to make their way into the College Football Playoff. That's because Petty was forced to leave Saturday's game against Texas Tech with a concussion, and Baylor barely squeaked by the lowly Red Raiders by a score of 48-46. Petty was poised for a monstrous game, completing 18-of-25 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns prior to leaving the field. Petty is expected to play Saturday against Kansas State, but may not be 100 percent, and the Wildcats are certainly no slouches. K-State is 17th in the nation in points allowed, surrendering just 20.3 points per game. However, in 2013 Petty tore up the Wildcats for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Monitor Petty's status heading into Saturday's pivotal contest.

Samajie Grant, WR, Arizona -
Grant was cited on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence Saturday morning, and will not start the Pac-12 Championship game. It remains to be seen how long Grant will be benched due to the incident, which obviously comes at an extremely poor time for Grant and the Wildcats. The sophomore led the Wildcats in receiving Friday, hauling in four passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Grant has really come on strong over the last month or so. In his last four games, the sophomore has caught 18 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns. Arizona will need all the points it can get against a dynamic Oregon squad this Friday, and Grant's absence, even for a short time, could be extremely damaging to their Pac-12 Title hopes.

E.J. Bibbs, TE, Iowa State -
Considered one of the better tight ends in the country, Bibbs did not play Saturday against West Virginia due to a leg injury. The 6-foot-3, 265-lb senior will have one last game Saturday against TCU to impress NFL scouts. Bibbs has eight touchdown receptions in 2014. Seven of Bibbs' scores have come in his last six games played. The Cyclones also figure to be playing from behind against the Horned Frogs, who may be on the verge of clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff. As such, Bibbs is a great bet to find the end zone, assuming he suits up.

Charles Nelson, WR, Oregon -
The Ducks have so many weapons at their disposal, and Nelson has been more of a bit player for Oregon in 2014. However, the freshman has shown a nose for the end zone recently. In his last two games, Nelson has four touchdown receptions. He has been extremely proficient in finding the promised land, as he has just five catches over that span. Quarterback Marcus Mariota loves to spread the football around, and as a result it is difficult to predict or trust Nelson's production in the Pac-12 Championship. However, it is clear that the freshman has gained the trust of his quarterback in recent weeks, adding yet another dangerous playmaker to the mix.


J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State - The Buckeyes suffered a crushing blow towards their hopes of securing a berth in the College Football Playoff. Barrett broke his ankle in the fourth quarter Saturday against Michigan, and will miss the remainder of the season following surgery. The Buckeyes will face Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, but inexperienced sophomore Cardale Jones will line up under center. Jones has thrown just 19 passes in his two years in Columbus. The Buckeyes were in a similar position earlier this year when Braxton Miller went down with an injury, and Barrett proved to be more than capable as a replacement. However, it is a tall task to ask Jones to make his first start with a title on the line. Expect a heavy dose of running back Ezekiel Elliott in the absence of Barrett. Furthermore, should the Buckeyes find a way to win, how they look with Jones under center could go a long way towards determining their fate in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Tyrone Swoopes, QB, Texas -
Here's an interesting little nugget with Barrett being mentioned above. The Longhorns essentially chose Swoopes over Barrett two years ago. Barrett grew up in Texas and made it clear that he would have gone to UT had they offered him a scholarship. While it remains to be seen how long Barrett will be sidelined, the Ohio State quarterback broke the Big Ten touchdown record as a redshirt freshman this season. Meanwhile, Swoopes tossed four interceptions Thursday against TCU, as the Longhorns limped to a 6-6 finish in coach Charlie Strong's first season. While Swoopes has shown flashes in 2014, his numbers pale in comparison to those statistics amassed by Barrett in Columbus. The Longhorns have had a dismal recent history in terms of quarterback selection, as they also passed up on Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Jameis Winston.

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State -
Speaking of Famous Jameis, the Seminoles found a way to keep on winning Saturday despite a particularly poor performance from the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Winston threw four interceptions against the Florida Gators, including three in the first quarter. However, like they always do, the Seminoles battled back and eventually toppled the mediocre Gators, 24-19. Still, Winston managed a career-worst 125 passing yards in the game, and his sophomore campaign has been rather pedestrian. After throwing 40 touchdowns as compared to just 10 picks in 2013, Winston has 21 scores and 17 interceptions this season. He has tossed at least one interception in each of the last six games, while throwing multiple interceptions in three of those six outings. FSU will battle Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship on Saturday; the Yellow Jackets have eight interceptions in their last four games.

Josh Robinson, RB, Mississippi State -
After a superior start to his junior campaign, Robinson's numbers have been trending downward over the past month or so. In the first seven games of the year, Robinson had four 100-yard outputs and 10 rushing touchdowns. This included a stretch of three games in the middle of the season when he scores at least two touchdowns in four of five contests. However, in the final five games of the year, Robinson scored just once on the ground, while failing to rush for 70 yards in any contest. In fact, Robinson averaged just 48.2 yards per game over that span. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Bulldogs lost two of the last three games of the regular season, as quarterback Dak Prescott had little help from his teammates, including Robinson.

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Jesse Siegel
Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
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