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CFB Barometer: Who's Up, Who's Down Week 8

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.

The first BCS Rankings are out, and despite initial rumblings that Alabama would not be properly rewarded for a dominating start to the 2012 campaign, the Crimson Tide sit atop the standings. Sitting at No. 2 are the surprising Florida Gators, who entered the season with a quarterback controversy but have since ridden QB Jeff Driskel to a 6-0 record. The Gators face a pivotal matchup with No. 7 South Carolina this weekend. Oregon flies in at No. 3, with Heisman candidate Collin Klein and the K-State Wildcats at No. 4. Notre Dame rounds out the Top 5, fresh off a controversial goal-line stand by Manti Te'o and the Irish defense against Stanford.

The new Top 25 is devoid of many BCS Busters, but take a look at Rutgers and Louisville. Both Big East schools are 6-0 and face each other in the final game of the regular season. It's possible both teams are undefeated by the time that game rolls around, though certainly Cincinnati, also in the Top 25, will have something to say about that too.

Let's look at the rest of the college football landscape in this week's Barometer.

Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State -
Muema has scored in all seven of San Diego State's contests this season. On top of his 10 total touchdowns from scrimmage, the sophomore also averages a robust 6.3 yards per carry en route to 702 yards on the ground. SDSU has a tough game with Nevada this week, but the 6-1 Wolfpack are allowing a surprising 28.6 points per contest, 82nd in the nation. This certainly bodes well for Muema, who has basically become a must-start for the Aztecs.

Darrin Moore, WR, Texas Tech -
After scoring eight times in 2011, Moore has already found the promised land six times in five games played for the Red Raiders. This includes Saturday's three-touchdown performance in a 49-14 thrashing of previously undefeated West Virginia. With quarterback Seth Doege throwing at least five touchdowns in three of his six games this season, Moore is a safe bet to destroy his previous career high. Moore leads the squad with 29 catches.

Cody Vaz, QB, Oregon State -
With Sean Mannion out about a month due to a torn meniscus, Vaz will be asked to lead the undefeated Beavers. He exceeded expectations in his first start Saturday at BYU, completing 20-of-32 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Vaz gets a favorable matchup next week as well, as the Beavers host 2-4 Utah. The Utes are 0-3 in the Pac-12, averaging 32 points allowed per conference game. Vaz should continue to find stud wideout Markus Wheaton, as the two connected on all three of Vaz's touchdown throws against the Cougars.

Senorise Perry, RB, Louisville -
Perry was already having a sensational season for the Cardinals before crossing the goal line four times at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Overall, Perry has rushed for 559 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per tote. Perry has also crossed the 100-yard mark in three games this season, including the last two games. Perry should have another standout game Saturday against a South Florida squad that has lost four straight games, allowing at least 30 points over the last three contests.


Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU -
Hill had his coming out party Saturday against South Carolina, rushing 17 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers gutted out a 23-21 victory in Death Valley. Despite the incredible day, the problem for the freshman is the Tigers' crowded backfield. Spencer Ware received 14 carries before leaving Saturday's game with a stomach bug, Kenny Hilliard got 10 carries and Michael Ford had seven. Due to quarterback Zach Mettenberger's struggles, LSU features the running game and rotates several backs in the fray. As a result, it's tough to predict on a weekly basis which runner will have the best game. Hill has the tools to succeed at running back, but whether he will consistently get the opportunity to showcase them is another story.

Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU -
Quarterback Casey Pachall recently entered rehab due to a substance abuse problem, opening the door for Boykin to start at quarterback for the Horned Frogs. After a shaky first start against Iowa State in which he threw three interceptions, Boykin rebounded to complete 22-of-30 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns at Baylor. Boykin also rushed for 56 yards and another score. TCU plays host to Texas Tech this weekend, with the Red Raiders proving surprisingly stingy on defense, allowing just 16.3 points per game. This contest should be a better indicator of whether Boykin now has a firm grasp on the offense and is in control, or is still fine tuning his game under center.

Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State -
After taking a few games to find his footing in coach Todd Graham's new spread offense, Kelly has exploded over his last three games for the Sun Devils. Kelly has passed for 926 yards and 11 touchdowns over that span, while not throwing a single interception. Kelly has feasted on weaker opponents, though, piloting victories over Utah, Colorado and Cal. That changes this Thursday in a battle with Oregon. The Ducks have not even been in a close game this season and forced five turnovers in their last game against Washington. Kelly could still score a touchdown or two, but expecting another breakout performance is foolish.

Rushel Shell, RB, Pittsburgh -
Shell's touches have been inconsistent, which has been the biggest hindrance in his fantasy output in 2012. When he gets the ball, he has been productive; Shell averages 5.2 yards per carry. However, he has only received double-digit carries in three of Pitt's six games. Part of that has to due with the presence of Ray Graham, but Graham has also battled issues due to his ACL tear from a year ago. In the most recent game against Louisville, though, Shell rushed 18 times for 96 yards and a touchdown. However, he had just one rush the week before against Syracuse. As long as he gets the work, Shell could be a sleeper pick, particularly at Buffalo this weekend. However, it remains to be seen how the carries will actually be distributed.


Chris Nwoke, RB, Colorado State -
Nwoke re-injured his left ankle Saturday and was forced to leave the game against San Diego State midway through the third quarter. This season has been a disappointment for Nwoke to say the least, as he has just 221 yards (3.6 YPC) while failing to find the end zone. By contrast, Nwoke was a breakout star in 2011, rushing for 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging a stellar 5.7 yards per rush. Nwoke's status is up in the air, but even when he's been on the field he hasn't been productive for the Rams. The injury likely will be an issue for the remainder of the 2012 campaign.

Tim Smith, WR, Virginia -
The leading returning receiver for the Cavs, Smith has been in and out of the lineup due to a nondescript lower extremity injury this season. Since catching nine passes for 96 yards in the season opener against Richmond, Smith has snared just two passes for 48 yards. He hasn't seen the field at all during Virginia's last two games and remains questionable for the Oct. 27 tilt with Wake Forest. Keep Smith reserved until he can shake the injury bug.

Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford -
Montgomery is nursing a sore knee, and it is unknown whether he will play Saturday against Cal. Montgomery had 18 grabs for 168 yards in five games before sitting out the crushing loss to Notre Dame. The sophomore was the leading wide receiver in the tight end-heavy offense before the injury. Zach Ertz remains the leading pass-catcher for the Cardinal.

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee -
Bray continues to show impressive arm strength but questionable decision making for the Vols. Tennessee is winless in the SEC, and Bray has tossed six interceptions during three conference tilts. The task gets no easier for the junior quarterback this week against Alabama, followed by a visit to South Carolina on Oct. 27. It might be best to find another quarterback the next two weeks against those imposing defenses.

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