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CFB Barometer: Who's Up, Who's Down Week 4

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.

Johnny Manziel couldn't pull out another miraculous victory over Alabama this time around, but he notched the second-most yards from scrimmage in SEC history against the Tide. Johnny Football compiled 562 total yards, including 464 and four scores via the passing game. Junior Malcolme Kennedy surprised with three of those touchdowns, but it was the size and strength of sophomore Mike Evans that allowed the Heisman trophy winner to record such a monstrous game. The 6-foot-5, 225, Evans caught seven passes for an astounding 279 yards and a touchdown in the 49-42 shootout loss to Bama. Evans boxed out the Alabama defenders on several occasions, overpowering the Tide for an absurd 39.9 yards per catch. With Manziel tossing him passes, Evans could be the top wide receiver in the country this season.

Let's look at the rest of the ups and downs in this week's College Football Barometer.


Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA -
Hundley has been the difference maker for the Bruins through two games this season. He has completed 66.7 percent of his passes, including a 294-yard, three-touchdown performance in Saturday's impressive 41-21 victory at Nebraska. While Hundley's passing has vastly improved already from a season ago, he remains a dual-threat playmaker. Hundley rushed for two TDs in the season opener against Nevada before taking 19 carries for 61 yards against the Cornhuskers this past weekend. UCLA gets lowly New Mexico State in Week 4, meaning Hundley should be in for a monster output. He is emerging as one of the better fantasy quarterbacks in college football.

Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma -
Bell was beaten out by freshman Trevor Knight for the starting job to begin the 2013 campaign, but an injured knee to Knight forced the Belldozer into action. He responded with a huge game through the air, surprising Tulsa with a 27-for-37 performance, notching 413 yards and four touchdowns in the process. The Sooners have a week off before traveling to Notre Dame, but it'd be tough to see Knight back in the fold after Bell's standout performance. The Fighting Irish have also struggled on defense in their last two games against Michigan and Purdue, clearly missing Manti Te'o on the defensive side of the ball. The Belldozer's stock is on the upswing.

Jerron Seymour, RB, Vanderbilt -
Seymour is only 5-foot-7, but has emerged as the goal line back for the Commodores. Seymour uses his speed and quickness to find small creases in the defense in the red zone; in fact, he has scored from inside the five in each of the first three games for Vanderbilt. He's also much stronger than expected, tipping the scales at 200 pounds despite his lack of height. Seymour averages 6.2 yards per rush and appears to have overtaken the Brian Kimbrow as the No. 2 back on the depth chart. Although Wesley Tate still looks to be the top back, Seymour's nose for the end zone could make him a chic pickup.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin -
James White got the pub heading into this season as the leading returning rusher in college football. However, with Montee Ball in the NFL, that left a void in the run-heavy offense of the Badgers. Gordon has responded with three consecutive 140-yard-plus rushing outputs to start the 2013 season, finding the end zone in each of those games. Gordon has displayed home-run hitting ability, posting runs of at least 65 yards in each of the first three contests as well. Averaging an astounding 12.9 yards per carry, Gordon has outshined White and looks to be the premiere back in this offense heading into conference play.


Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State -
Miller did not play last weekend against Cal due to a sprained MCL. Kenny Guiton tossed four touchdowns in his stead, as the OSU offense did not miss a beat under the direction of the fifth-year senior. The Buckeyes play host to lowly Florida A&M this Saturday. Coach Urban Meyer may choose to let Miller have an extra week of rest before the Buckeyes enter Big Ten play Sept. 28 against Wisconsin. In sum, check back on Miller's status throughout the week, but he is likely a risky play this weekend against the lowly Rattlers.

Cody Kessler, QB, USC -
Maybe Matt Barkley wasn't so bad after all. Certainly wideout Marqise Lee and Trojan fans had been pining for better quarterback play, and they got it Saturday against Boston College. Sophomore Cody Kessler showed pinpoint accuracy, completing 15-of-17 throws for 237 yards and two touchdowns at home. Although the Eagles aren't exactly world-beaters, neither Kessler nor fellow QB Max Wittek looked very good in the first two contests against Hawaii and Washington State. Kessler and the Trojans play host to Utah State this weekend, giving Kessler more time to work on his play against an inferior defense. One game does not a stellar QB make, but things could be looking up for the Trojans under center.

Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado -
Who saw this start coming from Richardson? In 2012, Richardson caught 39 passes for 555 yards and five touchdowns. Through two games in 2013? Richardson has hauled in 21 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Those ridiculous statistics came at Colorado State and against Central Arkansas. The Buffs enter Pac-12 play Sept. 28, subsequently facing four ranked opponents in their next six games. In other words, it is unlikely Richardson will continue this torrid pace. Still, his production has obviously been tremendous through two games for Colorado.

Javess Blue, WR, Kentucky -
Blue has snatched 12 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown in the last two games for the Wildcats, this despite uncertainty at quarterback. Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow have alternated between the starting role due to a combination of injuries and inconsistency. Still, Blue has managed to haul in a bunch of passes no matter which QB lines up under center. Blue also returned five kicks for 134 yards as well against Louisville last Saturday, so his value increases even more in leagues that reward points for return yardage. The struggles of the Wildcat QBs still make him a risky play, but the junior leads UK in receiving and could be a sleeper in deep and SEC-only leagues.


Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State -
A scary moment for Woods occurred Saturday against Utah, as he took a knee to the head in the fourth quarter and was removed from the field via ambulance. Woods was reportedly moving his extremities at the hospital but was kept overnight for observation. Woods rushed for 940 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Beavers as a freshman last season. He was off to a stellar start in 2013 before the injury, with 152 rushing yards and 163 receiving yards through three contests. No word yet on the severity of the injury, but the Beavers play 0-2 San Diego State this Saturday, meaning OSU likely will proceed extremely cautiously with their star running back. Look for QB Sean Mannion, WR Brandin Cooks and the rest of the Beavers passing game to thrive even more in the absence of Woods.

Terrance Owens, QB, Toledo -
Owens left Saturday's game due to a left knee injury. Although he allegedly did not tear anything in his knee, Owens is likely to miss Saturday's game at Central Michigan. Owens passed for 2,699 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012, while also rushing for 395 yards and five more scores for the Rockets. Freshman Logan Woodside will line up under center in place of Owens, but look for stud running back David Fluellen to be relied upon even more heavily in Owens' absence. Fluellen rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Eastern Washington; he ran for 1,498 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2012.

Dri Archer, RB, Kent State -
Archer's ankle injury suffered in the opener versus Liberty is clearly bothering him more than he's letting on. Archer was simply dynamite in 2012, rushing for 1,429 yards and 16 touchdowns last season while also hauling in 39 passes for 561 yards and four additional scores. Thus far in 2013? Archer has three rushes for 10 yards and one catch for seven yards through three games for the Golden Flashes. He did not carry the ball a single time in Saturday's loss at LSU. Even if Archer somehow magically heals during the week, Kent State travels to Penn State this Saturday, a matchup that does not bode well for Archer's prospects. An extremely disappointing start to the season won't get any better this week for the senior.

Shaq Roland, WR, South Carolina -
Since Roland caught that 65-yard touchdown strike from QB Connor Shaw to open the college football season? He has just seven catches for 96 yards. It seems as though a different wideout comes to the forefront each game for the Gamecocks; junior Nick Jones caught two touchdowns at Georgia in Week 2, and Bruce Ellington crossed the 100-yard plateau in Saturday's 35-25 victory over Vandy. With an emphasis on the running game between Shaw, Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds as well, Roland's production may be sporadic and inconsistent as the season wears on. He's got significant boom-or-bust potential.