Saquon Barkley is special. You probably did not need me to tell you that because it is evident every time he steps on the field. Last Saturday against Iowa, Barkley hurdled a defender and broke another tackle in mid-air. The entire play demonstrated Barkley’s unique combination of power, balance, and athleticism. He is one of those players who fans refuse to look away from when he has the ball in his hands.
Saquon Barkley adding to his Heisman resumé pic.twitter.com/DkPRhRxn0d
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 24, 2017
Featuring Barkley and Akrum Wadley, the Penn State – Iowa game was a battle of two talented running backs and one of the best contests of the week. Penn State led by eight points early in the fourth quarter before Iowa running back Akrum Wadley had a remarkable 70-yard catch and run. He put on a series of moves once he caught the ball and dove into the end zone. The ensuing two-point conversion failed, but Iowa was able to block a field goal on Penn State’s next drive. Wadley scored again, this time on a 35-yard rush, to put Iowa ahead 19 to 15. Trace McSorley, Juwan Johnson, and the rest of the Nittany Lions then marched down the field. They converted two fourth-down attempts on the drive and scored the game-winning touchdown as time expired.
You can find the final results of each week four game here.
Performances ranked on a 5-star scale
5 stars – Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State (211 yards rushing, 1 TD, 12 recs, 94 yards)
Barkley is arguably the top player in college football. He puts on a show in nearly every game he plays. The agility and speed he displayed in this game was truly remarkable. He further solidifies his case as a Heisman Trophy candidate with each passing week.
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5 stars – Christian Kirk, WR Texas A&M (5 recs, 110 yards, 2 TDs, Kick Return TD)
Kirk was impressive in Texas A&M’s win over Arkansas last Saturday. He caught two touchdown passes, including the game-winner in overtime. He also returned a kick for a touchdown. This game helped prove he is one of the top playmakers in the country.
5 stars – Luke Falk, QB Washington St. (478 yards passing, 5 TDs)
Falk played a nearly flawless game, throwing for nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He will face a much tougher test next week at home against USC.
5 stars – Darius Anderson, RB TCU (160 yards rushing, 3 TDs, 4 recs, 41 yards)
TCU has been one of the most impressive teams in the first month of the season. Darius Anderson helped them pull off the upset of Oklahoma State on the road as he rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
5 stars – Bryce Love, RB Stanford (263 yards rushing, 1 TD, 1 rec, 2 yards)
Love repeatedly gashed the UCLA defense to the tune of 263 yards on the ground. It could have been even more if one of his late runs was not called back due to a penalty. He has had a great start to the season so far and is currently the PAC-12’s leading rusher.
4 stars – Myles Gaskin, RB Washington (202 yards rushing, 2 TDs)
Gaskin ran wild against Colorado, amassing over 200 yards rushing. The game was actually close in the first half until he helped Washington pull away in the second half.
4 stars – Damien Harris, RB Alabama (151 yards rushing, 3 TDs)
Alabama ran all over Vanderbilt last Saturday. Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and Bo Scarbrough all received at least ten carries and each had success running the ball. Damien Harris rushed for the most yards of the group and also added three touchdowns. Alabama continues to have one of the most prolific backfields in the country.
4 stars – Auden Tate, WR Florida State (9 recs, 138 yards, 1 TD)
Auden Tate had an impressive game against NC State before he exited with an apparent shoulder injury. He displayed great chemistry with James Blackman as he was seemingly open on nearly every play. Eight of his nine catches came in the first half. Hopefully, Tate’s injury is not serious. He has played very well in Florida State’s first two games of the season.
Honorable Mentions: Akrum Wadley (80 yards rushing, 1 TD, 4 recs, 75 yards, 1 TD), N’Keal Harry (7 recs, 170 yards, 1 TD), Bo Scarbrough (79 yards rushing, 2 TDs), Jordan Lasley (11 recs, 158 yards, 1 TD), Josh Rosen (480 yards passing, 3 TDs, 2 INTs), Bryan Edwards (6 recs, 122 yards), James Washington (6 recs, 153 yards, 1 TD), Zach Smith (463 yards passing, 4 TDs), Khalil Herbert (291 yards rushing, 2 TDs), Juwan Johnson (7 recs, 92 yards, 1 TD), Mark Walton (204 yards rushing, 1 TD)
Performances ranked on a 5-star scale
1 star – Josh Allen, QB Wyoming (92 yards passing, 1 TD)
In what has become a theme in the first month of the season, Josh Allen had another uninspiring performance this past Saturday. He had a nice touchdown pass in overtime to win the game, but he is going to need to start throwing for more than 92 yards to remain a top quarterback prospect of mine.
2 stars – Kelvin Harmon, WR NC State (1 rec, 16 yards)
Kelvin Harmon has had some nice games to start the season, but has still been flying under some people’s radars. It was disappointing to see him only have one catch on Saturday, but he was facing a tough Florida State defense led by safety Derwin James. He will look to bounce back next week against Syracuse.
Depth Chart Battles
As we approach the fifth week of the season, below are a few positional battles I will be keeping an eye on.
Florida State Running Backs
Cam Akers did not have a great game last week against NC State, but it was interesting to see him enter the game on the second drive and receive a majority of the carries.
Coach Jimbo Fisher chewed Akers out for making a few too many moves in the backfield on a third and two early in the game, but Akers continued to receive carries in the second half. It was a great teaching moment for Akers in what will hopefully be an impressive college career. It appears he has already become Florida State’s lead back.
USC Running Backs
Stephen Carr stepped in nicely for Ronald Jones this past Saturday, totaling 129 yards and scoring one touchdown. Ronald Jones will still be the lead back once he returns, but it was good to see Carr play well in the lead role.
Below is a preview of my Top 25 Devy rankings. I made a few adjustments after this week of play. You can find my full set of Devy rankings here.
Below are some of the more intriguing games on this upcoming week’s slate. You can check out the full week five schedule here.
1.) USC @ Washington State – 9/29 @ 10:30 PM EST on ESPN/WatchESPN
USC passed their first road test of the season last week against California. This week, they face a Top-25 opponent, Washington State. Sam Darnold has had some impressive plays this year, but not as good of a start as many expected from one of the top quarterback prospects in the country.
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk is coming off a 478 yard, five touchdown game last week and looks to upset the Trojans at home.
2.) Northwestern @ Wisconsin – 9/30 @ 12 PM EST on ABC/WatchESPN
While this might not be the most competitive game of the week’s slate, I will be tuning into this one specifically to watch Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. He has been one of my favorite players to watch through the first month of this season because of his combination of power and balance.
3.) Georgia @ Tennessee – 9/30 @ 3:30 PM EST on CBS
There will be a plethora of talented running backs in this contest, including Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Elijah Holyfield, and John Kelly. It will be interesting to see if anyone on the Georgia side of the ball starts the game well and ends up receiving a majority of the carries. Kelly figures to be heavily involved for Tennessee.
4.) Clemson @ Virginia Tech – 9/30 @ 8 PM EST on ABC/WatchESPN
Clemson has impressed in the first month of the season as they adjust to life without Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams. They face a tough test at Virginia Tech in this one. Kelly Bryant, Travis Etienne, and Ray-Ray McCloud look to build upon their solid starts to the season.
5.) Ole Miss @ Alabama – 9/30 @ 9 PM EST on ESPN/WatchESPN
I hope Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown can return from injury and play in this game because I would love to see how he and D.K. Metcalf perform against the tough Alabama defense. Even if A.J. Brown cannot play, I will be closely watching one of my top-10 Devy prospects, D.K. Metcalf.
Alabama also has many talented players, including Calvin Ridley, Bo Scarbrough, Najee Harris, and Damien Harris.
We are now entering the point of the season where most teams are playing conference opponents. The number of upsets usually increases as the season goes on. The first month of the season has been very entertaining but the upcoming months could be even better.
The Heisman Trophy competition should also start to heat up. Saquon Barkley has made a very good case for himself so far, but the race is still wide open. Let’s see if anyone can distance themselves from the pack.
Look for this series to continue to be published every Thursday. In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Twitter @TheDevyDude and get ready for another exciting week of college football!