By this point in the season, we all know the big names in college football. Even the most casual fan is familiar with the work that the Lucks, the Keenums, and the Richardsons are doing each week. They are the heavy hitters who get the country’s attention, and deservedly so. However, there are plenty of other lesser-known guys you may not have heard of who are also capable of putting up the big numbers each week. Here are a few not-so-household names who can make an impact this week.
James Franklin, Missouri—Franklin has been doing it all for the Tigers, posting over 2,400 total yards (1870 passing, 542 rushing) through the team’s first eight games. The sophomore was a big part of last week’s upset of Texas A&M, throwing for 2 TDs and rushing for 2 more in their 38-31 victory. Franklin should be able to put up excellent numbers again this week as he faces a significantly easier opponent in Baylor, which is ranked 108th in total defense and 115th in points allowed.
Ryan Radcliff, Central Michigan—Radcliff is tied for 9th in the country in passing yards with Robert Griffin III at 2,375 for the season. After an okay beginning, the junior has played much better of late, throwing for 7 TDs and only 2 INTs in his last three games. Radcliff is going to get his opportunities to throw it: he’s had games of 44, 45, and 50 pass attempts this year. There is a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde risk to Radcliff’s performances, but this week should be another of his good ones. The Chippewas face a Kent State defense that gave up 400 yards through the air last week.
Zac Dysert, Miami (OH)—Dysert had an amazing game last week against Buffalo (312 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT), but it might not have even been his best of the year. The junior has shown he’s capable of the big game before, putting up a 342-yard, five-touchdown performance against Army earlier in the season. Dysert has thrown for 300+ yards in three out of his last four, and he might be able to continue that trend this week against an Akron D giving up over 400 yards of offense per game.
Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State—It might be hard to think a RB who puts up 16 touchdowns for a Big 12 team is not a household name, but in the Cowboys’ whirlwind offense it may be true. Having to share the spotlight with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, Randle has not gotten as many touches as other big-time backs. The sophomore makes sure that he shines when his number is called, however. Getting only 14 rush attempts in each of his last two games, Randle was still able to rip through the defense for 138 and 152 yards. Randle always makes sure he gets his points too, scoring in all but one game, and tallying up 7 rush TDs in his last two.
John White IV, Utah—Hopefully Utah’s coaching staff has figured out that White just may be their key to success. In the Utes’ last two wins, White has gotten over 35 carries, including last week’s 205-yard performance against Oregon State. In their four losses, the junior back has only gotten an average of 16.5 carries per game. Utah needs to put the ball in this kid’s hands as much as they can, especially against Arizona’s awful defense they face this week (113th in total defense). Needing only 85 yards to get to 1,000 on the year, look for White IV to surpass that milestone this week and much more going forward.
Curtis McNeal, USC—McNeal has looked impressive in his last two games and with Marc Tyler re-aggravating his shoulder injury on the first play of last week’s game, McNeal should see the bulk of the carries from here on out. Yes, the junior did have the big fumble to end the game in overtime, but he was a big reason why the Trojans were there in the first place. He ran for a career-best 146 yards and two touchdowns, and gave USC a much-needed spark in the third quarter. It was McNeal’s third-straight game in which he’s rushed for a career-high, and you know he will be trying extra-hard to make amends for his costly turnover this week against Colorado.
Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers—Rutgers does not have a very potent offense, but Sanu is doing everything he can for the Scarlet Knights. After switching quarterbacks midway through the season, it’s clear that it doesn’t really matter who is throwing to the junior wideout, it’s probably going to get caught. Almost half of Rutgers’ 160 completions have gone to Sanu, who has racked up 70 grabs (5th in the country) and seven touchdowns this year. Sanu set the Big East record with 16 catches in one game last month, and will continue to be the team’s main offensive weapon this week against South Florida. Whatever offense the Knights can generate, a good bulk of it should go through Mohamed as usual.
Royce Pollard, Hawaii—Pollard is a threat to go off on any given week due to Hawaii’s high-powered passing attack. The senior seems to be QB Bryant Moniz’s favorite target, racking up a team-leading 56 receptions for 834 yards and 7 TDs this season. Pollard exploded for 216 yards and 3 three touchdowns against Louisiana Tech a few weeks back, and had his second double-digit reception game of the year last week. He should again be good for a number of catches with a score or two this week at home against Utah State.
Willie Carter, Tulsa—Called Tulsa’s “utility back,” Carter has offically found his chemistry with QB G.J. Kinne this season as a slot receiver. Carter has posted back-to-back career receiving games, the most recent a 13-catch, 173-yard day in last week’s win over SMU. Carter has grabbed a TD catch in each of his last five games, and even has a little extra value as a runner, scoring a goal-line rushing TD a few weeks ago. Look for the junior to put up good numbers again through the air this week against UCF.
Ryan Otten, San Jose State—Otten has been one of the best tight ends in the country this year. Playing out of the WAC, Otten leads all tight ends in receiving yards (487) and is fourth in receptions (33). The junior has had at least 6 catches in four out of his last five games and has caught four TDs for the Spartans this year. SJSU takes on Idaho and its 85th ranked defense this week, so Otten should be able to get his touches again on Saturday.
Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky—Doyle has been the most trusted passing option for the Hilltoppers this year, leading the team with 33 receptions. Unfortunately, with stud RB Bobby Rainey leading the team in both rushing and receiving touchdowns, the junior TE has not been able to find the end zone this season. Doyle has had two 100+ yard receiving games this season, but it’s only a matter before a few of those receptions wind up in the end zone.