Week 12 RankingsThursday, November 17, 2011
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Montee Ball—Wisconsin at Illinois. Ball leads all running backs in touchdowns with 23 and is fourth in nation in rushing yards this season. The junior had yet another stellar game for the Badgers last week, rushing for 166 yards and three total touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving) against Minnesota. Ball has scored at least twice in every game this season, and is averaging 194.5 yards rushing over his last two games. This week, Ball and the Badgers head to Champaign to play a pretty good Illinois defense. But as evidenced by what he’s done this season, the matchup is basically irrelevant and he is going to get his scores regardless.
Joseph Randle —Oklahoma State at Iowa State. Though Randle has been overshadowed by QB Brandon Weeden and his Heisman-hopeful season, the sophomore back has had an amazing offensive season in his own right. Being the leading rusher in the nation’s third-ranked offense clearly has it benefits, with Randle racking up 21 touchdowns on the ground and grabbing two more through the air. The yardage might not always be there but the touchdowns will, as witnessed by last week’s 78-yard, three-touchdown game against Texas Tech. He and the Cowboys’ offense have ripped through the Big 12 this season, and there’s really no reason to think Iowa State’s 90th ranked defense is going to be able to stop Randle from reaching the end zone multiple times this weekend as well.
Cyrus Gray —Texas A&M vs. Kansas. Gray is now the consensus number one back with Christine Michael out for the season with a torn ACL. The senior showed what he can do when he’s the go-to guy last week, exploding for 218 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas State. Gray should be riding high after receiving a season-high 30 carries in that game, and should carry that swagger over into this week’s contest against Kansas’ worst-ranked defense this week. Kansas has not shown that it can stop a good run game, as it gave up 441 yards on the ground three weeks ago against Texas, so look for Gray to have a field day this Saturday in College Station.
LaMichael James —Oregon vs. USC. There’s really no reason to bet against James at this point. He’s shown that his injury hasn’t slowed him down at all, going for 146 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s big win over Stanford. James is averaging a ridiculous 7.9 yards per carry and a country-leading 150.9 yards per game. He’s also still 6th in the country in total rushing yards despite missing two games with a dislocated elbow. James and the Ducks are going to do everything they can to beat their final test of the regular season, so he should be looking for a repeat of last week’s performance this Saturday night against USC.
Adonis Thomas —Toledo at Central Michigan. Thomas has gone off the last two games, averaging 228.5 yards from scrimmage during that time for the Rockets. Toledo’s potent offense has averaged 63 points during their last two contests, and Thomas has been a big part of that. He had a huge day last week against Western Michigan, rushing for 216 yards and two scores and grabbing a receiving touchdown as well. Toledo heads to Central Michigan this week, a team who gave up 63 points itself last week. There’s no telling how many points the Rockets will be able to put up this week, and Thomas figures to be a big part of whatever that number ends up being.
Mid-to-Low End Options
Cameron Marshall—Arizona State vs. Arizona
Trent Richardson—Alabama vs. Georgia Southern
John White IV—Utah at Washington State
Marcus Coker —Iowa at Purdue
Robert Turbin—Utah State at Idaho
Rex Burkhead—Nebraska at Michigan
Robbie Rouse—Fresno State at Hawaii
Zac Stacy—Vanderbilt at Tennessee
Chris Rainey—Florida vs. Furman
Michael Dyer —Auburn vs. Samford
Bobby Rainey—WKU at North Texas
Kendial Lawrence—Missouri vs. Texas Tech
Branden Oliver—Buffalo vs. Akron
Kenny Turner—New Mexico State at BYU
LeVeon Bell—Michigan State vs. Indiana