USF QB Quinton Flowers vs. ECU - Playing against Temple on Thursday, Flowers was just off. The Bulls had no problems defeating the Owls, but the usually razor-sharp quarterback completed just 8-of-20 passes for 96 yards and rushed for a ho-hum 59 yards (he did score twice on the ground). It’s just a passing moment. He is going to destroy ECU, with the only real block to a towering statistical line being that this game will probably be over by halftime, if not a short time after. Will Grier toasted the Pirates for 352 yards and five touchdowns in Week 2 and Joshua Jackson followed that up by throwing for 372 yards and another quintet of touchdowns. Flowers is probably going to account for five scores one way or another, here.
Arizona State QB Manny Wilkins vs. Stanford -- We’ve sung the praises of Wilkins before in this space, but once more, with feeling this time. He’s been as metronome-steady as any quarterback in the country, with over 300 yards passing in three of four contests (he faltered with just 298 yards against San Diego State in Week 2) and at least two touchdowns in three of four contests. He had just one through the air in a win over Oregon on Saturday, but augmented that with two on the ground. Stanford has a star-studded secondary, but that didn’t stop Josh Rosen from going off for 480 yards. USC’s Sam Darnold also shredded the Cardinal earlier this month. Wilkins is not Rosen or Darnold, but he doesn’t have to be. He just has to keep being Manny Wilkins.
FAU RB Devin Singletary vs. Middle Tennessee -- It’s been a slow ramp-up to begin the season for Singletary, who had rushed for a combined 94 yards in the Owls’ first two games before picking up the pace against Bethune-Cookman last weekend via 109 yards rushing. He then went out and backed up that effort with a 156 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Buffalo on Saturday. That competition is abysmal, of course, but Singletary rushed for 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns as a true freshman a year ago, so this is far from a fluke. The numbers were going to come eventually. He stays hot against the Blue Raiders.
Washington RB Myles Gaskin vs. Oregon State -- Speaking of slow starters, Gaskin sputtered through the first three weeks of the season, posting a mere 153 yards rushing, the football equivalent of that 20-year old pull-cord lawnmower in the garage which takes a solid half-hour to get started. When he finally got roaring on Saturday, he proceeded to destroy Colorado’s lawn with 202 yards rushing. The junior played this same kind of act last season, failing to notch a 100-yard game until Week 5. He finished the year topping the century mark in six of the final nine games. The Beavers surrendered 128 yards and a touchdown to Gaskin a year ago.
Baylor WRs Denzel Mims and Chris Platt vs. Kansas State -- A two-for-one deal on Bear wide receivers. Act now, supplies are limited. Baylor might be 0-4, but very quietly their offense has begun to gel with Zach Smith settling in at quarterback following the short lived reign of Arizona transfer Anu Solomon to open the season. They played well enough in a loss to Duke two weekends ago before very nearly toppling Oklahoma on Saturday. Mims’ 192 yards receiving against the Sooners was the second-highest tally in the country for the week, trailing only the 203 yards of Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson. Platt, meanwhile, has been one of the most explosive wideouts in all the land, with long-catches of 70-plus yards in three of four games. He has also scored in three of four contests this season. The Wildcats have yet to allow more than 20 points in a game this year, so there’s some risk, here, but one of Mims and Platt will finish with nice numbers. Platt’s the more reliable option. All he has to do is get open downfield once to suddenly be at or near 100 yards. He has surpassed 90 in all but one contest in 2017.
SMU WR Courtland Sutton vs. UConn -- Maybe? Your guess is as good as ours as to why Sutton’s gone AWOL statistically this year outside of his “I still exist” 8-163-4 thrashing of North Texas in Week 2. That’s Sutton’s only 100-yard receiving game of the season. It’s his only 50-yard receiving game of the season. It’s his only 40-yard receiving game of the season. Indeed, the NFL-er to-be has been held to fewer than 35 yards in three of four contests. That’s remarkable given that SMU’s offense as a whole has looked kind of awesome. This will be the week for Sutton. In their lone game against an FBS team this year, UConn surrendered 100-plus yards receiving to THREE Virginia wideouts. If Sutton doesn’t come through here, we’re looking into a detective agency to figure out what on earth is happening.
Ohio State WR Parris Campbell vs. Rutgers -- Campbell has been booming and busting it up all this month, slicing through Indiana in the opener for 6-136-1 and then fading for a combined line of 9-81-0 against Oklahoma and Army over the next two weeks. He then flipped the script (again) with three catches for 105 yards and a score in Saturday’s win over UNLV. It would be nice to think he can start to find some level of consistency. Ohio State’s schedule is certainly offering him opportunities. We like him for at least 100 yards and a score against the Scarlet Knights.
Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson vs. Alabama -- As much as we would love to pimp Patterson up as a Bama killer, we just can’t. In the Rebs’ only game against Power 5 competition this year, they put up just 16 points. Against Cal. A less-awful-than-we-thought Cal team, but still Cal. All 16 of those, by-the-by, came in the first half. Once Golden Bears HC Justin Wilcox made his halftime adjustments, Ole Miss posted goose eggs over the final two quarters. Nick Saban’s crew won’t be waiting until after the halftime break to make Patterson’s life a living hell. That’ll start from the word “go.” Patterson is as talented as any quarterback in the SEC and he may well eventually have his day against the Tide with a little more battle-testing, but it’s not going to be Saturday.
Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson vs. Wisconsin -- It’s easy to talk yourself into Thorson, who is starting to draw a bit of draft buzz. A closer look at the numbers, though, and it’s a little harder sell. Thorson has thrown for 300-plus yards in two of three games this season, but those two came against down-on-their-luck squads in Nevada and Bowling Green. The lone non-starter was a 120-yard, two-interception stinker against a very much up-on-its-luck squad in Duke. The Badgers didn’t maul Thorson last season -- he finished with 277 yards passing against them -- but Wisconsin has had a bye to plan for him and has allowed a combined 30 points in three games this year.
Florida State RB Cam Akers vs. Wake Forest -- The Demon Deacons sit at a surprise 4-0 entering action in Week 5, while the Seminoles are still flailing about searching for their first win after losing to NC State on Saturday. Wake has yet to allow more than 90 yards rushing to an individual in a game this season, while Akers is still looking to find his footing in collegiate play. The five-star true frosh put down 56 yards rushing against the Wolfpack in loss No. 2 on the year. Even the most highly-regarded freshmen can struggle to find a groove and it’s probably best to fade expectations on Akers, at least until we have a better idea of just who he might be as a player. It would be helpful if FSU could actually build up some kind of a lead to allow Akers some time to see extended carries. James Blackman attempted 38 passes on Saturday, an absurd number given that it was his first start post-high school prom.
Vanderbilt RB Ralph Webb vs. Florida -- The Commodores have been one of the fun stories on the young season (at least until Alabama wiped them out of existence), but Webb’s year to date has been something of a perplexing one. His long-carry has gone for all of nine yards and he has yet to surpass 55 yards rushing through four games. He hasn’t just been playing Alabama on repeat, either. Middle Tennessee held Webb to 49 yards rushing. Alabama A&M (Note: Not actual Alabama) held him to 54. Kansas State 46. And yes, Alabama just 20, because of course. This is a back who has surpassed 900 yards rushing in every one of year of his collegiate career, including back-to-back 1,000-yard showings in 2015 and 2016. Florida is not immune to surrendering yards on the ground -- Tennessee’s John Kelly proved that much -- but they played staunchly against Kentucky on Saturday and with Webb, we’re weary until he shows some kind (any kind) of giddy-up. It hasn’t been there as of yet.
Virginia Tech WR Cam Phillips vs. Clemson -- Betting against Phillips isn’t advised, as he’s torched three of four teams for at least 100 yards receiving this season. Major caveat with flashing red lights: To date, he has faced West Virginia, Delaware, ECU and Old Dominion. Clemson is a quantum leap forward from that bunch of rag-tag misfits. The Tigers have been predictably staunch against the pass this season, surrendering just 134.50 yards on average.
USC WR Deontay Burnett vs. Washington State (Friday) -- Burnett has been a magnet for the ball in the early going this season, having caught at least seven passes in every game. The Cougars should not be underestimated, though. Mike Leach’s squad has been fantastic against the pass this season, allowing a mere 142.25 yards passing. They have yet to face an offense the caliber of USC’s, but the Trojans have not been immune to slow starts and odd, somewhat disjointed offensive efforts. Burnett turns in his first down game of the season on Friday in a potential upset spot.
Auburn WR Nate Craig-Myers vs. Mississippi State -- Sigh, Auburn, sigh. Even in a thumping of poor little Missouri on Saturday, Auburn’s passing game could best be described as questionable. And while we like to preach patience in these parts, patience only goes so far. Craig-Myers and QB Jarrett Stidham spent the summer talking about building connections and the two did hook up plenty in Auburn’s spring game. It’s autumn, now, baby, and things aren’t looking so hot. Craig-Myers owns a 6-124-1 receiving line in three games. He remains a talented wideout, but it’s just difficult to have faith in this offensive attack outside of the running game at this juncture. Also, Mississippi State boasts a top-five defense against the pass this season. That, too.