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Weekly Update

Match-ups Mixer: Week 7

by Mark Lindquist
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Shooting Stars

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger vs. Oklahoma -- Kansas State had yet to allow more than 20 points in a game before the Longhorns dropped 40 on them in Saturday’s double-overtime victory. Ehlinger threw for 380 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the game. Shane Buechele missed the victory with an ankle injury, but even with Buechele is healthy, we think Ehlinger might have this job on lockdown. The offense just moves better with him at the helm. The Sooners offer a potentially dynamite opponent next Saturday. Oklahoma just gave up 343 yards and three touchdowns to Iowa State backup quarterback Kyle Kempt.

Memphis QB Riley Ferguson vs. Navy -- Ferguson’s season has been a somewhat frustrating one. He has two of the biggest statistical performances by any quarterback in the FBS, throwing for a combined 829 yards with a 13/1 TD/INT ratio in wins over UCLA and UConn. He also owns a 3/4 TD/INT ratio in Memphis’ other three games this year. While the lack of consistency is maddening, we’ve seen little cold stretches from Ferguson before -- he went three games without a touchdown pass at one point last season -- and Navy has surrendered a combined 77 points to the vaunted offenses of Cincinnati and Air Force over the last three weeks.

Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Purdue -- At this point, you can more or less count on Taylor for fantastic production on a week-in and week-out basis. He was most recently seen ripping out Nebraska’s heart Temple of Doom style with 249 yards rushing and two touchdowns on Saturday. That was his second 200-yard performance of the season. Purdue has locked down the rushing attacks of Ohio and Missouri, but no such luck in conference play, as Michigan’s Chris Evans rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns on them, numbers which Minnesota’s Shannon Brooks topped with 116 yards on Saturday following a Boilermaker bye week. 150 yards and a couple of scores is well within reason from Taylor.

Houston RB Duke Catalon vs. Tulsa -- Like Jeopardy! phenom Austin Rogers, we’re aggressive in our Daily Doubles around these parts and yeah, we’re going to wager all of the money on the guy who just had his career-best game in a disappointing career. Catalon broke through for 177 yards and two touchdowns against SMU on Saturday. He had never rushed for 100 yards in 13 career games prior. Tulsa, meanwhile, houses the worst rushing defense in the country (do factor in that they’ve played three triple-option squads). If Catalon is to go out on a high note this season, that starts here.

FIU WR Thomas Owens vs. Tulane -- A year ago, Owens started the season cold as ice before suddenly catching fire for four consecutive games with at least 90 receiving yards. He caught six touchdown passes in that space. Owens looks like he might be heating up early this time around, topping his 7-101-1 receiving line from a week ago against Charlotte via an even stronger 11-162-1 receiving line against Middle Tennessee on Saturday. There’s no guarantee that Owens carries this on for any extended amount of time, but he offers an enticing possibility for statistical upside in the short term.

Bowling Green WR Teo Redding vs. Ohio -- Two things happened on Saturday which enhance Redding’s profile. First, fellow wideout Datrin Guyton was benched. Second, Redding himself flew above the fray with eight catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Ohio’s normally trustworthy defense has been less than that this season, with the Bobcats entering the weekend surrendering 272.50 yards through the air on average. CMU TE Tyler Conklin dinged them for 10-136-2 on Saturday.

Temple WR Isaiah Wright  vs. UConn -- Yup, just following UConn’s secondary around. It’s already provided plenty of statistical joy this season, joy along the lines of the 15-224-4 receiving line put down by Memphis WR Anthony Miller on Friday. Temple is not in Memphis’ league as an offensive outfit, but as the saying kind of goes, a horrible defense raises all ships. Wright led the Owls with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown against ECU on Saturday. We like him for at least 100 and a score versus the Huskies.


Falling Stars

Missouri QB Drew Lock vs. Georgia -- Do not let yourself be fooled by Lock’s 355-yard, three-touchdown performance against Kentucky on Saturday. That was his first statistical run of note since the beginning of the season. And while Lock did throw for 376 yards and three scores against the Bulldogs in early September a year ago, this Georgia team of current iteration offers an elite defense. We’ve yet to see Lock come through against such a unit. UGA has given up 17 points in their last three games.

Michigan QB John O’Korn vs. Indiana -- Everybody was spouting O’Korn’s praises over the bye week for his strong game against Purdue after Wilton Speight was forced out with injury (Speight will reportedly miss the season with three cracked vertebrae). It’s easy to say things when nothing is happening, though, and when O’Korn actually had to come out to play a full game on Saturday, Michigan State picked him off three times. Indiana has been surprisingly spritely on defense, yielding just over 200 yards passing on average. O’Korn has had every chance to win the starting job in Ann Arbor over the last two offseasons and did not. There is a reason for that and it will bear out over the coming weeks.

Boise State RB Alexander Mattison vs. San Diego State -- Mattison added to BYU’s season of woe via a career-best 118 yards and two touchdowns on Friday. The Aztecs are going to make him look like the Alexander Mattison who rushed for a combined 84 yards over the previous three contests. San Diego State does not boast the same boa constrictor of a run defense that they did a year ago, but it remains their bread and butter and they’re surrendering about 130 yards rushing on average. Mattison’s not going to have the same room to work as he did versus the Cougars.

Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage vs. Washington -- Ballage has yet to surpass 80 yards rushing in a game this season. That in-and-of itself is usually not an issue, as he tends to make himself useful as a pass catcher even when he is not posting big yardage totals as a straight running back. Alas, Ballage has been largely absent from the passing game this season, too. He has yet to top 20 yards receiving and has not scored a touchdown -- in any capacity -- in either of the last two games. Washington’s is not the defense he needs to see right now. The Sun Devils are about to embark on a horrific October in which they will play a run of Washington, Utah and USC before the schedule slackens. Ballage could have a nice November. This month is looking decidedly more uncertain.

Utah WR Darren Carrington vs. USC -- Carrington finished up with nice numbers in Saturday’s loss to Stanford -- he posted a 7-99-1 receiving line -- but 36 of those yards (plus the touchdown) came on Utah’s final drive of the game, after the contest was realistically out of reach. Garbage yards and garbage scores count the same as the ones in tight games, but we’re weary of QB Troy Williams, who was picked twice and failed to surpass 240 yards passing despite attempting 39 passes. Carrington’s game is going to hurt if Williams plays like this against the Trojans.

Middle Tennessee WR Richie James vs. UAB -- Oh how nice this match-up would be if James was healthy. And QB Brent Stockstill for that matter, as Stockstill’s out for the foreseeable future. James is just coming back from an ankle injury which has cost him three games. He could conceivably miss this contest, too, but even if he does play, there’s likely limitation, here. James has been out of action almost a month. It’s asking a lot to ask him to immediately spark, even against UAB.

West Virginia WR Ka’Raun White vs. Texas Tech -- This one has all sorts of potential to blow up in our faces. That’s exciting. White caught six passes for 138 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s loss to TCU, though over half of that came on a 76-yard score, one which almost never even happened as White was nearly tripped up. Even setting aside the disquieting fact that so much of his output against the Horned Frogs came on one play, White had not topped 75 yards receiving in any of West Virginia’s previous four games. Of course, to pump the brakes on White next weekend means pumping the gas on Texas Tech’s pass defense. We'll just close our eyes and do that. Like we said, exciting.

Mark Lindquist
Mark Lindquist holds a master's degree from the University of Iowa and writes baseball and college football for Rotoworld.com. He's currently working on a memoir about life, death, rock 'n' roll and his year teaching at a Chinese university. You can reach him on Twitter @markrlindquist.