College Football Week 1's Most Impressive Individual Performances

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Andre Ellington #23 of the Clemson Tigers rushes against the Auburn Tigers at Georgia Dome on September 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2012 college football season is officially underway after a first week in college football that didn't offer too many great games but featured some amazing individual performances.

We've got a long way to go before individual hardware is handed out (insert worn-out cliche about marathons and sprints here), but some players have definitely set themselves apart as candidates to watch as the season progresses.

The following players had the most impressive performances in Week 1.


Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson Tigers

If you thought Clemson was all about Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins, think again.

Ellington gashed the Auburn Tigers for 231 yards on 26 carries and looked like a pro doing it. Ellington's mix of balance and power forced Auburn to gang tackle if they ever hoped to bring him down, and he made his impact felt throughout the game.

His 68-yard run in the second quarter should be an early candidate for run of the year. Ellington's effort should establish him as a dark-horse Heisman candidate and a shoo-in for Doak Walker contention.


Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes

The Urban Meyer era got off to a successful start as the Buckeyes took care of business against the Miami of Ohio Redhawks.

While it's important to remember the opponent, Braxton Miller still looked about as impressive as he could have in Meyer's spread offense. Along with 207 passing yards, Miller added 161 yards on the ground—the ninth-highest total for any player in the nation in the first week—proving that he's planning to bring it with his legs this year.

The Redhawks may not be the toughest opponent in the country, but it isn't like Ohio State's schedule gets any tougher for a while. The Buckeyes have three more home games against the likes of UCF, California and UAB before even venturing out of Columbus.

Miller should have no problem continuing his success in this new offensive system early in the season.


Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans are really going to miss Kirk Cousins this season.

Cousins's replacement, Andrew Maxwell, didn't look so great in the season opener against Boise State. He threw three interceptions with zero touchdowns in what could have very easily been a losing effort.

Fortunately for Michigan State, Le'Veon Bell looks more than ready to put this team on his back. In one of the closest Week 1 matchups, Bell carried the ball 44 times for 210 yards and two scores to clear the way for the Spartans' 17-13 win.

The Spartans dominated time of possession, holding the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. If Bell can keep this up and lead the Spartans to a successful campaign, he should be a factor in the Heisman race.


Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt Commodores

Vanderbilt nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the young 2012 season when they battled South Carolina to a 17-13 loss.

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews stood out in the loss, as he was a big reason that the Commodores were able to stay in the game. His 147 yards on eight catches accounted for 68 percent of his team's total yardage through the air.

Matthews may have even made a bigger impact on the game had he received a controversial pass interference call as Vanderbilt was driving late in pursuit of the lead. Even without the interference call, Matthews established himself as one of the best receivers in the game.

Going against SEC competition nearly every week, Matthews will make a name for himself if he continues to have this kind of success.