Players on the Hot Seat in College Football Week 4
It's all about the pressure, as Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and the entire Arkansas offense can attest to after joining our list last week and failing miserably when things got tough.
This week's list is heavy on the offense, mainly because there are some major storylines to follow involving quarterbacks and running backs this week.
For the uninformed, this list brings you 10 players, all of them facing varying degrees of pressure this week, and all of them with much on the line going into their respective contests.
For guys such as Montee Ball, this is a repeat performance; but newcomers like Auburn's Kiehl Frazier and Arizona's Matt Scott are making their debut on the list, and have huge challenges facing them in Week 4.
Will they fold, or find a way to get it done under pressure?
10. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona
Matt Scott has been the catalyst for the Wildcats offense, which is averaging over 600 yards of offense per game and over 46 points per game.
The team is currently 3-0, including a win over a then ranked Oklahoma State team.
But that also includes an overtime squeaker against Toledo, so it's very difficult to get a read on this offense.
While the Oregon offense will keep the 'Cats' defense hopping in their matchup this weekend, it's Scott that will have all eyes focused on him to see if he and the offense can match the output of Oregon's explosive offensive unit.
9. Clemson Offense
Yes, the Tigers' opponent, Florida State has yet to play anyone of any significance.
Even so, Clemson is in for a tussle when they visit Tallahassee this weekend.
Through three games, the 'Noles have registered 11 sacks and 26 tackles for loss, and are allowing only 69.7 yards passing per game.
Clemson's offense will be the best they have faced this season, and the pressure will be on Tajh Boyd, Andre Ellington and company to perform well on the road in the first matchup of ACC top 10 teams since 2007.
8. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Despite losing a game to unranked Oregon State and winning against Northern Iowa and Utah State by fewer than seven points combined, Wisconsin's season is not yet lost.
This team has the potential to pull things together and still make the conference title game in a division that is in shambles.
For that to happen, Ball needs to put his big boy pants on and insist on toting the rock, early and often.
While last week was better for Montee, he has had a rough go of it this season, scoring only twice and struggling to find any sort of continuity or rhythm with his offensive line.
Against a woeful UTEP team on national television would be the perfect time to start showing us some of that talent that carried him to the best season rushing the ball in recent memory.
7. Arkansas Defense
Things don't really get any easier for Arkansas, as they now face a 3-0 Rutgers team that seems to be firing on all cylinders going into Saturday's matchup.
It's been a tough two weeks for this unit, with two embarrassing losses to try and put behind them.
With the offense hobbled by injury and inconsistency, it will be up to the Hogs defense to step up and slow the Scarlet Knights and running back Jawan Jamison.
If they don't, a season that started with national title aspirations will see them in danger of finishing at .500.
6. Joe Southwick, QB, Boise State
Southwick discovered in BSU's first game against Michigan State that life as an FBS quarterback does not always include winning, even at Boise State.
This week, he and his teammates face another stout defense, the BYU Cougars.
BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley has been a nightmare for quarterbacks this season, posting five tackles for loss and three-and-a-half sacks already through three games.
Expect Southwick to be introduced to Mr. Hadley early and often in Thursday's meeting between the teams.
5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
It's time for Barkley to man up and get his boys ready to play this week against Cal, after the team's devastating loss to Stanford.
Cal is the perfect opponent for Barkley to find his groove against, as the Golden Bears have displayed a certain level of ineptitude when it comes to slowing anybody down, particularly in the passing game.
The Trojans need a pick-me-up, and Barkley needs to provide it.
4. Maryland Defense
We have been talking about USC, Oregon, LSU and Alabama tons over the past few weeks, and left the Mountaineers out of much of the discussion.
This team is top five in passing offense, scoring offense and total offense, and just continues to get better.
Maryland is their opponent this weekend, and woe are the Terps.
Geno Smith has been incredible to start the season for the 'Eers at quarterback, and seems to be on the same page as his receivers, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.
Maryland is never going to have time to figure out what happened before they are down by three touchdowns, and the Terps defense will be under pressure from kickoff to final whistle.
3. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Robinson and his Michigan teammates face a large task when they take the field at Notre Dame this weekend: Beat the Irish.
That has proven not to be so easy this season, as Notre Dame has already dispatched Navy, Purdue and Michigan State in fairly easy fashion.
Denard has been a monster against the Irish in his two starts against them, putting up 948 yards of total offense and doing damage with both his legs and his arm.
If the Wolverines have any shot of pulling off the win against the Golden Domers, Denard will have to be at his Irish-wrecking best, and limit turnovers.
If he does not, they don't have the talent to win this game.
2. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Franklin has burst into Heisman conversation with his brilliant performances so far this season.
However, he and his UCLA teammates have yet to face a defense of the caliber that Oregon State will field.
The Beavs are fifth in the nation in total defense, and have out-muscled teams this season with regularity.
Given the fact that UCLA has played Nebraska (75th), Houston (121st) and Rice (122nd), three teams with suspect defenses, Franklin will be feeling the heat against a hard-hitting Oregon State defense that has allowed only 207 yards of offense per game this season.
This puts them squarely between Alabama and LSU.
1. Kiehl Frazier, QB, Auburn
The Tigers host the other SEC Tigers this weekend, LSU.
Frazier has been less than stellar for Auburn this season, and his job does not get any easier this week.
LSU is a top five defense, and between Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, Frazier is going to get his uniform dirty before this one is over.
The Tigers' chances of winning are slim, especially with Frazier under pressure for the entire game.
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