College Football All-Week 5 Team
Before we turn our full attention to Week 6 of the 2012 college football season, let’s take a look at some of the top individual performances of Week 5.
The following slideshow contains my All-Week 5 Team. These guys really brought their “A” game to the gridiron and forced the entire country to take notice.
Rankings are listed as follows: No. in AP poll/No. in USA TODAY poll. Rankings updated through Oct. 3, 2012.
Quarterback: Geno Smith (No. 8/7 West Virginia)
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Week 5 Result: 70-63 W vs. No. 33/31 Baylor
Week 5 Stats: 45-of-51 passing, 88.2 completion percentage, 656 yards, 8 touchdowns, 248.0 rating; 5 carries, 31 yards, 6.2 yards per carry
Smith leads FBS in completion percentage (83.4), adjusted passing yards per attempt (12.6), passing touchdowns (20) and passing efficiency rating (208.4)—all without throwing an interception.
The Mountaineers should continue to score a lot of points in 2012. Will any defense put up a fight against Smith? With September complete, the odds seem unlikely.
Running Back: Benny Cunningham (Middle Tennessee State)
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Week 5 Result: 49-28 W at Georgia Tech
Week 5 Stats: 27 carries, 217 yards, 8.0 yards per carry, 5 touchdowns; 1 reception, 12 yards, 12.0 yards per reception; 229 yards from scrimmage
Benny Cunningham outscored Georgia Tech’s whole team in Week 5, 30-28. Impressive.
Middle Tennessee State has already won more games in 2012 (three) than it did in 2011 (two). If Cunningham carries momentum from this game into the Sun Belt schedule, then the Blue Raiders could go bowling for the third time since 2009.
Running Back: Kenjon Barner (No. 2/2 Oregon)
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Week 5 Result: 51-26 W at Washington State
Week 5 Stats: 20 carries, 195 yards, 9.8 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns; 3 receptions, 37 yards, 12.3 yards per reception, 1 touchdown; 232 yards from scrimmage, 4 touchdowns
On an Oregon offense loaded with playmakers, Kenjon Barner was the star in the Ducks’ Week 5 win against Washington State.
Barner—No. 8 nationally in yards from scrimmage (716) and No. 3 nationally in touchdowns from scrimmage (10) and points (60)—showed why he is one of the most dangerous players in college football with the rock in his hands.
Meanwhile, can anyone stop this Ducks offense?
Wide Receiver: Stedman Bailey (No. 8/7 West Virginia)
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Week 5 Result: 70-63 W vs. No. 33/31 Baylor
Week 5 Stats: 13 receptions, 303 yards, 23.3 yards per reception, 5 touchdowns
Stedman Bailey was the best of Geno Smith’s many targets in West Virginia’s Week 5 win against Baylor.
Bailey and Tavon Austin are both No. 1 receivers for the Mountaineers, but Bailey had the advantage in both yards and touchdowns in Week 5.
Through Week 5, Bailey leads FBS in receiving touchdowns (10) and is No. 2 in receiving yards (635).
Wide Receiver: Terrance Williams (No. 33/31 Baylor)
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Week 5 Result: 63-70 L at No. 8/7 West Virginia
Week 5 Stats: 17 receptions, 314 yards, 18.5 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns
Terrance Williams was the best of Nick Florence’s many targets in Baylor’s Week 5 loss against West Virginia.
Unlike the pairing of Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin for West Virginia, Williams is the clear No. 1 receiver in a productive trio in Waco (that also features Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese).
Williams leads FBS in receiving yards through Week 5 (667).
Tight End: Gator Hoskins (Marshall)
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Week 5 Result: 41-51 L at NR/No. 37 Purdue
Week 5 Stats: 4 receptions, 42 yards, 10.5 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns
Gator Hoskins scored a touchdown 75 percent of the time he caught the football for Marshall in its Week 5 loss against Purdue.
With a name like Gator, you know this guy is for real.
Defensive Lineman: Will Sutton (No. 35/32 Arizona State)
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Week 5 Result: 27-17 W at California
Week 5 Stats: 8 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Will Sutton accounted for nearly half of Arizona State’s activity behind the line of scrimmage in its Week 5 win against California. Sutton recorded four of the 10 tackles for loss, and three of the seven sacks, generated by the Sun Devils defense.
California quarterback Zach Maynard completed only 32.1 percent of his passes, and Arizona State’s defensive line pressure—led by Sutton—greatly contributed to Maynard’s ineffectiveness.
Defensive Lineman: Travis Johnson (NR/No. 39 San Jose State)
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Week 5 Result: 12-0 W at Navy
Week 5 Stats: 8 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble
Travis Johnson could be the best pass-rusher in college football through Week 5. Johnson leads FBS in both tackles for loss (12) and sacks (eight).
San Jose State’s defense held Navy’s triple-option offense to just 144 yards on 51 plays (2.8 yards per play).
The Spartans’ weak strength of schedule, I believe, has hurt their chances of receiving more Top 25 votes. At the very least, voters and college football followers alike should not overlook Johnson’s outstanding performance.
Defensive Lineman: Daeshon Bufford (NR/No. 41 Tulsa)
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Week 5 Result: 49-42 W at Alabama-Birmingham
Week 5 Stats: 8 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Daeshon Bufford helped Tulsa’s defense hold UAB to one rushing yard all game on 35 Blazers carries. This really helped Bufford get on this list, but his individual numbers were equally impressive.
The Golden Hurricane registered seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss in their Week 5 win against UAB, and Bufford led the charge.
Defensive Lineman: Quanterus Smith (Western Kentucky)
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Week 5 Result: 26-13 W at Arkansas State
Week 5 Stats: 7 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 pass defended
Quanterus Smith got three sacks against Alabama in Week 2 and 3.5 sacks against Arkansas State in Week 5. This means Smith has shown an ability to bring down the quarterbacks of two elite offensive minds.
Alabama’s Doug Nussmeier has experience coaching quarterbacks in the NFL and in BCS-caliber programs, and Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn led Auburn's offense to the BCS National Championship for the 2010 season. Smith has figured out both of them in 2012.
Western Kentucky walked away from Week 5 without a single Top 25 vote in either poll, despite being 4-1 and only losing to Alabama. The Hilltoppers lead the Sun Belt, though, and Smith’s pass-rushing prowess has helped get them to the top of the conference.
Linebacker: Maalik Bomar (No. 26/23 Cincinnati)
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Week 5 Result: 27-24 W vs. NR/No. 41 Virginia Tech
Week 5 Stats: 16 tackles, 1 pass defended
Though Cincinnati was technically the home team in its Week 5 win against Virginia Tech, the game was played at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Therefore, Virginia Tech really had the home-field advantage, and that makes Maalik Bomar’s performance more impressive.
The Bearcats and the Hokies played this game down to the wire, but Cincinnati narrowly won the yardage and turnover battles. Every one of Bomar’s 16 tackles was important to the game’s outcome.
Cincinnati finds itself in the Big East championship discussion yet again, and as the No. 2 tackler on the team through Week 5, expect Bomar to be a big part of its defense all season.
Linebacker: Phillip Steward (Houston)
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Week 5 Result: 35-14 W vs. Rice
Week 5 Stats: 8 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Phillip Steward is one of the best linebackers in Conference USA despite playing on a poor Houston defense. Steward showed why in the Cougars’ Week 5 win against Rice.
Steward ranks No. 3 in CUSA in tackles (47), No. 2 in tackles for loss (10), No. 3 in sacks (four) and No. 1 in fumbles forced (three) through Week 5.
Houston, meanwhile, allows 488.0 yards per game and 34.2 points per game. In 2011, the defense fared better, but when Case Keenum and Kevin Sumlin were orchestrating the No. 1 scoring offense in FBS, the unit did not have to shoulder as much of the load.
Steward’s fine efforts have not gone unnoticed here, though.
Linebacker: Eddie Johnson (No. 36/33 Miami (FL))
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Week 5 Result: 44-37 W vs. North Carolina State
Week 5 Stats: 7 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended, 2 forced fumbles
In football, defenses are asked to help out their offenses. Eddie Johnson, as a defensive player, was more like a secret weapon for the Miami (FL) offense in its Week 5 win against North Carolina State. Johnson generated two of the Hurricanes’ four forced fumbles—all of which they recovered.
NC State outgained their ACC rivals, but the Wolfpack lost the turnover and penalties battles by significant margins. Miami (FL)—including its defense, led in part by Johnson—forced the Wolfpack to make enough mistakes to cost them the game in the final moments.
Like Maalik Bomar of Cincinnati, everything Johnson did for the Hurricanes was necessary to pull out the victory.
Linebacker: Michael Mauti (Penn State)
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Week 5 Result: 35-7 W at Illinois
Week 5 Stats: 6 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 105 interception return yards, 52.5 yards per interception return, 2 passes defended
Michael Mauti was all over the field on a historic day in Penn State football history.
The Nittany Lions’ Week 5 win against Illinois marked the first conference victory for new head coach Bill O’Brien, as well as the first road win for a new Penn State head coach (non-interim) since Oct. 22, 1966.
Yes, that “new” head coach was Joe Paterno.
Also, Mauti ranks No. 3 in FBS with 105 interception return yards (through Week 5), all of which came in this game.
Defensive Back: Chip Thompson (East Carolina)
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Week 5 Result: 28-18 W vs. Texas-El Paso
Week 5 Stats: 8 tackles, 2 interceptions, 24 interception return yards, 12.0 yards per interception return, 3 passes defended
Chip Thompson led a stout East Carolina pass defense in its Week 5 win against Texas-El Paso.
The Pirates held the Miners to 151 passing yards and a 33.3 percent completion percentage. Thompson snagged two of East Carolina’s three interceptions.
Throw in eight tackles from his position in the secondary, and Thompson had himself a performance that rivals any DB in the nation from Week 5.
Defensive Back: Rashaad Reynolds (No. 14/17 Oregon State)
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Week 5 Result: 38-35 W at No. 36/NR Arizona
Week 5 Stats: 10 tackles, 1 interception, 4 interception return yards, 4.0 yards per interception return, 6 passes defended
I thought Jordan Poyer would be the only star on Oregon State’s defense in 2012. Boy, the Beavers proved me wrong in Week 5. Then again, they are proving much of the college football world wrong this season.
Rashaad Reynolds was a more productive defensive back than Poyer, as Reynolds led the team in both tackles and passes defended.
A note to Pac-12 quarterbacks: if you try to avoid Poyer, Reynolds can make you pay.
Defensive Back: Byron Moore (No. 38/NR Tennessee)
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Week 5 Result: 44-51 L at No. 5/5 Georgia
Week 5 Stats: 6 tackles, 1 interception, 35 interception return yards, 35.0 yards per interception return, 1 interception return touchdown, 1 pass defended
You could argue Byron Moore should not have made this list, but considering the situation in which Moore got an interception return touchdown, he is certainly worthy.
Moore tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter of what turned out to be an excellent first half between Tennessee and Georgia. The Volunteers were visiting the No. 5 team in the country, and a victory would have surely catapulted them back into the Top 25.
In addition, head coach Derek Dooley might have been fighting to keep his job. (I believe Dooley should not be on the hot seat just yet, but I digress).
Of course, Tennessee lost, crushing hopes of returning to the Top 25 and keeping Dooley on the hot seat. Returning an interception for a touchdown in a big spot, on the road, against a Top-5 team that features arguably the best quarterback in the SEC—that still means something to me.
With that said, Moore is here over other defensive backs with more eye-popping statistics.
Defensive Back: Deone Bucannon (Washington State)
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Week 5 Result: 26-51 L vs. No. 2/2 Oregon
Week 5 Stats: 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, 22 interception return yards, 11.0 yards per interception return, 2 passes defended
Not too many players who have faced Oregon in 2012 have given the Ducks fits, but Deone Bucannon was one of them in Week 5. Though Washington State lost the game, Bucannon was a ball hawk for the Cougars.
Washington State’s pass defense held Oregon’s pass offense below its season averages in most categories. Bucannon’s two interceptions helped with that achievement.
The Ducks still won the game easily, but the Cougars gave them what I would consider a relative challenge based on the season Oregon has had through Week 5.
Kicker: Austin Lopez (NR/No. 39 San Jose State)
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Week 5 Result: 12-0 W at Navy
Week 5 Stats: 4-for-4 field goals (29, 19, 32, 43), 12 points
Austin Lopez makes my All-Week 5 Team, because San Jose State would not have scored without him. All 12 Spartans points came from Lopez’s foot.
Thanks to Lopez, San Jose State is well on its way to making its first bowl appearance since 2006, and is still getting Top 25 votes from the USA TODAY poll.
Punter: Dylan Breeding (Arkansas)
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Week 5 Result: 10-58 L vs. No. 28/27 Texas A&M
Week 5 Stats: 5 punts, 240 punting yards, 48.0 yards per punt, 0 returns allowed, 48.0 net yards per punt
Arkansas maintained its status as arguably the most disappointing team in FBS this season with its Week 5 loss against Texas A&M.
The Razorbacks should not have expected to start the season 1-4 despite losing former head coach Bobby Petrino in the offseason.
However, Dylan Breeding might be the least angry person in the program right now. Why? Underperforming teams often have to punt, and Breeding has punted well.
Breeding ranks No. 12 in FBS through Week 5 in punting average (45.5 yards per punt).
In Week 5 against the Aggies, Breeding literally had a leg up on the competition. Breeding punted five times, averaged 48.0 yards per punt, and did not allow a single return!
Even with this outstanding performance, Texas A&M scored 58 points on Arkansas. It is unfortunate to see such great punting count for very little.
Kick Returner: Dri Archer (Kent State)
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Week 5 Result: 45-43 W vs. Ball State
Week 5 Stats: 4 returns, 174 yards, 43.5 yards per return, 1 touchdown
Dri Archer was electric as a runner, a receiver and a returner in Kent State’s Week 5 win against Ball State, but only his kick returning performance counts here.
If you must know, Archer had 350 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Flashes.
That means half of Archer’s all-purpose yards came from kick returns.
Archer’s 42.7 yards per kick return leads FBS through Week 5.
Punt Returner: Marcus Murphy (Missouri)
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Week 5 Result: 21-16 W at Central Florida
Week 5 Stats: 3 returns, 70 yards, 23.3 yards per return, 1 touchdown
Marcus Murphy is arguably the best punt returner in college football through Week 5.
Among FBS players, Murphy ranks No. 3 in punt returns (14), No. 2 in punt return yards (281) and No. 1 in punt return touchdowns (three).
Murphy’s Week 5 punt return touchdown gave the Tigers a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, and it proved to be the game-winning score.