5 College Football Players Poised for Breakout Weekends
In what appears to be a relatively quiet weekend in college football, several players are ready to have breakout games.
Some of these guys are well known and just haven't played up to their talent level, while others may show some skills that surprise people.
With the season a quarter of the way done for a number of teams, it's now or never for those hoping to become impact players in 2013.
Here's a look at five guys who are poised to have breakout games in Week 4 of the college football season.
James Wilder Jr., Florida State
Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. is quite the physical specimen at 6'2" and 229 pounds.
The junior ran for 635 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and appeared poised for a breakout year.
But through two games, Wilder has run for just 103 yards and a touchdown. Maybe a date with the Bethune-Cookman defense is just what he needs to get back on track.
A punishing, hard-nosed runner, Wilder should make Wildcats defenders pay on Saturday when they attempt arm tackles. In fact, gang-tackles may be the only thing that slows him down on the way to the end zone.
While quarterback Jameis Winston is grabbing all of the early-season headlines, the Seminoles must have a powerful rushing game when they enter conference play. Without it, teams are going to leave just five or six guys in the box and dare Jimbo Fisher's team to run it.
When Wilder breaks out of his slump, future opponents will be all out of options.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Through two games, Kevin Hogan is completing 62 percent of his passes, he's thrown for 395 yards and he's tossed five touchdowns.
Those numbers are nice, but they came against San Jose State and Army. You might expect something better from the leader of one of the top teams in the country.
Against Arizona State, that's exactly what we'll get. The junior will step up his game against an aggressive Sun Devils defense and show off his dual-threat abilities.
Hogan has yet to lose a game as a starter, but he hasn't ever really wowed anybody in the box score. Look for him to have a breakthrough performance against Todd Graham's team, which will help the Cardinal cruise to an easy victory.
Jeff Driskel, Florida
Jeff Driskel is the talented, tough-as-nails quarterback for the Florida Gators.
Unfortunately, that lovely description leaves out the phrase "mistake-prone." Despite throwing for nearly 300 yards against Miami two weeks ago, the junior tossed two key interceptions which led to the Gators' first loss of the season.
That won't happen against Tennessee, a team still reeling following a 59-14 loss to Oregon. In that contest, quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for over 450 yards and had four passing touchdowns.
Saturday is Driskel's chance to finally break out and show that he has all the tools it takes to lead this team throughout the season.
Look for him to stay accurate in the pocket while showing off speed in evading the rush. Sometimes, he has a tendency to hang in the pocket too long, which equates to sacks or poor throws under pressure. When the Vols do bring an extra man, watch for Driskel to escape and get downfield using his legs.
This will slowly open up holes in the defense and lead to a huge day for the Gators quarterback.
Roderick McDowell, Clemson
Defensive coordinators aren't stupid, and after seeing what Tajh Boyd has been doing to his opponents, look for North Carolina State to keep an eye on him at all times.
That will in turn open things up for senior running back Roderick McDowell, whose offensive explosion will make the Tigers' attack even more lethal.
In the opener against Georgia, McDowell was overshadowed by Todd Gurley, but he still managed to run for 132 yards.
Under the national spotlight on Thursday night, he'll easily top 150 yards and tack on a pair of scores as well.
Because Clemson has so many weapons on offense, defenses are likely to key in on Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins before anyone else, and other players will get a chance to prosper.
On this occasion, it will be McDowell whose effort will be one of the breakout performances of the week.
Marqise Lee, USC
It's no secret that Marqise Lee, the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner, is one of the most talented players in college football.
He's coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has game-breaking speed and agility in the open field, and the Trojans move him all over the offense to create matchup advantages.
But he's off to a surprisingly slow start in 2013, having caught just 17 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. Some receivers would be giddy to have those numbers through three games, but that's called "underachieving" in Lee's world.
After last week's 35-7 win over Boston College, look for Lee and the offense to keep it going against Utah State. The junior will easily surpass 100 yards and maybe even add in a kickoff return as well.
Welcome back Mr. Lee.