College Football Stars Who Must Step Up in Week 5

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIISeptember 23, 2013

College Football Stars Who Must Step Up in Week 5

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    After a Week 4 snoozer, college football returns with a Week 5 that promises a number of enticing matchups, highlighted by a heavyweight SEC showdown between LSU and Georgia.

    The Tigers and Bulldogs are each led by a cast of stars. Whichever team shows up with the biggest performance could take a major step toward a BCS National Championship berth.

    Notre Dame and Oklahoma also face off Saturday afternoon, as each looks to its veteran quarterback to pick up a crucial nonconference victory.

    Later in the day, Alabama will look to regain its offensive form while trying to avoid an upset at the hands of an up-and-coming Ole Miss squad.

    Closing out the day are two key Pac-12 tilts and one late-night Big Ten battle between Ohio State and Wisconsin.

    With numerous squads putting conference and BCS title hopes on the line, which stars will step up and lead their teams toward the promised land?

Logan Thomas: QB, Virginia Tech

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    Week 5: at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m. EDT, Thursday

    Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has been regarded as a strong NFL draft candidate over his college career but hasn't looked anything like one recently.

    The 6'6", 257-pound senior has accumulated an awful touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2-to-3 over the first four nonconference games. His rough start included two interceptions in what should have been his team's two easiest games again Western Carolina and Marshall.

    VT's season will essentially start over now that it enters ACC play and Thomas needs to make the best of the reset. 

    The Hokies will kick off their eight-game conference slate against Georgia Tech, which happens to rank No. 11 and 12 in the nation in total and scoring defense.

    With Thomas playing well, they can still make the ACC title game. But the way things look right now, they may struggle to even make a bowl game.

Zach Mettenberger: QB, LSU

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    Week 5: at Georgia, 3:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    When Zach Mettenberger plays at a high level, LSU looks capable of challenging for a national title.

    With quarterback play being the key variable, the Tigers need a big game out of Mettenberger when they head to Athens to take on Georgia.

    The way both teams are playing defensively, it may prove to be a shootout between the hedges, which will put a major load on the shoulders of Mettenberger to keep up with Georgia's Aaron Murray.

    National title dreams will be put on the line as the two teams face off and quarterback play will be key for both sides to keep their BCS hopes alive.

Todd Gurley: RB, Georgia

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    Week 5: vs. LSU, 3:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    Todd Gurley had a relatively quiet day in Week 4 against North Texas. The Mean Green did everything in their power to quiet the Heisman Trophy hopeful and keep him from breaking big runs to the outside. It worked, as Gurley failed to break 100 rushing yards for the first time since November of last year.

    All worked out for the Bulldogs in the end as they turned to quarterback Aaron Murray, who gashed UNT for more than 400 passing yards and three scores.

    UGA will face a much tougher test this week when LSU comes to town. The Tigers have looked strong all season and are capable of keeping up offensively with the Dawgs.

    Gurley must return to full form as Georgia will need a balanced effort to take down LSU for the first time since 2008. 

Tommy Rees: QB, Notre Dame

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    Week 5: vs. Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    Notre Dame was locked in one of the many ugly games of Week 4, as it edged out a sluggish 17-13 win over Michigan State. Neither team gained more than 260 total yards.

    ND was actually outgained by the notably inept MSU offense. The Spartans tallied 254 yards while the Irish had 220. 

    Tommy Rees had an especially slow day, completing just 13 of 34 passes for 142 yards. 

    The Irish will face a more formidable offense when they host Oklahoma this week. OU had a slow start to the season but picked up immediately after the insertion of Blake Bell at quarterback.

    Rees will have to make a quick turnaround to help ND keep up with OU.

T.J. Yeldon: RB, Alabama

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    Week 5: vs. Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    A preseason All-American, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon hasn't looked like one of the nation's best early in the season.

    Yeldon was great in a shootout win over Texas A&M but has been unimpressive otherwise.

    Last week the sophomore notched just 49 yards off seven carries against Colorado State after sitting out the first quarter because of his double throat-slash penalty flag earned against the Aggies. Alabama was held under 100 rushing yards for the first time in nearly three full seasons by a mediocre CSU defense.

    This week, the Crimson Tide will face the No. 3 rush defense in the SEC when they host Ole Miss—a young team on the rise that will be thirsty for a monumental upset.

    Another slow offensive day for Yeldon and Alabama, and the Rebels will have a shot at their upset.

Ka'Deem Carey: RB, Arizona

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    Week 5: at Washington, 7 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    Arizona has an excellent chance to prove that it is "for real" this weekend when it takes on No. 16 Washington.

    The Wildcats rank No. 5 in the nation in rushing and No. 3 in scoring defense. They will need to continue those trends against the Huskies.

    UW has been one of the most impressive teams of the early season, so Arizona will need a big day from its star running back Ka'Deem Carey. Washington ranks among the top 25 rush defenses in the nation.

    If Carey has a big day, the Wildcats can pull off the upset and show that their 3-0 record isn't just the product of a weak schedule. 

Kenny Guiton or Braxton Miller: QB, Ohio State

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    Week 5: vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    Production at the quarterback position hasn't been a problem for Ohio State this season, even though preseason Heisman Trophy candidate BraxtonMiller has been out since the first drive of Week 2.

    However, that production came against San Diego State, California and Florida A&M. Now OSU's schedule will take a drastic jump up as it hosts one of the Big Ten's best in Wisconsin. 

    Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch quoted OSU coach Urban Meyer on Monday saying that Miller will likely be able to play.

    If Miller makes his return, it will need to be seamless, otherwise the Badgers will pull off the upset and likely end the Buckeyes' national title hopes in the process.

    On the other hand, if Miller still isn't 100 percent, Kenny Guiton looks like an excellent option. The senior has thrown 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season, while tallying 850 total yards.

    Facing a potent Wisconsin offense, OSU will need to score points in bunches no matter who is under center.

Cody Kessler: QB, USC

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    Week 5: at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. EDT, Saturday

    USC has been behind the curve offensively all season, and it showed once again in Week 4 when the Trojans edged out a 17-14 win over Utah State.

    The Trojans gained just 282 total yards against the Aggies and quarterback Cody Kessler tallied just 164 passing yards behind a completion rate below 50 percent.

    On the season, USC ranks No. 110 in the nation with an average of 163.5 passing yards per game. That has the Trojans slotted between UTEP and Massachusetts and two spots ahead of Navy's triple option offense, certainly not on par for a school that has produced more than a dozen NFL quarterbacks.

    USC leaned on its defense to beat USU, but can't expect to do the same against an explosive and balanced Arizona State offense. 

    The Trojans will need to be better on offense, which starts with Kessler.