20 Sleeper Stars Who Will Make a Huge Impact in Week 6
Players like Johnny Manziel and Tajh Boyd are studs who get a lot of publicity, but this season, there are some sleeper stars who are not getting the notoriety they deserve.
With conference play starting to heat up, college football is only going to get better in the coming weeks.
There have been upsets and improbable finishes already this season with plenty more to come. A lot of that is due to some sleeper players who have made a huge impact on their team.
But what players have stood out the most without receiving enough notoriety? What players are going to have a huge impact on their respective teams in Week 6?
Here are sleeper stars who will have a huge impact on the outcome of their teams game this coming week.
Keith Wenning: Ball State
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Along with the Mountain West Conference, the Mid-American Conference is another league with some very talented quarterbacks.
Near the top of that list Ball State senior Keith Wenning.
Wenning ranks near the top of the nation in passing yards with 1,650. He has also thrown nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He has gone over 315 yards in each of the first five games this season. Those are impressive numbers no mater who the competition is.
This week, the competition gets a little stiffer with a road trip to Virginia coming.
Wenning has a chance to make a name for himself on a national stage. His arm strength and field vision will be on full display at Virginia on Saturday.
Marion Grice: Arizona State
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Marion Grice was a solid backup last season for Arizona State, and this yea,r he has stepped into the starting role for the nationally ranked Sun Devils.
Grice has been the definition of a sleeper this season. He has not had a breakout game yet but clearly has the talent to do so at any time.
He has rushed for 256 yards on 65 carries this season and has also caught 22 passes out of the backfield for 183 yards. He has had no trouble finding the end zone. Grice has eight touchdowns on the ground to go along with four receiving scores.
This week, the Sun Devils take on a Notre Dame defense that has been susceptible to the run this year. The Fighting Irish are allowing 133.8 rushing yards a game so far this season.
The dual-threat capability of Grice will be hard for Notre Dame to handle on Saturday night.
Davante Adams: Fresno State
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The Fresno State offense, led by quarterback Derek Carr, is clearly very talented.
But one of the main reasons for the success of the team is sophomore wide receiver Davante Adams.
In only four games, he already has 36 receptions for 311 yards and four touchdowns. He comes up huge in the biggest games of the season.
Adams caught 14 passes for 148 yards and two scores in a 52-51 overtime victory over Rutgers and followed that up with 12 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown in a 41-40 win over Boise State.
This week against Idaho, expect a huge game out of Adams against a very weak secondary.
Jordon James: UCLA
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Filling the shoes of a guy like Johnathan Franklin is no easy task, but UCLA junior Jordon James is doing just that.
James is a player that not a lot of fans outside of the Pac-12 have even heard of. He had rushed for less than 300 yards in his first two seasons with the Bruins.
This year, James has already totaled 424 yards and four touchdowns in only three games.
On Thursday, the Bruins take to the road for a key Pac-12 showdown against Utah.
Even though James is undersized at 5'9" and 194 pounds, he has excellent vision with the ball in his hands and explodes through the hole.
James is one of the main reasons why UCLA is undefeated and knocking on the door of the Top 10 in the national rankings.
Shane Carden: East Carolina
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One of the most impressive victories of Week 5 was a 55-31 East Carolina victory at North Carolina. The outcome of that game was nothing short of shocking, even to Pirates fans.
East Carolina junior quarterback Shane Carden passed for 376 yards and three touchdowns in the Pirates victory. He has quickly emerged as one of the best passers in Conference USA and one of the more underrated quarterbacks in all of college football.
This week, Carden and his squad take to the road once again for a battle against new conference rival Middle Tennessee.
That is not going to be an easy task, but with how much the Middle Tennessee defense has struggled, allowing over 30 points a game, Carden might be able to carve apart the Blue Raiders secondary.
Carden might not have NFL size, but at 6'2" and 218 pounds, he has all the tools to put up huge passing numbers all season long.
Brennan Clay: Oklahoma
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Brennan Clay never received more than 93 carries in a season heading into 2013, but it has been a very different story for this talented senior running back this year.
Clay has already carried the ball 59 times for 339 yards and two scores so far. He rushed for 77 yards on only 14 carries against Notre Dame and figures to be more of a factor as the season progresses.
This week, the Sooners take on a TCU defense that is very solid but is dealing with an injury to its star defensive end Devonte Fields.
That is not going to help slow down an Oklahoma rushing attack that is 17th in the country at nearly 257 yards a game. Leading the way on that rushing attack is Clay.
Look for a huge night out of him in this Big 12 showdown.
Nathan Scheelhaase: Illinois
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After struggling mightily in 2012, not a lot was expected out of Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase in 2013.
So far this season, he has exceeded expectations and helped the Fighting Illini get off to a 3-1 start.
Scheelhaase has lived up to the talent he possesses this season. He has passed for 1,162 yards with 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions. While he has not put up the rushing numbers that he is capable of, Scheelhaase is certainly a dual-threat quarterback.
This week, the Fighting Illini take on Nebraska in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers will be a huge challenge for Scheelhaase.
His elusiveness and ability to buy time with his feet will cause problems for the Cornhuskers on Saturday. An upset could be a possibility in Lincoln, particularly with a Nebraska defense allowing 27 points a game.
Mark Weisman: Iowa
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On Saturday, Michigan State and Iowa will do battle in a key Big Ten showdown. The two teams possess excellent defenses and it will likely come down to the running game of both schools.
Good thing for Iowa is the Hawkeyes have a bruiser in Mark Weisman. At 6'1" and 236 pounds, Weisman is a fullback with skills like a running back.
So far this season, he has rushed for 615 yards and three touchdowns on 119 carries. He is averaging nearly 24 carries a contest and has proven to be a workhorse so far for the Hawkeyes.
The Michigan State front seven is very talented, led by an excellent linebacker group, but Weisman has the strength to move the chains for Iowa on Saturday.
If that happens, the Hawkeyes should come out on top.
Hakeem Smith: Louisville
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What Hakeem Smith means to the undefeated Louisville Cardinals might not show up much in the stat sheet, but this guy is one of the most valuable players on the entire roster.
Smith has totaled 14 tackles and an interception on the season from his safety position. He is a senior leader with a knack for being around the ball.
He may not be huge, but at 6'1" and 179 pounds, he packs a major punch.
Smith is not afraid to lay a licking. This week, he will have his sights set on a Temple squad that has yet to win a game.
The Owls offense ranks 91st in the country at just over 204 yards a game through the air.
Look for Smith to have a field day on Saturday against a weak Temple passing attack.
C.J. Brown: Maryland
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The Maryland Terrapins have jumped into the national rankings at No. 25 in the AP Poll. A large reason for that has been the play of quarterback C.J. Brown.
Brown is the ultimate dual-threat quarterback. He has passed for 1,043 yards and seven touchdowns on the season, while also rushing for 283 yards and six more scores.
At 4-0, Maryland could be a factor in the ACC.
This week, the Terrapins head south to Tallahassee to take on Florida State.
The Seminoles are very talented, but just allowed 34 points to Boston College a week ago.
Brown's ability to move around in the pocket could be trouble for a Florida State defense that capitalizes on getting pressure on the quarterback.
It would take an excellent performance by Brown to give the Terrapins a victory, but it is definitely not out of the question.
Antonio Andrews: Western Kentucky
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Running back Antonio Andrews burst onto the scene last year for the Hilltoppers, rushing for 1,684 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 432 yards and three scores.
So far this season, Andrews has been even better, particularly against the best teams Western Kentucky has faced.
Andrews went for 99 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against Kentucky and followed that up with 111 yards on only 13 carries, along with a 43-yard reception against Tennessee.
This guy has big-play ability every time he touches the ball. This week, Louisiana-Monroe is the opponent and the Warhawks are no stranger to allowing points.
The speed and versatility of Andrews will come into play against a Louisiana-Monroe defense that leaves a lot to be desire, allowing nearly 33 points a contest.
Look for a huge game out of Andrews on Thursday night.
James Franklin: Missouri
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Health is very important in any sport, but college football is certainly near the top of the list.
The Missouri Tigers are a perfect example of that this season. At 4-0, Missouri is one of two undefeated teams remaining in the SEC.
This week, they take on a hungry Vanderbilt team on the road.
Good thing for the Tigers is they have senior quarterback James Franklin back and healthy.
So far, he has passed for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns and has also been effective with his legs, rushing for 215 yards and two scores on 41 carries.
The Vanderbilt defense has not been as good as it was last season, particularly in defending opposing quarterbacks.
Names like Connor Shaw and Bo Wallace have had huge games against the Commodores.
Expect that to continue when Franklin takes the field on Saturday against a weak Vanderbilt pass defense.
Savon Huggins: Rutgers
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With starting running back Paul James out with a leg injury, junior Savon Huggins will get the bulk of the carries on Saturday against SMU.
James has been one of the top running backs in the country this season, but the Scarlet Knights will have to do it without him.
Huggins certainly has the most experience of any of the healthy running backs and will be a huge factor on the road against the Mustangs on Saturday.
No question that the Scarlet Knights are going to miss James, but the experience of Huggins will be huge.
Look for this team to be hitting on all cylinders offensively, led by Huggins at running back.
Kasen Williams: Washington
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Kasen Williams is a player who had an excellent 2012 season for the Huskies, but not a lot of people know much about him.
He has not had a breakout game so far, but that could come at any time. What better time than a road game against Stanford?
The Stanford defense is certainly one of the best in the country, but one weakness is the secondary.
Quarterback Keith Price should be able to buy time with his feet and allow Williams to find some openings in the secondary.
It could be a breakout game for Williams on Saturday. If that happens, an upset could be in the making.
Chuckie Keeton: Utah State
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Chuckie Keeton is only a junior, but the Utah State quarterback has made a huge impact already for the Aggies.
He is as versatile and tough as college football quarterbacks come. Keeton has the ability to beat teams with his arm or his feet.
Keeton has put up Heisman-like numbers in five games this season. He has thrown 17 touchdown passes against only one interception while passing for 1,362 yards. Keeton has also rushed for 224 yards and two more scores.
This week, Utah State goes up against BYU. It is a Friday night showdown, pitting an excellent offense against a BYU defense that has not allowed more than 21 points in any of its four games this season.
Keeton’s talent will be on full display Friday night. He has too many weapons around him, and his big-play ability will help Utah State come away with the home win.
Carlos Hyde: Ohio State
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Carlos Hyde ranks sixth in rushing yards on Ohio State. That might not shout out sleeper, but Hyde is one of the most talented running backs in the Big Ten.
He was suspended the first three games of the season for an altercation at a bar, but he has returned and earned the starting role back.
Hyde received five carries in his first game back against Florida A&M. Last weekend against Wisconsin, he carried the ball 17 times for 85 yards.
This week, Ohio State plays one of its toughest games of the season against nationally ranked Northwestern on the road.
The Buckeyes are going to need Hyde to come to play. Ohio State will have to control the raucous crowd. The best way to do that is to run the football against a Northwestern defense that ranks in the top 30 in rushing yards allowed so far this season.
Christian Hackenberg: Penn State
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Penn State is off to a 3-1 start. A lot of that success has to do with the play of freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
While Jameis Winston of Florida State is getting most of the attention among freshmen, Hackenberg is quietly having an excellent year.
He has only thrown five touchdowns this season, but he has passed for 1,027 yards in just four games.
Penn State has played some challenging competition and the Nittany Lions kick off Big Ten play on Saturday against Indiana.
The Indiana defense leaves a lot to be desired. The Hoosiers have given up 35 or more points in three of their first four contests.
Hackenberg has already had one 300-yard game, but he could be going over 400 on Saturday against a weak Indiana secondary.
Willie Snead: Ball State
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The second Ball State player on the list is wide receiver Willie Snead. Snead already has 35 receptions in just five games. He has 611 yards and four touchdowns.
The junior is the favorite target of talented quarterback Keith Wenning. He started off his career as more of a possession receiver but is now a huge deep threat, averaging over 17 yards a reception.
They are going to need him against Virginia this week. The big-play ability of Snead will be necessary for Ball State to pull off the upset against the Cavaliers.
The Virginia defense has been excellent all season with the exception of allowing 59 points to Oregon.
Look for Ball State to put some points up with its excellent aerial attack.
Carl Bradford: Arizona State
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Carl Bradford has been a beast at linebacker so far this season for Arizona State.
The junior has 16 tackles, two sacks and a pass broken up in three games. He brings an energy and fire to the Sun Devils that few other players at the collegiate level possess.
Last year Bradford totaled 21.5 tackles for loss. He might surpass those numbers this year.
While tackle Will Sutton might be the best player on the defensive side of the ball for Arizona State, Bradford is the emotional leader on a squad that will need it Saturday against Notre Dame.
Look for him to not only get pressure on the quarterback, but with the help of Sutton, he should post some huge tackle numbers as Notre Dame tries to run the ball and control time of possession.
Derek Carr: Fresno State
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There are few passers in the country better than Derek Carr at Fresno State.
So far this year, he has already thrown for 1,445 yards and 14 touchdowns in only four games. He has gone over 450 yards twice and is showing he is a legitimate pro prospect.
Carr is 6'3" and 218 pounds, so NFL size is not an issue.
This week, his Bulldogs take on Idaho on the road. The Vandals' slow, nonathletic secondary will have a lot of trouble hanging with the talented wide receivers of Fresno State.
Expect a huge day out of Carr on Saturday.