Best Playmaker for Every Top 25 College Football Team

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIOctober 7, 2013

Best Playmaker for Every Top 25 College Football Team

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    In the age of spread offenses, teams like Oregon, Baylor and Texas A&M rely on numerous playmakers to post record-breaking numbers and produce incredible highlight reels week-in and week-out.

    But while those explosive offenses take the spotlight, even more defensive-minded teams like Alabama and Stanford boast elite playmakers.

    With offense at a premium never before seen in college football, every team has to score to keep up and retain their status in the Top 25.

    Come along as we take a look at the go-to playmaker for the very best teams in college football.

    Note: Rankings based on the Week 6 AP Top 25.

25. Missouri: Henry Josey, RB

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    The Missouri offense has been off to an excellent start this season, sitting at No. 8 in the nation in scoring through Week 6.

    The Tigers have several playmakers including quarterback James Franklin, receivers Dorial Green-Beckham and L'Damian Washington and sophomore running back Russell Hansbrough.

    However, the focal point of the Mizzou offense is junior running back Henry Josey.

    The Angleton, Texas native is fifth in the SEC with six rushing touchdowns thus far and is one of seven players in the conference with more than one run of 40 or more yards.

    Mizzou gravely missed Josey last season after a knee injury suffered late in 2011 kept him sidelined for all of 2012. Now that he's back, the Tiger offense is clicking.

24. Virginia Tech: Brandon Facyson, DB

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    Not too many teams have their biggest playmaker on defense, but Virginia Tech certainly does.

    The VT offense isn't always explosive or efficient, but its secondary is always there to make something happen.

    So far this season, that group has been led by freshman Brandon Facyson. The Newnan, Ga. native is tied for the NCAA lead with four interceptions this season.

    Meanwhile brothers Kyle and Kendall Fuller each have two picks, as do Kyshoen Jerrett and Detrick Bonner. Add in another pick from Tariq Edwards and the Hokies lead college football with 13 total interceptions in just six games. 

    Facyson has also forced and recovered a fumble, helping VT to rank No. 3 in the nation with 16 turnovers created. The Hokies are No. 2 nationally with net turnover margin of plus-nine on the year.

    In an age where offense is king, VT still does the job with D.

23. Northern Illinois: Jordan Lynch, QB

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    Jordan Lynch is Mr. Everything for Northern Illinois.

    The senior signal-caller has racked up 1,113 passing yards and 12 touchdowns already this year and is also dangerous on the ground.

    The Chicago native is 43 yards shy of being NIU's leading rusher, as he has netted 533 yards on the ground and three scores.

    He currently ranks No. 13 in the nation in total offense, averaging 329.2 yards per game. 

    Thanks to Lynch, NIU is aiming for its second straight BCS bid.

22. Oklahoma State: Josh Stewart, WR

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    Quarterback J.W. Walsh makes the Oklahoma State offense tick, but his favorite target Josh Stewart is the most electric player on the roster.

    The Denton, Texas native tallied more than 1,200 receiving yards as a sophomore and is off to a solid start now as a junior. 

    In five game he has 21 catches for 332 yards and two scores, including a 73-yard touchdown off a tunnel screen against West Virginia. While those numbers aren't incredibly gaudy, they are impressive considering how often OSU rotates through its 15 receivers that have registered a catch this season.

    Stewart is also a talented returner and has one punt return touchdown on the year. 

21. Fresno State: Derek Carr, QB

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    Remember when David Carr was tearing it up for Fresno State in the early 2000s? Well now it's the early 2010s and his brother Derek Carr is doing much of the same.

    The elder Carr tallied nearly 4,830 yards and 46 touchdowns as a senior while leading Fresno as high as eighth in the polls. 

    Now the younger Carr is on pace to crack 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns if the Bulldogs make the Mountain West championship and a bowl game. 

    Fresno has BCS aspirations with Carr at the helm. The Bakersfield, Calif. native is No. 2 in the nation, averaging 372.8 passing yards per game with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

20. Texas Tech: Baker Mayfield, QB

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    The tale of true freshman walk-on quarterback Baker Mayfield has been one of the more interesting storylines of the early season.

    Mayfield came from nowhere to win the Texas Tech quarterback battle and has been excellent thus far. In just five games the freshman has tallied nearly 1,500 passing yards, but he left TTU's recent win over Kansas with a "twisted knee."

    TTU's offense might do just fine with backup Davis Webb at the helm, though the Red Raiders lack a lights-out playmaker at running back and receiver.

    Also, the impeding return of expected starter Michael Brewer from injury could limit Mayfield's time as a starter this season.

    However, Mayfield is a classic gunslinger and has a high ceiling in the TTU offense as his career carries on.

19. Northwestern: Kain Colter, QB

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    With running back/returner Venric Mark out of action for much of this season, Kain Colter has been the most electric player for Northwestern.

    When healthy, this title goes to Mark and, in general, Northwestern isn't at a shortage of playmakers.

    Trevor Siemian, NU's primary throwing quarterback, brings a lot to the offense, as does running back Treyvon Green and receiver Tony Jones.

    However, none play quite the role that Colter does. The dual-threat senior has accounted for seven total touchdowns and more than 600 total yards.

18. Michigan: Devin Gardner, QB

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    It has been an up and down season for quarterback Devin Gardner. His eight passing touchdowns equal his eight interceptions, which weighs against his status as his team's top playmaker.

    However, his contributions on the ground have been enormous.

    Senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has been strong as well. He has tallied just shy of 400 rushing yards this season and more than 2,000 for his career. He has also found the end zone seven times in 2013 and 22 times total.

    However, Gardner is not far behind with 318 rushing yards and six scores. Add in 1,036 yards through the air, and there is no question who is the focal point for the UM offense. 

    If Gardner can limit his mistakes going forward, the Wolverines will be in great shape.

17. Florida: Matt Jones, RB

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    Florida doesn't really have one dominant playmaker on either side of the ball.

    The Gators have plenty of talent on defense, but put together a group effort and that makes them one of the best defensive units in the nation.

    On offense, they have seen some great play from quarterback Tyler Murphy, who claimed the starting role after a season-ending injury to Jeff Driskel.

    However, the UF offense is based around the ground game and running back Matt Jones. The Seffner, Fla. native has missed time this season and hasn't put up the best numbers but has come on of late and is starting to play up to his potential.

    The 6'2", 226-pound sophomore has rushed for 322 yards and five scores and leads UF on the ground despite missing the season opener against Toledo.

    At his best, Jones is one of the better running backs in the SEC.

16. Washington: Bishop Sankey, RB

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    Quarterback Keith Price has enjoyed a remarkable senior renaissance after enduring a rough junior season.

    However, as good as Price has been, running back Bishop Sankey is the undisputed No. 1 playmaker in the Washington offense.

    Sankey is No. 4 in the nation with an average of 146.4 rushing yards per game and seven touchdowns.

    The junior was No. 1 the country in rushing before facing a staunch Stanford defense in Week 6. However, even against the Cardinal, Sankey found success. 

    The Spokane, Wash. native ran for 125 yards and two scores against Stanford.

    As he continues this season against some suspect Pac-12 defenses, he'll put up massive numbers.

15. Baylor: Lache Seastrunk, RB

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    Lache Seastrunk entered the season as a Heisman Trophy hopeful and hasn't shied away from that spotlight.

    The former composite 5-star recruit once played for the Oregon Ducks, but transferred back home to play for Baylor. 

    Even despite the success of Oregon, Seastrunk is loving his decision as Baylor has been the most productive offense in the nation this year.

    Much of that has been thanks to the redshirt junior Seastrunk who is No. 2 in college football with 147.25 yards per game. With just 53 carries on the year, the Temple, Texas native has averaged 11.11 yards per touch, good for No. 3 nationally.

    Seastrunk is powerful, fast and simply explosive and might be the best running back in college football.

14. South Carolina: Mike Davis, RB

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    Between Todd Gurley, T.J. Yeldon, Rajion Neal, Jeremy Hill and many others, the SEC isn't at a shortage of talented running backs.

    But even despite the saturation of the position down South, South Carolina's Mike Davis has emerged as the league's top back so far this season.

    The sophomore leads the conference with 122.8 rushing yards per game and has found the end zone eight times, more than all but LSU's Hill.

    Davis is one of only four running backs in the nation with two rushes of 70 yards or more this season.

    What was the name of that running back from last season for the Gamecocks again?

13. Miami (FL): Duke Johnson, RB

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    Miami (FL) might have the best lineage of running backs, at least in recent history.

    The Hurricanes boast a surplus of backs who went on to star in the NFL, including Frank Gore, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Edgerrin James.

    The next in that line is Duke Johnson.

    The sensational sophomore finished just shy of 1,000 yards last season and is sure to brake that barrier this time around.

    Through five games, he already has 572 rushing yards and four scores and will only become more as the Hurricanes continue through ACC play.

12. Oklahoma: Blake Bell, QB

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    Oklahoma has plenty of playmakers at running back and wide receiver, making it hard for just one to dominate.

    That makes quarterback Blake Bell look awfully good, as well.

    The 6'6", 252-pound junior wasn't even the starter to begin the season, but when freshman Trevor Knight faltered, Bell was there to seize his opportunity.

    Now he hasn't looked back as he has thrown for 835 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.

    He also has 175 rushing yards and, for his career, has 24 scores on the ground from when he acted as the "Belldozer," punching in touchdowns near the goal line.

11. UCLA: Brett Hundley, QB

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    Brett Hundley isn't just the best playmaker for UCLA, but he's one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the nation.

    The redshirt sophomore has already eclipsed 1,000 passing yards this season with nine touchdowns. He has also carried 52 times for 242 yards and three scores.

    His success also helps running back Jordon James, receiver Shaq Evans and others to post impressive numbers.

    However, there is no question who is the man on the Westwood campus. Even despite UCLA being a "basketball school," Hundley is the biggest star for the Bruins.

10. LSU: Jeremy Hill, RB

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    Jeremy Hill missed LSU's season opener against TCU but wasted little time making up for that lost time. 

    After just five games Hill is No. 2 in the nation with nine rushing touchdowns and is 12th nationally with an average of 118.8 yards per game.

    He is also the only running back in the SEC with four rushes of 40 yards or more.

    Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been outstanding this season and so have receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

    However, Hill is at the top of the hill when it comes to LSU playmakers.

9. Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel, QB

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    Surprise, surprise.

    Johnny Manziel made his name by making incredible plays in 2012 and is doing it again in 2013.

    The Heisman Trophy winner holds the single-season SEC record for total offense and can make plays unlike any other player in college football.

    He is currently No. 6 nationally, averaging 360.6 total yards per game and can make even the best and fastest defenders somehow look slow and ordinary.

    Receiver Mike Evans and running back Ben Malena have been fantastic for Texas A&M as well, but the Aggies would be a completely different team without Manziel.

8. Louisville: Teddy Bridgewater, QB

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    Louisville has one of the most underrated receivers in the nation in DeVante Parker.

    However, there is no question who is Louisville's best player.

    Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the Heisman Trophy favorites and one of the most talented signal-callers in college football.

    He is currently 10th in the nation in per-game passing with 312.4 yards per contest. He also has an impeccable touchdown-interception ratio of 16-to-1.

    The junior will be one of the hottest commodities in this year's NFL draft, presuming he chooses to leave school early.

7. Georgia: Todd Gurley, RB

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    Georgia certainly isn't at a shortage of playmakers. Well, at least it wasn't until its recent string of ridiculous injuries

    Todd Gurley is one of several injured Bulldogs, but he is expected to make a return. When he comes back, he'll resume his role as the go-to player for the UGA offense.

    The sophomore is No. 20 in the nation with an average of 112.5 yards per game, despite splitting time with Keith Marshall and leaving UGA's contest with LSU just before halftime.

    Now with Marshall out for the season, Gurley will only become more important for the Dawgs once he returns from his own injury.

    Quarterback Aaron Murray is the unquestioned leader of the Georgia offense, but Gurley is arguably the most physically dominating back in college football.

6. Florida State: Jameis Winston, QB

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    The hype surrounding redshirt freshman Jameis Winston built rapidly over the offseason and has only continued to inflate as he has performed at an incredible level during the season.

    He is looking to become the second straight (and second ever) redshirt freshman to win the Heisman and he is off to a great start.

    The Hueytown, Ala. native has already amassed more than 1,400 passing yards with 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He also has 135 rushing yards and two scores.

    Additionally, he has made two incredible Heisman-moment plays, a Hail Mary against Boston College and a spectacular scramble and touchdown against Maryland.

    If FSU can keep winning, it will be because of Winston.

5. Stanford: Ty Montgomery, WR/KR

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    Stanford isn't a team built around an explosive offense and electric playmakers, but the Cardinal have a great one in receiver/returner Ty Montgomery.

    The junior leads his team with 383 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while also establishing himself as one of the nation's best kick returners.

    He currently ranks fourth nationally with an average of 33.5 yards per return, much thanks to a crucial 99-yard touchdown return against Washington.

    In the power-based Stanford offense, Montgomery is there to supply a sampling of speed whenever it is needed.

4. Ohio State: Braxton Miller, QB

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    When Braxton Miller went down in Week 2 with an injury, his backup Kenny Guiton took his place as Ohio State's top playmaker.

    Then Miller returned and took the title right back. One of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, Miller has fit in perfectly in head coach Urban Meyer's offense and has tallied more than 800 total yards despite playing only three games.

    He has plenty of playmakers around him, including running backs Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall and receivers Philly Brown and Devin Smith.

    However, Miller entered the season as a Heisman Trophy favorite for a reason.

3. Clemson: Tajh Boyd, QB

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    While many dual-threat quarterbacks rely on speed alone, Tajh Boyd does the same with a more powerful running style.

    At 6'1", 225 pounds, Boyd is a strong runner and also one of the nation's most prolific passers.

    He has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns with just two interceptions, while also running for 154 yards and four scores.

    These numbers all come despite the Tigers blasting several of their opponents and leaving Boyd to watch during much of the second half.

    Clemson is looking to make a BCS title run and Boyd is the key.

2. Oregon: Marcus Mariota, QB

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    Oregon's offense is all about making plays and quarterback Marcus Mariota can do that as well as any player in the nation at any position.

    The 6'4", 211-pound redshirt sophomore has long strides and a blazing top-end speed. In Oregon's zone-read offense, he has flourished through the air and on the ground.

    The Honolulu native amassed 1,358 passing yards and 14 touchdowns without an interception. He also has run 28 times for 338 yards and seven touchdowns. He is No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 among quarterbacks with an average of 12.1 yards per carry.

    Smart, poised and talented, Mariota could be on the fast track to winning the Heisman and carrying the Ducks to a shot at the BCS title.

1. Alabama: T.J. Yeldon, RB

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    Alabama doesn't run the type of offense that will always result in gaudy statistics, but the Crimson Tide still manage big yardage.

    Running back T.J. Yeldon is the biggest benefactor of the rush-heavy Tide attack, despite splitting time with the many other talented backs on the roster. 

    The sophomore has averaged 6.2 yards per carry, running 72 times for 445 yards and four scores.

    As a freshman, Yeldon didn't really hit his stride until late in the season when his carries mattered the most.

    Expect that trend to continue in 2013 as the Tide make a run for their third straight national title.