10 Sleeper College Football Stars Who Will Make a Huge Impact in Week 7
College football's seventh week of action features a full dosage of intriguing Top 25 matchups, including the game of the week between No. 2 Oregon and No. 16 Washington.
With the possible absence of Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, the Ducks will lean on the next up in its deep backfield to carry the load. For Washington, which player is most likely to step up to stop the vaunted Duck attack?
Down in the SEC, thanks to a litany of injuries, No. 7 Georgia will look to some new stars to rise when it takes on No. 25 Missouri. Meanwhile, No. 17 Florida and No. 10 LSU will battle for their SEC and BCS lives in Baton Rouge.
Texas will take on Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry and will be in desperate need of an answer; otherwise, the Sooners will dominate the yearly tilt again.
Don't sleep on these potential stars in Week 7.
Shaq Thompson: LB, Washington
With all the talk involving the Washington-Oregon matchup surrounding the offense, both defenses will be out to steal the spotlight.
Sophomore UW linebacker Shaq Thompson is one of those defenders, and he'll play a major role in stopping the lethal Oregon running game.
UO boasts the No. 3 rush offense in the nation and will provide an incredible challenge for Thompson and Co.
However, Thompson, who chose the Huskies over the Ducks and others out of high school, is one of the Pac-12's most underrated defenders with 35 tackles on the year.
Last season the Sacramento, Calif. native logged eight tackles and a pick against UO. Don't be surprised if he duplicates that performance this weekend.
Byron Marshall: RB, Oregon
With De'Anthony Thomas' status still uncertain for this weekend's tilt with Washington, someone might have to step up in the Oregon backfield in its biggest game so far this season.
So far in Thomas' absence, that player has been sophomore running back Byron Marshall. The San Jose, Calif. native leads UO with 448 rushing yards to go with four scores.
The Oregon offense won't change with Thomas on the bench, but instead, the Ducks will just plug in the next guy and play at their same blinding pace.
If the game is close as expected (and especially if Thomas is out), Marshall could hit 20 carries. If that's the case, what he does with those carries will have a huge impact on the final score.
James Franklin: QB, Missouri
The senior has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions, leading Mizzou to a 5-0 start.
He has two excellent receivers to throw to in L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham.
While the Tigers are hot and the only undefeated team left in the SEC aside from Alabama, Georgia will be reeling thanks to a litany of injuries.
With Franklin playing well, put UGA on upset alert this week.
J.J. Green: RB, Georgia
With Keith Marshall out for the season and Todd Gurley's return doubtful for at least another week, it would seem that the sky is falling on Athens, Ga.
However, even with two star runners out of the lineup, as well as three receivers, Georgia has some options on offense.
Freshman J.J. Green was thrust into action last week against Tennessee and responded with an enormous game.
Taking the lead role in the backfield, Green ran 17 times for 129 yards. He'll be joined in the backfield by fellow freshman Brendan Douglas, who punched in a touchdown and 25 yards on the ground last week in UGA's 34-31 comeback victory over UT.
The young duo will have to come up big again this week for the Bulldogs to keep up with the talented Mizzou offense.
Vernon Hargreaves: DB, Florida
In case you haven't noticed, Florida has been simply magnificent on defense this year.
The Gators are No. 2 in the nation, allowing just 217 yards per game. While they are laden with talent on that side of the ball, they'll still be challenged mightily by the LSU passing attack.
Zach Mettenberger is playing extremely well, as are his two star receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. As a result, the Tigers are No. 3 in the SEC in passing, tallying nearly 300 yards per game.
That's where UF corner Vernon Hargreaves will come in. Just a true freshman, Hargreaves is tied for the lead in the SEC with three interceptions.
If Florida is going to keep up its clean defensive play, Hargreaves will need to shut down one of Mettenberger's two favorite options.
Steve Edmond: LB, Texas
The Texas run defense has been a laughing stock this season, and that situation only grew darker with the season-ending injury to star linebacker and leading tackler Jordan Hicks.
Filling the void left by Hicks at the head of the linebacking corps is Steve Edmond.
The junior responded well in his first game in that role last week against Iowa State. Despite missing the first half while serving an ejection for targeting, Edmond went on to tally seven tackles with a sack and a hurry.
He'll need to have an even bigger game if Texas hopes to knock off Oklahoma.
OU has looked strong since plugging Blake Bell into the starting role at quarterback.
Brennan Clay: RB, Oklahoma
Blake Bell has been at the center of attention for Oklahoma and rightfully so. The OU signal-caller has been excellent after taking the starting job three weeks into the season.
But while the talk has been of Bell and the Sooner passing attack, running back Brennan Clay has been quietly dominating.
Clay was expected to hold a backup role behind starter Damien Williams, but Williams fell out of favor with the OU coaching staff, opening the door for Clay.
With his teammate's issues, the senior Clay stepped up and took over as the spearhead of the Oklahoma ground game. He leads the team with 450 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
He could see another big statistical game against a Texas rush defense that ranks No. 119 nationally.
Blake Slaughter: LB, Kansas State
To say that Kansas State will have its hands full with the Baylor offense is an understatement.
The Bears have been the best offensive team in the nation to this point in the season and show no signs of slowing down.
However, Kansas State boasts a cast of defenders that will strive to be the first defense to halt the Baylor attack.
That KSU group is led by the Big 12's leading tackler, Blake Slaughter. The senior has 43 tackles on the season, including three for a loss and two sacks. He also has three pass breakups and a hurry.
Joining him in the defensive charge is a trio of talented defensive backs, Ty Zimmerman, Dante Barnett and Kip Daily.
They'll need to be on their best to avoid being mauled by the Bears.
Joel Stave: QB, Wisconsin
Joel Stave spends about 60 percent of his time on the football field turning and handing off to his running backs.
But even though Wisconsin is unquestionably a run-first team, Stave is no slouch under center and this weekend he may be in for a career game.
The Badgers will take on Northwestern, which has the worst pass defense in the Big Ten. The Wildcats rank No. 110 in college football against the pass, allowing more than 286 yards per game.
Stave could produce some big numbers throwing to star receiver Jared Abbrederis this weekend.
Sam Richardson: QB, Iowa State
With a little luck, Iowa State might be sitting at 4-0 this season. Nothing has fallen in the Cyclones' favor though, and they sit at 1-3 with all three losses coming by just one possession.
Despite the rough start, ISU still has hope for the remainder of the season, thanks to the strong play of quarterback Sam Richardson. The sophomore is No. 3 in the Big 12 in passing, averaging 255 yards per game.
It might be hard to believe that the ISU QB leads passers from Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas, but he does.
He'll have a chance to further boost his numbers this weekend against Texas Tech, which has the second-worst pass defense in the conference.