Can the Cowboys find a quarterback to get their Big 12 title hopes back on track?
After underperforming for the majority of the college football season, several players are at risk of losing their spots in the lineup.
For some, the pressure of backing up a successful 2012 campaign has proven too much of a burden. For others, they were simply just thrust into the spotlight due to disappointing play from their predecessors.
Whatever the case, these players need to step it up or risk losing their starting role.
Here are five of those players.
Purdue could use a boost at quarterback.
Season Stats: 47.5 CMP%, 585 YDs, 3 TDs, 4 INTs, 99.0 RAT
Week 10 Matchup: No. 4 Ohio State (8-0) at Purdue (1-6), Nov. 2, 12 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network
Following a poor start by senior Rob Henry, the Boilermakers quickly turned to true freshman Danny Etling at quarterback.
Thus far, it’s been nothing but a disaster. To Etling’s credit, the three teams he’s faced have a combined record of 20-3. Still, there haven’t been too many positive signs.
Not only has he made some questionable decisions with the football—resulting in four interceptions—but Etling just doesn’t seem to have the accuracy. He has completed less than 50 percent of his passes twice in three starts.
While Henry didn’t seem to be able to get the job done, Etling’s early play has made him look like Peyton Manning.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch. But if Etling doesn’t turn it around, Purdue might be looking back in Henry’s direction soon.
Blue (center) needs to pick his game up this weekend.
Season Stats: 65 CAR, 249 YDs, 1 TD
Week 10 Matchup: North Carolina (2-5) at North Carolina State (3-4), Nov. 2, 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Last season, the Tar Heels boasted the No. 33-ranked rushing attack in the nation. This year, the team has been atrocious on the ground, ranking No. 114.
Oh, the difference a year can make.
After backing up star Giovani Bernard in the backfield in 2012, A.J. Blue was expected to make a splash this year. Unfortunately, the senior has struggled.
Up until last weekend, Blue had yet to score a single touchdown on the season. Furthermore, he has only topped 50 yards on the ground just once.
With North Carolina trailing most teams, it’s been tough to get behind the rushing attack. However, when they have been able to utilize it, Blue has been less than impressive.
An injury to sophomore running back Romar Morris presented Blue with the perfect opportunity to make a case for the starting role. Yet, he has proven incapable during that time span.
This weekend could be Blue’s final chance.
Storm Woods (left) has struggled to find running room this season.
Season Stats: 72 CAR, 214 YDs, 4 TDs, 32 REC, 305 YDs, 1 TD
Week 10 Matchup: USC (5-3) at Oregon State (6-2), Nov. 1, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The Beavers rushing attack has been atrocious this season.
Through eight games, the team ranks No. 124 in rushing, averaging just over 66 yards per game on the ground. Only one other FBS has been worse this season.
Running back Storm Woods has done nothing to help the cause.
After a sensational campaign in 2012—192 CAR, 940 YDs, 13 TDs—the sophomore has been anything but this year. In fact, he hasn’t topped 40 yards ever since Oregon State’s matchup against Hawaii back on Sept. 7.
Not to mention, Woods is only averaging 3.0 yards per carry.
The rushing attack has been so bad that standout wide receiver Brandin Cooks is closing in on Woods’ tally, rushing for 134 yards on 21 carries thus far.
Woods has to step it up soon. Otherwise, his freshman campaign will have been all for naught.
McDaniel (right) needs to start to show the Irish he's capable of leading the rushing attack.
Season Stats: 91 CAR, 412 YDs, 2 TDs
Week 10 Matchup: Navy (4-3) at No. 25 Notre Dame (6-2), Nov. 2, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Cam McDaniel has no problem striking a pose. He proved that to the entire college football world during the Irish’s win over USC on Oct. 19.
But as far as leading a program’s rushing attack goes, the junior could still use a little help.
Although he has topped 60 yards and 5.5 yards per carry in each of his last three games, McDaniel hasn’t found the end zone since Sept. 21 against Michigan State. That wasn’t really a game to remember, as he only mustered 2.5 yards per carry on his way to 40 yards on 16 carries.
Through eight games, Notre Dame only ranks No. 95, averaging a little over 135 yards per game on the ground.
If McDaniel can’t find a groove soon, don’t be surprised if the team turns to George Atkinson III. The junior has already proven he can make some noise, rushing for 148 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma on Sept. 28.
Chelf (right) must do more on Saturday.
Season Stats: 49.4 CMP%, 549 YDs, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 117.7 RAT, 21 CAR, 125 YDs, 1 TD
Week 10 Matchup: No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-1) at No. 15 Texas Tech (7-1), Nov. 2, 7 p.m. ET on FOX
Clint Chelf is fortunate to have a second shot as the Cowboys starting quarterback. However, if he doesn’t step it up soon, it might be a short-lived stint.
After initially losing the starting spot to sophomore J.W. Walsh, Chelf found himself back under center last weekend.
Unfortunately, his performance against Iowa State last weekend isn’t going to make head coach Mike Gundy feel too confident in his decision. The senior threw for just 78 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 10-of-26 passing.
That follows up another lousy showing against TCU the previous week—10-of-25, 178 YDs, 1 INT.
Now, Chelf will go head-to-head with a Red Raiders offense that knows how to put up the points. It’s a game that will likely be high scoring.
If Chelf wants to hold onto the starting spot, he’s going to have to show that he’s capable of lighting up the scoreboard with the best of them.