College Football's All-Week 4 First Team: Top Performers at Every Position
Offense was aplenty in Week 4 of the college football season. Two players rushed for five touchdowns, and Saquon Barkley led the list of six others who gained at least 200 yards on the ground. There were also six players who made at least 11 receptions totaling more than 140 yards and a trio of quarterbacks who threw for more than 460 yards.
Amid all those yards and touchdowns, though, there was a lot of impressive defensive play, too. Alabama, Virginia Tech and Georgia State each shut out their opponents, and South Florida would've had a shutout if its offense hadn't given up seven points on a fumble.
Save for a strange lack of strong options at defensive tackle, the hardest part of coming up with the players for the All-Week team was trimming the list of quality candidates—especially at running back.
Stat lines were the primary factor for consideration, but impressive/clutch plays were also key in the selection process. Generally speaking, though, whether the team won or lost the game was irrelevant.
For sake of argument, our offense runs a two-WR, two-RB and one-TE formation, and our defense is a base 3-4. In filling out those rosters, here are our first and second teams from Week 4.
First Team: Luke Falk, Washington State
Washington State head coach Mike Leach sent Luke Falk a message two weeks ago, benching him for a couple of series against Boise State.
Clearly, that message was well-received. Falk shredded Oregon State to the tune of 396 yards and six touchdowns last week and picked up right where he left off with 478 yards and five touchdowns against Nevada. The Wolf Pack didn't start the week with great numbers in terms of passing defense, but they'll be near the bottom of the barrel now.
Falk had already thrown four touchdowns by halftime and would have easily eclipsed 500 yards if he hadn't sat out the final three series in the 45-7 blowout.
Second Team: Caleb Evans, Louisiana-Monroe
At the opposite end of the margin-of-victory spectrum, Louisiana-Monroe desperately needed Caleb Evans on the field for the entirety of its 56-50 double-overtime win over Louisiana. He completed 28 of 34 passes for 343 yards and a touchdown, but what nearly got him the spot on the first team was the 16 rushes for 129 yards and five more touchdowns. He did everything for the Warhawks, and he did it without committing a single turnover.
First Team: Saquon Barkley, Penn State
To put it lightly, Iowa had no answer for Saquon Barkley. (Who does, though?) In the showdown with the Hawkeyes, Barkley led all players in both rushing and receiving yards, going for 211 and 94, respectively. He set new career highs in both rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage. He also doubled his previous career high in receptions with 12 catches.
However, it wasn't just the number of yards that impressed. It was the flair with which he got them.
Now in his third season, you would think some of the "wow factor" would have faded from his game by now, but Barkley has at least one "There's no way he's human" play per game. In this particular contest, he hurdled a would-be tackler for a first down and had one carry where he somehow stopped on a dime along the sideline before running right past the defender who was attempting to tackle the area where the laws of physics suggested Barkley's body should have been.
First Team: Khalil Herbert, Kansas
If you had Khalil Herbert penciled in as this week's leading rusher, congratulations on nailing one of the most unlikely predictions in college football history.
Prior to last week's 137-yard game in a loss to Ohio, Herbert had 199 career rushing yards and had never rushed for more than 74 in a single game. All of a sudden, that guy became the entire Jayhawks offense. He rushed for 18 yards on the first play of the game and never looked back. Herbert carried the ball 36 times for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
Not only was it the best rushing performance of the week (in terms of total yards), but it was the best of the young season by a margin of 29 yards. In the process of racking up all that distance, Herbert had carries go for 60 and 67 yards. But it didn't do much good in the 56-34 loss to West Virginia.
Second Team: Bryce Love, Stanford
Are we absolutely certain that Bryce Love isn't better than Christian McCaffrey? Stanford's star running back is averaging 10.8 yards per carry and 196.8 yards per game. He was already having a fine performance in the 58-34 win over UCLA, but he made sure to finish with a bang, scoring on a 69-yard run on his final carry. It put his total for the day at 263 yards, which would have been the best of the season if not for Herbert.
Second Team: Mark Walton, Miami (FL)
You know it's going to be a good day when a guy rushes for 140 yards on his first four carries. Mark Walton ran for 14 yards on his first touch, and he followed it up with a 44-yard TD and an 82-yard run. At that point, he was on pace for roughly 1,000 yards in the game. However, the Hurricanes only called his number seven more times as he finished the day with 11 carries for 204 yards.
First Team: Denzel Mims, Baylor
Baylor's embarrassing start to the 2017 season has been well-documented. Coupled with Oklahoma's fantastic start, this game never should have been interesting.
But Zach Smith and Denzel Mims showed up in a huge way.
Like Khalil Herbert's day for Kansas, no one could have seen this game coming from Mims. The sophomore entered the day with 11 receptions for 238 yards and three touchdowns in his career. He just about matched those numbers in one game against the Sooners, exploding for 192 yards and three scores on 11 grabs.
It was his 71-yard touchdown that started Baylor's 21-0 run to erase an 18-point deficit. There was nothing fancy about it—just a go route up the sideline, utilizing one of Smith's several beautiful deep throws of the game. But Mims would have needed at least one more touchdown to pull off the upset, as Oklahoma escaped with a 49-41 win.
First Team: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
Kevin Sumlin owes his job to Christian Kirk for however much longer he's able to retain it.
Kirk got Texas A&M's offense rolling in the first quarter with an 81-yard touchdown strike. He came wide open over the middle as Kellen Mond rolled out to extend the play on 3rd-and-6. Kirk was quiet for the next three quarters before another monster play, this time a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give the Aggies the fourth-quarter lead.
He got back into the action as a receiver in overtime. One play after drawing pass interference on 3rd-and-9, Kirk caught the game-winning, 10-yard TD on a fade route.
Second Team: James Proche, SMU
James Proche only caught three passes in SMU's 44-21 win over Arkansas State, but he did a heck of a lot with them. He had one catch go for 27 yards in addition to touchdowns from 49 and 55 yards out. Add it up, carry the two and it's 131 total yards and 43.7 yards per reception. No other Mustang had a catch of more than 20 yards, so it's a good thing Proche was such a solid home-run threat. He also had a 61-yard TD last week against TCU, so this might be becoming a thing.
Second Team: Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
Boise State wasn't able to do much of anything on offense in its 42-23 loss to Virginia, but Cedrick Wilson was an exception to the rule. The Broncos had 383 yards of total offense, 55 percent of which came via Wilson receptions. He made 13 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown. He simply refused to give up hope when the game was clearly out of reach. He made an incredible 35-yard sideline grab early in the fourth quarter and had a 40-yard touchdown reception with just over a minute remaining in the game.
First Team: Caleb Wilson, UCLA
UCLA's defense was an outright disaster in a 58-34 loss to Stanford, but Josh Rosen tried like mad to keep the Bruins in this game, throwing the ball 60 times for 480 yards.
One of the primary benefactors of all those pass attempts was Caleb Wilson. It wasn't quite the 15-reception, 208-yard game he had Week 1 in the comeback against Texas A&M, but his 11 catches for 145 yards against the Cardinal did not go unnoticed.
The traditional tight end is going the way of the dinosaur at a lot of college football programs, but not at UCLA. Wilson is now tied with teammate Darren Andrews for the sixth-most receptions in the country at 32. Hard to believe he has only found the end zone once.
Second Team: Blake Mack, Arkansas State
Speaking of touchdowns, Arkansas State tight end Blake Mack scored his third in as many games in a losing effort against SMU. Mack made five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, but he also committed a back-breaking fumble at the SMU 1 at the end of a 36-yard gain. Had he scored, it would have given the Red Wolves a 21-17 lead. Instead, that missed opportunity helped the Mustangs cruise to victory.
First Team: Alabama Crimson Tide
Once upon a time, Vanderbilt had one of the best defenses in the country. The Commodores held their first three opponents to a grand total of 13 points, allowing just 103 rushing yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.
Then, Alabama came to town, and all those good feelings about Vanderbilt maybe being a contender this season were squashed under the weight of a Crimson Tide.
Damien Harris led the way with 151 yards and three touchdowns, but everyone who touched the ball seemed to find gaping holes in Vanderbilt's front seven. Prior to three kneel downs that cost them five rushing yards, the Crimson Tide had rushed for 501 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 8.0 yards per carry.
Second Team: Navy Midshipmen
Navy did the same thing to a Cincinnati defense that had limited its first three opponents to 3.8 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. In typical Midshipmen fashion, they ran and ran, and then they ran some more. There were 72 carries in all for 569 yards and five scores.
Despite completing just nine passes in the entire season, Navy is now 3-0 and is averaging 393.0 rushing yards per game.
First Team: Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Bradley Chubb might have been the biggest individual star of the day.
His stat line (seven total tackles, 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble) wasn't all that much to stand out from the crowd, but he was unwavering in his pursuit of Florida State QB James Blackman. When he wasn't sacking the true freshman making his first career start, he was barreling down upon him, forced a quick throw or a questionable decision.
And even when he wasn't hitting Blackman behind the line of scrimmage, Chubb was still causing problems. On Florida State's only turnover of the game, it was Chubb who chased Blackman down from behind after an 11-yard scramble, punching the ball out at the N.C. State 22-yard line to end a drive that almost certainly would have otherwise ended in points.
Though the Wolfpack did nothing on the subsequent drive, the play was a game-changer. The Seminoles had just scored a touchdown on the previous drive to cut the deficit to 10-7. Had they been able to put together a second consecutive TD drive, all the momentum would have been in their favor. Instead, it was N.C. State that hung on for the 27-21 upset.
First Team: Jalen Jelks, Oregon
It was a rough night for Oregon, suffering its first loss of the season by a 37-35 margin at Arizona State. But doggone it if Jalen Jelks didn't do everything in his power to keep that loss from happening.
The junior defensive lineman for the Ducks entered the game with 5.0 career sacks and a total of eight tackles for loss. Through three games this season, he had seven solo tackles and one tackle for loss. In this game alone, though, he had seven solo tackles, five tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks of Manny Wilkins.
Second Team: Nnamdi Oguayo, Washington State
Normally renowned for its offense, Washington State's defense was just as much a star in a 45-7 win over Nevada. Before the Wolf Pack were able to pick up a meaningless TD in the final two minutes, the Cougars had held them to a little over 100 total yards and no points. A defensive effort like that all starts with the defensive line, where Nnamdi Oguayo had four tackles, 2.0 sacks and a QB hurry.
Second Team: Anthony Nelson, Iowa
Though Iowa couldn't do anything to slow down Saquon Barkley, Anthony Nelson was one of several thorns in Trace McSorley's side. The sophomore lineman for the Hawkeyes had five tackles, 2.5 sacks, two passes defended and a QB hurry. Two of those sacks came in the first seven minutes of the game, setting the early tone for a defensive battle.
First Team: Hercules Mata'afa, Washington State
As mentioned on the previous slide, Washington State's defense was nearly impenetrable against Nevada. Granted, the Wolf Pack are winless and certainly didn't enter the week as one of the better offenses in the country, but they had at least 341 total yards and 20 points in each of their first three games before being held to 151 and seven, respectively, by the Cougars.
Hercules Mata'afa was at the forefront of that attack, making life absolutely miserable for Nevada's quarterbacks.
On the very first play of the game, Mata'afa brought down Kaymen Cureton for a five-yard sack. Two plays later, he teamed up with Garrett McBroom for another one. And on the third play of the subsequent drive, there he was again, forcing a punt with another sack. It took less than five minutes for him to record 2.5 sacks.
He was held without any other QB takedowns for the rest of the game, but he was credited with two QB hurries and was a problem for Alabama transfer David Cornwell, who relieved Cureton in the second quarter only to throw three interceptions.
Second Team: Eli Hanback, Virginia
Outside of Mata'afa, it was an unusually quiet week of box scores for defensive tackles. So let's use this space to make Eli Hanback a figurehead for Virginia's incredible defensive effort against Boise State. Hanback only had two total tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss, but the big man was the tip of the arrow driven into the heart of the Broncos' rushing attack. Boise State officially had 24 carries for 30 yards with a team long of eight yards. That entire Cavaliers defensive front was something else in the 42-23 road win.
First Team: Markus Bailey, Purdue
The game got away from Purdue a bit in the second half of a 28-10 loss, but Markus Bailey was a huge reason why the Boilermakers led Michigan by a field goal at the intermission.
The sophomore linebacker had a game-high nine total tackles and a pair of sacks. On Michigan's third consecutive scoreless drive to begin the game, it was Bailey's hit on an 11-yard, third-down sack that knocked Wilton Speight out of the game.
At the time, it felt like a big plus for Purdue, but the Big Ten may come to blame him for a Michigan conference championship, as John O'Korn came in and looked better than Speight has at any point this season.
First Team: Ty Schwab, Boston College
As was the case for Bailey and Purdue, Ty Schwab's defensive effort was all for naught once Clemson pulled away from Boston College for a 34-7 victory. Prior to the Tigers scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter, though, Schwab played a big part in the Eagles holding Clemson to just one score.
Though the senior entered the game with just one sack in his career, he more than doubled that total with 1.5 tackles of Kelly Bryant behind the line of scrimmage. One of those sacks came on a third-down play, forcing a punt that started BC's only scoring drive of the afternoon.
Schwab finished the day with a career-high 11 total tackles—narrowly surpassing the previous high of 10 that he set last year against Clemson.
Second Team: Brian Womac, Rice
Proof that we comb through every box score looking for these players, Brian Womac was the star of an otherwise uneventful 13-7 game between Florida Atlantic and Rice. The senior edge rusher for the Owls had seven solo tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
Second Team: Luke Maclean, Eastern Michigan
Eastern Michigan's offense never really showed up in a 27-20 double-overtime loss to Ohio, but the defense kept things interesting. Defensive back Brody Hoying led all players with 10 total tackles and forced a pair of fumbles. Meanwhile, linebacker Luke Maclean was all over Ohio QB Nathan Rourke. Maclean had 2.0 sacks and was credited with three QB hurries.
First Team: Josey Jewell, Iowa
If you didn't already know about Josey Jewell, he made a big impression in the prime-time game against Penn State. The senior middle linebacker was everywhere and left his fingerprints all of the box score. Jewell finished the night with 16 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, two passes defended, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Basically, if the Hawkeyes did anything positive on defense, Jewell was involved.
The interception was his first since the 2015 season, and it couldn't have been any easier. Sam Brincks hit Trace McSorley right as he was releasing the pass that ended up hitting Jewell right between the numbers a solid 10-15 yards away from the nearest Nittany Lion. He returned it 33 yards, setting the Hawkeyes up for their first touchdown of the game.
First Team: Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
"Texas Tech" and "defense" don't often go hand-in-hand, unless it's in a context like, "Texas Tech destroyed another defense with 500 passing yards." However, the Red Raiders needed a lot of defensive effort to remaining undefeated with a 27-24 road win over Houston.
Texas Tech forced five Houston turnovers in the game, starting with a Dakota Allen interception on the opening drive. The junior linebacker proceeded to record 12 total tackles and created some pressure in the pocket with two QB hurries.
Second Team: Auggie Sanchez, South Florida
Temple's offensive execution in Thursday night's 43-7 loss to South Florida was...well, let's just call it uninspired. The Owls were held to 85 total yards, did not score on offense and committed six turnovers. South Florida had five sacks and 12 total tackles for loss, resulting in arguably the most ridiculous part of Temple's sad box score: 33 carries for negative-4 yards.
Veteran linebacker Auggie Sanchez was the leader of the assault on Temple's backfield. He had seven total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Though he wasn't individually responsible for any of the six takeaways, he kept the Owls from trying to accomplish anything over the middle of the field.
Second Team: Colton Jumper, Tennessee
Tennessee darn near messed around and suffered the most embarrassing loss of the season before eking out a 17-13 home win over Massachusetts. Outside of one big reception by Brandon Edward Johnson, the Volunteers could not get anything going on offense. Fortunately, Colton Jumper and the defense came to play.
Jumper had 2.5 of Tennessee's seven sacks, 1.5 of which came on third-down plays in the second half. The other one was on the second play of Massachusetts' final drive, which contributed to a game-sealing turnover on downs.
First Team: Shamad Lomax, New Mexico State
There have been a ton of two-interception performances this season, but Shamad Lomax finally broke the 2017 seal on three-pick games.
And he didn't even need the second half to get the job done.
Lomax—who had two career interceptions before Saturday—picked off UTEP quarterback Ryan Metz three times in the first half of a 41-14 win over what might be the worst team in the country. He took the second of those three interceptions to the house for a 19-yard TD return.
For good measure, Lomax also had nine total tackles and two other passes defended.
First Team: Deatrick Nichols, South Florida
We mentioned Auggie Sanchez on the previous slide, but how about the game Deatrick Nichols had in South Florida's rout of Temple?
Like Lomax, Nichols did all of his damage in the first half. He had an interception on the first play of Temple's second drive of the game. Early in the second quarter, he broke up a pass on first down before intercepting another one on third down. And two drives later, he forced a fumble, setting up the Bulls in Temple territory for a third time. (Somehow, they only managed to score six points on those three drives.)
Temple committed six turnovers in the game, and Nichols set the tone by forcing the first three.
Second Team: Jack Jones, USC
Jack Jones was a one-trick pony for the Trojans. He didn't record any tackles in USC's 30-20 win over California, but he did have a pair of interceptions. Jones returned the first one to the Cal 38, setting up USC's first score of the game. The second one effectively ended the game, as it gave the Trojans the ball with a 17-point lead and only nine minutes remaining.
Second Team: Bryon Fields Jr., Duke
Duke and North Carolina locked horns in a rivalry game. Neither team led by more than a one-possession margin until Bryon Fields Jr. got involved late in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels trailed by a field goal and were driving to tie or take the lead when Chazz Surratt—under heavy pressure—threw an errant lame duck that landed right in Fields' bread basket. He took it 61 yards to the house to give Duke its third consecutive double-digit-margin victory over a Power Five school.
First Team: J.R. Reed, Georgia
Seven days after Mississippi State's offense put on a clinic in a 37-7 win over LSU, the Bulldogs managed just one field goal in a 31-3 loss to Georgia.
Sophomore safety J.R. Reed led the defensive attack for UGA. He had a team-high 10 total tackles, but his three passes defended best tell the tale of how this game went for Nick Fitzgerald and Mississippi State.
Fitzgerald is better known for his dual-threat potential than his ability to stand in the pocket and carve up a defense, but Georgia made it look like the junior was playing in the first game of his career. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes for just 83 yards with two interceptions.
First Team: Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
No individual defender put up big numbers for Alabama, but that's only because Vanderbilt never possessed the ball long enough for anyone to rack up tackles or sacks. However, Ronnie Harrison had an interception on Vanderbilt's first drive of the game, and it was all downhill from there.
The Commodores had 78 yards of total offense and three first downs in the 59-0 loss to the Crimson Tide. They had more punts (nine) than completed passes (seven).
When will players and fans finally learn that, no, you do not want Bama?
Second Team: Trey Lomax, San Diego State
It was quite the night for defensive backs named Lomax. In addition to Shamad Lomax's three interceptions for New Mexico State, Trey Lomax had a critical interception in San Diego State's 28-24 win over Air Force. The Falcons only attempted six passes in the contest, but on a 4th-and-9 play with one minute remaining, they had little choice but to go to the air. Lomax could have just knocked down the back-foot desperation heave, but where's the fun in that?
Second Team: Kris Weatherspoon, Troy
Troy jumped out to an early 16-3 lead over Akron before getting all it could handle in a 22-17 nail-biter. Had it not been for Kris Weatherspoon, the Trojans likely would have lost this one. He had one first-half interception in the end zone, putting an end to an 11-play drive. Weatherspoon also put the finishing touches on the win with another pick on Akron's final possession, this one on the 50-yard line.
First Team: Jason Sanders, New Mexico
Jason Sanders has been a dandy of a long-range place kicker for New Mexico. Last season, he made all six of his field-goal attempts from at least 40 yards away, including a pair from 50 or more yards. He was also the hero in New Mexico's 16-13 Week 4 win over Tulsa.
Sanders banged home field goals from 34 and 39 yards out in the second quarter before trotting out to attempt a game-winning 48-yarder. Unfortunately, it became a 53-yard attempt when New Mexico committed one of the most unforgivable false starts in the history of football. But Sanders was unfazed by the added distance and drained the career-long 53-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare.
Second Team: Dominik Eberle, Utah State
There wasn't nearly as much drama behind Dominik Eberle's kicks, as Utah State cruised to a 61-10 win over San Jose State. But Eberle was perfect on the day with seven made extra points and four made field goals, including one from 52 yards away.
First Team: Wade Lees, Maryland
Maryland had just 197 yards of total offense in a 38-10 loss to UCF, but at least punter Wade Lees was putting in work.
Lees averaged better than 47 yards on his seven punts. In the first quarter—long before the game started to get out of hand—his first punt went for 64 yards and was downed at the UCF 6-yard line. It was the first of four times that he would pin the Knights inside their own 20. They did not attempt to return any of his kicks.
Second Team: Jack Sheldon, Central Michigan
Central Michigan moved the ball a little bit better than Maryland did, but the Chippewas still had to punt six times. Fortunately, they also had a great leg handling those boots.
Jack Sheldon averaged 49.5 yards per punt in a 31-14 loss to Miami (OH). The RedHawks only tried to return two of those punts and amassed all of four yards while doing so. Two of Sheldon's punts went 59 yards. The first resulted in a touchback and the second was downed at the Miami 3-yard line.
First Team: Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
With three kickoffs and one punt returned for touchdowns in 2016, Quadree Henderson entered the 2017 season regarded as one of the most dangerous return men in the country. But through the first three weeks, we hadn't seen any of it. He was averaging 18.9 yards per kick return and had zero yards on three punt returns.
He finally got loose against Georgia Tech.
Henderson averaged 24.4 yards on his five kick returns and took one punt 80 yards for a score. He ran backward a few yards to tiptoe around the first two would-be tacklers, but once he changed the field and got to the opposite sideline, it was all over.
Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech's rushing options were just as elusive, as the Yellow Jackets ran for 436 yards and five touchdowns in a 35-17 win.
Second Team: Tony Pollard, Memphis
After upsetting UCLA and jumping to the top of the list of candidates to represent the Group of Five in the New Year's Six games, Memphis had a bit more trouble with Southern Illinois than perhaps anyone expected. The Tigers trailed by one touchdown at the end of the first quarter and were still down by four points at halftime. By the time the Salukis kicked a field goal late in the third quarter to get back to within three points, the possibility of an upset was starting to become a reality.
Then Tony Pollard gave Memphis some breathing room for the first time with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He was virtually untouched thanks to the speed and quick-cut ability that has enabled him to return four kickoffs for touchdowns in his career.
Kerry Miller covers college football and college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.