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College Football Week 4: Top 20 Breakout Players

Andrew LeighCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2016

College Football Week 4: Top 20 Breakout Players

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Week 4 of the College Football season has come and gone, and it featured some scintillating games that allowed a select few players to stand above the rest as breakout stars of the week.

    There were heated conference showdowns, dominant performances from some high-ranked teams, and even an upset mixed in.

    Most fans know the big college football names this season, but here are 20 other players that had a huge impact on their team’s Week 4 games.

Cam Newton – Auburn, QB

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    Cam Newton was a true double threat in Auburn's huge SEC victory over rival South Carolina.

    The junior quarterback ran for Auburn's first three touchdowns, including a big 54-yard breakout that opened the scoring.

    His two other rushing scores came when Auburn had fallen into a 20-7 hole behind two Alshon Jeffrey-Stephen Garcia passing link-ups.

    South Carolina took a 27-21 lead into the fourth quarter, but that was where Newton displayed the other facet of his game.

    He threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Philip Lutzenkirchen, then iced the game with a touchdown to Emory Blake with six and a half minutes remaining.

Russell Wilson – North Carolina State, QB

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    This two-sport star (Wilson was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of June's draft) dominated Georgia Tech to the tune of a 28 for 41, 368 yards and 3 passing touchdowns.

    He also threw a potentially costly interception returned for a touchdown, but directly following the pick, Wilson led a game-clinching touchdown drive that culminated in his third passing score of the day.

    That gave the Wolfpack a 38-28 lead it would not relinquish.

Trey Burton – Florida, WR/QB/Etc.

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    Freshman Trey Burton lines up all over the field for the Florida Gators—he's taken snaps at wide receiver, tight end and quarterback.

    Against Kentucky in Week 4, it seemed like he could have lined up on defense and still found a way into the end zone.

    He scored a record six touchdowns, five rushing and one receiving, setting the Florida school record previously held by departed icon Tim Tebow.

    While his yardage numbers are underwhelming (40 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, 42 passing yards), he did a little bit of everything for Florida, and was an unstoppable force in the red zone.

Nate Whitaker – Stanford, K

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    A kicker can be an impact player, and none had a bigger game than Nate Whitaker of Stanford.

    Whitaker kicked five field goals, tying a school record, to give Stanford its second consecutive win against Notre Dame dating back to last season.

    The Stanford offense piled up the yards against the Fighting Irish, but quarterback Andrew Luck had a less-than-stellar game, throwing his first two interceptions of the season and not dominating the game as Stanford had done through its early games.

    Whitaker was the security blanket for the offense and coach Jim Harbaugh, and his five golden kicks made the difference.

Vai Taua – Nevada, RB

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    Taua ran for 133 yards on a day that Nevada's usual offensive engine, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, had a bit of an off night.

    The senior runner ran 29 times, and while he fumbled once early in the game, he drove the offense by way of always gaining positive yardage on his runs and controlling the clock.

    The win pushed the Nevada Wolf Pack into the top 25 of the AP poll for the first time since 1948.

Sean Spence – Miami, LB

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    Spence was the leading tackler for Miami in a smothering defensive effort that propelled them to a big win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

    Spence was officially credited with nine tackles, but he was a dominating presence on defense for Miami.

    The junior linebacker had set a career-high with 11 tackles in Miami's loss to Ohio State, and he is making a name for himself as a defensive leader and force for the Hurricanes.

Zach Line – SMU, RB

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    SMU played with high-ranked TCU for the majority of their game, and one of the main reasons why was the efforts of running back Zach Line.

    Line chipped in 139 rushing yards on 17 carries, to a gaudy 8.2 average per carry.

    He broke off a 29 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

    Not bad for a guy who was converted from linebacker, and was predominantly used in goal line situations only last season.

    He did this against a TCU defense known for its stinginess, making his performance all the more impressive.

Jarius Wright – Arkansas, WR

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    A lot of the attention after Arkansas's loss to Alabama went to star quarterback Ryan Mallet's turnovers late in the game that cost Arkansas a chance at the upset of the nation's top ranked team.

    But one weapon that Mallet utilized early and often was receiver Jarius Wright.

    He caught six passes for a whopping 131 yards, including a 43 yard reception.

    He made quite the impact as Mallet's big-play receiver, although it was not enough to secure a victory over Alabama.

Jonathan Franklin – UCLA, RB

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    Running back Jonathan Franklin was a key component in UCLA's upset victory over the Texas Longhorns, on the road in Austin no less.

    Franklin ran for 118 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, ground dominance that fueled the Bruins as they hung 34 points on Mack Brown's team in their own building.

    The sophomore's performance comes on the heels of another big rushing game, a 158-yard effort against Houston at the Rose Bowl. He's a runner to watch.

Lavonte David: Nebraska, LB

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    Lavonte David was the dominant cog in the stifling Nebraska defense that held South Dakota State to a measly 236 total yards.

    Davis was credited with 19 tackles in the game, and was seemingly in on every pay as Nebraska rode the strength of its defense to a closer-than-anticipated victory.

    Davis was also involved in breaking up two key pass plays. The defense in general was the star of the game, holding SDSU to only a 35-yard field goal and forcing two turnovers.

Landry Jones: Oklahoma, QB

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    Landry Jones pushed the Oklahoma Sooners offense to great heights, as the quarterback threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma withstood a late charge from the Cincinnati Bearcats but held on to remain unbeaten.

    Oklahoma relied heavily on Jones' arm, having him throw 51 passes in the game.

    But he was up to the task, save for a late interception, as he completed 36 of the 51 passes and was far and away the team's offensive leader.

James White: Wisconsin, RB

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    Wisconsin rolled to an easy victory over Austin Peay, and the main reason was running back James White.

    White ran for four touchdowns to go along with 145 yards as the offense racked up a thorough 70-3 victory.

    It was Wisconsin's last game in their non-conference schedule, and White's heroics allowed the team to enjoy a cushy 49-3 lead at halftime.

    The freshman White is still behind runner John Clay on the depth chart, but he has to give Wisconsin fans optimism for the running game's depth and future.

Doug Martin: Boise State, RB

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    Kellen Moore deservedly gets most of the headlines for Boise State, but hulking running back Doug Martin is an important piece of the Broncos' high-powered offense.

    Against the tough Oregon State Beavers, Martin ran for 138 yards on 19 carries and helped the Broncos overcome some sloppy and uncharacteristic play in order to remain unbeaten.

Darron Thomas: Oregon, QB

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    Oregon has mostly relied on its running game thus far this year, but against Arizona State quarterback Darron Thomas shouldered the offensive load.

    Thomas threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score of his own as Oregon continued its unbeaten run.

    He has stepped into the void created by the dismissal of Jeremiah Masoli and helped prop up Oregon's offense.

Adam Robinson: Iowa, RB

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    Adam Robinson's running allowed the Iowa Hawkeyes to cruise to an easy victory over Ball State.

    Robinson ran for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as he ably stepped into the void created when Iowa lost Jewel Hampton for the season to a knee injury.

    Robinson is now the team's featured back, and his performance against Ball State helps ease concerns over Iowa's running attack.

Dane Sanzenbacher: Ohio State, WR

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    Terrelle Pryor is an odds-on favorite for the Heisman Trophy this season, but on Saturday his primary receiving target grabbed the headlines.

    Dane Sanzenbacher caught a record 4 touchdown passes, to go along with 108 yards on 9 receptions, as Ohio State trounced Eastern Michigan.

    He tied the school record for TD receptions in a game with the effort, and while Pryor remains the team's biggest weapon, Dane Sanzenbacher asserted himself by making a large impact in Week 4.

Nick Foles: Arizona, QB

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    Arizona barely escaped with a win in a tight Pac-10 showdown with the California Golden Bears, and the reason why they came out on top was the heroics of Nick Foles.

    The quarterback's one touchdown pass of the game was with only 1:11 left to play, and it gave Arizona a 10-9 lead that it would not relinquish.

    Overall, Foles posted a decent line of 25 completions in 39 attempts for 215 yards, but he had also thrown a pick earlier in the game.

    He made all the difference, though, with his game-winning drive and completion late in the fourth quarter.

Patrick Peterson: LSU, CB

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    LSU corner Patrick Peterson struck the Heisman pose after his game-changing 60-yard punt return for a touchdown, and his impact on LSU's 4-0 start has to enter him into the conversation for the trophy.

    LSU has leaned on their defense and special teams early in the season with some inconsistent play at quarterback, and Peterson has been one of the standouts.

    He had two interceptions in Week 3, and his game in Week 4 also included solid coverage to allow LSU to hold on to beat West Virginia.

Evan Royster: Penn State, RB

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    Evan Royster ran for a career-high 185 yards and his efforts carried Penn State to a hard-fought win over a competitive Temple Owls.

    Penn State's offense was mostly stagnant, but Royster's running allowed them to win the crucial field position battles, allowing for 5 field goals from kicker Colin Wagner that proved the difference in the game.

    Royster's impact was huge as the Nittany Lions leaned on his running to wear down Temple.

Stanley Havili: USC, WR

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    Stanley Havili had 80 rushing yards to go along with 107 receiving yards in USC's dominating performance over Washington.

    Havili was a big-play machine, averaging 20 yards a carry as well as 20 yards a reception.

    He was in sync with quarterback Matt Barkley and it showed in the gaudy numbers.

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