Who's Hot? Week 5: Deshaun, Ameer, UCLA

The stud teams, players, coaches and trends from Week 5

2014 Who's Hot ... Week 5

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Georgia Southern
The Eagles are acclimating nicely to life as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, thanks to the running of QB Kevin Ellison and RB Matt Breida. With a rout of longtime rival Appalachian State Thursday night, they moved to 2-0 in league play, and 3-2 overall. And Georgia Southern’s two losses came to NC State and Georgia Tech in games it led late in the fourth quarter.

It’s never easy winning on the road, yet the Terrapins have already done it three times in 2014, including Saturday in Bloomington in their inaugural Big Ten game. Maryland’s only loss so far was a three-pointer to West Virginia on Sept. 13, setting the stage for an intriguing visit from Ohio State this Saturday. First, though, the team must determine the status of QB C.J. Brown, who injured his left wrist in the 37-15 blowout of Indiana.

Colorado WR Nelson Spruce
If Spruce isn’t the most underrated wide receiver in America, he’s on a very short list. In a game marked by record-breaking offensive performances and awful defensive efforts, Spruce rose above the rest with 19 catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns. With a game left before reaching the halfway point of the season, the junior already has 56 receptions for 694 yards and 10 scores.

Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
No, the competition hasn’t been otherworldly, but Barrett is gradually getting more comfortable as the triggerman of the Buckeye offense. Over the last two games with Kent State and Cincinnati, the redshirt freshman has thrown 10 touchdown passes and just one interception. On Saturday night, he went toe-to-toe with Gunner Kiel, guiding OSU to a 50-28 win in a game that looked tricky on paper.

Offensive Coordinator of the Week: Tony Franklin, Cal
Okay, so Colorado was playing defense, and the game extended into double-overtime. Still, Franklin’s kids, along with help from Sonny Dykes, are executing very well on offense. In the 59-56 win over the Buffaloes in Berkeley, the Bears cranked out close to 600 yards of offense. And the attack is more these days than just QB Jared Goff, who threw seven touchdown passes. RB Daniel Lasco is evolving into a dangerous all-around weapon, and WR Stephen Anderson enjoyed the best game of his Cal career.

Defensive Coordinator of the Week: Mark Snyder, Texas A&M
It’s not always about the final box score, rather the in-game adjustments, that make for a successful defensive effort. Sure, the Aggies struggled with the Arkansas ground game early on, but they learned from their mistakes, with Snyder as the professor. A&M gave up only seven points and fewer than 100 yards after halftime, providing a platform for the offense to rally for a crucial comeback win in overtime.

Stockpile more shares in … NC State QB Jacoby Brissett
Brissett did about all he could in Saturday’s 56-41 loss to Florida State. He could not play defense, unfortunately. The Florida transfer, who must have Gator fans green with envy, completed 32-of-48 for 359 yards and three touchdowns. Beyond just the numbers, though, Brissett was spectacular at times in his attempts to elevate the Pack. With another left, he could be one of the nation’s best quarterbacks by 2015.

Madden Cover Material: Georgia RB Todd Gurley
If not for the heroics of Gurley, where might the Dawgs be this season? In a year when running backs have had a reemergence of sorts, he’s been the cover boy, rushing for 208 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s narrow escape of Tennessee. Gurley is a force on the ground, who’ll be needed to prop up a Georgia defense and passing game that’s suspect.

Bucking for a promotion: Colorado State coach Jim McElwain
If you can turn around the Rams, it’s going to capture the attention of athletic directors. McElwain is turning heads for the work he’s doing in Fort Collins, not an easy place to win. Leaning on a deep stable of backs headed by Dee Hart and Treyous Jarrells, Colorado State has beaten three straight Power 5 opponents, capped by Saturday’s upset of Boston College in Massachusetts.

He’s how young?! Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
Coming off the bench against Florida State two weeks ago, it was evident Watson was ready for an expanded role. In his first career start this past Saturday, the true freshman left no doubts. He tossed a school-record six touchdown passes on 27-of-36 passing to help throttle Carolina, 50-35. There’ll be the usual ups-and-downs, but Watson should continue to evolve as he gets reps and a better feel for his equally youthful receivers.

He’s how young?! Stanford OLB Peter Kalambayi
Few schools develop pass-rushing outside linebackers better than the Cardinal, who have a budding star in Kalambayi. The redshirt freshman is coming off the bench these days, but he has the production of a starter. Kalambayi plays with great explosion and upper body strength, notching three sacks and six tackles in Saturday’s defensive gem versus Washington. The Cardinal allowed just 179 yards, as the D rebuilds at warp speed in 2014.

Can I be your agent … Lorenzo Mauldin?
For four quarters, Louisville’s hybrid of a defensive end and an outside linebacker simply overwhelmed the Wake Forest front wall, notching three of the team’s eight sacks. He also forced a fumble and was instrumental in pressuring John Wolford into three interceptions. Mauldin is athletic and ferocious until the whistle, characteristics that bode well for his future on Sundays.

Start designing the Fathead of … Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
After shredding the Illinois defense for 208 yards on just 22 carries, Abdullah extended his streak of games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage to 17, the longest in the country. The senior navigates holes with outstanding leverage and intensity, making it difficult for defenders to wrap him up. Nebraska isn’t getting much from the passing game, but it hasn’t caught up to the team because of the consistent production of No. 8.

Team of the Week: UCLA
Brett Hundley played like a Heisman contender in his return from an elbow injury. The offense produced three plays of at least 80 yards. And the defense and special teams generated timely touchdowns, both from electrifying junior CB Ishmael Adams. After slogging through the first three games, and becoming a critic magnet, the Bruins finally showed the flashes of potential that made them such a trendy offseason team.

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