Without much advance warning, a star was born in Gainesville on Saturday night. Where were the Gators hiding this rookie when the offense was coughing and wheezing early on? Doing his best Percy impression, Burton completed a 42-yard pass, had five carries for 40 yards and five scores out of the shotgun formation, and caught five balls for 37 yards and another score. A quarterback on the depth chart, his six touchdowns broke a school record set by none other than Tim Tebow.
Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann
One of the nation’s best running backs you’ve never seen in action, Spann provided the spark in the 34-23 upset of Minnesota, rushing for 223 yards and two scores on only 15 carries. A week earlier, the Huskies had Illinois on the ropes, but couldn’t apply the knockout punch.
Indiana QB Ben Chappell
One of the Big Ten’s well-kept secrets tucked away in Bloomington, Chappell continues to impress NFL scouts. Leading the Hoosiers to a 3-0 start, he’s thrown nine touchdown passes without a pick, making particularly good use of freshman TE Ted Bolser, who’s hauled in four of the scoring tosses.
The Toledo defense
It’s time to start paying more attention to a no-name Rocket defense that’s provided the boost for a three-game winning streak, including Saturday’s upset of Purdue. During the streak, Toledo has picked off eight passes and recovered five fumbles. Co-coordinators Mike Ward and Paul Nichols are doing a terrific job with this group of players.
If Michigan wunderkind Denard Robinson went down, could the offense stay on the tracks? At least against Bowling Green, it not only survived, but thrived. Tate Forcier (5) and Devin Gardner combined to go 19-of-22 and account for three touchdowns in a 65-point eruption. Still, it’s good to know that Robinson could have played if it was necessary.
Stanford LB/FB Owen Marecic
A symbol of the success the Cardinal is having, the two-way Marecic scored on back-to-back plays in the Notre Dame rout, scoring on a 1-yard plunge before picking off a pass and taking it back 20 yards. It was the first time in four years that a player had scored on offense and defense in the same game.
The Virginia Tech defense
How would it fare against the big, bad Boston College offensive line? Actually, not too badly. Tech got back to even behind this unit, shutting out the Eagles and tormenting their front wall behind three tackles for loss each from LB Bruce Taylor and ends Steven Friday and James Gayle. It’s early, but the Hokies might be right back in the ACC title hunt.
NC State QB Russell Wilson
If this keeps up, someone might want to at least get Wilson (16) directions to New York City. The catalyst of an improbable 4-0 start by the Pack, he’s thrown 11 touchdown passes to just a single pick. In Saturday’s upset at Georgia Tech, he was otherworldly, accounting for 384 yards and four touchdowns.
The UCLA defense
Over the past two weekends, the Bruins have suffocated Houston and Texas, holding them to just 25 combined points to pick up a pair of season-changing victories. Linebackers Sean Westgate (11), Akeem Ayers (10) and Patrick Larimore, and safety Rahim Moore, in particular, have been flying all over the field, preventing big plays and sealing off the red zone.
Alabama RB Mark Ingram
The way Ingram has run the past two weeks, backs around the country will be asking for the knee surgery he had earlier in the month as an elective procedure. A week after needing just nine carries to slap 151 yards and two scores on Duke in his return, he went for 157 yards and two more touchdowns in the comeback win over Arkansas. After missing two games, the Heisman repeat is back in play.