The Unknown Stars. Who Leads The NCAA In ...

Campus Insiders & CFN
Posted Nov 5, 2013

Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part 2 - Do you know all the top performers? Who are the stars on the top of the NCAA leaderboards?

Cavalcade of Whimsy

November 5, Part 2

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Cavalcade of Whimsy - Nov. 5
- Really, what did Ohio State do wrong?  

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Know your leaders. You're fully aware of Jameis and Johnny and Marcus, but who are these guys on the top of the statistical charts? Here are the NCAA leaders in …

10. Interceptions (7) - CB D'Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic
It's been an interesting time for Florida Atlantic football, but one of the most consistent factors in the 3-6 season has been Smith. The 5-11, 175-pound junior playmaker started out the season with five broken up passes against Miami and East Carolina, and then he became scary with seven picks in seven games, highlighted by the three he came up with in last week's shocker over Tulane. That might have been his biggest game, but the highlight of the season was a 75-yard pick six in the win over South Florida.

9. Receiving Touchdowns (14) – WR Davante Adams, Fresno State
Oregon State's Brandin Cooks also has 14, but he has had one extra game to do it. Only seven players have ten touchdown catches or more, but after scoring 14 times last year, Adams is showing he can do even more despite being a marked man. On the other side of several of Derek Carr's passes, the 6-2, 200-pound sophomore has caught two touchdown passes or more in four games with a four-score day against UNLV and three touchdowns among his 16 grabs against Idaho.

8. Forced Fumbles (5) – DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
Uzo-Diribe has been the exception up front for a Buffaloes D that doesn't win enough battles at the point of attack. At 6-3 and 245 pounds, he's a defensive end in an outside linebacker's body, using his quick first step and athleticism to beat opposing tackles into the pocket making ten sacks last year. While he only has two sacks on the season, he has been good at getting into the backfield and has been disruptive at times with five forced fumbles, coming up with two against Oregon State.

7. Scoring (13.5 points per game) – RB Marion Grice, Arizona State
As quiet off the field as he is explosive on it, the versatile former JUCO transfer is a fluid runner, with the efficient stride and second gear to leave defensive backs feebly chasing him from behind. On just 103 carries last season, he scored 11 times to go along with eight touchdown catches, showing glimpses of his tremendous potential. This year, he's averaging a whopping 13.5 points per game as a machine whenever he's within scoring range – the No. 2 non-kicker is Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, who averages 10.7 points per outing, while the second-best scorer is ASU kicker, Zane Gonzalez. Unstoppable against Wisconsin, he scored four rushing touchdowns against the Badgers and has 12 rushing scores on the season to go along with six receiving scores.

6. Passes Defended (2.4 per game) – S Tim Bennett, Indiana
Indiana might be a disaster against the pass, and there might be way too many big plays given up deep, but Bennett has made his share of plays as the only player in college football averaging more than two broken up passes per game. Extremely quick, the 5-9, 190-pound former JUCO transfer gets around well and is proving to be steady, breaking up at least two passes in every game but two. One of those games was against the passing-challenged Navy and the other was against Michigan State – he got his only pick of the year against the Spartans. Decent as an open-field tackler, he has 59 stops on the year with seven solo stops in each of the last six games.

5. Rushing Touchdowns (15) – RB Kapri Bibbs, Colorado State
Veteran Chris Nwoke, sophomore Donnell Alexander and big back Tommey Morris was supposed to be the main options for the Colorado State running game expected to pound the ball a bit. Right away, it turned out to be Bibbs, and 5-11, 203-pound all-around back who was brought in from the JUCO ranks to be the type of back who could tear off yards in chunks. Not only is he leading the team with 861 yards – helped by 203 against Wyoming – but he has been a touchdown machine with a nation-leading 15 rushing scores with three in each of his last three games and three in four of the last five games.

4. Tackles For Loss (2.4 per game) – DT Aaron Donald, Pitt
How dominant has the Panther star been? As Georgia Tech, who last week got hit with 11 tackles and six tackles for loss by the senior. Donald is averaging 2.4 tackles for loss per game, and no one else has more than 1.8 with his 19 solo tackles for loss alone more than anyone else's total TFLs. While only 6-0 and 275 pounds, he's lightning quick off the snap, often too fast for opposing linemen to handle, with the long arms of a much taller player, allowing him to shoot the gap with explosive swim moves as a devastating interior pass rusher.

3. Sacks (1.2 per game) – DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis
The 6-3, 260-pound Houston native isn't the biggest or the fastest pass rusher, but he has the long arms and the dogged determination to get to the quarterback even after first being denied pocket access. Always working and always going, he's a machine who can change a game around by himself. Consistent, he has a sack in every game but one, with 2.5 in the win over Arkansas State and two more against Duke. He doesn't lead the nation in sacks – Clemson's Vic Beasley and Missouri's Michael Sam each have ten – but he has played fewer games and leads in sacks per outing.

2. Total Offense (408.3 yards per game) – QB Garrett Gilbert, SMU
The big names aren't far behind with Fresno State's David Carr No. 2 averaging 390 yards per game, Johnny Manziel is No. 3 and Sean Mannion No. 4, but it's Gilbert who's the only player in America bringing over 400 yards per outing helped by a 538-yard passing day against Temple and a 498-yard effort against Rutgers. While he's not a Manziel-like runner, he came up with 97 yards on the ground against the Owls and is always good for positive yards.

The former superstar, can't-miss, No. 1 overall recruit never found his groove at Texas, and he was shaky over the first part of last year, but he limited his mistakes and got better as 2012 went on. Now he's turning into an elite playmaker who can do a little of everything right. The light has gone on in the June Jones offense, and the 3-4 Mustangs need him to do even more to push for a bowl bid.

1. Tackles (13.6 per game) - LB Keith Smith, San Jose State
Temple's Tyler Matakevich has more total stops with 113 on the year, but it's Smith who has been the tackling machine – again – combining with redshirt freshman Christian Tago to give the Spartans a whale of a 1-2 linebacking punch. Smith leads the nation with 13.6 tackles for per game. No one else is over 13, and only Matekevich is over 12.

The model of consistency, he's not all that big at 6-1 and around 229 pounds, but he holds up well and always gets all over the field making plays with 21 stops against Minnesota, 20 against Utah State and 18 against Sacramento State. While he's built like a big safety, he also moves like one. How tough is he? Dealing with a Mountain West running game is nothing after growing up as the only son in a house with ten sisters.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Granted, Michigan State was terrific and deserved to move up in the rankings, but Northern Illinois has scored a total of 122 points in the last two games and moved down in the BCS. Okay, so beating Eastern Michigan and UMass isn't special, but remember, this year's Huskie team is unbeaten. Last year's team had a loss.

- How badly will creepy, lonely guys abuse that Amazon kindle fire HDX Mayday function? It would be interesting to see how the calls to "Amy" spike up after bar time on a Saturday night.

- Really? Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon actually had to address the notion that Brady Hoke might not be the right guy to lead the program? There's hot seat talk, and then there's taking it to the silliest of levels. Check out the recruiting classes the guy is bringing in; the talent level will be special over the next five years.

- The only surprise by the John Fox and Gary Kubiak situations is that breakdowns don't happen in the coaching profession on a weekly basis. The human body isn't built to handle what coaches have to go through to be successful.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Maty Mauk's last few weeks … Underrated: James Franklin's first half of the season
2) Overrated: No. 5 Stanford … Underrated: No. 7 Clemson
3) Overrated: BCS "Standings" ... Underrated: BCS "Rankings"
4) Overrated: Johnny Manziel & Jameis Winston ... Underrated: Ryan Tannehill & E.J. Manuel
5) Overrated: Going to a BCS bowl ... Underrated: Saving hundreds of thousands by not accepting a bowl invitation

"If it were me, I'd bet everything. But that's me. I'm an aggressive gambler. Mr. Vegas. Come on. Go for it. Go for it. Yes, yes, there we go. I'm in." … so much for the Double Digit Home Dog theory for last week. The good people at the Venetian sportsbook in Vegas are still operating because I couldn't resist the big numbers – and by going a stunning 0-8 Friday night coin-flipping my NBA picks (stupid Miami Heat). Undaunted, I chase by ignoring my tried-and-true belief system …

1) Oklahoma +14 at Baylor
2) Oregon -10.5 over Stanford
3) Louisville -28 over Connecticut
4) Texas Tech -2.5 over Kansas State
5) Western Michigan -3 over Eastern Michigan
6) Tulane +9 over UTSA (UTSA SU)
7) Boston College -24.5 over NMSU
8) Texas -7 over West Virginia
9) UNLV +13.5 over Utah State (Utah State SU)
- Record So Far: 30-10 SU, 19-21 ATS

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … like Todd Graham's plane, the column lost cabin pressure and went into a freefall.

Cavalcade of Whimsy - Nov. 5
- Really, what did Ohio State do wrong?