Notre Dame's return to prominence continued Saturday with a gritty victory over the Michigan Wolverines. It wasn't pretty from a fantasy perspective, but the Irish forced Denard Robinson to throw four interceptions, while picking off another ill-advised pass on a trick play by running back Vincent Smith. Notre Dame now sits at 4-0 heading into an off week. The statistics should be much more plentiful for the Irish in two weeks when they face the Miami Hurricanes, a 3-1 squad that downed Georgia Tech in overtime, 42-36, behind four touchdowns from running back Mike James. The renewal of the not-so-appropriately-named "Catholics vs. Convicts" rivalry should make for riveting theater.
Let's look at the rest of the College Football scene in this week's Barometer.
Gary Nova, QB, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights piled on Arkansas on Saturday as the Razorbacks' nightmare season continued. Rutgers appears to be headed in the opposite direction, though, as Nova completed 25-of-35 passes for 397 yards and five touchdowns in the 35-26 road victory. Rutgers is now 4-0 with a few games against lesser opponents coming on the schedule. Nova should continue to improve as the season progresses, as his rapport grows with top wideout Brandon Coleman.
Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas: The lone bright spot for the Razorbacks in this game? The return of the Tyler Wilson-to-Cobi Hamilton connection. Hamilton caught 10 passes for an astounding 303 yards and three touchdowns, setting an SEC record single-game receiving yards. Wilson had missed the previous game against Alabama due to a head injury. Arkansas travels to College Station next week for a tilt with Texas A&M, and the Razorbacks might need another monstrous outburst from Hamilton to prevent a 1-4 start.
James Wilder, RB, FSU: Wilder has been a beast for the Seminoles, a bruising complement to speedster Chris Thompson. Although Thompson is considered the home run hitter for FSU, Wilder has bulldozed his way to six touchdowns and a 7.0 yards-per-carry average through four games this season. Wilder has also seen the most carries of any FSU rusher this season, including quarterback E.J. Manuel. The Seminoles face South Florida next, a squad that allows 24.5 points per game and lost Saturday to Ball State. Ball State lost to Clemson, 52-27, earlier this season, while FSU just beat Clemson, 49-37. Using the transitive property, Wilder and the rest of the Seminoles should be in for a huge day.
Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa: Weisman has taken the ball and run with it since starter Damon Bullock and backup Greg Garmon went down with injuries. On Sept. 15, he rushed 24 times for 113 yards and three touchdowns against Northern Iowa. He equaled that touchdown total last Saturday against Central Michigan, taking 27 carries for an impressive 217 yards and the three scores. The Hawkeyes enter conference play next week, and Bullock's return from a head injury looms as well; however, it will be tough to stop Weisman from carrying the pigskin following these huge games.
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin: Ball was forced out of Saturday's win over UTEP with a concussion, his second in about a month. A Heisman trophy finalist from a season ago, Ball was initially injured in a well-publicized off-field attack on campus in August. Ball had performed well in the Badgers' first four games this season, rushing for 360 yards and three touchdowns before getting hurt. However, those numbers came against non-conference opponents, and Wisconsin travels to Nebraska this week as it opens Big Ten play. Make sure Ball is deemed healthy before deploying him against the Cornhuskers.
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: It's not that Jones has been bad; it's simply that he has not performed like an elite quarterback this season. He had two costly turnovers in Saturday's loss to Kansas State and has completed just 63.6 percent of his passes this season. Jones has just five touchdowns in three games and continues to yield goal-line touches to the Belldozer, Blake Bell. Jones' numbers have regressed since his standout sophomore year, a trend that is continuing in 2012.
Stephen Morris, QB, Miami: There are times when Morris looks like a superstar, using his cannon of an arm to fire the ball into tight windows. Then there are times when he lacks the simple touch to make certain passes, or makes a curious, careless decision with the ball. Morris had all of that and more at Georgia Tech on Saturday, completing 31-of-52 passes for 436 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in leading the Canes to a comeback, OT win. Morris had failed to throw for more than 215 yards in any game before Saturday and doubled his season touchdown total, as well. It remains to be seen if Morris can repeat performances like this in the future, but he has certainly proven that it is not outside his skill set.
Kedrick Rhodes, RB, FIU: Arguably the premiere running back in the Sun Belt entering the season, Rhodes missed Saturday's game against Louisville with a lower leg injury. Rhodes averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2011, accumulating 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. In 2012, he had been vital on both the ground as well as through the air, tallying 355 yards from scrimmage along with three touchdowns through the Golden Panthers' first three games. Rhodes' status remains up in the air as FIU heads into conference play, so check back later in the week before deciding whether to use the talented junior back. It is also worth noting that senior tailback Darrian Mallary has stolen some touches from Rhodes, sniping six touchdowns on the year thus far.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU: Mettenberger has been asked to be essentially a game manager this season for the Tigers, who rely heavily on their running game and defense in winning contests. Mettenberger had been fairly accurate albeit unspectacular in his first three games as starter, as the Tigers easily defeated inferior opponents. Mettenberger didn't exactly light it up, compiling a 4:2 TD:INT ratio over that span. In his first SEC tilt Saturday, Mettenberger struggled, completing just 15-of-27 passes for 169 yards while failing to find the end zone at Auburn. The Tigers get a cupcake next week when they face Towson, followed by the meat of their SEC schedule. It could be tough to expect big numbers from Mettenberger.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State: There's been a quick role-reversal in the Buckeyes backfield. Hyde began the year as the OSU starting running back due to Jordan Hall's foot injury. However, Hyde then suffered an MCL sprain against UCF and has not played since. Hall has since returned and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Although Braxton Miller is the featured rusher as well as passer in the OSU offensive attack, Hall is now No. 2 while Hyde will struggle to regain carries upon his return.
Reese Wiggins, WR, East Carolina: Wiggins was supposed to make headlines for the high-octane ECU offense entering 2012. The No. 2 returning receiver to Justin Hardy, he has disappointed to say the least, combining for just eight catches and 65 yards while failing to find the end zone. Inconsistency at the quarterback position certainly hasn't helped, as Rio Johnson and Shane Carden have split reps under center. Still, Hardy hasn't seen a dip in production with 23 grabs for 266 yards and three scores this season. In sum, Wiggins has simply not lived up to the hype.
Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt: Much was expected from Vandy and Aaron Rodgers' younger brother after an improved season one year ago. Instead, Rodgers was replaced by Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels last game against Presbyterian due to inconsistency. He regained the starting job this week at Georgia but completed just 13 -of-23 passes and failed to find the end zone in a crushing 48-3 loss. The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Commodores, as they face Mizzou, Florida and Auburn in their next three games. It's best to stay away from J- Rod.