Saquon Barkley And Bryce Love Fight For Supremacy Of Our Week 5 College Football Stats Leaderboard

This week’s statistics column is dedicated to the one thing everyone needs to play the game: the ball. I’m talking about guys who have it the most, the guys who protect it the best, the guys who steal it and the guys who put it in the end zone.

Week 5 of college football brought forth some exciting developments, like Washington State’s upset of the mighty Trojans, causing USC to tumble nine spots in the rankings. But mostly it was business as usual in the Top 25, with guys like Stanford’s Bryce Love and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley putting up unreal numbers and making spectacular runs.

Baylor lost again, Ohio State shut out Rutgers, Alabama rolled Ole Miss and Georgia continues to do SEC East things. A lot of teams and players deserve accolades, but only a few truly stood out when it came to the football itself. Here are the ones that made our Week 5 statistical leaderboard.

No. 1 in All-Purpose Yards (again): Saquon Barkley, Penn State – 243.60

 

The Nittany Lions running back gets top billing this week for two reasons:

  1. Penn State and Saquon Barkley are close to some of the TSFJ Family members hearts and one particularly cantankerous editor complained about Bryce Love being above Barkley in last week's column. And it's always smart to stay on your editor's good side.
  2. He earned it. In Penn State's 45-14 win over Indiana Saturday, Barkley ran the opening kick back 98 yards for a touchdown. And while fifth-year senior wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton stole the spotlight by catching nine passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns, it was Barkley who not only started things off but also finished them, throwing Hamilton his final touchdown. That touchdown pass marked Hamilton's 180th catch, breaking the school record previously set by Deon Butler in 2008.

Barkley finished the game with 221 all-purpose yards, keeping him well in first place in the category nationally while padding his ever-growing Heisman resume. Barkley now has 574 rushing yards, 386 receiving yards and 258 kickoff return yards for a grand total of 121 plays for 1,218 all-purpose yards. That is 73 more yards than San Diego State's Rashaad Penny and 125 more than Love.

No. 1 in Rushing Yards (again): Bryce Love, Stanford – 1,088

While Love doesn't top the leaderboard, he did win over many national media members and fans this past weekend with his school-record breaking 301 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He now has 1,088 rushing yards and is the third player since 2004 to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his team's first five games.

What started off as a playful comment about Love's Heisman chances in last week's column has now snowballed into very real hype with people comparing Barkley and Love's statistics with gusto. Penny trails Love by 265 yards while Barkley is 544 yards back. Love also leads the nation in rush yards per carry (11.10) and rush yards per game (217.6).

Oregon's Royce Freeman holds the rushing TD national title though with 10 - Love is tied for 7th with eight rushing TDs. Love's play remains Heisman-worthy despite Stanford's lack of big stage and a tough Pac-12 schedule. The symbiotic nature of their relationship bodes well for both though. Stanford is favored to win next weekend's game by six despite Utah's No. 20 ranking, but the game is at Rice-Eccles, a venue perfect for upsets. A sportsbook bet in the making, as I suspect Utah surprises the Cardinal.

Also this:

No. 1 in Interceptions: Jalen Davis, Utah State & Lukas Denis, Boston College – 5

Now that we have explored the statistics of two guys who carry the ball, lets examine two guys who take the ball away.

Utah State had a colossal 40-24 win over in-state rival BYU Friday night - a victory where turnovers played a major role. The Cougars turned the ball over on six of their nine possessions during the second and third quarters, and the Aggies scored 26 unanswered points off of their seven takeaways in the game. Senior cornerback Jalen Davis had three interceptions for a total of 95 yards and two touchdowns, including one in the second quarter that helped turn the tide after Utah State trailed 21-7.

Davis also had a season-high five tackles and one pass breakup, which tied the school record for pass deflections in a career (26). The three interceptions for Davis are tied with New Mexico State's Shamad Lomax for the most in a game at the FBS level this year, and tied for a Mountain West record - it was the 11th time in conference history a player has had three picks in a game. Davis is the first FBS player to have three interceptions with two returned for touchdowns since 2012 when Fresno State's Phillip Thomas accomplished the feat against Colorado. He earned National Player of the Week, Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week and USU Student Athlete of the Week honors for his performance.

Davis is tied with Boston College junior DB Lukas Denis, who also has five interceptions this season, including one against Notre Dame and one against Clemson. In the Eagles' 28-8 win over Central Michigan, Denis recorded six total tackles and two interceptions for 59 yards. ACC foes beware, Boston College boasts an alert and athletic secondary, primed for picks.

No. 1 in Points Responsible For: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State – 126

After this game-winning run by Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, the media dubbed the senior QB "The Marlboro Man." This comparison, while hilarious, rings true as Rudolph does boast a steady hand and a stoic nature - he lets his play do the talking. And Saturday night against Texas Tech, his 16-yard touchdown run in the final two minutes of the tied game was all the words he needed. The Cowboys defeated the Red Raiders 41-34 and Rudolph finished the game with 376 yards and three touchdowns, keeping his name safely in the Heisman conversation by keeping the ball just as safe in his hands.

Rudolph leads the nation in points responsible for with 126 in five games and 16 passing touchdowns with only four interceptions. Louisville's Lamar Jackson and UCLA's Josh Rosen are tied for second with 108 points and 13 and 17 passing touchdowns, respectively. Oklahoma State is going to need the Marlboro Man to keep his cool on the tough road ahead, with games at Texas and West Virginia looming on the immediate horizon.

No. 1 in Rushing Offense: Navy – 400 yards per game

Navy has always been a fun team to watch, especially given its penchant for clean play. The Midshipmen are 4-0 for the second time in the 10-year tenure of head coach Ken Niumatalolo and for just the third time in the last 38 years. In four games this season, they have run the ball 260 times for 1,600 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. They average a nation-best 400 yards of rushing per game and average 6.15 yards per rush.

The Midshipmen, known for their triple-option offense, are led by junior quarterback Zach Abey who has run for seven of the 16 rushing touchdowns. He also leads the team with 656 rushing yards on 117 carries. Navy was able to move past Georgia Tech in rushing offense with the 421 yards it recorded in its 31-21 win over Tulsa on Saturday.

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