College football Week 3: 15 players to watch
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

College football Week 3: 15 players to watch

College football enters Week 3 at a crossroads. Last week, some of the top teams rolled over cupcakes while others struggled to lock down a win. Oregon and Iowa surged up the rankings while Ohio State and Iowa State tumbled. Arkansas spanked soon-to-be SEC rival Texas while Notre Dame needed late heroics to stuff Toledo.

This means Week 3 is about opportunity. The teams knocked on their heels have an opportunity to show us that they've regrouped and are ready to fight. Those surprising teams have an opportunity to show they are for real. There are also all kinds of opportunities on the schedule for teams to break out and announce their arrival.

That means there are opportunities for players to shine this week, and here are 15 to watch. 

 
1 of 15

Tyler Allgeier, BYU

Tyler Allgeier, BYU
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the Cougars won on the strength of Zach Wilson's arm and his moxie. This year's BYU squad seems to want to win by handing the ball off to Allgeier. While Wilson was the guy that got a lot of the shine in 2020, Allgeier did rush for 1,130 yards and 13 TDs. This year, he's already carried the ball 44 times for 196 and a touchdown, including 27 carries in their huge win over Utah last week.  

 
2 of 15

Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Daniels was fantastic against UNLV last week. The junior completed 20 of 29 passes for 175 yards and 2 TDs while also rushing for 125 yards in the win over the Rebels.  This is his third year starting for the Sun Devils and his efficiency has gotten so much better as everything has seemed to slow down for him. He's starting to rise up draft boards as well and Arizona State looks to be a contender in the Pac-12 South division. Up next is a huge game at BYU.

 
3 of 15

Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ebiketie was a great get from the transfer portal for Penn State head coach James Franklin. A graduate transfer, Ebiketie has fit in nicely as an edge rusher for a squad that lost a lot of talent from last season. He was a very solid player at Temple but felt he wanted to take on the challenge of performing in the Big Ten. He's been all over the place in wins over Wisconsin and Ball State and will be a key factor in the Nittany Lions game against Auburn this week. 

 
4 of 15

Jerome Ford, Cincinnati

Jerome Ford, Cincinnati
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Here ya go, Cincinnati! Many Bearcat fans felt snubbed with Cincy went undefeated in the regular season yet weren't seriously considered for a College Football Playoff spot. Analysts pointed to their schedule as the main reason ... so coach Luke Fickell went out and scheduled two big non-conference games to beef up their resume. The first one comes Saturday at Indiana. This is a huge opportunity for the Bearcats' offense to show they can be as good as that great defense. They looked the part in their opening win against Miami-OH but struggled -- especially in the first half -- against Murray State last week. That's when Ford took over. The junior from Tampa rushed for three touchdowns in the second half against the Racers, piling up 113 yards total for the game. In two games, Ford has accumulated half of the touchdowns that he scored all 2020 (eight). 

 
5 of 15

Seth Henigan, Memphis

Seth Henigan, Memphis
Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Henigan went off against Arkansas State last week. The freshman completed 22 passes for 417 yards and 5 touchdowns in an electric 55-50 win over the Red Wolves. Now he gets his shot at an SEC team as the Tigers welcome Mississippi State to the Liberty Bowl, and Mike Leach's Bulldogs aren't known for their defense -- though, to be fair, that defense looked good against NC State a week ago.

 
6 of 15

Sam Howell, North Carolina

Sam Howell, North Carolina
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There were huge expectations coming into the season for North Carolina and Heisman candidate Sam Howell, but a disappointing showing in a loss to Virginia Tech stomped on those hopes. Those lofty goals looked even more out of reach during a lackluster first half against Georgia State last week, but then Howell got going. He factored into five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing), including a 62-yard scoring romp at the end of the third quarter. It felt as if Howell broke out a bit, which will be needed in a huge ACC Coastal match-up with Virginia on tap. He threw 7 interceptions in each of his first two seasons -- he has three already in 2021. If he gets back into his groove, watch out. 

 
7 of 15

Adrian Martinez, Nebraska

Adrian Martinez, Nebraska
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry was one of the best in sports and their meetings would have Big 8 (and national) championship ramifications. When the Big 8 expanded into the Big 12 and the two split into different divisions, the rivalry waned as they no longer played annually. When Nebraska left for the Big Ten in 2011, the rivalry ended.

For the first time since 2010, these two will meet but do so in many different places. Nebraska has struggled since joining the Big Ten while Oklahoma, which has been dominating the Big 12, is set to move on to the SEC. If the Cornhuskers have any chance of winning, quarterback Adrian Martinez will need to have a huge day. Martinez is a dual-threat and at times looks like one of the most dangerous QBs in the conference. Other times, it just doesn't work at all. He'd have a nice season thus far (62% completion percentage, 728 yards, 4 TDs passing; 256 yards, 3 TDs rushing). He'll need to be efficient and effective in order to keep Spencer Rattler and the Sooners offense off the field.  

 
8 of 15

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven't been watching Coastal Carolina football ... why not? They have the teal "surf turf", the fans are sporting their mullets in all their glory, and the football they're playing is really, really good. Quarterback Grayson McCall has picked up where he left off as a freshman last year (2020: 2,488 yds, 26 TD, 3 INT). In blowout wins over The Citadel and Kansas, McCall has completed over 80% of his passes for 507 yards and 3 touchdowns ... and has rushed for a score. He has been relying more on his arm than his legs this season, which should help keep him healthy for a run at another undefeated season. Coastal Carolina heads up to Buffalo on Saturday. 

 
9 of 15

Bo Nix, Auburn

Bo Nix, Auburn
Jake Crandall via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Auburn has spent the first two weeks of the season pounding lesser opponents (60-10 and 62-0 over Akron and Alabama State, respectively), so heading to Happy Valley to take on Penn State will be quite a step up in competition. Bo Nix followed up a sparkling showing against Akron with a bit of an "eh" performance against Alabama State (9 of 17, 108 yards, 2 TD). Nix will face a Penn State defense that is riding a ton of confidence and ready to knock him around. He's had moments where you think he's ready to become one of the better QBs in the country and others where he leaves you scratching your head. If Auburn fancies themselves a contender for a playoff spot, the great Nix better show up on Saturday. 

 
10 of 15

Brock Purdy, Iowa State

Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Purdy, a preseason Heisman darkhorse, has not gotten off to a great start to the season. After throwing for just 199 yards and no scores in a tough win over Northern Iowa in the opener, Purdy laid an egg against rival Iowa last week. The senior completed just 13 of 27 passes for 138 yards and three interceptions. Entering Week 3 of the season, and the signal-caller for what was supposed to be a dynamic offense is still looking for his first touchdown pass of the season. I think he breaks out in a big way out west at beautiful Allegiant Stadium against UNLV. 

 
11 of 15

Jayden Reed, Michigan State

Jayden Reed, Michigan State
Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Reed only had four receptions against Youngstown State last week, but two went for touchdowns. Reed transferred to Michigan State after his freshman season at Western Michigan and became one of their top pass catchers (they even resurrected the jersey No. 1 for him). This season he's more of a big-play threat, averaging over 27 yards per catch ... including an 85-yard. The Spartans head to Miami this Saturday to face an aggressive defense.

 
12 of 15

Anthony Richardson, Florida

Anthony Richardson, Florida
Matt Pendleton/Special to Sun via Imagn Content Services, LLC

He's not the starter and he may not be in the game that much, but could Anthony Richardson be the X-factor in a huge SEC battle between Alabama and Florida? Look at what this backup quarterback has done: In Week 1 against Florida Atlantic, he ran the ball seven times for 160 yards and a touchdown. Last week against South Florida, Richardson completed all three of his pass attempts and piled up 152 yards with two of those passes going for touchdowns. He also ran the ball four times for 115 yards and a touchdown. When this guy gets on the field, big things happen (80 yard TD run, 75 yard TD pass). Nick Saban and Alabama are prepared for anything, but it is still difficult to prepare for this kind of curveball that gets placed in certain circumstances. 

 
13 of 15

Kedon Slovis, USC

Kedon Slovis, USC
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Clay Helton has been fired, meaning that after just two games in 2021 the Trojans' season has been deemed a disappointment. Slovis was okay in the 42-28 loss to Stanford last week (27 of 42, 223 yards, TD, INT) but he hasn't been the stud many pegged him to be after a fantastic freshman season in 2019. As details about USC's issues regarding preparation under Helton are trickling out, Slovis could be due for a big game. USC travels up the coast to Washington State to face a Cougars team that allowed 38 ppg last season. One of those games was when these two met, where Slovis threw for 287 yards and 5 TDs in a 38-13 win.

 
14 of 15

D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson

D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

The Uiagalelei era at Clemson hasn't gone off as well as planned. Sure, he had to deal with Georgia's brutal defense in the Tigers' Week 1 loss and he showed his ability as a dual quarterback in a blowout win over South Carolina State, but there are some wondering if Uiagalelei is more Trevor Lawrence or more Kelly Bryant. He gets a good opportunity to show his stuff as Clemson hosts Georgia Tech in their ACC opener on Saturday. A big showing could put more confidence in this team and their quarterback. 

 
15 of 15

Bryce Young, Alabama

Bryce Young, Alabama
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

After his sparkling performance against Miami in the Tide's opener, Young has become the Heisman frontrunner and his team the clear favorite to win another national championship. That is a lot of praise thrown on top of a guy that will be making his third start on Saturday. That start is in the Swamp against a very good Florida team that has also been balling this season. If Young can put together a big showing against a Dan Mullen defense, this season may just turn into the Young coronation. 

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