College football Week 7: 15 players to watch
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

College football Week 7: 15 players to watch

Coming into the season, people were vocally growing tired of the same old teams always making it into the playoffs and it would be refreshing to see some new blood get a chance. There was even a quick groundswell of support for a 12-team playoff proposal that most felt would eventually be a solution.

We now enter Week 7 of the season with Georgia, Iowa, Cincinnati and Oklahoma are the top four ranked teams in the AP poll. Meanwhile, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Kentucky are in the top 11.

So enjoy some of those new teams to watch on Saturday, which means new players to check out. Here are 15 to watch this weekend. 

 
1 of 15

Calvin Austin, Memphis

Calvin Austin, Memphis
Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Austin leads the nation in receiving yards (837) and is coming off a sensational string of games. He's caught for at least 100 yards in the last five games which began with 239 yards and 3 TDs against Arkansas State and remains after his 200-yard and a TD against Tulsa last week. A speedster who also runs track at Memphis, Austin has the ability to make a big play at any point in a game. At 5'9, he's a smallish receiver who works well in space and has world-class breakaway speed. Austin and Memphis get a national audience on Thursday against Navy. 

 
2 of 15

Greg Bell, San Diego State

Greg Bell, San Diego State
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 24 Aztecs love to run the football and while they'll use a variety of different backs, Bell is the clear workhorse. He has 94 carries already and 520 rushing yards -- both second-most in the Mountain West. It is great to see someone who has dealt with injury woes finally be healthy enough to show his talents. Before the 2019 season, a resistance band snapped and hit him in the eye, ending his season. Last year, he had a similar brilliant start to the season before breaking his foot in the Aztecs' fifth game of the season, again ending his season. The San Diego area native has persevered through his recoveries and it is paying off. The Aztecs travel up to San Jose State for a Friday night battle. 

 
3 of 15

Zach Calzada, Texas A&M

Zach Calzada, Texas A&M
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

One week ago, Texas A&M was over. A team that had high expectations were wallowing in the muck after losing quarterback Haynes King at the beginning of the season and suffered consecutive losses heading into their game with top-ranked Alabama. Replacement quarterback Calzada didn't really inspire confidence after tossing for 286 yards and one touchdown combined in those two losses. Surely he'd have no shot against mighty Alabama ... right? Calzada came alive, throwing for 285 yards and 3 TDs, and marched the Aggies on the game-tying and game-winning drives in the final five minutes. A quarterback who was booed against Mississippi State was a hero one week later after defeating the defending national champs. A&M heads to Missouri on Saturday. 

 
4 of 15

Jordan Davis, Georgia

Jordan Davis, Georgia
Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

If you've watched the Bulldogs at all this year, I'm sure you've been memorized by their suffocating defense. In six games, they've given up just 33 points and have shut out two opponents. Davis is a monster on that defensive front, and you can't miss his 6'6, 340-pound frame in the middle of that line. He disrupts everything and will be a factor on Sundays likely next season. For now, he's going up against a surging Kentucky on Saturday.  

 
5 of 15

Travis Dye, Oregon

Travis Dye, Oregon
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The last time we saw the Ducks, they were snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in a shocking loss to Stanford two weeks ago. In that game, running back Travis Dye was everywhere. He had his most carries on the season (19) and his 96 yards marked his third straight game with at least 87 yards -- which is notable since he shares running duties with CJ Verdell. Against Arizona, he gained 92 yards on just 5 carries. In the Stanford game, he also was a factor in the passing game, hauling in 4 catches for 39 yards. As Oregon looks to get back into the playoff picture this week against Cal, look for Dye to continue to be a bigger part of this offense. 

 
6 of 15

KJ Jefferson, Arkansas

KJ Jefferson, Arkansas
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas may have lost two straight (albeit to Georgia and Ole Miss), but Jefferson has couldn't have been any different in those two losses. Against the Bulldogs, he was only responsible for 70 total yards before missing the second half with a knee injury. He came back last week against the Rebels and actually out-dueled Matt Corrall on the stat sheet but would lose a wild 52-51 shootout. Jefferson threw for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for 85 yards and 3 more scores in the loss. The Hogs host Auburn this Saturday in yet another tough battle for Jefferson ... who is used to this kind of college life. In the five games he played in last season, three were against teams ranked in the top six. 

 
7 of 15

Will Levis, Kentucky

Will Levis, Kentucky
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Levis had a breakout game against LSU last week. He completed 14 of his 17 passes last week for 145 and 3 TDs ... plus 75 rushing yards and 2 more touchdowns. A year ago, Levis was backing up Sean Clifford at Penn State ... and ironically would've been in action for the Nittany Lions last week once Clifford was injured against Iowa. Instead, he's in Lexington leading Kentucky to their best start in seven decades.

Oh, all he has to deal with on Saturday is No. 1 Georgia and that suffocating defense. 

 
8 of 15

Spencer Petras, Iowa

Spencer Petras, Iowa
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa's success has been mostly due to their opportunistic defense, but it is time to give quarterback Spencer Petras some love. Petras may not be the gunslinger that leads the highlight clips, but he controls the game and doesn't make the mistakes that QBs do against his Hawkeyes' defense. He's completed over 60% of his passes for 1,138 yards and 9 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions and has Iowa ranked 2nd in the nation in the latest AP poll. That comes after a huge comeback win over Penn State where Petras calmly led his Hawkeyes on a 20-3 run to end the game. 

 
9 of 15

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ridder may not have the gaudiest stats ... though they are darn good ... but you'll be hard-pressed to find another quarterback in the country that has such control of his team. Ridder is the heart and soul of the third-ranked Bearcats. Last year's AAC Player of the Year has his team right in the thick of the national championship hunt ... the thick of it. After winning at Indiana and Notre Dame, Ridder made sure the Bearcats didn't lose focus and just destroyed Temple, 52-3. Up next is a nationally televised game against UCF. 

 
10 of 15

Casey Thompson, Texas

Casey Thompson, Texas
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, the Longhorns suffered a heartbreaking loss to rival Oklahoma, but quarterback Casey Thompson had himself a game. In his first Red River Rivalry start, Thompson threw for 388 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions ... yet still wasn't the biggest quarterback story of the game. A few weeks back, he threw for 303 yards and 5 TDs against Texas Tech as the Horns put up 70 points, so Thompson has shown an ability to have big games. He'll need to have one this week against Oklahoma State. 

 
11 of 15

Sean Tucker, Syracuse

Sean Tucker, Syracuse
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson at Syracuse is one of the more interesting games that may not capture much attention. Clemson's defense is superb and will need to be against Syracuse's Sean Tucker. Tucker has been outstanding this season, leading the ACC in rushing yards (791) and trails only Louisville's Malik Cunningham in rushing touchdowns. He piled up 153 yards and 2 TDs (he also caught a touchdown pass) against Wake Forest last week and has hit the century mark in his last four games. Last year, he gained 63 yards and scored at Clemson. 

 
12 of 15

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Walker leads the nation in rushing ... by a healthy margin. The Spartans running back ran for 232 yards and a touchdown against Rutgers last week. He put up 126 yards and 3 TDs against Western Kentucky the game before that. Earlier this year, he ran for 172 yards in a dominant performance against Miami. In the season opener against Northwestern, all he did was run for 264 yards and 4 TDs. Up next: Indiana. 

 
13 of 15

Jaylen Warren, Oklahoma State

Jaylen Warren, Oklahoma State
Sarah Phipps-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State's surge has coincided with Warren's. The senior from Salt Lake has had a tremendous three-game stretch where he's rushed for 218 yards and 2 TDs against Boise State, 123 yards against Kansas State, and 125 yards and 2 TDs against Baylor. In that three-week span, the Cowboys have gone from unranked to No. 12 in the latest poll. Oklahoma State travels to Texas to face the Longhorns on Saturday.  

 
14 of 15

Malik Willis, Liberty

Malik Willis, Liberty
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell having unexpectedly down seasons, their NFL Draft stocked has dropped and neither is looked at as a can't-miss QB. Draft scouts are warming to Liberty's Malik Willis, a transfer from Auburn, as a guy who could be the first signal-caller off the board. Willis got on many people's radar last season when he threw for 2,260 yards, 20 TDs, and 6 picks ... while rushing for 944 yards and 14 TDs ... in Liberty's 9-1 regular season. His stat lines don't blow you away this year (1,327 yds passing, 13 TDs, 3 interceptions) but he has the arm and awareness to make it at the next level, and with the NFL embracing more dual-threat quarterbacks, he'll be a guy to watch. Watch him take on UL Monroe on Saturday. 

 
15 of 15

Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Western Kentucky isn't very good ... well, to put it bluntly, Western Kentucky's defense isn't very good. The 1-4 Hilltoppers do have one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the country. Bailey Zappe has been putting up video game numbers this year: 447 yards passing per game and 21 total touchdowns in five games. He's thrown 243 passing attempts this year and is completing over 70% of those passes. Zappe will face an Old Dominion defense that has given up a lot of points this season themselves. 

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