While this week’s slate of college football games might have lacked marquee matchups, it offered a plethora of jaw-dropping performances.
We saw all kinds of playmakers and stunning stat lines across the nation. From freshmen breakouts to top stars coming through in cupcake matchups, with a few surprises mixed in.
This week had everything college football fans could ask for in terms of player production. Let’s take a look at the 15 most jaw-dropping performances in Week 2 of college football.
Jonathan Taylor, running back, Wisconsin Badgers
The Wisconsin Badgers wanted to feed Taylor against New Mexico State’s porous run defense, and they accomplished that. The Heisman Trophy contender immediately went to work against the Aggies’ defense and finished the day in style.
Taylor erupted for 253 rushing yards and three touchdowns on Saturday in a workhorse role for Wisconsin. The Badgers repeatedly fed the sophomore running back with 33 carries. Even when New Mexico State knew what was coming, they couldn’t stop it.
Wisconsin’s schedule has been light, but Taylor has certainly taken advantage of it. After racking up 398 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his first two games, Taylor should deliver another Heisman-worthy performance next Saturday against the BYU Cougars.
D’Eriq King, quarterback, Houston Cougars
In a game that many expected Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate and Houston’s defensive tackle Ed Oliver to shine, King was the player who stole the spotlight.
King immediately led Houston’s offense to points with a touchdown pass, then punched it in himself from the one-yard line on the team’s next possession. Even with some ugly drops by his wide receivers, he gave the Cougars a 31-0 lead before the half.
When Arizona attempted a comeback, King came back with daggers to put them away one last time. He finished the game with six total touchdowns, four in the air and two on the ground, carrying the Cougars to a 2-0 record to start the year.
Kylin Hill, running back, Mississippi State Bulldogs
After Keytaon Thompson stole the show in Nick Fitzgerald’s absence in the opener, Hill outshined Fitzgerald’s return to the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Facing the Kansas State Wildcats, the sophomore running back seemed to rip off one big run after another. On just 17 carries, Hill torched Kansas State’s defense for 211 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
He also hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass, marking the second consecutive week he ran and caught a touchdown. Keep an eye on Hill going forward because the sophomore’s breakout season might just be starting.
Terrence Horne, wide receiver, South Florida Bulls
Most players on these lists gain recognition for their jaw-dropping achievements on offense or defense. Horne showed on Saturday the value of special teams when you have an electrifying return man.
Horne became the newest freshmen playmaker in the 2018 season with two kickoff return touchdowns in the first quarter against Georgie Tech. He returned five kickoffs for a whopping 264 yards, but he wasn’t quite done. Horne also hauled in the first receiving touchdown of his collegiate career. South Florida’s future opponents will have to be extremely careful kicking to Horne in the coming years.
Justin Herbert, quarterback, Oregon Ducks
After throwing for five touchdowns and running for a score in his 2018 opener, Herbert did his best to match the performance on Saturday. He likely would have matched it, too, if not for being pulled in a blowout.
Herbert saw the field in Oregon’s first eight offensive possessions of the game. While he didn’t make an impact running the football this week, he turned in an extremely efficient performance as a passer. The junior completed 20-of-26 attempts for 250 yards and four touchdowns in less than three quarters.
Herbert has already racked up nine passing touchdowns in two games after he finished 2017 with 15 touchdown passes in eight games. A candidate to be the top quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft, Herbert is proving himself early this season.
Greg Dortch, wide receiver, Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Many college football fans might not have been very familiar with Dortch coming into the season. While he caught nine touchdown passes as a freshman and starred in a hilarious skit, he flew under the radar nationally entering 2018.
That shouldn’t be a problem after the sophomore’s incredible performance against the Towson Tigers. He certainly delivered in the box score with 94 receiving yards and a touchdown, but it was the highlight plays that stand out.
From his one-handed touchdown catch to two electrifying punt return touchdowns, one of which belongs on every highlight reel this week, Dortch showed everything on Saturday. While he may play for a smaller program, the sophomore is loaded with talent and is poised for a monster season.
Darrell Henderson, running back, Memphis Tigers
While his team fell just short against Navy, Henderson did everything physically possible to carry his team to victory. In fact, Memphis’ biggest mistake may have been not feeding him more.
Henderson only needed 13 carries to run all over the Midshipmen. He finished the game with 212 rushing yards, including 78-yard and 59-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter to give Memphis a 21-9 lead.
Ultimately, Navy dominated the fourth quarter and kept the ball away from an offense carried by Henderson. On the Tigers’ final drive, Henderson racked up 39 total yards to put the Tigers in Navy’s territory. Unfortunately, Memphis turned to the passing game and never touched the ball again after it punted. While it ended in a loss, Henderson’s 230 total yards and three touchdowns on 14 touches is a phenomenal performance.
Tate Martell, quarterback, Ohio State Buckeyes
This isn’t your typical jaw-dropping performance. In fact, Martell finished behind starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins in passing yards and touchdowns, but the freshman’s jaw-dropping numbers on very limited opportunities are sensational.
Martell completed all 11 of his pass attempts for 121 yards and his first collegiate touchdown pass. He also showed plenty of dual-threat ability by leading Ohio State in rushing yards (95) on just eight carries.
Two touchdowns, 11.87 yards per carry and 11 yards per pass attempt, Martell is providing just a glimpse of what he can do in the future.
Kyler Murray, quarterback, Oklahoma Sooners
While Saturday’s matchup versus the UCLA Bruins was a very winnable game for the Sooners, the pressure mounted on Murray after star running back Rodney Anderson exited with a knee injury.
Murray overcame the pressure and delivered with a five-touchdown performance against the Bruins. The junior displayed plenty of touch and zip with the deep ball, repeatedly ripping UCLA’s secondary to shreds with 306 passing yards.
Murray found three different receivers for scores and threw darts to repeatedly move Oklahoma’s offense into the red zone. Once there, he showed his exceptional athleticism with two rushing touchdowns on the day. If Anderson is out for an extended period of time, Murray has proven he is ready to carry this offense.
A.J. Brown, wide receiver, Ole Miss Rebels
Brown’s 2018 season started nicely with 93 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech. He made that performance look like a pedestrian stat line thanks to his numbers on Saturday.
Southern Illinois had no shot at stopping Brown this weekend. On eight receptions, Brown racked up 158 receiving yards and found the end zone twice. He made one big play after another with 19.8 yards per catch and two 35-plus yard touchdowns.
Brown has the chance to establish himself as one of the best receivers in the 2019 draft class, and performances like this will certainly help. Next week’s matchup against Alabama’s defense will be a huge test for the junior receiver.
Nate Landman, linebacker, Colorado Buffaloes
Fans in Colorado were already excited about Landman after his 2018 debut. In a win over rival Colorado State, the sophomore linebacker delivered with 16 total tackles, one pass deflection and an interception.
A performance like that seemed difficult to match, but that’s exactly what Landman did. In a battle to the final whistle against Nebraska, he racked up 13 total tackles with two tackles for loss and his second interception of the season.
There were plenty of critical plays and important moments in Saturday’s important win, but Colorado isn’t in position to win if it isn’t for Landman’s dominance defensively. He is well on his way to being a serious candidate for the Dick Butkus Award this season.
Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback, Ole Miss Rebels
It’s not often that two players from the same team make this list, but Ta’amu lit up Southern Illinois on Sunday. Frankly, he could have done even more if the Rebels’ defense didn’t put the game away in the fourth quarter.
The senior quarterback didn’t rely entirely on Brown in the shootout either. Ta’amu completed 15 passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns to targets besides Brown in this game.
Ta’amu kept this offense going throughout the game and finished the contest with 448 passing yards and five touchdowns. He is simply loving life as a quarterback with Brown, Braylon Sanders and D.K. Metcalf all capable of monster games.
Jermar Jefferson, running back, Oregon State Beavers
There is nothing better in college football than when a freshman has a breakout game. We saw plenty of it last week and Jefferson delivered another jaw-dropping performance.
Oregon State saw its matchup against Southern Utah as a chance for Jefferson to see his first significant action. The Beavers fed the freshman running back quite often with 22 carries. Jefferson rewarded Oregon State with 238 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
After this performance, Oregon State would be wise to keep Jefferson involved in its offense. The freshman showed plenty of big-play ability and a nose for the end zone on Saturday.
Corey Dauphine, running back, Tulane Green Wave
Sometimes it only takes a few touches to make a lasting impression. Dauphine proved that this week against Nicholls.
While he only received six carries, the junior delivered. Dauphine took off for his first touchdown in the first quarter with a 38-yard score. He then opened the second quarter with a 69-yard touchdown run to our the Green Wave up 14-3. When Tulane needed him to put the game away, he delivered with a 35-yard dagger to give his team a three-score lead in the third quarter.
After entering the day with 54 rushing yards on six carries in two collegiate seasons, Dauphine made sure his next six carries were far more explosive. Hopefully, there is more to come from this exciting junior.
Drew Lock, quarterback, Missouri Tigers
Lock certainly wasn’t talked about as a dual-threat quarterback before the season, but perhaps this will change after Saturday’s performance.
The senior rushed for 51 yards on five carries and accounted for Missouri’s only rushing touchdown of the day. In between some nice runs, Lock operated with master precision finding each hole in Wyoming’s defense and attack it with ease.
He finished the night with 398 passing yards and five total touchdowns with a 73.3 completion percentage on 45 attempts. Now Lock can prepare for an excellent opportunity to torch Purdue’s defense next week.