Following an opening weekend where a couple of freshmen stole the show, even more showed up to make their name known during Week 2. However, some of the usual suspects returned to make major statements of their own.
Here are the top performances from this past weekend:
Offense: Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin)
Statistics: 33 carries, 253 yards, 3 touchdowns
Once again, there were several options here. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was phenomenal. Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant came through in the clutch to earn a tough road win. It’s just hard to give those signal callers the nod here when one of the nation’s best running backs goes off for a career-high 253 yards with three scores. Taylor ran around and through New Mexico to post his best collegiate game to date and it appears he’s set for a monster 2018 campaign.
Defense: Deandre Baker (Georgia)
Statistics: 6 tackles, 2 pass break ups, 1 interception
For all of the smack talk South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel had leading up to this Top 25 clash, none of it was backed up. None of it. Baker made it impossible for Samuel to make an impact. In fact, Baker’s 54-yard interception return was more yards than Samuel had all game (6 catches, 33 yards). The Bulldogs looked scary good blasting the Gamecocks 41-17 on the road and Baker was a big part of that.
Special Teams: Terrence Horne (South Florida)
Statistics: 5 returns, 264 yards, 2 touchdowns
All it took was two touches in a matter of minutes on Saturday for another freshman to make history. At 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, Horne showed he has game-changing speed when he housed back-to-back kickoffs. The first one, a 97-yard score, was impressive, but then he topped it with a 98-yard touchdown return on the very next kickoff for the Bulls. Look out, college football. This kid has some wheels.
Freshman: Merlin Robertson (Arizona State)
Statistics: 9 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup
In perhaps the most shocking result over the weekend, when Arizona State upset Michigan State 16-13, the Sun Devils freshman linebacker was all over the field. Posting those kind of numbers and making some massive plays down the stretch has to make head coach Herm Edwards excited for Robertson’s future in Tempe, Arizona.