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Small-School College Stars of Week 10

Week 10 of the 2020 College Football season saw the remaining two FBS conferences, the MAC and the Pac-12, suit up for the first time this season. With another Group of 5 conference playing comes more performances that may fly under the radar. MACtion was back and brought more excitement from the lesser-known teams in college football. Here are five performances from small-school colleges in Week 10 that should garner more attention:

Ronnie Rivers, RB, Fresno State

Stats vs. UNLV: 19 rushes for 133 yards, 7.0 yards per carry, 3 TDs, 6 receptions for 99 yards, 1 TD

After struggling in its opening game of the season, the Fresno State Bulldogs have been on a mission the last two weeks. Much of this can be attributed to a willingness to use 5-9, 195-pound senior running back Ronnie Rivers in a plethora of ways to catch opposing defenses off guard whenever he gets the ball. In a high-flying 40-27 win over UNLV in Week 10, Rivers was an integral part of what the Bulldogs wanted to do on offense. To start things off, Rivers was the leading rusher for the Bulldogs as he compiled 133 yards on 19 rushes for an astounding seven yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns. Rivers was especially good on the outside runs; his speed was too much for UNLV’s edge defenders to stop. Every time it did seem like UNLV was going to blow up one of Rivers’ runs, he was able to use an array of moves to make sure he was still able to get some yardage on the play. UNLV had a really difficult time bringing Rivers down on first contact. Not only was Rivers nearly impossible to bring down in the run game, he was also a huge playmaker in the Bulldogs’ passing game. Outside of leading Fresno State in rushing, Rivers was also the leading receiver for Fresno State with six receptions for 99 yards and another score. What made Rivers so impressive in the passing game was that he was able to tightrope the sideline really well in order to gain extra yardage and even get into the end zone when it appeared UNLV had stopped him. If Rivers continues to be a focal point for Fresno State on offense, there could be a bright future for the senior.

Jacoby Windmon, LB, UNLV

Stats vs. Fresno State: 9 total tackles, 5 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 PDs

Even though UNLV allowed 40 points in the loss to Fresno State Bulldogs, the Rebels did have a couple of standout players who forced Fresno State to rely a little more on the running game in this game. One of these players was 6-2, 215-pound sophomore linebacker Jacoby Windmon. With former UNLV star linebacker Javin White playing for the Las Vegas Raiders, somebody had to step up for a young defense that had been torched in its first two outings. Despite the outcome not being the most friendly for UNLV’s defense, Windmon did make a lot of plays that should be encouraging for the Rebels moving forward. Against Fresno State, Windmon was able to compile nine total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss along with two PDs. The fact that UNLV was able to get home when Fresno State was dropping back to pass–the Rebels had four sacks on the day–ensured that Fresno State could not have as much success as it wanted to in the passing game, hence why a running back was their leading receiver. It seemed like Windmon was involved in every play the Bulldogs were running.

Blake Proehl, WR, East Carolina

Stats vs. Tulane: 13 receptions for 182 yards, 14.0 YPC, 2 TDs, long of 75 yards

Although East Carolina has not found much success this season on either side of the ball, there were certainly some encouraging signs for the passing game in the Pirates’ 38-21 loss to Tulane. One of these encouraging signs came in the form of the connection between QB Holton Ahlers and 6-1, 186-pound junior wide receiver Blake Proehl. Despite the fact that Proehl had yet to surpass the 100-yard mark in a single game this season, he was still an important part of the passing game as ECU tries to stay competitive in the AAC. Not only did Proehl have a game for the ages, but he also proved that he could be a focal point of the passing game moving forward, as he totaled 13 receptions for 182 yards and two touchdowns against Tulane in Week 10. Proehl was the consistent option for Ahlers early and often, as ECU attempted to answer Tulane punch for punch. Proehl’s two touchdown catches could not have been better defended by the Tulane defensive backs. On Proehl’s first TD, it took a perfect throw from Ahlers and an even better job from Proehl to keep his feet in bounds to make a leaping grab for the touchdown right on the side of the end zone. On his second touchdown, Proehl was able to get just enough separation from the defender and utilized a great stiff arm to run for a 75-yard touchdown. This was a play in which Proehl should have been stopped for just a chunk of yardage, but the stiff arm allowed Proehl to get past the last defender standing between him and the end zone.

Isaiah King, CB, Buffalo

Stats vs. Northern Illinois: 6 total tackles, 5 total tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 TD

To say the 49-30 win by the Buffalo Bulls over the Northern Illinois Huskies was very sloppy would be a major understatement. Buffalo had not one, not two, but three defensive scores in this Week 10 MACtion battle. They forced seven turnovers. A huge part of Buffalo being able to take advantage of these turnovers was the play of 5-10, 190-pound cornerback Isaiah King. The junior corner appeared to be in the right place at the right time on numerous occasions as he was able to recover two of the six fumbles the Bulls’ defense forced. With Buffalo leading 20-16 about halfway through the third quarter, it appeared the Huskies were going to take their first lead of the game before the Bulls scored defensive touchdowns on consecutive defensive possessions, the second of which was scored by King. On this play, King scooped up a fumble and returned it for a score. Besides this scoop-and-score, King was able to play stellar coverage and was a big part of why former Cal QB Ross Bowers had to hold onto the ball a lot longer than he wanted.

Brady White, QB, Memphis

Stats vs. South Florida: 30/50 passing for 437 yards, 8.7 YPA, 4 TDs, 67.8 QBR, 5 rushes for 14 yards

Coming into this season, it was unclear if Memphis was going to replicate its success from last season after head coach Mike Norvell left for Florida State. Despite having two tough losses on the year, Memphis still looks like one of the tougher teams in the AAC. This is due to the play of 6-3, 210-pound quarterback Brady White. Although White is without some of his key weapons from last year’s Cotton Bowl run, he is proving that he is one of the better quarterbacks the AAC has to offer. This was especially the case in Memphis’ 34-33 win over South Florida in Week 10 that saw White pass for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns against 1 interception. White’s struggles from last week’s loss to Cincinnati continued through the first quarter of this game, as his throws were all over the place and his lone interception was undercut by the corner and taken back to the end zone for six. However, a huge touchdown pass to wideout Calvin Austin got the show started, and it would not end there. White and the Tigers were able to overcome a double-digit deficit in order to squeak out a win thanks to White’s pocket awareness and his ability to make big-time throws. He was able to maneuver around the pocket when his protection broke down and make touchdown throws on the run. Without White’s heroics, this game certainly could have gotten out of hand and allowed South Florida to get only its second win of the season. The most impressive of White’s throws may have been his game-winning touchdown pass, in which he was able to throw a great fade right as he was getting tackled by a USF defensive lineman.

Sources: ESPN, YouTube

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