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Small-School College Stars of Week 14

Week 14 of the 2020 college football season was marked by a fantastic matchup between the Cougars of BYU and Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina, resulting in a finish much like Super Bowl XXXIV between the Titans and Rams. While this game may have been one of the best games of the 2020 season, there were still many performances that flew under the radar in the national spotlight. Here are the five players we have chosen to highlight this week:

Corey Rucker, WR, Arkansas State

Stats vs. UL-Monroe: 9 REC, 310 YDS, 34.4 YPC, 4 TDs, long of 69 YDS

The last time a wide receiver had 300 receiving yards and four touchdowns at the FBS level was in 2016, courtesy of Louisiana Tech wideout Carlos Henderson. Freshman Corey Rucker completed this feat by recording 310 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns against the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe. In fact, Rucker’s receiving yards were the most ever in a single game by a freshman in FBS history. In a 48-15 dominant win by the Red Wolves, the 6-2, 190-pound freshman receiver averaged an astounding 34.4 yards per catch as the Warhawk defensive backs had no answer for Rucker. Moreover, Rucker was able to get behind UL Monroe’s defensive backs on multiple occasions, leading to all three of Rucker’s touchdowns being for 30 yards or more. Rucker’s most impressive feat of the day was his second touchdown, where he was able to take a simple out route to the house after breaking two tackles and having to stretch for the pylon. What should have been a 15-yard catch became a 66-yard touchdown because of Rucker’s run after the catch ability. With Arkansas State not having its two best receivers, Rucker stepped up in a huge way. This was certainly a day that may not be replicated for quite some time by any receiver.

Drew Plitt, QB, Ball State

Stats vs. Central Michigan: 26/43 passing, 366 YDS, 8.5 YPA, 4 TDS (1 INT), 14 CAR, 29 YDS, 1 TD

Ball State has been better known for its running game in 2020, but 6-2, 217-pound quarterback Drew Plitt proved in a 45-20 win over Central Michigan that he is still capable of slinging the ball around. Central Michigan had no answers for Ball State’s passing game as Plitt completed 26 of his 43 attempts for 366 yards and 4 touchdowns against only 1 interception. Plitt even showed some running ability, as he rushed for 29 yards and another score. The senior QB from Loveland, Ohio, was able to get the ball out quickly to keep the Chippewa defenders on their toes, and Plitt’s ability to run the ball threw Central Michigan’s defense off. The play-action pass was very effective in this game. Even when the Cardinal receivers weren’t getting open, Plitt was able to give his receivers more time by doing an excellent job of maneuvering in the pocket and feeling the pressure from Central Michigan. Many of Ball State’s chunk plays on offense came when Plitt was able to evade edge defenders and make good throws on the run. Ball State is having one of its better years in 2020, and Plitt’s dual-threat abilities should have Cardinal fans excited about what this team can accomplish down the stretch.

Treshawn Chamberlain, LB, Rice

Stats vs. Marshall: 8 total tackles, 1 solo tackle, .5 sacks, .5 tackles for loss, 1 INT

Only two games this season marked a bigger upset than Rice’s 20-0 dominant win over the then No. 21-ranked Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall QB Grant Wells was having a great year up until this game, but he threw multiple interceptions for only the second time in his young career. Rice was able to pick off Wells not once, but on five different occasions due to the amount of pressure they were sending at him that forced errant passes. One of the players that stood out on the Owls’ defense against Marshall was junior linebacker Treshawn Chamberlain. The 5-10, 198-pound linebacker showed a tremendous ability to make plays all over the field that ranged from sacking Wells to dropping back into coverage to intercept one of his passes. In fact, Chamberlain’s interception showcased his ability to track the ball. Wells only had four interceptions on the season coming into this matchup, and he more than doubled that against the Owls. Moreover, Chamberlain was able to get into the backfield in this one as he recorded .5 sacks and .5 tackles for loss. Marshall was held scoreless for the first time all season, and Chamberlain was a huge reason for this.

Teon Dollard, RB, Akron

Stats vs. Bowling Green: 26 CAR, 185 YDS, 7.1 YPC, 2 TDs, long of 50 YDS

The Akron Zips had not won a game since October 27 of 2018 until last week, when Akron took down Bowling Green by a score of 31-3. The bulk of Akron’s offense went through 5-11, 205-pound junior running back Teon Dollard as he rumbled through the Falcons defense to the tune of 185 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries. BGSU was practically unable to take down Dollard as he broke tackles left and right in order to create more yardage after contact. Dollard showed a tremendous ability to stay on his feet even when Bowling Green’s defenders were trying to tackle him around his legs. The junior’s first touchdown run was particularly impressive, as he was able to bowl through multiple Bowling Green defenders on his way to the end zone. On his second TD run of the day, Dollard had the vision to find a wide open hole and burst through for one of the easiest touchdowns this season. Dollard has been the workhorse for Akron, and that certainly helped Akron get its first win of the year. If Akron wants to continue to have success on offense in 2020, the Zips should look no further than giving the ball early and often to Dollard for the remainder of this year.

Derick Bush, CB, Coastal Carolina

Stats vs. BYU: 5 total tackles, 3 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 INT

It was hard to highlight any one player on Coastal Carolina’s defense that prevented star BYU QB Zach Wilson from boosting the Cougars’ college football playoff hopes; however, one player that was integral in making Wilson uncomfortable was 6-1, 190-pound junior cornerback Derick Bush. Bush had the lone interception of the game against BYU in the Chanticleers’ stunning 22-17 victory. On a Hail Mary attempt, Bush made sure none of the Cougars in the area could get to the ball and made a great play to prevent a game-changing event right before halftime. Bush was also a key part in defensive coordinator Chad Staggs’ game plan to create pressure on Wilson, as he was able to get in for a sack that forced BYU into a third-and-long late in the third quarter. BYU’s receivers had a tough time against the Chanticleers, as Coastal Carolina’s corners were extremely physical with players like Dax Milne and Gunner Romney in order to force some uncharacteristic drops. Bush was part of the reason for BYU’s offense being unable to gain a lot of traction through the air, which has not been something opponents had been able to do against the Cougars prior to this point.

Sources: ESPN, ESPN Stats & Info, YouTube