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Command Performances

Week 5 CFB Breakout Performers

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: October 5, 2020, 10:10 am ET

Week 4 Breakout Performers

Zach Wilson - BYU

You'd be forgiven if you missed Friday night's game between BYU and Louisiana Tech; a game that starts at 9 pm eastern is basically a news dump. Those who did watch were treated to an impressive performance by the Cougars, and in particular, Wilson.

Wilson completed 24-of-26 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns, and he added three rushing scores and 43 yards on the ground in a 45-14 blowout of the Bulldogs. The Cougars have been one of the most dominant teams in college football so far, outscoring their opponents 148-14 so far while improving to 3-0. They haven't exactly played the upper-echelon in college football so far with wins over Navy, Troy and Louisiana Tech, but it doesn't change the fact that they've impressed. Wilson has been borderline dominant so far, completing 60-of-72 passes -- good for 83.3 percent -- and throwing six touchdowns with just one interception.

We've seen flashes of brilliance from Wilson the previous two years, but in his junior year, he appears to be turning a corner. It wouldn't be a surprise at all if BYU finished the year undefeated; at least in part due to the poor schedule, but also because the Cougars can play.

Shane Buechele - SMU

It was not a surprise to see the Mustangs and Tigers combine for 57 points -- if anything, we might have expected a higher-scoring affair -- but it was a little surprise that SMU was able to come up with a 30-27 win over Memphis to improve Southern Methodist to a 4-0 record. And, once again, Buechele deserves much of the credit.

In the close victory, Buechele completed 32-of-45 passes for 474 yards, and he added three touchdowns for good measure. Much of that yardage went to star wideout Reggie Roberson who went for 243 on just five catches, but the former Texas signal-caller spread the football around to seven different receivers in the victory. This is the third time in four games he's gone over 300 yards and he's completed over 70 percent of his passes in those contests, as well. The only one he didn't was the 50-7 win over SFA where he was pulled early.

Buechele and the Mustangs have not had any let down from their strong 2019 campaign, and look like real contenders in the AAC this year.

J.D. King - Georgia Southern

King has had to share backfields throughout his career, and it's one of the reasons -- or we have to assume it is, anyway -- that he decided to transfer from Oklahoma State to Georgia Southern after his sophomore season. He's still sharing the backfield with Wesley Kennedy, but in the Eagles' run-heavy attack, he's still been able to put up big numbers.

Big numbers is an understatement for King on Saturday against ULM in their 35-30 victory. King ran for 196 yards and a touchdown, and he did it on 21 carries. That makes back-to-back games that the tailback has gone over 100 yards, and he's scored in all three games so far for the 2-1 GSU program. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound tailback is able to make tacklers miss with size along with speed, and he, Wesley Kennedy and Shai Wertz give the Eagles one of the most potent rushing attacks in the Group of 5, if not the country. 

Again, King will cede some carries to Kennedy -- who scored twice in the win over the Warhawks, for the record -- but he has the talent to put up big numbers for the remainder of the 2020 campaign. 

Khalil Herbert - Virginia Tech

And speaking of running backs who have had to share time. Herbert was one of the players who showed any kind of offensive competence at Kansas, but with Pooka Williams the bellcow in Lawrence and the Jayhawks going nowhere, Herbert took his talents from the Big 12 to the ACC and the Hokies. 

And the Hokies should be grateful, especially on Saturday. Herbert ran for 208 yards on 20 carries and scored twice while leading Virginia Tech to a 38-31 victory over Duke. The tailback scored from 23 yards out near the beginning of the fourth quarter, and he put the game away with a 60-yard scamper with 2:20 left in the game. 

While you shouldn't expect 200-yard games from Herbert -- or really anyone -- this doesn't come out of nowhere. While it was on only 43 carries last year, he averaged 8.9 yards an attempt last year, and he ran for 663 and 499 yards the previous two seasons, respectively. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound tailback can run through tacklers, and while he doesn't have the speed of a Pooka, he's by no means slow.

Raheem Blackshear is going to get his share of touches, but Herbert has already run for 312 yards on 26 carries, and it shouldn't shock anyone if he ended the year as one of the top tailbacks in the ACC. 

John Metchie - Alabama

Alabama lost two of the very best wideouts in the country in Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy -- not necessarily in that order, before you yell at me -- and most teams would have a tough time replacing that production. Most teams aren't Alabama, however, and in addition to a pair of potential high draft picks in DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, we got a glimpse into the future from Metchie on Saturday.

In a 52-24 drubbing of Texas A&M, Metchie caught five passes for 183 yards, and he scored twice. The 6-foot, 200-pound wideout simply ran past the Aggies' defense on two touchdowns; one from 78-yards out and another from 63. There could have been another long touchdown if Mac Jones didn't underthrow Jones, but it still resulted in a long catch. A four-star recruit in 2019, Metchie played sparingly in his freshman season, but already has seven catches on the young year, and the Crimson Tide were clearly looking to get him the ball early and often in the blowout.

This is still more likely a 2021 play after Smith and Waddle leave, but anyone who watched Metchie play on Saturday has to believe there's a very bright future ahead. We sure did, anyway. 

Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports Edge. Follow him on Twitter @Crawford_MILB.