I will confess to being a bit annoyed with the Rakes of Mallow over their latest BlogPoll ballot draft, which omits Georgia from the top 25 entirely and takes no fewer than three shots at the 'Dawgs . . . all because the sportswriters' and coaches' polls rank the Red and Black ahead of the Fighting Irish.
You'd think Notre Dame fans would be a little more grateful to Georgia, in light of the fact that the only reason Darius Walker is in South Bend is that Mark Richt didn't offer him a scholarship, but, since the Rakes are doing such fine work on the MaxwellPundit front and I wouldn't want to be told to rein in my causeless hating on the Golden Domers again, I am going to let my annoyance go and proceed to offer my choices for the top five performers in college football. These are they:
1. Troy Smith (Ohio State): The Buckeyes have gone on the road to face a pair of quality opponents, Texas and Iowa . . . and Ohio State dominated them both, thanks in significant part to the efforts of O.S.U.'s quarterback. Against the Hawkeyes, Smith connected on 16 of his 25 pass attempts for 186 yards and---most impressively---a 4:0 T.D.-to-interceptions ratio. Over the course of the season, the Buckeye signal-caller's stat line is equally convincing: 128 attempts, 84 completions, 1,070 yards, 12 touchdowns, and a pair of picks. You can't argue with that kind of success against that caliber of competition. Which brings me to . . .
2. James Laurinaitis (Ohio State): As impressive as the Buckeyes have been on offense, we knew all along that they could move the ball and score. What came as a surprise was O.S.U.'s ability to play defense after losing nine starters from last year's unit. Laurinaitis has been the best of a talented bunch, recording 41 tackles, among them 22 solo stops, 3.5 tackles for loss, and a couple of sacks. He also has a pair of forced fumbles and four interceptions to his credit. Troy Smith sells tickets, but James Laurinaitis wins championships.
At this point, in order to save time, the official was already counting it as a catch. (Photograph from Athlon Sports.)
3. Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech): Since I am trying to avoid incurring the wrath of Fighting Irish fans, I also will try to sidestep the further animadversions of the Yellow Jacket faithful, as well. C.J. played a large part in the Golden Tornado's thumping of the Hokies in Blacksburg, snagging six receptions for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For the season, Johnson has 25 grabs covering 426 yards of real estate and culminating in seven scores. He's probably the best receiver in the game, but, if he isn't, the next guy is.
4. Mario Manningham (Michigan): The leading Wolverine's numbers for the season mirror Johnson's quite closely: 21 receptions, 452 yards, seven touchdowns. Against Minnesota in the Metrodome on Saturday, Manningham caught five balls, gained 131 yards, and reached the end zone once.
Although his team was idle this weekend, Adrian Peterson nevertheless took the time to suit up, go over to the stadium, and stand around on the field for three hours. (Photograph from Sports Illustrated.)
5. Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma): It wasn't entirely fair of me to drop the Sooner tailback a spot after an open date, but, hey, out of sight, out of mind. His numbers remain unchanged and 117 carries for 643 yards and seven T.D.s remain impressive, but the intervening efforts of his competitors allowed them to inch up a bit. If Peterson has a good day against Texas, though, he'll rocket back up to the top.
Honorable mention goes to a pair of fullbacks, Rutgers's Brian Leonard and Georgia's Brannan Southerland, because fullbacks don't get nearly as much credit as they deserve, but both had good Saturdays in the midst of good seasons and they are entitled to a little recognition.