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Instant analysis: Tracking CFB's top 10 players in Week 4

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Editor's note: In this space we'll track the top 10 players in college football (based on NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter's rankings) through the fourth weekend of the season. Here you'll find each player's final stats and analysis of their performances from Reuter. The post will be updated throughout the day as games conclude. All times listed are Eastern.

Tracking CFB's top 10 players: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3


1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (at Marshall, Saturday, 8 p.m.)
Last week: No. 6
Week 4 stats: 24-of-44 for 417 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT. 12 carries for 62 yards (5.2 average), 2 TDs.
Reuter's analysis: Jackson's playmaking ability and arm strength are undeniable. Throughout the one-sided win against overmatched Marshall, his pure speed and quickness and smooth running style once again impressed. His strength as a runner was evident on a first-half run, going through a Marshall defensive end to make it to the left pylon. Jackson struggled with consistent accuracy throwing from the pocket and on the run in the first half. Despite having little pressure in his face, he often straight-out missed his receivers, or at least was on a different page as to the routes to be run. Jackson made a couple of bad decisions, as well, including throwing a jump ball into coverage for an interception. In the second half, Jackson's ability to zip the ball into tight spaces was as amazing as his runs. When he kept his feet quiet and unloaded his rocket passes, it became nearly impossible to stop him. His five touchdown passes and two touchdown runs give him an unbelievable 25 in four games this season.

2. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M (vs. Arkansas, Saturday, 9 p.m.)
Last week: No. 1
Week 4 stats: 3 tackles (1 for loss), 1 fumble recovered, 1 QB hurry.
Reuter's analysis: Everyone knows that Garrett is the best player in the country at converting speed to power and winning the edge as a pass rusher. Garrett even lined up inside on a 3rd-and-11, spinning off the center's block to pressure the quarterback (though the pass was complete for a first down.) He also showed toughness in a goal-line situation against Arkansas, standing strong with his teammates in a second-quarter five-play stand, fighting off blocks to get to the ball and holding the line. Scouts also will appreciate his willingness to play through an ankle injury in the second half. Even if he wasn't quite as explosive after the injury, his violent hands and pure hustle allowed him to get to Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen and affect plays down the stretch.

3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (at Auburn, Saturday, 6 p.m.)
Last week: No. 2
Week 4 stats: 16 carries for 101 yards (6.3 average). 2 catches for 4 yards (2.0 average).
Reuter's analysis: Fournette had just 16 carries that covered 101 yards, 35 of which came on a great run where he exploded through a hole and took off down the sideline. He appeared to be once again hampered by the ankle injury that kept him out vs. Jacksonville State a couple weeks ago. Fournette ran as tough as he could Saturday, falling forward and churning through contact, but Auburn's defense managed to keep him under control on the limited opportunities. He left the game briefly late in the fourth quarter after missing a reception, but came back to help on pass protection (on one play he did well, but on another he couldn't get out to stop Carl Lawson from sacking his quarterback). It was a good performance for the star back, but it was not enough for his team to pull off the road win.

4. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (at Georgia Tech, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 3
Week 4 stats: 32-of-48 for 304 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. 12 rushes for 36 yards (3.0 average).
Reuter's analysis: Clemson got the job done against a lesser conference opponent in the Yellow Jackets, partially because of Watson's ability to throw darts on the run (to both sides) and drop dimes on touch fades into the end zone. His receivers also helped him by dropping fewer passes than in previous weeks. Scouts will still have questions about the consistency of Watson's accuracy from the pocket due to some missed throws when he wasn't facing pressure, but this was his best performance so far this year.

5. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (at UCLA, Saturday, 8 p.m.)
Last week: No. 4
Week 4 stats: 26 carries for 138 yards (5.3 average). 2 catches for 13 yards (6.5 average). 1 kickoff return for 14 yards.
Reuter's analysis: It's funny to say that UCLA bottled up McCaffrey pretty well when you see that the Heisman hopeful had 138 rushing yards on 26 carries. But their solid tackling kept his runs limited to 5-8 yards on most occasions, and he wasn't much of a factor as a receiver or returner. McCaffrey squeezed through the creases that his line made for him, using his agility and vision, but he lacked the pure power to run through better tackle attempts. His pass protection was a plus tonight. He showed NFL scouts that he can be on the field every down. While this game won't help him stay with Lamar Jackson in the Heisman conversation, he did enough to help his team win.

6. Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC (at Utah, Friday, 9 p.m.)
Last week: Knocking on the door
Week 4 stats: 7 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery. 1 kickoff return for 100 yards (TD). 1 carry for 11 yards.
Reuter's analysis: It didn't take long for Jackson to make an impact against the Utes. He silenced the crowd with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the game in the first quarter. Soon after, he recovered a fumble on defense. Jackson was beaten on a post route in the second quarter when giving up inside position (possibly thinking he had safety help) but went up high to knock away a jump ball in the end zone later in the same drive to force a field goal. Utah receivers challenged him throughout the game, and Jackson mostly lost the physicality battle at the line and downfield. In fact, he was victimized on the Utes' game-winning TD late in the fourth quarter, though he gestured to an official that he was shoved by the receiver on the play. On offense, Jackson got a carry late in the game that showed off his explosiveness with the ball in his hands.

7. Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan (vs. Penn State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: Knocking on the door
Week 4 stats: 11 tackles (4 for loss), 1 forced fumble, 2 QB hurries. 2 punt returns for 54 yards.
Reuter's analysis: Why teams punt the ball at Peppers is beyond me -- he made Penn State pay for it early on, again showing how hard he runs north-south after muffing the long, line-drive punt. He lost his balance, coming up short of a touchdown, but his teammates converted for him. Peppers had his typical game on defense against the Nittany Lions, taking away inside receivers when not attacking the line of scrimmage. Peppers to have to play the hero and make lots of plays behind the line of scrimmage because the Wolverines' team defense was excellent throughout the game. I think he's fine with that.

8. DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (vs. Duke, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 5
Week 4 stats: 22 of 37 for 381 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. 11 carries for 60 yards (5.5 average), TD.
Reuter's analysis: Kizer started off the contest vs. the Blue Devils showing the passing and running skills that earn approval from NFL general managers. He threw a deep ball into the end zone with perfect arc to allow his man to run underneath it for the score, and ate up yardage on called runs. The rest of the game was a mixed bag. Kizer's fumble of a snap helped Duke get one of their four first-half scores. He threw several on-point passes with pro-caliber spin, some of which his receivers caught and others they dropped or failed to beat the defender to. He also made overthrows and bad decisions, missing open receivers and throwing into coverage. In other words, Kizer played like a redshirt sophomore, albeit a very talented one. The Irish needed him to play a bit better to beat a scrappy and well-coached Duke squad.

9. Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State (vs. Wisconsin, Saturday, 12 p.m.)
Last week: Unranked
Week 4 stats: 1 tackle, 1 QB hurry.
Reuter's analysis: From early on, McDowell showed Wisconsin that he was faster off the ball than anyone they've faced this year. But he didn't make very many plays because the Badgers' strong offensive linemen were able to take advantage of his tall, lean frame to cut him or shove him aside if he didn't win the gap immediately. McDowell was more effective when lining up outside than he was when he played inside. He also flashed the athleticism by scraping down the line from the defensive tackle position to stop stretch runs, but it just wasn't enough in the end.

10. Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama (vs. Kent State, Saturday, 12 p.m.)
Last week: No. 7
Week 4 stats: 3 tackles.
Reuter's analysis: It was a team effort to shut down Kent State on Saturday, and Allen was a key to that success even though he didn't rack up a lot of tackles. Allen's strength on the edge was easy to see. He used his hands to win battles on run plays coming to his side. Whether inside or outside, Allen provided enough penetration in his pass rush to make the quarterback uncomfortable.

6 knocking on the door

J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State (On bye)
Last week: Unranked

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (at Tennessee, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: No. 9
Week 4 stats: 4 tackles, 1 INT.
Reuter's analysis: Tennessee did not volunteer to throw the ball toward Tabor very often, but he was up to the challenge in the few cases they did. In the first half, his willingness to make the big hit prevented a Florida tight end from corralling a bobbled catch. Tabor won a jump ball over the middle in the third quarter, showing excellent ball skills and aggressiveness by jumping in front of a receiver on a floating pass. He went back into the locker room due to cramps in the third quarter, and Tennesee took advantage of his absence down the field. When he returned, he lost his balance on a double-move, falling down to allow the go-ahead touchdown.

Derwin James, S, Florida State (Won't play in Week 4)
Last week: No. 10

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (at South Florida, Saturday, 12 p.m.)
Last week: No. 8
Week 4 stats: 28 carries for 267 yards (9.5 average), 2 TDs. 4 catches for 62 yards (15.5 average).
Reuter's analysis: Finally, Cook gets the big run everyone has been looking for -- a 75-yard touchdown run on the Seminoles' first offensive play against South Florida. His line made a hole for him on the left side, Cook ran through an arm tackle, and then his speed took him down the left sideline. He ran faster and harder in this game than he has all season, accumulating more tha 300 yards of offense on the day. The Seminoles fed him the ball over 20 times to try out his stamina, which was tested by a shoulder that appeared to bother him in the second half. NFL scouts saw the toughness and playmaking ability they desire.

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (vs. Duke, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Last week: Knocking on the door
Reuter's analysis: The redshirt junior was simply unbeatable on the edge. His athleticism in pass protection is excellent, as he moves his feet and stays engaged with the rusher for as long as necessary. He also dominated in the run game, moving his feet to get the correct angles for walling off his man.

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (vs. Kent State, Saturday, 12 p.m.)
Last week: Knocking on the door
Reuter's analysis: Robinson's strength at the point of attack is outstanding, as USF found out this weekend. Once locked on, he widens his base and is nearly impossible to move. On run plays, Robinson moved the line with his strength and tenacity. Though he finishes his blocks, he didn't have to finish the game, as it was decided early on.

Dropped out: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey (knocking on the door last week)

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.

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