College Football Star Power Index: Max Duggan shines for TCU, Big Ten running backs steal spotlight

As conference play heats up across the country in college football, some of the sport’s stars are starting to separate themselves from the pack as true difference makers for their teams. In Week 5, it was the Big Ten that stole the show as October dawned with a handful of players putting on particularly impressive performances on the floor against league foes.

But stars can come from anywhere in college football, and they often get our attention for a variety of reasons. A sport with 131 FBS teams produces an entertaining mix of characters, some of whom end up as one-hit wonders and others who stay in the spotlight for their entire careers.

As the season nears its midpoint, it’s time for another edition of the Star Power Index to show who shines the brightest. This is not a Heisman Trophy watch list or a ranking of potential winners based on player name, image and likeness, nor is it an NFL mock draft. There are many places to find them. This is a roundup of players who maximize their platform — whether for quality performance or other reasons — to stand out as stars in the sport.

College Football Star Power Index

Max Duggan, TCU quarterback

If you want to know why coaches play quarterback games late and don’t name starters until the last minute, look no further than TCU. First-year coach Sonny Dykes didn’t announce a starter entering the season opener, but ultimately went with Chandler Morris for the job. When Morris went down with an injury in the first game, the Horned Frogs turned to senior Max Duggan.

An experienced and productive veteran, Duggan could have been a hot commodity in the transfer market had he known earlier that Morris would win the job amid the transition from Gary Patterson to Dykes. Instead, TCU entered the season with an outstanding backup, and that piece of roster management has paid huge dividends.

The Horned Frogs went 4-0 after Dugan passed for 302 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in TCU’s 55-24 win over Oklahoma on Saturday. He added 116 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for good measure in a dominant effort that propelled TCU into the Big 12 title conversation. He’ll likely be under center again this week when the No. 17 Horned Frogs face No. 19 of Kansas in a Big 12 matchup.

Miyan Williams, Ohio State, running back

Ohio State’s depth chart is usually a collection of four- and five-star players, which makes it all the more remarkable that Miyan Williams showed up for the Buckeyes. The former three-star prospect took advantage of the injury-related absence of sophomore TreVeyon Henderson on Saturday to tie a school record with five rushing touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ 49-10 win over Rutgers. Williams’ 189 yards marked a career high and showed just how deep Ohio State is.

“We always want to invest in Ohio kids,” coach Ryan Day said of Williams, who is from Cincinnati.

That investment is paying off big for the Buckeyes, who will struggle to keep Williams off the field even with Henderson back on the field.

Blake Corum, Michigan running back

Anyone who runs for 133 yards against an Iowa defense like Corum did in a 27-14 win for Michigan on Saturday deserves some recognition. But at this point it’s not just about a single game for Corum, who has already rushed for 611 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games. The junior split was joined by Hassan Haskins last season, but he thrives in a featured role this season and is on track for a standout year.

Nor is this a case of Corum inflating its numbers against poor opponents. Of Corum’s 93 games, 59 have come in Michigan’s two Big Ten games over the last two weeks. He torched Maryland for 243 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4 and showed against the Hawkeyes that his productivity can translate against one of the nation’s top defenses.

Chase Brown, Illinois running back

Speaking of Big Ten running backs enjoying impressive performances against stingy Big Ten West defenses, how about Chase Brown? The Illinois junior rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries as the Illini dominated in a 34-10 victory at Wisconsin on Saturday. The result led to the firing of Badgers coach Paul Chryst and continued Brown’s streak of five straight 100-yard games to start the season.

Brown leads the nation in rushing with 733 yards and has been the face of Illinois’ 4-1 start. The Illini face the Iowa defense this week, but at this point it would almost be more surprising if Brown didn’t top 100 yards rushing considering how well Corum ran against the Hawkeyes last week.

Clark Phillips, Utah defensive back

Oregon State nearly upset USC in Week 4, but the Beavers were soundly denied by Utah on Saturday as Phillips became the only FBS player this season to intercept three passes in a game. His trio of picks, which included a 38-yard pick-six, propelled the Utes to a 42-16 victory and helped set up a high-stakes Pac-12 showdown between No. 11 Utah and No. 18 UCLA this week.

Phillips is ranked as the No. 33 overall prospect in CBS Sports’ 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, and it’s not hard to see why. He was an All-Pac-12 player last season and now has seven career interceptions.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA quarterback

The Pac-12 this season has centered around a strong group of transfer quarterbacks like Caleb Williams at USC, Bo Nix at Oregon and Michael Penix Jr. in Washington. But one of the league’s wily old vets shined brightest in Week 5, as Dorian Thompson-Robinson defeated Phoenix 40-32 for UCLA. The win improved the Bruins to 5-0 and earned them the No. 18 ranking heading into this week’s matchup with No. 11 Utah.

Thompson-Robinson completed 24 of 33 passes for 315 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Huskies, while adding 53 yards and another touchdown on the ground. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes and just one interception while completing 74.3% of his passes this season and is on track for his best campaign in his fifth season with the Bruins.

Oh, and that one touchdown run against Washington? Yes, it was bad.

Cam Allen, Purdue safety

Minnesota ranked among the nation’s best in a myriad of offensive categories entering Week 5 action, but the Gophers were stifled against Purdue, thanks in part to Cam Allen. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week picked off two passes to lead the Boilermakers’ defense to a 20-10 victory at Minnesota. Purdue suffered two heartbreaking losses to Penn State and Syracuse earlier this season, but the campaign was given new life thanks to Saturday’s stifling defensive effort.

The Boilermakers were leading with a chance to tie the game late in the first half when Allen made his first pick. The senior safety then picked off Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan again with 1:52 left to seal the score.

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