Week 4 of the 2017 college football season was filled with several intriguing matchups and storylines. Penn State, Alabama, USC and Oklahoma picked up key road wins in conference play. Additionally, Week 4 featured a couple of upsets. NC State knocked off Florida State in Tallahassee, and TCU provided a shake up at the top of the Big 12 by defeating Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Around the SEC, Texas A&M's overtime victory against Arkansas was huge for coach Kevin Sumlin, and Georgia delivered a statement victory over Mississippi State.
With the fourth weekend of the 2017 season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 4:
College Football Week 4 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley helped Penn State avoid a road loss at Iowa on Saturday night, as the junior rushed for 211 yards and one touchdown and led the team with 12 receptions for 94 yards. He also contributed 53 yards on kickoff returns. The 358 all-purpose yards by Barkley set a new Penn State school record.
Defensive Player of the Week: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Chubb wreaked havoc against Florida State’s offensive line all afternoon in the 27-21 Wolfpack victory. The senior recorded seven tackles (two for a loss), one forced fumble and two sacks and was instrumental in helping to limit the Seminoles to just 104 rushing yards.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Kirk was instrumental in leading Texas A&M to its sixth consecutive victory over Arkansas. He caught five passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns, including an 81-yard catch and run that opened the scoring for the Aggies. He also returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score late in the fourth quarter and caught a 10-yard pass from quarterback Kellen Mond in overtime, which ended up being the game-winning score.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Sonny Cumbie, TCU
As showcased by TCU on Saturday, slowing down Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense isn’t just a problem for a defense. The Horned Frogs pushed all of the right buttons behind Cumbie to dominate the time of possession and keep the Cowboys on the sidelines. TCU recorded 466 yards (5.5 per play), scored on all six trips to the red zone and averaged a solid 4.6 yards per rush. Additionally, quarterback Kenny Hill continued his solid start to the 2017 season by throwing for 228 yards and one touchdown on 22 completions. In his first year calling the plays for the Horned Frogs, Cumbie has found the right balance between big-play ability, efficiency and utilizing the ground attack to control the line of scrimmage and time of possession.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Mel Tucker, Georgia
Tucker and head coach Kirby Smart designed a gameplan that completely contained Mississippi State’s high-powered offense on Saturday night. The Bulldogs gashed LSU for 285 rushing yards last week but were limited to just 177 on the ground against Georgia. Additionally, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was held to 83 passing yards on 14 completions. Georgia’s defense also created two turnovers and forced Mississippi State to punt on each of its first five drives.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): James Blackman, QB, Florida State
Even though Florida State fell short of a win against NC State on Saturday, Blackman performed admirably in his first start. The true freshman arrived on campus this summer and was pushed into the starting role after an injury to Deondre Francois against Alabama. Blackman impressed in his first start, connecting on 22 of 38 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Javelin Guidry, DB, Utah
Guidry delivered a clutch performance for Utah’s defense in the second half of Friday night’s win against Arizona. The freshman returned an interception for a touchdown to give the Utes a 27-17 lead late in the third quarter. Guidry also recorded five tackles to help Utah to a 30-24 victory.
Team of the Week: TCU
TCU served notice to the rest of the Big 12 in Week 4. Coach Gary Patterson’s team knocked off Oklahoma State 44-31 in Stillwater, providing a shake up at the top of the conference. The recipe for the upset started with an effective gameplan on both sides of the ball. Patterson’s offense rushed for 238 yards and passed for 228 and controlled the clock for 39:04. With the Horned Frogs dominating the line of scrimmage on offense and the time of possession, the Cowboys were never able to get their high-powered attack in rhythm. TCU’s defense gave up 499 yards to Oklahoma State but made stops when it mattered. The Horned Frogs forced four turnovers, three sacks and nine tackles for a loss. Before Saturday’s game, the Big 12 was considered a two-team race between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But after Week 4, it’s clear TCU needs to be considered in that discussion.
Unsung Hero of the Week: John O’Korn, QB, Michigan
O’Korn was pressed into duty after an injury to Wilton Speight in Saturday’s game against Purdue. The senior provided a spark for Michigan’s offense by completing 18 of 26 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown.