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Thursday, September 30, 2010
College Football Challenge: Week 5

By Will Harris
Special to ESPN.com

College Football Challenge is a player-based fantasy game with a format that's challenging yet flexible and user-friendly. You can play using all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams or compete within any of the 11 conferences. The points-based scoring system revolves around an eight-slot roster of quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, team kicking and team defense. Each week, we'll take a look at the top performers and surprise contributors, while alerting you to any players who might need to spend the week on the bench.

Cream of the Crop

Bryant Moniz, QB, Hawaii: Moniz has been playing lights-out this season. This week, he faces a struggling Louisiana Tech secondary on the islands. Moniz has two legitimate stars to target in Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares. This trio will be a great option in most weeks during WAC play.

A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: Green is fired up to get back on the field after a four-game hiatus. Plus, he feels some responsibility for Georgia's troubles and wants to make big amends right away. He'll get the offense going this week at Colorado, and Aaron Murray definitely will be looking his way in the red zone.

Vai Taua, RB, Nevada: Taua's numbers will only grow as opponents find themselves keying on the Pack's pistol triggerman, Colin Kaepernick. This week's assignment is the rivalry tilt with UNLV, a series Nevada has dominated during Kaepernick's time in Reno. Both Kap and Taua will star all season for a Nevada team that's ranked for the first time since the 1940s.

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan: Robinson left the Bowling Green game early with an injury, but he has practiced at full speed all week and is prepared to go the distance Saturday. The Wolverines probably will need him for 60 minutes in what shapes up as a shootout at Indiana.

Defense/Special Teams, LSU: Tennessee mustered just 287 yards in last week's overtime escape versus UAB. The Volunteers are starting three freshmen on the offensive line, and injuries to top playmakers Tauren Poole and Gerald Jones have crippled an already-thin group of skill players. LSU's stifling defense might well get a shutout this week. All-everything cornerback Patrick Peterson scored last week against West Virginia and is staking a claim as one of the nation's top punt returners.

Opportunity Knocks: Emerging or seldom-rostered players with favorable matchups

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan: Carder helms the nation's fourth-ranked passing attack and this week draws a forgiving Idaho secondary. It's a long trip for the visiting Vandals, who are off a last-minute road loss at Colorado State. Jordan White and Juan Nunez are Carder's top targets. The Broncos trio will be worth a look several times this season in MAC play.

Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn: The weary Tigers get a breather against Louisiana-Monroe this week after a pair of slugfests with the Palmetto State schools. Auburn might choose to get hard-running quarterback Cam Newton a light day's work by feeding the ball all afternoon to its breakout freshman running back.

<Ben Chappell, QB, Indiana: Chappell leads the best passing attack in the Big Ten. He and Hoosiers wideouts Tandon Doss and Demarlo Belcher will move up and down the field on Michigan's thin secondary.

Demetris Murray, RB, South Florida: The Bulls have no passing attack whatsoever this season due to a lack of game-ready wide receivers, so Skip Holtz has turned his new club into strictly a running team. Murray seems to be pulling away from backfield mate Moise Plancher and this week gets to run against Western Kentucky's soft front seven.

Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA: The Bruins started slowly but have found life on offense behind the pistol attack the coaching staff spent the offseason installing. Franklin is the leader of the pack at running back, and with mobile quarterback Kevin Prince possibly sidelined with injury this week, he'll get the bulk of the work against Washington State's unfortunate defense.

On the Shelf: Key players who need a week off thanks to injury, matchup or circumstance

Jeff Demps, RB, Florida: Demps is healed up and will play against Alabama, but the combination of the injury, the tough road assignment and the emergence of Trey Burton suggests you should leave him benched for the week.

D.J. Harper, RB, Boise State: Harper tore his ACL and is out for the season. The Broncos will turn more to Jeremy Avery to support Doug Martin in the backfield.

Robert Marve, QB, Purdue: Marve is out for the season with a knee injury, another tough blow for a Boilermakers team that now has lost its top quarterback, running back and receiver since spring.

DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Miss: Brown will sit out again this week with the leg injury that caused him to miss last week's game at Louisiana Tech. Don't expect him to return anytime soon.

Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple: Pierce might not play this week at Army after suffering an injury that turned the momentum in last week's slugfest at Penn State. Either way, he and fellow ball-toter Matt Brown probably won't produce much on the road at Army for a Temple team that's out of gas after four important high-intensity tilts in a row.

Will Harris is a college football analyst for ESPN.com.