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Thursday, October 21, 2010
College Football Challenge: Week 8

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 FBS 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: Star fantasy performers with the best matchups

Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State: The nation's eighth-leading rusher and by far the top back in the Mountain West, Hillman is on his way to freshman All-American honors and a Mountain West Newcomer of the Year trophy. He's run for 10 scores and nearly seven yards per carry and could pad his stats considerably this week against winless New Mexico.

Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois: Second only to John Clay among Big Ten backs, LeShoure is averaging 113 yards per game and this week draws the conference's worst defense in Indiana. Illinois will look to control the clock with LeShoure and keep the Hoosiers' dangerous passing attack off the field.

Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii: The Warriors defense stole the show last week by shutting down Nevada's vaunted Pistol attack, but Salas had another 150-yard game and is now the nation's second-leading receiver. Teammate Kealoha Pilares is third nationally, and either one makes for a good start against a Utah State team that doesn't play much pass defense but will force the Warriors to keep scoring.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State: Baylor's defense does not have an answer for power-running teams, and Thomas will get the ball early and often, as the Wildcats shoot it out with Robert Griffin III and the Bears.

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: Griffin started the season slowly but is beginning to find his dominant form of 2008 and now faces a slowish Kansas State defense in a game that could make the Bears bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994.

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

Jeremy Ebert, WR, Northwestern: Ebert is the leading receiver in the Big Ten, and this week his Wildcats have had an open date to prepare for a Michigan State team that's prone to be a little too soft in coverage. The Spartans, who are leaving the Great Lakes State for the first time this season, are coming off a series of emotionally draining games and have another monster tilt with Iowa on deck.

Dwight Dasher, QB, Middle Tennessee State: Dasher has been back in the lineup for two games, throwing for a combined five interceptions and no touchdowns versus Troy and Georgia Tech. He's been sharper in practice this week and figures to get back on track in a big way against a ULM defense that hasn't been effective against the run or the pass this year.

Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State: Rouse has missed some time with injuries this year, but he is still the fifth-leading rusher in the WAC and got on track last week with 150 yards and two scores on just 16 carries against New Mexico State. Next up is a San Jose State defense that hasn't stopped anyone.

Keith Payne, RB, Virginia: Payne is the workhorse for a Virginia offense without much of a passing game. He should be in line for a career day versus Eastern Michigan, one of the nation's most generous rush defenses.

Kris Adams, WR, UTEP: The leading receiver in offensive-minded Conference USA, Adams has eight scores to his credit already and is averaging a whopping 22 yards per reception. The Miners offense will get back on track at home this week versus a sad Tulane defense, after laying an egg at UAB last Saturday.

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

Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: Foles will miss several weeks with a knee injury suffered at Washington State. Matt Scott is a capable backup with some starting experience, but he won't be useful outside Pac-10 leagues.

Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky: Locke couldn't go against South Carolina last week with a banged up shoulder, and he's not certain to be ready for Georgia on Saturday. It will mean even more touches for Randall Cobb, if Locke is unable to play.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Floyd is still recovering form a hamstring injury and will be a game-time decision this week at Navy.

Jared Tew, FB, Air Force: Tew has been lost for the season with a broken fibula suffered versus San Diego State. Halfback Asher Clark and quarterback Tim Jefferson will see more touches now, as the Falcons don't have another fullback approaching Tew's running ability.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Virginia Tech: Taylor is currently banged up, and Ryan Williams will be returning to the backfield this week. Don't expect Taylor to do much against Duke, as the heavily favored Hokies will =pound the ball with their tailbacks and try to get through to next week's open date with no further injuries.

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