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Top 5 Running Back Performances of Week 4 College Football: D.J. Giddens, Ismail Mahdi, more

Week 4 of the college football season is over. It was a fun day of football and included some good performances from running backs, with 11 backs rushing for 150 or more yards. Some of those players are mentioned below, but a quick shoutout to the ones who aren't: Darius Taylor (Minnesota), Jalen Buckley (Western Michigan), Rasheen Ali (Marshall), Kimani Vidal (Troy), Harrison Waylee (Wyoming), MarShawn Lloyd (USC), and Marcus Carroll (Georgia State).

For fans of running the ball, the Toledo/Western Michigan game had it all. Toledo's Peny Boone had 211 rushing yards, while Western Michigan's Jalen Buckley had 190 rushing yards. MAC football, y'all!

Below are the top five running back performances from Week 4 of the college football season. These are judged through a combination of statistics, fantasy scoring, and game context, with consideration also given based on the team's offensive systems. Let's take a look at this week's top performances.

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5. Jai'Den Thomas - UNLV

UNLV's Jai'Den Thomas might not have finished with the yardage of the other players on this list, as his 13 carries went for 100 yards and he only added 14 receiving yards. But touchdowns are important, so we can't ignore that Thomas found paydirt four times.

Thomas, a true freshman, has had an interesting start to his college career. He found the end zone twice in the team's season-opening win over Bryant, but then he had five carries for one yard in a loss to Michigan after that. This was his first 100-yard game. Will he be able to build on this performance as the season goes along?

It's worth noting that while Thomas had all four touchdowns, his backfield mate Vincent Davis was effective as well with 13 carries for 97 yards. Donavyn Lester and Courtney Reese also had rushing scores for the team. This is a crowded backfield, so Thomas might not have a lot of chances to make it on this list again.


4. Ashton Jeanty - Boise State

Boise State running back Ashton Jeanty has been a key figure in both the run game and pass game for the Broncos this season. And on Saturday, he had the best showing he's had all season, carrying the ball 23 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 49 yards.

Jeanty has 100-plus scrimmage yards in three of the team's four games so far. He's really picked up where he left off in last season's Frisco Bowl, when he had 28 carries for 178 yards and a touchdown in a win over North Texas.


3. Peny Boone - Toledo

I mentioned this Toledo/Western Michigan game in the intro, because both teams had running backs go for over 150 yards. In the end, it was Toledo that won 49-31, overcoming a 24-14 halftime deficit.

Toledo's Peny Boone had a huge day in the victory, carrying the ball 24 times for 211 yards and two touchdowns. The former Maryland Terrapin is in his fourth collegiate season and is well on his way to the best year he's ever had. Through four games, he's carried the ball 52 times for 402 yards and five touchdowns while also adding three catches for 28 yards and a score.

Boone's especially come on strong in the last two games. After playing more of a reserve role in the Rockets' first two games, he's now gone over 100 yards in consecutive games. Not only is this the first time in his career he's done that, but these are the first two 100-yard games he's had.


2. Ismail Mahdi - Texas State

Texas State hired former UIW head coach G.J. Kinne this year. If you'd watched UIW, you'd think that would mean this offense would be throwing a ton. And at times, they have. But one thing that makes Kinne such a good coach is that he maximizes the players that he has. This week, that meant a big day from running back Ismail Mahdi.

Mahdi, who transferred to Texas State from FCS program Houston Christian, had his FBS breakout performance on Saturday, running the ball 21 times for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also added two catches for 40 yards.

Coming into this game, Mahdi had just 15 carries through his first three games for the Bobcats. But in the second half of this game, Texas State leaned on him to help them overcome a 17-0 halftime deficit. It worked, with the Bobcats winning 35-24.


1. D.J. Giddens - Kansas State

The UCF defense just had no answer for D.J. Giddens. They didn't even have an attempt to answer. He just had his way all day, carrying the ball 30 times for 207 yards and four touchdowns while catching eight passes for 86 yards.

It's wild how much better Giddens was this week. In Week 1, he had 128 yards against FCS program Southeast Missouri State, but he wasn't much of a factor in the team's first two FBS games of the year. Against Troy, he had 12 carries for 52 yards and one catch for seven yards. One week later against Missouri, he had nine carries for 36 yards and three catches for 14 yards.

And then, boom. With Treshaun Ward, the team's starting running back, out due to injury, Giddens got a shot to showcase what he can do as the lead back. I'm sure this will return to more of a split backfield when Ward's healthy, but K-State's got to be happier about its backfield after this weekend.

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