The 2019 college football regular season has been a whirlwind. After months of thrilling action, stunning upsets and absurd performances, it all came to an end in with an epic rivalry slate in Week 14.
Rivalry Week brought out the best from some of the nation’s best players. Decades of hate between programs and years of bad blood between fans and players all served as fuel. This is the time when records were thrown out and matchups were decided by heart, energy and talent.
It proved to be an outstanding weekend for rushing attacks with four players rushing for more than 210 yards with three-plus touchdowns. Of course, some quarterbacks and receivers delivered plenty of absurd statistics of their own.
Here are the 10 most jaw-dropping performances from Week 14 of the college football season.
Jaret Patterson, running back, Buffalo Bulls
We’ve witnessed a plethora of eye-popping performances by running backs this season. When 200-yard rushing games become the standard for an epic performance, Patterson needed to do something unthinkable. He accomplished it in two quarters of action.
Patterson kicked things off with an explosive 81-yard touchdown run to set the tone. Even before the first quarter ended, he scored three 30-plus yard touchdowns. He kept racking up yards and made trips to the end zone part of his routine. Patterson finished with 272 rushing yards and five touchdowns at halftime, then blew past the school’s single-game rushing record in the third quarter. He rested in the fourth quarter after scoring his sixth touchdown in an absurd 298-yard outing.
Sam Ehlinger, quarterback, Texas Longhorns
Facing a 14-point deficit and the possibility of another horrific loss, Texas needed Ehlinger to rally the team and deliver a comeback. So, Ehlinger put the Longhorns’ offense on his shoulders and carried them to victory.
The junior put his team on the scoreboard with a 10-yard touchdown run in the final seconds of the first quarter. It sparked the offense as Texas scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. Ehlinger finished the win with 348 passing yards, 83 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. Now, Texas must hope he returns for his senior season and this team can rebound with an improved defense in 2020.
Bryce Perkins, quarterback, Virginia Cavaliers
It’s one thing to deliver a jaw-dropping performance on the national stage, but it’s another to do it against your school’s biggest rival to snap a 15-game losing streak. The Cavaliers hadn’t experienced triumph over Virginia Tech since 2003 – that was until Perkins changed everything.
The senior made his last start at Scott Stadium, in front of 60,000 fans, count. It started on a 39-yard touchdown run on the opening drive. When he roasted VaTech’s defense on a 67-yard touchdown run, the stadium knew the day could be special. Perkins threw for 311 yards and a touchdown, with an additional two scores and 164 yards on the ground. Most importantly, he won the Commonwealth Cup.
Lynn Bowden Jr., quarterback, Kentucky Wildcats
Bowden Jr. saw Patterson’s performance on Friday and decided he wanted to try and match it. While it took him a little longer to pass the 250-yard mark, his performance is just as impressive given he’s now a quarterback.
The junior, who moved to quarterback from receiver, started quietly with only a six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He came alive in the third quarter with a sensational 60-yard touchdown run. Bowden Jr. then followed it up with a 46-yard scoring run to end the third quarter. He ran in a 32-yard touchdown in the final minutes, capping off his remarkable 284-yard, four-touchdown performance in style.
J.K. Dobbins, running back, Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields and Chase Young have made excellent arguments to be in the Heisman Trophy race this season. On Saturday in The Game, Dobbins showed everyone why he deserves just as much recognition as his teammates.
Michigan could never figure out a way to stop him – even taking his shoe off didn’t slow him down. Dobbins erupted for three touchdowns and more than 100 rushing yards in the first half alone. When Ohio State needed to seal the game and crush its rival for good, Dobbins buried the Wolverines with a 33-yard touchdown run. The junior finished with 211 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and 49 receiving yards in a blowout win over Michigan’s 13th-ranked run defense.
A.J. Epenesa, defensive end, Iowa Hawkeyes
Remember that stretch early in the season when Epenesa couldn’t consistently get after the quarterback? Opposing teams really wish they could go back to that time. After wreaking havoc in Minnesota’s backfield in Week 12, he did the same this week.
Friday’s game quickly turned into a nightmare for Nebraska’s offense. It tried everything to stay away from Iowa’s 6-foot-6 destroyer off the edge and it never worked. Epenesa racked up 14 tackles, five for loss, with two sacks. He’s now just one takedown shy of his second consecutive 10-sack season and he’s solidified his stock as a top-10 prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Eric Gray, running back, Tennessee Volunteers
When opportunity knocks for a freshman, it’s critical for that player to answer and prove he’s ready to a coaching staff. Gray did that and then some in this rivalry battle against Vanderbilt.
He came into Saturday with only 207 rushing yards on the season. In fact, Gray received only 23 carries since the start of October. Gray made his first carry count on Saturday with a 56-yard touchdown run. On his sixth touch, he went 96 yards to the house. Gray finished with 246 rushing yards and three touchdowns, certainly proving that he should be featured in Tennessee’s offense in 2020.
James Robinson, running back, Illinois State Redbirds
While FBS teams are busy putting an exclamation point on their regular season, Robinson and the Redbirds fought to stay alive in the FCS playoffs. In a win or go home spot, Illinois State put its entire offense on the senior’s shoulders.
Robinson touched the football on 42-of-66 plays on Saturday. He turned that unthinkable workload into 307 scrimmage yards. While he only found the end zone once, an 11-yard run to open the scoring, accounting for 85 percent of your team’s total yards and 63 percent of the plays is a jaw-dropping performance.
Jaylen Waddle, wide receiver, Alabama Crimson Tide
It’s utterly ridiculous to watch Alabama’s receiving corps. Teams are so focused on Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith that Waddle gets single coverage. He demonstrated, once again, just how explosive he is with the football.
Waddle’s jaw-dropping performance began in the second quarter with a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown. He put his breathtaking speed on display with a 58-yard touchdown before halftime, then hauled in his third score on a simpler 12-yard connection. Finally, Waddle soared to snag a 50-50 ball for his fourth touchdown of the Iron Bowl. We can’t wait to see him next year as Alabama’s No. 1 receiver.
Ja’Marr Chase, wide receiver, LSU Tigers
Joe Burrow will go down as the best story of the 2019 college football season. When that story is told, though, several chapters must be dedicated to Chase. LSU’s move to the spread offense brought the best out of Chase and he continued his breakout sophomore campaign on Saturday.
Opposing teams know in advance that he is Burrow’s go-to receiver, yet, the special connection is unstoppable. The 6-foot-1 receiver left Texas A&M’s defensive backs chasing after him all night in Louisiana. Chase scorched the Aggies for 197 receiving yards and two scores, adding to his spot atop LSU’s single-season record book.