Leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy dazzled in Week 13.
One of the best times to be a college football fan arrived in Week 13 with the return of Rivalry Week. Everyone’s favorite time of year led to special moments and also brought a flurry of jaw-dropping performances.
Fans were treated to plenty of 200-yard performances from running backs and wide receivers this week. Meanwhile, three of the nation’s leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy dazzled with their best performances of the year in huge games.
Week 13 also treated us to the best defensive stat line we’ve seen all year. Better yet, it came from an unheralded player and a small program. Meanwhile, several under-the-radar players surprised with huge stat lines.
Here are the 15 most jaw-dropping performances in CFB Week 13.
Cole Fagan, fullback, Air Force Falcons
This is the first time a fullback is featured on the jaw-dropping performance list this season and that’s worth celebrating. Fagan thrived in Air Force’s triple-option offense in a close win over Colorado State.
Air Force centered its offense around Fagan with 34 carries and he tore through CSU’s defense for a stunning 260 rushing yards in a season-ending win. The fullback’s limited yardage totals earlier in the year kept him just short of 1,000 rushing yards on the season, but the junior’s 997 rushing yards is still outstanding.
Preston Williams, wide receiver, Colorado State Rams
After sitting out in 2017 for transfer rules, Williams settled in as a star for the Rams in 2018. The 21-year-old capped off his remarkable season at Colorado State with the best game of his young career.
Williams flew around the field against Air Force and repeatedly won the head-to-head matchups. He hauled in 12 receptions for the second time this season and racked up an eye-popping 248 receiving yards with three touchdowns, all of which came from 30-plus yards out.
The junior’s season ends with 96 receptions, 1,345 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns with six games over 100 receiving yards and five games with two-plus scores. If Williams declares for the 2019 NFL Draft, he’ll be one of the best wide receivers in the class.
Alonzo Smith, running back, Miami-Ohio Redhawks
Smith came into Tuesday night facing the real possibility he would be playing his last game with the Redhawks. The senior clearly didn’t want it to be his last as he put the offense on his back and carried this team to its sixth win.
There was something different about the senior running back in this contest. He entered Week 13 with just one game of 70-plus rushing yards since the start of October. Then he exploded on Tuesday.
Smith rushed for a career-high 207 rushing yards on only 18 carries with three trips into the end zone. He ran for two 40-plus yard scores against Ball State and made the difference in the 42-21 victory. Now the Redhawks are bowl eligible, opening the door for Smith to play in one more game.
Sutton Smith, defensive end, Northern Illinois Huskies
College football has provided fans with some incredible defensive performances this season. However, Smith’s outing against Western Michigan takes the cake.
Smith is known for his skills as a pass rusher. Either WMU didn’t know or just couldn’t stop him because Smith loaded up with four sacks and five tackles for loss. His dominance off the edge also enabled his teammates to get in on the action as well.
The junior came into Week 13 as one of the nation’s leading pass rushers and this game only strengthens that. Smith is now one sack shy of consecutive 14-sack seasons and could even surpass his season mark with another outstanding performance.
Will Grier, quarterback, West Virginia Mountaineers
In a thrilling shootout against Oklahoma, Grier’s arm fought off the Sooners for as long as he possibly could. Along the way, he posted some of the best single-game numbers in his collegiate career.
Grier faced plenty of pressure on Friday night and he often stood above it with 539 passing yards on 49 pass attempts with four passing touchdowns. He even tacked on a rushing score from the one-yard line.
He made stunning throws that only the top NFL quarterbacks can make. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, two strip-sack fumbles were recovered and returned for scores, and they made the difference in the 59-56 loss.
Kahlil Lewis, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bearcats
It’s fitting that Cincinnati’s senior wide receiver delivered his best game when the team celebrated “Senior Day.” Lewis’ last game in front of the friendly crowd gave the fans everything they wanted.
Cincinnati’s offense utterly dominated East Carolina to the tune of 56 points and Lewis played a critical role in that. He hauled in nine receptions for a career-high 223 receiving yards with three touchdowns, including some stunning catches. Lewis will now have one more game to cap off his senior season, though it will be difficult to top this.
Gary Jennings Jr., wide receiver, West Virginia Mountaineers
WVU fought through several injuries to its wide receiving corps in this game and needed someone to step up. Jennings Jr. did that, and more.
The senior had some nice moments throughout the game. However, he shined the most in the third quarter. WVU made it a point to get him the ball coming out of the half and he rewarded them with a 57-yard touchdown and a 75-yard score.
Jennings Jr. finished with the two scores on seven receptions and a career-best 225 receiving yards. The senior has scored 13 touchdowns this season and will get a chance to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in West Virginia’s bowl game.
CJ Verdell, running back, Oregon Ducks
There is simply nothing more enjoyable than watching a freshman deliver a jaw-dropping performance in his first taste of a rivalry game. Verdell delivered one of the best outings we’ve seen as the Ducks cruised to a win in “The Civil War.”
Oregon State couldn’t stop Oregon’s running game and had even more problems with the freshman running back. He crushed them for 187 rushing yards on 23 carries and added an additional 21 receiving yards on the day.
Of course, Verdell’s most impressive stat is his five total touchdowns on Friday. He outscored the Beavers on his own and even outscored a handful of other college football teams. Oregon has all the weapons in place, if quarterback Justin Herbert returns, to be a dominant team in 2019.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, wide receiver, Oklahoma Sooners
It’s always a treat to watch Hollywood Brown on the football field and Friday’s battle in West Virginia showed just how explosive he is. Brown rose to the occasion with his cousin All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown in attendance and put on a show.
Hollywood pulled in 11 receptions for 243 receiving yards with multiple game-changing plays (like this). He even would have had three touchdowns if not for being pulled down at the one-yard line after a huge reception.
The junior is over 1,200 receiving yards on the season with 10 touchdowns. Now with a Big 12 Championship and a bowl game ahead of him, Hollywood has a great opportunity to add to his stat line before deciding if he will enter the NFL in 2019.
Chris Olave, wide receiver, Ohio State Buckeyes
In a game with so much at stake, the difference maker was a wide receiver few even heard of before Saturday’s big game.
Olave came into Week 13 with five receptions for 70 receiving yards and didn’t see the field regularly. That changed against Michigan as the Buckeyes spotted a weak link and Olave exploited it for two touchdowns.
Of course, his biggest play on this monster day came on special teams. The true freshman blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown and put the game away for Ohio State. No one saw this coming and that’s what makes this truly a jaw-dropping performance.
Kyler Murray, quarterback, Oklahoma Sooners
The road to contending for the Heisman Trophy requires a player to deliver dazzling stats throughout the season. In order to make it to New York City, that player needs to have a jaw-dropping performance in a big game with everything on the line.
Murray provided that outing in Week 13 against WVU. It started with a sensational 55-yard touchdown run, which set the tone as he rushed for a season-high 114 rushing yards against the Mountaineers.
The junior’s legs made some big plays and won the game late, his arm put the Sooners in position to win. Murray completed 20-of-27 passes for 364 yards with three scores and one interception. Sitting at 48 total touchdowns, Murray should easily surpass 50 touchdowns in his next game against Texas, and a win could put them in the College Football Playoff.
Eric Dungey, quarterback, Syracuse Orange
It’s been a while since Dungey delivered a vintage dual-threat masterpiece due to injuries and the emergence of Syracuse’s running game. This game showed he clearly wanted to be back on the jaw-dropping performance list.
The Orange came into this game as an underdog, but Dungey turned it into a blowout. The senior threw for 362 yards and three scores against Boston College’s defense. Clearly, that wasn’t enough scoring for him as he added three rushing scores as well.
Dungey now has 17 passing touchdowns and 15 rushing touchdowns on the season, joining a rare group of quarterbacks with 15-plus passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns this season.
Dwayne Haskins, quarterback, Ohio State Buckeyes
Haskins came into Saturday as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. At the very least, he earned a trip to New York City with his historic performance in “The Game”.
It became clear in the first half that Haskins was locked in and ready to dominate. He needed just 13 completions to throw for 222 passing yards with three touchdowns. It set the tone for a record-breaking day for the redshirt sophomore.
Haskins finished the game with five touchdown passes, 318 passing yards and a 207.4 quarterback rating on just 30 attempts. He simply eviscerated Michigan’s defense, a group that came into the week with the fewest passing yards per game (123.2) and the lowest quarterback rating allowed (88.7). It just doesn’t get any better than this sensational start.
Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, Alabama Crimson Tide
Tagovailoa came into the week as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy. However, that changed somewhat after stunning performances in huge wins by Murray and Haskins. Naturally, Tua took the momentum back in the Iron Bowl.
He excelled as a passer with five touchdown passes and 324 passing yards with 25-of-32 passes completed. He threw two passes in the fourth quarter, one of which resulted in a stunning touchdown, and has now attempted just three passes in the fourth quarter this year.
Tagovailoa added 26 rushing yards and a touchdown for good measure, showing he is now healthy and capable of being a dual-threat weapon. The sophomore has 3,189 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, two interceptions and five rushing scores on the year. Now the Bulldogs await him and another big performance with a win could secure the Heisman.
Deebo Samuel, wide receiver, South Carolina Gamecocks
As Samuel’s career comes to an end, the senior made sure to give the fans something to remember him by. While it wasn’t enough to upset the Clemson Tigers, it showed how impactful he was for the Gamecocks.
Clemson couldn’t ever find a solution to Samuel’s speed and elusiveness in the open field. He torched the Tigers for a 75-yard touchdown and tacked on two additional scores to tag along with 210 receiving yards.
Coming off three consecutive 100-yard games, Samuel’s time with South Carolina is coming to a fitting end. He still has a little time left to put even more highlight plays on tape before he declares for the 2019 NFL Draft and is a coveted weapon for a plethora of teams.