Highlights of notable Maxwell Award candidates
for the week ending Oct. 17
QB Jason Bean, North Texas
Bean amassed 350 total yards and accounted for five touchdowns… in less than three quarters of action Saturday evening. The dual-threat replaced ineffective starter Austin Aune and lit up the Middle Tennessee defense with his run-pass ability. A portrait of balance, Bean rushed for 169 yards and threw for 181 more in the 52-35 win, and earned Pro Football Focus’ top grade for a Week 7 QB.
QB Dillon Gabriel, UCF
Well, at least you’re in good company, Dillon. Gabriel became the first player since Patrick Mahomes in 2016 to throw for at least 600 yards and five TDs… and lose. The Knights fell short in their showdown with Memphis, 50-49, but Gabriel was brilliant once more. He repeatedly hooked up with Marlon Williams, Jaylon Robinson and Ryan O’Keefe, who all had more than 170 receiving yards. As an added bonus, Gabriel ran for 49 yards and another score.
QB Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech
RB Khalil Herbert… outstanding. Herbert plus Hooker? Well, that could make the Hokie ground game unstoppable. Hooker is at full strength again, which is going to be a handful for opposing ACC run defenses. On Saturday night, Virginia Tech handed BC its worst defeat of 2020, as Hooker threw for a score and ran for 164 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-14 rout.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Clemson dismantled Georgia Tech, 73-7, in record-setting fashion Saturday, as Lawrence was once again unstoppable through the air. The former Maxwell Football Club National High School Player of the Year completed 24-of-33 for a career-high 404 yards and five touchdowns, all in the first half, while bolstering his pitch-and-catch chemistry with No. 1 receiver Amari Rodgers.
RB Shedro Louis, Liberty
Last Saturday was a day of firsts for the Flames, who have something special going in Lynchburg… first win over an ACC opponent and first 5-0 start since 2008 after easily knocking off Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, 38-21. Louis was electrifying and efficient in the upset, exploding for 170 yards and a couple of long scores on only 10 touches.
WR Dax Milne, BYU
BYU’s perfect season was in jeopardy Friday night in Houston. But then the visiting Cougars took over by scoring the game’s final 29 points to move to 5-0. QB Zach Wilson continued boosting his draft stock, with plenty of help from Milne. The junior, who’s already surpassed the production of his first two seasons combined, caught nine balls for 184 yards and three touchdowns. It’s Milne’s third 100-yard effort in the last four weeks.
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
The nation’s best offense vs. the nation’s best D last Saturday in Tuscaloosa… advantage offense. The Alabama defense made significant strides in Week 7, but it was the offense that again led the way in a 41-24 win over No. 3 Georgia. QB Mac Jones burned an outstanding Bulldog secondary for 417 yards and 4 TDs. And Smith caught two of those scoring passes and had 11 total receptions for 167 yards.
QB Brady White, Memphis
Now, this is one Memphis will remember for a long, long time. The Tigers engineered their biggest comeback in school history Saturday, battling back from a 35-14 deficit to snap a 13-game losing streak to UCF. And White was at the center of it all. He rallied his team to a stirring 50-49 win by accounting for 516 yards and seven total touchdowns, capped by the game-winner to Calvin Austin with just 1:08 left on the clock.
The Maxwell Football Club also honors the nation’s best defensive player with the Chuck Bednarik Award. Here’s a look at last week’s standout defenders.
DE Arnold Ebiketie, Temple
Temple’s rally to defeat South Florida, 39-37, was a collaborative effort. QB Anthony Russo threw four TD passes, while Ebiketie sparked the D. The Cameroon-born Ebiketie appears ready to succeed Quincy Roche, who’s now playing for Miami. His six tackles included 3.5 for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a scoop-and-score in the fourth for the go-ahead touchdown. Ebiketie had Pro Football Focus’ highest pass rush grade among Week 7 EDGE defenders.
LB Diego Fagot, Navy
It’s been a rocky first half of the year in Annapolis. But Navy has righted the ship, at least in conference play. The Midshipmen held off East Carolina, 27-23, to move to 3-0 in the American Athletic Conference. Fagot, as is often the case, headlined the defense with a team-best 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a quarterback hurry.
CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
The Gamecocks earned a historically important victory in Week 7. And Will Muschamp’s defense was the catalyst. South Carolina defeated Auburn for the first time since 1933, spanning eight consecutive losses, as the D intercepted Bo Nix three times. Horn had a pair of pick-Nix and broke up four passes, while shadowing Auburn’s top receiver, Seth Williams. The next-level junior was Pro Football Focus’ sixth-ranked corner of the weekend.
CB Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky
To be fair, the entire Kentucky defense is hot right now. On Saturday, the D outscored the Tennessee offense for the Wildcats’ first win in Knoxville since 1984. Joseph got it started with a 41-yard interception return for a score, the highlight of another afternoon of lockdown coverage. The LSU transfer had the second highest grade for a Week 7 corner, according to Pro Football Focus, as his NFL draft stock keeps trending north.
LB Monty Montgomery, Louisville
Notre Dame was held to its lowest points, 12, in a regular season game in three years. Montgomery was a key reason why the Irish scored just a single touchdown. The athletic junior from Norcross, Ga. notched 11 solo tackles, most by a Cardinal since 2005, and sacked Ian Book twice. Among linebackers, Montgomery now leads the country in sacks.
LB Grant Morgan, Arkansas
Imagine what Morgan might have done with two good arms. Playing with a brace on his left arm that barely allowed him to move his elbow, Morgan spearheaded a Herculean effort to stifle the same Ole Miss attack that burned Alabama for 48 points a week earlier. The senior delivered the game of his life, making 19 tackles, three stops for loss, a sack, two pass breakups and a pick-six to seal the victory.
DE Quincy Roche, Miami
Roche is his own toughest critic. So, when he says last Saturday versus Pitt was his best game as a Hurricane, take his word for it. Roche was crucial in getting Miami back on track after last week’s loss to Clemson, making four tackles for loss, a half-sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on a day the Panthers scored just one touchdown.
LB Payton Wilson, NC State
The Wolfpack spotted Duke an early 10-0 before dominating the final three quarters for their third win in a row. The Wilson-led defense held the Blue Devils to just one offensive touchdown and pitched a second-half shutout. Wilson was a factor in all phases, collecting a career-high 19 tackles, a half-sack and a couple of drive-halting interceptions.
Must-See Week 8 Games
Nebraska (0-0) at Ohio State (0-0)
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Big Ten is back… and it won’t take long to see the three-time defending champion Buckeyes in action. Ohio State gets its first shot to show the country that the race to a national champion in 2020 involves more than just Clemson and Alabama. QB Justin Fields leads another loaded attack, but the defense must replace reigning Bednarik Award winner Chase Young. Meanwhile, this is a tough opening assignment for Nebraska and head coach Scott Frost, who’s seeking momentum after starting 9-15 in his first two seasons back at his alma mater.
Iowa State (3-1) at Oklahoma State (3-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
Three Big 12 teams have yet to lose a conference game. Two of them face off Saturday afternoon in Stillwater. The winner this weekend instantly becomes the league frontrunner at the halfway point of the season. Both teams should be healthy and rested, since the Cyclones are coming off a bye and the Cowboys haven’t played in three weeks. The matchup to watch closely will be Iowa State QB Brock Purdy vs. the underrated Oklahoma State defense. OSU has only allowed 27 points through three games, and the secondary is littered with talented veterans.
Michigan (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
For the first time in three years, Michigan and Minnesota square off for the Little Brown Jug. The Wolverines have dominated this rivalry in the modern era, winning 41 of 45 dating back to 1968. But P.J. Fleck has the Gophers trending up and coming off their first 11-win season. The coach will also have the edge at quarterback, where Tanner Morgan is an All-Big Ten performer while his Michigan counterpart, junior Joe Milton, is making his first career start. Jim Harbaugh begins his sixth year in Ann Arbor still looking for his first Big Ten title.
Cincinnati (3-0) at SMU (5-0)
Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
In the Group of Five game of the week, the AAC’s two undefeated and ranked programs meet in Dallas. The Bearcats vs. Mustangs promises to be a fascinating study of contrasts. Cincinnati sports an aggressive, airtight secondary that has yet to give up a touchdown pass through three games. But it has yet to face a quarterback like Shane Buechele or an offense as diverse as the one orchestrated by Sonny Dykes. Buechele averages 342 passing yards a game, and even without injured star WR Reggie Roberson, the Ponies have plenty of good hands at receiver and tight end.
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The Maxwell and Bednarik Awards are members of the National College Football Awards Association(NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the association.