College Momentum: Must-See Games, Who's Hot

October 5, 2017 by Rich Cirminiello, Maxwell Football Club

College Momentum from the Maxwell Football Club presents a list of must-see games this week that features the renewal of a pair of fun state rivalry games as Miami visits Florida State and Michigan State plays at Michigan. Plus highlights of performances from last week's games involving Maxwell and Bednarik Award candidates.

Note:'s Dave Congrove is a voting member of the Maxwell and Bednarik awards.

Must-See Games This Week

Miami (Fla.) at Florida State - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
The Seminoles own a seven-game winning streak over the Canes, but the teams are traveling in opposite directions entering Week 6. While Florida State earned its first win of 2017 Saturday, the team narrowly escaped Wake Forest and it has major problems along the offensive line. Enter unbeaten Miami, which will arrive at Doak Campbell Stadium with a massive chip on its shoulder. The Canes impressively hammered Duke in Durham Friday night, 31-6, behind QB Malik Rosier and six sacks of Blue Devil QB Daniel Jones.

West Virginia at TCU - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
What can the Horned Frogs do for an encore, two weeks removed from their stunning upset of Oklahoma State in Stillwater? TCU gets an opportunity to make another Big 12 statement with this Saturday's visit from the 3-1 Mountaineers. The college football world is going to learn a lot about West Virginia, which has scored at least 56 points in three straight games but hasn't faced a quality opponent since the opening day loss to Virginia Tech. QB Will Grier will look to solve an improving and fast Frog defense that stands second to Kansas State in the conference.

Michigan State at No. 7 Michigan - Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Spartans and the Wolverines meet for the 110th time, but for just the fourth time under the lights. Seventh-ranked Michigan has yet to lose in 2017 ... or play a complete game, struggling to mount a consistent offensive attack. Michigan State, on the other hand, is coming off a pivotal win over Iowa that may have signaled a turnaround from last season's rough 3-9 campaign. The Wolverines have dropped seven of the last nine in this instate rivalry, wining in East Lansing a year ago, 32-23.

No. 11 Washington State at Oregon - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (Fox)
Don't look now but the Pac-12 North is about to enter the debate over the deepest division in college football. Washington State helped bolster the league's upper half with Friday's upset of No. 5 USC to catapult to its highest ranking in 14 years. Oregon, too, has started fast for first-year head coach Willie Taggart, beating Nebraska in Week 2 and underrated Cal last Saturday. However, the Ducks' season reached a crossroad in the Bear win after QB Justin Herbert and RB Royce Freeman were lost to serious injuries.

Maxwell Award

The Maxwell has been presented annually since 1937 for the College Player of the Year since 1937.

QB Max Browne, Pittsburgh
Forget for a moment that Browne was facing an overmatched Rice defense. The USC import, who had lost reps in recent weeks, really needed Saturday's effort versus the Owls, as did his Panther teammates. Browne darn near threw a perfect game in the 42-10 rout that snapped a three-game losing streak. He finished 28-of-32 for 410 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, earning Pro Football Focus' highest mark of Week 5 among quarterbacks.

RB Jordan Chunn, Troy
Many Sun Belt players, including a handful from Troy, pine for the chance to prove their SEC neighbors overlooked them. On Saturday in Baton Rouge, Chunn made the most of his opportunity to submit a point to larger programs that passed on him four years ago. In an upset that will forever go down in the program's annals, the Trojans stunned LSU, 24-21, with their physical senior back motoring for a game-high 191 yards and a score on 30 clock-controlling carries.

QB Luke Falk, Washington State
Sure, Falk has had better statistical outings than the one from this past Friday night versus USC. But as the leader of the unbeaten and rising Cougars, he hasn't enjoyed many bigger wins during his prolific career on the Palouse. Falk helped sparked the upset of the then-No. 5 Trojans by completing 34-of-51 passes for 340 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. In outplaying the more heralded Sam Darnold, the senior now has Wazzu in serious contention for its first Pac-12 title since 2002.

QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama
The Crimson Tide has begun to build a head of steam, opening the SEC portion of the schedule with wins over Vandy and Ole Miss by a combined score of 125-3. And while it isn't getting a ton of attention nationally, Hurts is gradually becoming a more complete quarterback in Year 2. In Saturday's lopsided Rebel destruction, the sophomore completed 12-of-19 for 197 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for a team-high 101 yards and another score.

RB Bryce Love, Stanford
Through five games, no one has come close to stopping Love, who became the nation's first 1,000-yard rusher ... before the calendar turned to October. Arizona State on Saturday became the latest victim to whiff in its attempt to corral the explosive junior. Love established Stanford's single-game rushing record in a 34-24 victory over the Sun Devils, erupting for 301 yards and touchdown jaunts of 61, 43 and 59 yards. He's now tallied a scoring run of at least 50 yards in a remarkable seven consecutive games.

QB McKenzie Milton, UCF
Don't look now, but the Knights are making an early statement to represent the Group of Five in a New Year's Six bowl game. The D has been outstanding in head coach Scott Frost's second season in Orlando, while Milton has been the offensive catalyst. The diminutive dual-threat Hawaiian has spurred back-to-back blowouts of Maryland in Week 4 and Memphis this past weekend. In what was billed as a tossup with the Tigers, Milton fueled a 27-point win by accounting for 341 yards and three touchdown tosses.

QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Behind a rare dual-threat showing from Rudolph, the Cowboys got back on track following their Week 4 loss to TCU. Rudolph outgunned Texas Tech counterpart Nic Shimonek in Lubbock Saturday evening, completing 27-of-38 for 376 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Cowboy senior also tweaked his personal scouting report by rushing for a career-high 50 yards and two more scores, capped by the clincher with 1:12 left in regulation.

Bednarik Award

The Bednarik Award has been presented annually to the nation's top defensive player since 1995.

WLB Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M
Having battled through injuries early in his career, Alaka is now set to take flight during his junior year with the Aggies. In Saturday's come-from-behind victory over South Carolina, Alaka was an unimpeded force off the edge for the Texas A&M pass rush. He pounced for nine tackles, five stops for minus yards and a pair of sacks as the D quelled the Gamecock attack long enough for the Aggie offense to rally.

MLB Jason Cabinda, Penn State
Penn State playmakers Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley have deservedly been making many headlines so far this season. But that Lion D is also a huge reason why the team is ranked No. 4 nationally. Cabinda is one of the steady rocks in the middle of the underrated unit. In Penn State's Week 4 disposal of Indiana, 45-14, Cabinda notched a career-best 14 tackles, 1.5 stops for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery, as the Lions held the Hoosiers to their fewest points of 2017.

CB Carlton Davis, Auburn
The Tigers delivered a coming-out party of sorts in Week 4, throttling Mississippi State, 49-10, in the team's most impressive four quarters of 2017. Davis was the defensive standout at Jordan-Hare Stadium, as the Bulldogs completed only 35% of their passes and failed to score after halftime. The 6-1, 203-pound junior batted away four of those incompletions to garner Pro Football Focus' highest marks among Week 4 cornerbacks.

OLB Garret Dooley, Wisconsin
Dooley is quickly emerging as one of the key cogs in the Badgers' nationally-ranked defense. The senior, a backup for most of his time in Madison, delivered the best game of his career in Saturday's 33-24 win over Northwestern. A hard-charging, high-motor edge rusher, Dooley collected eight tackles, 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and three of Wisconsin's eight sacks of Wildcat QB Clayton Thorson.

DE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
The Deacons failed to upset Florida State Saturday afternoon, but the defense certainly did its part in Winston-Salem. Wake Forest abused the Seminole blocking unit for a whopping 17 tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles, sparked by Ejiofor, DE Wendell Dunn and LB Grant Dawson. FSU had no answers for Ejiofor, who had eight tackles, 3.5 stops for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a bunch of hurries. With a grade of 9.3 from Pro Football Focus, Ejiofor earned the highest Week 5 mark among all FBS defenders.

DE Justin Lawler, SMU
The Mustangs just closed out their first four-win September since 1981. And while the offense is averaging more than 48 points a game, the defense, led by Lawler and star CB Jordan Wyatt, is contributing as well for Chad Morris. Lawler, one of the nation's most underrated pass rushers, toyed with the Connecticut front wall Saturday en route to seven tackles, a forced fumble, a blocked kick and the first four-sack game of his stellar career in Dallas.

WLB Roquan Smith, Georgia
On Saturday, the Dawgs handed Tennessee its first shutout since 1994 and its worst loss in the rivalry in over three decades. Smith did his part to keep the Vols out of the checkerboard end zone by making a game-high 11 stops, which was seven more than the next highest Bulldog. A sure-tackler with excellent range, he was the nation's second-ranked linebacker in Week 4 according to Pro Football Focus.