This Week's Must-See Games, Who's Hot

November 2, 2017 by Rich Cirminiello, Maxwell Football Club, and CFP Staff

College Momentum from the Maxwell Football Club presents a list of must-see games this week that features the 2017 edition of the Bedlam rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, 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 Benarik award.

Must-See Games This Week

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State - Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET (FS1)
While the early November date is different for this 112th edition of Bedlam, the stakes and the intensity are not. This rivalry matters, to the fan base, the Big 12 title hunt and possibly the playoff chase. It could also have Maxwell Award implications, particularly with Sooner Baker Mayfield and Cowboy Mason Rudolph going head-to-head one final time. Oklahoma has won 12 of the last 14 meetings, though Oklahoma State will enjoy a sizable edge in coaching experience, with veteran Mike Gundy matching wits with first-year head coach Lincoln Riley.

Clemson at N.C. State - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The pole position in the ACC Atlantic Division will hang in the balance when Clemson travels to Raleigh this weekend. The Wolfpack is actually alone in first place entering Week 10, having only lost to non-conference opponents, South Carolina and Notre Dame last Saturday. But the Tigers have captured the last two conference championships, so they understand what it takes to win playoff-style games in November. This matchup will feature a reservoir of next-level defensive linemen, like State's Bradley Chubb and Darian Roseboro and Clemson's Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant.

Virginia Tech at Miami (Fla.) - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ABC) Clemson and NC State will battle earlier in the day to determine the ACC Atlantic frontrunner. Virginia Tech and Miami will do the same thing at night in the Coastal half of the conference. Plenty will be learned about the potential of the Hokies and the Hurricanes, since neither owns a true quality win in 2017. Miami walked a precarious tightrope in October, winning all four games by no more than eight points. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech has comfortably pocketed three in a row over Boston College, North Carolina and Duke since bowing to Clemson on Sept. 30.

LSU at Alabama - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS)
The meeting between the Tigers and the Tide is always a big deal, both for the SEC and national title chases and for GMs and scouts sizing up future NFL Draft picks. As usual, the stadium will be littered with elite talent, particularly on defense, and a palpable level of energy. Alabama is once again charting a course to the College Football Playoff, and has defeated LSU six years in a row. However, the Tigers have rebounded nicely from crushing September losses to Mississippi State and Troy, and stars Derrius Guice and Arden Key are as healthy as they've been all season.

Maxwell Award

The Maxwell has annually presented this award to the College Player of the Year since 1937.

QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
With his team's Big Ten title and playoff hopes resting in the balance, Barrett delivered one of the most clutch individual efforts so far this season. The senior rallied the Buckeyes back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit, throwing three scoring strikes in the final 11 minutes to hand second-ranked Penn State its first loss of the year. Barrett was on the money all day against the country's top-ranked pass efficiency defense, completing 33-of-39 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and no picks to complement a game-high 95 yards rushing.

RB Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Stanford's Bryce Love has been a gamebreaker out of the backfield this season. Adams has been every bit as explosive for the Irish, despite being a 6-2, 225-pound bruiser. He's averaging almost nine yards per carry and has ripped off a nation's-high seven touchdown runs of 60 yards or more. Adams' latest victim was NC State, which was ranked sixth nationally versus the run when the weekend began. He went for 202 yards, including a 77-yard scoring burst, on 27 carries.

QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State
In what was billed as a game of equals Saturday evening, Mississippi State blasted Texas A&M in College Station, 35-14. Fitzgerald has now sparked the Bulldogs to three consecutive lopsided wins to get to 6-2 after hitting the skids at the end of September. At Kyle Field this past weekend, the junior was predictably multidimensional, barreling for a game-high 105 rushing yards and a touchdown while throwing for 141 yards and two more scores on 12-of-21 passing.

QB Sam Darnold, USC
Suggestions of Darnold's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Just ask an Arizona State D that began Week 9 confident and trending in the right direction. Darnold bounced back from a rocky performance in South Bend to lead the Trojans to a crucial 48-17 demolition of the Sun Devils, as the Pac-12 South race begins to heat up. He withstood the pressure of Phil Bennett's attacking unit to connect on 19-of-35 attempts for 266 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers for just the second time this season.

RB Devin Singletary, FAU
In his first season on the sidelines in Boca Raton, Lane Kiffin has FAU, which went 3-9 a season ago, in control of the Conference USA East Division. Singletary has been the catalyst of the coach's high-scoring offense. The Owls went into Western Kentucky Saturday and rallied down the stretch to take down the defending league champs behind four touchdowns and 244 rushing yards on 36 carries from Singletary.

RB Benny Snell, Kentucky
The Wildcats are bowl-eligible for a second straight year and still in the SEC East Division chase, thanks in large part to the running of their sophomore standout. Snell, who's on pace to rush for 1,000 yards in his first two seasons in Lexington, enjoyed one of the best efforts of his brief career at the expense of the Tennessee defense. In a tight game that wasn't decided until the final minute of regulation, he rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries to bail out an ineffective passing game.

QB John Wofford, Wake Forest
Wolford did something on Saturday that few quarterbacks have over the past two seasons, outdueling Louisville's Lamar Jackson. Wolford scripted one of the best games ever by a Demon Deacon QB, completing 28-of-34 for 461 yards, no picks and five touchdowns, including four to top WR Greg Dortch. Wolford added a TD run to open the scoring, as Wake Forest raced past the Cards, 42-32, behind its most points in a conference game in over seven years.

Bednarik Award

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

MLB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
The Wildcats have turned the corner with three straight wins to offset a slow start, and defenders like Fisher helped spur the strong October. Just a redshirt freshman, he's quickly becoming the kind of performer Pat Fitzgerald can build a defense around in the years ahead. Fisher was spectacular in Northwestern's OT win over ranked Michigan State, racking up a game-high 17 tackles while forcing a pair of fumbles and twice hurrying Spartan QB Brian Lewerke.

S Tre Flowers, Oklahoma State
Sure, Mike Gundy's program is best known for its prolific offense. But the 2017 edition is also playing well defensively, especially when the ball is in the air. In fact, Oklahoma State just derailed West Virginia QB Will Grier and leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense. The headliners of the secondary are seniors Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers, the latter of whom was Pro Football Focus' top-graded safety of Week 9 after making four tackles, a stop for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

OLB DeMarquis Gates, Ole Miss
In a game with Arkansas that was dominated by the offenses, Gates was able to stand out from the defensive side of the ball. The senior put on a show with his range and versatility from weakside, patrolling the field with all of the speed of a heat-seeking strong safety. In one of the best efforts of his Rebel career, Gates tallied a game-high 15 tackles, which included 10 solos, three stops for loss, a fumble recovery and a pair of hurries of Razorback QB Cole Kelley.

LB David Long, West Virginia
The Mountaineers had all kinds of problems stopping Oklahoma State in a 50-39 home loss Saturday afternoon. Long, though, performed exceptionally well despite what took place around him. Healthy again after missing the first month of 2017 with a meniscus injury, he was everywhere for the West Virginia D, amassing 18 stops, 14 solos and a school-record seven tackles for minus yards. The Cincinnati native has All-Big 12 potential now that he's getting back into a groove.

OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
For 60 minutes, Okoronkwo spent nearly as much time in the Texas backfield as Longhorn QB Sam Ehlinger. The Sooners' JACK, a linebacker-end hybrid, erupts off the snap with the quickness to leave opposing offensive linemen flatfooted. Despite maximum attention and multiple blockers, Okoronkwo registered a sack, a strip, a forced fumble and a whopping five pressures of Ehlinger. The senior ranked No. 2 this weekend among all linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus.

OLB Devin White, LSU
White makes a return engagement here, back for a second straight week after helping lead the Tigers to an upset of No. 10 Auburn. The sophomore ROVER has embodied LSU's turnaround since falling to Troy on Sept. 30, providing leadership, intensity and sound open-field tackling to Dave Aranda's D. White had a career-high 15 stops, including a pair for loss and a sack. Five of his tackles came in the pivotal final quarter, when Auburn mustered just 36 total yards on 18 plays.

OLB Uchenna Nwosu, USC
Arizona State entered its Week 9 Pac-12 South showdown with USC as the team with the momentum and attacking, pressure-packed reputation. But it was the Trojans who dictated the tempo in Tempe by notching six sacks of QB Manny Wilkins, three apiece from Nwosu and lineman Rasheem Green. Nwosu's stat line also included eight tackles and a pass breakup, testament to his range and versatility as a fast-twitch edge rusher.

DT Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Just how effective has Phillips been for the Cardinal D this season? He leads the team in tackles... as an interior lineman. The senior was a one-man wrecking ball Thursday night in Corvallis, helping contain Oregon State long enough for Stanford to rally for the victory with 20 seconds left. Phillips collected nine tackles, two stops for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries while posting Pro Football Focus' highest grade for any position of Week 9.

LB Ty Schwab, Boston College
Schwab is enjoying a breakout season on the Heights, with a high point occurring in Friday night's unexpectedly easy dismissal of visiting Florida State. Despite being without star DE Harold Landry, the Eagles held the Seminoles to just three points, their lowest offensive output in almost a decade. And Schwab from his weakside spot was one of the stars of the defensive showing, harassing the young FSU backfield for 12 tackles, 2.5 stops for loss, a sack and a pick.