College Momentum from the Maxwell Football Club presents a list of must-see games this week, topped by Notre Dame at Miami (Fla.) and Georgia at Auburn. Plus highlights of performances from last week's games involving Maxwell and Bednarik Award candidates.
Note: CollegeFootballPoll.com's Dave Congrove is a voting member of the Maxwell and Bednarik award.
Georgia at Auburn - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry will matter this fall well beyond the Deep South. Sure, the Dawgs have already punched a ticket to the SEC title game, and the Tigers are angling to make a West Division run at Alabama. However, the outcome Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium will also be instrumental to the College Football Playoff chase. Georgia was top-ranked when the committee released its initial poll a week ago, and even with two losses Auburn has an opportunity to rise quickly with upsets of the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide.
Alabama at Mississippi State - Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Can anyone prevent the Crimson Tide from an undefeated campaign and a fourth consecutive SEC crown? Georgia and Auburn have visions of felling Nick Saban's team in the weeks ahead, but so does Mississippi State, despite dropping nine straight to Bama. The Bulldogs are 5-0 in Starkville this season and riding a four-game winning streak. The keys to shocking the Tide and the nation this weekend will be to create space for run-first QB Nick Fitzgerald and to slow down a deep Alabama rushing attack norming more than six yards a carry.
Notre Dame at Miami (Fla.) - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
It's a classic non-conference rivalry that captured the nation's attention in the 1980s. And it really matters again on the broad landscape of college football. The Irish and the Canes, with just a single loss between them, are both ranked in the top 10, which means Saturday's winner will likely control its own destiny for a playoff berth. Notre Dame has steamrolled the competition behind a downhill ground game. Meanwhile, Miami has dodged bullets for much of the year, though last week's disposal of Virginia Tech may have signaled a turning point for Mark Richt's squad.
TCU at Oklahoma - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (Fox)
Since TCU and Oklahoma are the last remaining Big 12 schools with just one conference loss, the winner in Norman will take a giant step toward a berth in the league title game. And remain in playoff contention, too. The Horned Frogs and the Sooners are each coming off pivotal wins over Texas and Oklahoma State, respectively, setting the stage for a classic clash of contrasts. TCU boasts the Big 12's nastiest defense, but Baker Mayfield and OU just got done piling up 785 yards in a Bedlam shootout victory in Stillwater.
The Maxwell has annually presented this award to the College Player of the Year since 1937.
RB Cam Akers, Florida State
This fall has been challenging in Tallahassee. Next season, though, should be promising again because of the return of young Seminoles such as Akers. The can't-miss recruit from Clinton, Miss. performed like a blue-chipper in Saturday's win over Syracuse that snapped a two-game losing streak. Akers showcased his rare blend of size, power and speed by running 22 times for 199 yards and a pair of explosive touchdowns of more than 50 yards apiece.
QB Ahmad Bradshaw, Army
Bradshaw didn't attempt a single pass in Saturday's 21-0 whitewash of rival Air Force that moved the Black Knights to 7-2 and kept them alive for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. Who needs to throw when you've got some of the shiftiest feet in the nation? Bradshaw impeccably orchestrated Army's triple-option attack at Falcon Stadium, keeping the rock 23 times for 265 yards on the ground and the game's opening touchdown.
QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
In the long and storied history of Sooner football, no one has ever thrown for more yards in a game than Mayfield did Saturday evening in Stillwater. And the Maxwell Award semifinalist pulled off the feat against instate rival Oklahoma State as both jockeyed for Big 12 supremacy. As usual, Mayfield displayed his precise long-ball touch, especially in the direction of WR Marquise Brown, completing 24-of-36 for 598 yards, five touchdowns and a couple of picks in the 62-52 shootout win.
QB Nathan Rourke, Ohio
In the annual "Battle of the Bricks" with rival Miami (OH), no one stood taller last Halloween evening than Rourke. The sophomore from Ontario, Canada delivered the best performance of his debut season as a Bobcat, sparking a 45-28 victory that kept his team tied atop the MAC East standings. Rourke had a hand in all six of Ohio's touchdowns, throwing three, scampering for three more and accounting for 348 total yards.
QB Nate Stanley, Iowa
A Big Ten star may have been born at Kinnick Stadium in Week 10. Stanley, a sophomore from Menomonie, Wisc., outdueled Maxwell Award semifinalist J.T. Barrett as the Hawkeyes ambushed Ohio State, 55-24, in front of a delirious home crowd in Iowa City. The 55 points were the most ever surrendered by an Urban Meyer coached team, with Stanley dissecting the OSU secondary for 226 yards and five touchdowns on 20-of-31 passing. Stanley even had a 47-yard punt in an effort that will go down in Iowa football lore.
QB Jordan Ta'amu, Ole Miss
Might the Rebels' next head guy face a quarterback controversy in the spring of 2018? Ole Miss appears to have a good problem, two QBs capable of leading the offense. While Shea Patterson is justifiably viewed as the franchise in Oxford, his injury replacement, Jordan Ta'amu, is making the most of his expanded role. In his first road start, the New Mexico Military College transfer piloted the Rebs to an upset of Kentucky with four scoring strikes and 382 yards on 31-of-40 passing.
QB Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame
Those concerns about Wimbush's inexperience at the beginning of the season have long been addressed. And he's continuously improving as the point man of Notre Dame's potent offense. Wimbush was the catalyst as the Fighting Irish nearly established a single-game school record with 710 total yards versus the usually feisty Wake Forest D. The young dual-threat was responsible for 390 total yards, rushing for a team-high 110 yards, throwing for 280 more and accounting for three scores in a 48-37 win.
The Bednarik Award has been presented annually to the nation's top defensive player since 1995.
DT Terry Beckner, Jr., Missouri
Sure, it hasn't happened nearly enough this season, but Mizzou does play stout defense from time to time. And when it does, Beckner, who'll play on Sundays, is usually in the middle of the action. The Tigers routed fading Florida this past weekend, 45-16, in a lopsided affair that saw Beckner lead the interior charge with five stops, two tackles for loss, a sack and a pressure of Gator Malik Zaire.
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
The Tigers seem to feature a different star up front every weekend. This past Saturday, the honor belonged to Ferrell, who was instrumental in a 38-31 victory over ACC Atlantic challenger NC State. The Pack outgained the Tigers, 491-415, while amassing 27 first downs. However, Ferrell was a dynamic nuisance off the edge, notching a game-high dozen stops, including five for minus yards and a sack of QB Ryan Finley.
LB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
In Week 10, Hudson tapped into his inner-Jabrill Peppers from "Viper", a safety-linebacker hybrid position. Like his predecessor in Ann Arbor, Hudson showed off phenomenal range, versatility and instincts in Saturday's comfortable win over Minnesota. With the Gophers intent to run the ball, the sophomore from McKeesport, Penn. pinned his ears back to collect 13 tackles, a Wolverine-record 6.5 stops for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.
DE Joe Jackson, Miami
The Canes are one of just five remaining unbeaten FBS programs, with Manny Diaz's defense doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Miami is coming off its best win of the year so far, holding ACC Coastal rival Virginia Tech to its lowest point total in three years. Jackson provided the heat off the edge with seven tackles, two stops for loss, a sack and enough pressure on the backside of Hokie QB Josh Jackson to become Pro Football Focus' highest graded edge rusher of the weekend.
CB Joshua Jackson, Iowa
For those unfamiliar with Jackson's work this fall, he dispatched quite a highlight reel in Iowa's shockingly easy demolition of surging Ohio State. Buckeye QB J.T. Barrett entered Week 10 with a single interception all season, and he was fresh off an epic performance against Penn State. Jackson? Yeah, the Texas native picked off Barrett three times, including an acrobatic one-hander, showing why he's one of this season's 18 Bednarik Award semifinalists.
LB Micah Kiser, Virginia
Kiser validated his reputation as a tackling machine in Saturday's come-from-behind win over Georgia Tech that clinched bowl-eligibility in Bronco Mendenhall's second season. On a day when the two teams combined for 76 points, Kiser was the defensive standout versus the Yellow Jackets. The Atlantic Coast Conference's leading tackler tallied 18 stops as the 'Hoos kept the vaunted Tech ground game from running wild and controlling the clock.
S Kyle Queiro, Northwestern
The Wildcats have turned their season around, battling back from a 2-3 start with four consecutive Big Ten victories. Queiro took his turn as one of Pat Fitzgerald's defensive heroes in this past weekend's overtime road win against Nebraska. A veteran safety who patrols passing lanes like a cornerback, Queiro had six tackles, three pass breakups and a pair of key interceptions of Husker QB Tanner Lee.