Week 13: This Week's Must-See Games, Who's Hot

November 17, 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, topped by Michigan at Wisconsin and Virginia at Miami (Fla.). 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.

Must-See Games This Week

Michigan at Wisconsin - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Badgers needed to make a statement in Week 11, and boy did they ever deliver one. Wisconsin put Iowa in a headlock, allowing five first downs, 66 yards and not a single offensive point. At 10-0 for the first time in school history, the Badgers now host 8-2 Michigan with visions of a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth swirling in their minds. The Wolverines have won three straight since bowing to Penn State, but have yet to defeat a quality opponent. Yards and points will be tough to come by since Michigan and Wisconsin boast two of America's stingiest defenses.

Virginia at Miami (Fla.) - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
Maybe the The U. is back after all. Despite being undefeated, the Hurricanes have been somewhat overlooked all season long. But that all changed Saturday evening, as much of the nation watched Miami dismantle No. 3 Notre Dame behind an attacking defense that's been stockpiling turnovers like a hoarder. The Canes are one of just four remaining unbeaten programs, with UVA next on the slate. The Cavaliers are playing better in Bronco Mendenhall's second season in Charlottesville, having already improved by four games and qualified for a bowl game.

Kentucky at Georgia - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Now that the Dawgs have been knocked from their perch-with a thud-how quickly can they recover? Georgia was outclassed by Auburn, 40-17, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a game that was never competitive. But this team is still the SEC East Division champion, which means there's a ton left to play for in Athens. And Kentucky should not be taken lightly, even though Georgia has won seven straight in the series. The Wildcats are sneaky-good at 7-3, and they're capable of rising to second in the East if the Dawgs can't get beyond what occurred in Week 11.

UCLA at USC - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ABC)
USC has already wrapped up the Pac-12 South. UCLA is 5-5, needing a win in the final two games to become bowl-eligible. But it always matters when the Trojans and Bruins hook up in a crosstown rivalry that impacts everything from bragging rights to Signing Day decisions. This 85th meeting for the Victory Bell will also be of particular interest to NFL scouts and GMs, particularly those working for organizations in need of a franchise quarterback. While no decisions have been made, Bruin Josh Rosen and Trojan Sam Darnold both possess the arm talent of future first-round draft choices.

Maxwell Award

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

RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
Baker Mayfield is spinning another terrific year in Norman, but he has hardly been a solo act for the Sooners. On the contrary. The supporting cast surrounding the franchise is evolving on the fly, with Anderson emerging as the backfield's versatile standout. With Anderson flashing his penchant for bouncing off tacklers, OU made TCU's Big 12 best D look ordinary. The 6-2, 218-pounder contributed in all phases of the 38-20 victory, rushing for 151 yards and two scores and catching a team-high five passes for 139 yards and two more touchdowns.

QB Demry Croft, Minnesota
It was just one game, and he's still a raw sophomore, but Croft might be the kind of playmaker under center P.J. Fleck can build an offense around in 2018 and beyond. Croft was the catalyst of a 54-21 knockout of visiting Nebraska that helped keep the 5-5 Golden Gophers alive in the quest for a bowl berth. While the young QB only completed 9-of-15 for 105 yards, he vexed the Huskers on the ground with 183 yards and three touchdowns on only 10 carries.

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
No one this season had rushed for more than 100 yards in a game versus the stout Georgia defense, until Johnson got cranking in Saturday's 40-17 rout of the nation's top-ranked team. Johnson, who was supposed to share the load with Kamryn Pettway in 2017, has risen to the occasion since his teammate's injury. He not only kept the chains moving with 167 rushing yards on 32 carries, but he also turned two receptions into 66 yards and a touchdown.

RB Bryce Love, Stanford
Twisted ankle. The run-stuffing Washington defense on the other side of the ball. Surely, Friday night would be the time Love would display his mortality, right? Uh-uh. In heroic fashion, the homerun-hitting junior spearheaded a 30-22 upset of the Huskies to keep the Cardinal alive in the Pac-12 North race. Against the nation's sixth-ranked run D, Love rebounded from his worst outing of 2017 with 166 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries.

QB Malcolm Perry, Navy
Perry celebrated Veterans Day by honoring those who served before him ... and by gashing the SMU defense for the most prolific day of his brief career. The versatile sophomore, a slotback starting his first game at quarterback, established career-highs with 33 carries for 282 yards and four touchdowns to help fuel the Midshipmen to a 43-40 bowl-securing win over the Mustangs. It's going to be tough getting Perry out of the lineup, especially since his speed provided Ken Niumatalolo with a much-needed jolt on offense.

QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
Rudolph did what few have this fall, dissecting a very good Iowa State defense Saturday in Ames. On an afternoon that his own D went AWOL, Rudolph hoisted the Cowboys on his shoulders and carried the team to a thrilling 49-42 victory. As such, Oklahoma State remains in contention for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. In a nearly flawless effort, Rudolph completed 25-of-31 for 376 yards, no picks and three touchdowns, including the game-tying and game-winning tosses in the final six minutes.

QB John Wolford, Wake Forest
For the third week in a row, the Deacons scored at least 37 points in a record-setting performance at the Carrier Dome. Wolford tied his own school mark by accounting for six touchdowns, as Wake Forest smashed its half-century old record for total yards in a game. Wolford deftly ran for 136 yards and three scores while also completing 25-of-38 for 363 yards, three touchdowns and no picks in a bowl-clinching 64-43 obliteration of Syracuse.

Bednarik Award

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

FS Dameon Baber, Nevada
Houston's Johnny Jackson in 1987, Oklahoma's Antonio Perkins in 2003 ... and now Baber in 2017. The Palmdale, Calif. junior joined a very exclusive club Saturday afternoon by producing three touchdowns off returns in a single game. In the Wolf Pack's 59-14 ransacking of San Jose State, Baber returned a blocked punt for a six-yard score and had a pair of pick-sixes, one from 39 yards and another that travelled the entire length of the field.

DE Brian Burns, Florida State
It's been a difficult year in Tallahassee, the most challenging one in over a generation. But Burns' performance Saturday against rival Clemson offered indisputable proof that this Seminole team has not quit on Jimbo Fisher and the staff. The wiry 6-5, 227-pound edge rusher was an all-day headache for QB Kelly Bryant and the Tiger backfield. One of the cornerstones of the future, Burns helped keep FSU close with seven stops, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a quarterback pressure.

DE Bradley Chubb, NC State
The next time someone effectively neutralizes Chubb for 60 minutes, the game will take place on a Sunday. His statement senior season continued in Week 11 at the expense of the overmatched Boston College offensive line. The Eagles entered the weekend hot, while the Wolfpack had lost two straight, but Chubb harassed the BC backfield for eight tackles, four stops for loss, a forced fumble and 2.5 sacks to eclipse Mario Williams' career school record.

DE James Hearns, Louisville
Lamar Jackson did his usual thing in Saturday's defeat of Virginia, totaling 342 yards and four touchdowns. But for a change the Card defense chipped in, too, specifically Hearns coming hard off the edge. He was virtually unblockable by the Cavalier offensive line, collecting three sacks and forcing three fumbles. Louisville yielded 21 points, its lowest total versus a fellow Power Five opponent all year.

DT Hercules Mata'afa, Washington State
Utah has been known over the years for its prowess from the interior of the defense. But in Salt Lake City Saturday evening, no one was more dominant on the inside than Mata'afa, who schooled the Utes with his quickness and motor. Undersized, yet very twitchy, he went off for eight tackles, five stops behind the line of scrimmage, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Winners of two straight, Wazzu will face USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game with an Apple Cup upset of Washington on Nov. 25.

ILB Bobby Okereke, Stanford
In Friday's upset of Washington that shook up the Pac-12 title race, Okereke was to the Cardinal D what RB Bryce Love was to the offense. In a defensive alignment that relies heavily on the play of the four linebackers, Okereke was impactful in both run and pass defense. Included in his 10 stops were four behind the line of scrimmage, a pair of Jake Browning sacks and a key forced fumble.

MLB Quentin Poling, Ohio
The Bobcats held high-powered Toledo to just 10 points Wednesday night, its lowest output since scoring six in the Swamp more than four years ago. Poling was at the head of the charge from his spot at the center of the defense. The sure-tackling senior was near the ball all night, as has been the case throughout his productive career. He finished the 38-10 demolition with 12 stops, three sacks, a fumble recovery and a hurry of QB Logan Woodside.