Note: CollegeFootballPoll.com's Dave Congrove is a member of the Maxwell Football Club and a voter for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards.
The Maxwell Football Club honors the nation's top offensive player with the Maxwell Award, and the best defensive player with the Chuck Bednarik Award. Among the top games and candidates on the "must-see list" this week are Ole Miss at Texas A&M with the spotlight on the Rebels' WR Elijah Moore who leads the country with 74 catches for 1,054 yards and eight TDs.
Indiana (4-0) at Ohio State (3-0) - Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (FOX) - An undefeated and top 10 Ohio State in late November is business as usual. An undefeated and top 10 Indiana at this stage of the season is one of the storylines of 2020. The Hoosiers will arrive in Columbus a confident bunch, having blanked Michigan State for their first Big Ten road shutout in 26 years. But the Buckeyes are the best team IU has faced… by far. Coming off an unscheduled bye week, Ohio State is rested and eager to get back to work. Through three games, QB Justin Fields has as many incompletions—11—as touchdown passes.
Ole Miss (3-4) at Texas A&M (5-1) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) - Is it good to have Lane Kiffin back in the SEC or what? Sure, Ole Miss is under .500, but it’s scored 113 points the last two games and put 48 on Alabama back on Oct. 10. QB Matt Corral is a budding star, and WR Elijah Moore leads the country with 74 catches for 1,054 yards and eight TDs. The Rebels get a chance to play spoiler this weekend in College Station. Texas A&M hasn’t lost in well over a month, and has steadily climbed into playoff contention. The Aggies answer to Corral will be QB Kellen Mond and a diverse array of skill talent.
Wisconsin (2-0) at Northwestern (4-0) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) - The lead in the Big Ten West Division will be at stake when Wisconsin makes the short trip to Evanston this weekend. Northwestern has rebounded from last year’s 3-9 campaign to start 4-0 and climb into the Top 25. Pat Fitzgerald’s kids are winning with defense and a penchant for winning close games, the last three by just 16 combined points. The Badgers emerged from three weeks of inactivity looking as dominant as they did in the Oct. 23 opener. Wisconsin mauled Michigan, 49-11, for the worst defeat of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Oklahoma State (5-1) at Oklahoma (5-2) - Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC) - It’s the 115th chapter of the Bedlam Series, as the Cowboys and Sooners look to remain in the Big 12 title hunt. Oklahoma has won five straight in the rivalry and is 16-4 head-to-head this century. If the Sooners are going to wear the conference crown for a sixth year in a row this is a must-win on Saturday. It’s been an uncommon year in Stillwater, as the offense has struggled while the defense has thrived. That D leads the Big 12 in scoring, creating an intriguing matchup with Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler and the league’s most prolific offense.
Maxwell Award (Top Offensive Player)
QB Ian Book, Notre Dame - A hangover after last week’s thrilling overtime win over top-ranked Clemson? Book would have none of it. He continues to evolve in all phases during his senior season, guiding the Fighting Irish to a comfortable win at upset-minded Boston College. Not only did Book complete 20-of-27 for 283 yards and three touchdowns, all to Bennett Skowronek. But he also rushed for a game-high 85 yards and another late score.
QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss - Lane Kiffin is QB Miracle-Gro. And Corral is blossoming under his coach’s tutelage. For the second time this year, the sophomore’s total number of TD passes equaled or surpassed his number of incompletions. South Carolina was his latest victim, as the Rebels hung up more than 50 points for a second straight game. Corral completed 28-of-32 for a program-record 513 yards and four touchdowns, while also rushing for another score.
WR Jalen Cropper, Fresno State - First-year head coach Kalen DeBoer is building some momentum in the Valley. After losing the opener to Hawaii, the Bulldogs have won three straight while averaging 38 points during the streak. The backfield is solid, with RB Ronnie Rivers and Washington transfer QB Jake Haener. And Cropper was 160 pounds of dread for the Utah State secondary Saturday. His career day was highlighted by 10 receptions for 202 yards and three TD grabs.
QB Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan - The Kaleb Eleby era in K-zoo is off to a terrific start. The Broncos are 2-0 after rallying late to shock Toledo, 41-38, last Wednesday. And Eleby is settling nicely into his role after not playing a snap in 2019. He’s delivered back-to-back three-touchdown, no-interception games, and he threw the game-winner to beat the Rockets on a fake-spike flip to Jaylen Hall with 17 seconds left.
RB Kevin Harris, South Carolina - It came in a losing effort at Ole Miss, but Harris sure was impressive in the process. The sophomore carried the offense and kept the Gamecocks competitive throughout the 59-42 defeat. Harris parlayed 25 carries into 243 yards and a school-record five touchdowns. It was the most rushing yards by a South Carolina player since Marcus Lattimore nine years earlier.
QB Sam Howell, North Carolina - Howell just keeps smashing records in Chapel Hill… and he’s only midway through his second year on campus. The gunslinger in Carolina’s 59-53 shootout victory over Wake Forest, Howell threw for schools records of 550 yards and six touchdowns on 32-of-45 passing. He also ran for a score, joining Lamar Jackson as the only ACC players to ever throw for six TDs and rush for another in the same game.
QB Tyler Shough, Oregon - So far, so good in the quest to replace Justin Herbert in Eugene. It’s only two games, but Shough already looks like a worthy successor behind center for the Ducks. Shough, the 6-5, 221-pound sophomore, is 2-0 and has shown good athleticism and an even better feel for the offense. In Saturday’s win over Washington State, he accounted for 393 yards, 81 on the ground, while tossing four touchdown passes.
QB Kyle Trask, Florida - This is beginning to look an awful lot like Joe Burrow’s 2019 season in Baton Rouge. Trask, like Burrow before him, has been spectacular throughout his senior season. Facing the SEC’s top pass defense (Arkansas), without his best weapon (TE Kyle Pitts), Trask maintained his record-setting pace. The 6-5, 240-pound riser dissected the Hogs for 356 yards and six TDs on a crisp and efficient 23-of-29 passing.
Bednarik Award (Top Defensive Player)
LB Eriq Gilyard, UCF - Listed as a linebacker. Moves like a safety. The 5-11, 228-pound Gilyard plays with outstanding range, as Temple saw firsthand Saturday evening. The junior was involved in all phases of a 38-13 victory, making a game-high 12 tackles, including three for loss, recording a sack and both forcing and recovering a fumble. Gilyard was the second highest graded Week 11 linebacker, according to Pro Football Focus.
DE Cade Hall, San Jose State - San Jose State is 4-0 for the first time since 1955… and balance has been the key. Derrick Odum’s is allowing just 15.3 points per game, while putting UNLV in a clamp late Saturday night. The Spartans spent much of the night in the Rebel backfield, led by Hall who had seven tackles, four stops behind the line and a career-high three sacks.
S Kekaula Kaniho, Boise State - The Broncos scored 52 points on Colorado State last Thursday night, despite producing just 15 first downs and 291 total yards. How? Special teams heroics. Boise State scored three first-half touchdowns on blocks, including a field goal Kaniho returned 91 yards in the opening quarter. The All-Mountain West senior also had eight stops on defense and broke up three passes.
DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami - Virginia Tech’s star LT Christian Darrisaw neutralized Miami’s Quincy Roche on Saturday afternoon. But Phillips created chaos on the opposite side, as the No. 9 Canes blanked the Hokies over the final 21 minutes and rallied for a 25-24 win. The UCLA transfer, with the enormous potential, had eight stops including 4.5 behind the line and 2.5 sacks of Hendon Hooker.
DB Tykee Smith, West Virginia - The Mountaineers have gained momentum at the end of Neal Brown’s second season. And the defense has been providing the spark. West Virginia has not allowed more than 17 points in any of the last three games, stifling TCU this past Saturday, 24-6. Smith, who earned Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 coverage grade for Week 11 defensive backs, patrolled the secondary with nine tackles, a stop for loss, an interception and a pass breakup.
DE Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State - Appalachian State will have the wind at its back entering this weekend’s key showdown with undefeated Coastal Carolina. Last week, the Mountaineers narrowly escaped the look-ahead landmine versus Georgia State, 17-13. The D really stepped, allowing just six points over the final 50 minutes. Taylor was the star up front, making nine stops, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
LB Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington - With Jimmy Lake replacing Chris Petersen at head coach, don’t expect Washington to skip a beat on D. The Huskies opened the season with a 27-21 victory over Oregon State, getting breakthrough efforts from an eclectic collection of linebackers. Ulofoshio, an Alaskan, not only led U-Dub with 10 tackles, but also recovered a fumble and broke up four Beaver throws.
DE Zach VanValkenburg, Iowa - It was a long time coming, but Iowa has its first win of 2020. And for the sixth straight year, the Hawkeyes captured Floyd of Rosedale. Iowa dominated rival Minnesota, 35-7, pitching a shutout until there was 14 seconds left on the clock. And VanValkenburg was one of the defensive heroes. The former D-II transfer from Hillsdale College had three of his team’s four sacks, while sparking interest among NFL scouts.