Must-See Games For Week 7

October 15, 2020 by Rich Cirminiello, MaxwellFootballClub.org

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. Some of the games and candidates on the "must-see list" this week include QB's Brady White of Memphis and Dillon Gabriel of UCF going toe-to-toe, while the biggest game of the year, thus far, is the SEC matchup of Georgia at Alabama featuring this past week's Bednarik Player of the Week, LB Monty Rice of the Bulldogs.

UCF (2-1) at Memphis (1-1) - Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC) - UCF and Memphis are coming off bye weeks that were preceded by upset losses. But it always matters… and it’s always entertaining when these two get together. A second AAC loss would be devastating this early in the season, especially since Cincinnati and SMU are undefeated. The Tigers will be battling more than just QB Dillon Gabriel and the high-scoring Knight offense. They’ll also be facing history, having lost 13 straight in the series, including the 2017 and 2018 league championship games.

Georgia (3-0) at Alabama (3-0) - Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS) - The best matchup of the year thus far could go a long way to determining the SEC champ… and the national champ. Alabama leads the country in scoring at 51 points per game, with an array of gifted playmakers surrounding QB Mac Jones. Meanwhile, Georgia boasts star power at every level of the defense and is arguably the top unit in college football. A rematch of the classic 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship… Kirby Smart looking to become the first of Nick Saban’s former assistants to defeat him. Anything less than a primetime thriller here will be a disappointment.
NOTE: It was announced Wednesday night that Alabama head coach Nick Saban tested positive for Covid-19 and, as of publication time with this article, his coaching availability for this game was uncertain.

Top Performances From Week 5 (10/8-10/10)

Maxwell Award (Top Offensive Player)

QB Connor Bazelak, Missouri - Mizzou has some clarity at quarterback – and its first win of the Eli Drinkwitz era. After starting Shawn Robinson the first two weeks, the Tigers settled on Bazelak who promptly went out and piloted an upset of No. 17 LSU. The redshirt freshman from Dayton, OH completed 29-of-34 for 406 yards, no picks and four touchdowns, capped by the clincher late in the fourth.

RB Michael Carter, North Carolina - It all came together for the Tar Heel offense Saturday versus Virginia Tech, as Sam Howell threw 3 TD passes and the ground game rushed for almost 400 yards. Carter led the big-play rushing attack with a career-high 214 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries, while Javonte Williams added 169 yards and a pair of scores in the 56-45 win.

RB Travis Etienne, Clemson - Etienne continues to perform like college football’s version of Alvin Kamara. In one of the biggest games of Week 6, the Tiger senior once again showcased his versatility in a 42-17 victory over No. 7 Miami. Etienne not only rushed for 149 yards and two scores on just 17 carries, but also caught a game-high eight passes for 73 more yards.

WR Zay Flowers, Boston College - BC has a playmaking receiver, which has not happened a lot in recent years. The Eagles knocked off Pitt, 31-30, Saturday behind the pitch-and-catch combo of Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec to Flowers. The pair connected six times for 162 yards and three touchdowns, highlighted by the game-winner from 25 yards out in the extra session.

RB Najee Harris, Alabama - Bama wanted to get the ground game on track Saturday night at Ole Miss. Well, that box was checked with authority. The entire offense was unstoppable in a 63-48 victory, as the Tide cranked out 723 yards and 37 first downs. Harris fueled a rushing attack that averaged less than four yards a carry in each of the first two games, setting new career-bests with 206 yards and five TDs to go along with three catches for 42 yards.

WR Terrace Marshall, LSU - LSU might have two receivers taken in next year’s opening round of the NFL Draft. Marshall has picked up where voluntary opt-out Ja’Marr Chase left off a year ago. Pro Football Focus’ top-graded Week 6 receiver was unstoppable in Saturday’s 45-41 loss at Missouri, establishing career-highs with 11 receptions for 235 yards and three touchdown grabs. Marshall has already scored seven times in only three games.

QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M - Kyle Trask threw one more TD pass. Mond got the upset win. Advantage Aggie. Mond and Trask went toe-to-toe Saturday in a high-scoring affair that featured a slew of good individual efforts. But none was better than Mond, who threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing the game-tying strike with 4:30 left and engineering the game-winning drive to shock No. 4 Florida at Kyle Field.

WR Marquez Stevenson, Houston - After a month of cancellations, Houston is back in action. Stevenson and DE Payton Turner made it worth the wait. The Coogs lost the turnover battle 5-0 and spotted Tulane a 24-7 lead Thursday night, yet still won by 18. The speedy Stevenson changed the game’s complexion with a 97-yard kickoff return and finished with two scores and 223 all-purpose yards. Turner, meanwhile, had two sacks and lived in the Green Wave backfield.

Bednarik Award (Top Defensive Player)

DE Praise Amaewhule, UTEP - The Louisiana Tech O-line had no answers for No. 23, who disrupted the passing game even when he wasn’t hitting the quarterback. Amaewhule delivered the best game of his Miner career Saturday night in Ruston. Not only were 3.5 of his five tackles quarterback sacks, but he also batted down four throws to thoroughly frustrate the Bulldog passers.

S Shaun Crawford, Notre Dame - When Crawford is healthy, he has a Honey Badger quality about him – not very big, but his range and athleticism lead to plenty of big plays. He showed hints of his versatility and full potential in Saturday’s defeat of Florida State. Crawford had three stops, a pick and two pass breakups, while earning Pro Football Focus’ top Week 6 safety grade among players with at least 25 snaps.

LB SirVocea Dennis, Pitt - For the second time in the last three games, Panther DE Patrick Jones racked up three sacks. But he was not Pitt’s only defensive playmaker in Saturday’s overtime loss at Boston College. Dennis had a breakout effort, despite not even being listed as the starter, making a game-high eight solo tackles, 4.5 stops behind the line and a half-sack.

CB Malik Dunlap, NC State - State is quietly 3-1, with back-to-back road wins over Pitt and Virginia. The Pack is getting a spark from a bunch of sophomores, like QB Devin Leary and RB Zonovan Knight on offense and Dunlap on D. The 6-4, 220-pound Dunlap is built like a linebacker but has the range of a DB. On Saturday, he had four stops, a sack and two pass breakups, while helping limit the ‘Hoos to just five yards per pass attempt.

CB Justin Gardner, Kansas State - After losing the opener to Arkansas State, Kansas State has won three straight Big 12 games, including road upsets of Oklahoma and TCU. The D was instrumental in last weekend’s 21-14 win in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs threw for 153 yards and did not have a completion of more than 15 yards, as Gardner stepped up with four pass deflections.

MLB Ernest Jones, South Carolina - The Gamecocks copped their first win of 2020, thanks largely to the running of Kevin Harris and the run-stopping of Jones in the middle of the D. Jones is the vocal and physical leader of Will Muschamp’s defense, which was evident throughout Saturday’s 41-7 pasting of Vanderbilt. He tied a career-high with 13 stops, including seven solos, three for minus yards and a sack.

CB Decorian Patterson, Middle Tennessee - Patterson lines up at cornerback, but the Blue Raiders like to use him as a safety. The sophomore is beginning to mature, with even more production expected in the weeks ahead. The No. 8 ranked corner of Week 6, according to Pro Football Focus, had a game-high nine tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and two hurries Saturday against Florida International.

LB Monty Rice, Georgia - Georgia’s D is playing as well as anyone in the country, and it’s getting money plays from every level. Rice anchors the linebackers with a mix of intensity, know-how and sure tackling. On Saturday, the Dawgs held rival Tennessee to -1 rushing yard and pitched a second-half shutout. Rice was one of myriad defensive stars. Pro Football Focus’ highest graded Week 6 defender had eight tackles, two stops for loss and a strip-sack that he returned 20 yards for a touchdown.