BY DAVID CHOUGH
Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Ole Miss
It’s never easy being the starting quarterback of an SEC team, but Jordan Ta’amu is doing his best to keep the Ole Miss afloat in the ever-competitive conference. While the Rebels quarterback has been labeled a dual-threat ever since his days as a high school recruit, his arm talent holds up quite well on its own. However, this past weekend’s matchup against Arkansas saw Ta’amu break out every tool he has at his disposal.
After Ta’amu threw an interception and Arkansas converted the turnover into a score that dug a 17-3 deficit, things were looking pretty bleak for Ole Miss. But the senior quarterback bounced right back from that mistake, using his arms and his legs to lead the Rebels on a five-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with an 18-yard scamper into the end zone.
The flood wasn’t plugged quite yet, though as the Razorbacks poured it on later in the half to go up 27-10. With just over two minutes before halftime, Ole Miss desperately needed to get the ball into the end zone. Cue the music. Ta’amu delivered some picturesque passes to all areas of the field, finding four different receivers on the drive before finishing it off with a 6-yard scoring toss that cut the lead to 10.
That momentum poured into the second half, with Ta’amu finding a wideout for 66 yards and a score to start the third quarter. Down two with two minutes to play in regulation, Ole Miss again looked to its quarterback for an answer. Ta’amu delivered once again, masterfully moving the Rebels from their own 3-yard line with big throws and a 15-yard scamper for first down to set up the touchdown that would seal their first SEC win of the season.
During the 37-33 victory, the senior completed nearly 75 percent of his 35 passes for 387 yards and two touchdowns, while also chipping in with 141 yards rushing and a score. Given the way the game broke, the Rebels needed every last one of those yards, and there’s sure to be plenty more to come in the games that will follow. It isn’t easy, but when Ta’amu is leading the Rebels, there’s always a chance.
Kyle Rachwal, LB, Eastern Michigan
Rachwal looks the part of an intimidating force over the middle, and on the off chance that anyone doubted it, he showed just why he’s a terror to opposing offenses with his performance against Toledo. The senior registered 11 total tackles, posted a sack, and even displayed his ability to disrupt passing lanes with a pass break up as the Eagles won 28-26.
Wesley Fields, RB, Georgia Southern
The going was tough against Texas State, but Fields never stopped believing in himself, and the team put its trust in him as well. In a low-scoring affair, Fields churned out 93 yards and one touchdown to pave the way in a 15-13 victory.
Juwan Foggie, LB, Charlotte
Western Kentucky might be known as the Hilltoppers, but Foggie was most certainly at the top of his game this past Saturday. He was all over the field, registering eight tackles (seven of them solo) and was a menace in the backfield, including one sack. Of course, his coup de grace was when he snagged a pair of passes of interceptions for the 49ers as they cruised to a 40-14 win.
Every week during the NFL regular season, we will track notable performances by NFL players who participated in the Collegiate Bowl. Here are the top performers from Week 6:
Marquez Valdes Scantling- WR
Green Bay Packers
With his game-breaking speed, the rookie is becoming one of Aaron Rodgers’s go-to guys, as he caught three passes for 103 yards in the Packers’ win over the 49ers.
Tarik Cohen- RB
After a Week 5 bye, Tarik Cohen was back in full force against the Dolphins. He finished the game with seven catches for 90 yards and 31 yards on five carries, including a 21-yard touchdown run.
Avery Williamson- LB
New York Jets
Williamson continued his big year with six tackles, two pass deflections and an interception against the Colts.
Duron Harmon- Safety
New England Patriots
The veteran defender continued to find himself at the right place at the right time during the Patriots game against the Chiefs. With three tackles and one interception, Harmon was able to help his team hold off the Chiefs for the win.
Every week during the NFL regular season, we will track notable performances by NFL players who participated in the Collegiate Bowl. Here are the top performers from Week 5:
Marquez Valdes-Scantling- WR
Green Bay Packers
Coming off his first NFL start, the rookie again filled in for Randall Cobb, this time with seven catches for 68 yards and his first career touchdown.
Charvarius Ward- CB
Kansas City Chiefs
Rookie corner Charvarius Ward made his NFL debut on Monday with three tackles for the Chiefs, including one that potentially saved a touchdown for the team.
Avery Williamson- LB
New York Jets
Avery Williamson helped make an impact during the Jets 34-16 win against the Broncos with nine tackles.
Brent Stockstill, QB, Middle Tennessee
With two early losses to SEC teams, Middle Tennessee needs to lock down the rest of its schedule, especially against conference foes, if the Blue Raiders want to contend for a Conference USA title and bowl eligibility. With those season hopes on the line this past weekend against Marshall, the Blue Raiders turned to their quarterback in Brent Stockstill, who showed just how lethal he could be under center.
Despite settling for a field goal and watching Marshall turn a turnover into 10 straight points, Stockstill refused to panic. Instead, with about two minutes left in the first half, No. 12 willed the Blue Raiders down the field in under a minute, marching them 67 yards downfield for the score. The drive featured a 39-yard completion, a 17-yard scramble and a 5-yard touchdown run by the senior quarterback.
The Blue Raiders knotted the score again just after halftime, as Stockstill found his target for a 2-yard touchdown pass. During that drive, he moved the chains with his arm and legs, including a 5-yard run for a critical third-down conversion. The next time out, Stockstill converted passes of 22 and 21 yards before punching it for another score.
With Marshall again threatening, Middle Tennessee finally pulled away early in the fourth quarter, thanks a masterful drive led by Stockstill. A 19-yard completion on third down maintained the momentum, followed by an 11-yard scramble out of the pocket. The senior capped his fantastic day with an 18-yard throw to the end zone, sealing the Blue Raiders’ 34-24 win and extending their unbeaten Conference USA record.
With 317 yards through the air, Stockstill became the 24th player in NCAA history to eclipse 10,000 career passing yards. Quite the feat for a player who missed seven games with injury last season and often goes unnoticed in the conversation of the nation’s top college quarterbacks.
Kenny Young, RB, Miami (OH)
No one would look at Young and expect the tailback to be a power runner, especially when standing at 5 foot 7. But as they say, looks can be deceiving. Young converted three rush attempts into 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. In case that wasn’t enough, Young also caught 5 passes for 18 yards and another touchdown for the Redhawks in victory.
DaMarkus Lodge, WR, Ole Miss
Lodge always had the physical stature and skillset of a top-tier wide receiver, and against the University of Louisiana Monroe, he showed just how much talent he truly possesses. The senior grabbed nine catches for 179 yards, including getting deep in the secondary for a 51-yard score. Time and again, Lodge outbodied smaller defenders, and when he got the ball in space, he made sure it was a nightmare for opponents to take him down.
Anree Saint-Amour, DL, Georgia Tech
Saint-Amour was a menace in the offensive backfield against Louisville this past weekend. He registered six total tackles (five solo), a sack, and two forced fumbles on the day. After recording his first sack of the season the week before against Bowling Green, as well as his first pick-six, the Georgia native is looking to continue his individual march through the rest of the ACC.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Taylor Cornelius, QB, Oklahoma State
Some quarterbacks might shy away from the moment and crumble after a disappointing loss early in the season. Other quarterbacks might take a few games to get back on track. But signal callers like Taylor Cornelius make sure to take advantage of their schedule and come out firing on all cylinders during the next opportunity that they have. With a plucky Kansas team scheduled this week, Cornelius and the Cowboys needed to make sure they did not look past their opponent, who upset Texas in the not-so distant past.
From the first drive, Cornelius made sure to make a statement. He only threw the ball twice, but both went for completions, the last of which ended in an 11-yard touchdown. After the Jayhawks missed a field goal on their next drive, Cornelius made some plays with his feet before displaying his soft touch on a pass that went 42 yards to the house and put the Cowboys up 14. When Kansas finally responded with a score of its own, the senior passer shrugged off any inkling of pressure and made the perfect read to get the ball to his wide receiver Tyron Johnson, who, 64 yards later, put the Cowboys up 21-7 with a touchdown on each of their opening three drives.
Once halftime rolled around, it was already too late for Kansas. Cornelius had gotten into a groove. He came out guns blazing with a 56-yard strike to set up the Cowboys in the red zone. Two plays later, they would punch in another score. Even after an interception, Cornelius was not fazed, bouncing back with a touchdown to put the Jayhawks away for good.
In the end, only five of the senior’s passes fell incomplete, and four of his throws went for scores. He displayed poise and accuracy from the pocket, and with a dominant run game, Cornelius did the most important thing a quarterback can do: take advantage of what the defense gives you. The game didn’t require him to be the hero; it just necessitated him making the right read each time. Whether it was through the air or even on the ground, Cornelius rebounded strong from the previous week’s loss and put up his third 300-plus-yard outing of the season. With much of the year left to play, especially in Big 12 competition, all eyes will be on Cornelius to see if he can keep the magic going.
Wesley Fields, RB, Georgia Southern
With the Eagles looking to rebound after a loss to Clemson, all hands were needed on deck as Georgia Southern tried to impose its will in the run game against Arkansas State. While Fields contributed to a number of big plays on the ground (including a blistering 64-yarder), his biggest play might’ve been through the air. With time running down in the first period, Fields turned a simple wheel route into a burner of a score, racing down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown. He would finish the day with 159 all-purpose yards.
Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson
Syracuse had already knocked off Clemson last year, and when the Tigers’ quarterback left the game, it looked like a repeat upset was on its way. But with the offense sputtering, it was up to the defense to make the necessary stops, and Joseph was among those who rose to the top. The senior linebacker chased down the Orangemen from all angles of the field, registering 12 total tackles, eight of them solo. Anyone who got past the line of scrimmage had to contend with number 34, and he made them pay. By the end, the Tigers made enough stops to claw back into the game, as Joseph and rest of the defense emerged victorious and, as of yet this season, undefeated.
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
Following an explosive first game of the season, Isabella has had a tough time getting free for more big plays. Well, on Saturday against Ohio, Isabella had enough, and absolutely erupted against the Bobcats defense. Whether it was bracket coverage, man or zone, nothing could not stop the quick and sure-handed receiver, as he hauled in 12 catches for 198 yards. Of those 12, Isabella took three to the house, scoring from 39, 37, and 55 yards out.
Every week during the NFL regular season, we will track notable performances by NFL players who participated in the Collegiate Bowl. Here are the top performers from Week 4:
Chad Williams- WR
Sunday’s game against the Seahawks marked a big day for Williams, who snagged a tough 22-yard catch in the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
John Franklin Myers- DL
Los Angeles Rams
The rookie lineman made a critical play late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s win against the Vikings, strip-sacking Kirk Cousins to force a turnover that helped keep the Rams undefeated at home.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling- WR
Green Bay Packers
In his first NFL start, Valdes-Scantling stepped in for injured Randall Cobb and caught one pass for 38 yards on Green Bay’s final scoring drive during a 22-0 win over Buffalo.
Tarik Cohen- RB
In Chicago’s 48-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cohen had a BIG game. The versatile back had 13 carries for 53 yards and caught seven passes for 121 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run.
Jatavis Brown- LB
Los Angeles Chargers
Brown accumulated a season-high nine tackles and a pass defended in the Chargers’ 29-27 win over the 49ers.
Every week during the NFL regular season, we will track notable performances by NFL players who participated in the Collegiate Bowl. Here are the top performers from Week 3:
LB Avery Williamson
New York Jets
The fifth-year veteran posted arguably the most impressive statline on the entire Jets defense with a team-high of 14 tackles and two sacks versus the Browns.
DB Duron Harmon
New England Patriots
Even though the game ended in a loss to the Lions, Harmon made his presence felt with eight tackles.
K Josh Lambo
All of the Jaguars points were posted by Lambo during a loss to Tennessee. He was two for two on field goal attempts with kicks from 46 and 38 yards. The performance pushed his streak of consecutive made field goals to 16, which stands as the third-best streak in Jaguars franchise history.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Jonathan Duhart, WR, Old Dominion
Casual fans may never have heard of Old Dominion’s team before, and even those who do follow college football might not be aware of where the school is located. But after this weekend, everyone should know that Old Dominion is in Norfolk, Virginia, and despite entering their game at 0-3, the Monarchs shocked the world by upsetting No. 13 Virginia Tech, 49-35..
An upset of that magnitude, with Old Dominion in the Conference USA cellar heading to the matchup against the Hokies, requires peak performances from everyone on the team, especially the seniors. And when the Monarchs turned to their backup quarterback, Jonathan Duhart and his fellow wideouts made sure to step up big time.
Duhart had already started off the season strong, registering back-to-back weeks of over 100 yards receiving, but it was hard for him to break into the national spotlight. He had missed most of last season, and though he caught nine touchdowns in 2016, there was no telling whether that would transfer over into a game like this.
Each time his team needed someone to make a play, Duhart delivered. In the first quarter, after Virginia Tech had just scored a long touchdown, Duhart and the offense capped off their own 75-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown grab by the senior wideout to tie the score at 7 apiece. The two teams traded blows for the rest of the first half, and despite a missed field goal by ODU, the offense never wavered, as Duhart got open in the end zone with just four seconds remaining to tie the score again at halftime.
The back-and-forth continued in the second half, and thanks to Duhart reeling in more passes from quarterback Blake LaRussa, the Monarchs kept pace. With the score tied at 28, Duhart snagged a 27-yard catch that led to an ODU touchdown. After the Hokies again knotted the score, Duhart delivered with a highlight reel, over-the-shoulder grab despite a defender draped over him to register the touchdown that would ultimately seal victory.
None of his touchdowns were pretty; they were all hard-fought, and if it was someone else, maybe they couldn’t have made the play. But Duhart, with his innate body control and strong hands, made sure to secure the ball almost every time as he finished with nine catches for 142 yards, three touchdowns, and of course, a sweet upset as the Monarchs would have their day.
David Blough, QB, Purdue
Old Dominion wasn’t the only unranked, winless team with an upset over a ranked opponent. The Boilermakers also made light work of Boston College. The Eagles had no answer for Purdue’s Blough, who connected with six different receivers for 296 yards and three scores, all while completing 75 percent of his passes as Purdue rolled to a 30-13 win.
Tre Watson, LB, Maryland
Maryland started the season strong with a win over Texas that is looking better by the week, but the Terps needed to show their worth in Big Ten conference play if they wanted to be taken seriously. Cue the music, as Watson might as well have taken up residence in the Minnesota offense. He finished the day with 11 tackles, a sack, and a beautiful interception that he returned 36 yards for the score.
Ryquell Armstead, RB, Temple
Armstead was known to have a nose for the end zone as a sophomore when he found pay dirt 14 times, but this season has been a bit tougher. Despite two 100-plus-yard rushing efforts, the featured back had yet to find the end zone. That “streak” came to an end against Tulsa, as Armstead ran all over the defense for 108 yards and that elusive touchdown.
Isaiah Buggs, DE, Alabama
Another year, another dominant Alabama defensive lineman. Buggs had already started off strong with two sacks in his first two games, and this past weekend against Texas A&M, he was nearly unstoppable. Not only did he have seven tackles, but he also notched three sacks as the Crimson Tide defense looks as intimidating as ever.
Every week during the NFL regular season, we will track notable performances by NFL players who participated in the Collegiate Bowl. Here are the top performers from Week 2:
DB Shaquill Griffin
Despite entering the game as questionable with a thigh injury, that didn’t stop Griffin from snagging two interceptions to go with three passes defended and four tackles. His defense helped keep the game close with clutch plays and interceptions on consecutive drives to interrupt the Bears momentum. The second-year cornerback showed great displays of athleticism and agility, which is exactly what the Seahawks need as they search for their first win of the year.
P Marquette King
In a close win against his old team, the Oakland Raiders, King showed off his incredible talent with a total of 204 yards on four punts for an average of 51 yards per kick.
TE Will Dissly
The rookie tight end put together another strong showing, this time on the Monday Night Football stage against the Chicago Bears. Dissly caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Through two games, he sits as the team’s top receiver with six catches, 147 yards and two touchdowns. And according to the Seahawks, this output makes him the first rookie tight end in NFL history to start his career with a touchdown and more than 40 yards receiving in consecutive games.
BY DAVID CHOUGH
Wyatt Ray, DE, Boston College
Boston College senses that there might be an opening in the ACC, and the way Eagles are playing, they are looking to bust the conference wide open. This past weekend, Boston College took its 2-0 record up against a Wake Forest team that had totaled 74 points in its first two games. With his team in need of a defensive spark against this ACC foe, Wyatt Ray stepped up by having the game of his life with four sacks.
After logging a sack last week against Holy Cross, Ray got off to a fast start Saturday, notching his first sack in the opening quarter to put the Demon Deacons behind the sticks and on notice. While Wake Forest would move the ball at times, they were constantly hounded by pressure when trying to pass, and Ray made his presence felt in the run game, too. He finished the game with eight total tackles, including seven solo stops.
Those stops would be necessary with Wake Forest threatening in the fourth quarter. Following a critical third-down conversion by the Demon Deacons with 10 minutes to play, Boston College needed someone to step up. Ray answered the call, promptly sacking the opposing quarterback for a 7-yard loss on first down and completely thwarting the momentum of the drive. After two plays that went nowhere, Wake Forest had to punt the ball back to the Eagles.
On its final drive of the game, Wake Forest managed to move the ball down the field, but BC once again clamped down. After wrapping up the quarterback on first down, Ray registered his fourth sack of the day two plays later to force Wake Forest into a fourth-down situation. Though the Demon Deacons would convert and eventually score a touchdown, Ray’s two sacks on the drive chewed up enough time to force Wake Forest to onside kick. When that failed, BC was able to run out the clock and secure the win.
After registering just 2.5 sacks a year ago, Ray surpassed that in just one game. And with his combination of size and pass-rushing tricks, the senior defensive end looks poised to continue his strong output and keep the victories coming for Boston College.
Lexington Thomas, RB, UNLV
Standing at 5-foot-9, Thomas isn’t the most imposing figure. But he carried the rock 30 times against Prairie View this past weekend, notching his third consecutive 100-yard effort on the season and a touchdown as well. Though his trademark speed was bottled up by the defense, Thomas showed that he’s more than just a one-trick pony by consistently moving the chains.
Marcus Green, University of Louisiana-Monroe
The Warhawks never quit even as Texas A&M dominated the game, and that was especially true of Green. The senior wideout managed to get behind the Aggies defense for 44 yards, and even though he didn’t find the end zone, he still finished with four catches for 75 yards. Though he might have preferred the win, it definitely helped prove that his first two weeks of production were no fluke.
Blake Banham, RB, Eastern Michigan
The positional label of “offensive weapon” never quite took off, but if there was ever a player deserving of it in college football, Banham fits the bill. Listed as a running back, Banham made the most of his touches through the air, catching nine balls for 159 yards, including a 75-yard scamper for a score. With nary a rushing attempt on the season but an impressive 23 receptions and 361 yards receiving, Banham is a threat however he gets the ball in his hands.
Gary Johnson, LB, Texas
It didn’t have the drama of the previous two matchups between these storied programs, but Johnson helped launch the Longhorns into yet another victory over USC. He finished with six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble while preventing any attempt at a comeback by USC.