Maxwell Football Club Weekly College Football Update
QB Shane Buechele, SMU
Next time a friend wants to talk key transfer quarterbacks for 2019, be sure to drop Buechele's name. He's been a central figure in the Ponies' improbable 5-0 start and 44 points per game. Facing a possible letdown in Tampa after shocking TCU a week earlier, SMU smoked USF, 48-21, behind four Buechele touchdowns, including three through the air.
QB Sean Clifford, Penn State
After some early hiccups with Buffalo and Pitt, Penn State appears ready for Big Ten play. Clifford, in particular, appears ready for Big Ten play. The sophomore spearheaded an absolute obliteration of Maryland Friday, 59-0. Clifford led the Lions with 54 yards and a TD on the ground, while deftly completing 26-of-31 for 398 yards, three more scores and an interception.
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
Undefeated Kansas State began Week 5 well rested, fresh off a bye week. However, no amount of down time was enough to corral Hubbard, who repeatedly gashed the Wildcat D Saturday night in Stillwater. The nation's leading rusher-by a wide margin-exploded for 296 yards and an 84-yard TD sprint on 25 carries in a 26-13 victory.
QB Tyler Huntley, Utah
With star RB Zack Moss injured, Huntley will have to play an even greater role in the Ute attack. He's up to the challenge. In a must-win Saturday versus Washington State, the senior outdueled prolific Cougar QB Anthony Gordon in a 38-13 bounce back win. Huntley ran for two scores and completed 21-of-30 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
QB Cole McDonald, Hawaii
At least for a week, the Rainbow Warriors became road warriors. In what was supposed to be a tough road trip to Reno, Hawaii dismantled Nevada, 54-3, on a wet and cold evening. McDonald threw for 312 yards and had nearly as many TD passes (4) as incompletions (5). His Pro Football Focus passing grade was the third highest among all quarterbacks in Week 5.
QB Tanner Morgan, Minnesota
If Morgan plays anywhere close to the way he did Saturday in West Lafayette, the Gophers are going to be a dangerous team in the Big Ten West. The sophomore from Kentucky set a Big Ten record for accuracy by completing 21-of-22 passes for 396 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. For dropping dimes throughout the win, Morgan earned Pro Football Focus' highest passing grade of the weekend.
QB Bo Nix, Auburn
Okay, now that the Auburn offense has found its rhythm this team is a serious threat in the deep SEC West. And Nix's rookie development is a huge factor in the transformation. The true freshman lit up a pretty talented Mississippi State D Saturday night, sparking a 56-23 wire-to-wire demolition. Nix led the Tigers on the ground, accounted for three scores and completed 16-of-21 for 335 yards.
WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
Well, have a day, DeVonta. While Smith usually shares the spotlight with receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, he basked in it throughout Saturday's rout of Ole Miss, 59-31. The junior rewrote Alabama's pass-catching record book with 11 receptions for 274 yards and five TD catches. Those five touchdown grabs also tied an SEC mark for a single game.
The Maxwell Football Club also honors the nation's best defensive player with the Chuck Bednarik Award. Here's a look at last week's standout defenders
LB Clay Johnston, Baylor
Baylor is undefeated through four games. And head coach Matt Rhule is getting contributions from all three phases. QB Charlie Brewer threw for three touchdowns, John Mayers kicked the game-winning field goal and Johnston was everywhere as the Bears knocked off visiting Iowa State. The senior posted a game-high 13 stops, including a sack, and broke up a pair of Brock Purdy passes.
CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
Beware, Big Ten. This Silver Bullet D has become downright scary. With Chase Young coming off the edge and Okudah locking down opposing receivers, the Buckeye defense has been every bit as dominant as the offensive attack. Ohio State held Nebraska's usually dynamic Adrian Martinez to 8-of-17 through the air for 47 yards, no TDs and three picks. Okudah had two of the INTs, and earned Pro Football Focus' highest grade among corners with at least 20 snaps.
DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
Brian Kelly wanted to know how his team would respond after falling to Georgia in Week 4. The D, for one, was up to the challenge. The Irish forced five turnovers and got to shifty Virginia QB Bryce Perkins eight times, with Okwara performing at an All-American level. He notched three of ND's sacks, forced two fumbles that led to touchdowns and recovered one of his own.
LB Chris Orr, Wisconsin
On a day when the offense struggled to move the sticks, the Badger D took over to avoid Northwestern's upset bid. Orr, along with DE Zack Baun and LB Jack Sanborn, were oppressive for a fourth week in a row. An experienced senior from DeSoto, Tex., Orr delivered nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and three hurries of rattled Wildcat quarterbacks.
DE Kwity Paye, Michigan
If the Wolverines are going to contend in the Big Ten East, Don Brown's defense is likely to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Paye, in particular, is one of the underrated cogs of the team's revamped front wall. The rare recruit from the state of Rhode Island collected six stops, 3.5 stops for minus yards and 1.5 sacks in Saturday's 52-0 blanking of Rutgers.
LB Koby Quansah, Duke
After suffering an opening day loss to Alabama, Duke has found its groove. With contributions from both sides of the ball, the Blue Devils have won three straight and scored at least 41 in each victory. Quansah sparked the D Friday in Blacksburg with 13 tackles and a fumble recovery, as Duke rolled to its biggest blowout of Va Tech since 1951.
LB Chazz Surratt, North Carolina
As former quarterbacks go, Surratt has evolved into one heckuva linebacker. Clemson could not contain the Tar Heel pass rush Saturday, and it almost cost them a game in Chapel Hill. Surratt fueled the charge from the second level with a team-high seven stops, two tackles for loss, a sack, two pass breakups and three harassments of Trevor Lawrence.
DE D.J. Wonnum, South Carolina
The Kentucky O-line had been playing very well this season. That is, until the unit had to face Wonnum in Columbia. The senior tormented Wildcat QB Sawyer Smith, while continuing to impress NFL scouts with his strength, get-off and backside pursuit. Wonnum got to Smith three times, forced a fumble and generally kept him from setting his feet in the pocket.
Must-See Week 6 Games
Iowa (4-0) at Michigan (3-1)
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Hawkeyes and the Wolverines may not be favorites in the Big Ten West and East, respectively. But they are contenders, a position both hope to solidify this weekend in Ann Arbor. While Michigan has the more heralded defense, it's Iowa that ranks No. 3 nationally in scoring D at 8.5 points per game. The Hawkeyes, led by DE A.J. Epenesa and CB Michael Ojemudia, have been especially stingy on third downs. It'll be up to Wolverine QB Shea Patterson to keep drives alive.
Auburn (5-0) at Florida (5-0)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Tigers and the Gators haven't met in eight years. This battle in the Swamp will likely be the worth the wait. Both schools are undefeated, ranked in the top 10 and sporting championship-caliber defenses. Saturday's meeting will feature a slew of next-level D-linemen, like Auburn's Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson and Florida's Jabari Zuniga and Jon Greenard. The outcome could hinge on the relatively inexperienced hurlers, Tiger true freshman Bo Nix and Gator Kyle Trask, who's replaced the injured Feleipe Franks.
Michigan State (4-1) at Ohio State (5-0)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
The Buckeyes have been a buzzsaw through five games, shredding opponents by an average of 44 points per game. Nebraska-in Lincoln-was Ohio State's latest overwhelmed victim, 48-7. OSU is the class of the Big Ten as October begins, but Michigan State presents a compelling challenge. Mark Dantonio has had success versus the Buckeyes, and the Spartan D just might be stout enough in the front seven to slow down dual-threat QB Justin Fields. Maybe.
The Maxwell and Bednarik Awards are members of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the association.