Week 13 Booms
Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa --324 yards passing, five touchdowns -- vs. Auburn: Congratulations to Auburn for making Tagovailoa throw a pass in the fourth quarter. It was a touchdown. Tagovailoa also had a rushing score in the trashing of the Tigers in the Civil War on Saturday. Tagovailoa made several plays that suggested that his knee is feeling much, much better; and the touch along with the accuracy was on display as well. Again. Simply put, Tagovailoa has been the best player in college football this year, and it would be a tremendous upset if the sophomore doesn't take home the Heisman Trophy.
Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray-- 364 yards passing, 100 yards rushing, four touchdowns -- vs. West Virginia : This was going to be the most exciting game of the year, but then, well, we'll get into it in a second. Murray did throw the pick, but outside of that interception the future (possible) MLB player was outstanding, albeit against a defense that just flat out wasn't able to tackle on Friday night. Tagovailoa is going to win the Heisman, but Murray has had an outstanding season. I selfishly hope we get to see him play one more year of college football.
West Virginia QB Will Grier -- 539 yards passing, four touchdowns -- vs. Oklahoma: Yes, it came in a losing effort. Yes, Oklahoma's pass defense is problematic, and problematic is too kind of word at this point. It's still among the best games we've seen from a quarterback, and it just might have earned him a trip to New York City as well. The former Florida quarterback ends his regular season with 3,864 yards and a 37/8 TD/INT ratio, and depending on who you talk to, he just might be the favorite to be the first quarterback taken in 2019. At the very least, he's earned that consideration with his play this year for the Mountaineers.
Washington RB Myles Gaskin -- 170 yards rushing, three touchdowns -- vs. Washington State: With so much on the line for the Cougars, Gaskin had no desire to allow the Cougars to win the Apple Cup for the first time since Chris Petersen took over, and he dominated Washington State in the 28-15 victory on Friday. The biggest player was an 80-yard run on a perfectly-designed counter that put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. Gaskin has had a disappointing season because shoulder issues and some inconsistent line play, but he's the first Pac-12 running back to ever rush for a thousand yards in four straight seasons. It's tough to beat that kind of consistency, and Washington is going to miss Gaskin next year. A lot.
Boise State RB Alexander Mattison -- 200 yards rushing, three touchdowns -- vs. Utah State: This was another big game -- the winner was going to get the chance to play for the conference title against Fresno State this Saturday -- and Mattison's effort went a long way towards the Broncos picking up the victory. The junior tailback has been an unsung hero for Boise State in 2018, as he's up to 1215 yards and 16 touchdowns. Assuming Mattison comes back for his senior season, he's going to be one of the best "small school" tailbacks to follow in 2019.
Oregon RB CJ Verdell -- 187 yards rushing, five touchdowns -- vs. Oregon State: The scary thing about how good the Ducks were/how terrible the Beavers are is that Verdell didn't even lead the team in rushing (Travis Dye, 199 yards). That's partially due to the fact that Verdell left the game with a foot injury, although there's a chance he wouldn't get many more touches with the game out of hand, anyway. One of the scores was a receiving score, and the talented redshirt freshman has now scored 12 times on the season. He should be a big part of the offense next year for a team that could be a contender if Justin Herbert returns to Autzen.
Colorado State WR Preston Williams -- 248 yards receiving, three touchdowns -- vs. Air Force: He certainly wasn't the most heralded transfer player, but you could certainly argue that no one was more effective than Williams was in 2018. The monster 12-catch, 248-yard game along with the three scores puts his season line at 96/1,345/14. At 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Williams has the size to get open in the red zone, and if it touches his hands, Williams is going to catch it. He's a star, and it's certainly possible we see him catching passes in the NFL next year.
South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel -- 210 yards receiving, three touchdowns -- vs. Clemson: Sure it came in a blowout loss to the rival Tigers, but you had to come away impressed with Samuel's effort against Clemson. Even if you didn't get a chance to watch it, just look at that line and trust us that he was at his best. Samuel's talent is unquestioned, but the results have been inconsistent, and then there are of course the injuries. NFL scouts are certain to take notice of this, however, and assuming he tests well at the combine -- it's really hard to imagine he won't test well at the combine -- he'll be among the top wideouts selected in 2019. It's impossible to ignore that athleticism.
Oklahoma WR Marquise Brown -- 243 yards receiving, two touchdowns -- vs. West Virginia: Kyler Murray generally spreads the ball around, but in this one, Brown was the top target, and he obliged the quarterback with one of his best performances in a Sooners' uniform. Brown has been sort of hit-and-miss in 2018, but when he's hit, boy has he ever hit. His regular season ends with a line of 70/1,264/10, and he's assuredly going to improve on those numbers of these next two -- possibly three? -- games left for the Sooners.
Anyone who watched LSU and Texas A&M -- 146 points, seven overtimes, premature Gatorade baths -- vs. each other: The best game of the year? The best game of the year. This one looked over -- twice -- after Kellen Mond threw an interception with little time left, but it was ruled that Mond's knee was down before he threw the pass. Then it appeared the game was over when he spiked the ball with no time left, but the referees -- who may not have had their best day -- rules there was one second left. Mond was able to throw a touchdown pass to send the game into overtime. All that happened after that was 84 points in one of the most exciting games these eyes have seen. It's a shame someone had to lose.
Week 13 Busts
Gardner Minshew -- 152 yards passing, two interceptions -- vs. Washington: This was easily Minshew's biggest test of the year -- and the biggest test as a college quarterback -- and unfortunately, you'd have to give him a failing grade on Friday. You might be nice and point out that the Cougars' gameplan was hurt by the copious amounts of snow there was on the field, but even still, Minshew just couldn't get the ball down the field. Jake Browning didn't have nearly as much trouble doing so, which is another strike against Minshew. It was a terrific season for the ECU gunslinger and Washington State is going to go to a quality bowl game. Had he played better, however, the Cougars would be in play for much, much bigger things.
Michigan defense -- 62 points allowed -- vs. Ohio State: No one could have possibly seen this coming. Say whatever you want about how Jim Harbaugh has struggled in big games while the coach of the Wolverines, and say what you will about Ohio State's offense being among the best in college football. Both of those things are true. You still had no idea that Michigan would get shellacked like this and you know it. It's especially disappointed for the Wolverines considering how obvious their path was to the College Football Playoff; there were some who were even wondering if they'd pass Notre Dame in the rankings despite the fact that the Fighting Irish have no losses and beat the Wolverines. Now, they're likely looking at the Rose Bowl; assuming Ohio State handles Northwestern in the conference's championship game.
The Lane Kiffin Hype Train -- 5-7 record: At this point last year, Kiffin was one of the biggest and best stories in college football. The Lane Train had as much hype as any coach in football, and it was just a matter of who was going to be hiring the coach after his ten-win season and C-USA championship. Now? The Owls went 5-7 despite having one of the best player in college football in Devin Singletary, and after their 27-24 loss to Charlotte on Saturday, they won't be going bowling. Kiffin is still an exciting playcaller who clearly relates with college football recruits, but as a head coach, his record remains mixed. It'd be an upset if Kiffin was up for the bigger jobs this year, as teams will want to see some sort of sustained success before giving him another chance at that level.