Penn State QB Trace McSorley vs. Wisconsin -- Last weekend’s showdown between Ohio State and Michigan might have held more dramatic weight than the actual Big Ten Championship Game, but the latter contest offered a more fluid, dynamic game in many ways. The Nittany Lions won the conference title with a 21-point comeback. McSorley threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns to help fuel that stunning climb to the Big Ten’s summit.
Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine vs. Oklahoma State -- The 37 carries Perine received in this incarnation of Bedlam are the most he has taken in a game during his Sooner career. He made good use of those touches, too, rushing for 239 yards and a touchdown. This was Perine’s sixth career game of at least 200 yards rushing and his second of 2016. Injury has forced the rock-of-a-back to miss three games in 2016 and barring a decision to return for his senior season, Perine’s best overall season in three years will be his freshman campaign, one in which he rushed for 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Western Kentucky RB Anthony Wales vs. Louisiana Tech -- The statistical leaderboard is littered with players from this match-up. Bulldogs quarterback Ryan Higgins led the FBS with 502 passing yards, Bulldogs wideout Carlos Henderson paced all wideouts with nine catches for 202 yards and a score and Hilltoppers star Taywan Taylor slotted in as the No. 2 receiving target of the week with seven catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns. And then there was Wales, who tied West Virginia’s Justin Crawford for the second-most prolific rushing game of the week behind Perine. Both gentlemen ripped it up for 209 yards. Crawford did not score a touchdown, though, while Wales netted himself five of them, four on the ground and one as a receiver. Western Kentucky won the shootout 58-44.
New Mexico State RB Larry Rose III vs. South Alabama -- In a campaign slow to start due to Rose’s offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia (he did not play until September 24), Rose finished in fine fashion. He broke South Alabama with 170 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 22 carries. Even with that stellar effort, this still stands as Rose’s worst statistical season in his three years at New Mexico State. He had rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. That 2015 campaign saw him post 1,657 yards and 14 touchdowns, dropping down to 865 yards and four touchdowns for 2016. At 3-9, there will be no postseason bowl in Rose’s immediate future.
Wisconsin RB Corey Clement vs. Penn State -- Clement was largely awesome on Saturday, rushing for 164 yards. Included in his 21 carries, a sweet 67-yard touchdown run in which he busted down the left sideline and outran the entire Nittany Lions’ defense. This is all swell. Less swell was Clement getting snuffed out on a fourth-down carry late in the fourth quarter to more/less end the game. Despite that unsuccessful play, Clement has finished up the campaign strong on the whole. Saturday’s 164 yards tied the season-high he previously set against Ohio State on October 15 and he has now turned in five consecutive 100-yard performances on the ground.
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis vs. Ohio -- The Broncos rowed that boat to a 13-0 regular season and a MAC title. Near the front of the boat, pushing the craft away from boulders and sharks using a wooden oar, has been Davis. He still has a probable Cotton Bowl to row toward, but for the next month, the waters will be calm. He can safely spyglass his way back on a 2016 season in which he caught 91 passes for 1,427 yards and 18 touchdowns. He capped it off by fishing out eight passes for 144 yards and a score against Ohio on Friday. Davis has now gone over 1,400 yards receiving in each of his last three seasons.
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson vs. Virginia Tech -- Clemson did their typically Clemson-ish thing on Saturday night, letting the Hokies just sort of lurk within a touchdown or two for most of the contest. Watson helped keep Virginia Tech at bay with five total touchdowns. He rushed for two of those five scores and posted 85 yards on the ground -- just his third game with 50-plus rushing yards this season. While Watson isn’t posting the same kinds of all-around awesome games as he did a year ago, he has now thrown for 37 touchdowns, topping the 35 he threw during Clemson’s brilliant 2015 season. He has also thrown 15 interceptions, though, after tossing just 13 last season. To me, the Tigers still feel like the team most likely to give Alabama a true challenge for the title, though maybe that is just because Watson’s performance against the Tide last season was so otherworldly. Speaking of Alabama and speaking of otherworldly…
Alabama’s defense vs. Florida -- While there were plenty of fine offensive showings on Saturday by the above parties and unnamed friends, a giant shadow continues to darken the landscape. That shadow is in the form of an elephant. That shadow, like a perpetual cold front, is Alabama’s defense. In a stunning (relatively speaking, relatively speaking) lapse, the Tide allowed Antonio Callaway to score via a five-yard touchdown grab on Florida’s first possession of the SEC Championship Game on Saturday -- the first touchdown Alabama’s defense had allowed since October 22. Bama proceeded to turn that 7-0 deficit into a 54-16 win. These things happen when you are Alabama. The raw defensive numbers in this game are ridiculous, as the defending champs intercepted Austin Appleby three times and held Florida to -- not a typo -- exactly zero yards rushing as a team, somehow improving on the 15 yards rushing they limited Florida to in the SEC Championship Game a year ago. The Tide also had one goal line stand in the second half in which they transformed into a wall, so that was cool.
Alabama QB Jalen Hurts vs. Florida -- That Alabama blew out one of the best defenses in the country by 38 points in what was probably Hurts’ worst game of the season is somewhat terrifying. He threw for a mere 138 yards and a touchdown. Those marginal numbers look downright shiny compared to what the normally fleet-of-foot freshman picked up on the ground. One. One yard. Once more, with feeling: Alabama won this game by 38 points. Get ready for that, Playoff field. Get ready for that.
West Virginia QB Skyler Howard vs. Baylor -- I liked Howard to have a nice game, here, and ended up being very, very wrong. He did throw two touchdown passes, but managed just 111 passing yards and completed less than half of his attempts. The Mountaineers won the game, anyway, kicking Baylor to their sixth loss in a row on the strength of a relatively nice defensive effort and the 209 rushing yards of Justin Crawford.
Wyoming RB Brian Hill vs. San Diego State -- The Cowboys’ Rocky Mountain brethren over at Colorado have received most of the love this season, but Wyoming has put in a stellar turnaround of their own, jumping from two wins in 2015 to eight in 2016. They also notched a memorable upset in their felling of Boise State on October 29. Those good times came to an end in Saturday’s Mountain West Championship Game. Also coming to an end, Brian Hill’s six-game streak of 100-yard performances. Like his team as a whole, Hill came up just shy, finishing with 93 yards rushing. He also failed to score a touchdown for just the second time in 13 games this season.
Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph vs. Oklahoma -- Rudolph had thrown for a touchdown in all but one of the Cowboys’ 11 games entering Bedlam on Saturday. No such luck against the Sooners, though. Rudolph was largely a non-factor here, finishing with 186 yards passing while completing only 11-of-25 passes. Big dog wideout James Washington took some of that statistical flak, as he finished with two catches for 50 yards.
Temple RB Jahad Thomas vs. Navy -- The Owls’ running game was blunted by the Midshipmen in this one, with neither Thomas nor backfield partner in crime Ryquell Armstead surpassing 80 yards rushing. Armstead finished with 76 yards on 10 carries. Thomas received nine more carries than him, but those 19 totes of the rock resulted in just 62 yards rushing. He averaged a paltry 3.2 YPC in the win.
West Virginia WR Shelton Gibson vs. Baylor -- We touched on Skyler Howard’s barely-there performance earlier. His most flashy wideout, Gibson, left nothing at all to the imagination. He did not catch a pass and his most notable play came when he returned a kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown only to have it recalled due to a penalty. That Gibson’s statistical not-so-much against the Bears came a week after he caught three passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns versus Iowa State illustrates the extreme variance in his game at this point in his development.
Clemson RB Wayne Gallman vs. Virginia Tech -- Deshaun Watson might be heating up at the right time of the year, but Gallman hasn’t quite locked in the same way. In Saturday’s ACC Championship Game, he took 17 carries and spun them into 59 yards rushing and a score. It had looked like Gallman had turned the corner prior to this weekend, too, as he had rushed for a combined 273 yards against Wake Forest and South Carolina in Clemson’s last two games. Prior to that little statistical uptick, he had been held under 65 yards rushing in three of his last four games.
Colorado QB Sefo Liufau vs. Washington -- The Huskies did what they needed to do in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday, winning in convincing 41-10 style. That gradual bludgeoning included a defensive effort against Liufau that was just cruel. The quarterback was forced out of action after taking a sack early in the contest, then came back after halftime to disastrous result. He threw three interceptions in a brutal third-quarter that saw Washington bump its lead from 14-7 to 31-10. Liufau had been picked off just three times on the season prior to this New Coke-esque showing. He finished the contest having completed 3-of-13 passes for 21 yards.