Week 12 of college football featured a lot of highlights, lowlights, and downright head-scratching moments. Watching the slate of games Saturday, here is what I came away with.
- Just feel horrible about Jordan Travis. You cannot write the story of FSU’s turnaround without Jordan Travis. Florida State has been languishing in college football purgatory since 2016, taking a backseat in the ACC to Clemson and sometimes Louisville, UNC, and Duke. The Post-Jameis Winston era had not been kind to the Seminoles as Jimbo Fisher gave up on the team and they searched for a new coach to lead them back to national relevance. Enter Mike Norvell and Jordan Travis who, over the last few years, had to rebuild the culture together. This year that mission finally seemed realized, The team took on the personality of their veteran quarterback: calm, confident and careful. The team rarely mistakes and made a ton of big plays as Travis led them to a 10-0 record while throwing 20 touchdowns to only two interceptions, rushing for seven more scores on the ground. The Noles were fun to watch and on their way to a wide open College Football playoff berth. Look, it is always gut wrenching to see a player suffer a season ending and sometimes career altering injury. Jordan Travis’ leg injury on Saturday cut especially deep because it felt so, so unfair given the hard work that young man had put into his craft as. quarterback and the work put into elevating FSU’s football program. I am wishing for Jordan Travis to have a speedy, safe recovery.
- Michael Penix Jr. continues to come up big. It was bound to happen this season. Even with the way that Washington has been playing on offense, they would surely run into a defense that gave them a bit more trouble. The Oregon State Beavers defense put on a heroic effort to slow the Huskies and hold them to a season low 22 points. Washington still won the close game, but Oregon State deserves credit. That being said, Michael Penix remained quite impressive in a far more challenging game than he’s played all season. The stat line isn’t as sexy as we’re used to from Penix. Hell, he didn’t even complete 50% of his passes. Yet he delivered in key moments, including a game sealing fourth down conversion, to keep Washington unbeaten. What really defines a college quarterback’s pro-readiness is what happens when the spaces get tighter for their offenses and adversity pops up. Penix didn’t let early frustrations snowball and prevent him from making game winning plays and that is a huge credit to him as a player.
- The Heisman race is three quarterbacks right now. Speaking of Michael Penix Jr., it really feels like the Heisman race is squarely between him, Bo Nix, and Jayden Daniels. The three signal callers have the crazy numbers, the team success, and the benefit of playing quarterback. While there are other great players across the country, like Marvin Harrison Junior and Malik Nabers, they won’t quite get the same love because of perceived positional value. With rare exceptions, the Heisman is a quarterback award now.
- Speaking of Malik Nabers... Nabers is playing so, so well right now. The junior receiver has 80 catches through 11 games, scored 12 times, and is averaging almost 18 yards per reception. It is amazing to have that sort of per reception efficiency as such as a high volume player and that speaks to the kind of special wide receiver he is. He has the speed to threaten deep, but is also a gifted runner with the ball in hands which allows him to be a dangerous short-yardage threat. Nabers is going to be the “consolation” prize in the draft for a team that misses out on Marvin Harrison Junior and make that team very, very happy.
Offensive Player of the Week: Bo Nix, Quarterback, Oregon
Bo Nix was on one on Saturday. The senior quarterback threw six touchdowns in the first half against Arizona State, tying an Oregon record. Nix completed 24 of 29 pass attempts for over 400 yards so, for those keeping score, he had more touchdowns than incompletions against the Sun Devils. They were not all “gimme” throws either. Nix looked sharp and confident while attacking tight windows down in the red zone. It was just a damn impressive game for the fifth-year senior. Nix has now thrown 35 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jack Sawyer, Edge, Ohio State
Ohio State dominated Minnesota on Saturday, holding the Golden Gophers to only three points. Leading the charge on defense for the Buckeyes was Jack Sawyer. Sawyer was a terror rushing the passer, wracking up a sack, a forced fumble, and nonstop pressure. He also made his presence felt against the run as well, making a few tackles behind the line and always being around the ball while he was on the field. Sawyer hasn’t put up gaudy numbers this year but has just been a really solid, dependable defender for the Buckeyes. Saturday was a great example of what he can do at his best as a three-down defender.