Winners and Losers of Week 12 in College Football

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystNovember 18, 2017

Winners and Losers of Week 12 in College Football

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    Baker Mayfield
    Baker MayfieldJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Week 12 of the 2017 college football season was expected to be an uneventful one, and for the most part, it delivered. The Top 10 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings went 10-0 and won by a combined margin of nearly 300 points. Only No. 8 Notre Dame's 24-17 win over Navy was decided by fewer than 12 points.

    But despite the complete lack of shake-up as far as the CFP is concerned, there were a significant number of noteworthy winners and losers.

    For instance, the AAC was a huge winner as UCF, South Florida and Memphis all won. At this point, it's almost impossible to dream up a scenario in which that league fails to have its champion selected for a New Year's Six bowl game.

    And on the flip side of that coin, Heisman front-runner Baker Mayfield had another solid game on the field, but his sportsmanship-lacking antics before and during Oklahoma's blowout win over Kansas will unfortunately be one of the biggest stories of the week.

    Read on for the rest of Week 12's biggest winners and losers.

Winner: Byron Pringle, Kansas State

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    Byron Pringle
    Byron PringleJohn Weast/Getty Images

    It takes a lot of points and big plays to beat Oklahoma State.

    Fortunately for Kansas State, it has Byron Pringle.

    The junior wide receiver entered the game averaging 22.5 yards per reception on the season, and that number is going to spike to a nation-best 25.2 after his performance in the 45-40 win over the No. 13 Cowboys.

    Pringle got the party started with a 47-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter. He got beyond his man, and Skylar Thompson threw a dart nearly 60 yards through the air for what looked like an effortless pitch and catch.

    After an Oklahoma State field goal on the ensuing drive, Pringle returned the kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. He was almost untouched, with the exception of rather easily shaking the kicker's tackle.

    Midway through the third quarter, he had a 13-yard reception immediately followed by a 46-yard touchdown catch. As was the case on the first bomb, he got by his man (who fell down to leave Pringle really wide open), and Thompson threw a great pass more than half the length of the field.

    Lather, rinse, repeat on his final catch. With help from a rub route/pick play, Pringle streaked down the field to haul in a 60-yard TD.

    Shoutout to Thompson, who was sensational in his second career start at QB. But Pringle was the big story in this upset. All told, he had four catches for 166 yards and three touchdowns, and he had 280 all-purpose yards and four TDs after factoring in the kick returns.

Loser: Sportsmanship in Lawrence, Kansas

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    Baker Mayfield
    Baker MayfieldOrlin Wagner/Associated Press

    To put it lightly, Baker Mayfield hasn't gone out of his way to make friends on opposing teams this season. The big thing that went viral earlier this year was his planting the Oklahoma flag at midfield of the Horseshoe after Oklahoma's 31-16 win over Ohio State. But there have been a lot of "I'm better than you and I know it" moments throughout the year.

    And, evidently, Kansas has had enough of it.

    After the pregame coin toss, Mayfield went to shake the hands of the Kansas team captains, and they didn't even acknowledge him—quite the display of poor sportsmanship in front of two young kids who were also at midfield for the coin toss.

    Early in the game, Mayfield was caught on video responding to some heckling Kansas fans with "Y'all have one win. Go cheer on basketball."

    After Oklahoma opened a 28-3 lead, Mayfield decided to offer up his response to the Jayhawks sideline. His groin grab/F-bomb combo would have been more than enough for Hingle McCringleberry to get ejected from a game, and it will inevitably be the No. 1 college football thing the various talking heads are discussing for the next week as the low-light of an otherwise uneventful slate of games.

    Again, this guy has not been in the business of making friends. What he does, though, is efficiently lead an offense that has a great shot of reaching the College Football Playoff, and he did that again Saturday. Mayfield completed 20 of 30 pass attempts for 257 yards and three touchdowns before taking most of the fourth quarter off.

    What will be interesting to monitor is how Heisman voters respond to this sportsmanship debate. Statistically, Mayfield effectively won the award a couple of weeks ago. But if enough voters decide not to vote for him just because they don't like his attitude, maybe Lamar Jacksonwho is actually averaging more total yards per game this year (417.9) than last year (393.4)could win the Heisman again.

Winner: American Athletic Conference

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    Riley Ferguson
    Riley FergusonBrandon Dill/Associated Press

    For at least a month now, it has felt like we're on an inevitable path for the American Athletic Conference (AAC) champion to represent the Group of Five (G5) in the New Year's Six (NY6) bowls. However, the only thing that is inevitable in college football is chaos, so there were still a few more hurdles to clear in Week 12 for that outcome to make the transition from "likely" to "certainty."

    In the AAC East Division, UCF and South Florida took care of business to set up what should be the third-best game of Week 13 behind Alabama vs. Auburn and Ohio State vs. Michigan.

    Well, maybe "took care of business" is too generous a description for South Florida's game. Normally featuring one of the best offenses in the country, the Bulls only managed to score 27 points against Tulsa's atrocious defense. But they did enough on defense to get the 27-20 victory to improve to 9-1.

    No. 15 UCF cruised to a 45-19 road win over Temple. McKenzie Milton threw for four touchdowns and rushed for a fifth to keep the Knights undefeated at 10-0. They will host USF next week in the "War on I-4," and the winner will advance to the AAC championship.

    Whether it's the Knights or Bulls, they'll be facing the Tigers of Memphis. They improved to 9-1 by outlasting SMU 66-45 in what was rightfully expected to be one of the highest-scoring games of the season. Memphis both threw and rushed for more than 330 yards in the process of scoring on almost every possession.

    Technically, Memphis still needs to beat East Carolina next week to make the AAC championship an effective G5 play-in game. Because if the Tigers were to lose that game and then beat either UCF or USF the following week, they probably wouldn't finish in the Top 16 of the CFP rankings. But, let's be serious. Memphis has averaged 50.8 points over its last six games and is playing a home game against the team that entered this week dead last in scoring defense among FBS schools.

Loser: Dreams of Playoff-Altering Chaos

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    Alex Hornibrook and Chase Winovich
    Alex Hornibrook and Chase WinovichMorry Gash/Associated Press

    Alabama and Clemson essentially had mid-November byes, hosting FCS schools Mercer and The Citadel, respectively, and winning by a combined score of 117-3. Not a single person expected either of those games to be in doubt at any point, and they weren't.

    However, early in the second half of the early slate of games, things were looking mighty interesting for No. 3 Miami, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 6 Auburn.

    The Hurricanes fell behind by an early deficit of 14-0 at home against Virginia. They trailed 21-14 at the intermission and gave up yet another touchdown early in the third quarter, putting the ACC's dream of two playoff teams in serious jeopardy. But with help from the turnover chain in the form of a Jaquan Johnson pick-six, they finished the game on a 30-0 run to win 44-28.

    The Badgers looked dead in the water on offense against Michigan. Midway through the third quarter, they trailed 10-7 and had only taken one snap in Wolverines territory in the entire game. Wisconsin's lone points came on a punt return. Then, Alex Hornibrook suddenly turned into Aaron Rodgers and completed three difficult passes for a combined 102 yards. Meanwhile, Michigan QB Brandon Peters was knocked out of the game with a head injury, allowing Wisconsin to finish the game on a 17-0 run to remain undefeated at 11-0.

    And the Tigers were up 14-7 against Louisiana-Monroe, but the Warhawks took the opening possession of the second half into Auburn territory. Perhaps the Tigers weren't in danger of actually losing the game, but this was much closer than anticipated—until Auburn closed it out on a 28-7 run to remain the top two-loss team in the country.

    In case you lost track, those CFP contenders outscored their opposition 75-7 down the stretch, making the final scores look far less interesting than the games were.

Winner: Quarterbacks in Early Games Against FCS Opponents

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    Jalen Hurts
    Jalen HurtsBrynn Anderson/Associated Press

    As mentioned on the previous slide, Alabama and Clemson had no problem dispatching their FCS foes. They weren't the only teams hosting drastically inferior competition in the early kickoffs. There was also Florida State, which blew out Delaware State 77-6.

    You can probably guess that the FBS QBs fared well in those games, but allow me to show you just how well.

            

    Alabama
    Jalen Hurts: 7-of-7 for 180 yards, three TDs
    Tua Tagovailoa: 7-of-11 for 85 yards, three TDs

          

    Clemson
    Kelly Bryant: 17-of-22 for 230 yards, three TDs
    Hunter Johnson: 7-of-8 for 144 yards, one TD
    Zerrick Cooper: 7-of-11 for 105 yards, one TD

         

    Florida State
    James Blackman: 11-of-15 for 179 yards; three TDs
    J.J. Cosentino: 6-of-7 for 51 yards, one TD
    Jake Rizzo: 1-of-2 for six yards

    Overall: 63 of 83 (75.9% completion) for 980 yards, 15 TD, 0 INT

    I plugged those numbers into the QB Rating calculator at PrimeComputing.com and got a score of 340.98. Not too shabby.

    The clear MVP, though, was Hurts: 25.7 yards per attempt, no incompletions and a TD percentage of 42.9 is just absurd, no matter who he was facing. If he puts up numbers like those next week in the Iron Bowl, we might need to put him in the College Football Hall of Fame immediately.

Loser: Big Ten Teams on the Road

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    Demry Croft
    Demry CroftNam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    As previously mentioned, Michigan struggled to get anything going on offense at Wisconsin, especially once Brandon Peters was knocked out of the game.

    But at least the Wolverines managed to put 10 points on the board.

    That wasn't the case for Minnesota when it played on the road against No. 23 Northwestern. Fresh off a seven-touchdown, 54-21 dismantling of Nebraska, Minnesota could only manage seven first downs in a 39-0 loss to the Wildcats. Demry Croft had nearly 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns last week, but he "rushed" for negative-17 yards against Minnesota and completed fewer passes to his receivers (two) than he did to Northwestern defenders (three). The Golden Gophers committed five turnovers in the shutout.

    Things didn't go much better for Rutgers at Indiana. The Scarlet Knights did get a few more first downs (11), but it didn't result in any points in the 41-0 loss to the Hoosiers. Rutgers does have three wins in Big Ten play this year, but this is now the sixth time in the past 14 months that they have been shut out by a conference foe.

    Then there's Illinois. The Illini did finally break the seal and get on the scoreboard in the second half with a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown, but they had already given up 38 points to Ohio State before getting their first first down of the game. The final score was 52-14, and it didn't even feel that close.

    Factor in the losses by Nebraska (at Penn State) and Maryland (at Michigan State) and Big Ten teams went 1-6 on the road this week. The one exception was Purdue's 24-15 win over Iowa. And given Iowa's previous two weeksa 55-24 win over Ohio State and a 38-14 loss to Wisconsin—it's hard to say if we're even supposed to be shocked by that result. The good news for the Big Ten is that sets up 5-6 Purdue at 5-6 Indiana for a bowl game play-in situation.

Winner: Tyree Jackson to Anthony Johnson Connection

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    Anthony Johnson
    Anthony JohnsonStacy Bengs/Associated Press

    Buffalo's Anthony Johnson has quietly been putting up solid numbers all season. Through 10 games, he was averaging 104.8 receiving yards per game with eight touchdowns. In four of those contests, he finished with at least 140 yards.

    Make that five games.

    Johnson shredded Ball State's secondary for 153 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-24 Thursday night victory.

    It was obvious early in the game that the Cardinals had no answer for Johnson. On four consecutive offensive plays in the first quarter, he had receptions of 13, 23, 21 and 15 yards, including a touchdown. From that point forward, though, it was end-zone-or-bust. His only other catches in the game each went for touchdowns from 11, 14 and 56 yards out.

    The shortest of the touchdowns was arguably the most impressive. Tyree Jackson hit him on a timing route two yards shy of the end zone, but Johnson muscled through two tacklers for the score. Now at 12 on the season, he entered Saturday at No. 2 in the nation in receiving touchdowns, trailing only West Virginia's David Sills V's 18.

    Johnson was obviously the primary beneficiary of Jackson's big night. The sophomore QB only completed 16 passes, but he averaged nearly 22 yards per completion. Antonio Nunn had receptions of 57 and 45 yards to help pad those numbers.

Loser: Bowling Green's Defense

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    Toledo's Logan Woodside
    Toledo's Logan WoodsideWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    It has been a long year for Bowling Green.

    The Falcons entered Week 12 ranked 90th in the nation in total yards per game and 126th in total yards allowed per game. In a nutshell, they earned their 2-8 record. But at least they could say they hadn't allowed an opponent to score 50 or more points in a game. The last time they even got to Week 2 with that feather in their cap was in 2013.

    So much for that.

    Toledo bounced back from last week's 38-10 loss to Ohio with a 66-37 trouncing of Bowling Green. The Rockets had 637 yards of total offense, most of it on the ground. Terry Swanson had 192 of the team's 389 rushing yards, but he was unable to find the end zone. Instead, Shakif Seymour had 12 carries for 67 yards and punched in five of Toledo's seven rushing touchdowns.

    Logan Woodside didn't need to throw much, but he was efficient when he did, completing 13 of 18 passes for 232 yards and two scores.

    But even more damning than the big numbers for Toledo are the zeroes that Bowling Green's defense posted.

    Zero turnovers. Zero sacks. Zero punts forced.

    To be fair, there was one punt attempt that Toledo botched and another possession on which the Rockets turned the ball over on downs after a failed 4th-and-1. Toledo also missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt. However, that's one heck of a #WellActually if you're searching for silver linings for a defense that allowed points on 10 of 13 possessions.

Winner: Rushing Options in UNLV vs. New Mexico

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    UNLV's Armani Rogers sheds a tackle.
    UNLV's Armani Rogers sheds a tackle.Andres Leighton/Associated Press

    It was almost a foregone conclusion that UNLV vs. New Mexico would be chocked full of rushing plays. Both teams entered the night averaging better than 225 rushing yards per game, and neither team is particularly solid on defense.

    But even in a game expected to feature a lot of runs, what we ended up getting was a little ridiculous.

    Five different playersArmani Rogers and Lexington Thomas for UNLV; Lamar Jordan, Tyrone Owens and Daryl Chestnut for New Mexico—each rushed for at least 116 yards and one touchdown. All told, the Rebels and Lobos combined for 805 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

    New Mexico was responsible for the majority of it with 482 yards and five scores, but it wasn't enough for a win, as UNLV escaped with a 38-35 victory to remain in the hunt for bowl eligibility at 5-6.

    Per Sports Reference, it was just the fourth time since 2000 that both teams in one game rushed for at least 300 yards with one of the two teams eclipsing 450. Navy and Air Force put up nearly identical numbers (811 yards; eight touchdowns) a little over a month ago. However, neither of this year's rushing bonanzas was anything close to the Temple vs. Army game in November 2012 with a combined 941 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

    Naturally, after all that rushing, the game was decided by passing attempts. UNLV's redshirt freshman QB Rogers was 3-of-3 through the air for 71 yards on the game-winning TD drive (plus a successful two-point conversion pass). As a result, he ended up with 211 passing yards and 193 rushing yards. The only other player this season with at least 200 passing yards and 175 rushing yards in a game was Lamar Jackson against Boston College.

Loser: Under Bets in Middle Tennessee vs. Western Kentucky

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    Mike White
    Mike WhiteMark Humphrey/Associated Press

    According to OddsShark, the over/under for the game between Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky was 56. And with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, there had been nearly as many punts in the game (eight) as total points scored (10). As boring as it may be to bet on unders in college football, all signs showed that ticked would cash.

    That's when things got wild.

    The Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers combined to score 28 points in just a little over five minutes, thanks in part to a fumble returned for a touchdown, a 65-yard TD pass and a 93-yard TD pass. But even when MTSU tied the game at 24 with 4:51 remaining—still eight points below the Vegas totalthe under bettors still had to like their odds. There either needed to be at least two more scores in regulation or multiple overtimes in order for the over to hit.

    Three overtimes and 31 points later, these teams had combined for 79 total points66 in the fourth quarter and overtime alone.

    Now, if you were just watching for fun, it was quite the delight.

    Both the Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers entered the game with a 5-5 record for an exciting winner-becomes-bowl-eligible affair. Western Kentucky's Mike Whitewho threw for a combined total of two touchdowns in the first five games of the seasonhad five TD passes for the third time in his last six contests. In a game that was starved for offense for 45 minutes, the fifth-year senior darn near set a career high with 485 yards through the air in the 41-38 victory.

    On the losing side of the equation, MTSU will host Old Dominion in Week 13 in yet another battle of five-win teams. The winner of that one will become the ninth bowl-eligible squad from Conference USA.

Winner: Virginia Tech's Goal-Line Stand

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    Anthony Shegog (24), Jovonn Quillen (26) and Bryce Watts (28)
    Anthony Shegog (24), Jovonn Quillen (26) and Bryce Watts (28)Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

    Virginia Tech was ranked No. 13 in the initial CFP Top 25, but the Hokies have fallen apart since then, particularly on offense. They were shut down by both Miami and Georgia Tech in back-to-back losses, falling to 7-3 and completely out of the ACC race.

    But the Hokies are still an important factor for the ACC, because for both Clemson and Miami, beating up on Virginia Tech was one of their three most impressive wins of the season. If the Hokies keep losing games and are no longer viewed as a quality opponent, it would be detrimental to the conference's case for two spots in the College Football Playoff.

    Thus, when 4-6 Pittsburghtrailing 20-14 with roughly one minute remainingconverted on a 4th-and-4 via a 74-yard pass to get down to the VT 1, it was kind of a big deal. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but replay review overturned it, setting up a huge goal-line situation.

    The Hokies shut down Darrin Hall on both first and second downwhich was a theme all day, as he finished with 15 carries for four yards. On 3rd-and-goal from the 1, star senior defensive back Greg Stroman broke up a pass intended for Jester Weah, resulting in a fourth-down play with three seconds remaining.

    And on the do-or-die attempt, Virginia Tech wrapped up Hall in the backfield for a three-yard loss and an eighth win.

    Maybe that ends up being an important result for the ACC. Maybe not. But it was a critical not-loss for a Virginia Tech team that has been reeling.

Loser: South Alabama Jaguars...and UTEP Miners

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    South Alabama vs. Georgia Southern
    South Alabama vs. Georgia SouthernTodd Bennett/Getty Images

    Earlier this season, South Alabama pulled off a bit of a shocker, knocking off Troy in the first game after the Trojans scored their huge upset over LSU.

    This week, the Jaguars were on the wrong end of one of the strangest scores of the entire season.

    They lost 52-0 to previously winless Georgia Southern.

    Over the previous five weeks, the Eagles had averaged just 278.4 yards of total offense per game. And last week's 27-6 loss to Appalachian State was their most anemic performance since the season-opening loss to Auburn. Suffice it to say, there was no indication that this team had any business winning a game—let alone by a 52-point margin.

    Nevertheless, Georgia Southern ran for 356 yards and five touchdowns while racking up 583 total yards. Meanwhile, the Eagles limited South Alabamawhich had averaged 309.5 passing yards over its last four gamesto 195 total yards and just 10 first downs. This thing was over almost before it started.

    And as a result, UTEP is the only winless team left at the FBS level. Coincidentally, the Miners also had what was, by far, their best offensive performance of the season in Week 12, but they still lost to Louisiana Tech 42-21. Unless they can win at UAB next weekend, they'll become the sixth 0-12 team of the 2010s.

Winner: Justin Herbert, Oregon

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    Justin Herbert
    Justin HerbertChris Pietsch/Associated Press

    There's not a snowball's chance in hell that Justin Herbert will win the Heisman, but based on how great Oregon's offense looked in his return to the field, you could make a legitimate case that he's the most valuable player in the country.

    Early in the season, the Ducks were unstoppable. They averaged 49.6 points in their first five games. They had a 4-1 record. And we were starting to at least consider Herbert as one of the many candidates for the sport's most prestigious honor.

    But then Herbert suffered a broken collarbone, and Oregon's offense evaporated. Over the next five games, it averaged 15 points and only eclipsed 14 once.

    To a certain extent, we have to attribute that to the increased level of competition. With Herbert, Oregon got to beat up on the likes of Southern Utah, Nebraska and California. Without him, it had to deal with the defenses of Washington, Washington State and Stanford. But the fact it could only manage 14 points against UCLA's terrible defense says a lot about how far it slipped without Herbert in the lineup.

    In Herbert's first game back, Oregon's offense exploded for a 48-28 win over Arizona.

    (How the return of Oregon's QB somehow helped the defense completely shut down Khalil Tate is a mystery.)

    Herbert's line (14-of-21, 235 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT, 4 CAR, 40 YDS, 1 TD) wasn't all that incredible, but there's no denying his impact on what this offense can do. When he was out, opponents stacked eight or nine in the box and dared Braxton Burmeister to beat them. Which he couldn't. But Herbert's presence opened holes for Royce Freeman and Tony Brooks-James to run wild against a run-of-the-mill Arizona defense.

    As an aside, Freeman (135 YDS, 4 TD) is now at 5,499 career rushing yards. He jumped over LaDainian Tomlinson to No. 10 in the FBS record book, and he's only 98 yards away from moving up to No. 7. He's also tied for 14th in career rushing touchdowns with 58. Two more and he'll be in the top 10. And now that Oregon is 6-5 and bowl-eligible, we know he'll get two more games to keep climbing those leaderboards.

Loser: Army Black Knights

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    Ahmad Bradshaw
    Ahmad BradshawDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    At 351.5 rushing yards per game, Army entered the day ranked as the second-best rushing offense in the country. And with Navy having a below-average (for the Midshipmen) 277 rushing yards against Notre Dame, the Black Knights had an opening to jump to No. 1 in that category if they could run for at least 451 yards against North Texas.

    They capitalized on that opportunity.

    QB Ahmad Bradshaw led the way with 244 yards and two touchdowns. Darnell Woolfolk and Andy Davidson added two touchdowns apiece, combining for 192 more yards. Add in a few other minor participants, and Army rushed for 534 yards and seven touchdowns.

    It was Army's best team rushing performance of the season and its second-best against an FBS opponent in the past decadeslightly trailing a 556-yard game against Eastern Michigan in September 2015.

    But, wait a minute. Isn't this a loser slide?

    Oh, that's right. Despite all those yards and touchdowns, Army lost the game 52-49.

    North Texas' Mason Fine threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns to go with three team rushing touchdowns. The Mean Green scored at least 43 points in a game for the sixth time this season, improving to 8-3 overall.

    Excluding Army's two-play "drive" at the end of the first half, points were scored on 15 of 20 offensive possessions. It was a back-and-forth affair destined to be determined by the team that had the ball last, and North Texas was able to boot in a game-winning 39-yard field goal with five seconds remaining.

Winner: Former Heisman Favorites

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    Lamar Jackson
    Lamar JacksonTimothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    Barring some ridiculous turn of events in the next two weeks, Baker Mayfield is going to win the Heisman. But former top candidates for the award are still putting up impressive numbers all around the country.

    In State College, Saquon Barkley ran circles around an opposing defense for the first time in a while. He had a combined total of 142 rushing yards and 76 receiving yards in his previous three games, but he exploded for 158 rushing yards, 66 receiving yards and three touchdowns on just 23 touches in a 56-44 win over Nebraska. It's a shame the game wasn't even that closeNebraska scored 20 meaningless points in the final seven minutesbecause the margin kept Barkley from getting a single touch in the final 20 minutes.

    The other running back we spent most of the year talking about was Stanford's Bryce Love. His night wasn't quite as impressive as Barkley's, but he did rush for 101 yards and a touchdown in a 17-14 win over California. The TD came on a 57-yard rushhis 11th carry of the season that went for at least 50 yards. He's now at 1,723 yards for the year in just 10 games. And with the Cardinal still in the hunt for a spot in the Pac-12 championship, he could have three more games to leave the 2,000-yard mark in the dust.

    One other back who briefly surfaced as a Heisman contender is Wisconsin's freshman Jonathan Taylor. Against a Michigan defense that had held every other rusher below 110 yards this season, Taylor ran for 132 in the 24-10 victory for the Badgers. He's up to 1,657 yards on the season and has eclipsed 125 yards in eight of 11 contests.

    The main man, though, is reigning Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Louisville's star threw for 270 yards, rushed for 111 and accounted for four total touchdowns in a 56-10 win over Syracuse. I've seen a lot of people saying Jackson's numbers aren't as good as last season, but that's 100 percent #FakeNews. See for yourself.

    2016 Lamar Jackson (passing): 272.5 yards, 56.2% Completion, 2.3 TD, 3.3 TD per INT, 148.82 QB Rating
    2017 Lamar Jackson (passing): 297.5 yards, 59.8% Completion, 2.1 TD, 3.8 TD per INT, 149.43 QB Rating

    2016 Lamar Jackson (rushing): 120.8 yards per game, 6.0 yards per carry, 1.6 TD
    2017 Lamar Jackson (rushing): 117.0 yards per game, 6.8 yards per carry, 1.5 TD

    Just about the only former candidate who didn't have a great day was the preseason favorite: Sam Darnold. He had zero passing TD against UCLA and was clearly out-played by opposing QB Josh Rosen (421 yards, 3 TD), but USC got the 28-23 win to improve to 10-2.

Loser: Everyone Who Hasn't Been Watching Rashaad Penny

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    Rashaad Penny
    Rashaad PennyMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    One outstanding player who was missing from the previous section on former Heisman favorites is San Diego State's Rashaad Penny. That's not because his numbers were never good enough to be considered, but rather because there were never enough people paying attention to his work for him to have ever been a favorite.

    And that's a crying shame, because Penny is doing things that haven't been done by anyone other than Christian McCaffrey in the past five years.

    As just a rusher, Penny has been outstanding for the Aztecs. In Weeks 10 and 11 alone, he had 456 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of 11 games. Thanks to 222 yards this week against Nevadaas well as his 16th and 17th rushing TDsPenny is now No. 1 in the nation in total rushing yards at 1,824.

    But he is so much more than just a rusher.

    Penny is also San Diego State's primary kick returner, and against Nevada, he had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It was his second of the season and the seventh of his career.

    Just for kicks and giggles, he also returned a punt for the first time in his career, andwouldn't you know itPenny took it to the house for a 70-yard touchdown.

    He was already nearly 200 yards ahead of Saquon Barkley for the national lead in all-purpose yards, averaging 203.3 per game. Against the Wolf Pack, he had a career-high 429 all-purpose yards. He's now averaging 223.8 yards and has first place in that category on lockdown.

    Just do yourself a favor and make sure to watch this guy next week. It's a 3:30 p.m. ET game on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Don't even act like you have anything better to do.

                               

    Stats courtesy of CFBStats.com and Sports-Reference.com

    Kerry Miller covers college football and college basketball for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.