B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Week 12

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVNovember 21, 2022

B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Week 12

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    Jake Moody and J.J. McCarthy
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When you're an invested fan, every game is important. But when stakes are undeniably high, nerves hit another level.

    Especially when the difference between a win and a loss hinges on the foot of a kicker.

    In these moments, the player who often spends the least amount of time on the field determines the outcome. The potential rewards, as Week 12 showed, can be diverse. For a couple of top-ranked teams, they had College Football Playoff aspirations on the line. Others had a division title or bragging rights in a rivalry at stake.

    But their specialist came up clutch.

    On a goofy, lovely weekend around the nation, B/R's Weekly Awards is joining the party. Let's celebrate some kickers—and, fine, a few other players and teams, too.

The Practiced: Griffin Kell, TCU

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    Because this particular scenario happens so rarely, many viewers probably weren't prepared to see this organized chaos. After what might've seemed a head-scratching run play, TCU's field-goal team scrambled onto the field.

    And the Horned Frogs—needing a victory to remain at the forefront of the CFP discussion—executed perfectly.

    Nine blockers settled themselves in front of holder Jordy Sandy and kicker Griffin Kell, who calmly drilled a 40-yard attempt as time expired to give TCU a clutch 29-28 win.

    Again, this frenetic play wasn't a happy accident.

    "We call it Bazooka; we practice it every Thursday," first-year TCU coach Sonny Dykes told reporters after the game. "We had faith that Griffin would be ready."

    Griffin was ready. So were 10 others. As a result, the Hypnotoad is merely two victories from a wildly unexpected CFP trip.

The Composed: Jake Moody, Michigan

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    Michigan has overcome the lack of a threatening passing game behind a few important strengths. The defense is excellent, running back Blake Corum is a real Heisman Trophy candidate and kicker Jake Moody is exceedingly reliable.

    The defense showed up Saturday. Corum played well, as usual, until a knee injury sidelined him after halftime.

    And then Moody won Michigan the game.

    The senior specialist went 4-of-4 on field goals, including three in the fourth quarter. He nailed 33- and 35-yard attempts during the last four minutes of the game, burying the latter kick in the closing seconds of the 19-17 victory.

    At this moment, it's the crowning achievement of both a brilliant season and career for Moody.

    This year, he leads the FBS with 25 field goals—and is 23-of-25 within 50 yards. Plus, that winning kick announced Moody, the reigning Lou Groza Award winner, as the U-M record-holder for career field goals (65).

    Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, as noted by MLive's Ryan Zuke, succinctly summed up Moody's status: "Legend."

The Vital: Drew Stevens, Iowa

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    Iowa is incredibly flawed. That has been painfully clear throughout a 2022 season where its offense has been a nightmare.

    Yet the Hawkeyes are on the brink of a division title. Again.

    Both they and Minnesota entered with 4-3 conference records, so only the winner would stay alive in the Big Ten West race. On a frozen day in Minneapolis—thanks to Drew Stevens' last-minute kick—Iowa emerged victorious in a 13-10 rock fight.

    Sure, a 21-yarder isn't impressive from a distance perspective. Elsewhere in the Big Ten on Saturday, though, Michigan State lost to Indiana after a 22-yard miss to end regulation. No kick can be taken for granted.

    Stevens barely slipped the field goal inside the left upright. But the box score only shows a converted kick.

    And in a week's time, ill-fated though it may be, Iowa could be headed back to the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Frigid: Palmer Domschke, Western Michigan

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    For good, snowy reason—all six feet and five inches of it—the Buffalo Bills relocated Sunday's clash with the Cleveland Browns to Detroit, Michigan.

    Earlier in the week, though, a couple of directional schools braved the elements in the middle of the Mitten.

    Several inches of snow covered the field at Central Michigan, which hosted Western Michigan for a #MACtion affair. As expected, it was a low-scoring clash between the rivals—even as the maintenance department did an admirable job clearing the surface when possible.

    The freezing, windy evening ended with WMU sneaking out a two-point win because Palmer Domschke sent a 25-yard kick through the uprights. Western clipped Central 12-10 in the rivalry's lowest-scoring game since a 10-0 CMU victory in 1979.

    After securing the Victory Cannon for the Broncos, Domschke gave an assist to a meteorologist—his sister, Payton.

    "She just said, 'I wanted to let you know that you’ll probably be kicking in a few inches of snow.' I wasn’t expecting that," Domschke said, per MLive's Patrick Nothaft.

    Shoutout to you, Payton, the real MVP.

The Buzzkill: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

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    Zach Gibson
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    When the Yellow Jackets upset Pitt in Brent Key's first game as the interim coach, the victory was a neat storyline. However, it's not atypical for a leadership change to result in a temporary spark.

    But that's not exactly the case at Georgia Tech.

    Although the road hasn't been painless since Geoff Collins' dismissal, the Jackets are a remarkable 4-3 with two victories over ranked opponents under Key. The latest Top 25 win featured a 17-point comeback to stun No. 13 North Carolina, which entered at 9-1 with a slight-but-real chance of competing for a College Football Playoff spot.

    Most impressively, Georgia Tech's defense held Heisman Trophy hopeful Drake Maye to his worst performance of the season. He mustered just 202 passing yards, tossed an interception and didn't throw a touchdown for the first time all year.

    Barring a miracle win over top-ranked Georgia next week, the Jackets' sudden rise won't result in a bowl berth.

    Nevertheless, Key might be coaching his way into a full-time head coaching job at his alma mater.

The Heartbroken: Tennessee Volunteers

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    Hendon Hooker
    AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.

    This was supposed to be the moment for South Carolina fans to revel in the aftermath of a tremendous upset. Spencer Rattler tossed six touchdowns in a dominant 63-38 victory over fifth-ranked Tennessee.

    However, then the play happened.

    For now, look past the reality that Tennessee is likely out of the College Football Playoff race. That's a huge storyline, sure. The greatest concern, though, is Hendon Hooker's health.

    Midway through the fourth quarter, the breakout quarterback tried to cut upfield, fell to the ground and clutched his left knee. The broadcast showed Hooker in visible—dare I say agonizing—pain, and he eventually limped into the tunnel.

    I, probably like you, desperately hoped he'd avoid the dreaded three-letter ACL worry. But the school confirmed the season-ending injury.

    Remember, folks: Just because someone "walked off the field under their own power" doesn't mean they're OK. It's a downright shame that a serious injury will be the final moment of Hooker's brilliant year.

Best of the Rest: Week 12

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    Champs of the Week: Boise State and USC

    This weekend, Boise State, USC and Fresno State all locked up a spot in the conference championship game. Boise State knocked off Wyoming, surviving what could've been a crushing last-minute fumble in a three-point win. Boise will take on Fresno State, which defeated Nevada in the evening. USC outlasted rival UCLA in a wild 48-45 contest to secure a shot at the Pac-12 title.

    Streak of the Week: Clemson Hits 40 at Home

    In the history of college football, only eight programs had ever assembled a 40-game winning streak at home. Clemson increased the number to nine on Saturday, cruising past Miami for a memorable 40-10 victory. The longest streak, incidentally, belongs to Miami—which engineered an iconic 58-game run from 1985-94.

    Golf Clap of the Week: Navy Topples UCF

    After taking down Tulane, UCF had an opportunity to clinch a spot in the AAC Championship Game against a 3-7 Navy squad. There was no celebration Saturday, however, as the Midshipmen shocked a hometown UCF crowd and defeated the 20th-ranked Knights. Bijan Nichols' 45-yard field goal in the third quarter gave Navy a 17-14 lead and ultimately held up as the winning score.

Top Games in Week 13

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    Marvin Harrison Jr.
    AP Photo/Paul Vernon

    No. 19 Tulane at No. 21 Cincinnati (Friday, Noon ET)

    The stakes are straightforward: Winner hosts the AAC Championship Game for a shot at a New Year's Six bowl appearance. However, the loser probably misses out because UCF, despite that letdown to Navy, has a win-and-in scenario against South Florida.

    No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State (Saturday, Noon ET, Fox)

    Same situation in Columbus for these Big Ten rivals. The losing team isn't necessarily eliminated from the College Football Playoff race—especially after Tennessee's loss—but whichever squad emerges with the victory will carry a 12-0 record into the Big Ten Championship Game with an undisputed chance to secure a CFP berth.

    No. 13 Notre Dame at No. 5 USC (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

    The featured topic is USC's pursuit of a CFP trip, but there's another fun storyline here. Thanks to several losses in front of Notre Dame, the Irish are suddenly a strong contender for an NY6 bowl. Who would've guessed that in late September? They could effectively clinch that postseason spot and ruin USC's dreams of a national title with a win.