What is happening to the Clemson Tigers, and did we just witness their worst offensive performance in program history?
No matter how one sees it, this year's Tigers have regressed tremendously from what they once were with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne Jr.; a perennial powerhouse. Their win over Georgia Tech only raises doubts about their status in the top ten. On the other side of the spectrum is the Arkansas Razorbacks, off to their best start since 2010 and 2011, when Bobby Petrino was their head coach. The 2021 season may signal the rise of schools that have floated in obscurity for years, and are making their rightful place in the top 25.
A special salute to Oklahoma's DJ Graham, who made quite possibly the greatest interception in college football history.
1. Matt Corral - Quarterback - Ole Miss
Stats vs. Tulane: 23 completions, 335 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 13 carries, 68 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns
The type of numbers Matt Corral put together in this game, are the type of numbers you see after playing a Madden video with a custom-made player. Simply put, he catapulted himself into the 2021 Heisman conversation with a colossal performance against Tulane, and became the first player in Southeastern Conference history with three passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns in a game. So far this season, Corral has put together dominant performances; but this may be the best one of his legendary college football career.
2. TreVeyon Henderson - Running back - Ohio State
Stats vs. Tulsa: 24 carries, 270 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
This freshman sensation made school history today, breaking Archie Griffin's freshman rushing record, which he set in 1972 against North Carolina. In the third quarter, Henderson broke two touchdowns of 48 and 52 yards, and showed the type of speed that garnered much attention prior to the beginning of this season. His output resulted in the Buckeyes producing 508 yards of offense with 323 coming on the ground. For Henderson, expect opposing defenses to start game-planning around him after this historic performance.
3. Jake Haener - Quarterback - Fresno State
Stats vs. UCLA: 39 completions, 455 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 73.6 completion%
The courageous performance of Jake Haener against UCLA late Saturday, is one that college football fans will never forget. Coming into this contest, Haener was dealing is a hip injury that forced him to play on just one hip. He persevered through pain and put together the game of a lifetime for his bulldogs. The drive he engineered late in the contest, down by four, encapsulated the type of quarterback Haener really is. Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, the Bulldogs are for real and deserve to be in the top 25 after this week.
3. Brennan Armstrong - Quarterback - Virginia
Stats vs. North Carolina: 39 completions, 554 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 72.2 completion%
It is time that we start taking Brennan Armstrong very seriously. Before halftime, Armstrong had accumulated 364 passing yards and three touchdowns. By the end of the game, he had accumulated more passing yards than any quarterback so far this season. What makes this feat even more impressive was the fact that he faced one of the most prolific passers in college football, Sam Howell. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers defense could not hold their end of the bargain, as they allowed 21 points in the their quarter, as the Tar Heels would eventually pull away. To think that at one point he was a backup; now he leads the nation in passing yards.
4. Nik Bonitto - Linebacker - Oklahoma
Stats vs. Nebraska: 5 total tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss
There are few defensive players in the Big 12 Conference, who can do the type of things Nik Bonitto does on the field. As disappointing the Oklahoma Sooners offense was in this game, Bonitto made sure the Cornhuskers would have a miserable time generating offense on his watch. He made timely plays, notably his sack, during their goal line stance late in the game, with his team up by only a touchdown. This was the type of performance expected from a player many had as their favorite to win this season's Butkus Award.
5. Sam Howell - Quarterback - North Carolina
Stats vs. Virginia: 14 completions, 307 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 15 carries, 112 rushing yards.
Is there a better dual-threat quarterback right now than Sam Howell? Perhaps Matt Corral out of Ole Miss or Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati would have something to say. Yet, none of them have produced consecutive weeks of 300 passing yards/100 rushing yards, like Howell has done this season. In this game, they were down at the half, but Howell did what he did best by engineering effective drives with his arm and his legs. At this rate, Howell is well on his way to becoming QB1 in the upcoming NFL Draft, even over Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler.
6. Josh Downs - Receiver - North Carolina
Stats vs. Virginia: 8 receptions, 203 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 25.4 yards/reception
Since losing both Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown to the NFL, Howell has been in search of a reliable deep threat target. Well, in this game sophomore Josh Downs revealed himself in a big way with a monster performance against the Cavaliers. His 59-yard touchdown on a basic checkdown pass was an impressive example of his elite-level speed. Even more impressive, Downs came a few yards short of matching his entire production from last season, which was 210 receiving yards. Going forward, one should expect the Howell-Downs connection to become a big thing in the ACC.
7. KJ Jefferson - Quarterback - Arkansas
Stats vs. Georgia Southern: 13 completions, 366 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 56.5 completion%
The Arkansas Razorbacks are one of the hottest teams in the first three weeks of the college football season. A big reason for this has been the play of KJ Jefferson. After taking down Texas last week, Jefferson took his performance to another level against Georgia Southern. In addition to setting a career high in passing yards, he added 18 rushing yards. As long as Jefferson continues to put together performances such as this, the sky is the limit for the Razorbacks in 2021.
8. Kenny Pickett - Quarterback - Pittsburgh
Stats vs. Western Michigan: 23 completions, 382 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, 74.2 completion%
In the same game where he became the school's second-most prolific passer in Panthers history, surpassing the legendary Dan Marino, Pickett also took a big hit early in the contest which could have taken him completely out of the game. Instead of staying down, Pickett came back in and put up a colossal effort in a losing cause against Western Michigan, with six passing touchdowns. To make a long story short, Pickett was the sole reason why the Panthers had a chance to win this game.
QB Davis Brin - Tulsa
QB Max Johnson - LSU
RB Ty Chandler - North Carolina
QB Connor Bazelak - Missouri
QB Kaleb Eleby - Western Michigan
QB Tyler Shough - Texas Tech
WR Dontayvion Wicks - Virginia
RB Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson - Texas
RB Kenneth Walker III - Michigan State
WR Charleston Rambo - Miami
QB Jaxson Dart - USC
DE Demarvin Leal - Texas A&M
WR Drake London - USC
QB D'Eriq King - Miami
WR Jordan Addison - Pittsburgh
RB Blake Corum - Michigan
RB Kenneth Walker III - Michigan State
RB Treyson Potts - Minnesota
QB Zach Calzada - Texas A&M
RB Leddie Brown - West Virginia