After this past weekends’ games, the Pac-12 is left with every team with at least two losses, thereby, making that league irrelevant as far as the College Football Playoffs are concerned. Even if their top teams win out, they cannot leapfrog other teams in other conferences to make it in the top four. In addition, the Big 12s’ top two teams have two losses. The stretch run will be interesting to say the least regarding the four spots for the playoffs.
Five weeks remain in the season, which is plenty of time for players to make a push for individual awards. The regular-season is two-thirds done for some candidates, but what one does in November with a championship on the line will have a big impact on voters.
For now, we have clear front-runners for both the offensive and defensive player of the year races. Can anyone catch them? And who has been the top offensive lineman so far? Glad you asked.
Ezekiel Elliott keeps finding the openings for the top-ranked Buckeyes, who are off this week.
Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year
1. Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott (5 first-place votes): Elliott just keeps chugging right along, already eclipsing 1,000 yards for the season and gaining more than 100 yards every time out (and in 13 straight contests overall). He’s been the most consistent offensive star for the No. 1 Buckeyes.
2. Michigan State QB Connor Cook (1): Cook is the top challenger to Elliott at the moment, especially after his huge day against Indiana and the way he played at Michigan. Cook has thrown 17 touchdown passes and just two interceptions this season.
3. Iowa QB C.J. Beathard: The Hawkeyes were off last week, but Beathard’s consistent play is a major reason why Iowa is off to a 7-0 start and a Top 10 ranking this season.
4. Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld: He leads the Big Ten in both passing yards per game (292.7) and pass efficiency while putting together the best season of his career. We would like to see him and the Hoosiers finish games better, however.
5. Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge: Cook’s No. 1 target and the most consistent receiver in the Big Ten this year. (Rutgers’ explosive Leonte Carroo has missed too much time.) Burbridge’s 830 receiving yards are 130 more than the next best league wideout.
The Big 10 race is winding down into the month of November with three unbeaten teams (Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa). Some critical games are coming up with Michigan State facing Ohio State and Michigan facing Ohio State. Those games should decide the East, with Iowa the clear cut favorite to win the West.
The 2015 season is seeing a rising star and a potential NFL QB in Memphis’ Paxton Lynch. Lynch’s record breaking 442 yards passing guided the 15th ranked Tigers to a 66-42 win over Tulsa. The Tigers 7-0 record is one of the big surprises of this season. We will be watching them as the season progresses into the home stretch. I think the sky is the limit for Lynch, who is turning a lot of heads at the next level.
What is becoming a surprising story of this college football season is the Memphis Tigers. The Tigers, who play in the American Athletic Conference are now 6-0 after beating Ole Miss 37-24. This is a program that went 5-31 the previous three years. They are led by quarterback Paxson Lynch, who is suddenly getting a lot of attention from NFL teams as a top QB prospect at the next level. Lynch, who is 6 ft. 7 and 245 pounds, had an outstanding day passing for 384 yards, completing 39 of 53 passes for three touchdowns in beating the 13th rank Ole Miss from the mighty SEC. This victory puts the nation on notice that Memphis is a team to keep an eye on as the season progresses.