As I wrote about in my weekend preview, this past Rivalry Week was a good opportunity to check in on some of the local New York teams in Syracuse and the University at Buffalo. Turns out that both programs were discussed nationally after this week, and in the case of the Orange it was for the wrong reason. Syracuse had a chance to earn only their second win of the season on the final drive of the game, but quarterback Rex Culpepper got sacked on third down and decided to spike the ball on fourth down, ending the game and entering the Orange into meme territory.
Meanwhile, over in the MAC, Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson almost broke the FBS record for rushing yards (427) and touchdowns (8) in a game. His 409 rushing yards are second-most in FBS history and he tied the single-game touchdown record with eight scores. The Bulls’ win now puts them in the driver’s seat for the MAC Championship. Below are the prospects who stood out during Week 13 of college football.
Jermar Jefferson RB (Oregon State)
On the second play of the game, Jefferson took it to the house on an 82-yard touchdown run to tie the game, which set the tone for the entire day in what became an upset of the Oregon Ducks. The junior running back put on quite the show, demonstrating his patience and ability to follow his blocks, ultimately finishing with 226 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. It’s unclear how many more games the PAC-12 will get to play, but Jefferson is already a riser this season.
Trevor Lawrence QB (Clemson)
In his return from COVID quarantine, Lawrence carved up a normally strong Pittsburgh defense like a recent Thanksgiving Day turkey. In fact, the unanimous first pick of the NFL Draft had his best game of the season against the Panthers thanks to some of the prettiest, pinpoint intermediate and deep passes you’re ever likely to see in the college game. Although the system he plays in allows the junior quarterback to make quick decisions and benefit from some wide open receivers, Lawrence also has his fair share of plays where he throws targets open or puts the ball exactly where it needs to be for them to make the catch.
Shakur Brown CB (Michigan State)
It was a defensive struggle against the heavily favored Northwestern Wildcats, but the Spartans turned in the biggest defensive plays thanks to Brown’s two interceptions. His first was a textbook display of physical press-man coverage, while his second essentially won the game for Michigan State. Lined up in off coverage, the junior followed the quarterback’s eyes and crossed the face of the receiver making his break for the Johnny-on-the spot play.
Taj Harris WR (Syracuse)
Syracuse’s main weapon had the type of performance that makes his quarterback look good. Many of his 13 catches were of the short variety, either on come backs or crossing patterns that allowed the junior wide receiver to use his open-field speed to make something out of nothing. Harris set career highs in catches (13) and receiving yards (146). It was the type of performance that would have done wonders for his draft stock, had the game not ended on such an underwhelming note.
Patrick Surtain II CB (Alabama)
Mostly lining up against Seth Williams—Auburn’s tall, physical receiver—Surtain largely shut him down utilizing man-coverage principals and outside leverage. Because Williams doesn’t have long speed, Surtain was able to keep everything in front of him and stick to Williams’s hip. He also didn’t fall victim to being outmuscled at the catch point. In all, he held the normally prolific receiver to three catches for 17 yards.