Week 7 of the 2016 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments. Alabama remained unbeaten with a dominant performance against Tennessee, Clemson survived NC State's upset bid with an overtime win, Ohio State escaped Madison with a 30-23 overtime victory over Wisconsin, while West Virginia, Syracuse, North Carolina, Colorado and Washington State all picked up critical wins in conference play from Week 7.
With the seventh weekend of games in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 7:
College Football Week 7 Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
With Ohio State’s unbeaten season hanging in the balance, Barrett made several clutch plays on Saturday night to rally the Buckeyes to a 30-23 overtime win at Wisconsin. Barrett finished 17 of 29 for 226 yards and one score through the air and led the Buckeyes with 92 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Week: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham led the way for Vanderbilt’s standout defensive effort in Saturday’s win over Georgia. The junior recorded 19 tackles (2.5 for a loss) and one pass breakup, while helping to limit the Bulldogs’ ground attack to just 75 yards. Cunningham also recorded a critical stop on fourth-and-one with less than a minute remaining to secure victory for Vanderbilt.
Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Lane Kiffin, Alabama
Kiffin’s gameplan and play-calling in his return to Knoxville was flawless. Alabama recorded 594 total yards (7.8 per play), with 438 of those yards coming on the ground at 8.9 per carry. Kiffin also had a perfect gameplan for quarterback Jalen Hurts, as the freshman led the offense with 132 yards and added 143 more through the air on 16 completions. Additionally, four out of the Crimson Tide’s last five drives resulted in touchdowns.
Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Tony Gibson, West Virginia
In Saturday’s 48-17 win in Lubbock, West Virginia’s defense completely corralled Texas Tech’s high-powered attack. Gibson coordinated a defense that limited the Red Raiders to just 4.9 yards per play (Texas Tech’s lowest mark of 2016), recorded four sacks and eight tackles for a loss and limited the overall big plays from a dangerous offense that entered Saturday with nine plays of 50 yards or more.
Freshman of the Week (Offense): Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
Hurts was unflappable in the tough road environment at Tennessee. The true freshman completed 16 of 26 passes for 143 yards and added 132 yards and three scores on the ground.
Freshman of the Week (Defense): Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
Oliver made several key stops for Houston in Saturday’s 38-31 win over Tulsa. The freshman recorded 12 tackles (two for a loss), two pass breakups and one quarterback hurry.
Team of the Week: Syracuse
The Orange scored the biggest win of first-year coach Dino Babers’ tenure with a 31-17 upset over Virginia Tech on Saturday. Syracuse’s high-powered offense had no trouble moving the ball against the Hokies’ standout defense. The Orange finished with 561 total yards, with quarterback Eric Dungey accounting for 417 and two touchdowns. The defense forced two turnovers, did not allow a run longer than 16 yards and recorded stops in three out of Virginia Tech’s last four drives with the game in the balance.
Unsung Heroes of the Week
Jarvion Franklin, RB, Western Michigan
Western Michigan steamrolled Akron 41-0 to remain unbeaten and in the mix for the Group of 5 bowl spot in the New Year’s Six. Franklin gashed the Zips for 281 yards and one touchdown on 33 attempts.
Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
Henderson torched the UMass secondary for 326 yards and five touchdowns on 12 receptions.
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Wilkins recorded four tackles, one pass breakup, one blocked field goal and ran a fake punt 10 yards for a first down in Clemson’s overtime win over NC State.
Joe Williams, RB, Utah
Williams retired from the team earlier this year but returned prior to Week 7 after injuries took a toll on Utah’s running backs. Williams delivered a strong effort (179 yards and one score on 34 attempts) in his return to the lineup.