Saturday’s game between Wisconsin and Nebraska was billed as one of the best head-to-head running back matchups of the season. However, the highly anticipated duel between two Heisman candidates was a one-sided blowout in favor of Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon.
Gordon earned Athlon Sports Week 12 Player of the Week honors by gashing the Cornhuskers for an FBS single-game rushing record of 408 yards. The junior’s performance led Wisconsin to a critical 59-24 victory over Nebraska and placed the Badgers in command of the Big Ten West Division.
Gordon needed only 25 carries to rush for 408 yards and did not record a touch in the fourth quarter. He also averaged a healthy 16.3 yards per carry and recorded four plays of 40 rushing yards or more.
In 10 games this year, Gordon has 1,909 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. He also has 11 receptions for 83 yards and two scores.
Gordon was on the radar in the Heisman race throughout the season, but the junior should firmly rank among the nation’s top three candidates after a monster performance in a key win over Nebraska.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jalen Ramsey, S, Florida State
With an unbeaten season and 25-game winning streak hanging in the balance, Ramsey and the Florida State defense stepped up with another strong second-half performance. The sophomore safety was dominant in the 30-26 victory over Miami, finishing with three tackles (one for a loss), one forced fumble, one interception, four pass breakups and a blocked extra point. Ramsey’s interception sealed the victory against the Hurricanes, elevating Florida State to its 26th consecutive victory and its fifth win in a row over Miami. The sophomore also had an impact beyond the box score, as he pressured Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya throughout the fourth quarter and disrupted a handful of plays. Ramsey was already regarded as one of the top safeties in college football heading into this season, but the sophomore is elevating his performance to an even higher level as Florida State looks to earn a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.
Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia
The performance of Georgia’s defense in Saturday night’s 34-7 is exactly why coach Mark Richt brought Pruitt to Athens after one year at Florida State. In last year’s loss to the Tigers, the Bulldogs allowed 43 points and 566 yards. But under Pruitt’s direction, Georgia’s defense put the clamps on one of the nation’s top offenses. Auburn entered Week 12 averaging 37.3 points in SEC games and averaged seven yards per play this year. The Bulldogs allowed a score on the Tigers’ first drive of the game, but Pruitt’s group pitched a shutout the rest of the way and held one of the nation’s most explosive offenses to just 292 total yards. Auburn had 93 yards on its first two drives but managed just 68 on its next seven. The win over the Tigers was critical to keeping Georgia’s SEC East title hopes alive, and Pruitt’s defense delivered against one of the nation’s top offenses.
Freshman of the Week: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
Barrett ensured Ohio State avoided a letdown one week after a huge road win at Michigan State. The redshirt freshman guided the Buckeyes to a 31-24 victory over Minnesota in frigid conditions at TCF Bank Stadium. Barrett completed 15 of 25 passes for 200 yards and three scores and added 189 rushing yards and one touchdown. He opened Ohio State’s scoring by reaching the endzone on a 86-yard run, which was the longest rush by a quarterback in school history. Barrett has accounted for 38 total touchdowns this year, breaking a record set by Braxton Miller (36) last season.