I feel like every year we go into Championship Saturday and think, “wow, this weekend will be crazy,” and then when it is, in fact, crazy, we freak out as if we weren’t expecting it — football fans are illogically emotional, just let us have this one, okay?
If you were a fan of The Texas Longhorns, the Memphis Tigers, the Georgia Bulldogs (especially the Georgia Bulldogs), the Pittsburgh Panthers, the Northwestern Wildcats or the Boise State Broncos, my heart goes out to you. However, your sacrifice was not in vain, as some of the best plays of the weekend came from teams that weren’t able to capture their conference’s crown. On the other hands, some of the top plays were catalysts for just that.
These were our “best of the best” from championship weekend.
Henderson Goes HAM
Just a few minutes into the second quarter (the second quarter!) Memphis running back Darrell Henderson had 165 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just six carries.
Henderson ended the day with 210 rushing yards on 16 carries with those same three touchdowns, but he’s proved to be ones of the best backs in this class with such a highlight-filled championship game.
His best run of the day shown above.
No Milton, No Problem
To UCF quarterback Darriel Mack, my hat is off to you, sir.
On a stat sheet that read 349 passing yards with two passing touchdowns and 54 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, Mack truly led his team to their second consecutive conference title, and capped off their second consecutive undefeated season in the American Conference.
That throw above was the one that sealed the deal on a massive comeback.
Collin Johnson Is A Grown Man
Texas wide reciever Collin Johnson had a game about as big as his size this Saturday. The 6-foot-6 junior wide out had eight catches for 177 yards and a touchdown, and could have had at least one more touchdown that slipped through his hands in the end zone.
That play above was so A.J. Green-esque on how to use size and subtle physicality to win with height and length in the red zone. Johnson isn’t being talked about enough right now in this 2019 wide receiver class.
Kyler Dropping Dimes
What day for Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray.
I know that it’s reported that he still wants to go play professional baseball after this season, but man is the 2019 class losing one of its most fun quarterbacks if he does.
Murray threw for 379 yards and three touchdowns in the Sooners’ conference title win this weekend, and it was how he did it that was even more impressive. Murray showed a quick release, a powerful arm in terms of velocity and distance, and best of all, as showcased in the biggest throw of the game above, he could put pin-point touch and accuracy on passes when his back was against the wall and the pressure was mounting.
That trait is rare for any athlete.
Smaller size be damned. The kid is good.
Fromm Is A Force
I know this is a draft-centric website and we’ll have plenty of time to evaluate and gush over Jake Fromm next year, as he is not draft-eligible this year, but man, what a game from that young man in Georgia’s loss on Saturday.
Fromm threw for 300 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was as accurate as I’ve seen a quarterback be this season, and he made many NFL throws, like the one shown above, all game long no matter the score.
Joshua Jacobs is good at the game of football. Can confirm. pic.twitter.com/jeBUEuMKWQ
— Carter Donnick (@CDonScouting) December 1, 2018
On Alabama’s side, there were plenty of big plays by guys who weren’t draft eligible, which was obviously going to be the case since Alabama will be returning so many of their offensive starters next year. But of the players who can impact the 2019 draft class, running back Joshua Jacobs had a heck of a day.
Jacobs finished the day with 83 yards on just eight carries with two touchdowns, and had one of the best highlights of the day shown above.
Northwestern Came To Play
The score ended up being 45-24 in favor of the Buckeyes, but that game was close and the Wildcats had a chance down the stretch before Ohio State pulled away at the very end.
The reason why? The play above.
It was at the beginning stages of the game, but that long run by Wildcats running back John Moten set the tone that Northwestern belonged in that game. They hung with Ohio State all night because of the momentum they got from that play.
What a game for the player who might be the first quarterback taken in the 2019 NFL draft.
As the Big Ten Player of the Year, Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins truly led his Buckeyes to their conference title with 499 passing yards and five passing touchdowns. He was outstanding, and throws like the one above tell you he can translate his game to Sundays as early as next season.
Ollison Come Up Big
One of our top prospects to watch in the ACC Championship game was Pittsburgh running back Qadree Ollison.
He certainly proved that with the play above.
Clemson was suffocating the Panthers all night, which was expected, but that big run by Ollison brought the game to 14-10 and gave the Panthers hope. It was for naught, in the end, but it was their best play of the night from their best prospect for 2019.
The Future Is Etienne
He’s not draft eligible this year, but my goodness would Clemson’s Travis Etienne be RB1 if he were.
Etienne is one of the fastest players in all of college football, and he proves it time and time again. The play above was the very first play from scrimmage — 75 yards to the house. Etienne ended the game with 156 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Rain Or Shine; Sleet Or Snow
When the Broncos needed their best player the most, he delivered.
Down six, the Bronocs handed the ball off to their 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior tailback Alexander Mattison. in fact, they handed it to him 40 times in the Mountain West Championship Game. Mattison finished the game with 200 rushing yards on those 40 carries.
Option In Overtime
This final play of the day wasn’t a crazy play by a certain player or one to highlight a specific performance. It was just the play that got it done.
Simple, but well executed for a championship.
Congrats to Fresno State and all the other conference champions for giving us one very entertaining weekend.