1 – UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee (vs. Tulane)
This one hurts. I’ve been riding the Green Wave all season long as Tulane has presented one of the best stories in college football this season. In Week 11, fellow AAC contender UCF came to Yulman Stadium in one of the biggest games of the weekend between two top 25 group of five teams vying for a New Years Six bid.
The Knights offense got out of the gates quickly, largely behind the legs of quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. In the first five minutes, Plumlee out raced the Tulane defense 67 yards for a touchdown to take an early two possession lead and the Knights never really looked back. Tulane attempted comebacks a few times, getting in striking distance before costly mistakes on offense or Plumlee taking matters into his own hands and confusing the Wave defense.
Plumlee finished the day 17/30 passing with 308 combined yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers in the Knights 38-31 victory. Now in the driver seat in the AAC, UCF will wrap the season with Navy and South Florida and should walk into the American Championship game at 10 wins.
2 – North Carolina QB-WR Connection of Drake Maye & Josh Downs (vs. Wake Forest)
Another dynamite day, another round of awards for the talented Tar Heel connection. Maye, who should be garnering way more Heisman hype by the way, finished the day 31/49 passing with 519 total yards and 4 of the Heels 5 touchdowns. On the other end of the connection, the Deacon defense had no ability to stop Downs, who caught 11 passes for 154 yards and grabbed all 3 of Mayes touchdown passes.
For the season, Maye ranks amongst the top of the nation in all major passing categories. and while the Tar Heels haven’t played the toughest of schedules, Maye can hardly be blamed for his defense giving up 45 points to Notre Dame in a mid season loss (Maye had 5 touchdowns that game). He’ll have more shots to prove himself, though, as North Carolina wraps the season with Georgia Tech and in-state rival N.C. State.
3 – Central Michigan QB Bert Emanuel Jr. (vs. Buffalo)
We’ve got a little MACtion in this weeks edition of the Five Stars. Chips freshman quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. ran roughshod over the Bulls defense after entering the game, racking up 293 yards on the ground on 24 carries and tacking on 3 touchdowns that helped Central Michigan overcome a 17 point halftime deficit to secure a 31-27 victory.
In the third quarter alone, Emanuel pulled off runs of 75 (first play of the second half) and 87 yards (got tackled, never touched the ground) and the Bulls defense just never had an answer to his running ability.
Central Michigan sits at 4-6 and renewed hope at bowl eligibility, and will finish the season with in-state directional rivals Western and Eastern Michigan.
4 – LSU LB Harold Perkins (vs. Arkansas)
We have another young defensive player becoming a superstar before our eyes in linebacker Harold Perkins. The five star recruit has hit the ground running this season, and has been as big of a reason for the Tigers resurgence as anyone else on the roster or staff.
On Saturday against Arkansas, in a game that was basically a rock fight for 4 quarters, Perkins racked up 4 sacks and forced two Arkansas fumbles, one of which sealed the win for the Tigers late in the fourth as the Razorbacks attempted to make a late rally. The true freshman now has 7.5 sacks from the linebacker position this season, and he’s been tapped with spying many quarterbacks to utilize his unique athleticism for the position.
The Tigers 13-10 win also means that LSU will matchup with Georgia in the SEC Championship, and I have to imagine many people did not expect that outcome before the season. LSU will finish the season with UAB and Texas A&M (a team that was hot on Perkins last recruiting cycle and could probably use him) before facing Georgia with a shot at the Playoffs.
5 – Miami S Kamren Kinchens (vs. Georgia Tech)
You’d be excused if you didn’t end up seeing any of this game between two floundering ACC teams, I mean hell, it was played locally for me on MASN (the Baltimore Orioles network, get bent Nat fans). That said, Miami safety Kam Kinchens played the game of his life against the Yellow Jackets, intercepting two Tech quarterbacks 3 total times and returning one of them 99 yards for a pick six.
Kinchens boosted his season total to 6 interceptions which now leads the nation and has been a bright spot for Miami in the midst of a rough season that has seen very little come together as expected, and the sophomore will play a key role in the team next season.
Miami wraps the season with Clemson this week before needing a win over Pittsburgh to make bowl eligibility.