One of the great things about college football is the platform it provides for redemption in both the short and long term. Look no further than last weekend’s wild roster of games featuring high-profile opponents to see both concepts.
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler disappeared from the national radar last season when he was replaced in Oklahoma by Caleb Williams after entering the season with the Heisman Trophy hype. He moved into the mid-level SEC program and had only decent results this season until he went crazy against Tennessee in a big upset victory for the Gamecocks on Saturday.
Rattler’s six touchdown passes marked a landmark victory for Coach Shane Beamer’s second-year team and gave Rattler’s college career a defining moment that seemed unlikely. As for the one-game redemption arc, TCU kicker Griffin Kell rebounded from a missed extra point to hit a 40-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to lift the Horned Frogs to a massive 29–28 victory over Baylor.
These are just two examples from Week 12 where players have caught the attention of college football in order to maximize their platform. Let’s dive into recent action to see who else is shining brightly ahead of the final weekend of the regular season.
The College Football Star Power Index is neither a Heisman Trophy watchlist, nor a zero-income earning potential ranking, nor NFL fictitious draft. There are many places where they can be found. This is a rundown of players who make the most of their platform – whether it be for quality performance or for other reasons – to stand out in the sport, whether momentarily or for a lifetime.
College Football Star Power Index
Spencer Rattler, quarterback for South Carolina
For the first 10 games of his time in South Carolina, Rattler was an absolutely average player. The transfer from Oklahoma got the Gamecocks off to a respectable 6-4 start, but last week’s game against Tennessee had more steals (nine) than touchdowns (eight). South Carolina lost by 21 points in the competition against a team of volunteers vying for a place in the college football playoffs. Against this backdrop, Rattler unfolded the game of his life. He set a new career high with touchdown passes (six) and yards (437), and set a career high with 30 completions. He decimated the Tennessee defense, leading the Gamecocks to a season-deciding 63–38 victory.
Rattler’s path in college football has been bumpy. Considered one of the top sports stars entering the 2021 season, he lost his job to Caleb Williams midway through the year. It seems unlikely that a single performance against the porous Tennessee defense will bring Rattler’s stock back to 2021 preseason levels, but at least it was a moment that Rattler should remember and confirmation of a marriage between him and the Gamecocks that seemed a little odd when it first appeared. realized.
Caleb Williams, USC quarterback
What a coincidence that Rattler and Williams had legendary performances on the same night, and neither of them came to Oklahoma. Williams set a new career high with 470 yards and 32 completions while leading USC to a decisive 48–45 victory over rival UCLA. This performance helped the Trojans qualify for the Pac-12 Championship and kept their college football playoff hopes alive. It may also have given Williams a shot at the Heisman Trophy. If USC beats Notre Dame this week to win the Pac-12 Championship Game, it will have a chance to get the most coveted custom equipment.
Griffin Kell, TCU kicker
It’s probably not often that a kicker who conceded an extra point wins their conference’s Special Team Player of the Week award. But that was also the case with Kell, who lifted TCU to a hugely important 29–28 victory over Baylor with a 40-yard field goal as time expired. The moment might have been a little less dramatic if Kell hadn’t clanged in a PAT attempt in the third quarter. This miss forced the Horned Frogs out after they scored a touchdown with 2:07 left. When that attempt failed, TCU trailed 28-26 and it looked like a missed PAT could be the main reason for Horned Frogs’ first loss.
But their defense stopped, the offense moved the ball into the field goal zone, and Kell took care of the rest. As the clock counted down the final seconds, the TCU Special Forces unit ran out onto the field, leaving just enough time for the elder to complete his transition from scapegoat to hero.
Keyon White, linebacker for Georgia Tech
White earned ACC Linesman of the Week honors for his three-sack performance in Georgia Tech’s stunning 21–17 victory in North Carolina. The redshirted senior earned four tackles for the loss and was the face of the Yellow Vests’ heroic defense against one of the nation’s top offenses. UNC quarterback Drake May entered the game with considerable hype around the Heisman Trophy, but walked out with season-high passes (202 yards), completions (16) and touchdowns (none). White began his career as a two-star tight end for Old Dominion in the class of 2017. Now, in his sixth college football season and second at Georgia Tech, he’s just caused one of the most unexpected disappointments of the season with his play on the other side of the ball.
Jake Moody, Michigan kicker
Moody scored the only points in the fourth quarter in Michigan’s 19-17 win over Illinois, repeatedly rewarding coach Jim Harbaugh for believing in his leg on a cold day in Ann Arbor. He was 4 of 4 on the day, improving to 25 of 30 on the season and 48 of 55 in the last two seasons. The redshirted elder scored 135 out of 135 on the PAT during his career and became Wolverine’s trusted weapon. Without Moody’s winning the game with 9 seconds to go against the Illini, the outlook for Michigan to compete this week in Ohio State would be a little bleaker.
Harold Perkins Jr., LSU linebacker
The LSU freshman linebacker was a one-man wrecking crew in Week 11 when the Tigers won the SEC West by defeating Arkansas. His three sacks and two forced fumbles made life miserable for the Razorbacks and brought Perkins to national attention. Then, last week, he made sure the Tigers avoided disappointment as he inflicted further damage with five tackles, including two tackles for a loss. Under Perkins, LSU crushed UAB 41-10, losing only 12 first downs. It’s rare for a real freshman to actually look NFL-ready, but there’s little doubt that Perkins would have been drafted early in the round had he been drafted.