Each week, we’ll be taking a look at the All-American first team, with the assessment being for the body of work of that week alone. Because the contributions of offensive linemen are more big picture and difficult to gauge on a week-by-week basis, they will be excluded from this exercise.
ICYMI: The All-Week 11 team
|Running back||Christian McCaffrey||Stanford|
|Running back||Dalvin Cook||Florida State|
|Wide receiver||Courtland Sutton||SMU|
|Wide receiver||Zay Jones||East Carolina|
|Tight end||Evan Engram||Mississippi|
|Kicker||Tyler Davis||Penn State|
QB: Sefo Liufau | Colorado
With USC holding the tiebreaker over Colorado in the Pac-12 South due to a head-to-head win, the Buffaloes needed to bring their A-game at home against a couple of tough opponents in Washington State and Utah to stay at one loss in conference play and win the division. Thanks in large part to a monster performance by Liufau, it’s one down, one to go.
The fourth-year starter stepped up when his team needed it, torching Washington State for 453 yards and three touchdowns. That came on 345 passing yards with an efficient 27-of-41 mark and 108 rushing yards. All three touchdowns came on the ground. Saturday’s performance marked his season-highs in both passing and rushing yards — that’s what we call stepping up.
RB: Christian McCaffrey | Stanford
Christian McCaffrey— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 20, 2016
31 carries for 284 yards
4 catches for 22 yards
3 Touchdowns pic.twitter.com/uAq6BSjGQW
Just when it seemed like we might go the entire 2016 season without a jaw-dropping performance by McCaffrey, he reminded everyone why he was a popular preseason Heisman pick. McCaffrey went off against a porous California defense, rushing for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Almost a third of those yards came on a single attempt, a 90-yard breakaway early in the second half. He also caught four passes, picking up an additional 22 yards.
RB: Dalvin Cook | Florida State
For whatever reason, Cook has flown slightly under the radar this season. He’s 533 yards away from 2,000 — though that’s probably unlikely given Florida State’s elimination from ACC Championship Game contention — but rarely seems to come up in Heisman discussions. The junior did his best to make a late push for an invitation to New York City on Saturday at Syracuse, carrying the ball 28 times for 225 yards and finding the end zone four times. He also broke Warrick Dunn’s career rushing record at FSU in the process.
WR: Courtland Sutton | SMU
In Week 11, Sutton set season-highs in both receptions and receiving yards. In Week 12, he surpassed both of those marks. The junior hauled in 13 passes in a loss to South Florida on Saturday and used his good combination of size and speed to make them count for 252 yards. In addition to his impressive 19.4 yards per reception average for that many catches, he had a pair of touchdowns.
WR: Zay Jones | East Carolina
The new all-time NCAA receptions leader celebrated in style with a season-high 212 yards against Navy. That came on 12 catches which, incredibly, slots in the bottom half of his single-game totals this season. Yeah, it’s not too hard to see how he has caught more passes than anyone else to ever play college football.
TE: Evan Engram | Mississippi
Engram began the year as one of the most reliable pass-catching tight ends in the country but, like his team, really cooled off. However, even with Chad Kelly done for the year, Engram was able to reestablish a connection with his fourth 100-yard game of the season. He had 102 yards on six catches, including a touchdown grab.
K: Tyler Davis | Penn State
Davis has been money all year, a perfect complement to a talented offensive team. The Nittany Lions had no issues blowing out Rutgers on Saturday, but credit should still be given for Davis’ performance. The sophomore connected from 32, 34, 40 and 32 yards out, not exactly booming kicks but not chip shots either. He also made all three extra-point tries to give him 15 points.
|Defensive line||Myles Garrett||Texas A&M|
|Defensive line||Ed Oliver||Houston|
|Defensive line||Dorance Armstrong Jr.||Kansas|
|Cornerback||Gareon Conley||Ohio State|
|Safety||Weston Steelhammer||Air Force|
|Cornerback||Donnie Starks||Kansas State|
DL: Myles Garrett | Texas A&M
Myles Garrett pic.twitter.com/JT4cDdjO4G— David Neumann (@davidneumann_) November 19, 2016
It’s definitely fair to point out that the Aggies were playing middling Conference USA team Texas San Antonio, a program that can’t be expected to bring in blockers capable of shutting down someone like Garrett. However, when Garrett absolutely eats like he did on Saturday, credit is due. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound pass-rusher had four solo sacks and assisted on another for a grand total of 4.5. He also forced a fumble, swatted down a pass and had eight tackles.
DL: Ed Oliver | Houston
Houston’s defense was extremely impressive in the week’s big upset, taking advantage of Louisville’s offensive line and making Lamar Jackson very uncomfortable. Oliver was a big part of that, sacking Jackson twice, forcing a fumble and knocking down two passes. It’s been an incredible true freshman season for Oliver, who leads all FBS defensive linemen in tackles, tackles for loss and pass breakups.
DL: Dorance Armstrong Jr. | Kansas
Another massive Week 12 upset, albeit with no College Football Playoff implications, was Kansas’ overtime win over Texas. Armstrong had some fun against his home state team, as the Houston native racked up 11 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He picked up Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors as a result of his day in the win.
LB: Steven Taylor | Houston
The Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week seemed to be all over Jackson whenever Oliver was unable to be there. Taylor had 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the Thursday night win. The 14 tackles shattered his previous season-best of nine, and eight of them were solo.
LB: Jordan Evans | Oklahoma
Evans stuffed the stat sheets in the Sooners’ big blowout win at West Virginia. He had five solo tackles, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and an interception. Oh, and that interception was returned 80 yards to the house on the first drive of the second half as West Virginia was trying to do anything to gain a little momentum back.
LB: Cody Barton | Utah
Barton didn’t force any turnovers or hit the quarterback over and over again on Saturday, and yes, Utah suffered a very bad loss at home to Oregon. But the sophomore did an incredible job being all over the field, and he deserves credit for that. Barton hadn’t gone over 10 tackles since Week 1, but he did that twice over with 20 against the Ducks.
LB: Matt Linscott | Tulsa
A former walk-on, Linscott showed what hard work can do for a player. He practically lived in the backfield in Tulsa’s win over Central Florida, picking up four of his six tackles in the backfield for a total loss of 13 yards. He also forced a fumble and finished with two quarterback hurries.
CB: Gareon Conley | Ohio State
Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn and Gareon Conley rose to the occasion for Ohio State to end the Spartans. pic.twitter.com/aiINo5koGo— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 19, 2016
Conley, with an assist to the wind and frigid tempatures, anchored an Ohio State secondary that absolutely shut down any semblance of a Michigan State passing game. The Spartans completed just eight of 21 passes for 127 yards. Conley only had one tackle, which is often a good sign for a cornerback, and he put the game away with 1:30 left by intercepting a wobbling pass to end a potential game-winning drive.
S: Troy Hawthorne | UNLV
The Rebels had no chance at Boise State, but that didn’t stop Hawthorne from laying the boom in the secondary. The senior had seven tackles and forced two fumbles, including one on the Broncos’ opening drive. He also added a fumble recovery to his stat line.
S: Weston Steelhammer | Air Force
The senior had a game worthy of such an amazing name during Air Force’s win at San Jose State. Steelhammer picked off two passes, returning one 33 yards, and had 10 tackles. His second interception was a diving one off a tipped ball with 16 seconds to go, sealing the three-point victory.
CB: Donnie Starks | Kansas State
Kansas State was very impressive at Baylor, doubling up the Bears. Part of that was due to Starks, who intercepted two passes and returned them 25 yards. He also had six tackles, five of which were solo.
P: Johnny Townsend | Florida
Townsend has been outstanding this season, boasting a mighty 47.8 yards per punt. He was well over that in the Gators’ SEC East-clinching victory at LSU on Saturday, punting the ball five times for an average of 52.2 yards. In such a low-scoring contest, extending the field as far as you can for the opposing offense is imperative, and Townsend played a huge role in doing just that.