Week 13 College Football Players of the Week: Record-Setting Noah Fifita Leads Arizona to Territorial Cup Triumph

    Arizona Wildcats quarterback Noah Fifita established himself as one of college football's top players with a record-setting performance in Week 13.

    Rivalry Week. Week 13. The final week of the regular season. Call it what you want, but college football’s top players showed up in a big way to give us a fitting finale one of the most unpredictable and exciting college football season’s we’ve seen in a long time.

    Who were the best of the best from the past week? Introducing the CFN College Football Players of the Week.

    Week 13 College Football Players of the Week

    Quarterback of the Week: Noah Fifita, Arizona

    He might not have opened the season as the starter, but the Arizona Wildcats have been the surprise team of the Pac-12 under the guidance of quarterback Noah Fifita. In the season-ending 59-23 win over bitter rivals Arizona State, the redshirt freshman established himself as one of the top college football players with a multi-record-setting performance.

    After finding Tanner McLachlan for the first Wildcats touchdown of the day, Fifita pushed on and threw for five touchdowns in the dominant win. Completing 30 of 41 pass attempts, the Arizona quarterback set a school record with 527 passing yards which was also a record for the most passing yards in Territorial Cup history. Poise, pocket presence, arm talent; he’s the real deal.

    Honorable mentions: Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma; Cam Fancher, Marshall; Austin Reed, Western Kentucky; Jordan McCloud, James Madison; Preston Stone, SMU; Byrum Brown, USF

    Offensive Player of the Week: Ollie Gordon II, RB, Oklahoma State

    If it weren’t for Ollie Gordon II, the Oklahoma State Cowboys wouldn’t be going to the Big 12 Championship Game. While that statement is applicable to the entirety of the 2023 college football season for the Cowboys, it’s also representative of a Week 13 performance that reinforced the sentiment that he’s one of college football’s top players and a worthy Heisman contender.

    Oklahoma State was looking down and out when Gordon’s two-yard run early in the third quarter pulled the Pokes back to within 11 points. He took over the game in the fourth with two touchdowns, giving Mike Gundy’s team a late lead. In overtime, he found the end zone twice –including the game-winning score — capping a five-touchdown, 166-yard night for the elite RB.

    Honorable mentions: Tetairoa McMillan, WR, Arizona; Ashton Jeanty, RB, Boise State; Peny Boone, RB, Toledo; Cody Schrader, RB, Missouri; Ashtyn Hawkins, WR, Texas State; Elijah Sarratt, WR, James Madison; Moochie Dixon, WR, SMU; Audric Estime, RB, Notre Dame

    Defensive Player of the Week: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

    The numbers might not have been impressive all season long, but Jared Verse has been at the forefront of everything the Florida State Seminoles have achieved this year, and in their season finale against bitter rival Florida, the imposing defensive end showcased exactly what he’s all about with a mammoth outing that helped the Seminoles overcome some early adversity for the win.

    Verse was a constant thorn in the side of the Gators offensive line, utilizing his alluring combination of size and power to be a permanent force in the Florida backfield. The FSU pass rusher, who is set to be one of the first defensive players selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, tallied 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss in a win that keeps the Seminoles on course for the CFB Playoff.

    Honorable mentions: Judge Culpepper, DT, Toledo; Ethan Hurkett, DL, Iowa; Jordan Lawson, DL, Louisiana; Micah Abraham, DB, Marshall; Trevor Williams, LB, Sam Houston; Abdul Carter, LB, Penn State; Jason Johnson, LB, UCF; Tristan Newson, LB, Missouri; Keith Cooper, DL, Tulane

    Special Teams Player of the Week: Richard Reese, KR, Baylor

    As they ended the season with a 3-9 record, there was at least something to get excited for as Richard Reese turned in the special teams performance of the week.

    The sophomore running back consistently flashed his speed, agility, and contact balance as a dangerous return man, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns — including a 96-yard long return. He ended the day with 220 kick return yards from just four attempts while accounting for almost half of Baylor’s points.

    Honorable mentions: Bert Auburn, K, Texas; Marshall Meeder, K, Iowa; Alec Bevelhimer, P, Miami (OH); Keilan Robinson, KR, Texas; Bhayshul Tuten, KR, Virginia Tech; Fraser Masin, P, Ole Miss.

    Freshman Player of the Week: Abu Sama III, RB, Iowa State

    Everyone loves a snow game, but no one loves it more than Iowa State true freshman running back Abu Sama III. In conditions reminiscent of midweek MACtion, the 2022 Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year established himself as one of the top young players in college football with a devastating performance that helped Iowa State take home a seventh win of 2023 against Kansas State.

    Sama kick-started the game, dashing through the snow for a 71-yard touchdown with just 18 seconds gone in the game. The true freshman got the second quarter off to an equally explosive start, using his speed to escape the Wildcats defense for a 77-yard score. The Iowa State standout ended a dominant game with 276 rushing yards and three scores off just 16 carries.

    Honorable mentions: Jaheim White, RB, West Virginia; Kevin Concepcion, WR, NC State; Khalil Barnes, DB, Clemson; Peyton Bowen, S, Oklahoma; Matayeo Uiagalelei, EDGE, Oregon; Brett Norfleet, TE, Missouri. 

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