It’s the best we saw in Week 12 of the college football season, highlighted by the CFN Week 12 Team of the Week. And what a weekend it was.
Week 12 College Football Team of the Week | First Team
It’s important to note that the CFN Week 12 College Football Team of the Week awards players based on their impact in their respective games and is not necessarily based on total statistical output.
The strength of competition is accounted for, as is the situation — both time of the game and score. These individual awards are also solely based on a player’s ability on the field and does not look into any future beyond college football.
Quarterback: Bo Nix, Oregon
In no way are we going to justify Bo Nix’s performance over Arizona State as anything short of elite. The leader in the clubhouse for the Heisman Trophy needed just two quarters to throw for six scores against Arizona State, putting up over 300 yards in just five drives and just 20 minutes of game time.
Nix threw for his sixth score just before the half, and the Oregon Ducks needed no other help in the second half to rout the Sun Devils.
It was a masterful performance for Nix, who essentially shut it down at halftime. Had he played the second half, there’s no telling how high the ceiling on this elite performance could have been for Nix.
Running Back: Jahiem White, West Virginia
A commanding performance from both backfield members, Jahiem White and Garrett Greene, ran over Cincinnati on Saturday. White, who ran for 204 yards and a touchdown, had a career day against the Bearcats and seemingly couldn’t be stopped.
With great contact balance and perhaps even better vision, White’s career day also saw him take his lone reception the distance for a 75-yard touchdown. He finished with 279 total yards of offense and two scores in the rout of Cincinnati.
Running Back: Ja’Quez Cross, Arkansas State
What a wild game it was for Arkansas State. In a series of wild plays, the Red Wolves offense didn’t see the field for 17 minutes, yet they outscored Texas State 28-7 in that stretch. This all has nothing to do with Ja’Quez Cross, but it sets the stage for just how dominant his outing could have been had he been on the field any longer.
Cross scored three touchdowns on just 13 carries, reaching 139 yards in the process. He hauled in two receptions to round out an incredible day that saw him return a kick for a touchdown as well. Cross finds himself on our CFN Week 12 Team of the Week twice.
Wide Receiver: Ricky White, UNLV
Coming up big down the stretch, the duo of Jayden Maiava and Ricky White has developed into one of the best QB-WR duos in college football. Heating up with their team trailing to start the second half, it was White who willed his team to victory behind the gutsy performance of his young quarterback.
White finished with eight receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown against Air Force. With multiple first-down receptions in his bag on the day, White’s importance on the game went much further than just that single touchdown as he also went over 100 yards for the sixth time this season and the fourth game in a row.
Wide Receiver: Malik Nabers, LSU
It felt like the LSU Tigers were set to make an example on Saturday night, playing their starters well into the second half with the game firmly out of reach. Still, Malik Nabers did the majority of his damage early on for LSU, securing eight receptions for 140 yards and two scores.
It was yet another display of what makes Nabers so dangerous as a receiver. He’s a complete package with elite tools all over the field. Nabers now has over 1,400 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2023.
Wide Receiver: Troy Franklin, Oregon
Utilizing his full arsenal of skills, Troy Franklin became the Oregon single-season record holder in receiving yards thanks to his 128 yards and two scores against Arizona State. Franklin flashed his elite speed and his strong hands on multiple catches, taking two the distance with a combination of both.
The Oregon Ducks are arguably one of the hottest teams in the country right now and with Franklin playing like this, it’s no wonder Bo Nix is the leader for the Heisman.
Tight End: Jared Wiley, TCU
The big man from TCU had himself a career day against Baylor as Jared Wiley was unstoppable on Saturday. Wiley hauled in a career-high seven receptions, 178 yards, two touchdowns, and an 81-yard touchdown that gave TCU their first lead in the rout.
Wiley was open all over the field and unstoppable after the catch. He found himself lanes through zone coverage and used his massive frame to dominate the Baylor defense all game long.
Flex: Frank Harris, UTSA
It was a breathtaking performance from UTSA’s signal-caller as Frank Harris dazzled in his final game from the Alamo Dome. Harris put forth a UTSA single-game record for total offense by torching USF’s defense to the tune of 523 yards.
At his best as the season has come down the stretch, Harris has the Roadrunners within a single game of the AAC Championship in their first season in the conference, and a performance like this is as good of an indicator as any that we’re getting the best of him at the most pivotal moment of the season.
Harris threw for 411 yards and three scores while rushing for another 112 yards and three more touchdowns in a performance fit for the college football legend that he is.
Tackle: Josh Fryar, Ohio State
Once again, Josh Fryar brought his A-game to the field for Ohio State. Fryar was dominant in pass protection, fielding clean pockets one after another. But he was at his best on the ground once again.
Fryar brings a unique mix of strength and speed as he hunts for work and he easily dispatched Minnesota defenders on multiple plays in Ohio State’s rout of the Golden Gophers.
Guard: Cayden Green, Oklahoma
Considering the field conditions, Cayden Green’s performance against BYU was terrific. He moved defenders off the spot at will and was consistently seen clearing lanes on the ground or keeping clean pockets for both quarterbacks.
Green is a big physical mauler up front and he showcased his total arsenal of skills against the Cougars on Saturday.
Center: Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon
It’s not often that a center dominates the highlight reel for a team, but that’s Jackson Powers-Johnson for you. Arguably the best center in football, if not in line for the best overall offensive lineman in 2023, Powers-Johnson has done nothing but dominate in 2023.
While his best highlight of the day came when he crossed the goal line on a long touchdown run like a sprinter, it embodied who JPJ is as a blocker. Always around the action and always looking for work in the open field, he’s as dominant as he is aware of his surroundings and as talented as they come. Week 12 was just another example of this.
Guard: Gabe Blair, North Texas
Paving the way for some terrific ground-and-pound action against Tulsa, Gabe Blair was on his A-game on Saturday. Blair and the Mean Green offensive line cleared lanes for two 100-yard rushers and over 300 rushing yards on the day.
It was a sound performance as Blair was routinely seen making pivotal blocks on the play side or sealing off backside blockers all the same.
Tackle: Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State
The final result isn’t quite what Oregon State fans wanted, but Taliese Fuaga showcased what makes him one of the best linemen in the country yet again. Against Washington, Fuaga had a field day on the ground, sealing backside blocks as much as he was found in the open field hunting for defenders at the second level.
Fuaga has impressed in each game this year and rushing to his side yielded great results for the Beavers against Washington.
EDGE: Ron Stone Jr., Washington State
It’s proven that Ron Stone Jr. is an absolute game-changer for this Washington State defense. Stone ripped through the Colorado offensive line at will on Friday night, dominating from the opening whistle until the starters were pulled out of the lineup.
He finished the night with two sacks, three tackles for loss, and nine total tackles. Stone was routinely pressuring Shedeur Sanders and making it nearly impossible for any of the quarterbacks in the backfield for Colorado to stand tall and make clear decisions.
Defensive Line: Darius Hodges, Tulane
Quite simply, the Tulane Green Wave defense shut down FAU on Saturday. Darius Hodges and the defensive line got through the offensive line at will and made multiple highlight-reel plays in run defense. Together, they held FAU to just 32 rushing yards and recorded eight total tackles for loss.
Hodges himself ripped through tackles or guards in front of him for two sacks and was consistently in the backfield all game long.
Defensive Line: Jack Sawyer, Ohio State
Playing all over the line for Ohio State, Jack Sawyer had one of his best career performances against Minnesota on Saturday. Sawyer ripped through the line with his pass-rushing skills and was equally as dominant on the ground.
Minnesota could hardly move the ball offensively, and the defensive front — led by Sawyer — was a big reason why. Sawyer recorded a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss as he lead the team with six total tackles during his dominant outing.
EDGE: Dayon Hayes, Pittsburgh
Making life miserable for Boston College on Thursday, Dayon Hayes played a pivotal role in Pittsburgh’s victory over the Eagles. Hayes recorded two sacks and six total tackles but felt like he was in the backfield all night long.
His biggest impact came when rushing the passer, influencing quick passes, or keeping Thomas Castellanos in check all night. Hayes also contributed with some sound run defense to boot in an all-around terrific performance.
Linebacker: Carson Bruener, Washington
Carson Bruener had arguably the best defensive day from a linebacker in Week 12. Though his statistical showing shows a whopping 14 tackles — six of which were solo stops — Bruener’s impact was felt everywhere against Oregon State.
He forced a big-time fumble early in the first half that changed the momentum. Bruener then flashed elite athleticism by leaping into a passing lane of Oregon State QB DJ Uiagalelei, tipping the ball into his cornerback’s hands in the process. He was everywhere for Washington and Bruener gave the performance of a lifetime in the narrow victory.
Linebacker: Melique Straker, Arkansas State
What a game it was for the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Putting up 77 points against Texas State, the Red Wolves scored in a variety of ways. One of those touchdowns came when Melique Straker picked off a pass and went 87 yards the other way for a pick-six.
Straker’s interception thwarted a Texas State drive that looked promising and was followed up with yet another pick-six on the next drive. He also led all tacklers with 13 total tackles, nine solo stops, and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Linebacker: Sidney Houston Jr., Ball State
The Ball State Cardinals made easy work on Kent State on Saturday, and Sidney Houston Jr. was a big reason why. Houston recorded a team-high five solo tackles as he flew all over the field with precision and speed.
His biggest impact came with his ability to time his blitzes perfectly, getting home with 2.5 sacks on the day. Houston wasn’t done there, however, as he recorded two more tackles behind the line of scrimmage on the ground game to boot.
Cornerback: Jabbar Muhammad, Washington
What a day it was for Jabbar Muhammad in the rain in Oregon. The Washington cornerback locked down all game long on the perimeter and came away with some highlight-reel splash plays to boot.
Muhammad made two interceptions and recovered a fumble, and even if he has Carson Bruener to thank for two of those plays, he made plenty of plays on the outside on his own. His undercut interception changed the game and kept the Huskies in a position to seal the deal.
Even on a free play late in the fourth quarter, Muhammad wouldn’t let the Beavers receiving corps get behind him, breaking up a Uiagalalei pass to preserve the lead.
Cornerback: Nate Wiggins, Clemson
The definition of lockdown cornerback means taking on the opposing team’s top target and holding him to a limited output. Nate Wiggins did that and more on Saturday when he locked up against Devontez Walker on a handful of targets.
Wiggins got the better of North Carolina and QB Drake Maye, coming away with an impressive interception and multiple plays in coverage. He also recorded seven total tackles on the day as he was everywhere for Clemson.
Cornerback: Mike Sainristil, Michigan
Giving his team the kick in the pants they needed, Mike Sainristil continually came up big in clutch moments for the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. Sainristill timed his two interceptions perfectly, swinging momentum back in Michigan’s favor with each and thwarting promising drives from Maryland at the same time.
Sainristill has continued to blossom into a true lockdown cornerback and his performance in Week 12 was another indicator of his ability to make something happen on an island.
Defensive Back: Billy Bowman Jr., Oklahoma
Forced to do too much against BYU, it was a good thing Oklahoma had Billy Bowman Jr. in his top form on Saturday. Without Bowman, the game against the Cougars likely goes the other way as Bowman’s name was called a ton for the Sooners.
He recorded a tackle for loss and nine total tackles, but his play in coverage is what likely won the game for Oklahoma. On a drive following a complete momentum shift for BYU, it was Bowman who snapped in front of a throw and sprinted 100 yards up the sideline for a pick-six that put points on the board, brought life back to Oklahoma, and eventually all but took the life out of LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Defensive Back: Jarrian Jones, Florida State
On a night marred by the horrific injury to their quarterback, a defensive performer stepped up and sparked his defense to come from behind against North Alabama. Florida State lost Jordan Travis in the first quarter, but Jarrian Jones more than sparked the Seminoles back to life.
Jones recorded a strip sack that swung momentum back FSU’s way, recovering his own forced fumble in an impressive rep. He followed that up with his second interception in as many games to successfully steal the momentum and suck the life out of North Alabama.
The final score of 58-13 is more like what FSU fans thought they’d see when the day started, and it was Jones who swung the momentum back in FSU’s favor more than any other player.
Flex: Nathaniel Watson, Mississippi State
Nathaniel Watson was everywhere on Saturday for Mississippi State. The talented linebacker made a whopping 21 total tackles against Southern Miss, bottling up the Golden Eagles in all facets.
Watson ripped through for a sack, made a tackle for loss, and was seemingly in on every play. It was a great performance for a defense that certainly needed a spark.
Kicker: Harrison Mevis, Missouri
The SEC record-holder himself knocked home another game-winning kick as Harrison Mevis added to his legacy at Missouri. Mevis was perfect on the day and at his best with the game on the line for the Tigers.
He booted home seven total kicks, three extra points, and four field goals to score 15 total points, and his game-winning 30-yard field goal was enough to knock off the Florida Gators, 33-31. Mevis knocked home field goals of 22, 24, 30, and 38 yards against UF.
Punter: Mitchell Lake, Appalachian State
When you upset one of the remaining undefeated teams in the country, it’s clear you’d need all three phases of the game firing on all cylinders. Keeping JMU back on their heels with his punts, App State’s Mitchell Lake was lights out in Week 12.
Lake booted the ball five times for 192 yards but pinned JMU inside their own 20-yard line on three occasions. It was those situations that kept JMU for taking a lead in regulation and ultimately allowed App State to hang on to the hard-fought overtime victory.
Kick Returner: Ja’Quez Cross, Arkansas State
Cross isn’t done with his multiple spots on the CFN Week 12 Team of the Week. In addition to landing as a running back above, it was Cross’ 93-yard kickoff return touchdown that kept his own offense off the field and pushed the Arkansas State point total to 63 points.
In total, Cross returned three kicks for 166 yards as he was unstoppable in any facet in Week 12.
Punt Returner: Caleb Downs, Alabama
Flashing some brilliance with the ball in his hands, freshman safety Caleb Downs wowed those who watched Alabama run over Chattanooga. Downs fielded a punt late in the third quarter and dazzled in the process.
Bobbing and weaving his way to the end zone, Downs sped past the Chattanooga coverage unit on a truly awe-inspiring 85-yard punt return touchdown. Getting him the ball more will be the plan going forward.
Week 12 College Football Team of the Week | Second Team
- QB: Jayden Daniels, LSU
- RB: Ollie Gordon II, Oklahoma State
- RB: Devin Neal, Kansas
- WR: Malik Washington, Virginia
- WR: Trond Grizzell, Cal
- WR: Joshua Cephus, UTSA
- TE: Harold Fannin Jr., Bowling Green
- FLEX: Garrett Greene, West Virginia
- OT: Josh Simmons, Ohio State
- G: Xavier Delgado, Missouri
- C: Ethan Miner, North Texas
- G: Wendell Moe, Arizona
- OT: Javon Foster, Missouri
- EDGE: Javon Solomon, Troy
- DL: Mazin Richards, North Texas
- DL: Byron Murphy II, Texas
- EDGE: Shane Bonner, Ohio
- LB: Joe Sparacio, Eastern Michigan
- LB: Jett Johnson, Mississippi State
- LB: Nickolas Martin, Oklahoma State
- DB: Caleb Weaver, Sam Houston
- DB: D’Angelo Ponds, JMU
- DB: Preston Hodge, Liberty
- DB: Jordan Hancock, Ohio State
- DB: Jaylon Carlies, Missouri
- FLEX: Al Walcott, Arkansas
- K: Kyle Ferrie, Mississippi State
- P: Marshall Nichols, UNLV
- KR: Jakarius Caston, Southern Miss
- PR: Dane Pardridge, Northern Illinois
Week 12 College Football Team of the Week | Third Team
- QB: Diego Pavia, New Mexico State
- RB: TreVeyon Henderson, Ohio State
- RB: George Holani, Boise State
- WR: Brennan Presley, Oklahoma State
- WR: Elijah Sarratt, JMU
- WR: Luther Burden III, Missouri
- TE: John Michael Gyllenborg, Wyoming
- FLEX: Antario Brown, Northern Illinois
- OT: KT Leveston, Kansas State
- G: Cooper Beebe, Kansas State
- C: Josh Baker, Arizona
- G: Francis Mauigoa, Miami (FL)
- OT: Ajani Cornelius, Oregon
- EDGE: Laiatu Latu, UCLA
- DL: Pryce Yates, UConn
- DL: Deshawn Holt, Toledo
- EDGE: Mohamed Kamara, Colorado State
- LB: Chase Kline, Eastern Michigan
- LB: Payton Wilson, NC State
- LB: Xander Mueller, Northwestern
- DB: Maxen Hook, Toledo
- DB: Henry Blackburn, Colorado State
- DB: Ty Benefield, Boise State
- DB: Kobe Savage. Kansas State
- DB: Preston Zachman, Wisconsin
- FLEX: Dane Motley, Arkansas State
- K: Jayden Fielding, Ohio State
- P: Ryan Eckley, Michigan State
- KR: Sam Hicks, Central Michigan
- PR: Xavier Worthy, Texas
Week 12 College Football Team of the Week | Honorable Mention
- QB: Carson Beck, Georgia
- RB: Malik Jackson, Jacksonville State
- RB: Cody Schrader, Missouri
- WR: Kevin Concepcion, NC State
- WR: Tetairoa McMillan, Arizona
- WR: Demeer Blankumsee, Memphis
- TE: Hudson Habermehl, UCLA
- FLEX: Holden Willis, MTSU
- OT: Riley Mahlman, Wisconsin
- G: Donovan Jackson, Ohio State
- C: Brian Driscoll, Cal
- G: Steven Jones, Oregon
- OT: Armand Membou, Missouri
- EDGE: Ahmed Hassanein, Boise State
- DL: Judge Culpepper, Toledo
- DL: Darius Alexander, Toledo
- EDGE: Caiden Woullard, Miami (OH)
- LB: Cashius Howell, Bowling Green
- LB: Tyren Dupree, Liberty
- LB: Shad Banks Jr., TCU
- DB: Richard Toney Jr., Nevada
- DB: Rashad Wisdom, UTSA
- DB: Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo
- DB: M.J. Devonshire, Pittsburgh
- DB: C.J. Baskerville, Texas Tech
- FLEX: Kyle Efford, Georgia Tech
- K: Will Bettridge, Virginia
- P: Lucas Dean, UTSA
- KR: Bhayshul Tuten, Virginia Tech
- PR: Caullin Lacy, South Alabama