Big games bring out big performances from the best players. Some of college football’s top players rose to the occasion in Week 7, producing some moments that will last long in the memory. Who were the best of the very best from the past five days of non-stop college football action?
It’s time to unveil our Week 7 College Football Players of the Week.
Week 7 College Football Players of the Week
Quarterback of the Week: Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Big games and big performances don’t come any bigger than Michael Penix Jr. leading the Washington Huskies to a win in what was undeniably the game of Week 7 and arguably the most important game of the 2023 college football season. It’s easy to judge QB play by conventional statistics and metrics, but they don’t begin to tell the story of this game on Saturday.
The box score will ensure that history knows that Penix completed 59.5% of his passes for 302 yards, with four touchdowns and an interceptions. What it won’t tell future college football fans is that Penix, while battling injury and the clock, delivered dime after dime to lead the Huskies to a game-winning, come-from-behind touchdown pass late in the fourth.
Honorable mentions: Diego Pavia, New Mexico State; Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina; Chandler Rogers, North Texas; JJ McCarthy, Michigan; Jordan McCloud, James Madison; Avery Johnson, Kansas State.
Offensive Player of the Week: Elic Ayomanor, WR, Stanford
Although there was some stiff competition both before and after his moment in the national spotlight — that ironically came while most people were fast asleep — Elic Ayomanor emerged as one of college football’s top players and a slam dunk pick for the Offensive Player of the Week after his mesmerizing, awe-inspiring, one-man Colorado-crushing display on Friday night.
The Stanford wide receiver ended the night with a school-record 294 yards, plus three touchdowns from 13 catches. In between his first and last grabs, Ayomanor inspired a Cardinal comeback. His 97-yard touchdown lit the spark in the Stanford offense that saw them overcome a 29-point deficit to win 46-43.
His 30-yard reception off the back of Travis Hunter to tie it up in overtime will be talked about for years to come. Simply sensational.
Honorable mentions: Kairee Robinson, San Jose State; Ollie Gordon II, RB, Oklahoma State; Ricky White, WR, UNLV; Kelly Akharaiyi, WR, UTEP; Keon Coleman, WR, FSU; Devontez Walker, WR, North Carolina; Ashton Jeanty, RB, Boise State; Omarion Hampton, RB, North Carolina.
Defensive Player of the Week: Xavier Watts, S, Notre Dame
The Notre Dame defense has been one of the best in the nation this fall, flying to the football in all phases, but haven’t always been successful in forcing turnovers. No such problem for safety Xavier Watts in a marquee win over USC in college football Week 7. The Fighting Irish senior safety matched his career total interceptions in a consummate first half performance.
Watts snagged his first interception early in the first quarter, cradling an overthrown pass into his arms in center field. On his second interception, he broke on a Caleb Williams pass and nearly took it to the house. Both his interceptions led to touchdown scores for the Fighting Irish. He also finished the game with a scoop and score late in the commanding win.
Honorable mentions: Adisa Isaac, EDGE, Penn State; Rayuan Lane, S, Navy; Landon Jackson, DL, Arkansas; Maurice Westmoreland, EDGE, UTEP; Desmond Igbinosun, DB, Rutgers; Darius Hodges, EDGE, Tulane; Joseph Carter, LB, Liberty; Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami (FL).
Special Teams Player of the Week: Daequan Hardy, PR, Penn State
Lots of convincing candidates for the Special Teams Player of the Week, but Penn State cornerback and punt returner takes the crown after a ludicrous performance in a shutdown win over UMass. The redshirt senior opened the scoring with a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown.
With his 68-yard punt return score late in the third quarter, Hardy became the first player in Penn State history to return two punts for touchdowns in a single game. Remarkably, he hadn’t returned a single punt in his career before the 63-0 win over UMass.
Honorable mentions: Matthew Golden, KR, Houston; Tory Taylor, P, Iowa; Riley Riethman, P, Navy; Scott Taylor Renfroe, K, Troy.
Freshman Player of the Week: Jayden Maiava, QB, UNLV
The UNLV Rebels haven’t been to a bowl game since 2013, but after beating the Nevada Wolfpack 45-27 in Week 7, they’re just one win away from reaching the postseason — not to mention being undefeated in Mountain West play. While wide receiver Ricky White continues to prove his worth as one of the conference’s best, true freshman QB Jayden Maiava is a star.
Maiava converted 79.2% of his passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. He added a further 32 rushing yards on five carries. Great box score, even better tape. The true freshman quarterback has legit arm talent, is capable of standing tall in the face of pressure, and throws accurately on the run. All that was on display in the Nevada win.
Honorable mentions: Hakeem Williams, WR, FSU; Braxton Woodson, QB, Navy; Monroe Freeling, OT, Georgia; D’Angelo Ponds, DB, James Madison; Tackett Curtis, LB, USC; Avery Johnson, QB, Kansas State.