Small-School College Stars of Week 13

Thanksgiving week is typically a time in football where the NFL dominates the headlines as families prepare fantastic feasts and give thanks to all that is good in the world. However, college football gave us plenty of stories to write home about – none more impressive than Jaret Patterson, the running back from the University of Buffalo who nearly broke the FBS record for most rushing touchdowns in a single game. Patterson was a no-brainer to be one of the five student-athletes we have chosen to spotlight in college football this week:

Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo

Stats vs. Kent State: 36 carries for 409 yards, 11.4 yards per carry, 8 TDs, long of 62 yards

Nobody in the nation has gotten into the Heisman conversation this season faster than Jaret Patterson has in the past few weeks. The 5-9, 195-pound back from Glendale, Mo., has broken out this season as Buffalo’s workhorse back. Many people thought the peak for Patterson came in Week 12 against Bowling Green, when he rushed for 301 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers seem pretty hard to top for most players, but not for Patterson. Heading into a huge game with previously unbeaten Kent State, Buffalo’s offense was squarely on Patterson’s shoulders as he nearly broke the FBS single-game rushing touchdown record with 8 touchdowns on top of 409 yards rushing en route to Buffalo cruising to a 70-41 victory. Kent State’s defense hasn’t been that bad this season, giving up about 27.3 points per game, but Patterson made them look like they were playing in quicksand with his array of jukes and terrific vision. Buffalo’s offensive line created plenty of holes for Patterson, but the junior has impressed people this season with his ability to find holes when it doesn’t look like any are present. His vision is incredible as he is constantly able to make something out of nothing. Wearing number 41 in honor of former player Solomon Jackson, Patterson had 156 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries after the first quarter alone. Patterson’s touchdowns were a work of art through this one as he was able to blaze through the open holes and break tackles to paydirt. Furthermore, only two of them were for 10 yards or less. Can Patterson keep up these video game numbers going forward? It is very possible after what he did against Kent State. Have a day, Jaret Patterson.

Jack Sorenson, WR, Miami-Ohio

Stats vs. Akron: 8 receptions for 177 yards, 22.1 yards per catch, 4 TDs, long of 61 yards

Despite Patterson getting much of the attention in the MAC in Week 13, Jack Sorenson from Miami-Ohio definitely left a mark on the conference after a huge game in a 38-7 victory for the Redhawks over the Zips of Akron. Coming into this Week 13 game, Sorenson had yet to score a touchdown this season. He managed to score his first four of the 2020 campaign all in this game as well as having the most receiving yards in a single game in his three-year career with 177 yards on eight receptions. Sorenson’s highlight of the game came on a screen pass in which the 6-0, 195-pound senior was able to perfectly follow his blockers en route to a 61-yard touchdown. Besides this play, the senior had 116 more yards on seven more receptions as Akron defenders struggled to keep Sorenson off the statsheet. Even though Sorenson had a poor showing in Miami-Ohio’s second game of the season against Buffalo, the senior has started to show himself as the clear-cut number one receiver for the Redhawks, especially after accounting for nearly 50% of all of Miami-Ohio’s receptions in this easy victory over Akron. Sorenson caught 8 of his team’s 18 completions on the day. Sorenson’s big day coincided with the return of QB Brett Gabbert, and it certainly appears these two have a great connection that could lead to Miami-Ohio being one of the better teams in the MAC this season.

Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Stats vs. Arkansas State: 10 REC for 252 yards, 25.2 yards per catch, 3 TDs, long of 51 yards

Sorenson was not the only receiver who had a huge game in Week 13 as Jalen Tolbert of South Alabama impressed in a 38-31 thrilling victory for the Jaguars over the Red Wolves of Arkansas State. The 6-3, 195-pound junior receiver from local Mobile, Ala., has been a consistent presence for the Jaguars this season. He has nearly accumulated 1,000 yards receiving through 10 games. With one game remaining, it is quite possible that Tolbert hits this mark for the 2020 campaign. Arkansas State has struggled against the pass this season, and this was evident in this one as Tolbert recorded 10 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns against the Red Wolves. It looked like Arkansas State was going to pull away from South Alabama early in the third quarter as the Red Wolves took a 10-point lead, but that’s when Tolbert started to heat up. All three of Tolbert’s touchdown catches in this one came in the second half as Arkansas State defenders could not keep Tolbert in front of them—Tolbert’s three touchdown receptions were all for 37 yards or more. In fact, Tolbert scored all three of the Jaguars’ final touchdowns, including a touchdown with just under five minutes to go to give South Alabama the lead for good. If Tolbert can keep up his consistent play throughout his career, there is no telling what he can accomplish for the Jaguars.

Cameron Thomas, DL, San Diego State

Stats vs. Colorado: 14 total tackles, 11 solo tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFLs, 3 QB hurries

San Diego State wasn’t even supposed to play the Buffaloes of Colorado as the Aztecs were slated to play Fresno State in Week 13. However, due to complications with COVID-19, the game against Fresno State was canceled and SDSU was able to agree with Colorado for a game. Despite a shaky showing out of the offense for the Aztecs, SDSU was able to stay in this game mostly due to a strong showing from its defense, specifically defensive lineman Cameron Thomas. Despite losing the Week 13 matchup by a score of 20-10, the 6-5, 265-pound sophomore gave Colorado’s offensive line all it could handle as he had 14 total tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss, and three QB hurries on the day. Colorado’s offensive line really had no answers for Thomas. It seemed like he was able to make his way into every play during the course of this game. Thomas had such a strong showing against the Buffaloes that he was even able to make the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 13. Coming into this matchup, Thomas only had eight tackles and 1.5 sacks. In this game alone, Thomas was nearly able to double his tackle total along with boosting his sack total to 2.5. This may be just a glimpse of what’s to come for the sophomore from Carlsbad, Calif. Have a day against a Power Five team, Cameron Thomas.

Jordan McCloud, QB, South Florida

Stats vs. UCF: 32/46 passing for 404 yards, 8.8 YPA, 4 TDs, 0 INTs, 13 rushes for 7 yards, 1 TD

South Florida has had a rough season, compiling a record of 1-7 coming into a huge rivalry matchup against UCF. Well, USF was unable to get the victory, losing by a score of 58-46, but the Bulls did have their most promising offensive showing of the season, especially for sophomore QB Jordan McCloud. The 6-0, 193-pound quarterback had his best performance of the season against UCF, compiling 404 yards and four touchdowns on 32 of 46 passing along with another score on the ground. UCF’s defense has not been the strongest this season, but with USF’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball, it did not look like this would be the most promising of games for the Bulls to score their highest output for this season. McCloud was thrust into the fire very early in this one as USF got down 28-7 against the Knights. To McCloud’s credit, he was able to make the most of his passing opportunities, showing impressive touch on his passes and not being afraid to go after UCF’s corners. McCloud’s first touchdown pass of the day was put in a perfect spot to give his receiver an opportunity to “moss” the UCF defensive back. This was only a view into what McCloud would do this afternoon. In addition, he did a great job of picking apart any coverage that UCF threw at him in order to find his wide open receivers. Despite not getting the win, this was definitely a confidence booster for McCloud and company, which could lead to some even bigger performances in the future.

Sources: ESPN, YouTube, Twitter

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