The College Football Playoff picture continues to become clearer with each passing week of the 2021 college football season. Michigan is all but out after a heartbreaking loss to Big Ten rival Michigan State, setting the Spartans up with a battle for the division — and a possible playoff appearance if the wins keep coming — against Ohio State in November. Auburn has battled back to control its own destiny in the SEC West, and the Iron Bowl against Alabama might end up as a play-in game for a playoff berth.
Here are the highest-graded players after Week 9 of the 2021 college football season:
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Power Five: Caleb Williams, Oklahoma Sooners | 94.8
Williams is now the clear starter over Spencer Rattler after winning his two starts and putting together an off-the-bench comeback against Texas. In the same offense, Williams' grade is 7.1 points higher than that of Rattler, who came off the bench late in the Sooners' blowout win over Texas Tech. His 6.8% big-time throw rate ranks 17th in the country, while Rattler’s slots in at 142nd.
Group of Five: Malik Willis, Liberty Flames | 93.6
Liberty notched another impressive win on the back of Willis’ four-touchdown, zero-interception performance against Massachusetts. Willis importantly took only one sack — a facet he has struggled in recently. He was responsible for 13 in the previous three games and now has 29 on the season. However, his 11.3% big-time throw rate is tops in the country.
Power Five: Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State Spartans | 90.9
It’s Kenneth Walker III's world, and we are just living in it. The star running back tallied 195 rushing yards against rival Michigan, with 163 of them coming after contact. He’s nearing the 1,000-yard rushing mark on yards after contact alone and leads the country at 896 yards after contact. And at 0.43 missed tackles forced per run, he also ranks first among running backs.
Group of Five: Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU Mustangs | 90.7
Bentley is averaging 5.1 yards after contact this season but has yet to play a full game since Week 4 at SMU. He's in danger of ceding his spot at the top of the rankings if he can’t get on the field going forward.
Related content for you: College Football Week 9 — PFF’s Team of the Week and Player Awards via Anthony Treash
Power Five: Drake London, USC Trojans | 91.3
London suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the Trojans' win over Arizona on Saturday night. He should still finish the year as the highest-graded Power Five receiver, as he’s 4.8 points higher than Wake Forest’s A.T. Perry. London already had nine catches for 80 yards and two scores against the Wildcats before his departure.
Group of Five: Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers | 90.5
It was a bounce-back victory for the Chanticleers against Troy after suffering their first regular-season defeat in two seasons a couple of weeks ago. Heiligh played his most receiving snaps of the season against the Trojans (34), and the Chanticleers were in a closer game than they would have liked. He caught five of his nine targets for 116 yards, with 55 coming after the catch — tied for his most yards after the catch in one game this season.