PFF grades every play of every college football game involving an FBS opponent, meaning we were witness to a long list of impressive individual performances this season.
So which ones stood out the most? We ranked the top 10 in the Pac-12 from the 2016 season:
1. Arizona State HB Kalen Ballage vs Texas Tech, Week 2
The Sun Devils got into an early season shoot-out with Texas Tech but a historical eight-touchdown performance from Kalen Ballage saw them emerge victorious. As a runner Ballage had 104 yards rushing after contact and forced two missed tackles, and scored seven touchdowns on only 13 carries including a 75-yarder. Ballage also caught two passes and generated 30 yards after the catch and yet another touchdown.
2. USC CB/KR/PR/WR Adoree’ Jackson vs Notre Dame, Week 13
This was a legendary all-around performance from the versatile and speedy Jackson. As a kick returner Jackson averaged over 40 yards per kick return including a 97-yard touchdown where he hurdled the poor unfortunate fellow that kicked it to him on his way to the end zone. As a punt returner he averaged over 20 yards per return, including a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown which showcased his acceleration. Jackson would score yet another touchdown on offense as he took a simple swing pass out of the backfield and turned it into a 52-yard touchdown. On defense Jackson had three tackles, one QB hurry and broke up a pass.
3. Utah ED Hunter Dimick vs Arizona State, Week 11
Dimick proved too much for the Sun Devils offensive line and had a devastating day as a pass-rusher in one of the more memorable performances in the Pac-12 this season. On 41 pass rush snaps Dimick was able to rack up five sacks and another seven hurries. He appeared to take up residence in the Sun Devils’ backfield for the duration of the game and also added four run stops. Dimick had more than one impressive performance on the season and his game against UCLA also warrants mention here.
4. Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins vs Washington, Week 4
Against the uber-talented Washington Huskies defense, Brandon Dawkins had one of the most impressive quarterback rushing efforts of the season outside of Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson’s weekly exploits. Dawkins looked like a video game character as he rushed for 180 rushing yards, including a 79-yard touchdown. Dawkins also forced three missed tackles and scored two touchdowns against a very good defense with future NFL players on every level. While Dawkins did most of his damage on the ground he also completed 19 of 31 passes including one touchdown.
5. UCLA ED Takkarist McKinley vs Utah, Week 8
Takkarist McKinley showed in the Utah game that he is one of the rare defenders who can change a game in an instant. McKinley was a constant menace off the edge and had three sacks, one hit and two hurries. McKinley had one of the more impressive defensive plays of the year in the Pac-12 with his sack-forced fumble-fumble recovery all in one motion against Utah QB Troy Williams. McKinley can also play the run and had two run stops against the Utes.
6. Stanford HB Christian McCaffrey vs Cal, Week 12
McCaffrey once again had more than one game that would have qualified him for this list. Against rival Cal, McCaffrey seemed to give a little extra as he had 284 yards rushing including an unbelievable 170 yards after contact. McCaffrey’s quick change of direction and long speed were both on display and he had a 90-yard touchdown and also forced six missed tackles on the game and scored three touchdowns. The versatile McCaffrey also added four catches and provided 36 yards after the catch.
7. Colorado DB Tedric Thompson vs Utah, Week 13
Thompson can line up in the slot or play on the back-end and he was the equivalent of a coverage black hole in the game against Utah as the QB rating when throwing into his coverage was 0.0. Thompson saw 11 passes thrown into his coverage against the Utes but only allowed two to be caught for a combined one receiving yard. Thompson also broke up two passes thrown his way and intercepted another two to earn a 97.7 coverage grade for the game and help the Buffaloes pull out a key late-season win.
8. Washington State QB Luke Falk vs Arizona, Week 10
Falk engineered arguably the best passing performance in the conference in 2016 in Week 10 against Arizona. He completed a ridiculous 32 of 35 passes with one batted at the line of scrimmage and another dropped. Falk completed 10 of the 11 passes he targeted beyond nine yards downfield so his completion percentage wasn’t a result of a dink-and-dunk performance. Falk threw four touchdowns in the game and his QB rating was 141.8.
9. UCLA DI Eddie Vanderdoes vs Texas A&M, Week 1
This is the second year in a row that Vanderdoes has made this list from a dominant Week 1 performance. Sadly Vanderdoes’s 2016 season was hindered by injuries as was his 2015 season but if he is healthy there are few defensive linemen in the country as disruptive as both a run defender and a pass-rusher. Vanderdoes has incredibly quick feet and hands for a man his size and frustrated the Aggies’ offensive line with four run stops to go along with four QB hurries.
10. Arizona State K Zane Gonzalez vs. Colorado, Week 7
Yes, the elevation of Boulder, Colorado no doubt helped add to the longevity of his kicks. All five of Gonzalez’s kickoffs were touchbacks but he routinely kicked touchbacks no matter the elevation. Additionally, thin air doesn’t improve kicking accuracy and Gonzalez made all three of his field goal attempts from 50, 51 and 59 yards against the Buffaloes in an impressive display of long-ball location. Gonzalez will be kicking on Sundays for a long-time to come.