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Illinois quarterback John Paddock is a great college football story. The kind that only seems to happen in this sport. Paddock began his career at Ball State in 2018 and rarely played before earning the starting job in 2022. After a modest season, Paddock transferred to Illinois as a walk-on. His grandfather and other family members having once played for the Illini, Paddock had joined the program he rooted for growing up.

Paddock made the move without lofty expectations. As a walk-on, he understood his odds of winning the starting job were slim, Illinois had brought in another transfer QB from Ole Miss, Luke Altmyer, who was not a walk-on; he had a full ride and was expected to win the starting job. He did, while Paddock earned the backup job.

Much like his first three years at Ball State, Paddock spent most of the first eight games this year on the sideline holding a clipboard. Then, two weeks ago against Minnesota, Altmyer was injured on a sack in the game's final minute. Paddock came in cold off the bench with no timeouts and 85 yards away from the touchdown Illinois needed to win the game. It was fourth-and-11.

Three plays later, Paddock hit Isaiah Williams for the game-winning, 46-yard touchdown pass. A week later, Paddock was in a similar situation. Despite Illinois coach Bret Bielema saying the team had anticipated Altmyer would be cleared to play against Indiana, he ultimately wasn't. Again, Paddock was thrust into the starting role unexpectedly, and again, he thrived.

In what was essentially a must-win game for the Illini to keep their bowl hopes alive, Paddock threw for 507 yards and four touchdowns in Illinois' 48-45 overtime win against the Hoosiers. This time, the game's final play was a 21-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams after Paddock evaded pressure in the pocket, rolled to his right and fired a strike. Paddock's 507 passing yards were the most by an Illinois QB since Dave Wilson threw for 621 yards in a loss to Ohio State in 1980. In two weeks, Paddock went from a walk-on backup most Illinois fans probably hadn't heard of to a campus legend whose name will be remembered for decades.

John Paddock is a classic college football story, and that story has earned him a spot in the QB Power Rankings this week.

QB Power Rankings
Jayden Daniels LSU Tigers QB
I was yelled at by so many people who don't know the detention rules of these rankings, so believe me when I say I'm thrilled LSU was able to beat Florida so I could get the heat off my back for at least a week. Still, that heat was no match for the fire trails Daniels left on the Tiger Stadium turf as he finished with 606 total yards and five total touchdowns. He's been the best player in the country this year. While others have had great weeks, Daniels has been a consistent stud week in and week out. If LSU had an average defense, he'd be running away with the Heisman Trophy right now. (Last Week: Serving Detention)
Carson Beck Georgia Bulldogs QB
Remember how we spent all that time saying Georgia hadn't been challenged. But now, after playing two ranked teams in a row, it still doesn't feel like Georgia has been challenged? One might wonder if Georgia's just better than everybody, and there aren't many teams that can present a challenge. Beck is one of the reasons why as he's settled in after a sluggish start. He's comfortable, he's confident and he's ripping secondaries to shreds. (4)
Jalen Milroe Alabama Crimson Tide QB
I have this vision of Alabama winning another national title this year and all of us asking one another, "Remember when Alabama benched Jalen Milroe against South Florida and started Tyler Buchner instead?" Seriously, that feels like such a ludicrous proposition, yet it happened. We saw it. (5)
Michael Penix Jr. Washington Huskies QB
Full disclosure: I originally had Penix at No. 2 this week, but then I thought about it some more and concluded he didn't deserve it. I love the guy and all (I mean, how many weeks has he been No. 1 here?), but he's been too up and down this season. Washington's defense is the bigger problem, but Penix has had a completion rate below 60% in three of his last five games and has finished two of those averaging fewer than 8 yards per attempt. (1)
Bo Nix Oregon Ducks QB
Yawn, just another 417-yard, four-touchdown performance from Bo Nix as Oregon cruised to a relatively easy win over USC. There seems to be warring factions when it comes to Nix; some point out that he isn't asked to do much in this offense and is not a great NFL prospect. Both of those things could be true, but you know what? A lot of QBs aren't asked to do too much for their teams, and most of them fail to even do that. Nix is playing phenomenally, and more importantly, he's not trying to do too much. You can't criticize a guy for trying to do too much for years and then criticize him for not trying to later. (2)
J.J. McCarthy Michigan Wolverines QB
We can't rule it out, but McCarthy's Heisman hopes took a hit in Michigan's win over Penn State. Not because he played poorly (he didn't), but because Michigan never had him throw because it knew it could run the ball well enough to win the game as Penn State struggled to score. So McCarthy finishes the game, completing 7 of his 8 pass attempts for only 60 yards. While we know the context, at the end of the year, many casual Heisman voters will look at the stat line and think it was a bad game. (3)
Jordan Travis Florida State Seminoles QB
Travis continues on his "just doing enough to win and stay healthy because we're going to waltz to an ACC title so long as we don't do anything stupid" plan. I can't say I blame him! Florida State took Miami's best punch on Saturday and didn't flinch, improving to 10-0. Now Travis and the 'Noles have secured a spot in the ACC Championship Game and need to handle business against North Alabama and Florida. (8)
Drake Maye North Carolina Tar Heels QB
It dawned on me this weekend that Maye was born to be a Los Angeles Charger. The Carolina Blue probably helps with this, but he seems destined to fill the shoes of Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert in the "talented QB on a bad team with a bad coach who is too good to keep his team from being blown out but just doesn't have enough help around him to get over the hump and win this game in the fourth quarter." I mean, that's basically what he's doing every week with the Tar Heels already. (9)
John Rhys Plumlee UCF Knights QB
John Rhys Plumlee and UCF dunked all over me and Oklahoma State on Saturday. I made the Cowboys -2.5 my Lock of the Week in The Six Pack, and the Knights smoked them 45-3. There was never even a whiff of a chance Oklahoma State would cover. Plumlee finished with 373 total yards and three touchdowns to get the Knights their first Big 12 win against a team that had been in the Big 12 before this season. (Not Ranked)
John Paddock Illinois Fighting Illini QB
Listen, I don't have children, but if I did, I'd change all their names to John Paddock. (NR)

Honorable Mention: Brady Cook, Missouri; Noah Fifita, Arizona; Dequan Finn, Toledo; Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma; Jordan McCloud, James Madison

Serving Detention: Caleb Williams, USC