Looking for your weekly college football fix? You've come to the right place. Here are our picks for this week.
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
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It's not the prettiest start to the football slate, but it's about time we got our dose of the triple option in the weekly viewing list. Virginia Tech showed off a pretty 46 defense that shut down Ohio State's game, but then they came out flat against East Carolina. You'll want to see how the safeties and defensive line do with figuring out the GT rushing offense.
Georgia Tech has its usual motley crew of offensive pieces that are tough to scout thanks to the offense. Darren Waller is a 6'5", 230-pound receiver who led the team with a 17/367/3 line last year. Yep, the Yellow Jackets really hate passing. Still, he had 2 receptions for 30 yards and a TD last week in his first action of the season, and this offense produced Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. I'll be watching to see if he's the next NFL-caliber huge receiver. Also worth watching: offensive guard, no. 70 Shaquille Mason, and safety Isaiah Johnson (if he's healthy).
Florida at no. 3 Alabama
Here comes another Alabama SEC matchup. We've already covered the Crimson Tide, who are loaded yet again with prospects, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the start that Amari Cooper has had to the season. Three weeks in, Cooper has already put up 33 receptions for 454 yards and 2 TDs. He's an electric route runner and seems to be having no trouble finding openings in the defense. While he's only 6'1" and 210 pounds (the same size as our ownSammy Watkins, in fact), his play may have NFL evaluators making him the first receiver taken nonetheless. I'm hoping to get a chance soon to break down his tape in detail and see what's so special about his game.
Matching up against Cooper for Florida will be true sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III. While he isn't draft eligible yet, he's been getting some early praise for showing excellent coverage skills, and Saturday's matchup will be a good litmus test. Dante Fowler is an edge rusher with high expectations, but he's maddeningly inconsistent and may have benefited from playing most of last season next to Dominique Easley. On offense, the commander is Jeff Driskel. An early favorite of some scouts, Driskel looks the part, but has struggled for consistency after multiple injuries and little support on the offensive side of the ball during his first few seasons. Is this his breakout season? Or are we looking at a Blaine Gabbert? How he plays against Alabama for the first time in three years will be a great way to find out. He has an athletic tight end in Jake McGee to throw to, and several experienced linemen to keep him upright.
Mississippi State at no. 8 LSU
7:00 PM EST
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I haven't talked about LSU yet in one of these articles, so let's talk about them! Yet another perennial SEC power that always seems to be graduating first-round picks, the bumper crop continues its yield this year. The top name to follow is La'el Collins, an offensive tackle whose NFL position isn't quite known yet. He's athletic enough, but he's made LSU's "doesn't show up to the weight room training" list, and I'm not sure if he'll be first round worthy at the end of the year. On the defensive side of the ball, Danielle Hunter leads an imposing defense. The 6'6", 240 pound edge rusher has been compared to Barkevious Mingo, and carries a lot of talent on that frame.
Mississippi State may be unranked, but there's some serious NFL talent on this squad, too. LB Benardrick McKinney is 6'4", 245 pounds, and quite athletic. He grabbed 102 tackles in his freshman season a couple years ago. Safety Justin Cox had 30 combined interceptions and pass breakups in two years of JuCo before transferring. On the offensive side, Jameon Lewis is an undersized Swiss-army receiver who can be used on all sorts of plays including special teams. A name to keep an eye on for future seasons is sophomore receiver De'Runnya Wilson, who's 6'5" and has already snagged 3 touchdowns this season. The man throwing to those receivers is Dak Prescott, a dual threat QB who should at least catch some NFL attention for his athleticism, if not as a quarterback.
No. 2 Oregon at Washington State
10:30 PM EST
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If you're on the West Coast or still looking for some more football at the end of the day, I have to recommend this Pac-12 matchup. Led by senior QB Connor Halliday, the Cougars have the number one passing offense in the nation, averaging over 500 yards per game. Of course, this one-sided offense also has one of the worst rushing attacks, with only 120 rushing yards total in the first three games. WSU has been up and down this season, but they have the offense to stick with any team in the nation and put up 40 or 50 points in the process. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep pace with the vaunted Oregon offense.
Speaking of Oregon's offense, I'm not sold on Marcus Mariota yet. He was one of my favorite prospects in his freshman season, but from the three games I've watched this year I'm just not seeing the progression I want to see. He has the arm, he has the athletic talent, but the Oregon offense is not giving him experience making pro-style reads, and for every great play I see I still get the Colin Kaepernick vibe of a guy who needs to sit and learn and who might never be consistently effective in the NFL. On the defensive side, two names had big games in the win over Michigan State: Arik Armstead and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Armstead, the 6'8" 290 pound junior defensive lineman, had five tackles, a sack, 2 TFL, and a QB hurry, and came up big on crucial moments to make disruptive plays. With his size and athleticism, Armstead could be an elite five-tech or wider defensive end if he keeps putting it together. Olomu had a fantastic diving interception, and looks like a top notch cover corner. I'll be watching to see how Connor Halliday matches up against those two on Saturday.