It’s Week 8 of the college football season, which means that prospects who have disappointed to this point—including a couple listed below—are running out of chances to turn their seasons around. The time is now for them to start changing the narrative on their season. This week, the big games include what will likely be a very physical SEC match-up between No. 5 LSU and No. 22 Mississippi State. If you don’t like the SEC brand of physicality, the Big Ten contest between No. 6 Michigan and No. 24 Michigan State promises to be a defensive struggle. Finally, the evening belongs to the Pac-12, where No. 12 Oregon will look to cement their control of the conference by facing No. 25 Washington State.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on
LB Devin White (LSU)
White has lived up to the hype and then some this year. He’s above-average at diagnosing plays, has very few athletic limitations, and hits like a truck for good measure. He’ll be battling all day against Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who is a load to tackle and loves to run. LSU also likes to blitz White right up the middle, so he may be able to come down with a sack or two during the game.
Other prospects to watch
QB Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)
Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham has been the most disappointing quarterback prospect this season. His competition percentage has dropped a full six points since last year, and he’s also on pace to throw more interceptions. This week against Ole Miss, he’ll have a chance to improve on some of those numbers, as their defense is nothing to write home about. The game could end up being a shootout, though, as Ole Miss is a team that excels at putting points on the board.
CB Byron Murphy (Washington)
A draft-eligible sophomore, Murphy is short on experience, but already flashes elite shutdown play. His challenge this week comes in the form of Colorado’s Leviska Shenault Jr., one of the most prolific—arguably among the best—wide receivers in college football. In what is shaping up to be a deep cornerback class, Murphy could see his draft stock soar if he can sufficiently shut down his fellow sophomore.
DE Jalen Jelks (Oregon)
The senior defensive lineman is another player that garnered a ton of hype during the summer, due to his tantalizing measurables (6’6”, 245 pounds), but has yet to make much of an impact rushing the passer with only two sacks. On Saturday, Jelks will be facing Washington State tackle Andre Dillard, a solid pass protector, who may struggle against Jelks’ power. Jelks needs a big day if he wants the prospect buzz to return.
RB Ryquell Armstead (Temple)
As of this writing, Armstead is uncertain for Temple’s game against Cincinnati. It’ll be a shame if he doesn’t get the chance to play, because Cincinnati’s defensive line, anchored by Marquise Copeland, is a bear against the run. The senior tailback isn’t an overwhelming athlete, but he is a good fit in a zone scheme and flashes some versatility in the passing game.
OG Ben Powers (Oklahoma)
Quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown get entirely too much credit for the Sooners explosive offense. The offensive line, especially Ben Powers, deserves their fair share of props. Big, physical and athletic, Powers rarely gives up pressure on the quarterback. TCU is the rare Big 12 team that prides themselves on their defense though, so seeing how Powers handles stunts and extra pressure will be the big draw to this game.
Game of the Week
No. 12 N.C. State at No. 3 Clemson
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST
Both ACC teams come into this match-up undefeated but have looked very vulnerable the last couple games. The big draw will be seeing how N.C. State’s offense deals with Clemson’s high-powered defensive line. Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley has yet to falter much this year, unlike his fellow 2019 NFL Draft-class signal-callers. Finley will be throwing to favorite targets Jakobi Meyers and Kelvin Harmon, both of whom project as second-day draft picks. Clemson will be looking to pressure Finley early and often with a defensive line that includes pass rusher Clelin Ferrell and defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Look for cornerback Trayvon Mullen to make a few plays on the back-end as well. He’s been a riser this season.