This Saturday sees most of the college conferences holding their championship games, which—for my money—makes for the most exciting week of college football. The Big-12 game between No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 14 Texas promises to be a repeat of their shootout in early October. The Big Ten features an upstart No. 21 Northwestern team taking on mainstay No. 6 Ohio State. The SEC’s game between No. 4 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama will prove to be an absolute slug fest, per usual. Over in ACC territory unranked Pitt will need to figure out a way to slowdown Clemson’s high-scoring offense.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on
DT Raekwon Davis (Alabama)
The 6’7”, 316-pound Davis has been overshadowed this year, due to the rise of teammate and fellow defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. With only a half-sack on the year, Davis’s pass rush has also come into question. A big day against the Georgia Bulldogs and quarterback Jake Fromm might get the hype train rolling again for the talented junior. Shutting down D’Andre Swift and the Georgia running game won’t be enough.
Other prospects to watch
RB Mike Weber (Ohio State)
Another player getting eclipsed by a teammate, Weber was the toast of Ohio his freshman season when he rushed for 1,096 yards. Since then, sophomore J.K. Dobbins has stolen his thunder. Weber still has great vision and his ability to work through traffic really stands out. Northwestern’s run defense will be a challenge for him though, All-Big Ten selection Paddy Fisher is one of the top tacklers in the nation and they shut down Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor earlier in the year.
C Drew Kyser (Memphis)
The American Athletic Conference also has their title game this week, which means the Memphis Tigers are facing undefeated No. 8 Central Florida. If the Tigers are to have any hope challenging UCF, they need to be able to run the ball successfully with Darrell Henderson. Kyser has been paving the way for Henderson all season, including a game against Houston and defensive tackle Ed Oliver (who left the game early). A good game would go a long way towards getting Kyser a Senior Bowl invite.
LB Tre Lamar (Clemson)
Lamar excels as a downhill, gap-shooting run defender, so this championship game against Pitt will be quite entertaining. Pitt depends on pounding the rock with Qadree Ollison, a 225-pound load, and fans should be excited to see him collide with the 250-pound junior linebacker. If Clemson can completely disrupt the Panther’s running attack, the game could end up being a route for the Tigers.
WR Mecole Hardman (Georgia)
Hardman is your typical small, speedy deep threat at receiver. Georgia is a run-heavy offense, but they like to chuck the ball deep to Hardman a few times a game. They also do a superb job in designing plays for him to show off that speed. Alabama likely won’t allow him to get open solely by scheme though, so the question in their game will be if Hardman can get off press coverage and separate against the Crimson Tide’s physical corners. Expect fireworks if the junior wideout proves he can.
CB Kendall Sheffield (Ohio State)
Reminiscent of last years fourth overall pick—and former teammate—Denzel Ward, Sheffield brings upper-echelon agility and short-area quickness to the field, and really excels at driving on the ball when lined up in zone coverage. It’s difficult to say if Northwestern will test him much through the air, but his run defense will need to be on point. Being only 5’11” and 185 pounds certainly doesn’t help in that particular area.
Game of the Week
No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 14 Texas
12:00 PM, EST
When these two teams met in October, it resulted in a 48-45 barn-burner that ended in a last-minute field goal, giving Texas the victory. Both teams bring a plethora of offensive skill talent to the table, specifically in the wide-receiver corps and along the offensive line.
The Longhorns pair of wideouts, Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, are both big targets that are nonetheless considered unpolished and limited in the type of routes they run. Despite being an All-Big-12 honorable mention, senior left tackle Calvin Anderson deserves more recognition by draftniks and could see a post-season rise.
On the other side, Oklahoma’s Marquise “Hollywood” Brown gets almost too much recognition as the year’s stand-out deep-threat prospect. Oklahoma’s offensive line is what really makes their offense tick though, as guards Dru Samia and Ben Powers and tackle Bobby Evans keep their quarterback squeaky clean in the backfield.