While we were treated to the best college football game of the year last week, this Saturday promises to be much more low key. A surprising 7-2 Indiana team visits No. 9 Penn State to knock off the suddenly vulnerable Nittany Lions. Clemson will also face a 7-2 team in Wake Forest, which means it’s upset alert for the undefeated Tigers. The highlight of the day, however, comes in the form of a Big XII showdown of No. 10 Oklahoma at undefeated No. 13 Baylor in what could be a primer of the conference championship match-up.
So, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on
OG Solomon Kindley (Georgia)
It’ll be a battle in the trenches as Georgia’s Kindley, perhaps the best guard in college football, takes on Auburn’s defensive line. Among the Tigers intimating squad is Derrick Brown, a likely first rounder. The 300+ lb defensive tackle won’t be easy to move off his spot in the run game, so it’ll be interesting to see if Kindley is able to generate any movement for running back D’Andre Swift whatsoever.
Other prospects to watch
WR Sage Surratt (Wake Forest)
The draft-eligible sophomore isn’t the most experienced wideout, but witnessing his emergence this season for Wake Forest has been mighty impressive. The 6’3”, solidly built young man will have to grow up fast, as this week he’ll be facing Clemson defensive back A.J. Terrell. At a listed height of 6’1”, Terrell has almost as much size as Surratt, who should be forced into creating separation in other ways.
QB Nate Stanley (Iowa)
Even broaching this comparison is a minefield, but here it goes. Stanley is going to be this draft’s Nathan Peterman. Not in the way Bills fans are thinking—in the sense of an abject failure. Instead, Stanley will be this year’s example of an experienced college passer who has improved statistically every year, but doesn’t have any elite tools. As such, look for Stanley to have a decent, if unspectacular day against one of the top-rated pass defenses in No. 8 Minnesota.
DT Jackson Pittman (Navy)
Pittman, listed at 6’3” and 300 lbs is an experienced and surprisingly effective nose guard in Navy’s 3-4 defense. Previously, he has helped shut down USF’s prolific rushing attack, holding runner Jordan Cronkrite to only 76 rushing yards. The biggest match-up of the season for Navy comes in the form of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who love to run down teams’ throats with the help of guard Tommy Kraemer.
EDGE Kenny Willekes (Michigan State)
Willekes is another player who received way too much press during his junior season, due to his eight sacks and because he plays with tons and tons of effort. This year, he does have 5.5 sacks, but those are largely padded against teams like Western Michigan and Tulsa. The tape reveals a player who doesn’t have that explosive first step or bend around the edge. However, this week’s rivalry game against Michigan means that the cameras will be on the defensive end, who will hopefully prove he can be effective against better competition.
Game of the Week
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 13 Baylor
7:30 PM, EST
Both teams are seemingly all about their offenses—as is typical in the Big XII— but still sport effective defenses. Oklahoma’s version of the triplets includes quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and running back Trey Sermon, while Baylor’s Denzel Mims has the size and hands to be “open when he’s covered.” Defensively, though, the Sooners sport Kenneth Murray, one of the more athletic linebackers in the nation, along with defensive tackle Neville Gallimore.