It’s now or never for a handful of teams attempting to land themselves into the College Football Playoffs. No. 4 Georgia will have a dogfight on their hands against Texas A&M, and with LSU on their schedule in the SEC Championship Game, they can’t afford to lose. Meanwhile, No.8 Penn State needs to figure out some way to stop the unbeaten No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes from scoring to punch their own ticket to the playoffs. Finally, there’s the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners, who just barely managed to beat Baylor and now need to beat a tricky TCU team.
So, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on
WR Tyler Vaughns (USC)
If teammate Michael Pittman Jr. is the jump-ball specialist, Vaughns is the middle-of-the-field, possession target in the mold of former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods. Pittman has been the bigger riser this season, but there’s reason to believe Vaughns style of play is more sustainable at the NFL level. Against UCLA today, he’ll likely be matched with Darnay Holmes. The 5’10” cornerback looks like a quality NFL nickel corner, so if Vaughns can hold his own, it’ll spell good news for his draft prospects.
Other prospects to watch
DT Justin Madubuike (Texas A&M)
One of the biggest defensive risers in all of college football this season, the junior defensive lineman has accounted for 7.5 tackles for loss this season to go along with 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and a blocked kick. Coincidentally, he was just named as a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defender. Madubuike will need to have a huge game against Georgia, though, as the Bulldogs’ offensive line, with guard Solomon Kindley, is no joke.
OC/OG Zach Shackelford (Texas)
Shackelford is one of the more experienced lineman in the country with 35 career starts. The senior is also the linchpin of the Longhorn offense, thanks to his high-quality play, and as one of the elected team captains. All that leadership and experience doesn’t mean squat if he can’t win on the field, and he’ll be tested by the Baylor defensive line. The Bears’ defensive tackle Bravvion Roy, who was highlighted last week, is a massive run stuffer.
QB Jordan Love (Utah State)
Jordan Love’s performances, and thereby his draft stock, has fluctuated more this season than Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) (look it up). One game he’s virtually flawless, looking like the number-one pick of the draft, and the next, he’s turnover prone and making poor decisions. Utah State’s biggest game of the regular season comes this week against No. 20 Boise State, whose defensive line should be able to pressure Love. If the junior passer can have a big, productive game, he may be able to reassure some scouts and general managers.
CB/S Terrell Burgess (Utah)
Burgess, along with basically the entire Utah secondary, earned an invite to the 2020 Senior Bowl. Jim Nagy, the Director of the event, admitted that Burgess wasn’t even on their radar to begin the season. However, with a team-leading 36 solo tackles to go with an interception and four passes defensed, Burgess has definitely had a breakthrough season. Arizona’s offense can be intimidating, so Burgess will have to keep up his stellar level of play against the Wildcats.
Game of the Week
No. 8 Penn State at No. 2 Ohio State
12:00 PM EST
A throw-down of epic proportions, the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are loaded with NFL prospects. Both teams have dominant pass rushers in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) and Chase Young (Ohio State), speedy wide receivers named “KJ” in Penn State’s KJ Hamler and Ohio State’s K.J. Hill, as well as linebackers who rack up tackles in Cam Brown (Penn State) and Malik Harrison (Ohio State). The difference may come down to the running game: Running back J.K. Dobbins has been on a tear this season and Penn State really doesn’t have a player of the same caliber.