Outside of an upset of Utah by the Justin Herbert-led Oregon Ducks, none of the College Championship match-ups went unexpectedly. Baylor held on as long as they could, but were eventually outlasted by Oklahoma in overtime. Wisconsin was up two touchdowns on Ohio State at halftime, but floundered in the second half. Meanwhile, LSU and Clemson soundly defeated opponents Georgia and Virginia respectively. The silver lining is that draft observers can now look forward to the bowl games!
Below are the prospects who stood out during Championship Weekend in college football.
OT Andrew Thomas (Georgia)
As he has been for most of the season, Thomas was lockdown against LSU pass rushers like K’Lavon Chaisson, Rashard Lawrence and various blitzing defenders. Compared to LSU’s quarterback, the Bulldogs’ signal caller is much more of a statue in the pocket, so Thomas’s assignment on the night was much tougher. The junior wasn’t asked to run block more than a handful of times, which is a curious game-plan considering that’s what the 6’ 5”, 320-lb tackle excels at.
WR Tee Higgins (Clemson)
Higgins may have cemented himself as a first-rounder with his performance against a Virginia secondary that, admittedly, was missing several key starters. What was most impressive about the junior’s game wasn’t just the circus catches, but more so the underrated speed he displayed and his ability to get open by means other than out-jumping defenders. Outside of his stats—nine catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns—Higgins demonstrating that he can attack a defense in multiple ways was the most important development to come out of the Tigers stomping the Cavaliers.
RB Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State)
App State has ridden their running back to much success over the course of the season and the Sun Belt Championship game was no different. The eventual MVP of the game, Evans took control early on with a 58-yard touchdown on a screen pass from quarterback Zac Thomas. Then, after a turnover, Evans quickly ran in an eight-yard score. That was just the first quarter. He finished the day with 162 all-purpose yards, with his two catches for 62 yards actually leading the team.
S Grant Delpit (LSU)
Sure, freshman Derek Stingley Jr. deserves a lot of the credit for his lockdown performance at corner, but the versatile 6’ 3”, 203-lb safety was just as key in shutting down the Bulldogs’ passing game. No Georgia receiver had more than 54 receiving yards, because the junior safety was either roaming centerfield, underneath, or blitzing the quarterback. On one such occasion he was able to bring down Jake Fromm for a sack. Delpit finished the day with three tackles, a sack and a tackle-for-loss.
QB Joe Burrow (LSU)
I’ve seen very few college quarterbacking performances as masterful as the one Burrow just delivered against Georgia. The Bulldogs have an elite defense, and the junior signal caller essentially stomped them to the tune of 28-of-38 for 349 passing yards and four touchdowns. Throw another 41 yards on the ground and you have an amazingly productive day. It wasn’t just about the stats, though, as Burrow demonstrated poise in every situation and was a cool-as-a-cucumber decision-maker when under duress. If he can keep it going in the playoffs, it’ll be hard for him not to be selected with the first overall pick of the NFL Draft.
DE/DT James Lynch (Baylor)
The Bears kept Oklahoma’s dynamic offense hemmed in for most of the game, helped largely by the efforts of Lynch. At 6’ 4” and 295 lbs, the junior has a unique body type to be an edge player, but he nonetheless managed to be one of the more impactful players in the country in that area. It was no different against the Sooners, as Lynch came down with two sacks and three tackle-for-loss, to go with five tackles and another quarterback hurry. With that production, he became Baylor’s career leader in sacks.