After the apéritif that was Week 0 of college football, this Saturday marks the true opening weekend of collegiate pigskin. Opening weekend traditionally involves a bunch of in-state rivalries, so that means several match-ups like Washington-Eastern Washington, North Carolina-South Carolina and Northern Iowa-Iowa State. Those aren’t always the most compelling games, but it can lead to some unexpected upsets and gives smaller-school prospects a chance to shine against their bigger competition.
As always, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on
EDGE Curtis Weaver (Boise State)
Weaver is the designated ‘stud’ edge linebacker in Boise’s defensive scheme. Being 6’3” and 265 lbs, his presence allows the Broncos to run multiple defensive fronts because he can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt. He’ll be like a kid in a candy store this week, as he’ll be facing off against Florida State’s reworked offensive line. The Seminole’s line resembled a colander last year, ranking 129th out of 130 FBS teams in yards per carry (2.79) and 109th with 36 sacks allowed. This should be a great opportunity for the junior to pad his stats.
Other prospects to watch
LB Paddy Fisher (Northwestern)
One of the key cogs in a physical Northwestern defense, Fisher has been designated as this year’s pro-ready-but-physically-limited middle-linebacker prospect. As such, this season will be all about proving that Fisher can handle himself in coverage and demonstrate that he truly has the speed to play all three downs. Going up against Stanford and one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the country in Colby Parkinson will serve as a good early test for him.
OT Charlie Heck (North Carolina)
The son of former Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears tackle Andy Heck, Charlie is one of the more battle-tested offensive tackles in the nation, having seen significant time on the field since his redshirt freshman season. Switching to the left side of the line this season, Heck will be going against a hyped South Carolina defensive line—a group that returns newly healthy edge rusher D.J. Wonnum.
S Reggie Floyd (Virginia Tech)
Virginia Tech is known for putting highly athletic prospects in the draft and Floyd is no different. His power at the point of attack against the run is linebacker-esque, but he doesn’t look out of place in the intermediate areas of the field. He’ll need to bring his lunch pail today as he’ll be attempting to tackle Boston College’s 245-lb running back AJ Dillon.
TE Jared Rice (Fresno State)
If observers are looking for a possible upset this week, look no further than the Fresno State-USC match-up. If an upset were to happen, expect Rice to be a part of the equation. The senior had 55 catches last year at 12 yards a pop, as the offense’s primary security blanket. USC has a young, inexperienced group of linebackers, so Rice may have himself a day.
Game of the week
No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., EST
Both teams have a smattering of defensive prospects, such as Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Oregon linebacker Troy Dye, but from a draft perspective this is an offensive fight. Both teams sport experienced offensive lines with plenty of next level talent. Auburn tackles, Prince Tega Wanogho and Jack Driscoll, are now seniors and looking to cement their status as starting-caliber NFL prospects. While Oregon is blessed with three NFL o-line prospects in center Jake Hanson, guard Shane Lemieux and grown-man right tackle Calvin Throckmorton. Oh yeah, and Oregon also has one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Justin Herbert.