Thanksgiving weekend means the beginning of the end for college football’s regular season and the start of Bowl season draws near. As we remain stuck with our families this Thanksgiving weekend—either virtually or in-person—it seems like as good a time as any to treat ourselves to some local college football prospects. So while we should pay attention to the Iron Bowl, Michigan-Penn State and this week’s Game of the Week, be sure to click on over to Syracuse and Buffalo. So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
Jaret Patterson RB (Buffalo)
This week’s game against Kent State will likely decide the MAC Champion, and Patterson must have a big game if the Bulls want to emerge victorious. The junior tailback may be the most entertaining to watch in not just the MAC, but at the entire collegiate level. He’s not gifted with true deep speed, but he maximizes every inch of athletic talent, then combines that with vision and the ability to make defenders miss in a phone booth. Being only 5’9” in height is actually to his benefit, as it keeps him low to the ground and balanced.
Other players to watch:
Jalen Mayfield OT (Michigan)
The junior right tackle has been dealing with a high ankle sprain for a couple of weeks, so it’s questionable if he’ll suit up against Penn State this week. If he does play, he can expect a heavy dose of Nittany Lions pass rushers Shaka Toney and Jayson Oweh, who should provide a mix of various types of rush techniques for Mayfield to defense against. It promises to be a strong test for the underclassman.
Nate Landman LB (Colorado)
Colorado has done well to produce linebackers in recent years, and the senior is quietly having a strong start to the season. Although he’s a tackling machine and his instincts appear to be strong, the question with Landman is if he has the athleticism to cover. That will be something he’ll particularly need to show this week against USC—a team that loves to target their talented slot receivers and 6’5” senior tight end Erik Krommenhoek.
Kenny Pickett QB (Pittsburgh)
As the season has gone on and the numbers keep improving Pickett’s positive press has grown and started to generate comparison’s to Sam Darnold as a prospect coming out of college. Pickett has similar overall physical talents, and has that same type of off-schedule ability to throw dimes when scrambling or under duress. This week he’ll essentially need to pull a rabbit out of a hat though if he hopes to keep up with Clemson. But any type of positive performance would continue to raise his stock.
Ifeatu Melifonwu CB (Syracuse)
The brother of former second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, Ifeatu deserves more press and attention as a shutdown cornerback. Although Syracuse’s season has been flushed down the drain at 1-8, the junior has yet to give up a touchdown pass and is among the leaders in PFF grades, despite only one interception on the season. Coming into the Carrier Dome this week is N.C. State, which has a solid group of receivers and tight ends, including Emeka Emezie. We’ll see if Melifonwu is able to step in front of a pass to get those interception numbers up.
Game of the Week
Pittsburgh at No. 3 Clemson
Saturday, 12:00 P.M. EST
Thought it would be the Iron Bowl? Nope. This week we’re checking back in with the ACC.
Clemson comes into this game with a newly healthy Trevor Lawrence looking to get back into a groove. It remains to be seen if scouts have fallen in love with running back Travis Etienne’s skillset, but he has all of the production you want at the position. Meanwhile dynamic receiver Amari Rodgers should appreciate catching passes again from Lawrence. On defense, Clemson isn’t as deep as in past seasons, with a couple intriguing players in edge rusher Xavier Thomas and cornerback Derion Kendrick.
Pittsburgh stalks into Death Valley on a bit of a roll, have dominated their last two opponents in both phases. On offense, Pickett’s reliable target in the passing game is senior wide receiver DJ Turner, and he is kept upright thanks to guard Bryce Hargrove—who just earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors.
The talent on defense for the Panthers is equally strong, headlined by their defensive line. Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman and edge rusher Patrick Jones II have combined for 18.5 sacks on the season. Although Paris Ford recently opted out, the secondary is kept strong thanks to fellow safety Damar Hamlin.