The PAC-12 returns in this week’s rendition of college football, and the play out west begins with a new-look Oregon offense butting heads with Stanford and an equally new-look ASU defense helmed by former NFL head coach Marvin Lewis taking on USC. Elsewhere on the docket, there’ll be a preview of the likely ACC title game between No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 1 Clemson. Over in the SEC you’ll see No. 8 Florida’s high-flying offense attempt to take on the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs’ impressive defense. So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
Pat Freiermuth TE (Penn State)
It has the makings of a regression year not only for Penn State in general, but the passing game in particular. Freiermuth, perhaps the nation’s best at his position, only has 100 yards through two games and was criminally underutilized in the Nittany Lions’ game against Ohio State last week. He’ll be looking for a breakout game this week against Maryland. The Terrapins sport a strong linebacker prospect in Chance Campbell, but it remains to be seen if he can hang with the 6’5”, 258-lb player nicknamed ‘Baby Gronk.’
Other players to watch:
Chase Lucas CB (Arizona State)
Lucas is a late-comer to the cornerback position after starting his career as a running back. He took to it well however, and was quickly named to the All-Pac-12 second team as a redshirt freshman. This year, he’s worked on getting heavier and more imposing in helping the team transition to a 4-3 defense. We’ll quickly see how that transition is going, as the USC offense, anchored by Kedon Slovis and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown will provide quite the challenge for the senior this week.
Kellen Mond QB (Texas A&M)
Somehow, no one is talking about the senior quarterback for Texas A&M despite piloting the Aggies to a record of 4-1 in the SEC, and only throwing for two interceptions to go with 12 touchdowns. The senior quarterback has the size and tools teams want in a signal caller and has improved every year he’s been on campus, despite being forced to transition to several different offenses. Perhaps South Carolina will provide another opportunity for Mond to stand out, as they have a secondary that’s one of the better units in the conference.
Grant Morgan LB (Arkansas)
After dwelling in the SEC dustbin, which is stored in the SEC basement, the Razorbacks appear to be emerging from the slump thanks to competent quarterback play by Feleipe Franks and a productive defense led by Morgan. Although he’s been dealing with injuries, the senior captain was nonetheless impactful in the Hogs’ last two games, which included 19 tackles and three tackles-for-loss against Ole Miss. This week will be all about how he matches up against the run though, as Tennessee has a massive offensive line and quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has struggled for them.
Myjai Sanders EDGE (Cincinnati)
The Bearcats’ defense might as well have the moniker of “No-Name” for how much the national media pays attention to them. Nonetheless, they are one of the best units in the country, anchored by a strong defensive line that includes Sanders. The junior has NFL size at 6’5” and already has a team-high five sacks on the year. Houston tends to sling the ball around, so Sanders should have plenty of opportunity to improve on his sack totals.
Game of the Week
No. 1 Clemson at No. 4 Notre Dame
Saturday, 7:30 P.M. EST
Sure, there’s no Trevor Lawrence this week thanks to COVID, but this game still has enough sizzle between two teams competing over the ACC, and also the College Football Playoff.
Despite losing their all-world QB, Clemson still features Travis Etienne, who was just crowned as the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. Offensive tackle Jackson Carman helps open up holes for him, while receiver Amari Rodgers appreciates all the single coverage he sees given the strong rush attack.
On defense, Clemson isn’t as deep as in years past, with a couple intriguing players in edge rusher Xavier Thomas and cornerback Derion Kendrick.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, is led by their defense, specifically their front seven. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is fantastically explosive and edge rushers Adetokunbo Ogundeji and Daelin Hayes have tons of untapped talent.
Offensively, the Fightin’ Irish can boast about their offensive line, which has multiple prospects including their left tackle Liam Eichenberg and guard Tommy Kraemer.