This Saturday sees most college conferences holding their championship games, which means we’re about to be treated to some of the best games of the year. The Big-12 contest between No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 6 Iowa State should be a repeat of their exciting game from earlier this year. The Big Ten matchup will be all about if No. 14 Northwestern’s defense can slow down Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The ACC title game should be a hard-fought battle between two teams with very few weaknesses in No. 3 Clemson and no. 2 Notre Dame. Then finally, the Alabama-Florida SEC game should be a shootout, which is something I’d never thought I’d say about those two teams.
So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
Greg Newsome II CB (Northwestern)
A riser in 2020 for the Wildcats, Newsome was out for most of the season with an injury, but has been spectacular in four games with nine passes defensed and an interception. This week, he’ll have the unenviable task of trying to slow down Ohio State’s Chris Olave. It’ll be interesting to see if the junior corner has the ability to hang with Olave in off-coverage or if the coaches tell him to try jamming him at the line more.
Other players to watch:
Tommy Tremble TE (Notre Dame)
The 6’4” junior doesn’t have much of a stat line this season, with only 17 catches for 177 yards, but he’s a very valuable piece of the Irish offense due to his blocking prowess. That’s obviously a very translatable NFL skill, but what’s also nice to see is that he doesn’t appear to be slow or plodding in the open field either. If Notre Dame proves to be able to run successfully against Clemson, it’ll be because Tremble’s ability to lock down safeties and linebackers at the second level.
Nick Bolton LB (Missouri)
What the junior linebacker lacks in size—he’s 6’0”—and wingspan he easily makes up for in speed and fluidity in both coverage and against the run. His range is particularly impressive, allowing him to make plays sideline to sideline. That’s exactly the type of quality that will be necessary against Mississippi State’s spread attack, as Mike Leach has been utilizing freshman running back Jo’Quavious Marks in the passing game.
Creed Humphrey C (Oklahoma)
The Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year for the second consecutive year, it feels like Humphrey has been an institution at Oklahoma. He’s an experienced, battle-tested center prospect who moves well, but struggles a bit in certain run-blocking plays. Iowa State sports a very active group of linebackers and safeties who like to move around, so Creed’s awareness and ability to pick up blitzes and extra rushers will be worth tracking through the championship game.
Tre Walker WR (San Jose State)
With historical production that, admittedly, hasn’t been present this season, Walker has the making of a late-round steal at the position. He doesn’t have great size, but the senior has enough speed and strength at the catch point to be a threat anywhere on the field and plays much bigger than his size. Boise State will likely be looking to shut down Tyler Nevens and the Spartans’ strong running game, which should leave enough room for Walker to make an impact.
Game of the Week
No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 2 Notre Dame
Saturday, 4:00 P.M. EST
Clemson has already lost to the Fighting Irish, but that was with Trevor Lawrence out that game due to COVID-19. This time, it’ll be a true bout between two healthy teams.
Notre Dame has the horses on offense to compete with Clemson, with a gritty Ian Book at quarterback supported by a tough offensive line that features tackles Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey along with guard Tommy Kraemer. The true prospects on Notre Dame though come from the defense, which features quite a few rare-type athletes. That includes linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and defensive end Daelin Hayes, who has a chance to really raise his stock if he has a good game.
The Tigers are loaded on both sides of the ball again this year of course. Offensively, that includes the hopefully-not-future-Jets-quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and his favorite target Amari Rodgers. These guys have all been stars for quite some time. Meanwhile, on defense they’re not nearly as scary, although corner Derion Kendrick has some very nice tools and defensive tackle Jordan Williams does well against the run.