The college conference championships were mostly an entertaining affair, with one big exception, although they really didn’t surprise many observers. As the underdogs, Florida, Northwestern, Iowa State and Tulsa all came within shouting distance of an upset but couldn’t pull it out in the end. Still, they all were in a better position than Notre Dame who got clobbered by Clemson and Trevor Lawrence. It looks like a forgone conclusion that the Tigers will be meeting Alabama again in the CFB Championship. Below are the prospects who stood out during college football’s final non-bowl week.
Charlie Kolar TE (Iowa State)
The Cyclones’ offensive hopes to keep up with Lincoln Riley’s offense were pinned on running back Breece Hall and their stable of tight ends, all of whom are 6’6” or taller. While Hall was bottled up for most of the game, Kolar was able to come down with six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Cyclones offensive coordinator Tom Manning was able to free him up from coverage on several important downs utilizing motion or various route combinations and the athletic tight end was able to make up for several inaccurate passes or poor decisions from his quarterback.
Tyree Johnson EDGE (Texas A&M)
The Aggies’ defensive line harassed Tennessee quarterbacks J.T. Shrout and Harrison Bailey for most of the game, thanks in part to Johnson working over Vols right tackle Darnell Wright. A hybrid edge rusher/outside linebacker, Johnson has surprising strength to go with his impressive burst off the edge, which surprised the much bigger right tackle several times. His shoulder stab pushed the much bigger Wright into the lap of the quarterback all throughout the contest. The junior eventually finished with three tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a tackle-for-loss.
Trey Sermon RB (Ohio State)
With Chris Olave out, the Buckeyes’ passing attack seemed to be out of sync for most of their game against Northwestern. What was working though was their rushing attack, powered by physical runner Trey Sermon. The senior’s physical style of running was a perfect match for the power football the Buckeyes run. Combined with Justin Fields’s ability to run the zone-read, you end up with 331 yards and two touchdowns.
Jahan Dotson WR (Penn State)
It was a breakout performance in a breakout season for the junior wideout. In a season to forget for the Nittany Lions, Dotson has been a bright spot, and that continued against Illinois. Demonstrating his elite speed, he took his first catch—a simple curl route—75 yards to the house. After that, he simply went to work, finishing with six catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Add in a long punt return in the second quarter to set up his team in the red zone, and you can see why his stock has been on the rise.
Jabril Cox LB (LSU)
Many had great expectations for Cox, the transfer from North Dakota State, because of his startling athleticism and the history of Ed Orgeron defenses. Although he didn’t have the start many wanted, he’s improved his play every game up to this latest matchup with Ole Miss, and it was an impressive day in coverage for the senior. His interception late in the second quarter was a display of hands you don’t normally see from linebackers and his ability to run with tight ends in coverage forced the Rebels’ quarterback to hold onto the ball far too long.