What was perhaps the college football game of the year came this week, and it was between two small schools that weren’t even supposed to play against each other as early as last week. Undefeated Coastal Carolina was able to upset BYU and quarterback Zach Wilson 22-17, in a game that featured a fair amount of future NFL talent. Meanwhile, Indiana continued their Cinderella season as they overcame Wisconsin in a defensive battle, and Stanford somehow upset Washington over the Pac-12. Welcome to 2020. Below are the prospects who stood out during an unexpected week of college football.
Cam Taylor-Britt CB (Nebraska)
The Purdue Boilermakers feature two of the most dynamic playmaking wide receivers in college football in David Bell and Rondale Moore, and Nebraska’s secondary pretty much shut them both down outside of a freak play that allowed an 89-yard catch from Bell. The Cornhuskers’ coaches asked the junior corner to play various types of man coverage, and Taylor-Britt clearly held up, finishing with two huge pass breakups and a tackle-for-loss. This type of performance is enough to put his name in the ring as a top corner in the 2021 class.
James Empey C (BYU)
Even though Coastal Carolina seemed to be getting good pressure on Zach Wilson for most of the game, don’t blame the veteran BYU center for most of those plays. Empey, who has been one of the best-graded centers by PFF throughout the year, kept his head on a swivel in passing sets throughout the game. Then, in the run game, his agility and speed on zone runs was quite the sight to behold. At only 300 lbs you also wouldn’t think he has the anchor strength to hold up against stronger defensive tackles, but there were several snaps where he got low and stonewalled his opponent one-on-one.
Garret Wallow LB (TCU)
The former safety-turned-linebacker was flying all around the field against Oklahoma State, which led to a team-leading 11 tackles, six solo, and one tackle-for-loss. While his athleticism and anticipation was evident, it was his palpable energy on field that really seemed to spark the Horned Frogs’ defense. His first tackle of the game, a third-down stop, really seemed to set the tone for the defense—which went on to ground the Cowboys normally high-flying offense, holding them to 16 points.
Chris Olave WR (Ohio State)
Olave was pretty much the Buckeyes’ entire passing attack against Michigan State, as Justin Field fed him the ball ten times for 139 yards and a touchdown. Although he’s not the biggest or the quickest receiver, Olave provides a little bit of everything for the offense and scouts will no doubt appreciate how he made himself available to his quarterback on extended plays and scrambles during this game in particular. One area of his game he’ll need to improve on though is fumbles, as the Spartans were able to take the ball away from the junior twice on Saturday.
Brock Purdy QB (Iowa State)
After a tough start to the season following some summer hype, Purdy’s name has been on the rise in recent weeks. That certainly will continue after this week’s game. The senior quarterback was nearly flawless in going 20-of-23 for 247 yards and three touchdowns. His accuracy has always been somewhat erratic, especially when pressured, so it was encouraging to see the senior stand tall and deliver accurate throws even though he was about to get smacked by a defender. As always, he was also a threat to run, as he collected 38 yards and another touchdown on the ground.