It’s Halloween weekend, which brings with it a truly scary-good matchup for those in the great state of Michigan, as well as two upper echelon SEC teams looking for mid-season treats, rather than tricks. Sixth-ranked Michigan comes to East Lansing for a showdown with No. 8 Michigan State. This game will likely determine one of the two Big Ten Championship spots. Meanwhile, No. 10 Ole Miss travels to No. 18 Auburn, in order to prove they should challenge for an SEC title game spot themselves. So, let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
LB Jaylan Alexander (Purdue)
Quarterback Adrian Martinez actually leads the Cornhuskers in rushing and passing this season—and, honestly, has had a sneaky-good year. As the weak side linebacker on contain, it’ll be up to Alexander to stop the scampering as well as cover the bevy of options in the passing game. Proving he can keep up with slot receivers and tight ends in the passing game will do wonders for his stock, and show that he’s not just a product of the Boilermakers’ dominant front.
Other players to watch:
OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ohio State)
It’s been a steady rise up draft boards—despite a pretty strong class—for the junior left tackle. Typical of Buckeye tackles in recent years, he’s a powerful drive blocker who physically dominates defenders. Playing against Penn State will test his intelligence and quick-thinking however, as the Nittany Lions aren’t afraid to bring pressure from all angles and make tackles responsible for blitzing defensive backs.
CB Roger McCreary (Auburn)
A patient, flexible and athletic-enough corner, McCreary has the look of a sleeper prospect who will be drafted higher than expected. This game will be important for the senior though, as Ole Miss loves to put opposing defensive backs in binds on various types of pick routes or crossing routes with their plethora of shifty receivers. As such, McCreary might be asked to play more zone than man coverage. It will be a big test for him.
QB Sam Howell (North Carolina)
It’s been a disappointing season for Howell, as his stats have fallen from last year and he’s been much more prone to mistakes. Most analysts still have him as a first-round prospect, but he’s no longer considered the top prospect there. The junior needs to change the narrative, and that could start this week against a very tough Notre Dame defense that doesn’t give up big plays and points easily. Howell will need to prove he can be careful with the ball and make check downs when necessary.
Game of the Week
No. 6 Michigan at No. 8 Michigan State
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
The biggest in-state rivalry game of the season—sorry Oklahoma/Oklahoma State—against two undefeated teams, this game features two dynamic rushing offenses with solid defenses.
The Spartans’ offense is anchored by one of the most productive runners in the country in Kenneth Walker III, but still offers the threat of wide receiver Jayden Reed on the outside. Center Matt Allen is the standout along the offensive line. Michigan State is a bit more inconsistent on defense, but strong safety Xavier Henderson has been a tackling machine and defensive tackle Jacub Panasiuk has gotten plenty of quarterback pressures up the middle this season.
The Wolverines’ rushing offense is a two-headed monster and the team has been extremely run heavy. Blake Corum leads a two-headed attack with senior Hassan Haskins, who has ten touchdowns on the year. Wolverine tackle Ryan Hayes doesn’t get talked about much but he is a solid prospect in his own right.
It’s the defense though that really is the leader of the team, with top prospects in pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson and veteran safety Daxton Hill both possible first rounders.