If last week’s conference contests left fans feeling a little bit deflated—Ole Miss-Alabama anyone?—this week’s slate of games promises to be the best of the season so far. Fifth-ranked Oklahoma and No. 23 Texas return to the Cotton Bowl for what always turns out to be a high-scoring, crazy affair. Then, in the Game of the Week, No. 3 Iowa hosts No. 4 Penn State in a matchup that will more than likely determine who is allowed to compete for the Big Ten Championship. So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
QB Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma)
When considering his pedigree as a Sooner quarterback, Rattler has been somewhat of a disappointment to start the season. Although his team hasn’t lost a game and he’s completing 76.3 percent of his passes for 1,260 yards and ten touchdowns, he’s been reckless with the ball and already has four interceptions. This week may turn into a shootout, thanks to Texas coach Steve Sarkisian favoring his offense—Texas scored 70 points against Texas Tech two weeks ago. Rattler will need to prove he can keep up and handle a heavy volume of passes without making mistakes.
Other players to watch:
DT Jordan Davis (Georgia)
At the beginning of the season, Davis was considered to be more of a second-day prospect—well-suited for stopping the run, but his utility against the pass is limited. This season, he’s demonstrated that he can move quite well for a big man and has 1.5 sacks through four games. If he wants to sniff the first round though, he’ll need to keep being productive and put out good tape against the pass. Auburn’s Bo Nix like’s to hold onto the ball and improvise in the pocket, so this week’s matchup presents a good opportunity for the senior to do just that.
WR Dontario Drummond (Ole Miss)
Drummond has been outshined during his Ole Miss career by the likes of Elijah Moore and Jonathan Mingo. But with Moore now on the New York Jets and Mingo dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of last week’s game, now is the time to shine for the former ‘Last Chance U” star. Lane Kiffin uses him in the slot, where his 6’1” size is more of an advantage. His performance against a very physical Arkansas secondary—including safety prospect Jalen Catalon—will be worth the price of admission alone.
OT Luke Tenuta (Virginia Tech)
The Virginia Tech coaching staff has flipped around their offensive linemen, with Tenuta now moved to right tackle instead of left. That doesn’t mean Tenuta has been sub-par this season, quite the contrary. His sheer size at 6’9” and 322 lbs, and movement skills make him one of the more intriguing draft-eligible sophomores in the nation. Luckily for him, he’ll be staring down the barrel at another sophomore prospect in Notre Dame lineman Isaiah Foskey, who has 4.5 sacks on the year.
Game of the Week
No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. EDT
A competition between two undefeated teams, sporting top-five defenses, paired with underrated receiver corps? Sign me up.
The Nittany Lions haven’t had the most difficult Big Ten schedule, but their defense—headlined by safety prospect Jaquan Brisker and linebacker Brandon Smith—has been unquestionably elite and smothering. Iowa will find it tough to run against them. On offense though, look for sporadic big passing plays to speedy wide receiver Jahan Dotson. He has a way of sneaking behind coverage on deep posts.
Similar to Penn State, Iowa is known for their defense, but its strength lies in the secondary, in particular their corners. Matt Hankins and Riley Moss have already have five interceptions between them and the team intercepted six passes just last week against Maryland. On offense, the rushing attack is strong thanks to tailback Tyler Goodson, but also center Tyler Linderbaum. Look out for the passing game to surprise though, with receivers Tyrone Tracy and Charlie Jones.