Similar to last week’s college football action, it’s a bit of a mixed bag this week in terms of matchups, although the batch of late games looks promising. That includes No. 10 Penn State tangling with No. 22 Auburn in a matchup of two resounding defenses, along with late night PAC-12 action between a resurgent nineteenth-ranked Arizona State and No. 23 BYU. If you’re looking for both a potential upset and a game that features a handful of pro prospects, be sure to checkout the Virginia-North Carolina matchup. So let’s talk about the games, leave questions on prospects, and enjoy the weekend!
Keep your eyes on:
Desmond Ridder QB (Cincinnati)
It’s largely been a cake walk for the senior quarterback the last few weeks, but the difficulty ramps up considerably this Saturday. Thanks to his big frame, solid arm, and experience, Ridder has gained a bit of a following in the draft community, and he will need to show he can excel against a tough Hoosier defense. Although they got smacked around by Iowa’s rushing attack, Indiana’s secondary is the strength of their unit overall, so Ridder will need to pick his spots if he intends to carry the team on his shoulders.
Other players to watch:
Jamal Hines OLB (Toledo)
One of the early breakout candidates in the MAC, Hines —and the Rockets in general — took it to Notre Dame last week, finishing with a sack and two passes defensed. His challenger this week comes in the form of Colorado State’s passing game, specifically tight end Trey McBride. A candidate for the best at his position, McBride is a physical presence on the field and it will be enlightening to see if the linebacker can keep up with him at all in coverage, given that there are questions about his overall speed.
Kingsley Enagbare DE (South Carolina)
A super-toolsy pass rusher, the senior is coming off a two-sack performance against East Carolina that helped his team pull out the win. It’s a whole different ball game though against the second-ranked team in the country. Georgia’s left tackle, Jamaree Salyer, is one of the more experienced linemen in the SEC. Enagbare clearly has first-round traits, but can they translate on the field against stronger opponents?
Isaiah Likely TE (Coastal Carolina)
He’s been quiet the last couple weeks as Coastal Carolina has rolled over lesser opponents, so it will be interesting to see if this continues against a strong Buffalo linebacking corps. Bulls linebacker Kadofi Wright excels in coverage, so if Likely can come out of this visit with a productive game, his argument towards being a highly thought-of tight end prospect become that much more defensible.
Tank Bigsby RB (Auburn)
Draft twitter has been aflutter with the emergence of the sophomore running back from the Tigers. The long-strider looks bigger this year and tougher, flashing the same vision and quick-cuts from his freshman season. The Penn State linebacking corps is one of the more active, run-stopping units in the country however, so it’ll be interesting to see if Bigsby going to be used more in the passing game, or if the coaches test him against the Nittany Lions strong front seven anyway.
Game of the Week
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 11 Florida
Saturday, 3:30 P.M. EDT
Despite the disparate rankings between the two, there’s reason to think Florida stands a decent chance against the Crimson Tide. The biggest would be freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson, but next up would be the defense littered with NFL prospects. That includes players in the secondary — cornerback Kaiir Elam and safety Trey Dean — as well as edge rushers Brenton Cox Jr. and Zachary Carter, who already sports three sacks and 5.5 tackles-for-loss on the season.
Alabama’s offense isn’t likely to be slowed down much, however. Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young is kept clean thanks to massive tackle Evan Neal, so that the runway is clear to hit deep shots to either receiver John Metchie III or tight end Jahleel Billingsley. Keep an eye on Crimson Tide linebacker Henry To’o To’o on defense though.