Now that we're past the cupcake portion of the college football schedule, it's about time we started paying some real attention to football on Saturdays.
This week's slate of games has several that don't just have the potential to be great games, but will likely also have far-reaching consequences with the College Football Playoffs.
Four Games To Watch
1) Alabama (13) at Georgia (8) -- 3:30 p.m., CBS
The last time Alabama was an underdog, Tim Tebow was the opposing quarterback, and that's just one reason to watch this game. This game is essentially a playoff game, and whichever team loses will likely be eliminated from playoff contention. It also features some of the best players in the SEC as Alabama and Georgia both feature exceptionally talented rosters.
2) Ole Miss (3) at Florida (25) -- 7 p.m., ESPN
Another SEC showdown with playoff implications, Ole Miss has quickly become one of the best teams in the country. Head coach Hugh Freeze has done a tremendous job of recruiting and infusing Eli Manning's alma mater with elite talent. Laquan Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil, and Robert Nkemdiche are the big names -- and future first-rounders -- but this is a thoroughly talented roster. Chad Kelly (Jim Kelly's nephew) is quickly becoming a quarterback to watch.
Florida is undefeated as well, and features some players worth watching as well, most notably Vernon Hargreaves III, who is arguably the top cornerback in the country.
3) Mississippi State (21) at Texas A&M (14) -- 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
The third major SEC showdown on Saturday, Mississippi State and Texas A&M are both thoroughly entertaining teams to watch. Mississippi St. QB Dak Prescott is developing from a talented athlete into a well rounded quarterback. However the "Must Watch" of the game is the Aggies' premier pass rusher Myles Garrett. The 6-5, 260 pound sophomore is an athletic specimen, and already has 6.5 sacks in his first 4 games. That's after recording 11.0 sacks as a true freshman.
4) Notre Dame (6) at Clemson (12) - 8 p.m., ABC
The winner of this game very well could find themselves catapulted into the College Football Playoffs. Clemson features a young, athletic, and exciting roster headlined by sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson. Notre Dame is stacked with players the Giants would love to draft, such as left tackle Ronnie Stanley, defensive tackle Sheldon Day, linebacker Jaylon Smith, and cornerback KeiVarae Russell.
Six Players To Watch
- Travin Dural (WR, LSU) -- The Giants could find themselves in a bind with their wide receiver position heading into the 2016 season. We all know the love affair the Giants have with LSU, and when it comes to receivers, there's a good reason. Not only do they regularly play elite defensive backs in the SEC, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron makes sure his receivers are well coached in a pro-style offense. Dural is a long receiver at 6-foot-2, and has the breakaway speed to gash defenses. While all eyes should rightly be on Leonard Fournette, try to keep one on No. 83, who averaged 20.5 yards per catch in 2014. If Rueben Randle moves on after 2015, Dural might be at the top of the Giants' shopping list at wide receiver.
- Pharoh Cooper (WR, South Carolina) -- Another receiver to keep your eye on, Cooper is best described as "Odell Beckham Lite", and at 5-11, 205 pounds with impressive quickness, there are definite similarities. Cooper is versatile, playing all over South Carolina's offense; lining up outside, in the slot, in the backfield, and going in motion. If Victor Cruz isn't able to return to form, a player like Cooper could catch Jerry Reese's eye.
- Hunter Henry (TE, Arkansas) -- It is becoming obvious that if the Giants want a 3-down tight end who can be not just dependable, but an actual weapon, then they are going to have to invest in the position. Draft predictions have had the Giants taking a tight end high for years now, and they might do so again. Henry has solid NFL side at 6-5, 255 pounds and is a "complete" tight end, who can both run block and has the athleticism to be a mismatch as a receiver.
- Shawn Oakman (DE, Baylor) -- Oakman is two things: First, he is an athletic freak of the rarest order. Standing 6-8, he is a chiseled 280 pounds, Oakman does things humans his size just shouldn't be able to while having impressive power. Second, he is one of the foremost enigmas in the 2016 draft. Oakman has truly elite physical tools. Length, weight, athleticism, power ... But he still seems to be figuring out what to do with them. He should be dominating every offensive tackle on every play. If Oakman has the mentality and work ethic to continuously work on his craft, he could be the next J.J. Watt. Or he could be the next Vernon Gholston.
- Jaylon Smith (LB, Notre Dame) -- Simply put, Smith is both my favorite and least favorite prospect in the 2016 draft. He is an electric play-maker, who can leap off the screen on any given play. Smith is already drawing comparisons to Patrick Willis. For a fan of defensive football, Smith is a joy to watch. But as much as I like watching him, as a fan of the Giants, I have to hope they are too good to have the chance to draft him, because he stands a very good chance of being a top-10 player.
- Jeremy Cash (S, Duke) -- Don't look now, but David Cutcliff is turning Duke into an actual, nationally viable, football program. Not only are his players being very well coached, Jeremy Cash is turning into one of the nation's worst-kept secrets at safety. The Giants have lost three young, promising draft picks at safety to injury this season, and while you hate to see young careers derailed before they ever get the chance, the Giants need to keep building the back end of their defense. Cash's size (6-2, 205) versatility to line up as a slot corner, free safety, or strong safety, and playmaking ability are reminiscent of a young Antrel Rolle.