Happy Saturday, and welcome to Week 6 of the college football season!
This week’s schedule doesn’t have as many “must-see” games as in previous weeks, but our slate of games should be entertaining. As this is primarily site for the New York Giants, we can’t help but view college football through the lens of the NFL draft, and particularly the Giants’ needs. As it stands now, they have needs on the offensive line and at running back.
And while needs can, and do, change between the middle of a season and the draft, that is where we will concentrate first.
Game 1 - Northwestern vs. Penn State
ABC - Noon
With the Giants falling to 0-4, we are starting to turn our eyes towards the prospects at the top of the draft. And considering the Giants’ running game, we can’t not talk about Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
I’ve already raved about him, and quite frankly he is the top player in the 2018 draft. I’m a bit on the fence about drafting a running back in the top of the first round without a proven offensive line or a commitment to the run, but then Barkley makes plays like these:
Saquon Barkley forced 16 missed tackles vs. Iowa pic.twitter.com/g7pHWbA2vt— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) October 5, 2017
Note: Josey Jewel (number 43) is one of the best tackling linebackers in the country. Barkley is a monster.
On the other sideline, Northwestern running back Justin Jackson could be a nice value pickup in the middle rounds. Penn State will likely walk away with the victory, but this should be a good game (at least for a while).
Game 2 - Ohio State vs. Maryland
FOX - 4 p.m.
My apologies to the Terps, but this game is all about the Ohio State prospects. Not only are the Buckeyes about eight-deep on the defensive line, they have a trio of linebackers worth watching as well. The Giants’ defense has been a liablity at the end of games, and Ohio State is flush with NFL talent in their front seven.
But, if we’re going to talk about Saquon Barkley, we should probably address the offensive line that could be in front of him.
Billy Price of Ohio State is a stoutly built, powerful guard. Listed at 6’3”, 315, Price isn’t a mammoth guard, but he is thickly built and plays with a wide base, solid technique, and an understanding of leverage that makes him tough to move. He also shows quick feet in pass protection to easily keep up with stunts, twists, and blitzes.
Mike Weber, Ohio State’s red-shirt sophomore running back, is another player to keep an eye on. As a third year sophomore, he isn’t (technically) on my radar, but if he declares after the season, he could be a second-day player to watch.
Game 3 - Michigan vs. Michigan State
ABC - 7:30 p.m.
As I write this, it strikes me that all of the games I’m highlighting today feature Big 10 teams. That wasn’t intentional, but here we are.
Anyway, the player to watch this game might be Michigan center Mason Cole. Prior to the Cole announcing that he would forego the 2017 draft, we had heard that the Giants were quite high on him. Cole is both tall and light for a center at 6’5”, 298 pounds, but he has the versatility to play center, guard, and right tackle -- which is part of his appeal to NFL teams. Cole plays with solid fundamentals and shows a high football IQ. He is a player that a team can draft and plug in pretty much anywhere but left tackle.
Michigan State running back L.J. Scott is the other player to really watch in this game. Powerfully built at 6’0,” 230 pounds, Scott reminds a bit of Le’Veon Bell coming out of Michigan State. He has the power to run through would-be tacklers, but also surprisingly quick feet for a back his size to make defenders miss. He would likely need to lose some weight to take full advantage of his quickness at the next level, but for now he has an intriguing upside. Scott also shows impressive hands as a weapon in the passing game.