Happy Saturday everyone! And welcome to week eleven of college football.
We had a crazy week last week that saw two powerhouses likely eliminated from play-off contention and some fantastic games in general. This week promises more of the same as we have three games with definite play-off implications, and we’re starting with one that looks like it should be a good, physical game.
Note: Thanks to the timing of this post, I don’t have the chance to talk about games before Saturday, but per Chase Goodebread of the NFL Network the Giants had a credentialed scout at Friday night’s Stanford vs. Washington game.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State
FOX - Noon
We’ve talked at length about the Ohio State defensive front seven. Suffice it to say, they’re good.
For the Giants, OSU center Billy Price is a player to watch. I’ve mentioned him before, and not only is he arguably the top center in the draft, he likely has the versatility to be a good guard as well. A force in the run game and reliable in pass protection. It’s also worth paying attention to running back Mike Weber. MSU’s run defense is one of the best in the nation, and it would bode well for both Weber and Price’s draft stock.
On the Michigan State side of things, running back L.J. Scott is intriguing. A big, physical back, with surprisingly good feet and hands. He combines power and agility to run over or around defenders. He has had a down season, running a bit tentatively while dealing with ball control issues. Like Ohio State, Michigan State’s center, Brian Allen, is worth paying attention to. The leader of their offensive line, he is a smart and nasty (although perhaps a tad undersized) lineman.
Georgia vs. Auburn
CBS - 3:30 p.m.
It was something of a surprise when Georgia was named atop the College rankings, but they deserve it. Their defense is fast and physical with a number of players in whom the Giants might be interested. Their linebackers, in particular, should intrigue the Giants, given their issues at the position. Roquon Smith, an undersized (6’0,”, 220-pound) off-ball linebacker is quickly rising up draft boards while Lonzo Carter, at 6’5,” 250 with freakish athleticism, has the look of a potential impact player coming off the edge.
Running backs Nick Chubb and Soney Michel are both worth watching coming out of the Georgia backfield. Chubb looks well on his way to picking up where he left off before his knee injury. Michel is a talented runner in his own right who has a bit more wiggle to his game than the more highly touted (and linear) Chubb.
Braden Smith at Auburn is a former offensive tackle who has moved inside to guard, which is likely where he will play in the NFL. Athletically unspectacular, he is a good, solid, technically sound football player in the mold of Justin Pugh or Zack Martin.
Behind Smith will be running back Kerryon Johnson, Auburn’s own bellcow. Johnson isn’t as big or athletic as Chubb or Michel, but he is a determined runner who takes advantage of Auburn’s offense. In fact, Johnson is the most productive rusher in the SEC, averaging 124 yards per game and 15 rushing touchdowns on the season.
The Auburn secondary is certainly worth watching, and red-shirt sophomore cornerback Javaris Davis is already generating buzz for himself. It is no sure thing that he will declare, but his is a name to remember.
Oklahoma vs. TCU
FOX - 8 p.m.
If you like offense, this is the game for you.
The Giants have been scouting top quarterbacks, and in my humble opinion, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield could well be the best of the bunch this year. He isn’t the tall, rocket-armed passer that gets people excited, but there is more to being a quarterback than being 6’5,” and able to throw the ball through a brick wall. Mayfield is a smart, fiery leader with plenty of athleticism to extend the play and create outside the pocket and enough arm strength to make any throw asked of him with accuracy.
Also keep an eye on Oklahoma outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Oklahoma isn’t known for their defense, but Okoronkwo is creating a buzz for himself as, potentially, one of the top edge rushers in the draft.
These two teams can, and will, put up points, and a berth in the College Football Playoffs is at stake. After beating Ohio State and Oklahoma State on the road, Oklahoma is a favorite to make the playoffs. They face a tough test in TCU, who fields a good defense.
And for their part TCU is not only playing for their post season, but also respect.
This should be a fun game.
Goodbread also reports that the Giants will be one of four teams with a credentialed scout in attendance.
Miami vs. Notre Dame
ABC - 8 p.m.
Don’t look now, but Miami is back to being “The U.” The Hurricanes are once again playing with their signature swagger — most notably donning the massive (5.5 pound) gold “Turnover Chain” whenever anyone on their athletic defense takes the ball away. It’s something they do often, creating 20 turnovers through their first eight games.
The Hurricanes have a young and athletic team, and most of their best players are not yet eligible for the draft. Chad Thomas, the 6’6,” 270-pound senior defensive end, looks like a Giant and is probably worth watching.
I’ve already talked at length about the Notre Dame squad — and the duo of Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson in particular. Given the injuries at the offensive tackle position, McGlinchey might be the top tackle on the board come April, but Nelson is the superior player.
Miami has a similarly athletic defensive front to Georgia, who used their speed up front to stifle the Notre Dame running game. It will be interesting to see if Notre Dame will be able to run on Miami — and hang on to the ball.