Happy Saturday and welcome to week four of the college football season!
We have a promising slate of games today, with intriguing match-ups and plenty of prospects that are worth watching.
Unlike in previous weeks, there are games scheduled throughout the day that I’m looking forward to watching, so I’ll give you one from each time slot, starting at noon.
Florida State vs. NC State
ABC, ESPN 2 - Noon
Florida State has one of the more talented rosters in the nation, with two exciting defensive backs in safety Derwin James and cornerback Tavarus McFadden and defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
NC State EDGE rusher Bradley Chubb is going to be the player to watch when Florida State has the ball, and he has the ability to put a serious monkey wrench in their offensive plans. Chubb is being compared to 2017 draftee, Eagles’ rookie DE Derek Barnett. NC State’s talented defensive line could give Florida State’s inexperienced offensive line.
Clemson vs. Boston College
ESPN 2 - 3:30 p.m.
I’ve talked about both of these teams already, and there is plenty to watch on the Clemson side of things.
I’m going to be interested to see how BC EDGE rusher Harold Landry plays against Clemson’s offense, which is one of the best in college football. Between Landry and the Clemson duo of Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell, there will be plenty for lovers of defensive football to dig into.
Iowa vs. Penn State
ABC - 7:30 p.m.
Once again we have a few promising games to choose from in prime time. Missouri vs. Auburn or Mississippi State vs. Georgia are both solid choices to watch and either could have gotten my vote for this slot. .. But I want to go to the Big Ten for once, and one player in particular ...
... But I’m going to start with Iowa. The Iowa Hawkeyes are rarely an exciting team, but they have a habit of producing solid NFL talent. Their top rated player, right now, is probably inside linebacker Josey Jewell. Jewell probably isn’t going to leave folks in the media drooling once the draft process really gets going and people start concentrating on measurables. And that don’t matter one little bit — Jewell is a football player. He doesn’t have the prototypical build and is a bit undersized and doesn’t have the prototypical athleticism you want to see. What he does have is a tremendous football IQ, leadership skills, instincts, and a non-stop motor. Jewell has the potential to be a 3-down linebacker at the next level, able to play the run, drop in coverage, and blitz.
Offensive linemen Sean Walsh and James Daniels are both undersized offensive line prospects, each at (roughly) 6’4,” 295 pounds. However, they are both athletic and very well coached in concepts that translate well to the NFL. Welsh is listed as a guard, while Daniels plays center, but both players could probably play either position at the next level. Of the two, Welsh is probably the more consistent while Daniels is more athletic.
Moving over to the home team, we come to the reason why I wanted to highlight this game: Running back Saquon Barkley.
Barkley is, without a doubt THE player to watch in this game, and he is a true athletic freak. Barkley is a thickly built back at 5’11,” 225 pounds, but he is athletic and explosively powerful. But there is much more to his game than just power — Barkley has the vision, patience, and agility to make the most of every block, and the speed to turn a flash of daylight into a long gain. On top of all that, he is also already a polished pass protector, which is sure to excite NFL coaches. Just how good is Barkley? He is already being compared to Ezekiel Elliott, with one NFL executive telling NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, "I was at the game a few years ago when Elliott and Barkley shared the same field. As impressive as Elliott was, Barkley was the better player. They have similar skill sets but Barkley is better in every area."
Blocking for Barkley is offensive guard Ryan Bates. Bates is a red-shirt sophomore, and therefore won’t (officially) be on my radar for the draft unless he declares this year, but he does have some intriguing traits. He’s worth keeping an eye on.
Penn State also has EDGE rusher Torrence Brown, an athletic pass rusher who likely has the ability to play either defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level.