Saturday Sept. 23 NOON ET ESPN Arlington, TX
ARKANSAS by 3 vs. TEXAS A&M
Neither of these teams is expected to be a major player in determining the SEC Championship for themselves, but both teams have enough talent that on any given weekend they could play a serious spoiler role. It could also be said that both of these head coaches, BIELEMA/SUMLIN, are perhaps fighting for their jobs this year. The two teams are on the opposite sides of the QB spectrum. A&M is breaking in redshirt frosh #17 NICK STARKEL, while the Razorbacks feature #8 senior QB AUSTIN ALLEN. Give a big edge to Arkansas in that scenario. The best pro prospect on display will be CHRISTIAN KIRK/WR #3 a junior who is likely to come out early and be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. I’ll take Arkansas in a close one. Their edge? QB/ALLEN and a neutral game site instead of traveling to College Station.
Arkansas prospects: #8 AUSTIN ALLEN/QB; #1 JARED CORNELIUS/WR; #72 FRANK RAGNOW/OC; #78 BILLY JACKSON/DT; #35 DWAYNE EUGENE/OB; #28 JOSH LIDELL/FS.
TEXAS A&M prospects: #7 KEITH FORD/RB; #3 CHRISTIAN KIRK/WR/JR; #40 JARRETT JACKSON/DE; #92 ZAYCOVEN HENDERSON/DT; #24 PRIEST WILLIS/CB; #23 ARMANI WATTS/FS; #46 SHANE TRIPUCKA/P.
Saturday Sept. 23 3:30 ET ABC
SOUTHERN CAL by 6 @ CAL
Two undefeated PAC-12 teams square off. The Trojans were projected as a Top 10 team, but CAL is a surprise at 3-0. A big positive for CAL has been the gutsy play of Soph QB ROSS BOWERS #3. The Bears also have an experienced crew on the defensive side of things. New HC JUSTIN WILCOX has a defensive background and is using his vets deftly. But player for player the Trojans have a huge personnel advantage. QB/SAM DARNOLD throwing to WR/DONTAY BURNETT may be the best, most exciting QB/WR duo in the country. Southern Cal could run away with this game, but based on what I have seen from CAL so far they may just hang in there.
Southern Cal prospects: #14 SAM DARNOLD/QB/RSO; #25 RONALD JONES/RB/JR; #80 DEONTAY BURNETT/WR/JR; #7 STEVEN MITCHELL/WR; #74 NICO FALAH/OC; #60 VIANE TALAMAIVAO/OG; #45 PORTER GUSTIN/DE/JR; #42 UCHENNA NWOSU/ER/OB; #35 CAMERON SMITH/IB/JR; #4 CHRIS HAWKINS/S.
CAL prospects: #5 TRE WATSON/RB; #9 MATT ANDERSON/K; #97 TONY MEKARI/DT; #9 JAMES LOONEY/DE; #1 DEVANTE’ DOWNS/IB; #31 RAY DAVISON/IB; #18 MARLOSHAWN FRANKLIN/CB.
Saturday Sept. 23 7:30 PM ET ABC
PENN STATE by 5 @ IOWA
The Nittany Lions are back to big time football folks, and likely to stay there under HC JAMES FRANKLIN. After some warm up games it’s time for State to head into the meat of their conference schedule with 2 road games in their next 3. Their best prospect is RB/SAQUON BARKLEY #26 whose combination of speed and power is uncanny. I expect him to head for the NFL next Spring with a shot at being a Top 5 draftee. TRACE McSORLEY/QB #9 reminds me a lot of Baker Mayfield, and could be a serous Heisman contender in 2018. Penn State has a deep and talented DL group which will need to stop the Iowa running game led by AKRUM WADLEY #25. Watch for #2/MARCUS ALLEN to provide major support in shutting down the run. Pen State should own this game, but playing the Hawkeyes of KIRK FERENTZ in Iowa City is always a tough task. If the score is low at the half watch out for a big upset.
Penn State prospects: #26 SAQUON BARKLEY/RB/JR; #9 TRACE McSORLEY/QB/JR; #5 DaeSEAN HAMILTON/WR; #13 SAEED BLCAKNALL/WR; #88 MIKE GESICKI/TE; #59 ANDREW NELSON/OG; #40 JASON CABINDA/IB; #15 GRANT HALEY/CB; MARCUS ALLEN/S.
Iowa prospects: #25 AKRUM WADLEY/RB; #89 MATT VANDEBERG/WR; #79 SEAN WELSH/OG; #75 IKE BOETTGER/OT; #19 MILES TAYLOR/S; #44 BEN NIEMANN/OB; #43 JOSEY JEWELL/IB.
Saturday Sept. 23 10 PM ET FS1
WASHINGTON by 11 @ COLORADO
The Buffalos haven’t beaten any nationally ranked teams yet this season, but a 3-0 record is something to celebrate for their resurgent program. Conversely, the Huskies appear to be in top gear and primed for a serious run at the PAC-12 title. I will be mightily surprised if Colorado can keep this close much past halftime, if at all. Easier said than done, but my first advice to Colorado is do NOT punt to DANTE PETTIS/WR #8. The other big name prospect for the Huskies is huge (6’5/344) DT/VITA VEA #50. This could be the toughest contest for Washington until late October, but I expect them to cruise to victory.
Washington prospects: #3 JAKE BROWNING/QB/JR; #8 DANTE PETTIS/WR/RS; #73 ANDREW KIRKLAND/OG; #72 TREY ADAMS/OT/JR; #50 VITA VEA/DT/JR; #7 KEISHAWN BIERRIA/OB; #36 AZEEM VICTOR/IB; #99 GREG GAINES/DT/JR.
Colorado prospects: #23 PHILLIP LINDSAY/RB; #2 DEVIN ROSS/WR; #1 SHAY FIELDS/WR; #76 JEROMY IRWIN/OT; #8 AFOLABI LAGUDA/S; #52 LEO JACKSON/DE.