College Games Week 1, 2018

By | August 31, 2018

As we all watch the finalizing (well almost) of NFL 53-man rosters it also just happens to be time for the first full weekend of College Football 2018. And so I have selected 4 top games and given you game projections and team info, as well as some detail (including numbers) of 2019 NFL Draft Prospects. For the first few weeks I will limit myself primarily to Draft eligible seniors. But in short order (2-3) weeks I’ll be including top prospect underclassmen. So hold on tight and away we go.

Saturday, Sept. 1 3:30PM ET ABC
AUBURN by 3 vs. WASHINGTON IN ATLANTA

Auburn must face the new season with some significant player losses to graduation, and the Draft. But the cupboard is rarely bare down on the plains of Alabama. The program lost 25 letterman, but returns 58, including 13 starters. Included in those returnees is QB JARRETT STIDHAM #8, who still has two years of eligibility left. I expect STIDHAM to start passing some career statistical leaders from Auburn’s storied past this season.
Here are some of the top senior prospects to watch for the Tigers:
#23 WR RYAN DAVIS 5’9/175
#27 TE/H-B CHANDLER COX 6’1/239
#95 DONTRAVIUS RUSSELL DT 6’3/310
#49 DARRELL WILLIAMS LB 6’2/244
#57 DESHAUN DAVIS LB 5’11/245

The HUSKIES actually had a slightly disappointing season, at 10-3. That should give you an idea of how HC CHRIS PETERSEN has solidified the program as a West Coast elite. JAKE BROWNING/QB #3 should be one of the top throwers in the nation, after having a bit of a down year in 2017, at least by his previous standards. Names like PETTIS, VEA, BIERRIA, COLEMAN and more have been in NFL Training Camps this summer, but 53 lettermen return, including 17 starters. It’s a long way from Seattle to Atlanta so watch for the Huskies to be a bit sluggish at the start of this one.
Top senior prospects to watch:
#3 JAKE BROWNING QB 6’2/206
#9 MYLES GASKIN RB 5’10/190
#6 CHICO McCLATCHER WR 5’8/176
#99 GREG GAINES DT 6’2/313
#17 TEVIS BARTLETT LB 6’2/238
#25 BEN BURR-KIRVEN LB 6’2/228
#23 JORDAN MILLER CB 6’1/180

SATURDAY, SEPT. 1 3:30 PM ET CBS
TENNESSEE vs. WEST VIRGINIA by 6
VOLS fans are hoping that ex-Alabama DC JEREMY PRUITT can infuse their program with some of that Saban-magic and bring back the glory days for their football program. It could happen, but not this soon. Only 47 lettermen return, including 12 starters. IT’s going to take at least a couple of recruiting classes to turn this thing around. The immediate hope is for Stanford transfer QB/KELLER CHRIST can turn this thing a bit with solid QB play.
TENNESSEE senior prospects include:
#5 KYLER PHILLIPS DE 6’4/265
#2 SHY TUTTLE DT 6’2/308
#1 JONATHAN KONGBO DE 6’6/275
#22 MICAH ABERNATHY FS 6’0/203

The Mountaineers are gearing up for a strong 2018 season with the return of QB WILL GRIER #7. In fact if GRIER can’t lead this squad to at least a 10-Win season there may be rumblings for the head of HC DANA HOLGORSEN in Morgantown. The team is a bit thin on experience with only 39 lettermen, but they make up in quality for what they lack in depth.
The best SR WVU players are:
#7 WILL GRIER QB 6’2/215
#12 GARY JENNINGS WR 6’1/215
#13 DAVID SILLS WR 6’4/201
#55 YODNY CAJUSTE OT 6’5/318
#91 EZEKIEL ROSE DE 6’2/275
#6 DRAVON ASKEW-HENRY SS 6’0/200

SATURDAY, SPET. 1 7:30 PM ET NBC
MICHIGAN @ NOTRE DAME by 2
This could be a real slug fest with two Top 15 teams squaring off in the renewal of a Midwest rivalry. I would label this the true beginning of the HARBAUGH era in Ann Arbor. After playing well with mainly Brady Hoke’s recruits for three years the personnel this season are pretty much all Harbaugh’s boys. So when you look at the roster you find 63 returning lettermen and 17 starters back for another go round. That spells trouble for the Big Ten East. Even their QB is a newbie in SHEA PATTERSON #2 OLE MISS transfer. I expect a nice balance between offense and defense as the year progresses.
Michigan senior pro prospects include:
#22 KARAN HIGDON RB 5’10/200
76 JUWANN BUSHELL-BEATTY OT 6’6/310
#90 BRIAN MONE DT 6’4/325
#15 CHASE WINOVICH DE/ER 6’3/253
#23 TYREE KINNEL FS 5’11/200

The Fighting Irish turned in a 10-Win season last year but were disappointed in their 1-2 finish to the campaign. Depth was an issue last year, but 15 starters and 47 lettermen are back along with a nice recruiting haul. The team lost 22 lettermen, but had a 27 player recruiting class, and you know some will be good enough to get prime playing time. Progress by QB BRANDON WINBUSH #7 would go a long way in spicing this team up for 2018. I will take the Irish at home by less than a field goal. Buckle your chin strap!
Notre Dame seniors to watch are:
#2 DEXTER WILLIAMS RB 5’11/205
#53 SAM MUSTIPHER OC 6’3/305
#71 ALEX BARS OG 6’6/315
#19 JUSTIN YOON K 5’10/195
#55 JONATHAN BONNER DT 6’4/295
#99 JERRY TILLERY DT 6’7/300
#23 DRUE TRANQUILL LB 6’2/233
#4 TE’VON CONEY LB 6’1/238
#24 NICK COLEMAN S 6’0/191

SATURDAY, SEPT. 1 8PM ET @ ORLANDO, FL
ALABAMA BY 12 vs. LOUISVILLE

This is not likely to be the tough match-up it has been portrayed as to sell tickets and hype the TV ratings. Louisville does not look anything like the glamour team that LAMAR JACKSON led the last 3 seasons. The team only returns 11 starters from an 8-5 team in 2017. In all fairness ‘BAMA only returns 10 starters, but half their roster is 4/5-Star recruits just chomping at the bit to get more playing time. It might not surprise many if this game becomes a blowout. The biggest question is likely which ‘Bama QB starts and/or gets the most playing time: HURTS #2 or TAGOVAILOA #13. It probably won’t matter much in this contest.

LOUSIVILLE seniors to watch:
#9 JAYLEN SMITH WR 6’4/225
#79 KENNY THOMAS OT 6’6/322
#72 LUKAYUS McNEIL OT/G 6’6/330
#11 DEE SMITH FS 6’1/205

ALABAMA seniors to watch:
#34 DAMIEN HARRIS RB 5’11/213
#84 HALE HENTGES TE 65’/250
#71 ROSS PIERSCHBACHER OC 6’4/301
#66 LESTER COTTON OG 6’4/325
#95 JOHNNY DWIGHT DT 6’3/300
#49 ISAIAH BUGGS DT 6’5/287
#47 CHRISTIAN MILLER LB 6’5/244

With the NFL tuning up their rosters we have extra games this week on Sunday and Monday. I will try to be back with a couple of those games for you Sunday morning.

Cheers
Pigskin