After last week’s slew of great college games between teams with both national and conference aspirations, this week’s slate is a little tamer – well, actually way tamer – as there are really no such head-to-head match-ups on this week’s schedule. However, there are still a number of potentially interesting situations with draft-related implications worth a look this week.
Calling all sacrificial lambs … This week its Mississippi State turn to see if anybody can play with Alabama when the Bulldogs travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Tide at 3:30 PM ET on CBS on Saturday. True, Mississippi State is ranked (they are #16 in the CFP standings), but if the best #4 LSU could last week at home was hold Alabama to 29-0, one wonders just what kind of a chance Mississippi State has on the road. Still, it is why they play the games. And given that they are going to play the game it should give scouts the chance to check one of the season’s better one-on-one match-ups when Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat (#9, 6-3, 245, SR), one of the more explosive edge rushers in college football – he’s currently 4th in the country with 9.5 sacks – goes against Alabama junior OT Jonah Williams (#73, 6-5, 305, JR), the consensus top offensive line prospect in this year’s draft. This game also features two of the top Cs in this year’s draft class in Ross Pierschbacher (#71, 6-3, 305, SR) of Alabama and Mississippi State’s underrated Elgton Jenkins (#74, 603, 315, JR). Both are considered to be early to mid-second day candidates.
Calling all edge-rushers … In fact, if there is a trend in this week’s games to watch, its pass-rushers coming off the edge. That could be the case when Florida State plays at Notre Dame Saturday evening (7:30 PM ET; NBC). Needless to say if we had Florida State playing in South Bend with the unbeaten 3rd ranked Irish needing a win to keep their nation al playoff hopes alive several years ago, this would have been one of the games of year. However, the Seminoles have fallen on some hard times of late and, at 4-5, are just hoping to get any bowl bid at all. Hard times aside, the ‘Noles still have a terrific edge rusher in junior DE Brian Burns (#99, 6-5, 235) who has 9 sacks to date this fall; he’s also got that uncommon athleticism which could see him vault into the top 10 once the combine rolls around. And for those haven’t checked him out yet, the Irish have one of the star’s in this year’s loaded DT group in Jerry Tillery (#99, 6-6, 320, SR) who leads all DTs in college football this fall with 7 sacks.
There’ll be more of the DL fest when #2 Clemson plays at Boston College at 8 PM ET on ABC. Clemson, of course, has THE most dominant defensive fronts in college football including DEs Clelin Ferrell (#99, 6-4, 260, JR) and Austin Bryant (#7, 6-4, 265, SR) and DTs Dex Lawrence (#90, 6-3, 350, JR) and Christian Wilkins (#42, 6-3, 315, SR). Indeed, Ferrell, Lawrence and Wilkins all have generated some top 10 at some point, while Bryant is a second-day candidate. Boston College also has a top defensive lineman of its own in DE Zach Allen (#2, 6-4, 285, SR), yet another possible top 10-20 guy. Allen’s been banged up much of the year, but still has 5.5 sacks and 7 other tackles for loss. And Allen should have some interesting snaps when he goes up against veteran Clemson LT Mitch Hyatt (#75, 6-5, 305). Meanwhile, BC is also hoping to have star sophomore RB A J Dillon (#2, 5-11, 245), one of the top prospects for 2020, healthy as he’s been slowed by an ankle this fall.
Switching gears for a moment, teams looking to add some depth at QB in the middle rounds this coming April will likely be checking out the Northwestern-Iowa game (3:30 PM ET, FOX). Indeed, both teams have a solid second-tier QB with some upside in Northwestern veteran Clayton Thorson (#18, 6-3, 225, SR), who has bounced back nicely from a torn ACL suffered late last fall, and Iowa junior Nathan Stanley (#4, 6-3, 245).
Have a great weekend!