Who to watch in college football: September 15-16

September 14, 2023

Army (1-1) at Texas-San Antonio (1-1); 7 PM ET (Friday); ESPN … UTSA has gotten off to a bit of a slow start after the Roadrunners, now in the American Athletic Conference after posting 11 wins last year as a member of C-USA, were considered to be one of several teams across the country with a legitimate shot at the non-Power 5 spot in the January 1st bowls. However, the Roadrunners do still have at least a couple of players worth a look. Veteran QB Frankie Harris (#0, 6-0, 205), the C-USA’s player of the year last fall who already holds 39 school records, for example, almost certainly won’t be drafted, but he is still an exciting player to watch. Indeed, he threw for over 4,000 yards and 32 TDs last fall as he completed almost 70% of his passes while running for another 600 yards and 9 more scores. And while Harris isn’t a prime draft target for NFL teams, rising redshirt sophomore OLB Trey Moore (#1, 6-2, 235) just may be as he has already posted 4 sacks in UTSA’s two games to date after racking up 8 in a breakout season last fall.

#3 Florida State (2-0) at Boston College (1-1): Noon ET; ABC … we’ll get back to you on Florida State prior to next week’s huge ACC showdown against Clemson. For this week, though, we’ll focus in on a couple of very good BC prospects in OG Christian Mahogany (#73, 6-3, 325) and DE Donovan Ezeiruaka (#6, 6-2, 255). Mahogany, for example, was considered to be one of the top 2-3 OGs for the 2023 draft, but ended up missing the entire season last fall after he tore an ACL in fall practice. However, he’s back and if fully healthy is a road grader drive blocking with good feet in pass protection. Meanwhile, Ezeiruaka is an emerging edge rusher who had 8.5 sacks last fall.

Wake Forest (2-0) at Old Dominion (1-1); Noon ET; ESPN2 … Wake against ODU would not normally be considered a ‘must-see’ game – and it probably still isn’t; however, this will probably the only chance one will get to see Old Dominion MLB Jason Henderson (#42, 6-0, 230), who gives new meaning to the concept of ‘tackling machine. Indeed, Henderson had 186 tackles last fall and is on pace to post a similar number last fall.

#7 Penn State (2-0) at Illinois (1-1); Noon ET; Fox ... This one looks like it could be a bit of a mismatch as the Illini just don’t have the same talent level as Penn State. The one area that Illinois could have an edge, though, is the interior of the defensive front. Indeed, Illini DT Jer’Zhan Newton (#4, 6-2, 295) is one of the top 2-3 prospects at the position for the upcoming draft. Newton isn’t all that big, but he’s very quick and disruptive. Meanwhile, his partner – junior Keith Randolph (#88, 6-4, 300) – is also a good one as are OT Isaiah Adams (#78, 6-5, 320) and WR Isaiah Williams (#1, 5-10, 185).

Western Kentucky (2-0) at #6 Ohio State (2-0); 4 PM ET; FOX … Inquiring minds would be justified in wondering if there is any possible good reason for the Buckeyes to be playing Western Kentucky other than maybe they need a breather after opening the season against Indiana and FCS Youngstown State with Notre Dame looming on the schedule next week. And while the Hilltoppers head to Columbus as 4-TD underdogs, they do have a couple of players worth watching in the dynamic passing combination of QB Austin Reed (#16, 6-2, 220) and WR Malachi Corley (#11, 5-11, 210). Reed actually led the country in passing 2022 when he threw for just over 4.700 yards and 40 scores, while Corley was 5th in receivig with almost 1,300 yards. Corley, in particular, will be looking for a big game against the Buckeyes as he didn’t played much through WKU’s first two games because of an undisclosed ailment.

BYU (2-0) at Arkansas (2-0); 7:30 PM ET; ESPN2 … Interesting game between a couple of programs both of which squeaked onto the GBN list of the top 15 draft classes for 2024 with BYU at #14 and Arkansas #15. BYU, in particular, has a rather deep class for next April as they move up to the Powrer 5 ranks as a newly minted member of the Big XII. In fact, BYU could have the conference’s top prospect for the upcoming draft as LT Kingsley Saumataia (#78, 6-5, 325), who is currently considered to be among the top 4-5 prospects at the position. Saumataia combines with massive RT Caleb Etienne (#76, 6-7, 330) and veteran C Paul Maille (#54, 6-2, 300), a couple of solid mid-round prospects, to give the Cougars one of the better offensive fronts in the country. That’s good news for much-travelled QB Kedon Slovis (#10, 6-3, 215), a later round prospect who landed at BYU for the upcoming season after stops at USC and Pittsburgh. In fact, BYU could very well be a strong contender for the conference title this fall with a veteran roster dotted with late round types including RB Aidan Robbins (#3, 6-2, 240), TE Isaac Rex (#83, 6-5, 255), LBs Ben Bywater (#2, 6-2, 235) and AJ Vongphanchanh (#10, 6-2, 235) and safety Malik Moore (#12, 6-0, 195). The Razorbacks don’t necessarily have a lot of prospects for the upcoming draft, but the ones they do have are pretty good including RB Raheim Sanders (#5, 6-2, 245), arguably the top candidate at the position at this point, while QB KJ Jefferson (#1, 6-3, 245), a rising dual-threat type, has the tools to also get some latter opening round looks next April. The Hogs also have an underrated edge rusher in DE Trajan Jeffcoat (#7, 6-4, 285) and a rising corner in Dwight McGlothern (#2, 6-1, 190), while C Beaux Limmer (#55, 6-4, 310) and Brady Latham (#62, 6-4, 315) anchor the offensive line.

TCU (1-1) at Houston (1-1); 8 PM ET; FOX … And speaking of newly arrived Big XII teams, Houston will help kick-off the conference schedule when they host TCU Saturday evening. And the player that pro scouts want to see in this one is the Cougars’ rangy LT Patrick Paul (#76, 6-6, 315), who like the other Cougar OT above, appears to be very much in the mix among the top 5 or so prospects at the position for 2024.