Each and every weekend, I’ll attempt to give you a little flavor of the college football weekend. What are the key matchups? Which draft prospects will I have my eye on and why? And, of course, I’ll have predictions for you every single week. I’ll split them up into Thursday night games and then Friday/Saturday games as the season rolls on. I aim to put together podcasts to go a little further with some key games and draft information, but I’m working at that technology as we speak. So, let’s GO!
Selected 2016 Draft Eligible Prospects to Watch - Saturday unless noted
Michigan State at Western Michigan (Friday)
Michigan State QB No. 18 Connor Cook (Sr., 6’4”, 220 lb.)
Western Michigan WR No. 84 Corey Davis (Jr., 6’3”, 205 lb.)
Baylor at SMU (Friday)
Baylor DT No. 75 Andrew Billings (Jr., 6’3”, 300 lb.)
Baylor WR Corey ‘CoCo’ Coleman (Jr., 5’11”, 190 lb.)
Washington at Boise State (Friday)
Washington RB No. 12 Dwayne Washington (Jr., 6’2”, 226 lb.)
Boise State DE/OLB No. 8 Kamalei Correa (Jr., 6’3”, 248 lb.)
ULM at Georgia
Georgia OLB/ILB No. 84 Leonard Floyd (Jr., 6’4”, 231 lb.)
Georgia G No. 73 Greg Pyke (Jr., 6’6”, 313 lb.)
Wisconsin v. Alabama (AT&T Stadium in Arlington)
Wisconsin OLB No. 47 Vince Biegel (Jr., 6’4”, 246 lb.)
Alabama’s entire DL - No. 86 A’Shawn Robinson, No. 95 Darren Lake, No. 90 Jarran Reed
Louisville v. Auburn (Georgia Dome in Atlanta)
Louisville ILB No. 55 Keith Kelsey (Jr., 6’1”, 236 lb.)
Auburn DE No. 55 Carl Lawson (Jr., 6’2”, 257 lb.)
Texas A&M v. Arizona State (NRG Stadium in Houston)
Texas A&M No. 11 WR Josh Reynolds (Jr., 6’4”, 195 lb.)
Arizona State G duo - No. 55 Christian Westerman & No. 73 Vi Teofilo
Draft Eligible Prospect Matchups to Watch
Texas S No. 21 Duke Thomas v. Notre Dame’s cadre of draft eligible receivers
Wisconsin OLB No. 47 Vince Biegel v. Alabama LT No. 74 Cam Robinson (a year early, sorry)
Texas A&M WR No. 11 Josh Reynolds v. Arizona State CB No. 8 Lloyd Carrington
ULL RB No. 15 Elijah McGuire v. Kentucky ILB No. 45 Josh Forrest
Non-Power Five players to Watch v. Power Five competition
Akron ILB/OLB No. 1 Jatavius Brown v. Oklahoma
Georgia Southern RB No. 36 Matt Breida v. West Virginia
ULL RB No. 15 Elijah McGuire v. Kentucky
Temple DE/DT No. 9 Matt Ioannidis v. Penn State
BYU QB No. 4 Taysom Hill v. Nebraska
Keys to the Game of the Weekend
**Arizona State v. Texas A&M (Houston)
When Arizona State has the ball...
Arizona State Offensive Players to Watch
RB/WR No. 8 D.J. Foster - one of the most dynamic players in the nation with the ball in his hands.
QB No. 2 Mike Bercovici - started three games last year, but is the unquestioned leader of this offense.
TE No. 81 Kody Kohl - could be featured in this offense more than in prior seasons.
G No. 73 Vi Teofilo & No. 55 Christian Westerman - perhaps the best guard duo in the country, west of Arkansas.
Texas A&M Defensive Players to Watch
DE No. 15 Myles Garrett - arguably, the best defensive player in the nation.
DE No. 10 Daeshon Hall - added 15 pounds in the off-season and could star opposite Garrett
S No. 23 Armani Watts - playmaker now in his second season as a starter.
CB No. 1 De’Vante Harris - lithe, but fast and has tons of experience.
Can Arizona State’s two tackles handle Garrett on the edge? They’re going to need some help and Bercovici must be under certain orders to get rid of the ball quickly. Good luck with that.
When Texas A&M has the ball...
Texas A&M Offensive Players to Watch
QB No. 10 - Kyle Allen - the former Arizona HS star faces his former home state school
WR No. 11 - Josh Reynolds - in my opinion, he’s one of the most underrated receivers in the country, minus the drops that plagued him to start last season.
C No. 56 Mike Matthews - gritty, tough and finally healthy - three year starter in the middle.
RT No. 74 Germain Ifedi - should be a top draft pick whenever his college career is over.
Arizona State Defensive Players to Watch
S No. 38 Jordan Simone - earned a starting position in 2014, captain honors in 2015.
CB No. 8 Lloyd Carrington - one of the top NFL prospects on this defense.
NT No. 94 Demetrius Cherry - odd dimensions for a nose tackle but can be disruptive up the field.
OLB No. 28 Laiu Moeakiola - 72 tackles, 5th on the team last season.
We know Arizona State head coach and defensive play caller Todd Graham loves to blitz and mix up his looks. He takes an aggressive stance on defense but, in so doing, he puts his secondary in peril on occasion. He doesn’t sit back and let the opposing quarterbacks get comfortable at any point. As such, Texas A&M QB Allen must get some time to throw. It might mean extra protection with backs and tight ends and only three in the route or more than likely, it’ll mean 3-step game and a variety of screens.
I’m not sure that I see the love that the nation is giving Arizona State. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Bercovici and Foster, but 2014’s two most dynamic defenders (Marcus Hardison & Damarious Randall) are in the NFL. Texas A&M is young and that could set them back at some point, but the young fellas are talented. Allen will pick apart the Arizona State secondary and the top four Aggie receivers should have big days.
Texas A&M - 41 vs. Arizona State - 34
Other BIG games to Watch
**Louisville v. Auburn (Atlanta)
When Louisville has the ball…
Cardinals’ OL must protect, protect, protect its QB, no matter who it is lining up under center. Auburn DE Carl Lawson has been nearly unblockable off the edge in training camp, so Louisville’s inexperienced OL is in for a long day against Lawson and company.
When Auburn has the ball…
Auburn QB Jeremy Johnson must take what Louisville gives him. It’s a fairly explosive defense with NFL talent as each and every level. In the passing game, he needs to attack the side opposite Georgia transfer Shaq Wiggins, who has experience playing Georgia.
Louisville Player to Watch
DT No. 98 Sheldon Rankins - he’s a stout, fire hydrant that’s hard as all get out to move. He’s active and good with his hands.
Auburn Player to Watch
RB No. 9 Roc Thomas - lightning quick in space but he faces an extremely tough Louisville interior run defense.
I just don’t see Louisville moving the ball on Auburn’s defense, now led by former Florida head coach Will Muschamp. Johnson will get time to throw and pick on a defense with a number of different faces in the secondary.
Auburn - 34 vs. Louisville - 20
**Wisconsin v. Alabama (Arlington)
When Wisconsin has the ball…
Can the Badgers get any movement up front against the Alabama defensive front? RB Corey Clement will only go as the Badgers’ front goes in this one and it may not go well.
When Alabama has the ball…
RB/WR No. 17 Kenyan Drake can be an X-factor on offense for the Crimson Tide last year. He was on the verge of breaking through last year before his season-ending injury v. Ole Miss. Watch for him to move out to the perimeter in the passing game and win v. Wisconsin linebackers.
Wisconsin Player to Watch
QB No. 2 Joel Stave - he doesn’t have weapons in the passing game, so he’s going to have to take some short, simple stuff and get it out of his hand quickly.
Alabama Player to Watch
WR No. 16 Richard Mullaney - the Oregon State transfer could be the possession type receiver that wins on third down for this Lane Kiffin-led ‘Bama offense.
Alabama doesn’t have to put up 31 in this one to win, but it will. I just don’t see Wisconsin moving the ball well at all in head coach Paul Chryst’s inaugural game as the Badgers leader.
Alabama - 31 vs. Wisconsin - 13
Predictions on all games Friday & Saturday - Home team in bold
(I’ll post a special Keys to the Game for Ohio State v. Virginia Tech on Sunday)
Friday September 4, 2015
Georgia State - 27 vs. Charlotte - 10
Michigan State - 34 vs. Western Michigan - 14
Baylor - 58 vs. SMU - 20
Syracuse - 23 vs. URI - 17
Army - 21 vs. Fordham - 16
Oregon State - 34 vs. Weber State - 20
Illinois - 26 vs. Kent State - 21
Boise State - 38 vs. Washington - 27
Saturday September 5, 2015
Georgia - 42 vs. ULM - 14
Ole Miss - 35 vs. UT-Martin - 3
Stanford - 29 vs. Northwestern - 14
Navy - 38 vs. Colgate - 10
Rutgers - 51 vs. Norfolk State - 14
Iowa - 24 vs. Illinois State - 23
Maryland - 27 vs. Richmond - 21
Kansas - 28 vs. South Dakota State - 17
Clemson - 54 vs. Wofford - 9
Pitt - 27 vs. Youngstown State - 17
Boston College - 31 vs. Maine - 16
Washington State - 35 vs. Portland State - 17
Arkansas - 41 vs. UTEP - 17
UCLA - 37 vs. Virginia - 14
Texas Tech - 42 vs. Sam Houston State - 28
Nebraska - 27 vs. BYU - 25
Eastern Michigan - 36 vs. Old Dominion - 31
Penn State - 27 vs. Temple - 16
Rice - 63 vs. Wagner - 10
Tulsa - 29 vs. FAU - 24
Air Force - 42 vs. Morgan State - 12
Buffalo - 38 vs. Albany - 13
Miami OH - 45 vs. Presbyterian - 7
Appalachian State - 49 vs. Howard - 6
Colorado State - 54 vs. Savannah State - 3
Wyoming - 30 vs. North Dakota - 9
Tennessee - 49 vs. Bowling Green - 23
Indiana - 37 vs. Southern Illinois - 16
Missouri - 45 vs. SEMO - 20
Cal - 63 vs. Grambling - 21
Miami, FL - 54 vs. Bethune Cookman - 14
NC State - 34 vs. Troy - 21
East Carolina - 41 vs. Towson - 23
South Alabama - 42 vs. Gardner Webb - 17
New Mexico - 51 vs. Mississippi Valley State - 13
USF - 31 vs. FAMU - 14
Memphis - 36 vs. Missouri State - 20
Cincinnati - 63 vs. Alabama A&M - 13
La. Tech - 42 vs. Southern - 17
MTSU - 38 vs. Jackson State - 17
Oklahoma - 35 vs. Akron - 17
Kentucky - 35 vs. ULL - 24
Kansas State - 48 vs. South Dakota - 16
Notre Dame - 31 vs. Texas - 20
West Virginia - 38 vs. Georgia Southern - 21
LSU - 34 vs. McNeese State - 14
Florida - 31 vs. New Mexico State - 3
Northern Illinois - 37 vs. UNLV - 23
San Diego State - 31 vs. San Diego - 24
Florida State - 41 vs. Texas State - 16
Oregon - 51 vs. Eastern Washington - 17
Iowa State - 29 vs. Northern Iowa - 27
Houston - 63 vs. Tennessee Tech - 17
Mississippi State - 41 vs. Southern Miss - 13
USC - 45 vs. Arkansas State - 10
Marshall - 34 vs. Purdue - 21