Championship Week Prospect Battles

It’s hard to believe that the college football regular season is practically over and we are in the prime spot to find out who is going to make the playoff and who is out. Which leads us to this week with so much on the line each one of these games is so vital and a must see. But as always there is a game within the game. On such a big stage prospects are looking to make an impact and showcase their skills to a national audience in a high caliber game.

 

011514-fso-cbk-maclogo-vresize-1200-675-high-23(Friday 6:00 CST on ESPN2)
#17 Western Michigan Broncos vs Ohio Bobcats

Western Michigan Prospects
WR Corey Davis
RT Taylor Moton

On the surface this game looks one sided with the 17th rated Broncos taking on a Bobcats team that honestly has no draftable prospects. However, whenever you’re dealing with #MACtion, anything can happen. That being said the main reason to watch this game from an NFL Draft perspective is Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis. Davis is a top three receiver in this class and very well could go in the first round. He’s got size (6’3 205), soft hands, and deceptive speed that has allowed him to take over games. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Davis takes over this game and puts on a show.

 

 

pac-12-logo-2(Friday 8:00 CST on Fox)
#4 Washington Huskies vs # 8 Colorado Buffaloes

Washington Prospects
WR John Ross
DT Elijah Qualls
DT Vita Vea
CB Sidney Jones
CB Kevin King
S Budda Baker

Colorado Prospects
NT Josh Tupou
CB Chidobe Awuzie
FS Tedric Thompson

High stakes game here where the Huskies are barely holding onto a playoff spot while the Buffs are hoping that a win here can be enough to get them into the playoffs. Colorado’s offense will have trouble with the Husky defense that is loaded with NFL talent even without injured stars Joe Mathias and Azeem Victor. Look for the Washington secondary with their two stud corners and playmaking safety to shut down the Buffalo passing attack and make Colorado one dimensional.

When Washington has the ball they are going to look to run the ball behind stud sophomore Myles Gaskins. However, what has made this offense go is the deep ball to speedster John Ross and Colorado will need a team effort to take away that threat. Charged with doing that will fall on cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and free safety Tedric Thompson. Look for plenty of bracket coverage on Ross. Hopefully by taking away that threat it will allow the veteran Buffs defense lead by NT Josh Tupou to clog up running lanes and slow down Gaskins.

 

aac-logo(11:00 CST on ABC)
Navy Midshipmen vs Temple Owls

Temple Prospects
RB Jahad Thomas
LT Dion Dawkins
OLB Hassan Reddick

While Navy is one of the 25 best teams in the nation they rarely put out NFL Draft prospects because of the nature of the school. That’s why last year’s sixth round pick of Keenan Reynolds was such a big deal. This year Navy doesn’t have a prospect like him. While this game will be exciting, if you’re watching for 2017 prospects you’ll need to focus on the Temple Owls. While on offense they are a run heavy team behind running back Jahad Thomas who is an underrated back but should see his name called in Philadelphia. Blocking for him is LT Dion Dawkins who looks like a guard but does have the feet to play tackle and is a mauler in the run game.

Defensively it should be interesting to see how Hassan Reddick will do against the Navy triple option. Reddick is a do it all linebacker who utilizes speed and agility to beat tackles to create penetration and while dropping into coverage. Navy is great about using aggressiveness against players and it will be crucial for Reddick to trust his reads and not be out of control.


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(11:30 CST on Fox)
#10 Oklahoma State Cowboys at #9 Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma State Prospects
QB Mason Rudolph
WR James Washington
TE Blake Jarwin
LB Jordan Burton
CB Ashton Lampkin
S Jordan Sterns

Oklahoma Prospects
QB Baker Mayfield
RB Samaje Perine
RB Joe Mixon
WR DeDe Westbrook
NT Jordan Wade
ILB Jordan Evans
S Ahmad Thomas
S Stephen Parker

While the Big 12 doesn’t have an official title game it’s Bedlam that will decide who wins the conference and represent the Big 12 in the Sugar Bowl. While Bedlam is always a good game and there are plenty of upsets, this game does provide us a variety of prospects from the elite, to middle round players and then guys who are scrapping to hear their name called.

Both offenses are explosive and bring in a top flight deep threat. Both James Washington and DeDe Westbrook have been lighting up opposing secondary’s giving their respective quarterbacks a player who can simply outrun opponents to haul in big time touchdowns.

But what could provide the Sooners the advantage is their running game. A combination of Mayfield, Perine and Mixon is a lot to stop especially when all three of them are on the field at the same time. The Cowboys must win the battle at the line of scrimmage and let the athletic Jordan Burton the chance to run freely to make tackles.


sec_conference(3:00 CST on CBS)
Alabama Crimson Tide vs Florida Gators

Alabama Prospects
WR Ardarius Stewart
TE OJ Howard
LT Cam Robinson
DE Jonathan Allen
DE Dalvin Tomlinson
DE Da’Shawn Hand
OLB Tim Williams
OLB Ryan Anderson
ILB Ruben Foster
ILB Shaun Dion-Hamilton
CB Marlon Humphrey

Florida Prospects
DT Caleb Brantley
LB Jarrad Davis
CB Quincy Wilson
CB Jalen Tabor

This is a repeat of last year’s SEC Title game that was a defensive struggle for most of the game before Alabama finally broke through to get the win. While both teams bring in plenty of top level NFL Draft talent on defense, the Gators defense is young and thin on top level talent. The one advantage the Gators have is at cornerback with both Wilson and Tabor have the possibility to go in the early rounds. If they can slow down the big plays downfield that Alabama usually hits with either sophomore Calvin Ridley or junior Ardarius Stewart is a must. If they can shut down the Crimson Tide receivers it could allow the rest of the unit to focus on the run game. With that said, the Gators will need linebacker Jarrad Davis to be back from an ankle injury or otherwise they could be in for a long afternoon.

Let’s be frank, if Florida is going to pull the upset they are going to need some scores from unconventional spots like special teams, defense, or maybe a big play here or there from the offense because I’m not sold Florida can move the ball consistently on Alabama. Florida has no draftable prospects for the 2017 draft on offense and their real only weapon is sophomore Antonio Callaway. The Gators will look to get him the ball early and often but look for the Crimson Tide to throw multiple defensive backs at him often bracketing him. This should allow the pass rush of Allen, Williams, and Anderson to come full force and really rattle former Purdue cast of Austin Appleby all game long.

 

newaccbrand(7:00 CST on ABC)
#23 Virginia Tech Hokies vs #3 Clemson Tigers

Virginia Tech Prospects
WR Isaiah Ford
TE Bucky Hodges
DE Ken Ekanem
CB Brandon Facyson
FS Chuck Clark

Clemson Prospects
QB Dashaun Watson
RB Wayne Gallman
WR Mike Williams
WR Artavis Scott
TE Jordan Leggett
RG Tyrone Crowder
DT Carlos Watkins
LB Ben Boulware
CB Cordrea Tankerlsy

If Virginia Tech wants to pull the huge upset they’re going to need their defense to play at a high level to slow down the explosive Clemson attack. Lead by quarterback By getting receiver Mike Williams back this year the Tiger offense has been even more potent giving quarterback Dashaun Watson an elite NFL caliber receiver to throw the ball up and make plays. Looking to stop him will be cornerback Brandon Facyson who has the size (6’2) to go up in contested situations but the question will be if he has the quickness and the hips to stick with Williams in and out of breaks. While that matchup will get most of the attention let’s not forget about tight end Jordan Leggett who is Watson’s safety blanket and a weapon over the middle of the field. Legget is big and has a knack for finding open areas. He’ll see plenty of Chuck Clark who is looking to find his way in a crowded safety class.

On the other side of the ball is what could decide the game. Clemson has a stout defense once again, but it’s not same prospect loaded unit that we saw last year. Virginia Tech’s offense has really taken off since Justin Fuente took over utilizing a dual threat quarterback and two top flight receivers in Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges. Ford is the more elusive of the two uses quick feet and acceleration to create separation while Hodges is a slot tight end who runs well and knows how to box out defenders with his 6’7 frame. Clemson will try and slow the two of them with cornerback Cordrea Tanklersley who has the size to try and contend with Hodges while also the speed to run with Ford. However, Tankersly can’t cover both, but if he can lock down whoever is on his side it could allow the rest of the secondary to roll coverage towards the other and make Virginia Tech more one dimensional.

 

big_ten_conference_logo(7:00 CST on Fox)
Penn State Nittany Lions vs Wisconsin Badgers

Penn State Prospects
WR Chris Goodwin
LB Brandon Bell

Wisconsin Prospects
RB Corey Clement
TE Troy Fumagalli
LT Ryan Ramczyk
OLB Vince Beigel
OLB TJ Watt
S D’Cota Dixon

While it’s odd that the winner of the Big 10 likely isn’t one of the two best teams in the conference that doesn’t mean this game is trash. On the other hand, it’s going to be a nice back and forth game against two teams that are just outside the top four.

The match up to watch here is when the Penn State offense goes against the Wisconsin defense. Penn State has thrived since moving to a spread passing attack highlighting receiver Chris Goodwin and giving more room for sophomore Saquan Barkley to run. The Badger secondary will be spread out so it will be imperative for edge rushers TJ Watt and Vince Biegel to get quick early pressure to throw off the timing of sophomore quarterback Trace McSorely. However, those same edge players along with the backup linebackers (top two ILBs are out) to maintain their gap discipline so Barkley doesn’t break off long runs. The key might be Wisconsin’s tremendous ability to not miss tackles. I’ve never see a team so good.

Wisconsin’s defense is legit but their best defense in this game could be their offense control the ball and not giving Penn State’s offense too many touches. To do so they’ll have to grind out yards against a Penn State defense that is really thin on elite talent. Look for a steady dose of Corey Clement running behind left tackle Ryan Ramczyk who is the best tackle prospect in the 2017 class.

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