What to Watch Out for in College Football's Week 14
Rivalry weekend will bring college football fans plenty of entertainment this week as old foes renew acquaintances. There is plenty at stake with seven teams still in with a shout of a playoff berth. More importantly for draftniks, are the matchups that will define these games and help boost or lower a prospects stock.
Bama must win big to be in with a sniff
Alabama has to win the Iron Bowl on Saturday and they need to do it convincingly. A weak schedule, Tua’s injury and an unconvincing defense mean that they currently sit on the outside looking in. Mac Jones stepped in well against Western Carolina but the Tigers will present a much tougher challenge with their elite defense.
Despite that being the obvious battle to watch, the other side of things could decide the result. Alabama’s defense has lost several big names this year and shipping 46 points against LSU was a low point for an inexperienced group. Auburn’s Bo Nix has had his own ups-and-downs and if the Crimson Tide want to impress the CFB committee then keeping him in check is a must.
Edge rushers Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings will look to put Nix off his rhythm. Lewis has the most upside. Despite six sacks on the season it feels like he is just scratching the surface of his talent. Long and lean, he flies off the edge while Jennings offers more power from the other side. Auburn tackles Jack Driscoll and Prince Tega Wanagho will also be NFL players shortly so the matchup should be tasty. On the inside, Raekwon Davis has underwhelmed and has dropped off the round 1 radar, he will be looking to become relevant in the minds of scouts once more.
Could this be the year Harbaugh gets his upset?
Michigan’s early season form was cause for concern. It effectively put Jim Harbaugh on a fairly warm seat. The Ohio State game always looked like it could be the bloodbath to finish the head coach off. However, recent weeks have changed opinions of the Wolverines. They always had a talented defense but their offense finally appears to have clicked.
Shea Patterson has hit a groove and began to utilise the weapons he has around him. Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones have put together strong performances but face their stiffest task this season. We highlighted Jeffrey Okudah last week and along with Shaun Wade and Damon Arnette, it is a formidable secondary. After years of speculating about an upset, could this unfancied Wolverines team finally get the monkey off their back?
Pac-12 chances hanging by a thread
After an embarrassing loss for Oregon at the hands of Arizona State and their freshman QB Jayden Daniels the Ducks title hopes were ended. It puts the Pac-12 in a precarious position with Utah the last remaining hope. For the Utes to progress it would take both sides to overcome this weekend’s games unscathed and for the Utes to take down Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference Title game. Even then, it isn’t guaranteed.
The most intriguing matchups in both games are between a cornerback and receiver. Laviska Shenault reminded everyone about his ability last week with a sensational grab (see below) and he will face Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Pac-12 players suffer from being outside of primetime but Johnson will soon come into focus when scouts dig into the tape. Shenault poses numerous questions, great after the catch and physical. He will test Johnson and could be the creative force that causes an upset.
Another Oregon loss would be disastrous for the Utes. Justin Herbert continues to polarize opinions at QB. He has undoubted talent and arm strength but his shortcomings were on display last week. For Oregon State it will be wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins who should grab most of the attention. Having surpassed 1,000 receiving yards already this year, he offers a unique test for the Oregon secondary. Even Ducks Head Coach Mario Cristobal referred to Hodgins as ‘a complete receiver, very polished’. The 6’4, 209lb prospect could be the x-factor that buries Oregon and the Pac-12 as a whole’s chances.
LSU must avoid potential SEC banana skin
Texas A&M failed to put a dent in Georgia’s playoff hopes last week but get a second crack at shaking things up this week. Despite Georgia and Jake Fromm being unable to pull away from the Aggies, A&M failed to take advantage. Kellen Mond has plenty of help around him but hasn’t made things click in big spots.
Receivers Quartney Davis and Jhamon Ausbon will face LSU corners Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley. However, a key battle to watch will be LSU’s running game versus the Aggies defense. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a bowling ball type back with the ability to break things wide open. Opposite him will be junior linebacker Buddy Johnson, he leads A & M in tackles this year and will hope to block up the middle of the field. It’s unlikely that Joe Burrow and the Tigers can be curtailed but stranger things have happened.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.