Five things to watch for in college football week 7

College football is in week seven and here are some things to watch:

1. Can Big 12 teams break the scoreboard?

College football week 7

Nick Shimonek (Photo by zimbio.com)

This weekend Texas Tech takes on West Virginia in Morgantown. Both teams score a lot of points and aren’t great at playing defense. While these teams likely won’t do too much in terms of the national landscape, this will be a fun game to watch with a lot of passing and points scored.

Texas Tech has Nic Shimonek at quarterback who has already thrown for over 1,800 yards and looks like the next good Red Raider to put up a lot of stats. He has helped Texas Tech score 46.8 points per game. Kliff Kingsbury likes to throw it all around the field, having Shimonek average 39 passes per game.

The Mountaineers average 43.9 points per game and have scored at least 24 points in every single game. Will Grier has brought life to the team and has a few talented receivers to throw to in David Sills and Ka’Raughn White. They will be slinging the ball around trying to keep up with the Red Raiders.

2. How does Michigan bounce back?

Michigan lost to Michigan State this week for their first loss of the season. Despite that being their only loss, the Wolverines haven’t looked all that good in other games this season. They certainly don’t look like contenders for the Big Ten.

This week the Wolverines are taking on Indiana on the road. The Hoosiers are 3-2 and look like a decent team that will make a bowl game. John O’Korn will be starting for Michigan again and has to help the offense limit turnovers. The Wolverine defense is good enough to keep them in the game, the offense just has to score a few times.

While they don’t look good, Michigan should be able to beat Indiana. This game’s final score will be low, but Michigan’s defense is full of playmakers.

3. Red River Rivalry

College Football week 7

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Oklahoma and Texas play in their annual game in Dallas and this year it looks like it could be a good one for a variety of different reasons.

The Sooners are coming off of a loss to Iowa State. They will be mad and now have no margin for error. Baker Mayfield has 15 touchdowns and no interceptions this season and will be looking for blood. His Heisman campaign took a hit last week, but he can get it back on track this week.

Texas is a team that played well in their only big matchup this season, the game at USC. Tom Herman has a weird way of getting his team hyped up for big games. They have some talented NFL level talent on their defense, including Malik Jefferson and Poona Ford. At the very least watching these players go up against the Sooner offense will be entertaining.

4. San Diego State get a home test

Boise State travels to San Diego State for a Mountain West clash. The Aztecs are favored by seven and it should be a very entertaining game.

The Broncos may have lost to Virginia, but they are still a very solid Mountain West team and program. They are 3-2 and look like they should be able to still compete in the Mountain West.

San Diego State has been on a tear this season. They are already 6-0 with key wins over Stanford and Arizona State. If they keep this up, there is no doubt they will be playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. They also have a Heisman contender in Rashaad Penny. He is a long shot to win the award, but is still worth watching every game he plays.

5. Battle of the SEC West Tigers

College football week 7

Kerryon Johnson (Photo by al.com)

The Tigers of the SEC West are facing off this weekend and both teams are in very different places right now. Last year these teams played the losing coach, Les Miles, got fired because of it. If Gus Malzahn would have lost the game, he would’ve been fired, but things have changed now.

Ed Orgeron has gotten a lot of criticism for losing to Troy, but rebounded nicely with the road win over Florida. He still has some heat coming his way, but a win in this game would do a lot to ease that. LSU’s offense still isn’t great, but they have a lot of talent on the team.

Auburn looks like they have a good football team, but they lost their only big game this season to Clemson. Traveling to Death Valley is never easy though. The offense has the running game going behind a healthy Kerryon Johnson. The defense has been a dominant unit this season and has Auburn looking like the second best team in the SEC West.

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Five things to watch for in college football week 5

Last week the Alabama offense proved their dominance, Georgia’s defense shut down Nick Fitzgerald and Oklahoma State and TCU put on a show. This week there is more good football to be watched and here are things to focus in on:

1. Quarterback prospects dueling

Five things to watch in college football week 5

Sam Darnold (Photo by Tritontimes.com)

There is a big Pac-12 matchup between Washington State and USC this Friday. While this is a big game for the Pac-12 standings, it will also be a great showcase for some of the more highly-touted quarterback prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sam Darnold has struggled so far this season and has thrown seven interceptions in just four games. He has the arm talent to make just about any throw required of him, but needs to demonstrate better decision-making. With Washington State not being particularly known for its defense, Darnold needs to protect the football. If he does so, the Trojans can pick up a big win on the road.

Washington State actually benched Luke Falk against Boise State, but that has seemingly lit a fire under him. Falk has been efficient with 77% completion 1,378 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and only one interception. While his team doesn’t have as much talent as USC, if Falk plays out of his mind, the Cougars have a chance to win and move up in the rankings.

2. Josh Jackson vs. Clemson’s defensive line

Five things to watch in college football week 5

Photo by sbnation.com

On Saturday, the big game will be Clemson visiting Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. This could end up being a preview of the ACC Championship Game. Both teams have extreme talent all over the field, but the key to the game will be how Josh Jackson handles Clemson’s defensive line.

One of the biggest stories of the young season is how well the Tigers’ defensive line has played. They have come up big time in every game that Clemson has played, but really helped them stave off Auburn, recording 11 sacks. Their pass rush will put fear into just about any quarterback on the college level, which is why they have made multiple appearances on these lists.

Virginia Tech needed to find a quarterback at the start of the season and now they have found their guy. Josh Jackson has thrown for 1,127 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception. He adds the threat of mobility to go with his arm. Clemson’s defensive line will pressure him often, so it is a key for him to not panic under pressure and make the right decisions.

3. SEC WEst Battle

Five things to watch for in college football week 5

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

While the SEC West looks like it will be dominated by Alabama, it is still early. One of the key games in the conference is coming this weekend. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are traveling to take on Auburn in a game of teams that are still finding their way.

Auburn lost a close game to Clemson, for their only loss on the season, but they have struggled to get their offense going. Jarrett Stidham has not lived up to the preseason hype yet as they are tied for 65th in the FBS in points scored. They rank 80th in passing yards and are tied for 45th in rushing yards. Their defense is good, but if they want to win this game and compete with Alabama, Stidham and the offense need to improve.

Mississippi State was playing well, but lost to Georgia 31-3 last week. They were able to stay in the rankings at 24, but have a lot of things left to prove. Nick Fitzgerald and the offense were completely shut down and are now playing another good defense in Auburn. If Fitzgerald can find his mojo again, the Bulldogs can win the game.

4. The Rashaad Penny Show

Five things to watch in college football week 5

Rashad Penny (Photo by zimbio.com)

While he isn’t a household name yet, Rashaad Penny is dominating so far this season. He has 716 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in just four games. While he plays at San Diego State, two of his four games so far have come against Pac-12 teams. He has worked his way into some Heisman talks and has SDSU on its way to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

This week Penny and the Aztecs take on Northern Illinois. The Huskies were able to beat Nebraska on the road and are another decent challenge for SDSU. If Penny can keep on producing like he has, and he’s on pace for over 2,000 yards in just the regular season, he will be in New York for the Heisman Ceremony.

5. How successful can Wisconsin be?

Five things to watch college football week 5

Alex Hornibrook (Photo by madison.com)

Wisconsin has one of the easiest schedules in the Big Ten. The Big Ten West is weak and they only play Michigan from the Big Ten East. This game against Northwestern will be one of the toughest games they play all season. Some of the luster was taken out of this matchup because Northwestern lost to Duke, but Duke is still undefeated.

The Badgers have a lot left to show the world of college football. They haven’t played a decent team yet. Alex Hornibrook has to prove he is a good quarterback, Jonathan Taylor needs to prove he is the next great Wisconsin running back and the defense needs to play a good offense. There will still be some uncertainty about this team after this game, but this is their first test. It’s best to pay attention to them now, because they will likely be in the Big Ten Championship game.

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Five things to watch in week two of college football

We finally have a full week of college football in the books and are ready for week two, which features some big games. Four top 25 matchups will really show everyone who is pretend and who is for real. It is one of many separation Saturdays this fall. Here are five things to watch from the big weekend:

1. Stanford’s rushing attack vs. USC’s defense

Five things to watch in week two of college football

Bryce Love (Photo by zimbio.com)

This game will say a lot about both teams, but will highlight their differences. Sam Darnold will get a lot of attention after not playing his best against Western Michigan in the opener. The thing that may decide this game though is the physicality of Stanford and their ability to run the football.

Bryce Love is averaging a whopping 13.8 yards per carry after his first game against Rice. He looks ready to carry the load for the Cardinal offense and be the next star of the backfield. Love will be running against an experienced offensive line that helped gain Christian McCaffrey fame.

So why does this particular matchup mean so much? USC could not stop Western Michigan on the ground in their season opener. The Broncos rushed for 263 yards against the Trojans and are a shell of the rushing attack Stanford has. The Trojans lost the majority of their defensive front from last season and will need to slow Love and Stanford down in order to win the game.

If USC can stop the run they will win, but if they can’t they will have to win a shootout.

2. Baker Mayfield vs. Ohio State’s secondary

Five things to watch for in week two of college football

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

Ohio State playing Oklahoma is drawing a lot of interest this week, because both teams are College Football Playoff contenders. Lincoln Reilly will also be tested in his first big game as head coach of the Sooners. His offense, which is led by Baker Mayfield will be going up against an Ohio State unit that struggled in their opener.

The Buckeyes lost three of four starters in the secondary to the NFL and it showed in their season opening win against Indiana. Ohio State allowed over 400 yards passing to the Hoosiers. Indiana is a good offensive team, but the Buckeyes need to improve if they have National Championship hopes.

Mayfield has two straight appearances as a Heisman Finalist, but has not won. He wants to avenge a loss to the Buckeyes from last year in Norman. He has over 10,000 career passing yards with a completion percentage of 95% in his first game this season. His efficiency is going to be key against Ohio State.

The secondary of Ohio State won’t be able to completely shut down Mayfield, or even play as well as last year, but need to get key stops in order to win.

3. Jake Fromm vs. Notre Dame’s defense

five things to watch for in week two of college football

Jake Fromm (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

The Fighting Irish will host Georgia for the first time in history. In a game involving teams with so much history, anything can happen. Both teams looked good in week one, but Georgia’s starting quarterback Jacob Eason got injured and had to be replaced by Jake Fromm. Now Fromm is getting thrown into a very tough road game at Notre Dame Stadium.

Fromm went 10 of 15 for 143 yards and a touchdown after relieving Eason in the Bulldogs opening game. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the running game will have to take some pressure off Fromm, but he will need to make some key throws. Fromm is no slouch and is a former four star recruit by most websites and has the capability, he just needs to show composure.

Notre Dame’s defense was anemic last season. They allowed over 27 points per game and only return four starters. They looked much better against Temple in their first game, but Temple is a program that is likely rebuilding after the loss of head coach Matt Ruhle to Baylor.

With a bad defense and an inexperienced quarterback, something is going to give on Saturday night in South Bend.

4. Quarterback play in the battle of the Tigers

Five Things to watch in college football week two

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by reddit.com)

Both Clemson and Auburn had good defenses last season and should continue to have good ones this season. Where they need players to step up is at the quarterback position. This game will likely be decided by which quarterback plays better between the two teams.

Kelly Bryant got sporadic playing time throughout his first two years at Clemson, but now is the lead man. Against Kent State last week he threw for 236 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. He added 77 yards rushing on seven carries as well. His challenge will be tough, as Auburn had the seventh best scoring defense in the country last year.

Leading Auburn’s offense will be Jarrett Stidham, the Baylor transfer. Stidham played a little bit for Baylor two years ago, before deciding to transfer. He looked a little sloppy in his first game for Auburn, but has experience and production in his past. If he is efficient, Auburn has a chance to upset Clemson.

5. Boise State at 20 Washington State

Five things to watch in week two of college football

Luke Falk (Photo by usatoday.com)

One game that is not getting a lot of recognition features the Broncos and Cougars. Last season the two teams played and Boise State came out on top. This season, Washington State is looking for revenge and possibly to compete in the Pac-12 North.

Boise State may not be the same program that they were ten years ago, but they are still a very solid program. They won 10 games last year and have their quarterback Brett Rypien back for another season. The Broncos outlasted a good Troy team in week one and look like they will be solid again.

Mike Leach and the Cougars dodged their yearly loss to an FCS team in week one by beating Montana State. Luke Falk has already racked up 311 passing yards and thee touchdowns this season and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. His ability to chuck the ball all over the field will give Washington State a chance to be a very successful team.

This game should be a close one, especially since Boise State loves the role of the underdog.

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Most impactful transfers by position in college football 2017

The position that has the most transfers seemingly is quarterback. This leads a lot of lists of best transfers to focus on the quarterback position. While this list will cover the quarterback position, all offensive and defensive positions will also be covered. Here are the best transfers at each position:

QB: Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Stidham has just been named the starting quarterback at Auburn for the 2017 season. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he got significant playing time at Baylor two seasons ago. He then went to junior college before deciding to attend Auburn,

At Baylor Stidham threw for 1,265 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in just ten games. He still has a lot to prove, but has some proven results. In his three games as a starter for the Bears he won two games, against Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and lost one, to Oklahoma.

Gus Malzahn has been looking for a quarterback ever since Nick Marshall graduated and Stidham may be the answer. Stidham will have a lot of talent around him and will be expected to lead the team to a good season in the difficult SEC West. The offense is built on running the ball, but he needs to complete passes in order to keep defenses honest.

RB: Chris James, Wisconsin

After spending some time in Pittsburgh, James has decided to follow in Paul Chryst’s footsteps and go to Wisconsin. He sat out last season and is ready to take on some of the heavy workload for Badger running backs.

In his two seasons as a Panther, James rushed for 690 yards on 4.8 yards per carry in limited action. He was stuck behind James Connor, one of Pitt’s best running backs of all time, for the majority of his time in Pittsburgh and never really had a chance to see too much action.

With an opening at running back this season, James will battle Bradrick Shaw for the starting job, but at Wisconsin a lot of running backs are fed the ball consistently. He will get touches and make some big plays for Wisconsin in the 2017 season.

WR: Jeff Badet, Oklahoma

Best college football transfers 2017

Jeff Badet (photo by nkytribune.com)

Badet was in a run heavy offense last season at Kentucky, but still had 670 yards and four touchdowns. His talent is unquestioned while his lack of production is explained by the system he was in and the quarterback play he had. He decided to leave Kentucky for a more pass-happy team in Oklahoma and did not have to sit out a year because he graduated.

He played three seasons for the Wildcats and has 1,385 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Badet did the most with his opportunities in Lexington and used his time as a Wildcat to get a degree and to move up to a bigger college football program.

Baker Mayfield has to be happy that Badet is on the team. A lot of his offensive weapons are now in the NFL. Tight end Mark Andrews and Badet will most likely be Mayfield’s main targets this season. If Mayfield puts up numbers like he has the past two seasons, Badet will be a huge beneficiary.

OL: Aaron Cochran, Oklahoma State

Cal is having a tumultuous offseason, but Cochran leaving for Oklahoma State is not usually brought up as a reason why. He was also considering Auburn and Texas Tech, but the former Bear decided that being a Cowboy was the best thing for him.

Cochran started 16 games at Cal and provides some good experience. At 6’8″ 350 pounds Cochran is a mammoth of a lineman.He will now leave Pac-12 play to go to the Big 12.

The reason why Cochran’s transfer will be so impactful is that he will be protecting Mason Rudolph and clearing holes for Justice Hill. If he does so effectively the Cowboys could find themselves in the running in the College Football Playoff come the end of the season.

DL: Scott Pagano, Oregon

Pagano got a National Championship with the Clemson Tigers last season and got a degree. What a year for Pagano. He goes from being a rotational guy for the Tigers to a guy who will have to produce more for the Ducks. He saw the writing on the wall in terms of playing time at Clemson and decided to transfer out to finish his last year of eligibility.

In his limited playing time Pagano recorded 20 tackles, two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss for the champs. Those stats don’t seem like much, but Pagano was sitting behind a bunch of great defensive line athletes at Clemson that will be good at the next level.

Oregon desperately needed a guy like Pagano, who has experience playing on a great team. The defense has to improve over last year where they ranked 126th in scoring, 121st against the rush and 113rd against the pass. His main objective will be to help the Ducks limit opponents’ rushing yards.

LB: Dakota Allen, Texas Tech

College football top transfers 2017

Dakota Allen (Photo by scout.com)

Does Dakota Allen really count as a transfer? Technically yes. He was at Texas Tech, got kicked out and then went to East Mississippi Community College to play JUCO football for a year. After his season at the JUCO level he was granted a waiver to return to Lubbock.

As a freshman at Texas Tech he demonstrated great potential with 87 total tackles, six tackles for loss and two interceptions. Things looked bright for his career before he was convicted of burglary. He had an impressive season at EMCC and was featured on “Last Chance U”, where he showed the world how much he had changed.

Texas Tech needs all the talent they can get on their defense and they might need to improve to save coach Kliff Kingsbury’s job. They ranked 128th in scoring and gave up a whopping 43.5 points per game. That is an embarrassing number of points allowed, even if they do put up a lot of points themselves. Allen has already become a leader on the team and could be the key to improving the defense.

DB: T.J. Jallow, Purdue

Jallow is yet another player coming from “Last Chance U” at EMCC. Purdue got a great player that will start from day one. The Boilermakers were able to beat out the likes of Louisville and Kansas for Jallow’s services.

He spent two seasons at EMCC, but really proved himself this past season. Jallow recorded 43 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two fumbles recovered and seven pass break ups. He plays a physical style from his safety position, that should rub off on the rest of the team.

Purdue was solid against the pass last season, but has a spot open for Jallow to start at safety. If the pass defense can stay at a similar level and the run defense can improve, Purdue will be a much better team. If it all goes their way, they could go bowling for the first time since 2012 in Jeff Brohm’s first year as head coach. It may not be likely, but is possible.

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College football preseason 2017 top 25: 15-11

We are down to only a couple weeks before college football starts again. For teams in the top 15 their goal is to make it to the College Football Playoff. This installment features teams that want to get back to their winning ways and have not made it to the College Football Playoff since its inception.

For the last installment of the top 25, click here.

15. Florida Gators

College football top 25

Martez Ivey (photo by gridironnow.com)

Jim McElwain is entering year three as the head man in Gainesville and would rather focus on football than the viral picture of his doppelganger naked with a shark. Last season Florida went 9-4 with losses on the road and in the SEC Championship Game with Alabama. They capped off the season with a win in the Outback Bowl against Iowa. The Gators have 13 returning starters and will be looking to make yet another SEC Championship Game.

The offensive line is the strength of the offense and returns four starters, including the very talented left tackle Martez Ivey. Unfortunately the offense has lacked the playmakers in the past and will need players to step up this season. Jordan Scarlett is the leading returning rusher and averaged 5 yards per carry, but the team ranked 113th in rushing yards last season.

Feliepe Franks will likely take over at quarterback after a solid spring. The redshirt freshman is big and has a strong arm, but still has a lot to prove. The best receiver on the team is Antonio Callaway, who is capable of doing great things, but has some off the field issues going on right now. If he is on the field he is a difference maker and one of the few the Gators have.

Defensively, Florida loses a lot, but they are stocked with talent. The defensive backfield does have depth issues, but their starters are solid. Corner Duke Dawson will be relied upon to have a great season and safeties Marcell Harris and Nick Washington will as well.

There is a lot of inexperience at linebacker, but David Reese was a Freshman All-American playing in place of the injured Jarrad Davis last season. The front four features one returning starter, but a lot of the players have gotten a significant amount of playing time in years past. Cece Jefferson has to step up and get after the quarterback, while Jabari Zuniga needs to add to his sack total of five in 2016. The defense will take a small step back and need the offense to get a little better.

Florida starts their season with a game against Michigan before taking on Northern Colorado, UAB and Florida State in the rest of the non-conference. Challenges in conference will be games against Tennessee, LSU and Georgia. The Gators will bottom out at 7-5, but will likely end up at 8-4 with their challenging schedule.

14. Louisville Cardinals

College football top 25

Lamar Jackson (Photo by sportingnews.com)

Louisville got off to a hot start before losing their last three games to finish 9-4. They lost to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Bobby Petrino will have his team in the thick of the ACC Atlantic race this season. They have 11 returning starters, but a lot of them provide a lot of value.

The Heisman Trophy winner from last season, Lamar Jackson, returns to lead the offense. He is a very good runner, but needs to prove he can pass better. Even so, he led the Cardinals to the sixth best scoring offense in the country. Jackson led the team in rushing, but will have help this season from Jeremy Smith, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2016.

Former quarterback Reggie Bonnafon and wide receivers Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick will need to make plays in the passing game for Louisville. Fitzpatrick and Smith have tremendous talent and will get a chance to make a huge impact this year. Geron Christian and Lukayus McNeil are the only returning starters on the offensive line, that will be expected to protect Lamar Jackson.

Seven starters return on defense, including three of four starters in the secondary. Corner Jaire Alexander had the most interceptions last year out of the returnees with five and will be asked to cover well similarly in 2017. James Hearns returns at linebacker after recording 8 sacks in 2016. Drew Bailey has experience at defensive end and recorded two sacks last season in the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme.

There are only a few tough games for the Cardinals. They have a game at home against Clemson, on the road at Florida State and a rivalry game at Kentucky to end the season, a team they lost to last season. Due to their easy schedule and the brilliance of Jackson, Louisville will at least finish 9-3, but likely finish 10-2 with a shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

13. LSU Tigers

College football top 25

Derrius Guice (photo by theadvocate.com)

Ed Orgeron is now the main man for the Tigers and helped lead them to an 8-4 finish last season. They lost only twice after he took over, to Alabama and Florida. He now gets 12 returning starters to help him out in his first year.

The problem for LSU over the years has been the offense and quarterback play. Danny Etling played better as last season went on and will need to be a steady hand in Matt Canada’s offense. Helping him in the backfield is the leading rusher in the SEC from last season Derrius Guice. With Leonard Fournette injured he amassed 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

A lot of talent left the receiving core this offseason, but D.J. Chark has the chance to blossom if the quarterback play is decent. The offensive line took a hit when Maea Teuema was granted his realease from the program. They still return two starters, including center Will Clapp.

LSU returns one of the best players in the country in Arden Key. The pass rushing star finished last season with 12 sacks. Christian LaCouture will need to transition to a 3-4 defensive end, but will likely do well. At linebacker the team will be as thin as they have been in years and will need players to step up.

The Tiger secondary has been a strength of the team fro years and this year should be no different. Kevin Tolliver and Donte Jackson are both good corners and John Battle also returns at safety. They helped LSU finish fifth as a scoring defense in the country and should help them be very good once again.

There are a number of difficult games in the LSU schedule in 2017. They have tough games against: BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee. If the defense plays up to par, LSU should be able to finish 9-3 in a very difficult SEC West.

12. Wisconsin badgers

college football top 25

Jack Cichy (photo by uwbadgers.com)

The Badgers had a tough schedule and did well in 2016, only losing to the top teams in the Big Ten East and winning the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan. Paul Chryst has only lost six games in his first two seasons as head coach and will be able to keep the losses minimal this year. There are 15 returning starters that will make this team successful in 2017.

Alex Hornibrook shared quarterback duties with Bart Houston last season, but now brings some experience in his sophomore season. His numbers will need to improve, but he showed flashes of being a good college quarterback. The running back duties will be split between Pittsburgh transfer Chris James and sophomore Bradrick Shaw. Both of them haven’t proven much in their young careers, but have potential.

The wide receiving core is anchored by Jazz Peavy and one of the best tight ends in the country Troy Fumagalli. Fumagalli will be an early draft pick and really exploded in the Badgers’ win over Western Michigan with some great catches. The offensive line will be a strength of the team, as they return a lot of experience with four starters.

Wisconsin had the fourth best scoring defense in the country last season and return six starters. Their rush defense will be good once again with Chikwe Obasih and Conor Sheehy returning on the defensive line. Jack Cichy was lost for the season with a torn ACL, but the other linebackers returning are talented. T.J. Edwards had 89 tackles last year, which is the most out of anyone on the team coming back for this year.

The secondary didn’t perform as well as the front seven, but that was hard to do. They were still good enough to rank 30th against the pass last season. D’Cota Dixon and Derrick Tindal bring back a ton of experience. Dixon recorded four interceptions for the Badgers last season and will need to help them get turnovers again this year. In 2016 they had a turnover margin of +16.

The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. They only play one of the three Big Ten East powers in Michigan and their next toughest games are against Northwestern, BYU and Iowa. There is a possibility they run the table, but they will likely end the season with a loss or two before heading to the Big Ten Championship Game.

11. Auburn Tigers

college football top 25

Jarrett Stidham (photo by oanow.com)

New life has been found for the Auburn Tigers after finishing last season 8-5. They lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, but return 16 starters from that team. Gus Malzahn was on the hot seat, but made it through the season and now has a chance to make some noise with this year’s squad.

Jarrett Stidham will likely be taking the vast majority of the snaps at quarterback for the Tigers after finding some success at Baylor. He will be asked to have a high completion percentage like he did when he was in Waco. Auburn found a running back last year in Kamryn Pettway. Pettway is a bruising running back that showed his power with 1,224 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016.

The offensive line returns three starters and should help make the rushing attack dynamic like they were last year when they ranked sixth in the country. While they don’t have a good go-to-guy at receiver, they have a lot of young talent that is capable of stepping up with Stidham at quarterback this season.

The defense ranked seventh in the country in scoring last year and returns eight starters. Carlton Davis leads the secondary from his corner position. Behind him are two senior safeties in Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts that have a lot of experience and will make for a good unit.

Rushing the passer has to be an emphasis this season, as their returning leader is Andrew Williams who had three. There are plenty of good pass rushers on the team who will need to step up, including former highly-touted prospect Byron Cowart. The linebackers have experience as well as speed to make them a great unit.

The schedule is pretty difficult to manage, but that hasn’t hampered the high expectations for this team. They have tough matchups with Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama, along with some other tricky games along the way. Auburn has enough talent to win 10 games, but may fall to 8-4 with the very tough schedule they face.

Featured image by nola.com

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Quarterbacks

It is still a long ways away from the start of college football and even further away from the 2018 NFL Draft. There are however, some great quarterbacks that are worth watching in the 2017 season, who can be good NFL players. These players have a chance to showcase their talents this upcoming football season and could be selected early in the NFL Draft process.

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Allen has created a lot of buzz, despite playing for Wyoming. He has the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Scouts have said that he may have been the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, had he elected to come out. He only completed 56% of his passes last year, but flashed his potential in his lone year as the starting quarterback.

Josh Allen (Photo by: trib.com)

He will have to improve his accuracy this season especially because he doesn’t play the best competition week in and week out. One of the most underrated parts of his game is his speed as he has been clocked at a 4.61 40 yard dash. Allen has the size, speed and arm strength to draw scouts’ eyes, but needs to start getting better results.

This season Allen will have a few chances to prove himself against good competition. The Cowboys start the season at Iowa and also play Oregon and Boise State. If Allen can improve his efficiency and pull of some big wins for Wyoming, he will likely go early in round one.

Sam Darnold, USC

At the start of last season, Darnold was a backup. He didn’t have to wait too long to get his shot as a redshirt freshman and led USC to nine straight victories to end the season, including a Rose Bowl win over Penn State. The best thing about Darnold is his accuracy, as he completed 67.2% of his passes. His arm strength is good too and he can make a lot of NFL level throws. He also helped lead the Trojans to big wins during the regular season, the most notable coming over Washington.

Darnold does need to work on his mechanics because he has a windup in his throwing motion. He also threw nine interceptions and didn’t start a full season, so he needs to keep that number down. The main thing for Darnold is to have a strong second season and avoid a sophomore slump.

He will be on national television a lot this year with USC playing Notre Dame and Texas out of conference and have some tough games in conference as well.

Luke Falk, Washington State

Falk will have to prove that he is more than a system quarterback, but he is already on a lot of NFL radars. He completed 70% of his passes last season, while also leading the cougars to eight straight wins in the middle of the season. One thing that Falk won’t be short on for NFL scouts is reps. He has over 1,520 passing attempts in his career already.

With being in a system, the most important thing for Falk is to prove that he can complete passes down the field that will be expected of him in the NFL. The problem is that he loses his two top receivers in Gabe Marks and River Cracraft.

The Cougars have games against Boise State, USC, Stanford and Washington to get one final year of good tape for NFL scouts.

Deondre Francois, Florida State

Not everyone is as high on Francois, but he has a chance to have a breakout sophomore season. Last year, he was one of the toughest quarterbacks in college football, as he was continually hit. He still managed to complete 59% of his passes. That isn’t great, but when you consider how much he was under pressure and the fact that he was in his first year starting, it is way better than expected. He also only threw seven interceptions showing his ability to protect the football through the air.

Deondre Francois (Photo by: scout.com)

While they did lose to Louisville, North Carolina and Clemson, Francois stayed poised and helped lead the Seminoles to two big wins over Florida and Michigan to end the season. He didn’t have great games against these teams, but getting the win is worth something. He adds the ability to run, which is a nice asset he will have to use if his offensive line doesn’t improve.

Francois has the chance to show his stuff early this season, when the Seminoles play Alabama in week one. With Florida, Clemson and Louisville all still on the schedule, Francois will have every opportunity to improve his stock.

Josh Rosen, UCLA

After a great freshman season, Rosen only played in six games as a sophomore due to a shoulder injury. He has a nerve issue in his shoulder, which is cause for concern, but if he can play well this season and be cleared by doctors, he can be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The most important thing for Rosen is to show he has shaken off the rust and effects from the injury. He also needs to improve his efficiency. Rosen has all the talent you want in a quarterback prospect, but does have things to give NFL scouts to think about with injuries and quirkiness off of the field.

His biggest games of the season are against Texas A&M, Stanford, Washington and USC.

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He had a great season last year and only threw four interceptions while attempting 448 passes. These stats are good and they are even more impressive because he threw for over 4,000 yards. Yes, these stats are mostly against Big 12 defenses, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: scout.com)

With so many great quarterbacks in this class, Rudolph gets overlooked, but he has the potential to be the number one pick. He needs to put up similar stats to last season to reach that goal and it is definitely possible.

Pitt will be their big matchup in the nonconference schedule and they will have a light Big 12 schedule to go through with one big game against Oklahoma. Rudolph will have a chance to put up some big stats this season.

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Stidham had an impressive season at Baylor when he filled in for Seth Russell, but decided to transfer to Auburn. In his one season of playing so far he has 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He completed 69% of his passes in his limited action at Baylor.

He is going from Baylor to a much tougher SEC. A lot is unknown about Stidham and he really has to get more reps for NFL evaluators to rate him, but he can put up some big numbers under Gus Malzahn.

There will be plenty of chances for Stidham to prove himself this season with games against Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama.

 

Check back at the end of the season to see where these quarterbacks are in the 2018 NFL Draft positional rankings.

 

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Dark Horse Candidates for the 2017 Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy is an award that has a lot of favorites every year, but usually the winner of the award is someone that is unexpected. Last year Lamar Jackson won the Heisman with 50/1 odds. For the 2017 season there a lot of players who can win the award that don’t have any listed odds (Baker Mayfield not listed for off the field issues). This year the race is wide open and these are the guys to look at that are under the radar:

 

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Stidham has experience playing at Baylor two seasons ago. He filled in for the injured Seth Russell and played 10 games. In those 10 games Stidham completed 68.8% of his passes for 1,256 passing yards. He had 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. With Russell coming back and a lot of allegations going around the Baylor program, Stidham decided to transfer to Auburn.

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by: Gridironnow.com)

The past few seasons Auburn has had a talented team, but has been missing a quarterback. Enter Stidham. In Auburn’s offense, he has a chance to have a real impact. The running game, led by Kamryn Pettway, should open up the passing game for Stidham. Pettway rushed for 1,220 yards at 5.9 yards per carry last season. If teams try to stack the box, Stidham will hit the open receivers as a result.

Part of winning the Heisman is being on a good team. Auburn has a chance to compete for the SEC West and if they win some of their big games, can get Stidham in the Heisman talk.

Jacob Eason, QB, Georgia

Eason flashed his potential during his freshman season and now has room to improve on that. He threw for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, which will need to be increased.

Nick Chubb is listed highly on Heisman lists, but Eason could be the one getting all the attention if Georgia wins some big games. Chubb and the running game will help set up Eason. Eason will stretch the field with his great arm strength and make plays.

The Bulldogs had a bit of a down year by their standards, but in a weak SEC East, Georgia can pick up some easy wins. They do have big games for Eason to make his mark, including: Notre Dame, Auburn and Florida.

Brandon Wimbush/Josh Adams, Notre Dame

One of two players from Notre Dame could win the Heisman in 2017, depending on how the offense will run. Wimbush is the new quarterback, who was a good recruit, but struggled in the spring game. Adams has been sharing time in the Notre Dame backfield for two years and now will get his chance to shine. He has accounted for 2,006 total yards in two seasons and will have the rushing stats to pair with some decent receiving stats this year.

The key to both of these players winning the Heisman is an experienced and good offensive line. With Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson electing to return to school, despite being projected to get drafted highly, will make Notre Dame great in the trenches. Put them with a bunch of good recruits and the Fighting Irish will have a physical offensive line.

Notre Dame players will surely get the benefit of the doubt when entering the Heisman discussion, but there are some big games where these playmakers can make their mark. The Fighting Irish play USC, Stanford, Georgia, Miami and North Carolina, all games that should garner a lot of attention.

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Freeman was limited by injuries last season, but still almost ran for 1,000 yards. He is an accomplished college running back with 4,148 rushing yards in his career. Had he not gotten injured he would have been in range to be the NCAA all time leading rusher.

Royce Freeman Heisman

Royce Freeman (Photo by: fishduck.com)

With a new coaching staff and a young quarterback, Freeman will have to carry the offense for Oregon to do well. If he is healthy he should expect a heavy work load. If he plays like he did in 2015, when he rushed for 1,838 yards on 6.5 yards per carry, he will likely be a Heisman Finalist.

Oregon has the chance to have a successful season, with an easier schedule, but they still leave a few games for Freeman to make his mark. Their biggest out of conference games are Nebraska and Wyoming, which are OK, but not a marquee games. The games against Washington and Stanford will be huge for Freeman’s Heisman campaign.

Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State

J.T. Barrett will likely get all the publicity if Ohio State is winning, but Weber has a solid freshman season to build off of. If Barrett throws too many interceptions or has some bad performances in wins, the public favor will be shown to Weber. Weber averaged 6.0 yards per carry and ran for over 1,000 yards in his freshman season.

Ohio State will likely want to have Weber carry the ball more to prevent Barrett from carrying it too many times and getting injured. The problem is that running with Barrett works. Weber will have to raise his production to make this happen and find the end zone often.

The Buckeyes are favorites to end up in the College Football Playoff once again, but they do have some tests that should give Weber a chance to see the national spotlight. Ohio State plays Oklahoma, Penn State and Michigan. If he can have big games in those match ups, Weber can find himself in the Heisman talks.

Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington

Gaskin is another running back that might be overshadowed by his quarterback, but with a good season can also find himself in contention for the Heisman. He has two straight seasons of 1,300 rushing yards and will just need to improve his production a little bit to be in consideration.

Myles Gaskin Heisman

Myles Gaskin (Photo by: zimbio.com)

The Huskies’ lost their deep threat in John Ross, which may change the offense for this season. Gaskin will be required to do more because Washington won’t have so many drives ending in big plays by John Ross for touchdowns. Gaskin will be asked to score more than 10 touchdowns on the ground, improving his Heisman chances.

Washington’s schedule is ridiculously easy, meaning Gaskin has to put up a lot of stats. He will get his chance at a big game and Heisman moment against Stanford.

 

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