2018 NFL Mock Draft 11/15/17

With the NFL season being well past the halfway point, more is clear about what teams will need and where they will be drafting. Here is the latest 2018 NFL mock draft.

1. Cleveland Browns- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

All of the good quarterbacks that were thought to come out of this draft class have struggled. Rosen has probably been the best overall and has some good arm talent. He does, however, have some flaws to overcome. Rosen needs to make better decisions and show he can lead a franchise. One thing he has proven is that his shoulder injury from last season won’t be a major factor going forward.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

After the trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, it is unlikely the 49ers will take a quarterback in this draft. They will take the best player in the class in Barkley. He is a do-it-all running back who will immediately improve the quality of the running game for San Francisco. Barkley is a premier talent who runs with great moves that are reminiscent of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. This isn’t an area of need for the 49ers, but they can’t pass up the best player.

3. New York Giants- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Giants could go for a replacement for Eli Manning, but the quarterback position won’t get any better with their bad offensive line. McGlinchey has had an up and down season and most recently didn’t play well against Miami. He has the ability to play either tackle position and can start from day one.

4. Indianapolis Colts- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Arden Key (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Key is a very good edge rusher that uses his speed as his main way of getting to the quarterback. He had a better season in 2016 than this season, but still shows he can pressure the quarterback. The Colts need to get after the quarterback more as they only have 19 sacks on the season.

5. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

Cleveland needs to improve its secondary. They just drafted Jabril Peppers and like Peppers, Fitzpatrick can play multiple positions in the secondary. He will most likely fit in at safety, but should be able to cover batter than most safeties. With two top five picks, the Browns have a chance to vastly improve their roster.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

N.C. State has had a great season, in large part due to Chubb’s play. He has gotten better every year in Raleigh and has had at least ten sacks this season and last. Not only can he rush the passer, but he is also good at stopping the run. The Buccaneers need to re-haul their defense and they can start by getting after the quarterback more consistently.

7. Cincinnati Bengals- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals have a terrible offensive line and need to upgrade almost every position. They can start by taking a cornerstone at tackle. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.

8. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Chicago has decided to make Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback and he has played decently well. They have to get him some weapons in the passing game other than Tarik Cohen. Ridley is a dynamic playmaker that can make people miss once he gets the ball in his hands. He may be better as a pro than as a college player, as Jalen Hurts isn’t the greatest throwing quarterback.

9. Denver Broncos- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold raised some eyebrows when reports came out that he may skip out on the 2018 draft if it looks like the Browns will select him. He hasn’t even played well enough to deserve being a number one pick, but the Broncos would love to have him. With good arm strength and stature, Darnold will entice some teams, but he needs to stop turning the ball over. Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian aren’t getting the job done and Paxton Lynch has yet to take it away from them, so a quarterback would be a nice option.

10. Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Florida State hasn’t played well this season, but James is one of the best safety prospects in the class. He can do almost anything on a football field and can start for 10 years in the back end of a defense. The Chargers can make a young promising defense even better with this pick.

11. New York Jets- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Josh McCown has played well for the Jets, but he isn’t the future. Lamar Jackson would be an exciting player to see in New York. He can make plays and has improved as a thrower this season. His accuracy needs to continue to improve, but with his athletic ability and speed, he will remind people of Michael Vick.

12. Arizona Cardinals- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Carson Palmer is likely not going to ever be a decent quarterback ever again with his aging and injuries. Allen has NFL size, arm strength and great athletic ability. His problem is that he can’t perform against top competition in college, which will likely make him a project in the NFL. Bruce Arians would be a coach that could take that challenge on, as he likes big, strong armed quarterbacks.

13. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quenton Nelson (Photo by fansided.com)

It is not often that a guard is talked about as a top 15 pick, but Nelson is one of the best prospects at the position in years. He is very mobile, can pick up blitzers and has a high football IQ. The Dolphins offensive line hasn’t been good this year and will need to protect Ryan Tannehill when he returns.

14. Baltimore Ravens- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The Ravens need to get some playmakers at wide reciever to help out Joe Flacco. Flacco hasn’t played well in years, but they won’y move on, so they need to help him out. Kirk gets separation and has big play ability. With better quarterback play, he’d likely be the first receiver taken off the board.

15. Washington Redskins- Ken Webster, CB, Ole Miss

Webster is a lengthy corner that has really come on this season. The question is: Can he fit into Washington’s scheme? They run the cover 2 and with Josh Norman shutting down one side of the field, he will have to shut down the other.

16. Oakland Raiders- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith has done a little bit of everything for Georgia and has displayed his athletic ability in the process. He can stop the run, cover and blitz well. The Raiders need a quality linebacker on their roster if they want to take the team to the next level.

17. Green Bay Packers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ohio State’s secondary didn’t start the season off well, but Ward has been a nice find. He is a shut down corner that is capable of shutting down the nation’s top receivers. The Packers’ secondary is awful and needs to be upgraded immediately.

18. Buffalo Bills- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas 

Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who is starting to live up to his potential. He was all over the field against Oklahoma State. The great recuruit coming out of high school is a better pass rusher than he gets credit for and can also stop the run well. Buffalo is another team that just needs to get one talented linebacker on their team.

19. Detroit Lions- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Payne makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle. He hasn’t done much in the stats department this season, but takes on multiple blocks at a time. The Lions need to improve the interior of the defensive line and Payne can fit in with his old teammate at Alabama, A’Shawn Robinson.

20. Dallas Cowboys- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

Ranking has been great as a pass blocker this season and has helped lead Mississippi State to a solid season thus far. Dak Prescott got killed in the game against the Falcons, so picking Rankin to protect him is the right call. Rankin can play right tackle and Chaz Green can stay on the bench.

21. Atlanta Falcons- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Carlton Davis (Photo by al.com)

Davis is a lengthy corner who will likely move up draft boards when the draft comes closer. Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more at the position.

22. Tennessee Titans- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison has the chance to be a good safety in the NFL with his great size. He is 6’3″, 214 pounds and impacts games in a variety of ways. Johnathan Cyprien is having a rough season and needs to be replaced.

23. Seattle Seahawks- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

If the Seahawks don’t start protecting Russell Wilson, he will get killed. They traded for Duane Brown, but the line is still bad. Seattle always does a good job of coaching bad offensive lineman to excel at the middle and end of the season. Brown has good size and with good coaching can be molded into a solid lineman.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Blake Bortles still isn’t playing good football and isn’t signed for next season. They will likely sign him, but getting a quarterback as a backup plan isn’t a bad idea. Rudolph has a great long ball and good accuracy. He plays in a system that will raise some questions, but he has good talent.

25. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

The Bills picked Tre’Davious White last year in the first round, but still need more help at the corner position. Marshall is a good cover corner, who has stepped up after replacing Adoree’ Jackson as the top guy for USC.

26. Carolina Panthers- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Carolina traded away Kelvin Benjamin and now needs to get Cam Newton some weapons on the outside. Sutton has been able to produce at SMU for years and would have been drafted in the first or second round in last year’s draft.

27. New Orleans Saints- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a good prospect who can stop the run and get after the quarterback from the interior. The Saints’ defense is getting better, but they can still improve. Wilkins can slide right in next to Sheldon Rankins to create a pretty good defensive line overall.

28. Los Angeles Rams- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

The Rams don’t have too many needs, but could use some help at corner. McFadden can shut down his man and isn’t afraid to be physical. Los Angeles has a lot of nice young pieces and a good young corner would vastly improve the team’s future contending hopes.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma 

2018 NFL mock draft

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

Ben Roethlisberger has mentioned retirement too many times for it not to be taken seriously. Mayfield has always been seen as a guy who plays in too much of a college system and a quarterback that was too undersized for the NFL. He has had a fantastic season and has protected the football while putting up huge numbers. Mayfield can battle it out for the starting job if Big Ben does leave football.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Jackson got more name recognition after getting two pick sixes against Wisconsin, but he has been playing well for a while now. The Vikings need to start thinking about some new corners to go opposite of Xavier Rhodes. Trae Waynes looks like a bust and Terrance Newman is ancient, so a corner could be the pick.

31. New England Patriots- Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Although he is just a redshirt sophomore, Ferrell is producing at a big time level. In his very young career, he already has tallied 13.5 sacks. The Patriots need to get some pressure on the quarterback if they want to be as dominant as they used to be.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Justin Reid, S, Stanford

The Eagles don’t have too many areas to improve, but could do so at safety. Reid can do a little bit of everything at safety, but doesn’t have any elite traits.

 

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Heisman watch 11/5/17

Now that the college football season is through ten weeks, the Hiesman Trophy race is becoming a lot more clear. Here are the top players that should be on the “Heisman Watch” after the weekend’s good slate of games:

6. Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona

Heisman Watch

Khalil Tate (Photo by yahoo.com)

The electric quarterback has come on strong for the Wildcats. He only made his fourth start of the season against USC and once again showed how valuable he is, even in a loss. He threw for 132 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but was able to do some more damage on the ground. Tate rushed for 161 yards and another score.

He has now rushed for over 1,000 and passed for just under 1,000 yards on the season. Tate is the man that  has sparked a good season for Arizona. It would be a stretch to see him win the award, but if he keeps up at the current pace he is on track to be in contention to at least be a finalist.

Season stats: 930 passing yards, 8 passing TDs, 61.2% completion, 5 interceptions, 1087 rushing yards, 9 rushing TDs

5. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

It is unfortunate that Adams got injured and had to leave the game against Wake Forest and as a result loses a chance for another big game. That’s how it goes in college football though. He managed to rush for 22 yards on five carries. His team was able to win without him, which is always good for a Heisman campaign.

Adams has been the master of long runs this season as he has had several runs of at least 50 yards for touchdowns. He benefits from a great offensive line, but he does a lot of damage after contact. Ultimately if he wants to win the award, he needs to play in the last three games of the regular season and put up a lot of good numbers.

Season stats: 1,191 rushing yards, 82 receiving yards, 9 total TDs

4. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

Heisman Watch

Jonathan Taylor (Photo by dailyherald.com)

Taylor is having an amazing freshman season for the Badgers and that continued on Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers. He finished with 29 carries for 183 yards and one rushing touchdown. The Badgers remain undefeated, but Taylor lacks a “Heisman Moment”, as they haven’t played in any big games thus far.

On the season, Taylor has rushed for 1,368 yards already. He is gaining yards as a freshman at the same pace and even faster than some of the all time greats. Taylor needs to continue racking up the yards and have Wisconsin win most if not all of their remaining games to have a shot to win it.

Season stats: 1,368 rushing yards, 41 yards receiving, 12 total TDs

3. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

Love sat out the game against Oregon State, which hindered his chance to break some serious records, like the all-purpose yards in one season record. He did play this weekend against Washington State and had his worst game of the season totaling 69 rushing yards and one touchdown. His team also lost, which sets him a little further behind.

The thing that keeps Love his high in the rankings is his gaudy stat line. He already is approaching 1,500 yards, even with sitting out the Oregon State game. He very well could have 2,000 yards rushing at season’s end. Love needs to get to 2,000 yards rushing to win the award, but should be able to get invited with his current stat line.

Season stats: 1,456 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, 12 total TDs

2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Yes, Barkley and Penn State have really slowed down, while number one on this list is picking it up. The Nittany Lions lost to Michigan State for their second straight loss, which damages Barkley’s campaign a little bit. More importantly though, he only had 63 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving in this game with no touchdowns.

Barkley has fewer than 1,000 rushing yards, which is alarming considering one of the quarterbacks on this list, Tate, has 1,000 yards rushing in four starts. One thing Barkley brings to the table is versatility, as he has over 500 receiving yards on the season and also has two kickoff returns for touchdowns. He also has some highlight plays that make him look like he is a created player in a video game. He needs to pick it up down the stretch and see Baker Mayfield stumble to win the award.

Season stats: 864 rushing yards, 502 receiving yards, 14 total TDs

1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Sooners got another big win, defeating Oklahoma State in Stillwater. It was a high-scoring game which afforded Mayfield the opportunity to let the ball fly. The win helps the Heisman case, but the stats are just downright crazy. He threw for 598 yards and five touchdowns to help lead his team to victory.

Mayfield still has a few games left, including a possible Big 12 Championship Game, but already has 3,226 passing yards. He is lighting up defenses and has the Sooners in place to make a run at the College Football Playoff. His “Heisman Moments” at Ohio State and at Oklahoma State also help improve his case for the Heisman. The crazy thing is, he still has a few big games coming up to further his case for the Heisman.

Season stats: 3,226 passing yards, 28 passing TDs, 71.7% completion, 5 interceptions, 181 rushing yards, 5 rushing TDs

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Five things we learned in college football week 10

Week 10 of college football offered a great day of games that required multiple screens or a quick hand on the remote. Through it all, a lot was gleaned about the teams and players. Here is what we learned this week in college football:

1. Iowa City is a great Place For football

Iowa has been in the spotlight on multiple occasions this season for some of the big games they have hosted. First, they almost were able to beat Penn State, but ended up losing a close one. This week though, they didn’t just beat Ohio State, they throttled them. The fans fed off the performance and stormed the field after the victory.

That isn’t the only thing going on in Iowa. Yes, the atmosphere was electric and the Hawkeyes got a big win, but the biggest story comes from their newest tradition. This has been getting headlines all season, but it continued this weekend. All the fans and players waved to the children’s hospital overlooking the stadium after the first quarter. Even opposing fans and players have started waving. Anything people can do to make sick kids feel better is amazing.

It’s not just the win, not just the atmosphere and not just the tradition that makes Iowa City great, but the combination of the three.

2. Michigan State can still win the Big Ten East

College football week 10

Matt Coghlin (Photo by centurylink.net)

Michigan State was coming off of an overtime loss to Northwestern last week and got rewarded with a home game against Penn State. The game was delayed for a few hours due to lightning, but was competitive and entertaining the whole way through. The Spartans were able to upset Penn State with a last second field goal.

The loss for Penn State really puts them behind the eight ball for a Big Ten Championship appearance. Michigan State however, is now tied with Ohio State for the lead in the Big Ten East after Ohio State’s loss this weekend. The teams will battle it out this weekend, with the winner more than likely going to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game.

Through these two results, the Big Ten faces an uphill battle to make it to the CFP. They are relying on Wisconsin now.

3. Heisman race is clearer now

Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley are the two top dogs vying for the Heisman after this weekend. Mayfield won a big game and broke the school record for passing yards. Barkley struggled, but has his fair share of highlights on the season.

Other key players fell off the trail for the Heisman this week. Josh Adams had to leave Notre Dame’s game against Wake Forest with an injury. Mason Rudolph lost to Mayfield in a head to head matchup, which will be hard to overcome. J.T. Barrett threw four interceptions against Iowa. Now Rudolph and Adams will be fighting to make it to the ceremony in December.

Two names that may receive an invite, or win it if Mayfield and Barkley fall off more, are Jonathan Taylor and Khalil Tate. Taylor is a freshman running back for Wisconsin, who already has 1,368 yards on the season. It helps that his team is undefeated too. Tate has started in just four games as the quarterback of Arizona and already has over 1,000 rushing yards. His team may have three losses already, but if he keeps going at the pace he is on, he is going to break a lot of records without even starting the whole season.

4. Miami is back

Miami is a team that had been ranked low by the CFP committee in the first week of the rankings, and rightfully so. Their best win to date was over an 8-1 Toledo team. Toledo is a god team, but they are from the MAC. The Hurricanes needed to play well against good competition to prove themselves.

This week Miami was able to beat Virginia Tech to take a lead in the ACC Coastal, which sets them up nicely for a chance at the ACC Championship Game. This was their first big test, but they passed and are now going to be ranked somewhere in the top eight.

More tests are ahead for Miami, but they have a very good football team and created an atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium that hasn’t been there since the Hurricanes played at the Orange Bowl. Even if they lose to Notre Dame this week and lose the ACC Championship Game, this has been the best Miami football season in a long time.

5. Auburn can really shake things up

College football week 10

Kerryon Johnson (Photo by al.com)

Auburn only has two losses on the season and are moving up the CFP rankings. They actually have a chance to make the CFP, even with two losses. That is a tall order given their remaining schedule, so the best possible way to look at them is to see them as a team that can create chaos.

The remaining schedule features games against Georgia and Alabama, the committee’s top two teams. If they win those, they will likely get a rematch with Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. With most fans wanting to see as much parity as possible, the best thing to do is watch and root on Auburn in the last few weeks.

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J.T. Barrett Heisman

A look into J.T. Barrett’s comeback season

Last year on New Year’s Eve, Ohio State got embarrassed in the postseason by the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers. Embarrassed might be an understatement, as the Buckeyes were shutout 31-0.

The offense could get absolutely nothing going offensively. They had 215 total yards, three turnovers, just nine first downs and had the ball for about 12 less minutes than Clemson.

A big part of the struggle was quarterback J.T. Barrett. Barrett had been inconsistent all season long and laid an egg in one of the most important games of the season. Barrett finished the night with 127 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Barrett finished the season with 2,555 yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions, a 135.3 rating and a 61.5 completion rate. Barrett also had five games where he completed less than 60 percent of his passes, including three where he didn’t even complete half of them. It was definitely nothing like his freshman year when he helped lead the Buckeyes to the playoffs.

This season

It appeared that some of that inconsistency came into this season as well when Barrett and the Buckeyes struggled early in their season opener against Indiana and then in their loss to Oklahoma in the following week. Fans and analysts were writing off Ohio State already, mostly due to Barrett’s play.

Whatever the reason was for Barrett’s forgettable junior season or his slow start to this season, all of those bad memories have been erased from his brain apparently. Barrett has been performing like his old self this season.

In his next five games after the Oklahoma loss, Barrett began to take off. Yes, those games were against Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska, who all have a combined record of 20-20. But Ohio State took advantage of the opportunity, winning all five games by a combined score of 266-56.

J.T. Barrett heisman

J.T. Barrett played one of his best games ever against Penn State last week. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Then came a test for the Buckeyes with their matchup against Penn State. It was also a test for the Nittany Lions, as the only rated team they had played all season up to that point was Michigan, who is not even ranked in the AP Poll anymore. Penn State got off to a great lead and appeared to have another win over the Buckeyes like they did last season.

Ohio State wasn’t finished though. They scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to beat Penn State 39-38. Barrett played arguably his best game ever. He finished with 328 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, completed 84.6 percent of his passes and also ran for another 95 yards. This game put Barrett in talks for the Heisman Trophy by some analysts.

Is this an overreaction to one good game? Think again.

Barrett’s numbers on the season have been spectacular. He has completed 69.5 percent of his passes, which is seventh in the NCAA. He has thrown for 2,166 yards, 25 touchdown passes (third), one interception (lowest for players with at least 70 attempts), and a 176.2 rating (third).

He also leads the Big Ten Conference in all of those categories, which is arguably the best conference in college football. Not too much of an overreaction after all.

Barrett now finds himself in the Heisman race with Penn State running back and Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley, Stanford running back Bryce Love, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Barrett’s case for the Heisman

It seems that it is Barkley’s award to lose. The guy has been doing it all for the Nittany Lions all season long.

Love has also had an amazing year, but has played a bunch of average teams. However, he is averaging over 10 yards per carry and has 1,387 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. That is impressive regardless of which power five conference you play in. But let me explain Barrett’s case.

J.T. Barrett Heisman

Could Barrett actually win the Heisman this season? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

First off, the numbers don’t lie. Don’t let the yards by Rudolph and Mayfield fool you. Yes, they may have more passing yards than Barrett, but look at their strength of schedule.

Rudolph has played just two teams with records over .500. They beat West Virginia, but lost to TCU. Mayfield has played just two as well, losing to Iowa State, but beating Ohio State. Barrett’s yards would probably be through the roof too if he was playing teams like Baylor and UTEP.

Barrett has played three teams over .500, including Oklahoma, Army and Penn State. The worst team he has played has a 3-5 record. Rudolph has played four teams with losing records, including 0-8 Baylor and 2-7 Tulsa. Mayfield has also 0-8 UTEP and 0-8 Baylor.

Despite Barrett’s schedule, he still has more touchdowns and less interceptions than both Rudolph and Mayfield. Not to mention he has more rushing yards than them and also a higher completion rate and rating than Rudolph.

The rest of the season

Barrett is going to have a few more tests before the season is all said and done. They will play at Iowa this week, who has always been a competitor in the Big Ten. Then they will host No. 24 Michigan State, who have been surprisingly successful so far this season. They will also end the season against their big rival Michigan at The Big House.

Barrett will get the chance to prove himself worthy of the Heisman against some of the best competition in the Big Ten. If you ask me, I think he can handle it and will prove to the doubters that he is legit.

If Ohio State wins out, they will be back in the playoffs, looking for redemption after their loss last season. You can bet these Buckeyes want nothing more than a shot at the National Title to make everybody forget about last season. It is going to be an exciting finish.

 

 

Featured image by USA TODAY Sports

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Five things to watch for in college football week 10

The college football playoff race is getting heated and a lot of great story lines are going on in college football. Here are five things to watch this week:

1. Bedlam

Yes one of the best things to watch this week is bedlam. This is the rivalry game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Both teams have just one loss and want to keep it that way so they have a better shot of making the College Football Playoff. These games are always exciting, but with the added pressure, it will be a joy to watch.

These two teams have two high-powered offenses, both of which rank in the top six in scoring. These teams also have Heisman Trophy contenders in Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph. There will be a lot of passing and offense in this game, so defenses need to step up and get some key stops. Whoever’s defense steps up will win this game.

The game is in Stillwater, so home field advantage goes to the Cowboys. Make sure to check out this game at 4:00 p.m. EST, as it will have CFP ranking implications.

2. ACC Coastal Clash

Week 10 college football preview

Josh Jackson (Photo by detroitnews.com)

The two best teams in the ACC Coastal will square off as well. Like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, this game has CFP implications. Miami is undefeated, but hasn’t beaten anyone of note yet this season. Virginia Tech is very similar in that regard and they have a loss to Clemson earlier in the year.

Because these are the two best teams in the ACC Coastal, this game will likely decide who ends up playing in the ACC Championship Game. Miami hasn’t been playing well as of late and survived an upset bid from the woeful North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend. The defense will have to continue to be solid in this one and Malik Rosier will need to make throws against talented defenders for the Hokies. Virginia Tech has been kicking butt ever since their loss to Clemson and has a lot of NFL talent on its roster.

The game is in Miami, where they are hosting the biggest game they have had in a long time. Will the fans show up and create a dynamic atmosphere?

3. Pac-12 South contest

After last weekend the Pac-12 South got a little more clear. Arizona and USC are the two teams that are most likely to go to the Pac-12 Championship and they square off this weekend. Both teams have just one loss in conference and will play this weekend to take a commanding lead in the division.

Sam Darnold has been turnover prone and will need to play well to give USC a chance. The defense is extremely average and will need to have their best game of the season if they have any shot to win. Khalil Tate has taken over as starting quarterback for Arizona and is a great dual-threat. Since he has taken over, Arizona is a completely different team and is now even ranked. They are very dangerous.

This game will offer up a battle of quarterbacks with completely differing styles, but it will be very fun to watch. The quarterback that plays the best will win this game.

4. Battle for ACC Atlantic

College football week 10 preview

Kelly Bryant (Photo by tigernet.com)

Another battle in the ACC that has title implications is N.C. State vs. Clemson. Clemson has one loss to Syracuse, while the Wolfpack haven’t lost in ACC Play. Clemson is favored by over a touchdown, but N.C. State has had a solid season.

Clemson got back on track last week with a win over Georgia Tech, after losing to Syracuse two games ago. With quarterback Kelly Bryant healthy the team is good enough to go to the CFP. The defensive line creates havoc for any offense. N.C. State’s defensive line is good itself, but they just got gashed by Notre Dame. The offense protects the football well, while moving the ball well, which is hard to do.

The Tigers will likely win the game, but if the Wolfpack’s defense can stop Clemson’s offense, it’s anyone’s game. N.C. State will have the game at home, which should make it more interesting.

5. Other big matchups

There are seven games this weekend involving ranked teams so get the remote ready.

Michigan State takes on Penn State. The Nittany Lions are still a great team, but can’t have a hangover after their tough loss to Ohio State. The only way Michigan State has a chance is if Mark Dantonio’s defense can slow down Saquon Barkley.

Stanford travels to Pullman to take on Washington State. The game features the passing attack of Washington State, with whatever quarterback they decide to play, and Stanford’s power game, which may not feature Bryce Love due to injury. The Cardinal are seemingly on their late season roll and can still make the Pac-12 Championship Game. The winner still has to take on Washington, but this will show a lot about the Pac-12 North standing.

LSU is going to Alabama for their annual game. The Tigers will have to do something to make up for their lackluster offense in this game. The Crimson Tide just need to keep on rolling. This is the toughest stretch of their schedule, but they are a much better team than LSU. The rivalry game gives this game more juice, as LSU will play with extra pep in their step.

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 10/24/17

The NFL season is almost halfway through, so it is getting easier to see where teams will be drafting in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is a first round NFL mock draft.

1. Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

The Browns look like the worst team in football right now. DeShone Kizer has been pulled in favor of Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler, which means they may be in the market for a quarterback if Kizer doesn’t figure things out. Darnold has the stature of an NFL quarterback, but turns the ball over way too much and has to make better decisions if he wants to be the number one pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Rosen is among the FBS leaders in passing yards and has had a good junior season thus far. He too has to work on decision making, but most importantly has shown that he doesn’t have any arm problems after incurring nerve damage in his throwing arm last season. The 49ers may get Kirk Cousins, but if they can’t, they need a quarterback.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Connor Williams (Photo by: hookem.com)

3. New York Giants- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Orleans Darkwa had a tougher game against the Seahawks, but the Giants should still address the tackle position. Because their tackles are so bad, the Giants will likely draft a tackle. Williams isn’t the biggest guy, so he may need to add some weight, but he is very athletic. He is currently injured with damaged ligaments in his knee and will have to prove he is healthy to be selected highly.

4. Indianapolis Colts- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is a premier talent who runs with great moves that are reminiscent of Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith. Frank Gore may look like he can play forever, but he is nearing the end of his career. Getting a dynamic playmaker like Barkley would balance the offense and take some pressure off of Andrew Luck when he comes back.

5. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Cincinnati has one of the worst offensive lines in football and need to address it badly. McGlinchey would have been selected pretty highly had he come out last season, but elected to go back to school. The Notre Dame running game has become dominant in the last few weeks. He has shown better athletic ability this season, which should help his value.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Tampa Bay has a terrible secondary and needs to get better, especially when considering what division they play in. James is one of the best players in this class and looks like he is capable of doing anything on a football field. If he doesn’t get selected early, it is due to concerns about his injuries. He missed most of the 2016 season with a shoulder injury.

7. Chicago Bears- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Chicago has decided to make Mitch Trubisky the starting quarterback. They have to get him some weapons in the passing game other than Tarik Cohen. Ridley is a dynamic playmaker that can make people miss once he gets the ball in his hands. He may be better as a pro than as a college player, as Jalen Hurts isn’t the greatest throwing quarterback.

8. New York Jets- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Allen has struggled this season, but what most hurts his cause is how often he struggles against good competition. He is very raw as a prospect and needs a year to sit and learn, as well as work on his craft. The Jets have somehow managed to get to three wins and can have Allen sit behind Josh McCown.

9. Arizona Cardinals- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Carson Palmer is injured again and it highlights the Cardinals’ need for a quarterback. If Palmer can return, Jackson can sit and learn behind him. If Palmer is done Jackson can make some plays as a starter, but won’t be developed. Jackson still has issues throwing the ball, but is a dynamic runner. He has improved his efficiency this year, which has helped his draft stock.

10. Baltimore Ravens- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Key is starting to create havoc and get into a groove for the Tigers. He is a great speed rusher that would benefit from adding some more pass rushing moves to his arsenal. Baltimore does have a decent number of sacks on the season, but Terrell Suggs will need to be replaced soon. If Key falls, the Ravens need to scoop him up.

11. Los Angeles Chargers- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Fitzpatrick has played both safety and corner in his time at Alabama. He has all the physical tools to be successful, but needs to work on his technique and positioning. The Chargers could try to improve the offensive line, but they used two selections on that last year in Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney and Sam Tevi.

12. Oakland Raiders- Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson

Oakland only has 12 sacks on the year and could use an elite pass rusher to go with Khalil Mack. Bryant has 5.5 sacks on the season, but could be more consistent. Four of his sacks came against Auburn. He will need to prove himself in the back half of the college season.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Christian Kirk (Photo by: cbssports.com)

13. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Cleveland doesn’t have too much at receiver. Kenny Britt isn’t a number one and Corey Coleman can’t stay healthy. In order to help their young quarterbacks they need to get a good receiver. Kirk has some big play ability and demonstrated that against Arkansas with 110 receiving yards and 136 kick off return yards. He will be tested in the coming weeks against good secondaries in the SEC.

14. Washington Redskins- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson is a talented linebacker, who is starting to live up to his potential. He was all over the field against Oklahoma State. Jefferson is a better pass rusher than he gets credit for and can also stop the run well. Mason Foster is old and hasn’t played particularly well this year, so Jefferson could play next to Zach Brown.

15. Detroit Lions- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

Martinas Rankin is a very efficient pass blocker and can be a great left tackle in the NFL. The Lions have a terrible left side of the offensive line and need to upgrade it. The Lions like to pass a lot so they will likely love the pass blocking of Rankin. They need to keep Stafford upright since he is so highly paid now.

16. Dallas Cowboys- Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Payne makes freakish plays for a defensive tackle. He hasn’t done much in the stats department this season, but takes on multiple blocks at a time. Starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea decided to retire, leaving the Cowboys even thinner on the interior of the defensive line. Payne will help them stop the run better.

17. Denver Broncos- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

One thing is for sure: The Broncos can’t win it all with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. They drafted Paxton Lynch two years ago, but he hasn’t been able to beat out the sub par Siemian yet. Rudolph isn’t getting a lot of love right now, but when people watch his tape they will like his deep ball. He has had a lot of production in college and can be a successful NFL quarterback.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Iman Marshall (Photo by: zimbio.com)

18. Atlanta Falcons- Iman Marshall, CB, USC

Marshall would immediately help out the secondary. He was overshadowed by Adoree Jackson last year, but is now shining. He is a shutdown corner that has started since his freshman season as a Trojan. Teams are actively looking to not throw his way when they play USC. Desmond Trufant is a good corner, but the Falcons need more if they are going to stop some of the best offenses in the NFC.

19. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

The Titans have just 11 sacks on the season. If they want to start winning more, Marcus Mariota will need to stay healthy and they need to have a better pass rush. Landry led the FBS in sacks last year and decided to go back to school for his final season. He only has five sacks this season, so he needs to pick up the pace.

20. Green Bay Packers- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

McFadden is a shut down corner who isn’t afraid to get physical. The Packers need to get some better players in the secondary if they want to help Aaron Rodgers out with a defense.

21. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

While Cam Newton is playing better, the offensive line still needs to be improved upon. They need to get the ground game going to set up Cam Newton in the passing game. Brown has NFL bloodlines and a big body.  He needs to prove that he has the athleticism and speed to deal with the fast pass rushers in the NFL.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Hyatt looks like a player who could be versatile at the NFL level and could play multiple positions on the offensive line. This would be beneficial to the Jaguars as they need help in multiple places on the line.

23. Miami Dolphins- Kevin Toliver, CB, LSU

The Dolphins don’t have a good secondary and it was evident when they let the Jets throw for 249 yards on 18 of 23 passing. Toliver hasn’t done much, but he will face stiffer competition as the season goes on. The potential is there, but he still needs to prove it on the field.

24. New Orleans Saints- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Smith has done a little bit of everything for Georgia this season with 53 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and two passes defended. New Orleans needs better linebackers, as none have played particularly well this season.

25. Buffalo Bills- James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Tyrod Taylor needs a better option as his top receiver and St. Brown can be that guy. Washington makes big plays and fights for the football on deep throws. Pairing him with Zay Jones for the future would be a good idea.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Nelson provides good value and would’ve been a first round pick had he come out in last year’s draft class. He is very quick and athletic, making him the best guard prospect in a while. The Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson better or he won’t last much longer. They also haven’t been able to run the football at all.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

Carlton Davis (Photo by: auburntigers.com)

27. Los Angeles Rams- Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

The Rams need to upgrade their corners, as they haven’t been able to adequately do so since Janoris Jenkins left. Davis is a lengthy corner who will likely move up draft boards when the draft comes closer.

28. Minnesota Vikings- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is a part of the very productive and talented defensive line at Clemson. He has 3.5 sacks and four tackles for loss on the season and does a good job at both defending the run and rushing the passer from the interior. The Vikings can’t rely on Shariff Floyd to stay healthy and need to get a replacement.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Pittsburgh doesn’t have a good safety on their roster. Mike Mitchell specifically needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Harrison has the chance to be a good strong safety in the NFL with his great size. He is 6’3″, 214 pounds and impacts games in a variety of ways.

30. New England Patriots- Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

Chubb has been a catalyst in N.C. State’s wins over Louisville and Florida State. He has already accrued 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. The Patriots need help all over on defense, but have lost some of their best pass rushers in recent years and need to replace them.

31. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Hubbard was expected to have a good season, but has amassed just two sacks. He does get pressure on the quarterback more often than that and helps stop the run. The Bills need to get better at rushing the passer.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

The Eagles have Alshon Jeffrey on a one year deal and Torrey Smith isn’t doing much. Carson Wentz needs some more weapons as he continues to develop. St. Brown has had a hard time getting involved in the Notre Dame offense early, but that is only partially on him. He is a big athletic receiver that looks like he could be more productive in the NFL than he has been in college.

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Five things to watch for in college football week 9

It is coming down to the end of the season, which means more good games are on the way. Here are five things to watch for in college football in week nine:

1. Notre Dame’s offensive line vs. Bradley Chubb

Week 9 college football

Bradley Chubb (Photo by: fansided.com)

Notre Dame is coming off of a good win against USC and now has a bunch of hype surrounding them. N.C. State only has one loss and will be traveling to South Bend with high hopes. This game will be a marquee win for whichever team ends up winning and the game will be won in the trenches.

N.C. State has one of the best defensive linemen in the country in Bradley Chubb. Chubb has 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks on the season. He has worked his way into being in the talk to be a first round draft pick. Chubb has been able to help the Wolfpack defense to hold opponents to 639 rushing yards on the season. He and the entire N.C. State defensive line will need to step up to stop Notre Dame’s running game.

Josh Adams has worked his way into the Heisman conversation now. He is a big play threat and has had several long runs for touchdowns. The offensive line has been key in clearing holes for Adams. Both Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson anchor the left side of the offensive line and are probably going to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The team that wins the trenches will win the game and move up in the rankings.

2. Big Ten East Clash

Both teams have been waiting to play each other again after last season. Penn State beat Ohio State, which gives the Buckeyes a reason to want revenge, while the Nittany Lions missed the CFP in favor of OSU, so they will want to leave no doubt who the better team is. This game will be one of the best games of the college football season, so it needs to be watched.

Penn State won big over Michigan and looks like one of the best teams in the country. The offense is star-powered with Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley and the defense hasn’t allowed more than 19 points this season. The Nittany Lions still haven’t won a game over a great team so they have a chance to do that for the first time this year.

Ohio State also hasn’t beaten a good team all season. They have likely been itching for a chance to win a big game since their loss to Oklahoma early in the year. The Buckeyes have the top scoring offense in the country and the tenth best scoring defense, albeit against mostly lackluster competition. These units will be put to the test this weekend against Penn State.

The environment will be electric in Columbus on Saturday and the winner will likely make the CFP this time.

3. important Big 12 Shootouts

There are five teams in the Big 12 with one loss or less and four out of the five will be trying to knock each other off this weekend. While there is still a lot of football to be played, this will be a key weekend to figure out who will be in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia matchup in a game in Morgantown, West Virginia. There will be a lot of offense and passing yards, as both teams are ranked in the top five in scoring and passing yards. Whichever defense can get more stops will win the game and put themselves in a good position in this weird round robin Big 12 setup.

In the other game, TCU will take on the hot Iowa State Cyclones. TCU looks like the best team in the Big 12, with a good offense and defense. They are also the only undefeated team left in Big 12 play. Iowa State has a loss to Texas, but got the big upset win over Oklahoma. The Cyclones have gone to Kyle Kempt at quarterback with Jacob Park on injured leave and Kempt has done well. Iowa State is still a pretty big underdog, but they are used to that by now.

4. Pac-12 after dark games

College football week 9

Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Pac-12 after dark always has wild and crazy games and this week is no different. There are two matchups that will be exciting, while also featuring some of the favorites to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

In the first game, Washington State takes on Arizona. Both teams can put up a lot of points. Washington State has only one loss on the season, coming at the hands of Cal. They are still in good position to make the Pac-12 Championship Game and have a great offense. Arizona is a surprise team that could end up winning the Pac-12 South. They have found new life with quarterback Khalil Tate, who has amassed over 1,000 yards in his three starts. There will be a lot of offense and a lot on the line.

The second game on the docket for Pac-12 after dark is USC at Arizona State. Both these teams, along with Arizona and UCLA, are still vying to win the Pac-12 South title. USC just lost to Notre Dame big time and need to get back on track. That starts with Sam Darnold protecting the football better and the defense being more physical. Arizona State surprisingly beat Washington to get on track. The Sun Devils’ defense has stepped up as of late, giving up 17 points in their last two games.

As crazy as it may sound it is likely the Arizona schools that will provide the biggest competition for USC in the south.

5. USF vs. Houston

USF is a team that a lot of people thought would go undefeated due to their easy schedule. There schedule is a little tougher with the emergence of other teams in their conference. Even so, the Bulls have to win out to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

This week they play a Houston team that was supposed to be one of their toughest games of the season. Houston has stumbled a bit, but it will still be a good test for USF. If the Bulls can win this game they will likely win all others until their regular season finale.

If this result holds to form and there are no upsets in the AAC, the last few games will have a lot riding on them. First USF will play UCF in a rivalry game in a battle of unbeaten teams. The winner will go to the AAC Championship Game to face Memphis, who has only one loss. The winner of that game will likely be in a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Buckle up. The last few weeks of college football are going to be wild.

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Heisman Watch 10/23/17

A lot has changed in college football in the last few weeks, so it is time for another Heisman Watch. Here are the players who are leading the way in the Heisman race:

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Michigan’s offense may not be very good, but there defense is. Saquon Barkley had another big game in prime time to enhance his case for the Heisman. Barkley totaled 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground with 53 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. He made highlight plays with a long touchdown catch that he bobbled then caught and a lot of good runs.

This was the performance that Barkley was missing last year to be in the Heisman race. He had a big game against a decent team that has a great defense. Now he has created an even bigger gap between him and the rest of the pack. Barkley could get to over 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards with a strong finish.

Barkley has two more tough games in a row to help his case even more. If Barkley can play well against Ohio State and Michigan State, he will virtually have the Heisman locked up.

Stats: 757 rushing yards, 448 receiving yards, 13 total touchdowns

2. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford

Heisman Watch

Bryce Love (Photo by: zimbio.com)

Love is still being overlooked, but one look at his stat line will make people see how historic his season has been so far. His last game came in week seven against Oregon, which was his worst performance of the season. He still managed to rush for 147 yards and two touchdowns. With some bad Pac-12 defenses still left to play, Love’s stats can get even better over the back stretch of the season.

Stanford losing two early games has hurt Love’s case, but they are coming on now. He needs to have some big games in prime time to close the gap on Barkley. Love will have a few big games to help his case, but is hard for any non-USC player to win the award from the west coast. Love has a chance to break the NCAA single season rushing record if he can have some big games down the stretch. Barry Sanders has the record at 2,628 rushing yards, so Love has to pick up the pace a little bit and have a few postseason games to reach the mark.

Washington State, Washington and Notre Dame should all be big games for Love to make his mark the rest of the way.

Stats: 1,387 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns

3. Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

Adams was highlighted as a result of the Fighting Irish’s big win over the USC Trojans. He was able to put on a show with his 191 rushing yards and three touchdowns. A lot of credit needs to be given to the Notre Dame offensive line, which is one of the best in college football, but Adams is the guy benefiting from their great play.

This season Adams has averaged 9.2 yards per carry, which ranks second nationally behind Bryce Love. While many claim that Notre Dame gets too much publicity, Adams seems to still be flying under the radar. Adams does have a sub par performance already against Georgia, but will have plenty of opportunities to have big games against good teams.

Three of the last five games for the Fighting Irish are against ranked teams and Adams will need to continue running well to get Notre Dame some key wins.

Stats: 967 rushing yards, 84 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns

4. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield (Photo by: usatoday.com)

Mayfield had another great game against Kansas State. He had his first game of the season of over 400 passing yards, finishing with 410. Mayfield added 69 rushing yards and two touchdowns to go along with two passing touchdowns. He has had a lot of big games, but has needed to in order to win a lot of close games.

His touchdown to interception ration is almost 10 to one, so Mayfield has found a way to be productive, while protecting the football. The game against Ohio State is still one of the biggest moments of the season, but he needs to continue to produce and have big games.

In the next few weeks Mayfield has chances to improve his case. Oklahoma still has to play Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia, which will give Mayfield plenty of opportunities to make his way up the list.

Stats: 2,347 passing yards, 170 rushing yards, 22 total touchdowns, 2 interceptions

5. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Mason Rudolph had a mundane game against Texas and the Cowboys were lucky to get out of Austin for a win. He threw for 282 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. Rudolph was able to complete 65.8% of his passes this game and he protected the football enough for the defense to hang on for the win.

Rudolph is throwing the ball further down the field this year and putting up huge numbers. He lacks a big win and a “Heisman moment” right now, so he will have to do better to garner more support from Heisman voters.

In the game against Oklahoma, Rudolph has to out-duel Mayfield to have any chance at the award.

Stats: 2,650 passing yards, 60 rushing yards, 25 total touchdowns

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Five things we learned in college football week 8

Every team is now half way through their season, which has given fans an idea of how good teams are. While there are still a lot of more good games in the next few weeks, a lot has been learned. Here is what we learned in week 8:

1. Notre Dame and Josh Adams are for real

Notre Dame didn’t just beat USC, they blew them out. Their running game was going and Brandon Wimbush showed that he can make good throws down the field. USC may not have been as good as expected, but the Fighting Irish still dominated a solid team that has a possible number one overall draft pick on its roster.

Josh Adams has inserted himself into the Heisman Trophy race. He has the most average yards after contact and has broken several big runs on the season. In seven games on the season he has 967 rushing yards on 9.2 yards per carry with eight total touchdowns. Not only does he need to get more love in the talk about the Heisman, but also needs to get more love in terms of the NFL Draft.

Adams and Notre Dame still have some tough games to end the season, but they are in a good position to reach their goals.

2. Penn State is really good, Michigan is not

College Football week 8

James Franklin (Photo by: philly.com)

The Nittany Lions got their payback on Michigan for last season and won big. Saquon Barkley enhanced his Heisman campaign and helped the Penn State offense make Michigan’s defense look bad. Coming into the game Michigan’s defense was one of the best in the country, but it now looks like their numbers may have been inflated due to the level of competition they have played.

Michigan failed to stop Barkley this year, but a lot of teams have failed with that. The defense had a bad game, but it’s the offense that has real problems. They can’t move the ball and have few playmakers on offense. With two losses in the Big Ten already, it looks like Michigan is headed to a fourth place finish in their own division, the Big Ten East. It is still one of the best divisions in football, but Michigan expected better things this year.

We’ll find out even more about the Big Ten East when Penn State travels to Ohio State in week nine.

3. Khalil Tate is must see T.V.

Khalil Tate didn’t start the season as Arizona’s starting quarterback, but has come on and dominated the last few weeks of the college football season. He has generated over 1,000 yards of offense in the last three games alone. The dual-threat quarterback has also totaled 11 touchdowns in that stretch too. He is the quintessential stat sheet stuffer.

Not only has Tate come in and put up some stats, he has made Arizona a much better football team. In the past three weeks Tate has helped the Wildcats rack up wins on the road against Colorado and Cal, while they have also beaten UCLA on their home turf. They still have to outscore every team they play, because their defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Wildcats have to feel good with Tate at the helm.

It is still conceivable that Arizona could win the PAC-12 South. They are 3-1 in conference and play both USC and Arizona State still, their biggest competition for the spot in the Pac-12 Championship. The next two weeks will be tough with games against Washington State and USC, so Tate will have to prove himself once again.

4. The American Athletic Conference will be in a New Year’s Six Bowl

College Football Week 8

Quinton Flowers (Photo by: tampabay.com)

With San Diego State losing last week, it has made it a lot easier for an AAC team to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. The only question is: Which one? There were three ranked AAC teams in action this weekend and all three came out with wins. If they can avoid beating up on each other, one of them will be in a major bowl game.

On Friday Memphis beat Houston on the road. The Tigers are 6-1 and should be able to win the AAC West. Their only loss is to UCF, who is another one of the ranked AAC teams. They only have one more tough game in the regular season, against SMU. They should be able to win out and get into a New Year’s Six play-in game in the AAC Championship.

USF was able to hold on against a very inconsistent and streaky Tulane team. They are still undefeated at 7-0, but haven’t played an FBS team that has a record above .500. They will be tested this week against Houston. If the Bulls can get by this week with a win, they likely set up a top 15 matchup with UCF at the end of the season before the AAC Championship.

The Golden Knights of UCF have are also undefeated at 6-0. They have blown out Maryland and Memphis to show that they aren’t messing around. Their game against Georgia Tech got cancelled due to a hurricane, which would have been another opportunity for a big win. This week the Golden Knights were able to beat a previously ranked Navy team 31-21.

In a few weeks there could be three top 15 AAC teams vying for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game if they don’t slip up beforehand.

5. Bret Bielema is another SEC coach on the hot seat

Everyone knows about Butch Jones being on the hot seat, but Bielema has done an even worse job this season and if he doesn’t turn it around fast he will be gone. The Razorbacks lost 52-20 to Auburn this weekend in their fifth loss of the season already. They have been blown out in all of their losses except their game against Texas A&M. The only wins on the season for Arkansas so far are against Florida A&M (FCS) and New Mexico State.

This season is on pace to be Arkansas’ worst season since Bielema’s first season when the Razorbacks finished 3-9. Bielema hasn’t been successful in his four and a half years as the head coach. They have an overall record of 27-31 and an abysmal SEC record of 10-26. While their shouldn’t be the highest expectations for Arkansas football, that isn’t good enough. If he doesn’t finish strong it is time for a change.

Arkansas still has games against Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri on their schedule. While they should beat Coastal Carolina, they will have to grind out wins in their other games. They need to win four of their last five to make a bowl game and perhaps save Bielema’s job.

 

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Five things to watch for in college football week 8

Week seven was crazy and has college football fans ready for some more exciting times. There are only eight undefeated teams left in the FBS and there is sure to be more upsets and shake ups. Here are five things to watch in college football this week:

1. the battle for the jeweled shillelagh

College football week 8

Sam Darnold (Photo by nfl.com)

Notre Dame and USC play in the best game of the weekend in South Bend. The winner will put themselves in the talk for the College Football Playoff. The Fighting Irish lead the all time series 44-36-5, but have only won six of these matchups since 2000. There is so much history to this great rivalry and this looks like another game that will be one to remember.

The Trojans come in to this game after a close win over Utah. USC only has one loss on the season, which came to Washington State. Their offense will be led by Sam Darnold, who has not lived up to the hype so far this season. If he can protect the football while making plays, much like he did last year, USC can win. They have a good passing offense and an average defense, so it all hinges on Darnold.

Brian Kelly’s crew has worked their way all the way to number 13 in the rankings and have only lost to Georgia by one point. They have one of the best rushing offenses in the country and their defense is vastly improved over last season. The running game, led by Josh Adams, will be slowed, so Brandon Wimbush needs to complete passes down the field  to stretch the defense out.

2. Saquon Barkley vs. Michigan’s defense

Barkley has been electrifying this season and now is the leader to win the Heisman. He also will likely be drafted very highly in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a dynamic player, but needs to prove that he can produce against great defenses, something he struggled with last season. Barkley can change the games in so many ways that Penn State can use him in the return game as well.

In one of the biggest games of the weekend, Barkley and the Nittany Lions will take on Michigan. The Wolverines have been struggling as of late, as they needed overtime to beat Indiana. One thing that hasn’t changed is Michigan’s defense. It is still tough and is the eighth best scoring defense in the country. Devin Bush is a linebacker that is all over the field and is a great player in his own right. He will need to lead the charge in slowing down Barkley.

Penn State will likely win the game, but it will be interesting to see how Barkley performs against this tough defense.

3. Can Texas finally pull off an upset?

College Football week 8

Tom Herman (photo by nvue.com)

Texas has come so close to getting a big win for Tom Herman, but have come up short. First they lost a close game in overtime to USC, who was heavily favored to win. Last week they were leading Oklahoma in the fourth quarter, before Baker Mayfield was able to lead the Sooners to victory. Herman has a knack for getting his teams ready to go for big games. Is this the week they finally get the job done?

Oklahoma State is traveling to Austin to play the Longhorns. They have a high powered offense that is number one in passing yards per game and tied for first in points per game. Their disappointing loss to TCU looks better now that the Horned Frogs are still undefeated. The defense is vulnerable, but Texas may not be able to win a shootout against them.

The game will feature Malik Jefferson and Poona Ford on the Texas defense going against the NFL level talent, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, on Oklahoma State’s offense. How many times can Texas come close?

4. Butch Jones’ Hot seat boiling

Tennessee lost a close game with South Carolina last week 15-9. Jones, while doing his damage control, mentioned that the team did everything to win the game besides score touchdowns. He must’ve forgotten that scoring touchdowns is the main job of any offense. He has covered up a fight between teammates and is in full on survival mode.

The Volunteers are 3-3, which is worse than the high expectations that Tennessee fans had going into the season. This week Tennessee gets to visit Alabama for what should be a pretty big beating. The Crimson Tide are favored by 36 points and if they put their foot down on the gas they should be able to win by even more.

At this rate the question is not if Butch Jones gets fired, it’s when.

5. Josh Allen vs. Boise State

College football week 8

Josh Allen (Photo by usatoday.com)

Josh Allen was thought of as a high first round draft pick before the season started, but has not played well against good competition. He struggled against both Oregon and Iowa. He has athletic ability and size that has been compared to Cam Newton, but hasn’t made good decisions. It is not totally his fault as his team, Wyoming, doesn’t have the most talent to help him out.

This week Allen is going up against a solid Boise State defense. Last week the Broncos shut down Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, who was in the running for the Heisman. The challenge this week is a bit different, so it remains to be seen if Boise State can step up. This game also has a big impact on the Mountain West. Both teams are currently undefeated in the Moutain West Mountain Division.

With all of the highly thought of quarterback prospects playing poorly, Allen has an opportunity to get hot and get back on track.

 

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