It’s “Championship Week” for college football regular season, and The Game Haus will highlight five players to watch from the slate of conference championship contests. From established stars to players on the verge of breaking out, we’ll offer some names to remember.
Here’s a look at five players to keep in mind when watching the action during “Championship Week.” Rankings reflect those of The Associated Press Top 25 (All times Eastern):
Caden Sterns, S, No. 9 Texas
Matchup: vs. No. 5 Oklahoma, Noon, Saturday
Breakdown: It’s time for Sterns to show why he was named the Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year. The Longhorns have a chance to take a pair of games from Oklahoma in the same season and claim a league title. The Sooners, though, are averaging almost 53 points while going 6-0 since losing to Texas in October. The Longhorns will be asking a lot of Sterns, who has four interceptions and 59 tackles while becoming the school’s first true freshman defensive back since 2008 to start his first 12 collegiate games.
Darriel Mack Jr., QB, No. 7 UCF
Matchup: vs. Memphis, 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: With star quarterback McKenzie Milton coming to grips with his devastating knee injury, the Knights’ offense is in the hands of the versatile Mack. He’s done well when tossed into game action and is averaging 7.0 yards per carry on 40 attempts this season. The UCF coaching staff probably won’t ask Mack to do too much, considering he has a good deal of talent around him. Playing at home should help Mack this weekend as the Knights move to extend their winning streak to 25 games, win an American Athletic Conference title and secure a New Year’s Six bowl.
Deandre Baker, CB, No. 4 Georgia
Matchup: vs. No. 1 Alabama, 4 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: Big players need to make big plays in big games. That will be Baker’s job Saturday during the SEC championship game. If Georgia is to have any chance of beating the Crimson Tide, it must at least contain some portion of their potent offense. Down the field, it could be the senior Baker, an expected first-round NFL Draft pick, in the spotlight. He enters this contest with 37 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass break-ups in 2018.
Alexander Mattison, RB, No. 19 Boise State
Matchup: vs. No. 25 Fresno State, 7:45 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: Talk about being on a roll, Mattison is running like a well-oiled machine entering the Mountain West Conference championship game. He’s gained 489 yards and scored six touchdowns over the last three games, highlighted by a 200-yard effort in last weekend’s victory over Utah State. That run for Mattison began with a 144-yard game on 30 carries against Fresno State in early November. The junior has rushed for four touchdowns in three career games against the Bulldogs.
Parris Campbell, WR, No. 6 Ohio State
Matchup: vs. No. 21 Northwestern, 8 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: It has been a career season for Campbell, who’s recorded 72 catches for 903 yards and 11 touchdowns. To put things into perspective, he totaled 53 receptions, 705 yards and three scores during his previous two seasons with the Buckeyes. If the Buckeyes are going to claim a second straight Big Ten title and keep what’s remaining of their College Football Playoff hopes alive, Campbell, who scored twice in last weekend’s rout of Michigan, needs to be involved.