Each week, The Game Haus will highlight five players to watch from college football games featuring Associated Press Top 25 teams. From established stars to players on the verge of breaking out, we’ll offer some names to remember every week of the college football season.
Here’s a look at five players to watch in Week 1 (All times Eastern):
Kenny Willekes, DE, No. 18 Michigan State
Matchup: vs. Tulsa, 7 p.m., Friday
Breakdown: We kick off our players to watch in Week 1 with one of the top defensive players in the Big Ten. Willekes has 15 1/2 career sacks over his previous three seasons, and is poised to go out with a bang to his senior campaign. He also has something to prove after breaking his leg in last season’s Redbox Bowl.
Jacob Eason, QB, No. 13 Washington
Matchup: vs. Eastern Washington, 3 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: There are several high-profile quarterback transfers taking the field this season, but among those players to watch in Week 1, Eason shines the brightest. The former Georgia Bulldog is getting his shot to keep the Huskies atop the Pac-12. What a better way than to get things going with a strong effort against one of the top teams in the FCS.
K.J. Costello, QB, No. 25 Stanford
Matchup: vs. Northwestern, 4 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: Costello might be one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country, but he’s certainly on our radar for players to watch in Week 1. He’s thrown for 5,113 yards and 43 touchdowns over the past two seasons, but kicks off 2019 with a stiff test against an active and physical Northwestern defense.
Bo Nix, QB, No. 16 Auburn
Matchup: vs. No. 11 Oregon (at Arlington, Texas), 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: Generally speaking, this is what Auburn fans want. A true freshman, with Tiger blood in his system, trying to bring the program back to prominence. Auburn should be relatively solid defensively this season, but it needs consistency and some excitement on the other side of the ball. Nix gets the chance to achieve both right out of the gate.
Kenneth Murray, LB, No. 4 Oklahoma
Matchup: vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m., Sunday
Breakdown: Oklahoma’s offense will be good again, at least that is the consensus entering this season. However, the folks in Norman need a defense that won’t allow an average 33.3 points per game like in 2018. Murray is the leader of that unit, and will be charged with making sure the turnaround happens. Facing versatile Houston quarterback D’Eriq King is a quality early test.