Each week, The Game Haus will highlight five players to watch from college football games featuring 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 for Week 1 (All times Eastern):
Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
Matchup: vs. Florida Atlantic, Noon, Saturday
Breakdown: The focus might be on Kyler Murray under center, but Anderson made a name for himself with 1,161 yards for a 6.2 yards per carry average and 18 total touchdowns as a sophomore last season. Now, Anderson is saddled with lofty expectations as the Sooners move on from Baker Mayfield. He’ll face a sizable challenge against Lane Kiffin’s Owls in the opener, meaning a strong performance will solidify him as one of the best backs in the nation.
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
Matchup: at No. 12 Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: Wolverines fans have been waiting for this moment for a long time. They longed for it after the Maize and Blue played three quarterbacks during a disappointing 8-5 season in 2017. If Patterson gives Michigan stability at the position this season, that would be a victory in itself, but fans in Ann Arbor want more and Jim Harbaugh might need more to help his future at the school. Patterson’s introduction to Michigan football will be a doozy against one of its longtime rivals in Week 1. The Irish defensive line is a good one, so Patterson must be ready. Because Wolverines fans certainly will.
Raekwon Davis, DE, Alabama
Matchup: vs. Louisville, 8 p.m., Saturday
Breakdown: At 6-foot-7, 316 pounds, Davis is quite the specimen and ready to build on a strong 2017 season in which he led the nation’s best defense in terms of points allowed per game (11.5) with 8 1/2 sacks. Saturday night in Orlando, he’ll set his sights on new Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass, who has the unenviable task of facing Davis and the vaunted Crimson Tide defense for his first collegiate start.
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Matchup: vs. No. 8 Miami (FL), 7:30 p.m., Sunday
Breakdown: Burrow never got a real chance to see what he could do during his three years at Ohio State – at least not when it mattered. He landed at LSU as a graduate transfer and will start against the Hurricanes to open the season in Week 1. Burrow drew some decent praise from coach Ed Orgeron, but perhaps not enough to believe he and the Tigers can take down Miami in the house that Jerry Jones built. At least Burrow is getting his chance – finally he will be one of those players to watch.
Ricky Walker, DL, Virginia Tech
Matchup: at No. 19 Florida State, 8 p.m., Monday
Breakdown: The Hokies have a relatively young defense, but the 6-2, 300-pound Walker has played in 38 games over three seasons at Virginia Tech and recorded 4 1/2 sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for loss in 2017. That veteran presence will be counted on to help Bud Foster’s unit try to contain the Seminoles, especially Cam Akers, who rushed for 1,024 as a freshman last season and is poised for more this year.