College Football championship weekend: Games, players to watch
We lastly discover ourselves on the finish of the faculty soccer common season.
It has been a protracted and attention-grabbing experience, with some weekends throwing the playoff image into chaos.
But right here we’re, with a full weekend of nice video games and a few of the prime prospects within the 2018 NFL draft on show, lots of whom ought to curiosity the New York Giants.
It all will get began Friday evening with the PAC 12 championship, so let’s soar proper in.
PAC 12 Championship: USC (11) vs. Stanford (14)
Friday (12/1) eight p.m. – ESPN
This recreation is the explanation why you’re seeing our weekly look-in in school soccer a day early.
The Stanford Cardinal travels down to southern California to tackle the USC Trojans in what must be an entertaining recreation. Neither group is probably going to be chosen for the College Football Playoffs, however their convention championship is actually excessive stakes.
This recreation ought to function a bunch of proficient prospects.
Running again Bryce Love has had a ridiculously productive junior season, and that constant manufacturing has landed him as a constant member of my Top – 10. He is solely a operating again for Stanford, hardly ever catching the ball, however he’s a silky-smooth runner with terrific imaginative and prescient.
On the defensive aspect of the ball, CB Quenten Meeks has nice dimension (typically listed at 6’1,” or 6’2”) with lengthy arms. He can be technically sound and has sturdy ball abilities.
Linebacker Joey Alfieri has the dimensions the Giants have historically liked of their linebackers at 6’three,” 240, in addition to a very good really feel for the sport and an aggressive mind-set. How he checks (if he declares for the draft), will decide the place he goes, however he may very well be mid-round choose to regulate.
Obviously the participant everybody goes to be watching is quarterback Sam Darnold. Should he declare for the draft, Darnold has all of the instruments to be the primary choose off the board in April. Whether or not he declares for the draft remains to be up within the air, and there are these (myself included) who consider he could be higher served in the long term by staying in faculty. It can’t be disputed that Darnold does have the instruments to (doubtlessly) be a franchise quarterback.
But for all the eye on Darnold, operating again Ronald Jones ii is perhaps extra vital to USC’s possibilities of victory. Like Love, Jones isn’t an enormous athletic freak of a operating again, however as an alternative a smaller again who could make defenders miss and achieve enormous chunks of yardage — however in contrast to Love, he’s an element within the passing recreation. Against UCLA, Jones had 122 yards on 28 carries (with 2 touchdowns). Jones has solely failed to break 100 yards on the bottom this season, and that 122 was nearly precisely his common per recreation this yr.
Trojans’ exterior linebacker Uchenna Nwosu also needs to be in your radar. He has handled dings all season lengthy — most lately a grade 1 MCL sprain — nevertheless he’s a cross rusher price watching. He has loads of burst and bend to rush the sting, in addition to a improbable sense for batting down passes. He has knocked down 13 on the yr to go together with eight.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.
AAC Championship – UCF (12) vs Memphis (16)
Saturday, Noon – ABC
I’ll admit it now: Shame on me for not speaking about UCF this season. UCF has put some good players within the NFL, akin to Daunte Culpepper, Asante Samuel, Brandon Marshall (WR), Latavius Murray, Josh Sitton, and Matt Praeter.
Most lately they had been often known as the college that produced Blake Bortles and Breshad Perriman.
But this yr UCF is downright enjoyable and troublesome to root in opposition to. Most notably due to S/LB Shaquem Griffin. Griffin is terrific in protection, with loads of vary and instincts, however that isn’t why individuals shall be speaking about him. He goes to be one of many inspirational tales of the draft as a result of he performs in addition to he does with just one hand. Griffin, twin brother to Shaquill Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks, had his left hand amputated on the age of 4, however hasn’t let that deter him from being an impression participant on the soccer discipline.
Memphis QB Riley Ferguson has been producing one thing of an under-the-radar buzz this season. He has the standard peak and arm expertise that NFL evaluators like to see, and has been productive this yr, with 32 touchdowns to simply eight interceptions. He might stand to add some mass on the subsequent stage, however he has accomplished sufficient to excite scouts — together with out-dueling Josh Rosen to begin the season.
Big 12 Championship – Oklahoma (2) vs. TCU (10)
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. – Fox
The Big 12 championship is a rematch from simply three weeks in the past, when TCU confronted Oklahoma after the Bedlam recreation. At the time, the stout TCU protection was anticipated to be a stiff check for quarterback Baker Mayfield. It was a check that Mayfield handed with flying colours as he accomplished 18-of-27 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He additionally rushed 11 occasions for 50 yards. Mayfield is my present prime quarterback, partly due to how he carried out in opposition to TCU the primary time round.
It can even be price watching Oklahoma’s left deal with, the large Orlando Brown Jr. Brown Jr. is the son of former NFL participant Orlando Brown and is an attention-grabbing research at left deal with. He is clearly huge and highly effective, but additionally unusually sleek in his actions. However, he’s additionally about as slow-footed as you’d count on from somebody 6’eight”, 350 kilos. He is succesful in a brief space, however asking him to pull or get out in area might be irritating.
Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is unquestionably price watching and made my checklist of Top 5 Edge Rushers (he’s quantity 4). Likely strictly a linebacker on the subsequent stage, Okoronkwo is disruptive and productive — and definitely one of the best participant on Oklahoma’s protection.
The final time these two confronted off, the Giants had been certainly one of 4 groups with a scout credentialed for the sport.
SEC Championship – Auburn (four) vs. Georgia (6)
Saturday, four p.m. – CBS
The battle for the SEC Championship can be (probably) a battle for a berth within the College Football Playoffs.
And, as with the Big 12 championship, it’s a rematch from Week 11 of the common season. This recreation will function two full and proficient rosters. Auburn is perhaps probably the most full group in faculty soccer, with a troublesome to cease offense and a stout protection. The story of the sport stands out as the well being of operating again Kerryon Johnson. Johnson is the SEC’s main rusher, however he has accomplished so at the price of many, many carries in Auburn’s run-heavy offense. He is presently thought of a game-time determination after a shoulder damage suffered in opposition to Alabama. If he can’t go, Auburn can have to lean on quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Stidham is a proficient participant with a robust arm to stretch the sphere whereas additionally having the athleticism to run the read-option. Gus Malzahn’s offense is all the time at its peak with these traits behind heart.
In entrance of them is left deal with turned guard Braden Smith. Of the players on Auburn’s roster, Smith is the one that ought to curiosity Giants’ followers probably the most. While he isn’t fairly athletic sufficient to play deal with at then NFL stage, he has wonderful toes for a guard. Combined with good method, leverage, a robust higher physique, and loads of nasty, he must be (at the least) a strong starter within the NFL.
The Georgia Bulldogs discipline a pair of operating backs who will probably be beginning on Sundays. Nick Chubb will get a lot of the consideration together with his return to well being — and with it his uncommon mix of energy and explosive athleticism. However, Sony Michel is a proficient runner in his personal proper. He has distinctive quickness for a 220 pound operating again, and the power to be a contributor within the passing recreation. There are scouts who consider that of the 2, Michel may very well be the superior participant on Sunday.
Left deal with Isiah Wynn is one other tackle-to-guard transition prospect. At 6’2,” 305 he’s too small to play offensive deal with within the NFL, however might transition properly inside. He is a robust run blocker and would have superb toes for a guard.
On the defensive aspect of the ball, linebackers Roquan Smith and Lorenzo Carter must be of curiosity. Smith is a barely undersized however extremely athletic and instinctive linebacker who is mostly thought of the highest off-ball linebacker within the draft. He has twice lead Georgia in tackles and is mostly an element all around the discipline, with 100 complete tackles, eight.5 tackles for a loss, four.5 sacks, 2 passes defensed, and a pressured fumble.
Lorenzo Carter is a protracted, lanky cross rusher who ought to have a task speeding the passer in any “Under” system. At 6’5”, 240, he has nice athleticism and motion abilities. If the Giants want a SAM linebacker to substitute free agent Devon Kennard, Carter would possibly catch their eye.
Big 10 Championship – Wisconsin (four) vs. Ohio State (eight)
Saturday, eight p.m. – Fox
This must be an epic battle within the trenches.
Wisconsin’s offensive scheme is solely predicated on their potential to run the soccer with a Pro-Style blocking scheme.
Ohio State has a ridiculously deep defensive entrance crammed with players who shall be enjoying, beginning, on Sundays.
Wisconsin tight finish Troy Fumagagalli is the Badgers’ prime prospect. A “classic” and well-rounded tight finish at 6’5,” 250, he has good dimension, sufficient athleticism, dependable arms, and blocking potential.
The Badgers even have a trio of linebackers, Jack Cichy, Garret Dooley, and T.J. Edwards, price keeping track of. If all three enter the draft, which one goes first within the draft would possibly rely on the wants and scheme of the assorted groups — not to point out how all of them carry out on the Scouting Combine.
On the Ohio State aspect of issues, we’ve already talked at size about their stacked entrance 7 — it’s probably that at the least one participant will leap off the display for you from that unit. We’ve additionally talked about Billy Price, who couldn’t solely be the highest heart however a top-5 guard within the draft.
Running again Michael Weber will get misplaced within the shuffle of each Ohio State prospects as nicely operating backs as an entire. As a red-shirt sophomore, he won’t even declare for the draft. However, at 5’9”, 215 kilos, he combines a robust fashion with good agility. He reveals the power to sink his hips and alter his heart of gravity to shortly change course in addition to run by means of arm tackles earlier than accelerating by means of a gap. His manufacturing is streaky, however Weber generally is a enjoyable again to watch.
ACC Championship – Clemson (1) vs. Miami (7)
Despite two days of marquee video games, this may very well be THE marquee recreation of the weekend.
The ACC championship options two groups which are extremely quick and enjoyable.
Miami has a really younger and athletic group, and actually isn’t (but) of a lot curiosity draft-wise. It actually isn’t for lack of expertise, however fairly that the Hurricanes’ greatest players are all too younger to be draft eligible. That gained’t final lengthy and they need to be a hotbed of draft prospects beginning subsequent season.
The Clemson Tigers, nevertheless, have a number of players who ought to curiosity Giants’ followers.
Defensive deal with Christian Wilkins and DE Clelin Ferrell are the highest two prospects on Clemson’s roster — although which one is the highest varies by who’s taking a look at them. Both are large, lengthy, athletic, and disruptive.
Behind them are linebackers Kendall Joseph and Dorian O’Daniel. Joseph probably suits greatest as an inside linebacker on the subsequent stage. He has strong dimension and athleticism, and is a quiet chief (however energetic defender) for Clemson’s protection. O’Daniel would possibly match greatest as an off-ball WILL linebacker, who has almost-DB athleticism
On the offensive aspect of the ball, left deal with Mitch Hyatt might be the participant most Giants followers shall be watching. He has good size at 6’5”, however at 295 will really want to add mass to cope with NFL energy. He has the requisite athleticism for the place in addition to (typically) strong method.
If you’re on the lookout for energy, regulate proper guard Tyrone Crowder. If the Giants don’t retain D.J. Fluker, Crowder might catch their eye. At 6’2,” 340 kilos, he appears to be like like a bowling ball with legs and arms, and he has roughly the identical impact on defensive linemen. Crowder is mauling run blocker who makes use of his pure leverage nicely to get below defenders’ pads and easily transfer them. NFL groups will need to double verify his cross safety, however when it comes to run blocking, he excels.
Finally now we have huge receiver Deon Cain. He doesn’t see many touches in Clemson’s offense, however he has the potential to be an impactful professional. Listed at 6’1,” 190 kilos, he’s skinny, however reveals a very good catch radius whereas having loads of velocity to stretch a protection. In his two seasons with DeShaun Watson, he averaged simply over 18 yards per catch and caught 14 touchdowns on simply 74 receptions.
So, strap in, get your popcorn prepared, and revel in a Friday evening and a full Saturday of what guarantees to be nice faculty soccer!