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Zach's Draft Corner: Looking at Playoff Projections/What to Watch

November 29, 2019

 

  Image Credit: Auburn Athletics

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.

 

 

Well, we’ve finally arrived.  The last week of college football’s regular season.  It’s been a great trip so far, but the journey is just beginning.  With the end of the regular season, we have conference championships and bowl season on the horizon.  So much of bowl season is influenced by who makes the College Football Playoff.  For example, if a Pac 12 or Big Ten team make the playoffs, then it will be the second place team in that conference that goes to the Rose Bowl instead of the conference winner.  Besides, the playoffs are what most casual college football fans care about.  This week, I’m going to run through every team still alive for the playoffs and tell you what it will take for that team to make the playoffs, as well as what it will take for them to be watching the big show from home.

 

Ohio State

Current Ranking: 1

Record - 11-0

Loss:  None

Remaining Schedule:  at (13) Michigan, Big Ten Championship against the winner of Wisconsin at Minnesota

 

How they get in:  Win the Big Ten Championship.  The game against Michigan doesn't really matter since they have the East division clinched.

 

How they are left out:  Lose the Big Ten Championship.  It's really that simple for Ohio State.  The SEC is likely the only conference where a one-loss, non-conference champion could make the playoffs.  Of course, there could be a doomsday scenario where a lot of teams lose games and Ohio State could sneak their way in, but that's a lot of losing.

 

LSU

Current Ranking: 2

Record - 11-0

Loss:  None

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Texas A&M, SEC Championship against Georgia

 

How they get in:  Just keep winning and they are in.  Even with a loss to Texas A&M or Georgia, there is a chance that they could make the playoffs.

 

How they are left out:  Obviously, losing out would be detrimental.  A loss to Texas A&M would not be enough to keep them out if they are able to win the SEC Championship.  However, a loss to Georgia could keep them out if the other conferences all have one-loss (or less) conference champions.

 

Clemson

Current Ranking: 3

Record - 11-0

Loss:  None

Remaining Schedule:  at South Carolina, ACC Championship against the winner of Virginia at Virginia Tech

 

How they get in:  Win out.

 

How they are left out:  Lose any game, so long as the rest of the Top 10 doesn't implode.  Clemson doesn't have the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their schedule.  There is a chance that not a single team on their schedule finishes in the Top 25.  If Clemson didn't have the reputation, this wouldn't even be a debate.

 

Georgia

Current Ranking: 4

Record - 10-1

Loss:  vs. South Carolina (unranked)

Remaining Schedule:  at Georgia Tech, SEC Championship against LSU

 

How they get in:  Win out. There is still debate about Georgia being in the top four at this point, but a win over LSU in the SEC Championship would leave no doubt about it.

 

How they are left out:  In all likelihood, a loss for any of the teams from here on out will knock them out of contention.  However, Georgia is the last team that controls its own destiny.

 

Alabama

Current Ranking: 5

Record - 10-1

Loss:  vs. (1) LSU 

Remaining Schedule:  at (15) Auburn 

 

How they get in:  Alabama is the only school on this list that has no chance to be in the conference championship game.  Alabama has to win against Auburn, first and foremost.  Multiple teams above Alabama have to lose, and it would sure help if teams below Alabama lost a game or two.  The Playoff Committee has laid the precedent of putting a one-loss powerhouse into the playoffs when two of the five conference champions have two losses and Notre Dame is not undefeated.  Alabama's best chance of that happening would be Utah losing to either Colorado or Oregon and a loss by eventual the Big 12 champion this week.

 

How they are left out:  A loss to Auburn will be the most obvious final blow to Alabama's playoff hopes.  If there are four conference champions with only one loss, I don't see how the committee can put a Tua-less Alabama into the playoffs.  Further, if Georgia defeats LSU in the SEC championship, LSU would then take the top non-conference champion spot. For the first time in the history of the playoffs, we likely will not see Alabama.

 

Utah

Current Ranking: 6

Record - 10-1

Loss:  at (25) USC 

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Colorado, potential Pac 12 Championship against Oregon (must win against Colorado)

 

How they get in:  Utah certainly needs to win out for a chance to get in.  The easiest route would be for LSU to defeat Georgia in the SEC Championship and for Baylor to defeat Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship.  The Committee would have to compare the one-loss Pac 12 champion against the one-loss Big 12 champion, and Utah likely beats out Baylor.  Utah and Oklahoma would be a tossup.  If Clemson loses one of their next two games, I think Utah and Oklahoma would both make the cut over Clemson.

 

How they are left out:  A loss takes Utah out of contention.  Even if they win out, if Oklahoma steamrolls Oklahoma State and Baylor on their way to a Big 12 Championship, the Committee could conceivably put Oklahoma in over Utah.

 

Oklahoma

Current Ranking: 7

Record - 10-1

Loss:  At Kansas State (unranked)

Remaining Schedule:  at Oklahoma State, Big 12 Championship against Baylor

 

How they get in:  Again, Oklahoma first needs to win out.  If Utah or Clemson falter along the way, Oklahoma is a shoo-in.  If Utah also wins out, along with Ohio State and Clemson, it will be a tossup between Oklahoma and Utah for the final spot after putting in the SEC champion.  Oklahoma needs to win, but they would feel more comfortable if they got some help.  The pre-conference championship playoff rankings will go a long way towards letting them know how they compare to Utah.

 

How they are left out:  A loss takes Oklahoma out of the running.  Like I outlined above, there is a good chance that Oklahoma could win out and the Committee would still choose Utah over the Sooners.  It's completely possible that Oklahoma does everything right and still can't make it through.

 

Minnesota

Current Ranking: 8

Record - 10-1

Loss:  at (19) Iowa 

Remaining Schedule:  vs. Wisconsin, potentially Big Ten Championship

 

How they get in:  Now is where we get really crazy.  Assume Minnesota wins out for everything that follows.  Wins against Wisconsin and Ohio State would surely look fantastic.  However, it's still Minnesota, and there are humans making the list.  Would those wins be enough to overcome the stigma of a team that took multiple weeks to even be a ranked team earlier this season?  Minnesota's easiest route in would be losses by Utah and Clemson. A one-loss Minnesota would be in over a two-loss Pac 12 champion.  If the Committee actually looks at the schedule and considers the caliber of the opponents each team faced, Minnesota's résumé would be more impressive than Clemson, whether Clemson wins the ACC Championship or not.  That puts Minnesota in third place amongst conference champions, and cements them a spot in the playoffs regardless of how the committee views Alabama and the loser of the SEC Championship.  If two of Utah, Oklahoma, and Clemson win out, there will be a serious conversation about whether a one-loss Minnesota deserves a spot over Alabama and the loser of the SEC Championship.

 

How they are left out:  A loss anywhere takes Minnesota completely out of consideration.  Oklahoma and Baylor throw another wrench in this.  The SEC champion would of course be ranked higher than Minnesota.  Assuming Clemson wins, they would also be ranked above Minnesota.  If Utah wins out, Utah will also be ranked above Minnesota.  If Oklahoma wins out, Oklahoma would be ranked above Minnesota.  If Baylor wins the Big 12 Championship, then a lot of teams will be clamoring for that final playoff spot.  Would the Committee rank Minnesota above Baylor?  Would either team be ranked above Alabama?  Realistically, Alabama would likely crush either of these teams, but does that take away the chance for a true underdog to win the National Championship if the Committee can overlook a one-loss conference champion just because they aren't the conference champion you expected?

 

Baylor

Current Ranking: 9

Record - 10-1

Loss:  vs. (8) Oklahoma 

Remaining Schedule:  at Kansas, Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma

 

How they get in:  This is very similar to Minnesota.  Assume Baylor wins out.  The easiest way for Baylor to get in is for LSU to beat Georgia, Utah to lose a game, and Clemson to lose.  That would put Baylor as, at worst, the third highest ranked conference champion depending on what happens in the Big Ten.  If Utah or Clemson win out, Baylor might be the fourth highest ranked conference champion.  Do the Bears get in over Alabama?  Do they get in over LSU if Georgia wins the SEC Championship?  If Minnesota or Wisconsin defeats Ohio State, would Baylor get in over the Buckeyes?  If the Committee goes by talent, then no.  If the Committee goes by resume?  Well, would a single win over a ranked team (two if Iowa State remains ranked) be enough?

 

How they are left out:  A loss eliminates Baylor completely.  As outlined above, it's more likely that Baylor is left out, even if they keep winning.  If Ohio State and Clemson win their championships, as expected, it will be very difficult for Baylor to get that final spot.

 

Playoff Prediction:

1.  LSU

2.  Ohio State

3.  Clemson

4.  Utah

 

TV Guide

The sheer amount of college games on at any given time can be completely overwhelming.  Every week, in the TV Guide section of my column, I will choose the top two games at any given time slot and outline the various prospects you can watch in those games.  That way, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and hit the “Previous Channel” button on your remote to toggle between games chock full of pro prospects.  Here is your guide for week fourteen (all times Eastern, playoff rankings in parentheses).

 

As a reminder, we have a new format for the TV Guide this season.  I’m going to list all of the draft eligible players that will impact the games themselves, meaning the lists will be pretty long.  Then, I'll summarize each team by showing the players seriously in contention to be drafted at this point in time.  However, it's important to know that one exceptional season can cause an impactful player to become a draftable player, so these names are still good to monitor.

 

Friday, November 29

 

Texas Tech University at University of Texas, 12:00 PM, FOX

 

Texas Tech

R.J. Turner, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

T.J. Vasher, Junior Wide Receiver, #9

McLane Mannix, Junior Wide Receiver, #13

Terence Steele, Senior Tackle, #78

Travis Bruffy, Senior Tackle, #79

Jack Anderson, Junior Guard, #56

Madison Akamnonu, Senior Guard, #58

Broderick Washington, Senior Defensive Tackle, #96

Lonzell Gilmore, Senior Defensive End, #94

Eli Howard, Junior Defensive End, #53

Jordyn Brooks, Senior Linebacker, #1

 

One of the best things about Thanksgiving weekend is that you get four straight days jam packed with football.  Instead of just one or two bad games at night, you get a full day of big-time college football on Black Friday.  To kick off the day, we get a shootout down in Texas.  The Kliff Kingsbury era has ended at Texas Tech, but the mentality hasn’t.  Texas Tech is still a spread out, high flying offense, and they have the receivers to make it work in Vasher and Mannix.  Outside of these two, though there isn’t much to speak of in Lubbock.

 

Texas

Sam Ehlinger, Junior Quarterback, #11

Collin Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #9

John Burt, Senior Wide Receiver, #1

Devin Duvernay, Senior Wide Receiver, #6

Parker Braun, Senior Guard, #73

Zach Shackelford, Senior Center, #56

Gerald Wilbon, Senior Defensive Tackle, #94

Malcolm Roach, Senior Defensive Tackle, #32

Jeffrey McCulloch, Senior Linebacker, #23

Brandon Jones, Senior Safety, #19

 

Ehlinger looked like he was poised for a big season, but something is missing.  He might do well to return to school, but losing his top targets in Johnson and Duvernay to the NFL also might hurt him even more next year.  He’d also lose out on Braun and Shackelford protecting the interior.  Texas has one of the better defenses in the Big 12, led by Jones in the secondary and Roach along the line.

 

University of Virginia at (24) Virginia Tech University, 12:00 PM, ABC

 

Virginia

Bryce Perkins, Senior Quarterback, #3

PK Kier, Junior Running Back, #6

Joe Reed, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Hasise Dubois, Senior Wide Receiver, #8

Eli Hanback, Senior Defensive Tackle, #58

Charles Snowden, Junior Linebacker, #11

Jordan Mack, Senior Linebacker, #4

Bryce Hall, Senior Cornerback, #34

Brenton Nelson, Junior Safety, #28

Joey Blount, Junior Safety, #29

 

Things have changed since the last time we saw Virginia here.  Namely, Bryce Hall suffered a terrible leg injury and is out for the season, and likely some of next season.  It’s a shame for the first-round talent, but Virginia is moving forward.  Bryce Perkins has been solid, but he will need a very specific system to succeed.  He is very mobile and can throw accurately downfield, but his processing and short accuracy needs work.  He would be a perfect fit as a backup to a Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes, but may struggle in other precision-based systems.  On defense, Snowden’s unique size and skillset makes him an intriguing mid-round guy.

 

Virginia Tech

Ryan Lewis, Senior Quarterback, #5

Deshawn McClease, Junior Running Back, #33

Damon Hazelton, Junior Wide Receiver, #14

Dalton Keene, Junior Tight End, #29

Silas Dzansi, Redshirt Sophomore Tackle, #60

Rayshard Ashby, Junior Linebacker, #23

Caleb Farley, Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #3

Khalil Ladler, Junior Safety, #9

Reggie Floyd, Senior Safety, #1

 

Virginia Tech has some decent talent this year, but nothing to call home about.  The best prospect is likely Reggie Floyd, who is a do-it-all safety that would benefit from having a defined role.  Otherwise, McClease, Keene, Dzansi, Ashby, and Farley all have a chance to be drafted, but need good tape this season to prove their worth.

 

(17) University of Iowa at University of Nebraska, 2:30 PM, Big Ten Network

 

Iowa

Nathan Stanley, Senior Quarterback, #4

Mekhi Sargent, Junior Running Back, #10

Brady Ross, Senior Fullback, #36

Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Junior Wide Receiver, #6

Shaun Beyer, Junior Tight End, #42

Nate Wieting, Senior Tight End, #39

Tristan Wirfs, Junior Tackle, #74

Alaric Jackson, Junior Tackle, #77

Levi Paulsen, Senior Guard, #66

Landan Paulsen, Senior Guard, #68

Brady Reiff, Senior Defensive Tackle, #91

Cedrick Lattimore, Senior Defensive Tackle, #95

Daviyon Nixon, Junior Defensive Tackle, #54

A.J. Epenesa, Junior Defensive End, #94

Chauncey Gholston, Junior Defensive End, #57

Djimon Colberts, Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, #32

Kristian Welch, Senior Linebacker, #34

Matt Hankins, Junior Cornerback, #8

Michael Ojemudia, Senior Cornerback, #11

Geno Stone, Junior Safety, #9

 

Epenesa has rebounded well after his relatively slow start to the season, cementing his first round status.  Wirfs has moved into the top ten on most boards with his versatility at both tackle spots and his superior athleticism and technique.  Alaric Jackson missed a few games due to injury, and if he doesn’t have a good end to the season, he may be driven to return to school.  For Iowa, the remaining draftable prospects include Stanley, Sargent, Smith-Marsette, Beyer, Nixon, Colberts, Welch, and Stone.

 

Nebraska

Jaron Woodyard, Senior Wide Receiver, #88

Kanawai Noa, Senior Wide Receiver, #9

J.D. Spielman, Junior Wide Receiver, #10

Jake Stoll, Junior Tight End, #86

Matt Farniok, Junior Tackle, #71

Brendan Jaimes, Junior Tackle, #76

Boe Wilson, Junior Guard, #56

Carlos Davis, Senior Defensive Tackle, #96

Ben Stille, Junior Defensive Tackle, #95

Daishon Neal, Senior Defensive Tackle, #9

Khalil Davis, Senior Defensive Tackle, #94

Darrion Daniels, Senior Defensive Tackle, #79

Alex Davis, Senior Defensive End, #22

Mohamed Barry, Senior Linebacker, #7

JoJo Domann, Junior Linebacker, #13

Tyrin Ferguson, Senior Linebacker, #43

Lamar Jackson, Senior Cornerback, #21

Eric Lee, Jr., Senior Cornerback, #6

Dicaprio Bootle, Junior Cornerback, #23

Avery Anderson, Senior Safety, #4

Marquele Dismuke, Junior Safety, #19

 

This is a do-or-die game for Nebraska, sitting at 5 wins on the season and needing a 6th to ensure a bowl berth.  Spielman is probably the best of the bunch as a big play receiver. The Blackshirts have some decent defensive talent on day three, including Carlos Davis, Mohamed Barry, and Lamar Jackson (not that one).

 

(19) University of Cincinnati at (18) University of Memphis, 3:30 PM, ABC

 

Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder, Redshirt Sophomore Quarterback, #9

Michael Warren, Junior Running Back, #3

Josiah Deguara, Senior Tight End, #83

Perry Young, Senior Linebacker, #6

Bryan Wright, Senior Linebacker, #11

Cameron Jefferies, Senior Cornerback, #14

 

Ridder has faced some tests, and his status as a redshirt sophomore makes it unlikely that he comes out this year.  However, he’s played very well, and should be on the radar for future seasons.  in 2020, Young and Wright are battling to hear their name called.  A strong performance against an explosive offense like Memphis would help that quest.

 

Memphis

Brady White, Junior Quarterback, #3

Patrick Taylor, Senior Running Back, #6

Pop Williams, Senior Wide Receiver, #9

Damonte Coxie, Junior Wide Receiver, #10

Joey Magnifico, Senior Tight End, #86

Dustin Woodard, Senior Guard, #53

Jonathan Wilson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #38

Bryce Huff, Senior Linebacker, #55

T.J. Carter, Junior Cornerback, #2

 

Memphis is continuing their high-flying ways, keeping the little draftable talent they have on offense. Taylor is making plays out of the backfield for Memphis, and the magnificent Magnifico pulled a rabbit out of his hat to start garnering draft chatter in recent weeks.

 

University of South Florida at University of Central Florida, 8:00 PM, ESPN

 

South Florida

Blake Barnett, Senior Quarterback, #11

Jordan Cronkrite, Senior Running Back, #2

Mitchell Wilcox, Senior Tight End, #89

Marcus Norman, Senior Tackle, #77

William Atterbury, Senior Guard, #78

Kirk Livingstone, Senior Defensive End, #94

Greg Reaves, Senior Defensive End, #4

Nico Sawtelle, Senior Linebacker, #54

Mike Hampton, Junior Cornerback, #7

Nick Roberts, Redshirt Sophomore Safety, #24

 

USF is all about Mitchell Wilcox and the secondary (Hampton and Roberts).  Wilcox is in contention for a top tight end spot, and Hampton and Roberts are solid mid-round prospects.

 

UCF

Brandon Wimbush, Senior Quarterback, #3

Greg McRae, Junior Running Back, #30

Adrian Killins, Senior Running Back, #9

Marlon Williams, Junior Wide Receiver, #6

Tre Nixon, Junior Wide Receiver, #16

Gabriel Davis, Junior Wide Receiver, #13

Trevor Elbert, Senior Tackle, #79

Josh McMullen, Senior Tackle, #60

Jake Brown, Senior Tackle, #77

Cole Schneider, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #65

Jordan Johnson, Senior Center, #72

Brendon Hayes, Senior Defensive Tackle, #6

Malik Barrow, Junior Defensive Tackle, #95

Nate Evans, Senior Linebacker, #44

Nevelle Clarke, Senior Cornerback, #14

Brandon Moore, Junior Cornerback, #20

Richie Grant, Junior Safety, #27

Jordan Hayes, Senior Safety, #11

Antwan Collier, Junior Safety, #3

 

Davis has been a huge surprise for UCF this year, including a very impressive showing against the Stanford stud Paulson Adebo at the beginning of the season.  Schneider continues to look strong along the offensive line, and Grant and Collier have limited the amount of big plays on defense. UCF may not be the undefeated next-five juggernaut they’ve been the past couple of seasons, but they still have talent.

 

Saturday, November 30

 

(1) Ohio State University at (13) University of Michigan, 12:00 PM, FOX

 

Ohio State

J.K. Dobbins, Junior Running Back, #2

Demario McCall, Junior Running Back, #30

K.J. Hill, Senior Wide Receiver, #14

Austin Mack, Senior Wide Receiver, #11

Binjimen Victor, Senior Wide Receiver, #9

Luke Farrell, Junior Tight End, #89

Rashod Berry, Senior Tight End, #13

Thayer Munford, Junior Tackle, #75

Jonah Jackson, Senior Guard, #73

Robert Landers, Senior Defensive Tackle, #67

Davon Hamilton, Senior Defensive Tackle, #53

Chase Young, Junior Defensive End, #2

Jonathon Cooper, Senior Defensive End, #18

Jashon Cornell, Senior Defensive End, #9

Malik Harrison, Senior Linebacker, #39

Pete Werner, Junior Linebacker, #20

Baron Browning, Junior Linebacker, #5

Tuf Borland, Junior Linebacker, #32

Jeffrey Okudah, Junior Cornerback, #1

Shaun Wade, Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #24

Damon Arnette, Senior Cornerback, #3

Jordan Fuller, Senior Safety, #4

Jahsen Wint, Junior Safety, #23

 

Ohio State has been cruising through this season, even when they played Wisconsin.  They even made quick work of the Nittany Lions.  However, crazy things can happen in rivalries, and not many are as big as the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.  They bring plenty of firepower into this matchup, with Young, Okudah, Wade, and maybe even Arnette and Fuller being first round picks in that ferocious Buckeye defense.  Landers, Harrison, and Borland round out the Buckeye defense that is shaping up to be one of the most talented in the country.  The offense is full of speed, including Dobbins, Hill, and Farrell.  The offensive line is the weak spot, if there is one, on this Buckeye team, but Munford should be able to make a team. 

 

Michigan

Shea Patterson, Senior Quarterback, #2

Tru Wilson, Senior Running Back, #13

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Junior Wide Receiver, #9

Nico Collins, Junior Wide Receiver, #4

Tarik Black, Junior Wide Receiver, #7

Sean McKeon, Senior Tight End, #84

Nico Eubanks, Junior Tight End, #82

Ben Bredeson, Senior Guard, #74

Jon Runyan, Senior Guard, #75

Michael Onwenu, Senior Guard, #50

Michael Dwumfour, Senior Defensive Tackle, #50

Josh Uche, Senior Defensive End, #6

Kwity Paye, Junior Defensive End, #19

Khaleke Hudson, Junior Linebacker, #7

Josh Ross, Junior Linebacker, #12

Lavert Hill, Senior Cornerback, #24

Josh Metellus, Senior Safety, #14

 

Peoples-Jones, Collins, and Black have their work cut out for them going against a strong Ohio State secondary, and I’d definitely give the Buckeyes the advantage.  If Michigan wants to stay in this game, they will need a strong performance from their own defensive players in Uche, Paye, Hudson, Hill, and Metellus.

 

(3) Clemson University at University of South Carolina, 12:00 PM, ESPN

 

Clemson

Trevor Lawrence, Sophomore Quarterback, #16

Travis Etienne, Junior Running Back, #9

Darien Rencher, Junior Running Back, #21

Tee Higgins, Junior Wide Receiver, #5

Justyn Ross, Sophomore Wide Receiver, #8

Diondre Overton, Senior Wide Receiver, #14

Amari Rodgers, Junior Wide Receiver, #3

Tremayne Anchrum, Senior Tackle, #73

John Simpson, Senior Guard, #74

Sean Pollard, Senior Guard, #76

Gage Cervenka, Senior Center, #59

Nyles Pinckney, Junior Defensive Tackle, #44

Xavier Kelly, Junior Defensive Tackle, #22

Jordan Williams, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #59

Justin Foster, Junior Defensive End, #35

Isaiah Simmons, Junior Linebacker/Safety, #11

A.J. Terrell, Junior Cornerback, #8

K'Von Wallace, Senior Safety, #12

Denzel Johnson, Senior Safety, #14

Tanner Muse, Senior Safety, #19

 

They aren’t draft eligible, but the best prospects on Clemson are Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross.  I would not be surprised if both are top ten picks in 2021.  For the more immediate future, the first round talents include Simmons, Etienne, Higgins, and potentially Terrell.  Simpson and Pollard give Clemson one of the best interior lines in the ACC.  On defense, Clemson has tried to replenish the dominant defensive line class from 2019 with Williams and Foster, to modest results. Wallace and Muse are day three picks for the time being, but could see a rise.

 

South Carolina

Rico Dowdle, Senior Running Back, #5

Tavien Feaster, Senior Running Back, #4

Bryan Edwards, Senior Wide Receiver, #89

OrTre Smith, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #18

Shi Smith, Junior Wide Receiver, #13

Sadarius Hutcherson, Junior Guard, #50

Donell Stanley, Senior Center, #72

Javon Kinlaw, Senior Defensive Tackle, #3

Keir Thomas, Senior Defensive Tackle, #5

Kobe Smith, Senior Defensive Tackle, #95

D.J. Wonnum, Senior Defensive End, #8

T.J. Brunson, Senior Linebacker, #6

Sherrod Greene, Junior Linebacker, #44

Jamel Cook, Junior Safety, #31

 

South Carolina has a lot of veterans, but not many who will go in the draft.  Deebo Samuel’s former partner-in-crime, Bryan Edwards, is working his way into day two conversations as a receiver, and Javon Kinlaw is now a first round defensive tackle after an incredible season.  Outside of them, however, the Gamecocks are limping.

 

(5) University of Alabama at (15) Auburn University, 3:30 PM, CBS

 

Alabama

Tua Tagovailoa, Junior Quarterback, #13

Brian Robinson, Junior Running Back, #24

Najee Harris, Junior Running Back, #22

Jerry Jeudy, Junior Wide Receiver, #4

Henry Ruggs III, Junior Wide Receiver, #11

DeVonta Smith, Junior Wide Receiver, #6

Miller Forristall, Junior Tight End, #87

Major Tennison, Junior Tight End, #88

Scott Lashley, Junior Tackle, #76

Alex Leatherwood, Junior Tackle, #70

Jedrick Wills, Junior Tackle, #74

Deonte Brown, Junior Guard, #65

Chris Owens, Junior Center, #79

LaBryan Ray, Junior Defensive Tackle, #89

Phidarian Mathis, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #48

Raekwon Davis, Senior Defensive Tackle, #99

Anfernee Jennings, Senior Defensive End, #33

Terrell Lewis, Junior Defensive End, #24

Christopher Allen, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #4

Dylan Moses, Junior Linebacker, #32

Ben Davis, Junior Linebacker, #1

Joshua McMillon, Senior Linebacker, #40

Trevon Diggs, Senior Cornerback, #7

Xavier McKinney, Junior Safety, #15

Shyheim Carter, Senior Safety, #5

Jared Mayden, Senior Safety, #21

 

It’s really amazing just how much talent Alabama gets every season.  It’s likely the reason why they are able to lose at home and remain ahead of other undefeated teams in the Playoff Rankings.  Everyone on this list will likely matter at some point.  This year, in the first round alone, Alabama will likely get Tua (even with the injury), Jeudy, Ruggs, Leatherwood, Davis, Diggs, McKinney, and Carter.  Even Jedrick Wills is getting some first round love.   That’s literally over one-quarter of the first round that could be from the University of Alabama.  That’s not even counting Dylan Moses, the injured linebacker who was the unanimous LB1 coming into the season.  Harris, Smith, Tennison, Lashley, and Jennings round out the stacked squad.

 

Auburn

Kam Martin, Senior Running Back, #9

Jay Jay Wilson, Senior Fullback, #42

JaTarvarious Whitlow, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #28

Will Hastings, Senior Wide Receiver, #33

Sal Cannella, Senior Tight End, #80

Jack Driscoll, Senior Tackle, #71

Prince Tega Wanogho, Senior Tackle, #76

Marquel Harrell, Senior Guard, #77

Mike Horton, Senior Guard, #64

Kaleb Kim, Senior Center, #54

Derrick Brown, Senior Defensive Tackle, #5

Nick Coe, Senior Defensive Tackle, #91

Marlon Davidson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #3

Big Kat Bryant, Junior Defensive End, #1

Javaris Davis, Senior Cornerback, #13

Noah Igbinoghene, Junior Cornerback, #4

Daniel Thomas, Senior Safety, #24

Jeremiah Dinson, Senior Safety, #20

 

Auburn is building along the lines, and doing it very well.  Outside of Martin, all of the draftable talent is on the lines.  Wanogho and Driscoll combine to form one of the best bookend pairs in the nation.  Derrick Brown is elite and in the running for the top defensive tackle in the class, while the rest of that defensive line is full of day two or day three prospects.  With Tua being hurt, Auburn may be primed to win the Iron Bowl for the first time in a few seasons.

 

(12) University of Wisconsin at (8) University of Minnesota, 3:30 PM, ABC

 

Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor, Junior Running Back, #23

Bradrick Shaw, Senior Running Back, #7

Quintez Cephus, Senior Wide Receiver, #87

A.J. Taylor, Senior Wide Receiver, #4

Danny Davis III, Junior Wide Receiver, #6

Jake Ferguson, Redshirt Sophomore Tight End, #84

David Moorman, Senior Tackle, #68

Cole Van Lanen, Junior Tackle, #71

Tyler Biadasz, Junior Center, #61

Isaiah Loudermilk, Junior Defensive Tackle, #97

Zack Baun, Senior Defensive End, #56

Chris Orr, Senior Linebacker, #54

 

It should come as no surprise that a team like Wisconsin features studs at running back and the offensive line.  Taylor and Biadasz are first round talents, but the rest of the offensive line will get drafted whenever they enter the process.  Cephus is the rare Wisconsin receiver who has some talent.  On defense, Baun and Orr have been impressive, and should both get drafted.  Loudermilk has had a quieter season than expected, but still has a chance to get drafted.

 

Minnesota

Mohamed Ibrahim, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #24

Rodney Smith, Senior Running Back, #1

Shannon Brooks, Senior Running Back, #4

Tyler Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #6

Chris Autman-Bell, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #7

Blaise Andries, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #77

Conner Olson, Junior Center, #64

Micah Dew-Treadway, Senior Defensive Tackle, #18

Carter Coughlin, Senior Defensive End/Linebacker, #45

Winston DeLattiboudere, Senior Defensive End, #46

Kamal Martin, Senior Linebacker, #21

Thomas Barber, Senior Linebacker, #41

Chris Williamson, Senior Cornerback, #6

Antoine Winfield Jr., Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #11

 

This game right here is for a spot in the Big Ten Championship, and the Gophers are hungry to get a shot for the conference title before going into hibernation.  Before Minnesota upset Wisconsin last season, Minnesota hadn’t won Paul Bunyan’s Axe (yes, that’s the trophy for this game) since 2003.  Now it’s P.J. Fleck and the Gophers who are looking to start a winning streak.  The Gophers are led by a duo of skill positions on offense in Ibrahim and Johnson.  Johnson is at least a second-round guy, and might be one of my favorite receivers in the entire class.  Minnesota also boats some talent on defense in Coughlin and Martin.  Watch out for Winfield, though.  The son of former baseball legend Dave Winfield, Antoine, when healthy, has been electric in the secondary and in the return game.  He could be the one to break the game.

 

University of Colorado at University of (6) Utah, 7:30 PM, ABC

 

Colorado

Steven Montez, Senior Quarterback, #12

Laviska Shenault Jr., Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Tim Lynott, Senior Guard, #56

Mustafa Johnson, Junior Defensive Tackle, #34

Nate Landman, Junior Linebacker, #53

Davion Taylor, Senior Linebacker, #20

Delrick Abrams Jr., Senior Cornerback, #1

Mikial Onu, Senior Safety, #2

 

As always, Laviska is the star of the show for Colorado.  However, there are some newcomers to the table for the Buffalos.  Steven Montez is showing enough that someone will likely take a late round flyer on him.  On defense, Nate Landman is taking advantage of the weaker linebacker class to work his way into the mid-round conversation.

 

Utah

Tyler Huntley, Senior Quarterback, #1

Zack Moss, Senior Running Back, #2

Darrin Paulo, Senior Tackle, #77

Viane Moala, Junior Defensive Tackle, #98

John Penisini, Senior Defensive Tackle, #52

Leki Fotu, Senior Defensive Tackle, #99

Bradlee Anae, Senior Defensive End, #6

Francis Bernard, Senior Linebacker, #13

Jaylon Johnson, Junior Cornerback, #1

Julian Blackmon, Senior Safety, #23

 

Utah is on pace to challenge Oregon in the Pac 12 championship, and hope to stay on that pace against Colorado.  Utah has at least one offensive prospect in Zack Moss, but their strength is their defense.  Led by Blackmon and Johnson in the secondary and Fotu and Anae on the line.  

 

(7) University of Oklahoma at (21) Oklahoma State University, 8:00 PM, FOX

 

Oklahoma

Jalen Hurts, Senior Quarterback, #1

Trey Sermon, Junior Running Back, #4

Kennedy Brooks, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #26

CeeDee Lamb, Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Lee Morris, Senior Wide Receiver, #84

Marquis Hayes, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #54

Creed Humphrey, Redshirt Sophomore Center, #56

Neville Gallimore, Senior Defensive Tackle, #90

LaRon Stokes, Junior Defensive End, #96

Kenneth Mann, Senior Defensive End, #55

Kenneth Murray, Junior Linebacker, #9

Caleb Kelly, Senior Linebacker, #19

Mark Jackson Jr., Senior Linebacker, #42

Tre Brown, Junior Cornerback, #6

Parnell Motley, Senior Cornerback, #11

 

Jalen Hurts may have fallen behind Joe Burrow in the Heisman conversation, but he’s still in the conversation for being a first round quarterback.  This offense is running on all cylinders, led by CeeDee Lamb and Creed Humphrey as first round locks.  Sermon, Brooks, and Hayes all are draftable prospects on day two or three.  On defense, Gallimore and Murray are the only hopefuls, but they are looking better and better as time goes on.

 

Oklahoma State

Dru Brown, Senior Quarterback, #6

Chuba Hubbard, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #30

Dillon Stoner, Junior Wide Receiver, #17

Tylan Wallace, Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Teven Jenkins, Junior Tackle, #73

Johnny Wilson, Senior Guard, #72

Marcus Keyes, Senior Guard, #75

Kyle Junior, Senior Defensive Tackle, #93

Calvin Bundage, Senior Linebacker, #1

Rodarius Williams, Junior Cornerback, #8

A.J. Green, Senior Cornerback, #4

 

The Cowboys are led by a duo of electric offensive prospects in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard.  Hubbard especially has come from seemingly nowhere to be one of the best stories of the season.  Stoner is more of a day three prospect.  On defense, A.J. Green (not that one) is one of the top senior cornerbacks in the nation.

 

University of Arizona at Arizona State University, 10:00 PM, ESPN

 

Arizona

Khalil Tate, Quarterback, Senior, #14

J.J. Taylor, Running Back, Senior, #21

Cody Creason, Guard, Senior, #76

Justin Belknap, Defensive End, Senior, #86

Colin Schooler, Linebacker, Junior, #7

Jace Whittaker, Cornerback, Senior, #17

Lorenzo Burns, Cornerback, Junior, #2

Tristan Cooper, Safety, Senior, #31

 

The talent level at Arizona has really gone downhill.  J.J. Taylor is likely the strongest prospect at this school, and even he is going to need a standout season to be drafted.  The most exciting name on this list is Khalil Tate, a classic story of an athlete as a quarterback who just doesn’t have the accuracy and nuance as a quarterback to succeed in the NFL.

 

Arizona State

Eno Benjamin, Junior Running Back, #3

Brandon Aiyuk, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Kyle Williams, Senior Wide Receiver, #10

Zach Robertson, Senior Tackle, #51

Steven Miller, Senior Guard, #71

Cohl Cabral, Senior Center, #73

Roe Wilkins, Senior Defensive Tackle, #95

George Lea, Senior Defensive Tackle, #17

Tyler Johnson, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #41

Kobe Williams, Senior Cornerback, #5

Chase Lucas, Junior Cornerback, #24

 

If you took my advice and bet Arizona State over Oregon on the money line last week, you’re welcome and I hope you use your money wisely.  Eno Benjamin continues his strong push for at least day two status as a running back, and is the top prospect for the Sun Devils.  However, that status has been challenged recently by Brandon Aiyuk, who has had a stellar senior season and might be a day two receiver himself.  Robertson, Johnson, and Lucas are the remaining draftable prospects at this time. 

 

University of California at University of California-Los Angeles, 10:30 PM, FS1

 

Cal

Kekoa Crawford, Junior Wide Receiver, #11

Luc Bequette, Senior Defensive Tackle, #93

Zeandae Johnson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #44

Tevin Paul, Junior Defensive End, #96

Kuony Deng, Junior Linebacker, #8

Evan Weaver, Senior Linebacker, #89

Traveon Beck, Senior Cornerback, #22

Camryn Bynum, Junior Cornerback, #24

Ashtyn Davis, Senior Safety, #27

Jaylinn Hawkins, Senior Safety, #6

 

PAC 12 after dark is some of my favorite football.  This week, we’re lucky enough to get two of these showdowns.  For Cal, it’s all about the defense with their elite pair of safeties in Davis and Hawkins, as well as their pair of mid-round linebackers in Paul and Weaver.

 

UCLA

Joshua Kelley, Senior Running Back, #27

Theo Howard, Senior Wide Receiver, #14

Devin Asiasi, Junior Tight End, #86

Boss Tagaloa, Senior Center, #75

Odua Isibor, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #97

Keisean Lucier-South, Senior Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, #11

Tyree Thompson, Senior Linebacker, #25

Krys Barnes, Senior Linebacker, #14

Darnay Holmes, Junior Cornerback, #1

 

UCLA is not a good football team, but at least they have had a lot of talent in the past.  Now they have poor coaching and not a lot of talent for a Pac 12 school.  Howard is the best prospect of the bunch, but is probably a day three pick at best right now. Asiasi and Isibor have hopes of getting drafted, but the cupboards are bare for the Bruins.

 

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