Jonathan Taylor

College Football Week Four Preview

This weekend of college football will provide plenty of answers for teams and fans, with a multitude of marquee games as we begin to see who is the real deal and who is faking it. Let’s take a look at the main talking points for this weekend’s slate of games.

1) Georgia – Notre Dame Preview

This top ten matchup is the biggest game of the weekend. Third ranked Georgia face seventh ranked Notre Dame in Athens. The last matchup was a close 20-19 win in 2017, and was Jake Fromm’s coming out party. Two years down the line and both sides have have eyes on the play-off.

Fromm, now a junior, is a top level quarterback at this level, and with support from the likes of running back D’Andre Swift has plenty of weapons. Notre Dame QB Ian Book has started the season hot, and his dual-threat ability makes him dangerous to this Georgia defense.

2) Battle of Jake Fromm and Ian Book

Quarterback is the most important position in the sport, so a big factor in deciding this game will be the play of the two signal callers. Fromm has the higher profile, having led Georgia to the national championship game as a freshman. He has since developed into a future first round NFL Draft pick.

Ian Book isn’t talked about as much by the media, but has quietly developed into a very good QB for the Fighting Irish. Like I mentioned above, the senior QB has started hot this season, with 553 yards and 6 TD’s to 0 INT’s in his opening three games.

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Jake Fromm was only a true freshman in his first start the last time Notre Dame played Georgia. Now they face off with play-off ambitions for both. Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire.

3) Michigan – Wisconsin Preview

Another massive game this weekend is this Michigan and Wisconsin matchup. Both sides are ranked just outside the top ten at 11th and 13th respectively, with a win providing a big step into the top ten.

Both sides are 2-0, but Wisconsin has looked more convincing against limited competition. Having home field advantage only enhances their tag as slight favourites. Running back Jonathan Taylor is a stud who will give Michigan problems, with the return of their best lineman Jon Runyan likely to enhance Michigan’s offensive play.

4) Can Jim Harbaugh Get His Statement Win?

The pressure is mounting on head coach Jim Harbaugh after his side have started the season slowly. Allowing Middle Tennessee to score 21 at home and escaping Army in overtime doesn’t bode well going into a tough Wisconsin matchup. He has a good recent record against them, but this could be their best opportunity for revenge.

He hasn’t been helped by injuries to key players like left tackle Jon Runyan and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, but they have enough talent to be a top ten side. Quarterback Shea Patterson has struggled, with the running game solid but not spectacular.

5) Auburn – Texas A&M Preview

The big games just keep coming this weekend, with a massive matchup for these historic programs. Eighth ranked Auburn travel to College Station to face the 17th ranked Aggies.  Auburn already have a statement win this year against Oregon, but this game could make or break Texas A&M’s season.

Led by true freshman Bo Nix, Auburn surprised some by beating Oregon opening weekend, however this is another massive test. Texas A&M have already lost to Clemson, with another defeat here will take them out of contention for major honours.

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Bo Nix led Auburn to a comeback win in his debut for the Tigers. As to be expected with a true freshman, he’s struggled slightly with the adaptation to top level college football. Photo: Ron Jenkins/AP Photo.

6) Will Bo Nix Show up Big Again?

Bo Nix responded to immense pressure with a clutch comeback win against a good Oregon side in his debut, with this another massive test. Starting a true freshman on the road in a tough environment in College Station is always tricky, with the stats giving little confidence either

Nix is 83rd in the nation for passing yards, and his leading receiver after three games is Eli Stove with 133 yards. The offense has leaned on running back JaTarvious Whitlow, as they try to help Nix as much as possible. Nix will need to step up if they want to win this game.

7) Other Games to Look Out For

Below these top level games there are plenty amongst the slate that will pique fans interest. Tenth ranked Utah open the weekend with a trip to California to face a wounded USC team. Utah have looked good so far but USC will look to rebound from their OT loss to BYU last weekend.

Speaking of them, BYU hosts 22nd ranked Washington. Both sides already have one loss and another this early in the year could really pull the pin on their seasons. 3-0 Oklahoma State travel to Texas to face the 12th ranked Longhorns. This could be a banana skin for Texas.

8) Names to Look Out For 

All three games have star players with NFL potential, starting with Utah RB Zack Moss. He isn’t known nationally, but has developed into a very good player with mid-round NFL potential. 373 yards in three games shows the good start he’s had.

For BYU and Washington it’s hard to look past Washington QB Jacob Eason. The Georgia transfer has plenty of hype and has so far delivered. Seven TD’s to one interception and is averaging just under 300 yards a game. Another QB to look out for is Texas Sam Ehlinger, who has impressed despite a tough loss to LSU. His stats are incredible and is cementing himself as an NFL prospect.

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Utah Running Back Zack Moss has quietly built into a very good back with tremendous NFL potential. He’s leading Utah to a top ten ranking. Photo: NCAA.

9) Wider Play-Off Implications for This Week

The weekend ahead will have wider reaching consequences for the College Football Play-Off. Starting with the Georgia and Notre Dame game, if the Fighting Irish win they could vault into the top four. Their toughest remaining matchup’s would be against Virginia and Michigan, two games they would go into as favourites.

If Auburn beat Texas A&M, that would be two wins against ranked sides and would surely push them to the cusp of the play-off. Whoever wins in the Michigan – Wisconsin game will likely jump into the top ten, and another Utah win will see them rise also.

10) Players to Watch

We’ve already mentioned some key players to focus on this weekend, but here are some of the pivotal players for the leading matchup’s. We’ve mentioned Jake Fromm, but the Georgia offense is led by RB D’Andre Swift, who is averaging a massive 9.4 yards for the season.

For Notre Dame this could be a Chase Claypool coming out party, the receiver leads the team with 190 yards in two games.Jonathan Taylor will be a focal point for Wisconsin, while Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet will be glad to have left tackle Jon Runyan back to help the freshman.

That wraps up this preview for what will be an exciting week of college football. If you have any comments on the talking points I’ve mentioned, let me know in the comments section or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

 

College Football Week One Talking Points

This is the first in a new series, examining the main talking points from the opening week of the college football season, from the eyes of an Englishman now living in the U.S.

The opening weekend didn’t throw up many shocks, however here are my ten major talking points. Also a quick disclaimer before I begin, this is simply a shallow dive into the main stories of the week through the eyes of a fan, if you want more in-depth articles it’s probably best to read the analysts articles.

1) Big Win for Auburn and Bo Nix 

Bo Nix and the Auburn Tigers took down the Oregon Ducks 27-21 in the only surprise result between ranked teams last week. The true freshman Nix threw a go-ahead touchdown with nine seconds remaining in a legendary moment on his debut.

Nix struggled during the game, going 13-31 for 177 yards with 2 INT to match 2 TD’s, but the five star phenom has Auburn fans feeling excited about the next three years. Auburn jumped to tenth in the AP Top 25 poll, and now face Tulane in their home opener on Saturday.

2) Oregon Big Losers in Week One 

Oregon will feel distraught after an especially tough opening week loss. The team played well throughout and led right up until the final nine seconds, with a long recovery ahead if they want to compete for the College Football Playoff.

Senior QB Justin Herbert was the better QB in the game, going 28-37 for 242 yards and a TD. Receiver Johnny Johnson III built good chemistry with Herbert, to the tune of seven receptions for 98 yards. This is a tough loss, but starting this week against Nevada, their schedule helps them going down the stretch.

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Bo Nix played beyond his true freshman status to earn the comeback win against Oregon last weekend. Photo: Ron Jenkins (AP).

3) Jalen Hurts Already Anointed Heisman Favourite?

Jalen Hurts proved the pre-season hype on him as a Heisman contender was justified in week one. The Oklahoma QB had a monster six touchdown game in their 49-31 win over a good Houston team. 332 passing yards and 3 TD’s was matched with 176 yards rushing and another 3 TD’s.

The Alabama graduate transfer smashed the Oklahoma record for single game yardage with 508, Baker Mayfield previously held it with 396 yards. Some call it the Lincoln Riley effect, but Oklahoma could have three consecutive Heisman Trophy winners come December.

4) Big Debut for Justin Fields

Another high-profile summer transfer showed up big in week one, Ohio State QB Justin Fields. The sophomore standout was key as Ohio State rolled over Florida Atlantic 45-21. He lit up the first quarter with 4 TD’s, in a statement performance on his debut after transferring from Georgia.

This Ohio state team is loaded with NFL talent, and Fields has shown after week one he can take over from Dwayne Haskins. The team will face a tougher test this week against Cincinnati, but they have already shown this team will be a serious play-off contender this season.

5) Florida State Return Still on Hold 

The Florida State Seminoles hoped to put last season behind them, but old demons returned in a 36-31 loss to Boise State in Tallahassee. The team collapsed in the second half after looking dominant in the first half.

QB James Blackman looked good with 327 yards and 3 TD’s, but they let Boise State score 23 unanswered points to steal the win. This FSU team has plenty of NFL talent, but under Willie Taggart they struggle to close games out. 5-7 is not acceptable at FSU, and Taggart will feel the pressure even more after this loss.

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A Florida State players reflects the mood of the team as they let Boise State come back for the win as the pressure piles on head coach Willie Taggart. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/AP.

6) Georgia State Win Upset of Week One

Another historic program currently struggling is Tennessee, and their home loss to Georgia State 38-30 was undoubtedly the shock of the opening week.  It’s been a while since Tennessee has been a title contender, but this is a new low for the once proud program.

A fourth quarter collapse gave the underdog Georgia State team the win. This is a historic win for their team and they deserve the plaudits. This season may prove tough for Tennessee fans in the ultra competitive SEC.

7) USC QB J.T Daniels Out for Season 

Week one was brutal for USC despite a 31-23 win against Fresno State. This is because of a torn ACL for starting QB J.T Daniels, after being sacked in the second quarter.

Daniels was a five star phenom in California and was hoping to step up after a mixed freshman season. USC had PAC-12 championship hopes, which now lie in the hands of true freshman Kedon Slovis. The season just got a whole lot tougher for USC.

8) Running Backs Put on a Show

Running backs stole the show for a lot of Offences in week one. Clemson junior Travis Etienne led the way with 205 yards in their win against Georgia Tech. Fellow junior D’Andre Swift ran for 147 yards in Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt. Jonathan Taylor got 135 yards and 2 TD’s against USF.

Cam Akers of Florida State and Eno Benjamin of Arizona State are two more highly touted backs who ran for over 100 yards on opening weekend. All of these players are juniors, which means the 2020 NFL Draft running back class may be the best in years.

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Clemson Running Back scampers past his sideline in one of his three touchdown runs to open the season. He will likely be a first round NFL Draft pick next year if he declares. Photo: Richard Shiro/AP.

9) UCLA Struggle Once Again

The Chip Kelly era started with massive promise, but is now in danger of flaming out. The once heralded coach is now on the hot seat after they lost their opening game 24-14 to Cincinnati.

UCLA struggled with ugly turnovers from QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and struggled for identity in a tough loss to a better Cincinnati team. The 3-9 record last year is well below expectations and this season hasn’t started any better.

10) No Major Top 25 Surprises in Week One      

Week one didn’t provide much upsets for the top 25 ranked sides, other than Auburn upsetting Oregon. Ranked teams usually like to start the season with easier opponents to give them time to get up to speed before the real season starts.

The NCAA does try to provide showcase games in the opening week, but more needs to be done to ensure we get bigger games in the opening week. For now the AP top 25 has stayed largely the same other than Auburn and Oregon moving.

That wraps up my brief look at some of the major talking points from the opening weekend of college football. Do you have any thoughts on these points or your college football team? Let me know either in the comments section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to anyone who reads this I really appreciate it!