Notre Dame

College Football Week Five Review

This past weekend felt like the truest indicator so far of where the major teams are at this season. Five weeks in and some secured statement wins, some recovered well and some struggled in victory. Let’s take a look at some of the main talking points from yet another exciting weekend in college football.

1) Ohio State Flashes Potential on National Stage

Ohio State laid their biggest indicator of the season that this team is for real. They throttled a good Nebraska side 48-7, excelling on all phases of the ball. The offense always gets the headlines, but Justin Fields deserves praise for another stellar performance since transferring from Georgia in the summer.

15-21 for 212 yards and 3 TD’s, along with 177 rushing yards for Running Back J.K Dobbins shows how dominant they were. The defense did even better, limiting Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez to 47 yards passing and three interceptions. Now 5-0, they find themselves in the play-off places for the first time this season.

2) Clemson Battle Past North Carolina

From convincing to unconvincing wins, as top ranked Clemson came very close to a loss against a resurgent North Carolina. They didn’t look good in this game, with sophomore phenom Trevor Lawrence struggling again.

The Clemson team is an embarrassment of riches, but being a failed two-point conversion away from losing doesn’t inspire confidence. They’ve dropped to second in the AP Top 25 poll, and will need to regroup quickly as the pressure mounts.

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North Carolina gave Clemson an almighty scare, falling short 21-20 to a more talented Clemson side. Their response will show their character going forward. Photo: Chris Seward/AP.

3) Notre Dame Put Georgia Loss Behind Them

Notre Dame recovered from a tough loss to Georgia with the perfect rebuttal in this potential banana skin. Virginia came into this game full of confidence, but Notre Dame proved too strong and deserved their 35-20 victory.

Notre Dame relied on Running Back Tony Jones Jr on offense, with 131 rushing yards and 3 TD’s proving vital. On the defensive side of the ball, Defensive End Julian Okwara had a career day with three of the teams eight sacks, as well as forcing a fumble in one of their five turnovers. The defense played lights out and deserves national recognition for this performance.

4) Washington Back in Pac-12 Mix

Washington have recovered well from a tough early season loss to California, swatting aside USC 28-14 to regain ground in the Pac-12. Salvon Ahmed had a big day at Running Back, with 153 yards and touchdown in a vital win.

This win jumps them back up to second in the Pac-12 North. Whilst any faint dreams of a national title chance are long gone, they find themselves 15th in the AP Polls. If they can win out from here on out they will have earned a top ten berth and a prominent bowl game.

5) Penn State Shutout Maryland

Penn State responded perfectly to their first challenge this season, mauling a high-powered Maryland offense. The defense stood out in this game, keeping a previously top ranked scoring offense to zero points. A previously unstoppable Maryland team couldn’t get anything going at all, holding Quarterback Josh Jackson to 65 passing yards and two interceptions.

For Penn State their offense had no problem scoring points, with sophomore Quarterback Sean Clifford going off with over 450 combined yards and four touchdowns in this rout. This is a big win for Penn State and they have kept themselves in the hunt.

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Penn State Running Back Ricky Slade celebrates his touchdown in this 59-0 rout of Maryland on their own turf. Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sport.

6) Other Key Results This Week

After such a disappointing loss last weekend Michigan responded in the perfect manner, dismantling a poor Rutgers team. Much criticised Quarterback Shea Patterson responded with three passing touchdowns and a rushing TD in a 52-0 rout. The only negative for the Wolverines was their running game struggling again.

Arizona State beat 15th ranked California 24-17, which is a pivotal win for them after a slow start to their Pac-12 season. They are on the outside looking in right now, but this is a massive win and will give them confidence going forward.

7) Stand Out Week Five Performers 

For the standout performer we can’t overlook Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The third head of their receiving core behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs went off against Ole Miss, with 274 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Another receiver who impressed is Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who showed an incredible turn and burst of speed on a 71 yard touchdown against Texas Tech, ending up with 185 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a first round prospect in a loaded wide receiver class this year.

8) Heisman Contenders Update

Now we’re well into the season, the key contenders for the 2019 Heisman Trophy are emerging. Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa is having a monster season, currently second in the nation with over 1700 yards in only five games. He’s also protecting the football, with 23 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Of the rest Joe Burrow is the outside bet, having surprised everyone with the impressive start he’s had. Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts has played lights out this season, going for over 1200 yards passing and over 440 yards rushing in four games. Tua remains the favourite, but there’s plenty of contenders keeping him honest.

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Tua Tagovailoa is living a charmed life this year. He’s the current Heisman favourite and is many draft experts pick for the first overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

9) AP Top 25 Rankings

The latest rankings going into week six have been released, with the mild surprise that Alabama have overtaken Clemson for the top spot. It’s an understandable move after their performances last weekend. After their impressive win Ohio State jumped LSU for fourth and the final play-off place.

Further down, Notre Dame are the only other team to move in the top ten, vaulting Florida for ninth. Washington improve two places to 15th, with Utah, UCF and Michigan all moving up to 17th,18th and 19th respectively. California, USC and Kansas State are the big losers, all dropping out of the rankings this week.

10) First Coaching Casualty of the Year

Rutgers head coach Chris Ash was the first casualty of the 2019 season. After his teams 52-0 demolition against Michigan he was shown the door after three years in charge. His 8-32 record is poor, along with a 3-26 record in the Big Ten conference. Offensive coordinator John McNulty has also been fired after their 1-3 start.

Tight Ends coach Nunzio Campanile will take the interim head coach job for the season. Ash had previously been defensive coordinator for the 2014 national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Early favourites to replace him include Greg Schiano, Mike Elko and Jeff Monken.

That wraps up the main talking points from another week of college football, if you have any thoughts on this points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!

 

College Football Week Five Preview

After four weeks we look to have an established order at the top of the college football world, with Clemson and Alabama at the top and the rest snapping at their heels. Week five doesn’t have the prominent matchup’s from last weekend, but there is plenty of intrigue in this weeks slate of games. Let’s preview the main talking points for the weekend ahead.

1) Notre Dame – Virginia Preview

Notre Dame aim to fight back this weekend against a good Virginia team in what will be another tough game for them. They can take a lot of positives from last weekend as they matched up well with third ranked Georgia.

Virginia on the other hand roll into Notre Dame stadium 4-0 and leading the ACC Coastal conference. They did struggle last weekend to beat lowly Old Dominion, but have otherwise impressed this season. Their defense is a top 15 unit, led by star Cornerback Bryce Hall. The tenth ranked Fighting Irish barely have a top 50 offense, so this game should be closer than many expect.

2) Bryce Hall Key to Virginia Hopes

Virginia are living up to the pre-season hype as an unlikely ACC Coastal champs, and much of that is because of their defense. Their unit ranks 14th in the country through four games, keeping opposing teams to 263 yards per game.

Their key component is Cornerback Bryce Hall, a senior many NFL scouts are high on.  Many predict he will be a late first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he’s that highly rated. For this game Hall will be focused on Notre Dame’s leading receiver Chase Claypool, in what will be a key matchup in this game.

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Bryce Hall has been a consistent high point in the Virginia defense. He’s projected as a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Photo: Ryan Kelly/Getty Images.

3) USC – Washington Preview

Another top 25 matchup is this all Pac-12 affair between 21st ranked USC and 17th ranked Washington. Both sides have flashed potential this season, but have also been inconsistent. They both enter at 3-1, looking for a statement Pac-12 win.

Washington need to win to remain in contention for the Pac-12 North, having already lost to California. Transfer QB Jacob Eason has impressed, already throwing for over 1000 yards in four games. USC meanwhile have suffered from injury problems to key positions, none more so than at the Quarterback. They enter this game with third-string QB Matt Fink.

4) Matt Fink – Michael Pittman Jr Connection Key for USC

USC will travel into Washington as slight underdogs, and the key for them will be the connection between QB Matt Fink and receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Fink made his debut last week in an upset win against Utah, impressing with 350 yards and 3 TD’s.

He immediately made a connection with senior Pittman Jr, who went off for 232 yards and a touchdown. Utah has a good defense so to shred them like this was impressive. Washington has a pretty good defense, and in a key road game they need Fink to find Pittman often.

5) Penn State – Maryland Preview

Opening the college football weekend is this intriguing Friday night matchup between Penn State and Maryland. Penn State travel to Maryland 3-0 and ranked 12th in the nation, but face a tough matchup against the Terrapins.

Maryland had broken into the top 25 before being upset by Temple, and will have used their bye week to regroup and refocus for this game. This will be intriguing as Penn State goes in as favourites with a good defense, but Maryland has a top ten offense that has 21 TD’s in only three games.

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Penn State’s Micah Parsons leads this Penn State defense, tasked with stopping a prolific Maryland offense this weekend. Photo: John Stinely.

6) First Real Test for Penn State

Penn State has opened the year strongly, however they have yet to be seriously tested. They walked over Idaho and Buffalo, and struggled against a plucky Pitt team. We will learn a lot about this Penn State team here.

Their defense, led by Linebacker Micah Parsons have limited opponents to 30 combined points from three games, but face a tough test stopping this Maryland offense.  If they can do this they have a good chance of winning . It’s hard to gauge where their offense is with the opponents they’ve played, so this will be another interesting matchup.

7) Other Games to Watch Out for

Aside from the games mentioned above, there is plenty of games for college football fans to feast on this weekend. The College Gameday crew head to Lincoln, Nebraska for an exciting matchup between Ohio State and Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have put up 152 points in four games, but face fifth ranked Ohio State and their incredible defense, led by potential number one NFL Draft pick Chase Young.

Seventh ranked Auburn face Mississippi State, hoping to avoid slipping up after a massive win last weekend against Texas A&M. If they carry over their early season form they will be contending for the SEC Championship game and a shot at the College Football Play-Off.

8) ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act Causing Trouble

The proposed ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act has created plenty of headlines since it was announced several weeks ago. The California bill would allow athletes to profit from the use of their name,likeness and image without facing NCAA penalty.

The bill has been supported by the likes of LeBron James and Bernie Sanders, but the NCAA and California universities are opposed to it. The NCAA have already threatened that 20 California schools would be ineligible for it’s competition if this comes to fruition. This is a seismic moment for players and is the strongest challenge to NCAA rules to date.

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NCAA Mark Emmert has spoken out against the proposed ‘Pay to Play’ Act, in what could prove the biggest challenge to the NCAA in decades. Photo: Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images.

9) Tua Tagovailoa Almost Became A USC Trojan

Star Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made headlines this week by announcing on the Dan Patrick radio show that he almost transferred to USC in 2017. Tagovailoa was a true freshman at the time behind Jalen Hurts, before becoming the hero by replacing Hurts and winning the National Championship for Alabama.

Tagovailoa said he wanted to transfer so that his parents could see him play and USC was his childhood team. Tua will likely be the first Quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, although many USC fans will now wonder what if, especially with their spate of QB injuries currently.

10) D’Eriq King to Stay at Houston After All

The most dramatic story of this week was the news on Monday that Houston QB D’Eriq King was redshirting this year and transferring, only for him to come out hours later and deny this story from his dad. King and star receiver Keith Corbin will redshirt, but aim to return to Houston next year.

This is a story that divides opinion, with some questioning if both won’t still transfer at the end of the year. Houston will struggle this year without them, but if they do return next year they will be looking to take the step up to the NFL.

That wraps up this preview of the week five college football slate, if you have any questions about these talking points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

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!