Week 5 is in the books in the college football world, and as always, it was an amazing weekend. Baylor/West Virginia set NCAA passing and receiving records, Texas needed a suspenseful two minute drive to beat Oklahoma State in another high scoring event, LSU was awful on offense (again) but managed to stay undefeated, and Alabama took care of business (again).
Week 6 is upon us, and with that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s prospects to watch:
Northwestern vs Penn State
Northwestern LB Chi Chi Ariguzo
Northwestern is undefeated and will put that on the line against Penn State this weekend. The Wildcats have gotten here by running the ball well on offense and stopping the run on defense, while holding opponents to under 21 points per game. Ariguzo (6’3, 220lbs.) is only a sophomore, but he has been responsible for a big portion of team’s defensive success so far. He has good size for a second year player, and has shown very good athleticism.
On the season, he has 39 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one pick, three deflections, and a 33 yard fumble return for a touchown. Talk about filling the stat sheet…
Washington State vs Oregon State
Washington St. WR Marquess Wilson
Although Washington State hasn’t been very good up to this point, it has nothing to do with how Marquess Wilson has been playing. Wilson (6’4, 185lbs.) has the size/speed combo scouts look for in today’s NFL passing attacks, and after a slow start, he has really picked up his game the last three weeks.
In a blowout loss to Oregon last week, Wilson was the lone bright spot and had 12 catches for 182 yards and one touchdown. On the season, Wilson has 30 receptions, good for 499 yards, and five touchdowns.
Washington vs Oregon
Washington CB Desmond Trufant
Desmond Trufant doesn’t get tested very often by opponents on a week-to-week basis because not only is he Washington’s top corner, he is also a legitimate first round pick. While not a speed demon on the outside, Trufant (6’0, 186lbs.) is a solid man-to-man corner who is also a blitz threat, as well as a solid and willing tackler.
In last week’s upset win over Stanford, Trufant was great in coverage all game, coming up with the game winning interception late in the fourth quarter and getting two key deflections. On the season, Trufant has 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and two pass deflections.
Miami(OH) vs Cincinnati
Cincinnati DE Walter Stewart
Cincinnati is 3-0 this season with wins over Pitt and Virginia Tech and the defense is a big reason for the early success. They’ve held opponents to under four yards per carry and allowing only two passing touchdowns. Stewart (6’5, 250lbs.) has been the big play machine for the Bearcats’ stingy defense. He also possesses a great motor and would likely be a candidate for outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense or could add 10-15 pounds and stay at D-end in the 4-3.
Stewart has 17 tackles, and leads the team with five tackles for loss and three sacks with one pass deflection and one forced fumble through the team’s three games.
Northern Illinois vs Ball State
Northern Illinois DE Alan Baxter
Northern Illinois isn’t known as a school that churns out talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they have a good one in senior defensive end Alan Baxter. Baxter (6’0, 240lbs.) is very small for a defensive end and has the look of Elvis Dumervil, but with a quick first step has been able to make several game changing plays.
For the season, Baxter has 23 tackles, and leads the team with seven tackles for loss and five sacks.
Miami(FL) vs Notre Dame
Notre Dame CB Bennett Jackson
Notre Dame has played some solid football, but has an interesting matchup this week. The Hurricane’s aren’t a juggernaut on offense, but Notre Dame has played some bad passing offenses early on; Navy doesn’t pass the ball, Purdue’s quarterbacks aren’t very good, Maxwell (Mich.St.) is still growing into the position, and Denard Robinson isn’t really a quarterback. Miami comes into the game with almost 330 yards through the air per game.
Jackson (6’0, 185lbs.) will be key for the Irish in this one. Miami is very young on offense, but explosive, as their top two receivers are sophomores and have almost 800 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 45 receptions between them. On the season, Jackson has 22 tackles, three interceptions, and one deflection.
LSU vs Florida
LSU LB Kevin Minter
LSU/Florida is one of three marquee games pitting teams in the top eleven against one another. There are a bunch of different matchups in this game worth watching, including Florida’s offensive line versus LSU’s attacking defensive line and LSU’s O-line versus Florida’s deep and talented D-line, but I’m looking forward to seeing how LSU’s defense matches up against the very good Gator ground game overall, with junior linebacker Kevin Minter being in the spotlight.
Minter (6’2, 245lbs.) is big, fast, athletic, and just happens to be LSU’s leading tackler. Florida RB Mike Gileslee is averaging over 100 rushing yards per game, and as a team, Florida has shown to be dangerous running the ball whether it be on options, reverses, or simple runs up the gut. On the season, Minter has 34 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and three pass deflections in five games.
Georgia vs South Carolina
Georgia DT Jonathan Jenkins
Georgia/South Carolina is the second game pitting two teams in the top eleven against one another. In last week’s game against Tennessee, the spotlight was on Georgia’s pass rush and secondary. This week, with a top ten matchup against South Carolina on tap, the spotlight will be on Jonathan Jenkins.
Jenkins (6’3, 360lbs.) is a mountain of a man, and while he doesn’t have the most gaudy stat line, he has to be double and sometimes triple teamed as he is fully capable of causing all kinds of havoc in offensive backfields. Going up against one of the best RB in the nation in Marcus Lattimore, Jenkins will have to control the line of scrimmage and force plays to the outside – where future top five pick Jarvis Jones will be waiting.
For the season, Jenkins has 15 tackles and one tackle for loss.
Game of the Week: West Virginia vs Texas
West Virginia QB Geno Smith
In a game like this, one could look at a number of different players from both teams and put them on this watch list. But since QB Geno Smith is a legit Heisman contender, and is tearing up the stat sheet weekly while setting records on a weekly basis, it’s only fitting to make him this week’s player to watch in our Game of the Week. Texas/West Virginia is the third and final game pitting two teams in the top eleven against one another.
Last week against Baylor, Smith (6’3, 220lbs.) absolutely shredded the opposing defense to the tune of 656 passing yards, EIGHT touchdowns, no picks, and completed 88% of his passes…was that a real stat line or a stat line from NCAA Football ’13? This week, however, Smith isn’t going up against Baylor or Marshall’s defense; he’s going up against a very talented, deep, and experienced Texas Longhorns’ defense, littered with future first round draft picks and blue chip recruits.
This will be West Virginia’s first true test and by far the best defense they’ve played this season, and maybe the best defense they will face ALL season. So far on the year, Smith has 1,728 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and ZERO interceptions, while completing 83.4% of his passes, and even adding a rushing touchdown in four games.