The State of College Football – Week 8 Edition

A fresh look at the Top 25, players of the week, where I was right/where I was wrong and who my early season award winners are. All right here in The State of College Football

The Big Ten finally came back and they did not wait to deliver the excitement with Wisconsin and Graham Mertz on Friday night. Saturday gave us great performances by Justin Fields and Ohio State and Michigan might have a quarterback… A great weekend with even more to come. Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, football season is in full effect. 

Top 25:
1 Clemson
2 Ohio State
3 Alabama
4 Notre Dame
5 Georgia
6 Michigan
7 Oregon
8 Florida
9 Cincinnati
10 Arizona State
11 Oklahoma State
12 BYU 
13 USC
14 Miami
15 North Carolina
16 Wisconsin
17 Penn State
18 Coastal Carolina
19 Texas A&M
20 SMU
21 LSU
22 Kansas State
23 Minnesota 
24 Boise State
25 Marshall

Weekly Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Dillon Gabriel, QB, UCF
Defensive Player of the Week: Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina
Freshman of the Week: Eli Ricks, CB, LSU
Coach of the Week: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

Where I was Right – Where I was Wrong
Right: Prior to the 2019 college football season I released my college football preview, like I have the past two seasons. In the 2019 preview I listed three running backs that could be in for a breakout year. Those running backs were Breece Hall, Mohamed Ibrahim and Master Teague. On Saturday those running backs lived up to my expectations.This weekend Breece Hall rushed for 185 yards and one touchdown, Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns and Master Teague rushed for 41 yards and 2 touchdowns while splitting carries with Trey Sermon. I love watching these big power backs bull doze over defenders and carry their teams. And I will continue to talk about Breece Hall until he gets the national recognition he deserves. 

Wrong: After just one game it appears I was wrong about Minnesota. I expected the Gophers to be a top team in the Big Ten, and while that could still be true, I doubt it happens. The Minnesota defense did not look the same against Michigan as it did last year when it had Carter Caughlin and Antoine Winfield Jr. With a strong trio of Tanner Morgan, Mohamed Ibrahim and Rashod Bateman Minnesota should be able to put up points but they need a lot of help on defense this year if they’re going to be the team I thought they would be. 

$100 Handshakes – Underclassmen that stood out or draft eligible players that improved their stock

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati 

Running Backs:
Javonte Williams, North Carolina
Najee Harris, Alabama
Javian Hawkins, Louisville

Receivers/Tight Ends:
Marlon Williams, UCF
David Bell, Purdue
John Metchie, Alabama
Jake Furgeson, TE, Wisconsin

Tomon Fox, North Carolina 
Shaka Toney, Penn State
Charles Snowden, Virginia

BJ Ojulari, LSU
Mike Rose, Iowa State
Nick Jackson, Virginia

Defensive Backs
Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati 
Kolby Harvell-Peel, Oklahoma State
Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

Final Thoughts:
Alabama lost it’s star receiver Jaylen Waddle for the season, and possibly for good, after he broke his ankle on the opening kickoff against Tennessee. You hate to see a player get hurt when they are having the best year of their career. The silver lining for Waddle is that it is a break and not a tear. I assume Waddle will opt for the NFL draft this spring…or maybe Nick Saban recruits him back to Alabama like he did Dylan Moses. John Metchi III will step into the starting spot opposite of Devanta Smith and already did an amazing job of filling Waddle’s shoes against Tennessee. 

Sam Howell entered the season as a household name, Heisman candidate and top prospect for the 2022 NFL draft. But it is the running back duo of Javonte Williams and Michael Carter that are carrying this team. Williams and Carter have rushed for a combined 1,146 yards and 13 touchdowns after five games!!! Sam Howell is great but he will get his time in the spotlight next season. Let’s appreciate the work of these great running backs and the offensive line this year. 

Early season awards: With most teams having played a good chunk of their season I wanted to look at who the top players are for the top awards in the country. This is who I have the awards going to right now – sorry in advance to the Big Ten. You just started your season. I’ll update again after they have played some games too. 

Heisman: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris has rushed for a ridiculous 14 touchdowns after five games and is leading one of the nation’s top offenses. Trevor Lawrence is obviously a top contender but has thrown some interceptions and coach Dabo Swinney has been pulling Lawrence early in almost every game this year. Advantage Najee Harris and returning the Heisman to the Alabama running back room – Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry before him. 

Davey O’Brien (QB) – Dillon Gabriel, UCF
Dillon Gabriel stepped in to play for UCF as a freshman last year and did a good job as a first year starter. In his second year he is lighting up the American Conference. Gabriel has thrown for 2,178 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Golden Knights and leads the nation in both categories. I know we all love Trevor Lawrence, but again, there is a better candidate than Lawrence for this award. 

Doak Walker (RB) – Najee Harris, Alabama
If you win the Heisman as a running back I feel like you also have to be the Doak Walker award winner. His 14 rushing touchdowns are going to be hard to catch and I’m going to go out on a limb and say Najee adds a few more before the season is over. 

Fred Biletnikoff (WR) – Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
Williams has been going OFF this year and even though it hasn’t been recognized yet (he is leading the nation in receptions with 54 and receiving yards with 753 yards) it will be soon. Hopefully my praises can help. 

John Mackey (TE) – Kyle Pitts, Florida
At one point this season Kyle Pitts had six touchdowns in six quarters. While he wasn’t able to keep up that pace he is still head and shoulders above the next tight end for the John Mackey award. Currently Pitts has seven receiving touchdowns – good for third most in the country. 

Ted Hendricks  (DE) – Tomon Fox, North Carolina
A somewhat unknown for the Tar Heels but Fox has been outstanding and leads the nation with sevin sacks. Fox is obviously off to a great start and is gaining momentum and recognition to take home the Hendricks award at the end of the season. 

Dick Butkus (LB) – Jabril Cox, LSU 
The NDSU transfer has lived up to the hype and some. Cox has the ability to play in pass coverage, against the run and rush the quarterback. With big games against Alabama and Auburn Cox will gain more national attention. 

Jim Thorpe (DB) – Richard Lecounte, Georgia
Winning the Thorpe award at safety isn’t something that is easy to do as the award voters tend to lean corner. But without the Big Ten and Pac 12 so far we haven’t seen any corners taking over just yet. My vote goes to Georgia safety Richard Lecounte and his three interceptions. Lecounte is always making plays around the ball and leads one of the nation’s best defenses. 

Week 9 Preview:
Memphis @ 9 Cincinnati, 11:00 AM, ESPN
9 Wisconsin @ Nebraska, 2:30 PM, FS1
LSU @ Auburn. 2:30 PM, CBS
Texas @ 6 Oklahoma State, 3:00 PM, FOX
3 Ohio State @ 18 Penn State, 6:30 PM, ABC

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