Getting you ready for week three of the college football season.
In the Spotlight
Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
Mayfield has thrown 55 passes through two games this season, and only nine have fallen incomplete. He has 82 touchdown passes to 15 interceptions since becoming Oklahoma's starting quarterback in 2015. He's a 2016 Heisman finalist, a 2017 Heisman frontrunner, a beloved teammate, and a fiery competitor. The win over Ohio State last weekend was huge for Oklahoma's playoff hopes, but will it affect Mayfield's NFL outlook at all? Doubtful.
There's no shortage of game tape on Mayfield - he's been in the national spotlight at a storied Power Five program for three years. We've seen him rise to the occasion against his best opponents, and we've seen him struggle a couple times too. But Mayfield has been wildly productive throughout his career. No one game will make or break him.
I also don't think the off-field stuff will move the needle on Mayfield much at all. Saturday's midfield flag planting and his subsequent apology are just part of his charm as a leader and a public figure. His offseason arrest for public intoxication appears to be more of an uncharacteristic mistake than a pattern of behavior.
Saturday's win, the celebration, the stats, awards, arrest etc. are all just background noise to Mayfield's physical attributes. He's only 6' tall with an average arm. He has a quick release, but an elongated delivery that gets loopier the farther he throws it or the more zip he tries to apply. I’ve seen Mayfield compared to Russell Wilson, Johnny Manziel and Colt McCoy, and of those three give me McCoy for the closest arm strength/athleticism match. Colt went in the third round, and I think that’s the earliest stating point for Mayfield talk.
Riser of the Week
Christian Wilkins DL Clemson
It’s probably a stretch for me to classify Wilkins as a “riser” because he’s already widely considered a potential top 10-15 pick, but his performance last weekend deserves mention. The junior defensive lineman finished the game with a hand in 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a career high 1.5 sacks. Wilkins is listed at 6’4” 300 pounds, and reportedly ran a 4.8 40 and bench pressed 225 pounds 31 times this past spring. If those numbers hold up, he’ll be in the running to be the first defender drafted.
Slider of the Week
Luke Falk QB Washington State
I saw Falk going to the Cleveland Browns in the top 20 of a way-too-freaking-early mock draft, but last Saturday the fifth-year senior was pulled for a series by Wazzu Head Coach Mike Leach. Falk reentered but left the game again with an injury, only to see his backup lead the Cougs to a triple overtime win over Boise State. Leach says that Falk remains the starter, but we’ve already seen that the coach won’t hesitate to make a change. I would classify Falk as a poor man’s Jared Goff, who I thought was drafted at least a round early. I believe a full-fledged benching later in the season would be disastrous for Falk’s draft stock. He’s on notice.
Box Score of the Week
Courtland Sutton WR SMU vs North Texas
8 REC 163 YDS 4 TD
North Texas isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but Sutton set a new career high by scoring four touchdowns. The redshirt junior probably would have been a Day Two pick last year, but returned to school to get his degree. I was a fan of Sutton’s tape last season. He’s a big man with body control and strong hands, and he does a great job adjusting to inaccurate throws. When Sutton runs slants and crossers, he reminds me of Josh Gordon, and while the SMU star may not be quite that caliber of athlete, he should contend to be the fist receiver drafted next spring.
Oklahoma State at Pitt Saturday Noon ET
At one point last week against Penn State, Pitt QB Max Browne got his helmet knocked off and had to leave the game. His backup Ben Dinucci entered and promptly scored the Panthers’ only touchdown. Afterwards, Head Coach Pat Narduzzi acknowledged that DiNucci proved a spark. Narduzzi said early this week that Browne would remain the starter, but the graduate transfer’s hold on the job is tenuous at best.
LSU at Mississippi State Saturday 7:00 PM ET
The hottest take I saw this week was Tony Pauline’s tweet Wednesday that included Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald in a top-five of draft-eligible quarterbacks. Prior to that, I had thought of him as a long shot to declare for the daft after his junior season.
1- Allen, 2- Darnold 3- Rosen (little spread) 4- Lamar Jackson 5- Nick Fitzgerald— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) September 12, 2017
Fitzgerald and company have a tough test against the Tigers, who get pass rusher Arden Key back this week. He had been recovering from offseason rotator cuff surgery. Key will face off against highly-touted State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin.
Oregon at Wyoming Saturday 7:00 PM ET
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen licked his wounds from a Week One thrashing at Iowa and carved up FCS Gardner-Webb last weekend. Now he gets his second tough test of the season, facing a hot Oregon team.
Clemson at Louisville Saturday 8:00 PM ET
Lamar Jackson is the Heisman favorite again, and he hosts a Clemson defense led by Wilkins, sophomore pass rusher Clelin Farrell, and junior linebacker Kendall Joseph.