What an exciting weekend of college football. There were upsets as well as teams that set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. The Head 2 Head matchups I featured last week fared well in their battles.
Game Result: Tennessee 31 | California 45
The Matchup: DeSean Jackson is a multi-dimensional threat who can score from any realm on a football field, and he proved just that against Tennessee. In this classic back-and-forth battle against two of the top teams in college football, Jackson outshined Tennessee's top defender, Jonathan Hefney. He had 4 catches for 45 yards, one rush for 21 yards, and returned a 77-yard punt for a touchdown. Hefney, a leader in the Volunteers secondary, managed to collect eight tackles (4 solo, 4 assisted), but struggled in coverage.
In-Game Analysis: Jackson's explosive nature shines the most on special teams. He's an instant highlight film when the ball is in his hands. On his 77-yard punt return for a touchdown, he caught the ball at the 23-yard line. He eluded the first defender, received a nice block on the second defender, juked the third defender while his teammate blocked him, was missed by the fourth defender, and the fifth defender didn't touch him as he juked backward. Jackson successfully ran horizontal across the field without being touched and was home free as he got around the far end with no Tennessee players in sight. Jackson had a blocker in front of him and as he made it into the end zone and he slapped him five and scored. It was one of the best returns I've ever seen.
Keep An Eye On...
California, WR - Lavelle Hawkins (Sr.): Everyone talks about DeSean Jackson, but the better receiver on the Golden Bears is Hawkins. He caught seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.
#19 Florida State at Clemson
Game Details: Florida State 18 | Clemson 24
The Matchup: This looked like a good battle on paper, but in the end, one prospect dominated the evening. Clemson's star running back James Davis was outstanding. He rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown in the Tigers win. He showed great vision, strength, and speed, and was too tough for the Seminoles defense to handle. Florida State's top defensive tackle, senior Andre Fluellen, showed nice balance and a good burst off the line in the first half. In the second half, he appeared to slow down considerably and lost his effectiveness. Fluellen finished the game with only two tackles (1 solo, 1 assisted). While this was a disappointing performance for Fluellen, Davis shined bright on Monday night.
In-Game Analysis: There was a run in the game that showed why Davis is one of the elite running backs in the nation. It happened in the first quarter with 5:03 left on the clock, 1st-and-15 on the Seminoles' 29-yard line. Quarterback Cullen Harper dropped back and handed the ball off to Davis. Davis got the ball and immediately broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage. He stumbled a bit but regained his composure. He cut back to the left and juked a defender to the ground at the 20-yard line. The defender reached up and grabbed his jersey tail, but Davis broke through it. At the 15-yard line he saw another defender coming but juked to the left and the defender turned completely around at the 10-yard line. Davis then cut again to the left to avoid another defender, ran on a slant past the 5-yard line, and scampered into the end zone. It was a classic run with a lot of jukes and cuts that will be shown on highlight films all year long.
Keep An Eye On...
Clemson, DE - Phillip Merling (Jr.): The Tigers have huge expectations for Merling, and he displayed his talent against the 19th-ranked Seminoles. He was all over the field totaling eight tackles (5 solo, 3 assisted), a forced fumble, and a sack. Merling, at the end of the season, will be mentioned among the elite pass rushers in college football.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame
Game Result: Georgia Tech 33 | Notre Dame 3
The Matchup: Heading into the weekend this game looked like it was going to be a nice matchup between Notre Dame tight end John Carlson and Georgia Tech middle linebacker Philip Wheeler. In the end, it was a one-sided affair that didn't show Carlson's ability too well. With a revolving door at quarterback for the Irish, Carlson only managed three receptions for 29 yards. Having a new starting quarterback to start the season can be tough, but having three different players take snaps in the same game makes it almost impossible for a receiver to get a feel for his signal-caller. On the other side of the ball, Wheeler had an outstanding game. He had five total tackles (1 solo, 4 unassisted), a sack, and a fumble recovery. Wheeler was around the ball all day long and looked quick to the point of attack. He displayed quick feet and a great burst and anticipated the play really well.
In-Game Analysis: Carlson's three receptions of the game were completed in one series during the third quarter. The receptions occurred during a 13-play series that last 4:38 and resulted in the only points of the day for Notre Dame -- a 24-yard field goal by Brandon Walker. The quarterback that found Carlson for his three catches was junior Evan Sharpley.
Keep An Eye On...
Georgia Tech, RB - Tashard Choice (Sr.): One of the premier running backs in the country, Choice had a career day against Notre Dame. He rushed for 196 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. Expect a big year from Choice.
Oklahoma State at #13 Georgia
Game Result: Oklahoma State 14 | Georgia 35
The Matchup: This was a matchup between arguably the best wide receiver in the nation and a top-rated defender. Oklahoma State's star wide receiver Adarius Bowman had a nice game and was probably the only player worth mentioning on the Cowboys roster. Bowman caught four passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. He showed nice hands and was an offensive threat in the first half, but quarterback Bobby Reid struggled to find Bowman in the second half. Georgia safety Kelin Johnson had a very strong game against OSU. Johnson collected five tackles (4 solo, 1 assisted) and an interception in the win.
In-Game Analysis: Early in the fourth quarter, Georgia led Oklahoma State 35-14, first-and-ten for the Cowboys at the Bulldogs' 44-yard line. OSU quarterback Reid dropped back and looked for Bowman, but the pass was broken up by Johnson. Later in the series at fourth-and-seven, the Cowboys went for it while trailing by 21 points. Reid dropped back and looked for Bowman, but the ball was intercepted by Johnson, sealing the win for Georgia with 9:44 remaining in the game.
Keep An Eye On:
Georgia, OLB - Dannell Ellerbe (Jr.): Ellerbe is an athletic playmaker at the outside linebacker position. He had an outstanding game against Oklahoma State, recording seven total tackles (2 solo, 5 assisted) and a sack. This is Ellerbe's first season as a starter for the Bulldogs. He has a huge upside.
Missouri at Illinois
Game Result: Missouri 40 | Illinois 34
The Matchup: This was a classic matchup between a highly-touted tight end, Chase Coffman, and a tackling machine, linebacker J Leman. Both of these players are two of the best in the country at their respective positions. Coffman had a very good game, catching seven passes for 42 yards and touchdown while Leman was all over the field totaling 20 tackles on the day. Coffman displayed good blocking technique and soft hands. The Tigers' rushing attack was non-existent due to the spectacular play of the Illinois defense led by Leman. The Illini held the Tigers' run game to 85 yards with an average of 2.7 yards per carry. But it was the Missouri passing attack, led by quarterback Chase Daniel and tight ends Martin Rucker and Coffman, that kept Missouri ahead for the win.
In-Game Analysis: Any time Coffman touched the ball it seemed as if Leman was always on his trail. Whether it was a five-yard pass or an 11-yard completion, Leman was always in the face of Coffman.
Keep An Eye On...
Missouri, QB - Chase Daniel (Jr.): A top rated junior quarterback, Daniel has all the tools to become one of the elite quarterbacks in the country. Daniel completed 37-of-54 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns against Illinois. He doesn't have the desired size, as he's only listed at 6-foot, 225-pounds, but he's as accurate as any other quarterback in college football.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.