Last week the first official college football rankings were released. Week 10 saw No.1 Alabama take on No.3 LSU in the key showdown. Elsewhere there was plenty of in-conference rivalry games. Although things remained mostly unchanged at the end of it there was a lot of quality play from draft prospects. The Inside Zone reaches in to the main action points with this week’s College Roundup.
Crimson Tide defensive masterclass too much for LSU
It has been the Alabama offense that has gained the plaudits through 9 weeks of play. They faced their biggest test against an LSU defense filled with future NFL stars. However, they didn’t need to score at such a fast pace as previous weeks. The Alabama defense taking their turn to shine in a 29-0 shutout. The unit was led by outrageously talented defensive lineman Quinnen Williams. Having rocketed up draft boards Williams served up another stellar game. With 10 total tackles and 2.5 sacks, this will be a game tape scouts use to highlight his top-5 traits. Linebacker Mack Wilson capped his day with an impressive endzone interception. In the secondary, transfer Saivion Smith showed his continued development filling in for Treyvon Diggs.
LSU’s defense did slow down the most efficient offense in college football but QB Joe Burrow couldn’t take advantage. Struggling for time in the pocket he failed to get the Tigers on the scoreboard. Burrow is at his best when the game opens up after a strong running display. Bama’s defensive line dominance meant LSU only ran for a grand total of 12 yards.
The fact remains there is likely only Clemson that stand a chance against Alabama. Any team who can defeat them must slow Tua and co. down while scoring over 30 points, a tricky task on this showing.
Henry Ruggs only needs one hand. pic.twitter.com/BxGBaUM6Pr
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 4, 2018
Nail-biting finish as West Virginia stay in Big 12 hunt
In the most exciting game of the day West Virginia sneaked to victory against Texas. In a brave call from head coach Dana Holgerson, QB Will Grier ran in the two point conversion to seal the 42-41 win. Grier’s draft stock will have risen as he threw for 346 yards and 3 TDs. Despite an up and down season, he made NFL throws that may persuade scouts he can be a Day 1 prospect. He is helped by a QB-friendly offensive scheme and having one of the top wideouts in David Sill Jr. Sills who caught two TDs for 97 yards.
Tom Herman’s Texas would have liked to get back on track after a humiliating loss to Oklahoma State. However, their faint playoff hopes and now conference chances have both evaporated. Sam Ehlinger and the offense held up their side of the bargain with 520 combined yards. On the other hand the defense once again gave up too many points in a big game. Against divisional rivals Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virgina they have given up an average of 41 points per game. It will be a point of emphasis as Herman begins to build a Texas side in his image through the recruiting system.
Wolverines on the edge of becoming playoff contenders
If Alabama weren’t the best defense on Saturday then Michigan certainly were. With 5 sacks and 2 interceptions they made it a near impossible day for Penn State and Trace McSorley, in a 42-7 destruction. Joshua Uche grabbed two QB takedowns, with running mate Chase Winovich was relentless on the other side. Winovich isn’t an explosive athlete but his sheer workrate and intensity at the point of contact should see him drafted on Day 2 if not the opening evening of April’s draft. With Rashan Gary back in the fold after injury this defense is certainly playoff calibre.
Shea Patterson is hitting his groove in the Michigan offense. Despite not putting up gaudy numbers he threw for two TDs and ran for another. The Wolverines offense is based around running back Karan Higdon who picked apart the Nittany Lions averaging 6.6 yards per carry. With Chris Evans in reserve adding 57 yards, it is an enviable one-two punch. On this form if Michigan can remain unbeaten and take the Big 10 championship game then they could sneak into the top four.
Georgia seal their spot in the SEC Championship game
Jake Fromm was impressive last week against Florida but the Bulldogs returned to what they do best in defeating conference rivals Kentucky. Their two-headed running back monster went off for 231 yards. D’Andre Swift hasn’t had the season that was expected but his talent was on full show vs the Wildcats. His juking style and vision to accelerate through the gap make him one of the most dangerous runners in the nation.
It will be an uphill struggle for Georgia to make the playoffs. They will have to overturn Alabama in the conference title game to stand a chance. Even then it might not be enough. Kirby Smart is likely to be pleased with Georgia’s reaction to defeat vs LSU, responding by beating Florida and Kentucky. For a team who expected 2018 to be a down year, the future looks bright.
Best of the rest
Oklahoma came out on top in a wild 51-46 game vs Texas Tech. Kyler Murray rebounded after two early picks but the game remained tight until, trailing by 2, Texas Tech threw an interception on a 2pt conversion which was returned to the house to make it a four point advantage to the Sooners. The Red Raiders never recovered as Oklahoma remain in the driving seat of the Big 12 championship.
The only realistic challenger to Alabama remains Clemson. After destroying Florida State last week they turned the heat on Lousiville. The weakness of the ACC was exposed in the 77-16 Tiger victory. With seven sacks on defense and three separate running backs going for over 100 yards, the result was never in doubt. Dexter Lawrence ensured the defensive line got a TD for the second week in a row from the goal line ‘fridge’ package.
Notre Dame remain unbeaten but it wasn’t plain sailing at Northwestern. QB Ian Book got off to a sluggish start before leading the Fighting Irish to a 31-21 win. With only Florida State, Syracuse and USC remaining on their schedule it would seem a playoff spot is all but sewn up.
Washington State and Ohio State remain in contention in their respective conferences. However, both added only narrow victories this week. Ohio State just got past early season whipping boys Nebraska, while Wazzou had to wait until the 4th quarter to overcome California.
To end on a draft note, Quarterback prospect Drew Lock got his signature win. His Missouri picked off a talented Florida, coming off a tough defeat to Georgia. Lock was impressive and posted numbers of 24/32, 250 yards and 3 TDs in the 38-17 victory.
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