As we finally get to October, the college football schedule starts to pick up with meaningful conference games, and there are a few games that match up teams in the top 25.
The first would be Friday night when Stanford travels to Seattle to play Washington at Husky Stadium. Though early season polls are pretty much meaningless, Stanford is currently ranked 7th while Washington is at No. 10. The best NFL prospect in that game will be Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, who just may be the best all-purpose running back in the country and an easy first-round selection if he enters the NFL Draft. McCaffrey already has 436 yards rushing and 12 receptions.
Saturday afternoon has a huge Big Ten matchup between Wisconsin and Michigan. Wisconsin doesn’t have the overall talent of some of the other top teams, but they are very well coached and pay attention to detail.
If you want to see one of the better defensive players in the country, take a look at Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers. Peppers is only a redshirt sophomore, but he already is one of the best defensive prospects available. In the NFL, he will be a safety or a hybrid linebacker. He easily has the athleticism to play outside at corner also. He has great instincts and can be very physical.
On Saturday night, the “Game of the Week” will be an ACC affair with No. 3 Louisville visiting No. 5 Clemson.
While he is only a true sophomore and not yet ready for the NFL, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson may be the most exciting player in the country. He leads a Louisville offense that has averaged 63 points though four games. Jackson has thrown for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 526 yards and 12 touchdowns. If the Heisman voting were today, he would win hands down.
Jackson’s favorite target is senior wide receiver James Quick, who is coming on real strong in 2016. Quick has 16 receptions and a 22.5-yard average per catch. He has already caught three touchdown passes.
Running back Brandon Radcliff is also having a strong season with 427 yards and three touchdowns. Senior outside linebacker Devonte Fields is the best defensive prospect on the Louisville squad. Fields can come off the edge and give a consistent pass rush.
Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is another good prospect. He originally enrolled at Georgia and transferred following the 2013 season. At about 6-5, 225 pounds, Harvey-Clemons has that hybrid safety/linebacker look that NFL teams are looking for. He is Louisville's leading tackler with 29 tackles and two interceptions.
On the other side of the field will be Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Going into the season, Watson was the odds-on favorite to be the first quarterback drafted, but his play has slipped a bit early in the season. That said, it’s early and he has more than enough time to recover and put himself back on top.
Watson has one of the better wide receivers in the country to throw to in Mike Williams. Williams is big and physical and has already caught 21 passes, but only one touchdown. His production in the red zone has to pick up.
Some felt that defensive tackle Carlos Williams was the best defensive lineman on the 2015 Clemson team. While that might not be the case, he is a good player in his own right and capable of playing in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. To date he has 19 total tackles and three sacks.
Another defensive player to look at is corner Cordrea Tankersley. Tankersley has the height, length and athleticism NFL teams covet. In four games this year he has 15 tackles and four PBUs but has not yet recorded an interception.