So much for a boring week of college football during Week 2, we had more scares than a modern-day horror movie. There is no rest for the weary as this week’s action amps up for multiple teams with conference play and a top 25 matchup. They say the cream always rises to the top, and Week 3 is where the separation begins.
Interstate 74 Showdown
The Big 12’s investment in Cincinnatti appears to be an excellent choice, and quarterback Desmond Ridder is boosting those returns. Ridder is off to a stellar season for the Bearcats, completing over 70 percent of his passes with six touchdowns. The first two weeks for Ridder have been pretty smooth sailing, as each outing has been a blowout. Week 3 has the Indiana Hoosiers coming town looking to ruin the party. Cincinnati seems poised to roll over Indiana with a stingy defense and possible Heisman-winning quarterback.
Indiana got off to a rocky start against the Iowa Hawkeyes and got embarrassed in front of millions. For the Hoosiers to stand a chance against the Bearcats, Ty Fryfogle will need a monster game. The senior receiver will have his work cut out as top defensive back prospect Amhad “Sauce” Gardner will likely shadow him. Up to this point, Fryfogle has been rather pedestrian compared to his hype before the season started. He’s not going to get any breaks against Gardner, but Indiana could play the upset if Fryfogle can breakthrough.
Speaking of sauce, Ahmad Gardner is hands down one of the most impressive cornerback prospects in the Draft. The long and lean corner has the baseline athleticism to cover any receiver that lines up across from him. Gardner secured six interceptions during his first two seasons with the Bearcats, which earned him first-team All-AAC honors. He lacks the elite top-end speed to keep up with true burners, but his physicality sets him apart. LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr will get all the headlines pre-draft, but Gardner has just as good traits, if not better, than his contemporaries.
Lions, Tigers, and Beaver Stadium
Junior quarterback Bo Nix might be wishing he was somewhere over a rainbow if things don’t go well in Beaver Stadium Saturday. Nix and the Auburn Tigers travel to Penn State for a top 10 matchup during a scheduled white-out by the university. Nix looks reformed in first-year head coach Bryan Harsin’s offensive system, averaging 61 points per game. Penn State presents a far steeper challenge than Akron and Alabama State did the past two weeks. It’s not the Iron Bowl, but this game carries as much weight for Nix, who needs a statement game for his Draft status.
Most of the time, when SEC teams venture out to battle non-conference opponents, there is a stark difference in talent levels at skill positions. However, Penn States Jahan Dotson might take issue with that statement. After a breakout season in 2020, Dotson has a chance to propel himself to the top of the Draft class at receiver. Although he isn’t the most physically imposing receiver in the class, Dotson is a tactician who can play X, Y, and slot receiver for any offense. Dotson plays bigger than his slender frame and has enough physicality to win 50/50 balls thrown his way.
The Sun Devils Went Down to Provo
Arizona State takes the trip to Provo this Saturday, and they’re looking for a win to steal. Quarterback Jayden Daniels and his band of Devils are running all over their opponents this season. Daniels had 122 of the Sun Devils 290 rushing yards against the UNLV Rebels last week, with 175 passing yards and two touchdowns. The passing offense has been struggling so far in 2021, so Daniels has often had to rely on his legs. With Daniels completing over 70% of his attempted passes, the young receiver must come together for the Sun Devils’ success.
It’s not just Daniels carrying the load for the Sun Devils as runningback Rachaad White dominates equally. White has a reputation for being a first-down machine as he averaged 10 yards per rush last season. He is also a receiving threat out of the backfield due to his time playing receiver at the JUCO level. Head Coach has gone as far as to say that White reminds him of Marcus Allen at times. Hindering his draft stock is sharing the backfield, but that does keep his touches low, which NFL coaches will appreciate.
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