7 things you need to know in college football
The status of Michigan's playoff hopes, Paxton Lynch is on Heisman watch and much more following Week 7 of the season.
7 things you need to know in college football
1. Jake Rudock’s poor play hurt Michigan’s College Football Playoff hopes.
The Michigan defense has been on another level this year, with standouts on the defensive line in Chris Wormley (+25.3) and Maurice Hurst (+25.8), at linebacker in Desmond Morgan (+17.0) and at cornerback with Jourdan Lewis (+16.7). Before the loss to Michigan State they had posted three straight shutouts and yet, with Jake Rudock’s (-20.9) struggles at quarterback, they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff picture. Our seventh-lowest graded player at the system, he has graded positively just once all year.
2. Paxton Lynch is your Heisman Trophy dark-horse candidate.
They were 10 and a half point underdogs as they hosted Ole Miss on Saturday, but the Memphis Tigers pulled out a win that many would have called unlikely leading into the game. It isn’t that much of a surprise when one considers that Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch (+17.6) has been one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football this season. Our third-highest graded player at the position, he has been particularly impressive throwing downfield. Going 14-for-24 for 517 yards and four touchdowns on passes travelling 20 yards or further.
3. Kyler Fackrell is having a tremendous season.
When you think of the best edge rushers in the nation, names like Joey Bosa, Shilique Calhoun and Myles Garrett spring to mind. However, Utah State’s Kyler Fackrell (+34.4) is having a pretty impressive season for the Aggies. He’s done it against Power-5 opposition in Utah and Washington, but it was against Boise State on Friday that he showed his dominance. Registering six total defensive stops, and adding a hit and four hurries as a pass rusher, he’s a name to keep an eye on going forward.
4. Stanford continues to roll.
They might have lost in the opening week of the season, but the Stanford Cardinal are arguably the hottest team in the country right now. They’ve put up 41 points in each of their four conference matchups, including the 56 they put up against a talented UCLA defense this past week. The ridiculous catch by Frank Owusu got the headlines, but running back Christian McCafferty (+6.4) stole the show, forcing four missed tackle and scoring four touchdowns in the win.
5. Notre Dame is still on track.
After a late loss to Clemson three weeks ago, it looked like the Irish’s College Football Playoff hopes might be over, but they got themselves back on track with wins over Navy and USC. They now head into the final five games of the season and if they can keep winning, the season-ending showdown with Stanford might be enough for a place in the final four. DeShone Kizer (+0.9) has been up and down, but the rushing attack powered by C.J. Prosise (+13.6) has kept them rolling.
6. Alabama versus LSU looms large.
After a mid September loss to Ole Miss, plenty of people were ready to write Alabama off. Since then though, we’ve seen them knock Georgia and Texas A&M from the ranks of the unbeatens, and suddenly they look like just as much of a threat to win it all as they did at the start of the year. The other team who stand out in a tough SEC? The Leonard Fournette (+19.8) powered LSU Tigers and, provided both can get through this weekend with the wins they’ll be expected to pick up, we can start to get excited about their matchup on November 7th. Fournette is our highest-graded rusher, but the Crimson Tide defensive line boasts our highest-graded defensive tackle against the run in Jarran Reed (+29.7)
7. Elliott and Bosa are powering the Buckeyes.
While Fournette is our highest-graded rusher, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliot (+23.2) has a higher overall grade, having played more snaps and showing the versatility as a receiver and as a blocker too. He has forced 28 missed tackles as a runner and another two as a receiver, while stepping up when the Buckeyes’ quarterback struggles have slowed the offense down. On the defensive side, defensive end Joey Bosa (+37.7) has continued his dominance from a year ago. In six games he has registered 36 total pressures and 21 defensive stops. While Ohio State has talent on both sides of the ball, it’s these two who continue to lead the way.
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.