This week's slate of games doesn't really boast too many big matchups, so I wanted to take the time to highlight two smaller schools outperforming the expectations of many so far this season. #16 SMU (5-0) and #9 Cincinnati (3-0) are both undefeated at this point and playing some great football. It'll be a clash of two strengths this week, as Cincinnati has been fueled by their high powered pass rush and SMU has relied on their offense mostly, averaging 42.6 points per game so far this season.
Here are the key players from each team I'll be watching in this matchup:
Game of the Week: Cincinnati vs SMU (10/24, 9:00PM)
Cincinnati - EDGE Myjai Sanders
Cincinnati's pass rush has been elite this season and is ranked first overall in the nation, according to Pro Football Focus' team grades. Sanders and defensive lineman Elijah Ponder are the main reasons behind that. Sanders has already recorded 12 pressures in three games and has a sack in each of his last two games. He's done this by being very quick off the snap and will face one of his toughest matchups this season against a strong offensive line. Expect to hear his name rise up draft boards if he keeps playing at this level.
SMU - QB Shane Buechele
Buechele is off to a hot start this season. He has 12 TDs and just 2 INTs through his first five games. He's gone over 340 passing yards in 4 of those 5 games. Buechele lost his biggest offensive weapon, Reggie Roberson, in week four against Memphis but still looked impressive last week without him. The Bearcats' pass rush will be the biggest test he's faced so far this season. Buechele ranks tenth amongst all college football quarterbacks in ESPN's QBR rating and was listed by Matt Miller as his 7th best QB prospect entering the draft currently.
Other players to keep an eye on:
CB Jaycee Horn - South Carolina
Horn had the best game of his career last week against Auburn. He was targeted ten times and allowed just two catches. He broke up 5 passes, had 2 interceptions, and a touchdown. Oh, and he did this all against a solid Auburn offense. Horn spent most of his time matched up against Seth Williams, seen by many as a player that'll likely be selected near round 3. He's a very physical corner in man coverage and will have another tough challenge this week against LSU.
EDGE Jaelan Phillips - Miami
Phillips is really starting to come along in Miami's pass rush. He's recorded six pressures in each of his last two games. He was seen as a late rounder coming into this season, based mostly on his pedigree as a top recruit coming out of high school. Phillips has always had the tools and is really starting to put it together now in this high powered pass rush. Miami will play Virginia this week, which has allowed 8 sacks through four games.
C Drake Jackson- Kentucky
Jackson is now in his 4th season at center for Kentucky. He was the 2020 First Team Preseason All-SEC pick at center. Jackson hasn't allowed a single pressure or sack through four games this season. He's a very physical blocker and his consistency throughout his time at Kentucky should help. Jackson had 44 knockdown blocks and missed only two assignments in 845 plays in the toughest conference in college football last season, according to Kentucky's athletic website.
CB Rodarius Williams - Oklahoma St
Williams has been lights out this season. He's allowed allowed one reception in the seven times he's been targeted. He has five passes broken up. Williams primarily plays wide corner and has started since his freshman season. He's also the brother of Browns' CB Greedy Williams. He's been graded fourth highest in the country as an outside corner, but he's gunning for that number one spot.
WR Anthony Schwartz Auburn
Schwartz is off to a bit of a disappointing start, but there's so much potential there. Coming out of high school, Schwartz ran a 4.27 second 40-yard dash. He's by far the fastest man in college football, but he just hasn't put it all together yet. He's hit the 100 yard receiving mark just once in his first four games this season. This could be his week to shine against Ole Miss, which is allowing 47 points per game and 540 yards per game. If he doesn't step it up soon, he may get lost in the shuffle a bit in a deep wide receiver class.
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