We are hitting the midpoint of the 2017 college football season, and this is when things start to get interesting. Games become more important as teams jockey for position for a place in the College Football Playoff.
This past weekend we saw two top 10 teams lose. Both Oklahoma and Michigan lost at home to unranked opponents. Michigan lost to in-state rival Michigan State, while Oklahoma blew a 17-point lead in losing to Iowa State. What that tells me is that Oklahoma and Michigan were ranked too high to begin with and never really were top-10 teams.
Looking at the top 10 now, the team that I feel is out of whack as far as rankings go is Penn State. Penn State’s schedule to date has been very easy, but their next three games will tell us how good they really are. The Nittany Lions are off this week, then they'll play Michigan at home and travel to Ohio State and Michigan State in their next three games. If they lose any of those games, their chances of getting into the playoff will become slim.
Speaking of Penn State, they have one of the most publicized players in the country in running back Saquon Barkley. At this point of the season, Barkley is the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman trophy. Many draft analysts also feel he is a top three-to-top five pick in the next NFL Draft and are comparing him to the Dallas Cowboys' Zeke Elliott. I say not so fast.
Though Barkley is very good, he is not the runner that Elliott is. If we had to compare Barkley to a recent draft choice it would be Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey. Barkley is a great all-purpose back — just like McCaffrey — because he is a runner, a receiver and a return man.
Looking at his numbers, Barkley only has two games this season in which he has run for over 100 yards and two games in which he didn’t get even 60 yards rushing. That’s not top-five production.
A running back who is starting to get some hard looks from NFL scouts is Stanford junior Bryce Love. Love was a backup to McCaffrey the past few years, and so he didn’t get the notoriety of others going into the season. As the main guy this year, Love is averaging over 200 yards a game and 10.5 yards per carry through six games. You can check him out Saturday night against Oregon.