When the Devy Breaks travels the college football landscape, keeping you up-to-date on last week’s results, previewing the big upcoming tilts, and providing updated devy rankings.
Last Saturday night, Ohio State overcame a 13-point deficit with eight minutes left to stun Penn State 27-26, in what ended up being the game of the weekend. Questionable play-calling by the Nittany Lions aside, the Buckeyes’ road win in a tough environment proved why they belong in the national championship discussion. Led by quarterback Will Grier, West Virginia secured a statement win against Texas Tech, Clemson held off Syracuse after freshman QB Trevor Lawrence was knocked out of the game, and Norte Dame squashed Stanford, paving the way for a potential playoff run for the Irish.
Kentucky’s 5-0 start is worth mentioning as the Wildcats handled South Carolina, 24-10. LSU stomped Ole Miss, 45-16, Washington cruised by BYU, 45-16, and Oregon beat an upstart California squad on the road in a bounce-back spot, 42-24.
This weekend provides us with the annual Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas, a game with legitimate national implications. LSU goes to the Swamp to face the 4-1 Florida Gators. And Florida State travels to Miami (FL) for a game with slightly diminished appeal but a ton of interstate pride on the line.
In July I profiled Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin and so far he’s lived up to the billing. Last week against Oregon State, Benjamin became the 28th player since 2000 to rush for at least 310 yards and three touchdowns in a single game and tied the record for most missed tackles forced in a game (20) according to Pro Football Focus. Through five games, he’s accounted for 73 percent of the Sun Devils’ non-QB rushing production and is drawing lofty comparisons from head coach Herm Edwards.
“He reminds me a little bit of Curtis Martin,” who played for Edwards when he coached the New York Jets. “About the same stature, doesn’t look like he can break tackles, but he does and he can run inside for the tough yards.”
If Arizona State continues to place such a heavy emphasis on the running game, expect more big outings from Benjamin moving forward.
SINGLE GAME RUSHING RECORD ?— Arizona State Sun Devils (@TheSunDevils) September 30, 2018
Eno Benjamin set the @ASUFootball record for rushing yards in a game with 312 yards, shattering the previous record of 250 yards set by Ben Malone in 1973! pic.twitter.com/XQWDpBVNj1
While Clemson’s QB situation dominated the headlines, RB Travis Etienne set career highs in carries (27), yards rushing (203), and TDs (3) in the win against Syracuse. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound sophomore is just the second RB since 2000 with at least 1,300 yards rushing and 20 TDs on less than 200 carries. Given the uncertainty surrounding the QB situation, he could see an even bigger role moving forward. He has the size, athleticism, and first-year Workhorse Score to justify his billing as a premier devy prospect.
Vanderbilt WR Kalija Lipscomb set a career single-game high in yards receiving (174) against Tennessee State to go along with two TDs. It was his fourth game this year with nine or more receptions. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior has a 0.52 Dominator Rating through five games and is growing into one of the best WRs in the SEC. Despite averaging just 11.8 yards per target this season, coaches and teammates rave about Lipscomb’s explosiveness, and he’s shown a knack for scoring TDs with 16 in 28 games. Athletic measurables and draft position will give us a better idea of his range of outcomes, but Lipscomb’s stock is rising regardless.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
In eight games played as a 19-year-old redshirt freshman last season, Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch posted a 0.41 Dominator Rating, a positive indication of future NFL success according to previous work by Anthony Amico. Through five games in 2018, Dortch has continued his domination accounting for 48 percent of Wake Forest’s receiving yards and TDs. He ranks third nationally in all-purpose yards per game (196) and has two punt return touchdowns this season. Dortch’s diminutive build (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) will not go unnoticed in his eventual draft evaluation. But NFL teams are sometimes willing to overlook size in search of dynamic playmakers. On Saturday, Dortch will face a Clemson secondary ranked 100th in the nation in passing yards allowed per attempt (7.9).
Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson is an age-adjusted phenom. In 2017 at age 19, he posted an absurd 0.61 Dominator Rating. Through four games this season he’s posted an identical 0.61 mark, catching passes from a true freshman walk-on QB. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Johnson has an NFL-type frame that scouts will love. His 51 percent catch rate since the start of last season is a concern, but assuming he declares for the 2019 draft, Johnson will check a ton of boxes as far as projecting future success. He’ll be tested over the next two weeks against Iowa and Ohio State, ranking first and 31st nationally in defensive pass efficiency per Bill Connelly’s S&P+ metrics.
Maryland RB Ty Johnson has yet to become a truly dominant college RB. What he is, however, is incredibly explosive. Johnson is one of just five players since 2000 to average at least 7.5 yards per carry on 300 or more career carries. This group includes Melvin Gordon and Raashad Penny. His meager 0.15 first-year Workhorse Score and lack of a breakout season together don’t signal a strong likelihood of future success. But if Johnson receives a combine invite and runs well, he could end up a draft-day surprise. Next up is a date with a Michigan Wolverines’ defense, which ranks 15th nationally in defensive run efficiency per S&P+.
Alright y’all, let me introduce you to one of my favorite senior backs, Maryland’s Ty Johnson.— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValenciaBF) June 6, 2018
A firecracker out of the backfield, here he goes untouched all the way to the house for 62 yards. This dude hits his top gear right off the exchange and steers into the lane. pic.twitter.com/Z3qAZpXMU8
Check out my updated devy rankings. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter or the message boards to let me know what you think.