Alabama. Clemson. Notre Dame. Michigan. Everyone held serve through a wild and weird Week 12 this past weekend. It wasn’t always pretty. Alabama went into the half tied at 10 with The Citadel. Clemson was slow to get started. Michigan didn’t exactly run away from Indiana, winning by 11.
But they held serve. And dammit, sometimes that’s enough. But these four programs aren’t out of the woods yet.
Alabama vs. Auburn
Clemson vs. South Carolina
Notre Dame vs. USC
Michigan vs. Ohio State
And then there are conference championship games the following week. This thing is far from over. So who are the landmines left?
Here is one 2019 NFL Draft prospect from each of the four games involving a current CFB Playoff participant who could serve up a herculean effort and an upset.
Auburn LB Deshaun Davis vs. #1 Alabama
If I had any confidence in QB Jarrett Stidham’s ability to play big in big moments, he’d be the choice.
(Spoiler alert: I don’t.)
So now comes the task of not making any back-breaking mistakes. Don’t turn the ball over and keep the game low scoring. Enter human hammer Deshaun Davis. Davis had a huge game earlier this year against LSU (4 tackles for loss). The Tigers will need a repeat performance to keep Alabama in long passing situations and dial up the pressure.
Davis’ impact on the early downs is imperative to Auburn’s success in challenging the Tide.
South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel vs. #2 Clemson
I thought about Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Wonnum and T.J. Brunson. I promise I did. But I don’t know how you contain Clemson for 60 minutes. They have too many ways to hurt you…so you need to score points. Enter Deebo Samuel, who had as red-hot a start to the 2017 season as you could imagine before going down with an injury.
The Gamecocks need THAT Deebo Samuel to show up on Saturday night. And he’ll need to be there to make life as easy as possible for QB Jake Bentley, who is in for one hell of a night being chased by Wilkins, Ferrell, Lawrence and Bryant.
Quick throws, screen passes, touch passes. That’s the formula. The rest falls on Deebo.
USC WR Michael Pittman Jr vs. #3 Notre Dame
It’s a weird year for USC. The dirty little secret was this team was always going to be terrible, even after coming into the season ranked 15th.
But this is a whole different level of bad. And to be honest I had a hard time coming up with a name here. Junior WR Michael Pittman gets the call because he’s an explosive player who has made a lot of big plays happen this season, averaging 19.9 yards per catch.
Notre Dame aced their looming test against Syracuse, I suspect that even Pittman’s explosiveness won’t be enough to keep this one close.
Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins vs. #4 Michigan
Well…yeah. You see Ohio State play defense last week? It certainly won’t be a game wrecker on that side of the ball (although I could see DL Dre’Mont Jones having a big day, in all seriousness).
No matter who Haskins draws the rest of the way, he won’t face a stiffer test than the one he’s set to tackle this weekend against Michigan. The Wolverines boast several NFL defenders in the secondary and a defense that is among the best in the country.
To complicate matters, the Ohio State tackles will have a hard time dealing with Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary. But…BUT! A heroic effort from Haskins to keep this team ahead of the chains and keep the Michigan defense on their heels will need to be the difference maker. Haskins’ status as a 2019 prospect will be measured in large part to his performance on Saturday against Michigan.