What a weekend of college football. Tight finishes, upsets and of course, stand out performances from NFL Draft prospects.
These are the guys who helped themselves in Week Seven.
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
The NFL craves second level defenders exactly in the mold of Kenneth Murray. Rangy, urgent and physical linebackers are required to counter the wide open offenses today’s NFL features and Murray continues to prove he’s among the best in the class.
Racking up five tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack against Texas in the Sooners 34-27 victory over the Longhorns, Murray was all over the field for the Oklahoma defense. He was the tone-setter needed to both contain Sam Ehlinger and shut down the Texas rushing attack. Murray has undoubtedly taken his game to the next level this season, showcasing a more disciplined defender to complement his physical gifts.
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
I try to be intentional with this column to not select the prospects who performed the best, but the ones who actually did something to improve their draft stock. Everybody knew Lamb was one of the best offensive playmakers in the rising class, so his 10 catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns against Texas wasn’t really a surprise.
With that said, I believe Lamb showcased some underrated and sometimes questioned components of his game against the Longhorns. While he may not have the burst of a Henry Ruggs or Jerry Jeudy, he still has plenty of juice which was evident when he racked up big chunks of yardage after the catch against Texas. Secondly, his creativity and ability to make people miss with the ball in his hands was never more exceptional than it was in the Red River Rivalry. Lamb is an all-around, elite talent and that was clear watching him dominate against Texas.
Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
There isn’t too much hype when it comes to the 2020 crop of tight ends at this point in the process, but the premiere receiving tight end in rising class is Hopkins. On an afternoon where Purdue was without its top playmaker in Rondale Moore, Hopkins stepped up in a big way hauling in 10 passes for 140 yards. Quarterback Jack Plummer threw for a career-high 420 yards without his top receiver, due largely to the production of Hopkins and also the spacing problems his presence in the lineup creates for defenses.
This was a resume game for Hopkins who has a chance to be the first tight end drafted in April.
Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
A week after knocking off Iowa in a slobberknocker, Michigan’s 42-25 win over Illinois was an ugly football game despite the increased scoring. The Wolverines claimed this victory because of its rushing offense and some big plays on the defensive side of the football, several of which were engineered by senior EDGE Josh Uche.
Uche racked up five tackles for loss and three sacks which helped keep the Illinois offense behind the sticks and in difficult situations to overcome against a team of superior talent. Entering the game without a full sack or tackle for loss to his credit this year, it was encouraging to see them come in bunches on Saturday. Hopefully this performance will serve as a launch point to a strong finish for Uche.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Arizona State’s 38-34 win over Washington State was one of this weekend’s most thrilling games to watch and the big plays produced by Aiyuk were a major reason why. There’s a lot of hype regarding the rising class of receivers, and Aiyuk probably doesn’t get enough credit for the quality of prospect he is. If there was a game that showcases his skill set in full, there might not be a better example than his seven catches for 196 yards and three touchdowns against the Cougars on Saturday.
Whether it was a big time contested catch that showed off his ball skills or ripping off a chunk of yards after the catch, Aiyuk proved his all-around ability. He’s definitely overlooked in a deep class of receiving weapons.
Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Kinlaw is a disruptive dude and he caused a lot of problems for the Georgia offensive line. Jake Fromm was uncomfortable throughout the contest and the Bulldogs were held to only four yards per carry on 40 rushes. While Kinlaw’s four tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack may appear modest, his impact transcends the box score.
South Carolina going into Athens and knocking off the No. 3 and previously undefeated Bulldogs is one of the biggest upsets in college football this season and I don’t think it happens without the contributions of Kinlaw. Don’t be surprised when he’s drafted in the first round next April.
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Week after week, Burrow keeps meeting the moment and acing every test. Challenged with the best defense LSU has faced so far in the season, Burrow completed 21-of-24 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns while the Tigers hung 42 points on the Gators. Entering the game, Florida was allowing on average 183 passing yards per game and 9.5 points.
Burrow was efficient with the football with a showcased strong feel for reading coverage and making accurate throws - just like he has every week. And don’t look at only three incompletions and think everything came easy for Burrow; he made his share of tight window throws and trusted his targets to make plays on the ball. Burrow is having an unbelievable year and his rise has been meteoric.
Robert Windsor, DT, Penn State
The Nittany Lions have been fueled by its offense to date, but its 17-12 win over Iowa on Saturday was a defensive struggle. Answering the call and cashing in a big time performance was defensive tackle Robert Windsor who racked up six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries.
Windsor’s ability to control the line of scrimmage was a big reason why Iowa was limited to just 70 yards rushing on 30 carries and forced the Hawkeyes to attempt 43 passes. In a classing Big Ten showdown, Windsor played a major role in Penn State improving to 6-0. Windsor brought the juice.