Week 8 of college football featured a lot of highlights, lowlights, and downright head-scratching moments. Watching the slate of games Saturday, here is what I came away with.
- Marvin Harrison Junior can do the dirty work. Marvin Harrison Junior’s talents are well known and his dominance is pretty evident in every game he’s played. What is interesting is Harrison’s impressive 11 catch, 162 yard performance against Penn State was only the second game of his career where he had double digit receptions. Coincidentally, his other high volume outing was a 10 catch day against Penn State last year. It is just a matter of the fact that between Ohio State largely blowing out opponents and having other talented pass catchers, it is a rarity that the offense actually runs through Harrison. On Saturday, though, it did. Penn State committed a lot of resources to slowing the Buckeyes offense and they largely did a good job. Ohio State averaged 1.9 yards per carry on the ground and no other Buckeye receiver caught more than four passes. The pressure was on Harrison to perform and he toughed out a workmanlike four quarters to give Ohio State the 20-12 win to stay unbeaten. This kind of game is crucial to show what Harrison can do in the NFL as a number one receiver. He carried an offense the same way guys like Julio Jones, AJ Green, Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill have carried offenses over the last decade. Even though he did not have a ton of the flashy, big yardage plays we expect from him, he just ate up short and intermediate catches to keep the offense humming along. It was arguably the most impressive, NFL-style performance of what has been a brilliant career at Ohio State.
- Watching Tez Walker has been a treat. He is NFL ready. The NCAA miraculously came to their senses to let Devontez Walker play for UNC after transferring from Kent State and UNC is all the better for it. In the last two weeks, Walker has caught 17 passes for nearly 280 yards and four scores. He is an electric playmaker with the size and athletic profile of an NFL receiver. He is already a favorite target of Drake Maye and should continue to put up stellar performances with the Tar Heels. I bet he follows Maye to the NFL and he is absolutely ready.
- Cooper DeJean was robbed. That is all.
- JJ McCarthy is legit. Watching Michigan absolutely dismantle Michigan State and I couldn’t stop thinking about how impressive JJ McCarthy looked. In a game where the Wolverines could not get the ground game going, Harbaugh leaned on McCarthy’s arm and he delivered a four touchdown performance where he only threw six incompletions. McCarthy has a good arm with sharp accuracy and he is a good decision maker. Factor in plus athleticism and the ability to throw on the move and McCarthy has a legit future as an NFL quarterback.
- Dallas Turner has done nothing but shine in the absence of Will Anderson. Alabama was bound to have another impressive front seven prospect this year after sending Will Anderson to the NFL in last year’s draft. Dallas Turner has stepped up in a big way, logging eight sacks through eight weeks. He has a great burst off the line and has the flexibility to get low and bend the edge. He is dominating for the Tide as their top defender on the front and is coming off another great performance against the Tennessee Volunteers. He has been crucial in Alabama’s turnaround this year after an early loss and should continue to climb draft boards with his strong play.
Offensive Player of the Week: Marvin Harrison Junior, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
Who else? It’s one thing to put up huge, impressive numbers against nobodies, but Marvin Harrison Junior did it against a talented Penn State defense hellbent on slowing him down. Despite their best efforts, he was the sole Buckeye who could move the ball and he helped Ohio State scrape up 20 points to beat the Nittany Lions in a crucial game to keep playoff contention alive. It was a gutsy performance.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jer’Zahn Newton, Defensive Tackle, Illinois
Despite his team losing, Jer’Zahn Newton made a great case for why he is the best interior defender in the 2024 class. Newton was a terror rushing the passer, logging a sack and constant pressure. Against the run, he made some great stops and forced a fumble. If it weren’t for a heroic effort from Wisconsin running back, Braelon Allen, Newton almost single handedly won the game for Illinois.