After three months of action, the greatest weekend in College Football finally came: Rivalry Week! While Conference Championship Week and the upcoming College Football Playoff will ultimately provide the highest stakes, there’s just something special about watching teams that legitimately hate each other battling it out on the gridiron.
The Rivalry Week action started with the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving Night and the Civil War on Friday, but the biggest regular season game of the season took place in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday. “The Game,” pitting #2 Ohio State against #3 Michigan, lived up to expectations, as the Wolverines’ defense intercepted Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord on the final drive to preserve a 30-24 victory.
Later on, we saw #8 Alabama, #4 Washington and #5 Florida State survive near-upsets against their in-state rivals to keep their playoff hopes alive. Needless to say, the greatest weekend in College Football did not disappoint.
Let’s dive into the devy fallout!
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Devy Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers
If you’re unfamiliar with the format, devy (developmental dynasty league) is a type of fantasy football league that goes deeper. In these leagues, you draft and stash potential NFL prospects years before they enter the league. Scott Fish, the creator of the massively popular Scott Fish Bowl tournament, is also credited with creating devy back in the 1990s, and the format has gained popularity ever since.
Regarding risers, we refer to players whose perceived value has increased based on their on-field performance. However, when we talk about fallers, we consider several factors, such as on-field performance, injuries, playing time and even some extenuating circumstances, which can impact a player’s value.
With Heisman hopeful Jayden Daniels and future NFL No. 1 WR Malik Nabers drawing all of the attention, it’s very easy to forget about LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. Don’t let the lack of hype fool you, though. Thomas Jr. is a legitimate NFL prospect who would be the No. 1 passing option in most offenses.
In LSU’s 42-30 victory over Texas A&M, Thomas Jr. hauled in five receptions, 58 receiving yards and one of the prettiest touchdown grabs you’ll ever see. Not to be outdone, Nabers also had a sensational toe-tap touchdown a couple of minutes later.
Still, let’s focus on Thomas Jr. here. Despite playing second-fiddle, Thomas Jr. has 1,079 receiving yards and an FBS-leading 15 touchdown receptions this season. Thomas Jr. has the size (6’4″, 205 lbs) and ball skills to be a dominant force for years to come. Thomas Jr. has one more year of eligibility remaining, but it would be a major surprise if he didn’t declare for the 2024 NFL Draft.
With starting quarterback Jordan Travis lost for the season, the Florida State Seminoles have to find new ways to win football games. It makes sense for them to establish the run and rely on the playmakers around backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker.
In Rodemaker’s first start, that’s exactly what they did. In FSU’s 24-15 victory over rival Florida, running back Trey Benson had 95 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on a season-high 19 carries. Despite trailing 12-0 early in the contest, Florida State kept feeding Benson, eventually leading to a massive comeback victory.
With the 2024 draft class lacking elite talent at the running back position, player traits and scheme fits could determine what order these players are drafted. Benson probably won’t be the first running back off the board, but his speed and shiftiness in the open field will be coveted by teams running outside zone schemes.
The 88th edition of the Iron Bowl will go down as one of the greatest in the rivalry’s storied history, but it wasn’t all good news for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Sometime before Isaiah Bond hauled in one of the greatest touchdown receptions you’ll ever see, Alabama leading rusher Jase McClellan aggravated a lingering foot injury.
McClellan was seen on crutches and in a walking boot after the Auburn game and his status for Saturday’s SEC Championship is in doubt. If McClellan can’t suit up against #1 Georgia, expect backup running back Roydell Williams and quarterback Jalen Milroe to handle the rushing load.
Entering the season, Clemson wide receiver Antonio Williams was looked at as an emerging devy wide receiver. That is still within the range of possibilities, but it’s been a wasted season for the sophomore wide receiver.
After racking up 600+ receiving yards and four touchdowns as a freshman, Williams struggled through injuries and only managed 192 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season. That’s quite a disappointment for a prospect who showed so much promise in year No. 1, but you can’t really hold injuries against a player.
Freshman Tyler Brown has stepped up and played well in his absence, but the Tigers painfully missed Williams’ play-making this season. With Williams only playing in four regular season games, he can technically use a redshirt this year and maintain three more years of college eligibility.