After 12 games and a season that started in mid-August, conference championship week is upon us. Nine games are on the slate, with arguably the biggest ones having their own days. Friday, you have the Washington Huskies looking to fight off Oregon for the second time this year, followed by Alabama versus Georgia on Saturday.
Both games will have talent from all classes, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. In the other games, there is enough talent to fill the Titanic, and there is plenty of room on this door, or article, to discuss them.
Each game has several players worth monitoring. For most, this is a game for them to make a name for themselves while earning a larger role for the following year. In recent years, the likes of Jalen Hurts, Deuce Vaughn, Kenny Pickett, and Blake Corum emerge from these games with renewed value in devy. All of them used the stage given to them to snatch the spotlight and build momentum into something bigger.
With nine games being mentioned on the slate, having someone to watch in each of them could be worth it. Here is Dynasty Nerds’ devy spotlight to the 2023 conference championship weekend.
Pac-12: Oregon vs. Washington
Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
One of the most explosive players in college football, Franklin, has a chance to make himself a name on Saturday in the final Pac-12 conference championship. In the first meeting with the Huskies, Franklin racked up eight catches for 153 yards and one score. He could easily replicate that performance or even build on it. He is coming into the game with a chip on his shoulder and knows the world is watching. His unique size of 6’2″ allows him to win contested catches, but is also fast enough to burn past defenders.
Big 12: Oklahoma State vs. Texas
Jaydon Blue, RB, Texas
Blue is a former 4-star recruit and the sixth-ranked running back in the 2022 class. While others in his class, such as Nick Singleton, have been playing heavily since day one, Blue has not. He sat behind Bijan Robinson, Roschon Johnson, and Jonathon Brooks for the past two years. Robinson and Johnson have gone to the NFL, and Brooks’ unfortunate ACL injury left the starting job wide open and Blue has seized it. Blue had 121 yards and a touchdown against Texas Tech on ten carries last week. He has the size and speed to make himself a name on the big stage of the Big 12 conference championship this weekend. Blue doing so could help him separate himself in a growing field of talented 2025-eligible running backs.
MAC: Miami (OH) vs. Toledo
Peny Boone, RB, Toledo
Small school running backs emerge every year come NFL draft time. Boone could be a name to follow. The former Maryland Terapin has become the leading rusher for Toledo and played a major role in their 11-1 season. He is a big back, listed at 6’2″, 220 pounds, and runs with a style to match. He isn’t the most athletic pass catcher out of the backfield, but his style still has a need and role in the NFL.
Mountain West: Boise State vs. UNLV
Ashton Jeanty, RB, Boise State
The Boise State product was recently named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year for good reason. Jeanty has 220 touches this year for the Broncos and earned 1,650 total yards while finding the endzone 18 times. He has a unique blend of vision and athleticism to make him a true dual-threat out of the backfield and could easily be a top devy asset over the Summer.
SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama
Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama
No one in the country playing on Saturday has more to earn than Milroe. Not only could he disrupt the College Football Playoff, but he could also become an Alabama legend and earn an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony with a strong performance. To top it all off, he could be staring in the face the status of top quarterback in the 2025 NFL Draft. He has the physical traits and dual-threat skillset to make the NFL lose their mind over. He has shown he can do it against the best the SEC has to offer, and if he does it against Georgia, their conference championship, then the sky is the limit.
AAC: SMU vs. Tulane
Kevin Jennings, QB, SMU
SMU’s starting quarterback, Preston Stone, suffered a lower leg injury in their season finale and is now out for their conference championship. Football has the next-man-up mentality, which means it is Kevin Jenning’s job now. After seeing very few reps during the season, the former 4-star recruit is now starting for his hometown team. Jennings has offers from other schools in 2022, but none has a profile as high as SMU’s. He has a good build for a dual-threat quarterback and has shown he can make plays. He has been with the team for two years, so he knows the offense well enough to make proper reads and decisions. If Jennings has a strong performance, don’t be surprised if his stock rises quickly. Don’t be late.
Sun Belt: Appalachian State vs. Troy
Chris Lewis, WR, Troy
Lewis was lost in the shuffle at Kentucky in their loaded wide receiver room, so he stepped out of the shadow. He transferred to Troy and, in 2023, demonstrated he can be an explosive playmaker for the Trojans. Lewis has an average yards per catch of 19.3 and has shown he can make something out of nothing on several occasions. He has an impressive size at 6’4″and 200 pounds but moves like he is much smaller. He’s not a big name by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a name to watch in the Sun Belt conference championship.
Big Ten: Michigan vs. Iowa
Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan
One of the best slot receivers in all of college football, Wilson will have a big role in the Big Ten conference championship. He has been a favorite target of J.J. McCarthy all season long, and together, they have carved up Big Ten defenses repeatedly. He could easily find the same success in the NFL in the right system. Be sure to monitor his game on Saturday and in the playoff as he stays on the national stage.
ACC: Florida State vs. Louisville
Jamari Thrash, WR, Louisville
The former Georgia State receiver found his footing in Louisville and had an explosive 2023 campaign. The Senior Bowl-bound wide receiver accumulated 801 yards and six touchdowns on 56 receptions. He has played well in the role that Tutu Atwell once held. Atwell took some time to adjust to the NFL, and Thrash may too, but we now see that there is a home for someone with his build and skillset in the NFL. Watch him in the ACC conference championship, but be sure to monitor him during the week of the Senior Bowl.
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