NCAA Week 5 was one of the best weeks for Canadian performances in recent memory and it was also a great week for our predictions.
I named the outcome of 11 of the 13 games featuring Canadian content correctly, bringing the season long record up to 34-of-42. That’s not bad, but unfortunately one of the errors was the CanCon Game of the Week, with NC State squeaking past Pittsburgh in a big upset. That marked the first time this season the victor of the feature game wasn’t who I predicted.
This week the Canadian press has been pounding the NCAA pavement to advertise one of the best homegrown matchups ever to hit primetime. I’m no different and the entire country should have their eyes glued on the Southeastern Conference in Week 6.
No. 2 Alabama (-24) at Ole Miss
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, MS
Kickoff: Saturday, October 10 at 4:30 p.m. PST/ 7:30 p.m. EST
Where to View: TSN 3
Pinch yourself, you aren’t dreaming.
There was a time when the idea that an SEC game featuring a National Championship favourite could be determined by Canadian content would have seemed ludicrous. Not anymore. When two of the south’s most iconic programs face off on Saturday, three Canadians will be in prominent positions on the field with a chance to determine the outcome.
None will have a bigger role than college football’s newest star. In a loaded Alabama offence that features two projected first-round NFL draft picks — receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith — it was Brampton native John Metchie III who stole the show with 181 yards and two touchdowns a week ago.
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin may have joked that he’d never heard of Metchie III last week, but you can bet the whole Ole Miss staff has lost sleep over the prospect of a three-headed passing attack ripping through their secondary. As the third receiver, Metchie III won’t brush with the two-century mark every week, but his presence means the Crimson Tide have the luxury of spreading the ball around and exploiting whatever matchup they like best on game day. For opponents, there is simply no escape.
One of those matchups could be Metchie III against fellow Canadian Deane Leonard. The University of Calgary transfer has turned his reputation as the best cover man north of the border into plenty of early reps for the Rebels. He’s slowly been adjusting to the speed and size of the SEC competition.
He’s not yet a starter but Leonard rotates in frequently, mostly to the left corner spot. Metchie III most often aligns directly across in the right wideout spot, so the two should go head to head at least a few times in Oxford. With all the length, speed and skill of an NFL-calibre corner, this could be a chance for Leonard to break out and the film of two Canadian stand-outs going head to head will be must-watch tape for Canadian scouting departments.
While Leonard rotates in, Ole Miss’ other Canadian has earned himself a starting role. A junior transfer from Guelph, Tavius Robinson is a specimen at outside linebacker and his impressive six-foot-seven, 245-pound frame made him a hot commodity after U Sports canceled its season.
He’s been the Rebels sixth-highest rated defender this season according to Pro Football Focus, but he still hasn’t shown off the pass rush upside that made him a star in the OUA. That will be tough to do this week against star Alabama tackles like Alex Leatherwood and Evan Neal, but if he does get to Mac Jones it will have Canadians everywhere cheering. Regardless, he’ll have his hands full trying to contain running backs Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr.
Despite its Canadian content, the Ole Miss defence has struggled through two games and given up 92 combined points. That will need to change fast to slow down the vaunted Crimson Tide. Sure, Lane Kiffin has the Rebels’ offence clicking and quarterback Matt Coral has shone this year, but it will be tough to win a shootout against an Alabama defence led by one of college football’s best players, linebacker Dylan Moses.
They did it last week against Kentucky, but Nick Saban’s team are a different animal entirely and the legendary bench boss has never lost to one of his former coordinators (20-0). The Tide should roll and drown any land sharks present.
Pick straight-up: Alabama
Pick against the spread: Alabama (-24)
Other Week 6 NCAA games featuring Canadians
Tulane at Houston
CanCon: Olivier Charles-Pierre, NT, SR (Hou)
Result: 49-31 Houston
No. 4 Florida (-7) at No. 21 Texas A&M
CanCon: Lamar Goods, DT, FR (Flo)
No. 19 Virginia Tech at No. 8 North Carolina (-4.5)
CanCon: Patrice Rene, CB, SR (UNC)
Pick: North Carolina
UL Monroe at Liberty (-19)
CanCon: John Kourtis, RG, SO (Lib)
NC State at Virginia (-7.5)
CanCon: Daniel Joseph, DE, SR (NCSt), Terrell Jana, REC, SR (Vir)
Duke at Syracuse (Even)
CanCon: Matthew Bergeron, RT, SO (Syr), Geoff Cantin-Arku, MLB, SO (Syr), Tyrell Richards, OLB, JR (SYR), Ben Labrosse, DB, FR (Syr), Patrick Davis, RG, SR (Syr), Damien Alford, REC, FR (Syr)
No. 14 Tennessee at No. 3 Georgia (-12.5)
CanCon: Josh Palmer, REC, SR (Ten)
Texas State at Troy (-7)
CanCon: Samuel Obiang, NT, SO (TexSt)
Pick: Texas State
Pittsburgh (-6) at Boston College
CanCon: Jared Wayne, REC, SO (Pitt), Liam Dick, OL, FR (Pitt), Ezechiel Tieide, REC, SO (BC)
No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson (-14)
CanCon: Ajou Ajou, REC, FR (Clem)
UTEP at Louisiana Tech (-14)
CanCon: Gabe Semieniec, PK, SR (LATech)
Pick: Louisiana Tech