The college football season is now heading into its final stretch. October is now over after Week 9 and teams will have one more month to go to qualify for a bowl game, compete for their conference championship, or fight for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
While college football fans are focused on the final month of the regular-season, NFL fans are paying attention to how the top prospects are playing. As has been stated repeatedly, the quarterback position always receives the most attention. After all, if a team doesn't have a good-to-great-to-elite option, their odds of competing in a Super Bowl are slim. For those wondering how the likes of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Michael Penix Jr. competed in Week 9, we have you covered.
Previous editions of "In the Market" can be found at the links below:
Taking Stock: How top 2024 NFL Draft QBs fared in Week 9
Caleb Williams, USC
The USC Trojans have not had a great October. From narrowly beating Arizona, to losing to Notre Dame and Utah in back-to-back weeks. Before the month even ended, the Trojans were out of the College Football Playoff picture. Yet, the team was more focused on ending their losing streak. They did so, albeit barely.
This past Saturday, the California Golden Bears gave the Trojans fits at Berkeley. Entering halftime, USC trailed 28-17 and looked to be heading towards a third consecutive loss. Instead, Caleb Williams played hero, scoring three touchdowns in the second half, two of which were runs in the red zone. But, USC nearly lost, as California failed a two-point conversion at the end of the game, giving the Trojans a 50-49 victory.
Williams completed 23-of-40 pass attempts for 369 yards and two touchdowns, while running for two touchdowns on 13 carries (-13 yards).
When not blitzed, Williams completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for 355 yards and two touchdowns on 36 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus. Williams also thrived on passes 20-yards and further, completed six of eight attempts for 191 yards and one touchdown.
Next Game: vs. No. 5 Washington, Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Drake Maye, UNC
The North Carolina Tar Heels and Drake Maye were in the driver's seat to face off against the Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game. All they had to do was to keep pace with the undefeated squad and win out following their loss to Virginia the week prior. Instead, they lost their second game in a row, this time to the tough Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. With that, the team didn't even earn a spot in the first College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings.
But this loss wasn't on Maye. The Tar Heels missed a field goal late, while up 42-39, allowing Georgia Tech to score a touchdown and take a 46-42 lead six plays later. Maye tried to go for the win, but a reception by Tez Walker was unfortunately fumbled after he got injured on a tackle. That allowed the Yellow Jackets to clinch the win.
The sophomore quarterback threw 17 completions for 310 yards and two touchdowns on 25 attempts, while running for 58 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
In a clean pocket, Maye completed 16 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts on 26 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus. Even when blitzed on 14 dropbacks, Maye completed 7-of-12 throws for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Next Game: vs. Campbell, Saturday, Nov. 4 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Michael Penix Jr., Washington
Ever since leading Washington to a huge win over Oregon, Michael Penix Jr. and the team just never looked the same. As in, winnable games became a challenge, as evidenced by their narrow win over Arizona State. This week, while it was another narrow victory, Penix had a much better game than his two-interception performance the week prior.
Penix broke a 7-7 tie in the second quarter with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Rome Odunze and a 92-yard pass to Ja'Lynn Polk to put the team ahead 21-7. Yet, Stanford showed their resilience, as they caught up and kept pace with Washington. There was one scary moment in the game, as Penix threw an interception in the end zone with a little over five minutes left in regulation. But, the Huskies defense forced a turnover on downs, and the Huskies got a touchdown on a 13-yard run by Dillon Johnson to essentially secure the 42-33 victory.
In the win, Penix threw 21 completions for 369 yards, and four touchdowns, while throwing one interception on 37 attempts.
This week, Penix has arguably his next largest game against the USC Trojans and last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams.
Next Game: at. No. 20 USC, Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. ET
Bo Nix, Oregon
Bo Nix and the Oregon Ducks had a formidable foe on paper standing across from them on the gridiron in the Utah Utes. After all, they did hand the USC Trojans their second loss of the season. Oregon lost three weeks ago to Washington, could Utah hand them their second "L?"
That answer was a decisive no, as Nix and the Ducks steamrolled the Utes. The game was over by Oregon's second drive of the third quarter. The Ducks, already up 21-6, executed a 12-play drive, culminating in a nine-yard touchdown run by Bucky Irving. On the first play of Utah's next drive, Oregon defensive back Tysheem Johnson picked off quarterback Bryson Barnes. Five plays later, the Ducks were up 35-6 after a five-yard touchdown run by Traeshon Holden.
Nix finished the game completing 24-of-31 throws for 248 yards and two touchdowns, while running for eight yards and a touchdown on four carries. Perhaps most impressively was Nix was unphased while under pressure, as he completed 8-of-10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown on 10 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus.
Next Game: vs. California, Saturday, Nov. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Shedeur Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes returned from their bye last week, looking to put behind their brutal loss to the Stanford Cardinal in double overtime on Oct. 13. Awaiting them were the No. 23 UCLA Bruins, who were 5-2 on the year and beat Stanford 42-7 the week prior. Well, this week was no better for the Buffaloes.
The offense was held to just 242 total yards on the day and were 4-for-15 on third down plays. Not great for the Buffaloes, as they lost 28-16, now falling to 4-4 on the season.
Sanders couldn't put up his normal video game-type numbers this week against UCLA's defense. The quarterback completed 27-of-43 pass attempts for 217 yards and a touchdown. Sanders was virtually ineffective when under pressure, which took place on 24 of his 56 dropbacks. Sanders completed just 5-of-14 throws for 32 yards and got sacked six times.
This weekend, Sanders will have a new play caller in quality control analyst and former New York Giants and Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur. We'll see if that will help out the offense after a brutal effort against UCLA.
Next Game: vs. No. 16 Oregon State, Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10:00 p.m. ET
One 2024 NFL Draft QB sleeper who turned heads in Week 9
Gunnar Watson, Troy
One draft-eligible quarterback in the 2024 class that turned heads in Week 9 is Troy senior Gunnar Watson. This past weekend, Watson led the Trojans to a 31-13 win over fellow Sun Belt Conference counterpart, the Texas State Bobcats.
In the game, Watson completed 26-of-40 pass attempts for 398 yards and three touchdowns. Watson didn't falter when North Texas' defense blitzed, as he threw 13 completions for 192 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts on 19 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus. In a clean pocket, Watson completed 22-of-31 pass attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns on 32 dropbacks.
One 2024 NFL Draft QB who needs to show teams more after Week 9
Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma
Dillon Gabriel had great odds to be a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy this season. After all he did play in the Big 12, which isn't as ruthless as the Pac-12 quarterbacks like Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix have it. Gabriel has played well this year, but he played a role in the team suffering it's first loss of the year to the Kansas Jayhawks.
Gabriel didn't have the greatest of passing games. That was highlighted by a pick-six thrown on Oklahoma's third play of the game on offense. Gabriel completed 14-of-19 pass attempts for 171 yards. He did, however, have a big game running, recording 64 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.
Considering that Oklahoma is ranked ninth in the nation in the first CFP rankings of the season, it will be interesting to see how the Sooners and Gabriel rebound, especially if they plan on making it to the Big 12 Championship Game.
Updated NFL Draft order: Who's buying in the NFL?
- Arizona Cardinals (1-7)
- Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers (1-6))
- Chicago Bears (2-6)
- New York Giants (2-6)
- New England Patriots (2-6)
- Green Bay Packers (2-5)
- Indianapolis Colts (3-5)
- Las Vegas Raiders (3-5)
- Denver Broncos (3-5)
- Los Angeles Rams (3-5)
- Washington Commanders (3-5)
- Arizona Cardinals (via Houston Texans (3-4))
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)
- Los Angeles Chargers (3-4)
- Tennessee Titans (3-4)
- New Orleans Saints (4-4)
- New York Jets (4-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
- Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (4-4)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
- Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns (4-3)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-3)
- Buffalo Bills (5-3)
- Seattle Seahawks (5-2)
- Dallas Cowboys (5-2)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2)
- Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
- Detroit Lions (6-2)
- Miami Dolphins (6-2)
- Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)
- Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
The Chicago Bears no longer hold the No. 1 spot in the 2024 NFL Draft after Week 8 of the 2023 season. That's because the Carolina Panthers picked up their first win of the season, beating the Houston Texans 15-13. Even so, the Bears have high odds of picking first next April, that's evidenced by their latest loss, a 30-13 defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers in primetime.
There is a new holder of the No. 1 spot, and that's the Arizona Cardinals. They suffered their seventh loss of the season after their 31-24 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. The team is getting ready for the return of quarterback Kyler Murray, and the regime can decide whether or not they will move forward with him, or use the No. 1 pick on either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.
The New York Giants could be in the market for a quarterback in the draft if they so choose, as they got a second-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks for trading them defensive lineman Leonard Williams. That could give the team more assets to make a move up the draft board if they so choose. That, or they could draft an offensive lineman or another wide receiver, which would be welcome for the team.
As for the New England Patriots, they continue to pile up losses, leaving true uncertainty regarding quarterback Mac Jones and even head coach Bill Belichick. The team hasn't selected within the top five picks since 1994 when they selected USC defensive end Willie McGinest fourth-overall.