Week One of the 2015 college football season is in the books and with it, we saw many exemplary performances by NFL draft prospects and many disappointing ones (*side eyes Christian Hackenberg*). Similar to week one, there are not a lot of high profile match ups where top tier talent is facing off against one another, but this week is certainly not devoid of those head to heads.
- Oklahoma v. Tennessee, 6 PM on Saturday, ESPN: This game is loaded with NFL draft talent on both sides of the ball for each team. For the Volunteers, quarterback Josh Dobbs is an incredibly intelligent signal caller with very good accuracy, pocket movement, and has a very nice ability to create plays on the ground as well as through the air. Oklahoma has a talented defense featuring cover corner Zack Sanchez as well as pass rusher, Eric Striker. Striker will not be on the Eagles radar as an edge defender because of his size, but his athletic ability and versatility make him an intriguing prospect nonetheless. Sanchez is a bit undersized too at only 179 pounds, but he has a nice frame that could intrigue teams to go along with his cover skills. Striker will face a great test against a physical SEC team and he will need to continue to show his size will not slow him down against higher level competition. As for Sanchez, the Volunteers have a group of young, but talented receivers and their passing game looks impressive. He will have an important job in slowing it down. On the flip side, the Volunteers defense will have its hands full with an explosive Oklahoma offense. Pass rusher, Curt Maggit, will have the task of pressuring Baker Mayfield in the passing game while making sure neither Joe Mixon or star running back, Samajae Perine can get going. The best match up to watch for NFL draft fans will be Sterling Shepherd against Cam Sutton. Shepherd is an incredibly savvy wide receiver with great route running ability and plus athleticism. He is not the biggest or best athlete, but his technique will give any corner struggles. Sutton is one of the top corners in this years class and it will be interesting to see, as a bigger corner, if he can handle a smaller, shiftier receiver like Shepherd. If Sutton can use his length and athletic ability to slow down Shepherd, not only do the Volunteers have a great chance in this game, but he will do justice to how he is viewed by teams.
- LSU v. Mississippi State, 9:15 PM on Saturday, ESPN: Two of the top teams in the SEC will face off in what will be an incredibly physical football game. Bulldogs defensive tackle, Chris Jones has a huge test against one of the more stout offensive lines in the country. the 6'6", 308 pound lineman has all of the talent in the world and can look dominant at will, but inconsistency has plagued the young player up to this point in his career. Supposedly, Jones will be featured all over the defensive line, so he could get a matchup with LSU's stud offensive lineman, Vadal Alexander. Alexander played guard last year, but will be kicking out to right tackle this season. At 6-6, 326 pounds, Alexander has immense size and strength and is a dominating blocker once he initiates contact. He is a bit limited to playing in a gap scheme, but he has tremendous upside in that situation. Him and Jones going at each other for four quarters will be a great test for both and immense fun. On the other side of the offensive line, Jerald Hawkins will also play an important part in paving the way for sophomore runner, Leonard Fournette. Hawkins is a talented pass blocker and has the skill set to be a good run blocker, but this is the game where he will really need to show it against a physical defense. There will also be nice battles on the outsides for this game. Travin Dural is expected to be LSU's go to guy in the passing game and he fill face a stiff test in the Bulldog's duo of Will Redmond and Tavese Calhoun. Both corners have good size, physicality and cover skills and will test the LSU passing game. Even more fun will be the matchup of Bulldog's wide receiver, De'Runnya Wilson, and the LSU secondary. The 6'2, 230 pound receiver is reminiscent of Kelvin Benjamin, but has a little bit more wiggle and is more consistent catching the football. He will be facing Tre'davious White, who was the best corner in Baton Rouge last year despite his teammate, Jalen Collins, getting taken in the second round. White is natural cover corner with very good feet and ball skills and will have his hands full with the gigantic Mississippi State receiver.
- Oregon v. Michigan State, 8 PM on Saturday, ABC: Last weekend, Oregon's defense was absolutely torched by an FCS program, albeit a very good one. This week, that defense faces Connor Cook, who some believe could be the first quarterback taken in the next draft. I am not so enamored with Cook. I think he has too week an arm to be as aggressive as a passer as he is and he is not consistent throwing the ball or in the pocket. However, he will have plenty of opportunities to put up video game numbers on this porous Duck defense. The only hope for Oregon to slow him up will be if their pass rush, specifically Deforest Buckner, can get any pressure. Buckner, who is a talented run defender but still needs work in the passing game, will be facing a physical offensive line that features Jack Conklin and Jack Allen. Buckner will likely see more of Conklin, as Allen is the center, but their matchup will be huge in determining the success of Sparty on offense. Oregon linebacker, Joe Walker, also needs to come up big against the run and pass, much like he did last year against Michigan Sate. On offense for the Ducks, their best prospect might be Tyler Johnstone and he will have a good test in pass rusher Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun has great physicality and length and is a plus run defender, so it will his impact plays a huge role in determining Oregon's offensive success. Oregon's most exciting prospect, however, is receiver, Bralon Addison. Addison has all types of speed and has good size and polish to matchup. He looked great last week in his first game back from missing a season and he will face a good test in an always stout Michigan State defense.
These are the premier games that feature the most talent, but here are some match ups you may want to look for while flipping through your TV this weekend:
- Sheldon Day v. Virginia Offense, 3:30 PM on Saturday, ABC: Jaylon Smith gets all the hype for the Fighting Irish on defense, and it is well deserved, but keep an eye on Sheldon Day, who is a very versatile and sorptive presence along the defensive line.
- Devontae Booker v. Utah State Defense, 9 PM Tonight, ESPN2: The Aggie defense is stout from year to year and Booker is one of the best and most complete backs in the country. He is coming off of a strong performance against Michigan and will look to continue to play very well.
- Jared Goff v. SDSU Defense, 5 PM on Saturday, Pac 12 Network: The SDSU defense came up with five interceptions last week and will take on one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football on Saturday. I am not enamored with Goff the way a lot of people in the NFL draft community are, but he is a smart, poised player. It will be important to see if his arm strength looks better and he is passing with a little bit more aggressiveness and the ballhawking Aztec defense should provide a good litmus test for the junior passer.
This week may not have a ton of high profile match ups, but there are still some good match ups and some great games to take a look at. Have a phenomenal weekend watching more college football!