I hope everyone enjoyed the games on Thursday and Friday because the weekend promises a few more very good college football match ups. Being week one, there are still a few "tune up games" so not every major program across the FBS is facing a major challenge, but there are still few prospect battles to keep an eye on.
- Auburn Offensive Line v. Louisville Defensive Line, Saturday at 3:30 on CBS: The last few seasons, Louisville has fielded very talented defenses and, with that, defensive talent. This year, their defensive line features productive defensive tackle, Sheldon Rankins and former TCU freshman star, Devonte Fields. Rankins is an incredibly high effort player and Fields, last time he saw playing time, was winning on pure athletic ability. They will combine to truly test a stout Auburn offensive line that features Alex Kozan, Avery Young and Shon Coleman. Auburn's high paced, physical style of play will push this Louisville defense to the very limits and the battle up front will decide the game. Be sure to key in on Alex Kozan and Sheldon Rankins, because I am sure Eagles fans will want to get a closer look at the athletic guard.
- Tennessee Defense v. Bowling Green Offense, Saturday at 4 PM on SECN: Bowling Green may not seem like a formidable opponent for an SEC school, but the Falcons have been incredibly prolific on both sides of the ball in recent history and usually run through their conference. Biggest match ups to watch is when they are on the offensive side of the ball because of who will be lined up against them. Curt Maggit is a very strong, high motor pass rusher who is also a stout run defender and he will be a bull to handle up front for the Falcons. In the defensive backfield, Cam Sutton is a lean, but talented, coverage corner who will look to take Roger Lewis, who starred as a freshman, out of the passing game. This game may not look great at first look, but there is plenty of legit NFL talent going at it.
- Notre Dame Front Seven v. Texas Running Game, Saturday at 7:30 on NBC: This game could be very interesting because, though Texas is unranked, they are definitely a program on the come up with Charlie Strong leading the way. On the other side, Notre Dame is stacked with NFL talent, but this game could still be close. To keep it close, Texas will want to run the ball with 210 pound power back, Johnathan Gray. If Gray can get going, Texas has a good chance. In order to keep him in check, Notre Dame's front seven needs to play well. The group features Sheldon Day and Jaylon Smith, both of whom are high caliber players. Smith's last outing for the fighting Irish in the Bowl game was rough and it was against a similar style of offense to the one he will be seeing on Saturday. Smith has to play smart, physical football or Gray is going to run all over the place.
- Wisconsin Offensive Line v. Alabama Front Seven, Saturday at 8 PM on ABC: The biggest matchup on Saturday will be a slug fest between two of the toughest trenches in the entire country. Wisconsin traditionally fields the best offensive lines in the country and they consistently pave way for prolific running backs. This year, the 220 pound Corey Clement will get a try at filling first round pick, Melvin Gordon's shoes. Standing in Wisconsin's way is A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Jon Allen, Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster. All five of those names will likely be called somewhere in the Top 60 in a few months and they will play a huge part on Saturday to stifle the Badger running game. Center, Dan Volz and tackle, Tyler Mraz will try to lead the Badgers line forward, but this proves a huge test. I know this will be the game I will be glued to the TV for because of the heavyweight match that will take place, up front, on every snap.
- Virginia Tech Defense v. Ohio State Offense, Monday at 8 PM on ESPN: Last year, the National Champions only lost one game and that was to the Hokies, in Blacksburg. Well, the Buckeyes are back in Virginia for a rematch and this looks like a serious slate of NFL prospects taking on NFL prospects. First off, the Hokie defensive line of Dadi Nicholas, Ken Ekanem and Luther Maddy will have their hands full with the Ohio State running game. Taylor Decker, Pat Eiflin, Ezekiel Elliot and JT Barrett will look to put up yards on the ground and the Hokie defensive line has to win battles up front or they will suffer the same fate as much of OSU's 2014 opponents. In the passing game, the line will have to disrupt up front as well, but junior corner, Kendall Fuller, will have his hands full with OSU's Michael Thomas. Thomas is a technician at the receiver position and will look to cross Fuller up in the passing game. That is another great prospect matchup and key to this game. However, keep an eye on JT Barrett in the passing game. He is a very intelligent passer and seems like a good fit in Philadelphia and it will be telling to see him against a great defense like Virginia Tech's.
Like I said, "tune up" week does not have a bevy of match ups, but there are absolutely great games to watch if you want to see NFL prospects go head to head.