Week three of the college football season poses somewhat of a rebound week for high profile matchups after a slightly underwhelming slate, albeit not unexciting, from a week ago. There are a few intriguing ranked match ups this week and some games that are unranked that have NFL draft interest. However, the most loaded game of the week is Ohio States clash with the Oklahoma Sooners (7:30 ET on Fox).
Ohio State has been running roughshod the last two weeks while Oklahoma rebounded from a tough opening week loss to Houston with an impressive win last week. The Sooners and the Buckeyes are known pipelines for NFL talent and this year is no different. Plenty of draft eligible prospects will demand attention in this match up of ranked college powers.
Ohio State Prospects
- JT Barrett, QB: Barrett has enjoyed a productive start to his third season after failing to quickly and fully adjust to a new offensive coordinator last season. The undersized, yet mobile quarterback does an excellent job picking apart the intermediate and short levels of the passing game with intelligence and accuracy. Oklahoma is by far the most athletic defense Barrett has faced this season, so it will be important for him to continue to show improvement from his down play last year. Barrett offers a lot of intrigue because of his intelligence and mobility, but his lack of top end arm strength means that he needs to display exceptional precision as a passer to be viewed as a high level quarterback prospect.
- Curtis Samuel, WR/RB: With Ezekiel Elliott in the NFL, Ohio State has a new weapon to attack college football with. The 5-11, 200 pound junior running back is a true offensive weapon. He is a great athlete, skilled runner and polished in the passing game as well. Urban Meyer went as far to say he is one of the best offensive weapons he has had, which is to say a lot for the man who coached Ezekiel Elliott and Percy Harvin. Like Barrett, seeing Samuel in a featured role against a much more talented defense is exciting and important for NFL projection. If Samuel can continue to be the duel threat offensive playmaker that he has been, look out.
- Pat Elflein, C: After two years of playing guard, Pat Elflein moved inside to spearhead Ohio State’s offensive line. He is a bit smaller, standing at 6-2 and 300 pounds, but Elflien has excellent strength and movement skills to compensate. As well as being a good athlete, Elflein plays through the whistle and with great technique. He has been dominant to start the college football season, so it will be telling to see how he fares against the Sooners.
- Sam Hubbard, EDGE: It may be a bit premature to call a redshirt sophomore a draft prospect, but the talented defender might be one of the better players in the country no one is talking about. Of course, Hubbard played on a defense last season that yielded three first round picks, so it is hard to get deserved publicity, but the 268 pound pass rusher is gifted in his own right. Hubbard is a bit smaller, but he is incredibly quick and flexible around the edge, making him dangerous on passing downs, evidenced by his productive freshman year where he was named freshman All-American. Hubbard will be incredibly important to slowing down a talented Sooner Offense and it will be one of his biggest tests of the season.
- Raekwon McMillan, LB: One of favorite match ups of the day is seeing how Ohio State’s physical linebacker deals with Oklahoma’s running game. McMillan is instinctive, quick reacting and incredibly violent as a player. His ability to come downhill is the best in the class and his skillset will be imperative to slowing down a high octane Oklahoma offense. Can McMillan prove to be athletic enough to stick with the Sooners? That will be a huge question for Saturday’s game.
- Baker Mayfield, QB: A year ago, Baker Mayfield was considered one of the best college quarterbacks in the country. The undersized passer succeeded at the college level with good decision making, mobility and signature toughness that allowed his team to win out of tight spots. Mayfield has work to do as an NFL prospect, however. His arm strength is not ideal and he needs to improve his ability make good decisions in the pocket and when throwing the ball. Ohio State’s defense will not be so forgiving with mistakes, so Mayfield will need to be on his A-Game.
- Samajae Perine, RB: The first half of Oklahoma’s talented running back duo is their 240 pound battering ram. Perine is a power runner who also possesses very impressive speed and shiftiness for his size. It will be quite a spectacle to see him run on such a talented Ohio State front seven.
- Joe Mixon, RB: Mixon, who is quite the NFL talent himself, will have the same challenge as Perine. However, Mixon is more of a "make you miss" type back who also excels in the passing game. Oklahoma will likely try to get him in favorable match ups in the passing game and seeing how he plays against a fast Buckeye defense will be exciting.
- Charles Walker, DL: Oklahoma’s best defender is their athletic lineman, Charles Walker. Walker has impressive burst for a 300 pound man and he can make an impact against the run and passing game. He will be key to disrupting the high powered, Ohio State offense and he will need to get through a very good offensive line to make an impact.
Other players around the country to watch...
- Malik McDowell, DL, MSU: The Spartans best defender is their 6-6 defensive lineman and he will need to have a great game against Notre Dame and their very good offensive line (7:30 on NBC) for MSU to have a shot at winning.
- JuJu Smith Schuster, WR, USC: USC’s awesome wide receiver has struggled to start the season, as has the rest of the offense, and faces another tough match up this week with Stanford (8 on ABC). Can Smith Schuster carry his team to a win against a tough defense?
- Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss: Ole Miss has its yearly match up with the Crimson Tide (3:30 on CBS) after beating them two years in a row. Engram, who is probably a wide receiver in the NFL, is the Rebels’ best offensive weapon and he will be playing right into the teeth of the Alabama defense. If Engram can make an impact in the middle of Reuben Foster, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, that would be a huge boost to his NFL outlook.