Saturday 3:30 pm EST on CBS
Tennessee vs Georgia
Tennessee’s front five vs Georgia pass rush
This five on five matchup is the best of this weekend, with the Bulldogs deploying an experienced 3-4 defense led by junior OLB Jarvis Jones (#29/6’2/242), who was shut down last year by former LT now LG Dallas Thomas (#71/6’5/310), who gave way to sophomore LT Antonio Richardson’s (#74/6’6/332). Richardson has struggled at times this season with the snap counts in pressure situations, so the Vols staff should not hesitate to move Thomas back to LT if needed. Along with juniors RT Ja’Wuan James (#70/6’6/324) and RG Zach Fulton (#72/6’5/325), Tennessee sports one of the top offensive lines on paper, although their cohesiveness has been tested at times. OLB Cornelius Washington (#83/6’4/268) is a fine rusher in his own right, along with the underrated DE Abry Jones(#93/6’3/308), the Vols won’t be able to just focus on Jones. Above of all, quarterbacks suffer most from interior pressure, and massive NT Johnathan Jenkins (#6/6’3/358) can flash it, but his lack of motor and inconsistency is troublesome. To slow down the pass rush, Tennessee would be wise to get some kind of a ground game going, but RB Rajion Neal (#20/5’10/212) only picks up what is blocked for him. Junior ILB Alec Ogletree(#9/6’3/234) is back from suspension and will be waiting to stuff tackles at the second level.
Tennessee’s air attack vs Georgia’s reunited defensive backs
Junior QB Tyler Bray (#8/6’5/215) goes hand in hand with the success of the offensive line a large amount of the time, since he lacks the mobility to escape and reset in an appropriate amount of time. However, his arm talent is undeniable and it certainly helps to have junior WR Justin Hunter (#11/6’4/200) and junior WR Cordarrelle Patterson (#84/6’2/205), both of whom are among the nation’s best. Hunter is so smooth to separate and Patterson has consistently created big plays, but both have not simultaneously had a big game at the same time. The Bulldogs finally return their top defensive talent from suspension, including S Bacarri Rambo (#18/6’0/210) who forms a nice tandem with reliable S Shawn Williams (#36/6’1/218). CB Sanders Cummings (#19/6’1/216) moves back to his more natural position from safety and will be paired with CB Branden Smith (#1/5’11/176). That is already a ton of talent, but two lesser known contributors to watch for are Vols third WR Zach Rogers (#83/6’0/180), who consistently finds himself downfield for big plays, and the improving TE Mychal Rivera (#81/6’3/245), specifically underneath so he can gain yards after the catch.
Georgia QB Aaron Murray and WR Tavarres King vs Tennessee’s pass rush
Junior Bulldogs QB Aaron Murray (#11/6’1/212) is a well known gamer that is not afraid to stick to the pocket, shuffle, and find throwing lanes downfield. This time, however, he will have behemoth junior NT Daniel McCullers (#98/6’6/377) in his way, along with rover junior LB Jacques Smith (#55/6’2/244) and LB Herman Lathers (#34/6’0/230) working off the edge. The Georgia offensive line is very inexperienced, so Sal Sunseri’s new 3-4 defense could cause plenty of problems for Murray. The junior QB will attempt to find WR Tavarres King (#12/6’1/200) downfield, and the senior has really come along this season, but has a tough matchup in CB Prentiss Wagner (#23/6’2/184).
Saturday Noon EST on FX
Baylor vs West Virginia
This shootout is going to be entertaining. Starting with the Mountaineers’ offensive studs in QB Geno Smith (#12/6’3/214), who is in complete control of head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense, which gets the ball to WR Tavon Austin (#1/5’9/176) in a variety of ways. Austin is an absolute joystick and is a jitterbug in the open field. Don’t look past junior WR Stedman Bailey (#3/5-10, 190), however, since he is more of a traditional receiver than his counterpart. Also, RB Shawne Alston (#20/5’11/235) can pick up the tough yards. Defensively, the Bears do not really sport much talent besides Junior S/LB hybrid Ahmad Dixon (#6/6’0/210), and he will likely be introduced to C Joe Madsen (#74/6’4/302) at the second level.
Baylor may not equal talent, but their effectiveness and fast pace certainly helps. QB Nick Florence (#11/6’1/205) has produced in his first year as a full-time starter despite not having the natural arm talent of Robert Griffin. Vertically, WR Terrance Williams (#2/6’2/205) can blow past just about any defensive back and has become a more reliable pass catcher. Junior C Ivory Wade (#78/6’3/310) and junior T Cyril Richardson (#68/6’5/335) are two solid blockers in their own right, although undersized NT Jorge Wright (#99/6’2/291) does occasionally get some penetration. OLB/SS Terence Garvin (#28/6’2/222) is another rangy prospect that can make things happen at any level of the field.
Other Baylor Prospects
LB Terrance Lloyd (#11/6’3/235)
CB Joe Williams (#22/5’9/182)
TE Jordan Najvar (#18/6’5/260)
S Sam Holl (#25/6’1/200)
WR Lanear Sampson (#3/5’11/205)
S Mike Hicks (#17/5’10/200)
CB K.J. Morton (#8/5’9/178)
CB Chance Casey (#9/5’11/185)
Other West Virginia Prospects
G Jeff Braun (#57/6’4/322)
K Tyler Bitancurt (#40/6’1/203)
CB Pat Miller (#6/5’10/188)
G Josh Jenkins (#77/6’3/305)
3:30 pm EST on ESPNU
Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech
Not many saw this kind of lack of progression from promising junior QB Logan Thomas (#3/6’6/260), and Bearcats OLB Walter Stewart (#54/6’5/249) will attempt to work past a fairly average Hokies offensive line with a productive speed rush. I’ll be interested to see if T Nick Becton (#54/6’6/318) can prevent that speed rush and force Stewart to work back inside or display a counter power move. Downfield, WR Marcus Davis (#7/6’4/232) continues to show athleticism and playmaking ability, but evaluators want him to separate underneath and do the simple things correctly. CB Camerron Cheatham (#21/5’9/187) and junior S Deven Drane (#11/5’11/186) should attempt to limit Thomas to underneath throws, while OLB Maalik Bomar (#4/6’2/228) and largely built S Drew Frey (#6/6’3/212) close quickly on the check down that the junior quarterback loves.
Bearcats junior QB Munchie Legaux (#4/6’5/203) may be running for his life all day, specifically leaving the pocket from a chasing junior DE James Gayle (#99/6’4/268) and DE J.R Collins (#42/6’1/261). LBs Bruce Taylor (#51/6’2/244) and Jack Tyler (#58/6’1/236) are very solid at the second level to combat TE Travis Kelce (#16/6’6/255). WR Kenbrell Thompkins (#7/6’1/190) will work downfield against junior CB Kyle Fuller (#17/6’0/193) while DT Antoine Hopkins (#56/6’1/313) attempts to press the pocket from the inside.
Other Virginia Tech Prospects
DT Derrick Hopkins (#97/6’0/306) Junior
WR D.J. Coles (#18/6’4/226)
S Detrick Bonner (#8/6’0/198) rSoph
S Antone Exum (#1/6’0/224) rJunior
WR Dyrell Roberts (#11/6’1/195)
Saturday 12:21 pm EST on SEC Network
Arkansas vs Texas A&M
Despite the Razorbacks win/loss total, I love this matchup, specifically with the Arkansas offense taking on a talented Aggies defense. It all starts with QB Tyler Wilson (#8/6’2/218), who returned last week to hook up with WR Cobi Hamilton (#11/6’2/209) for 303 yards in the air. I still consider Wilson the top senior quarterback, and he will have his work cut out for him after move TE Chris Gragg (#80/6’3/236) was listed as out for this game with a brone bruise. That would have been an excellent matchup for LB Sean Porter (#10/6’2/230), who is still adjusting to his 4-3 role, but has plenty of excellent tape on file as a pass rusher. Instead, Porter and underrated ILB Jonathan Stewart (#11/6’4/237) should focus on stopping the running game, now headlined by RB Dennis Johnson (#33/5’8/212), who we consider the best third down back in the country. Junior RB Knile Davis (#7/6’0/226) does not look like his old self and fails to win in one on one situations. Junior DE Damontre Moore (#94/6’4/245) has been an absolute monster and has added some power elements to his game after being a productive speed and length rusher in the past. The Arkansas offensive line acts like a swinging gate far too often, so Moore should have a huge day.
The Aggies do not have the same problems along the offensive line, headlined by top junior LT Luke Joeckel (#76/6’6/310) and junior RT Jake Matthews (#75/6’5/305), who could move over to the blind side in the NFL. DE/OLB Tenarius Wright (#43/6’1/252) was just moved back into a pass rusher role after a failed attempt at inside linebacker, but thats a tough first assignment to draw against two quality tackles. WR Ryan Swope (#25/6’0/206) can still take a short pass into a long gain with a broken tackle, but he is best on underneath receptions. RB Christine Michael (#33/5’11/220) has been demoted into a backup role, partially due to not looking one hundred percent, but we believe there are some other motives at work that have not been disclosed. Whoever runs the ball will likely come in contact with LB Alonzo Highsmith (#45/6’0/234), but only if C Patrick Lewis (#61/6’2/306) does meet them at the second level first.
Other Arkansas Prospects
G Alvin Bailey (#67/6’5/315) junior
C Travis Swanson (#64/6’4/305) junior
P Dylan Breeding (#14/6’1/211)
DT Byran Jones (#54/6’2/312) junior
Other Texas A&M Prospects
CB Dustin Harris (#22/6’0/175)
WR Uzoma Nwachukwu (#7/6’0/195)
ILB Kyle Mangan (#18/6’2/226)
OLB Steven Jenkins (#45/6’2/220)
Saturday 3:30 pm EST on ABC
Ohio State vs Michigan State
We have featured both of these team before, but this will be a nice test of talent between the two. The Spartans are led offensively by two players, junior RB Le’Veon Bell (#24/6’2/244) and junior TE Dion Sims (#80/6’5/285), who has converted either a first down or touchdown on 18 of 22 catches this season. That is the problem with his Michigan State offensive attack, however, it is so predictable. Bell will see the ball frequently on first and second down, but he will run into Buckeyes junior DT Johnathan Hankins (#52/6’3/320) almost just as often. Hankins is an absolute beast that eats space, but possesses the quickness and strength to shed and make tackles for loss. DE John Simon (#54/6’2/260) is a player you want on your team due to his physical domination despite a limited frame. LB Etienne Sabino (#6/6’3/238) plays out of control at times and he has yet to show consistency. Michigan State’s receivers are young and inexperienced and will likely be dominated by CB Travis Howard (#7/6’1/196) and stud sophomore CB Bradley Roby (#1/5’11/190).
In fact, aggressive CB Johnny Adams (#5/5’11/178) has practiced at receiver once in a while, but he’ll be needed defensively. TE turned WR Jake Stoneburner (#11/6’5/245) would be a nice matchup for Adams so we can see how he handles a much larger opponent. But, that test could be given to junior LB Denicos Allen (#28/5’11/232), who is a fast moving, sideline to sideline prospect despite his size. Junior DE William Gholston (#2/6’6/278) will have a nice battle on the edge with junior T Jack Mewhort (#74/6’5/310) and T Reid Fragel (#77/6’6/298), while DT Anthony Rashad White (#98/6’2/330) faces G Marcus Hall (#79/6’5/317) and junior G Andrew Norwell (#78/6’5/305). RB Jordan Hall (#7/5’9/198) has been asked to do many things that Percy Harvin did for Meyer, but junior ILB Max Bullough (#40/6’3/252) will look to shut down the laterally moves quickly. Though the position is less touted nowadays, FB Zach Boren (#44/6’0/245) offers intriguing skills as a receiver, lead blocker, and ball carrier.
Other Ohio State Prospects
S Orhian Johnson (#19/6’2/210)
DE Nathan Williams (#43/6’3/250)
DT Garrett Goebel (#53/6’3/285)
S C.J. Barnett (#4/6’0/202) junior
Other Michigan State Prospects
CB Darqueze Dennard (#31/5’11/190) junior