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WHO TO WATCH IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL THIS WEEKEND

by Pigskin Paul Guillemette, GBN Associate Editor and Chief Scout

October 25

 
After several weeks where it sometimes felt like there was nothing but big college games with huge national and conference implications, this weekend's fare is somewhat tamer. However, there are still a number of intriguing match-ups this weekend with plenty of qualtiy prospects for the 2015 draft scheduled to be on display. Here's a quick rundown of this weekend's biggest names with an eye to who to wtach for the upcoming draft. Also note a couple of format changes. In particular, prospects draft prospects at this time are denoted via a star rating system as follows:
4* =  Round 1;  3* = Top 100;  2* =  Draftable;  1* =  URFA.   

RUTGERS (5-2) @ NEBRASKA (6-1)  by 6; NOON ET; ESPN 2  … The Scarlet Knights have been a solid addition to the mathematically challenged BIG 10 this season. They continue to play the fundamentally solid style of Greg Schiano, who started the program rebirth, under current HC KYLE FLOOD. They feature a balanced offensive attack, with a heavy dose of attacking defense. They lack a truly dynamic star on either side of the ball, but represent well overall. NEBRASKA is looking like the favorite to capture the Big 10 West division. This looks to be BO PELINI's best team in his 7 year tenure in Lincoln. Now they must avoid a stumble this week and next as they prepare for a tough end of season run in November. The Cornhuskers defense has been solid this season, with stellar play from DE/RANDY GREGORY a high First Round NFL prospect. But they also feature a high octane, balanced Offense triggered by TOMMIE FRAZIER-like QB/TOMMY ARMSTRONG, who is a dual threat. Surprisingly, their weakest link of O may be their OL. But that unit has been improving as the season progresses. This will be a tough, physical game and I like the Cornhuskers to prevail at home.

Prospects to watch:

RUTGERS                                                                       NEBRASKA
#10 GARY NOVA/QB/6'2/220*                                       #8 AMEER ABDULLAH/RB/RS/5'9/195***
#34 PAUL JAMES/RB/6'0/210/JR***                          #80 KENNY BELL/WR/6'1/185**
#86 TYLER KROFT/TE/6'6/240/JR***                         #68 JAKE COTTON/OG/6'6/305*                               
#45 KEVIN SNYDER/MLB/6'3/235*                              #4 RANDY GREGORY/DE/6'6/245/JR****
#21 LORENZO WATERS/SS/6'0/205**                       #6 COREY COOPER/SS/6'1/215**
#72 KALEB JOHNSON/OG/6'4/305**

MISSISSIPPI STATE  by 5  (6-0) @ KENTUCKY   (5-2); 3:30 PM ET: CBS ...  STATE is coming off a Bye Week and should be healed up for the second half of their season. Kentucky is licking it's wounds after a serious pasting in Baton Rouge last Saturday Night. I am of the belief that both of these teams are legit this season, and will win the majority of their remaining games. But the Bulldogs are ranked No.1 in the country right now by most football folks and look to remain unbeaten. I believe they can do so because they have a decided advantage at the key QB position with DAK PRESCOTT, who is a serious Heisman candidate and a solid pro prospect should he decide to leave school early for the 2015 NFL Draft. He also is blessed with some serious skill position teammates both as receivers and runners. But their real advantage may be in the overall quality of their defense. Kentucky may be seriously challenged to move the ball, with less weapons to work with. Kentucky could make life tough for STATE if their set of premier DE ALVIN DUPREE & ZaDARIUS SMITH rise to the occasion and keep DAK on the run all day. I look for State to wear down Kentucky with their quality and roster depth.

Prospects to watch:

MISSISSIPPI STATE
#15 DAK PRESCOTT/QB/6'2/235/JR***                       #2 ALVIN DUPREE/DE/LB/6'4/267***
  #6 MALCOLM JOHNSON/TE/HB/6'2/231**              #94 Za'DARIUS SMITH/DE/6'6/265***
#63 DILLON DAY/OC/6'4/300**                                      #5 ASHLEY LOWERY/SS/6'1/215*
#91 PRESTON SMITH/DE/6'6/267***                            #8 JAVESS BLUE/WR/6'0/190*
#50  BENARDRICK McKINNEY/LB/6'5/245/JR***     #85 STEVEN BORDEN/TE/6'3/242*
#93 P.J. JONES/DT/6'3/295*                                         
  #4 JAMEON LEWIS/WR/RS/5'9/185**

OREGON STATE (4-2) @ STANFORD (4-3) by 3; 3:30 PM ET; ESPN 2 ... STANFORD may be the most talented 4-3 team in the country. Talent wise they are Top 15 at the least. But for as steady at the helm as DAVID SHAW is, he and his staff refuse to enter the 21st century offensively. That leaves them vulnerable to last minute losses against more wide open teams. Enter Mike Riley's crew of hungry Beavers, led by QB/SEAN MANNION. The key here will likely be how much pressure the Cardinal can bring to bear on MANNION in the pocket. IMO, MANNION is quick to wilt under pass-rush pressure. It's not a whole log better on the Stanford offense where QB/KEVIN HOGAN has also been known to come up wanting when the heat is turned up. If this game remains close and becomes a Kicking duel be prepared for frustration all-around. Both WILLIAMSON/STANFORD and ROMAINE/STATE are frustratingly erratic senior Kickers. I am counting on WR/TY MONTGOMERY of Stanford being a big offensive difference maker, which includes his return skills. As a scouting aside, I do not see serious NFL potential in either of these QB. But both rosters are filled with serious potential NFL talent overall.

Prospects to watch:

OREGON STATE                                                            STANFORD    
#4 SEAN MANNION/QB/6'4/220**                                  #8 KEVIN HOGAN/QB/6'4/228/JR**
#89 CONNOR HAMLETT/TE/6'7/265**                          #7 TY MONTGOMERY/WR/RS/6'2/215****
#56 ISAAC SEUMALO/OC/6'4/300/JR***                   #70 ANRDUS PEAT/OT/6'7/315/JR****
#4 D.J. ALEXANDER/OLB/6'2/225**                           #58 DAVID PARRY/DT/6'2/305**
#2 STEVEN NELSON/CB/5'10/195***                         #91 HENRY ANDERSON/DE/6'6/295***
#8 TYREQUEK ZIMMERMAN/SS/6'0/210*                  #17 A.J. TARPLEY/ILB/6'2/238**
#40 MICHAEL DOCTOR/OLB/6'0/227*                          #8 JORDAN RICHARDS/SS/5'11/208***
                                                                                              #9 JAMES VAUGHTERS/OLB/6'2/255**

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (5-2) by 3 @ UTAH (5-1); 10 PM ET; Fox Sports 1 ... If you can possibly stay up late I highly recommend this game to you. If like me, your eyes are petty much shot by the time this one starts because of double digit viewing hours already, then by all means tape it. UTAH has been a surprise giant killer with road wins @ MICHIGAN, UCLA & OEGON STATE. You might imagine it's about time for the Utes to reward the home faithful with another "upset" win. But USC is fairly healthy and as long as their starting talent is on the field they can be as dangerous as any team in the country. I'm thinking a major key in this game will be the ability of Utah to move the ball on Offense and eat up clock. Otherwise, the USC Offense with weapons like KESSLER/QB, AGHOLOR/WR, ALLEN/RB and TELFER/TE could be running up and down the field all night. Be sure to feast your eyes on USC/DE/LEONARD WILLIAMS who is a physical beast and ranks as a potential Top 10 Draft PIck, even if I happen to think he's a bit overrated, and too often nicked up for my taste.

Prospects to watch:

USC                                                                                      UTAH
#27 BUCK ALLEN/RB/6'1/215/JR***                                #7 TRAVIS WILSON/QB/6'7/240/JR**
#15 NELSON AGHOLOR/WR/5'11/190/JR***                 #6 DRES ANDERSON/WR/6'2/190**
#82 RANDALL TELFER/TE/6'4/250**                              #8 NATE ORCHARD/DE/6'4/255*
#94 LEONARD WILLIAMS/DE/6'5/290/JR****                #4 BRIAN BLECHEN/SS/6'2/215**
#58 JR TAVAI/DE/LB/6'2/270**                                         #9 TEVIN CARTER/FS/6'1/215**
#10 HAYES PULLARD/LB/6'1/230**                              #18 ERIC ROWE/CB/6'1/200*

Bonus coverage: In addition there are also a couple of other games worth a look as they should feature pretty good one-on-one match-ups between leading prospects for the 2015 draft. Michigan versus Michigan State (3:30 PM ET; ABC) is aways a pretty intense affair whatever the records of the teams, but this one takes on a little added interest when star Michigan junior WR Devin Funchess  (#87, 6-5, 230) goes head-to-head with rising MSU junior CB Trae Waynes (#15, 6-0, 185). Meanwhile, those that have yet to see any extended action from emerging West Virginia WR Kevin White (#11, 6-2, 215), the nation's leading receiver who has gone from draft afterthought to poetntial first rounder in barely half a season, will get there chance when the Mountaineers play at Oklahoma State (3:30 PM ET; ESPN). For the record, Oklahoma State junior WR/KR Tyreek Hill (#24, 5-9, 185), who has world-class speed, has also impressed scouts with his versatility as a runner, receiver and return ace.

Have a great weekend!!!