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No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 14 Oklahoma Sooners

Saturday, September 17, 7:30 p.m., Norman, Okla., FOX

In only their third meeting ever, Oklahoma and Ohio State represent two of college football’s most iconic and talented teams in the country. Oklahoma enters the match-up with a 1-1 record after an upset loss to Houston Cougars in the opener. Ohio State is 2-0, but have yet to be truly tested after wins over Tulsa Golden Hurricane and Bowling Green Falcons . In 105 career home games as Oklahoma’s head coach, Bob Stoops is 97-8 at Memorial Stadium, but Ohio State has yet to lose a true road game since Urban Meyer took over as head coach of the Buckeyes.

Five draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

RB Joe Mixon , Oklahoma, rSO. (6-1, 226, 4.52, #25)

With Mixon and junior RB Samaje Perine (5-10, 235, 4.57, #32), Oklahoma has college football’s best one-two punch at the running back position. Perine has led the Sooners in rushing each of the last two seasons and is a legitimate day-two draft pick, but Mixon is the most talented player on the Oklahoma roster and can be an offensive difference-maker. Through two games this season, he is averaging 7.9 yards per rush (20 carries for 157 yards) with five catches for 77 yards and one score. Mixon has electric feet and sudden burst to eliminate pursuit angles, transferring his weight with ease in his cuts. He also has reliable receiving traits to run routes and gash defenses as a pass-catcher.

MLB Raekwon McMillan , Ohio State, JR. (6-2, 240, 4.78, #5)

The weakness of the Ohio State defense is on the interior of the defensive line, which Oklahoma will likely attack with their strong run game. And if the Buckeyes have any hope of slowing the Perine/Mixon train, McMillan will have to be at his best. The former five-star recruit is quick to diagnose vs. the run to find the hole and square up ball-carriers, using his take-on power and strong wrap-up tackling skills to finish. While not a top-tier athlete, McMillan is plenty fast enough to mirror at the line of scrimmage, but scouts want to see him detach quicker from blocks and improve in space. This match-up vs. the Sooners is one of the first game tapes NFL general managers will evaluate when scouting McMillan.

raekwonmcmillan.jpgMcMillan needs to be at his best to slow the Sooners’ rushing attack USATSI

FS Malik Hooker , Ohio State, rSO. (6-2, 205, 4.57, #24)

With only three starters from last season back on defense, Ohio State is asking their young talents to step up and quickly learn on the fly. And one of those standouts has been Hooker, who is tied for the FBS lead with three interceptions in 2016. A high school basketball standout, Hooker is a good-sized athlete with the playing range and closing burst to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. His confidence and route anticipation have been even more impressive, flashing all the necessary skills to blossom into a big-time safety prospect. Hooker will be tested with OU redshirt sophomore TE Mark Andrews (6-4, 250, 4.77, #81), who has only 23 career catches, but 10 have gone for touchdowns.

QB Baker Mayfield , Oklahoma, rJR. (6-0, 210, 4.74, #6)

When studying Mayfield over the summer, I was pleasantly surprised with his ability to control ball speeds and deliver downfield with touch. He is a high completion percentage passer (68.1 last year and 70-plus in both games in 2016), but his risky decision-making and overconfidence with his mobility leads to mistakes. Against Houston in the opener, Mayfield struggled mightily in the fourth quarter with a pair of fumbles, three sacks and several poor decisions as his offensive line wasn’t much help either. He is undefeated in seven career home starts at Oklahoma with a 20-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but Ohio State’s defense has seven interceptions and has yet to allow a touchdown in 2016.

OC Pat Elflein , Ohio State, rSR. (6-2, 300, 4.52, #65)

A two-year starter at guard, Elflein made the transition to center for his final season in Columbus — a move that will receive its first real test against Oklahoma’s versatile front, notably redshirt junior DL Charles Walker (6-2, 304, 4.97, #97). Through two games in 2016, Elflein is clearly still new to the position with several off-target snaps, but there has been far more good than bad. Although he isn’t a top-shelf athlete, he is quick off the ball and able to anchor at shallow depth, absorbing and redirecting rushers with strong hands and a stout base. While some hiccups are expected, Elflein appears to be a natural fit at his new position and the move to center will be best for his long-term football future.

Other Ohio State prospects to watch:

  • DE/OLB Sam Hubbard , rSO. (6-4, 265, 4.76, #6)
  • RG Billy Price , rJR. (6-3, 315, 5.19, #54)
  • CB Gareon Conley , rJR. (6-0, 195, 4.50, #8)
  • CB Marshon Lattimore , rSO. (6-0, 195, 4.53, #2)
  • DE Tyquan Lewis , rJR. (6-3, 260, 4.78, #59)
  • QB J.T. Barrett , rJR. (6-1, 225, 4.52, #16)

Other Oklahoma prospects to watch:

  • LOT Orlando Brown , rSO. (6-7, 340, 5.44, #78)
  • CB Jordan Thomas , JR. (6-0, 192, 4.52, #7)
  • FS Ahmad Thomas , SR. (6-0, 215, 4.60, #13)
  • SS Steven Parker , JR. (6-1, 204, 4.58, #10)
  • WR Dede Westbrook , SR. (5-11, 175, 4.39, #11)
  • MLB Jordan Evans , SR. (6-2, 235, 4.82, #26)

Six other matchups to watch, in chronological order:

No. 2 Florida State Seminoles at No. 10 Louisville Cardinals

Saturday, Sept. 17, Noon, Louisville, Ky., ABC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

DE DeMarcus Walker , Florida State, SR. (6-2, 273, 4.86, #44): When evaluating Walker, I saw an average athlete who did his best work vs. the run, setting the edge. But when moved inside on passing downs vs. Ole Miss Rebels in the opener, Walker posted 4.5 sacks as the guards struggled with his short-area quicks and strong hands. The difference in his production from the edge and interior will be interesting to track this year.

DE Devonte Fields , Louisville, rSR. (6-3, 245, 4.72, #92): The former Big 12 Freshman of the Year at TCU Horned Frogs , Fields arrived at Louisville last season and posted 11.0 sacks, including 8.5 over the final four games as he settled in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme. Fields will often line up against FSU junior LOT Roderick Johnson (6-6, 308, 5.37, #77), who struggled mightily against Ole Miss edge rusher Marquis Haynes in the season opener.

RB Dalvin Cook , Florida State, JR. (5-11, 206, 4.46, #4): Like the rest of the ACC, Louisville has been victimized by Cook the past two seasons. As a freshman, he rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns and last year as a sophomore, he posted 163 rushing yards and a pair of scores. Cook, who is still searching for his first 100-yard rushing game in 2016, is averaging 8.8 yards per rush against the Arizona Cardinals in his career.

dalvin-cook-florida-state.jpgCook has owned Louisville in the past. USATSI

Other Florida State prospects to watch: WR Travis Rudolph , JR. (6-1, 189, 4.52, #15); CB Marquez White , SR. (6-0, 181, 4.49, #27); DT Derrick Nnadi , JR. (6-1, 303, 5.09, #91); DT Demarcus Christmas , rSO. (6-3, 290, 5.03, #90); SS Nate Andrews , SR. (5-11, 210, 4.62, #29); LG Kareem Are , rSR. (6-5, 334, 5.38, #72)

Other Louisville prospects to watch: SS Josh Harvey-Clemons , rSR. (6-4, 230, 4.59, #25); MLB Keith Kelsey , SR. (6-0, 236, 4.83, #55); WR James Quick , SR. (6-0, 191, 4.52, #17); DT DeAngelo Brown , rSR. (6-0, 308, 5.23, #97); RB Brandon Radcliff , rSR. (5-9, 214, 4.59, #23); WR Jamari Staples , rSR. (6-3, 195, 4.45, #2)

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 19 Ole Miss

Saturday, Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m., Oxford, Miss., CBS

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

QB Chad Kelly , Ole Miss, SR. (6-2, 224, 4.76, #10): Over the last four seasons, Kelly is the only opposing quarterback to leave Tuscaloosa with a victory, passing for 341 yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) against the Tide last season. Kelly, who is the nephew of Jim Kelly, is a fearless passer with a golden arm, but his decision-making tends to be a roller coaster with impressive highs and basement lows.

chad-kelly-mississippi.jpgCan Kelly beat Alabama again? USATSI

CB Marlon Humphrey , Alabama, rSO. (6-1, 198, 4.49, #26): Humphrey, who is the son of former Alabama first round RB Bobby Humphrey, has the size dimensions, composed athleticism and natural feel in coverage to be an elite cornerback prospect. He takes pride in suffocating the catch point and will have a chance to show off his NFL traits with Kelly averaging 35 pass attempts per game over his career at Ole Miss.

DE Jonathan Allen , Alabama, SR. (6-3, 292, 4.85, #93): Any short list of the best players in college football needs to include Allen, who is probably the most polished senior prospect in the 2017 class. If you want to hear Nick Saban gush, ask him about the versatility and intelligence of Allen, who leads the team in sacks (3.0) and QB hits (three) through two games, adding a blocked field goal on special teams last week.

Other Alabama prospects to watch: MLB Reuben Foster , SR. (6-1, 240, 4.72, #10); LOT Cam Robinson , JR. (6-5, 327, 5.28, #74); SS Eddie Jackson , SR. (6-0, 195, 4.53, #4); TE O.J. Howard , SR. (6-6, 242, 4.57, #88); DE/OLB Tim Williams , SR. (6-3, 237, 4.76, #56); DE/OLB Ryan Anderson , rSR. (6-2, 253, 4.77, #22)

Other Ole Miss prospects to watch: DE/OLB Marquis Haynes, JR. (6-2, 222, 4.67, #27); TE Evan Engram , SR. (6-3, 227, 4.64, #17); SS Tony Conner , SR. (6-0, 225, 4.60, #12); DT D.J. Jones , SR. (6-0, 321, 5.08, #93); WR Damore’ea Stringfellow , rJR. (6-2, 212, 4.58, #3); WR Quincy Adeboyejo , SR. (6-3, 195, 4.48, #8)

No. 22 Oregon Ducks at Nebraska Cornhuskers

Saturday, Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m., Lincoln, Neb., ABC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

RB Royce Freeman , Oregon, JR. (5-11, 230, 4.49, #21): Coming off a dominant performance against Virginia Cavaliers last week (21/207/2), Freeman is making sure people include his name when discussing the historic potential of the 2017 running back draft class. He isn’t a naturally explosive athlete, but Freeman is above average in two critical areas of playing the position: vision and balance. Doubt him at your own risk.

FS Nathan Gerry , Nebraska, SR. (6-2, 220, 4.58, #25): The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Gerry was all over the field for the Huskers in the win over Wyoming Cowboys , finishing with seven tackles, three passes defended and two interceptions. His size and speed are best described as average, but Gerry is frequently in the right place at the right time due to his instincts, setting the tempo for the Huskers’ defense.

nate-gerry-nebraska.jpgGerry has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. USATSI

TE Pharaoh Brown , Oregon, rSR. (6-5, 250, 4.76, #85): Two years ago, Brown was entering his junior year with his sights on leaving early for the NFL. But a devastating injury in late November 2014 changed the trajectory of his career as he underwent three surgeries and missed all of 2015. Now back on the field, Brown has six catches for 78 yards and one touchdown through two games and scouts are watching closely.

Other Oregon prospects to watch: WR Darren Carrington, rJR. (6-1, 195, 4.49, #7); LOT Tyrell Crosby , JR. (6-5, 310, 5.29, #73); WR Devon Allen , rJR. (5-11, 185, 4.33, #13); QB Dakota Prukop , rSR. (6-2, 195, 4.68, #9); DE/OLB Torrodney Prevot , SR. (6-3, 225, 4.72, #86); TE Evan Baylis , rSR. (6-6, 250, 4.79, #81)

Other Nebraska prospects to watch: TE Cethan Carter , SR. (6-3, 240, 4.73, #11); CB Joshua Kalu , JR. (6-1, 190, 4.54, #10); WR Jordan Westerkamp , rSR. (5-11, 200, 4.54, #1); MLB Josh Banderas , SR. (6-3, 240, 4.79, #52); WR Brandon Reilly , rSR. (6-2, 200, 4.49, #87); WLB Marcus Newby , rJR. (6-1, 235, 4.68, #3)

Colorado Buffaloes at No. 4 Michigan Wolverines

Saturday, Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m., Ann Arbor, Mich., BTN

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

CB Chidobe Awuzie , Colorado, SR. (5-11, 205, 4.56, #4): Although he might not have a dominant physical trait, Awuzie is a smart, technically sound cover man with excellent drive mechanics and the requisite toughness for the position. Michigan is favored by three touchdowns, but this matchup will be worth watching to see Awuzie lined up across from Wolverines redshirt senior WR Jehu Chesson (6-3, 200, 4.50, #86).

SS Jabrill Peppers , Michigan, rSO. (6-0, 208, 4.48, #5): Michigan’s leading tackler this season, Peppers has settled into his new role as a hybrid linebacker/safety, gaining confidence with each game. He needs to eliminate the wasted steps and improve his anticipation, but it is easy to see why some scouts are already sold on him due to his explosive skill-set. Peppers is also averaging 18.5 yards as UM’s featured punt returner.

TE Jake Butt , Michigan, SR. (6-5, 250, 4.74, #88): With three touchdowns so far on the young season, Butt has already matched his touchdown total from all of last season. A fluid pass-catcher, he has dependable hands and focus at the catch point to win in contested situations, attacking the football in heavy coverage. Butt still requires mechanical work as a blocker, but his receiving skill-set makes him a quarterback’s best friend.

Other Colorado prospects to watch: SS Tedric Thompson , SR. (6-0, 205, 4.56, #9); DT Josh Tupou , rSR. (6-1, 325, 5.22, #55); OLB Jimmie Gilbert , SR. (6-4, 225, 4.74, #98); QB Sefo Liufau , SR. (6-3, 230, 4.93, #13); OC Alex Kelley , rSR. (6-2, 315, 5.30, #74); LOT Jeromy Irwin , rJR. (6-5, 300, 5.19, #76)

Other Michigan prospects to watch: DL Chris Wormley , rSR. (6-4, 303, 4.93, #43); CB Jourdan Lewis , SR. (5-10, 176, 4.43, #26); DE Taco Charlton , SR. (6-5, 285, 4.87, #33); DT Ryan Glasgow , rSR. (6-3, 300, 5.02, #96); WR Amara Darboh , rSR. (6-1, 215, 4.46, #82); OC Mason Cole , rJR. (6-5, 305, 5.06, #52)

No. 12 Michigan State Spartans at No. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Saturday, Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m., South Bend, Ind., NBC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

DT Malik McDowell , Michigan State, JR. (6-5, 282, 4.92, #4): Of the few hundred prospects I studied this summer, McDowell was one of the top five players I evaluated. For a prospect with his size and length, he has outstanding body control, bend and balance, surging off the snap and collecting himself in space. He needs fine-tuning with his hand use, but McDowell bullies blockers with a motor that doesn’t shut down.

QB DeShone Kizer , Notre Dame, rSO. (6-4, 230, 4.84, #14): Despite not winning the starting job until last week, Kizer is one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the country. His physical skill-set is clear with the body type, mobility and arm talent that translates well to the next level, but so does his poise, field vision and touch. Spartans redshirt senior FS Demetrious Cox (6-0, 198, 4.55, #7) will be keyed on Kizer all game.

DT Jarron Jones , Notre Dame, rSR. (6-5, 315, 5.14, #94): With McDowell and Jones, this match-up will feature two of the best interior defensive linemen in college football. Jones has a history of medical and effort issues, but his combination of power and athleticism for a player his size is rare. Although he doesn’t always play up to his skill level, Spartans junior OC Brian Allen (6-2, 303, 5.14, #65) won’t let him take any snaps off.

Other Michigan State prospects to watch: SS Montae Nicholson , JR. (6-2, 220, 4.60, #9); MLB Riley Bullough , rSR. (6-1, 230, 4.77, #30); TE Josiah Price , rSR. (6-3, 260, 4.84, #82); QB Tyler O’Connor , rSR. (6-2, 225, 4.83, #7); WR R.J. Shelton , SR. (5-10, 205, 4.52, #12); SLB Ed Davis , rSR. (6-2, 225, 4.78, #43)

Other Notre Dame prospects to watch: LOT Mike McGlinchey , rJR. (6-7, 310, 5.22, #68); LG Quenton Nelson , rSO. (6-5, 325, 5.23, #56); DE Isaac Rochell , SR. (6-3, 290, 4.86, #90); RB Tarean Folston , rJR. (5-9, 215, 4.56, #25); CB Cole Luke , SR. (5-11, 193, 4.45, #36); DE Andrew Trumbetti , JR. (6-4, 260, 4.84, #98)

Southern California Trojans at No. 7 Stanford Cardinal

Saturday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m., Stanford, Calif., ABC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

RB Christian McCaffrey , Stanford, JR. (6-0, 202, 4.48, #5): It will be tough for McCaffrey to match his 2015 production, but he got off to a nice start in the opener with 126 yards rushing and a pair of scores against Kansas State Wildcats . He also had a remarkable punt return for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty. With Stanford coming off a bye, McCaffrey will be more than ready to face USC’s 76th-ranked run defense.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster , USC, JR. (6-2, 220, 4.52, #9): For a big play threat, Smith-Schuster has been mostly quiet in the Trojans first two games of 2016 with only eight grabs, the longest being a 15-yard touchdown last week against Utah State Aggies . USC has issues at quarterback, but Smith-Schuster has dominant receiving qualities, and whoever is at quarterback needs to give him more chances to make plays against Stanford.

LOT Chad Wheeler , USC, rSR. (6-6, 310, 5.03, #73): Returning to the starting lineup this week, Wheeler has been eased back into action after missing most of the summer with plantar fasciitis. His baggage, both medical and off-field, are concerning, but Wheeler has the on-field traits to start in the NFL if he stays focused. Scouts will be glued on his return especially when facing Stanford DL Solomon Thomas (6-2, 275, 4.84, #90).

Other USC prospects to watch: CB Adoree Jackson, JR. (5-11, 185, 4.74, #2); ROT Zach Banner , rSR. (6-8, 360, 5.46, #73); RB Justin Davis , SR. (6-1, 200, 4.53, #22); WR Darreus Rogers , rSR. (6-1, 215, 4.54, #1); TE Taylor McNamara , rSR. (6-5, 245, 4.79, #48); FS Chris Hawkins , rJR. (5-11, 185, 4.48, #4)

Other Stanford prospects to watch: RG Johnny Caspers , rSR. (6-3, 296, 5.29, #57); WR Michael Rector , rSR. (6-0, 185, 4.49, #3); TE Dalton Schultz , rSO. (6-5, 240, 4.89, #9); DE/OLB Peter Kalambayi , rJR. (6-2, 245, 4.78, #34); SS Dallas Lloyd , rSR. (6-2, 213, 4.64, #29); FS Zach Hoffpauir , rSR. (6-0, 197, 4.59, #10)


Source: CBS Sports Headlines / NFL Scout’s Eye: Ohio State-Oklahoma tops weekend filled with big matchups