Georgia at Clemson
Aaron Murray (6’1, 210)
After an above average junior season, Aaron Murray will enter his fourth and final year as Georgia Bulldogs starting quarterback. While everyone will have their eyes fixed upon Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, this figures to be a great opportunity for Murray to generate some positive buzz to start the season.
Murray will have a great matchup this weekend as he goes against a Tigers unit that finished 63rd in the nation in total defense last year. Clemson DC Brent Venables has adjusted his defensive scheme to a 4-2-5 base set, but Murray should still have a great opportunity to shine.
Keep an eye on Murray, as he’s likes to move the ball with his short to intermediate passing game. If he can establish a good chemistry with WR Michael Bennett throughout the season he could be raise some eyes and move up draft boards.
Tajh Boyd (6’1, 225)
In the wake of a superb game against LSU, Tajh Boyd will be looking to finish his career at Clemson in a high note. DeAndre Hopkins is now in the NFL, so expect to see a lot from star wide receiver Sammy Watkins as the game goes on.
Boyd too has a favorable matchup as he’s facing a very inexperienced Georgia defense lead by sophomore linebacker Jordan Jenkins. The Bulldogs will have an entirely rebuilt defense that will feature 10 players who have never played a set of downs in a Division 1 football game.
It will be interesting to see if Boyd has put his inconsistencies behind him, as he tends to be a different quarterback as the season plays out. He’s one of the best athletes in college football and considered by a number of scouts to be a Day 1 pick.
BYU against Virginia
Kyle Van Noy (6’3, 235)
After a brilliant game against San Diego State, Van Noy opted to return for his senior season at BYU. He’s a gifted who offers plenty of versatility and has tremendous motor.
Van Noy will face Morgan Moses, one of the most consistent tackles in the game. Oday Aboushi was Virginia’s left tackle last season, but with him graduating Moses will shift to the left side. Van Noy has the edge in this matchup because of his great instincts and his exceptional use of hands.
Van Noy figures to be one of the most talked about linebackers this season. As a result, many expect him to generate the same kind of buzz that Ziggy Ansah did for the BYU defense last year. If he’s able to combine his athleticism with more muscularity, watch out because he can be a first-round player. Without a doubt, he will be a one of the most exciting prospect to watch this season.
Alabama at Virginia Tech
Cyrus Kouandjio (6’6, 311) vs James Gayle (6’4, 253)
Dating back to last season, the Alabama coaching staff was raving about OT Cyrus Kouandjio, regardless of the fact he was just a sophomore. Kouandjio still put together an outstanding season for the Alabama offensive line. The Crimson Tide faceoff against a Virginia Tech team that is coming of their worst seasons in 20 years.
Kouandjio will be up against James Gayle, one of the best pass rushers in the ACC and the heart and soul of the Hokie defense. Gayle finished the 2012 season with five sacks and has displayed a great repertoire of finesse passing-rushing moves that should keep Kouandjio busy throughout the game. The bad news for Gayle is that Kouandjio has the necessary athleticism and agility to hold up against sturdy pass rushers.
This is clearly the matchup that I’ll be watching this weekend. Expect Kouandjio to seal the running lanes and burst to the second level if needed. He has his hiccups like any other player, but he’s your prototype tackle that you want for the next 10 to 15 years.
LSU vs TCU
Zach Mettenberger (6’5, 238)
Zach Mettenberger will try to rebound after a letdown season in which he managed to show some flashes of brilliance against the tough SEC competition. With LSU constantly in the spotlight and a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, Mettenberger is a position to turn the corner and give the Tigers a reliable offense.
He’ll face one of the best defenses in the country in TCU, who operates a 4-2-5 defensive scheme. Although the matchup appears to be a tough on paper, the Horned Frogs unit present some glaring holes in terms of their defensive depth.
It will be interesting to see if Cameron and Mettenberger attack the TCU defense with their short-passing game. This game could set the tone for a strong season from Mettenberger.
Jason Verrett (5’10, 176)
Verrett is a former JUCO transfer who is coming off of a season-ending knee surgery. He’ll attempt to solidify his status as one of the premier cornerbacks in the country and what better way to prove it than in the 2013 Cowboys Classic?
Verrett and his teammates will try to beat a run-heavy offense that is trying to change their offensive philosophy under new OC Cam Cameron. Verrett figures to be up against Odell Beckham Jr. or Jarvis Landry throughout the game, but neither of them are really a threat to stretch the field. It’s worth noting that LSU was the lone SEC team to not have a receiver with a 50-yard reception or more last season.
While Verret isn’t exactly a physical specimen, his ball-hawking skills and preeminent speed are enough to make him one of the most compelling players to watch in this matchup. If he plays with the same energy as he did last year, he’ll have a shot to be the first cornerback taken in next year’s draft.
Buffalo at Ohio State
Khalil Mack (6’3, 248) vs Braxton Miller (6’2, 220)
Following a remarkable 12-0 season, Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller is line for another sensational season. Even though Ohio State finished undefeated, they still were only ranked No. 110 in passing yards per game, which is obviously something that will need to be fixed if they hope to contend for a National Championship.
OSU will face off against a Buffalo team that was only 4-8 last season. Senior linebacker Khalil Mack is really the guy to keep your eye on in this game. The Bulls play under a very unconventional formation that features three linemen, three linebackers, three safeties as well as two cornerbacks. Mack is not only a highly underrated, but also extremely talented player who has forced 11 fumbles, 18 sacks and 56 career tackles for loss. Unfortunately for Mack, the Bulls rely too much on him to make big plays and change the course of the game.
This is a matchup in which we will probably see Braxton Miller throw more than we are accustomed to, since HC Urban Meyer is trying to make Miller more of dual-threat quarterback. Miller is one of the most electrifying athletes in the college game with the potential to be a Heisman-winner this season.