Alabama (#1) vs. Auburn (#4)
OLB C.J. Mosley (6’2, 232)
No.1 Alabama will roll next into Jordan-Hare Stadium in what could go down as one of the best Iron Bowl’s of all time. The winner of this clash will not only head to the SEC Championship Game, but they will most likely have a good chance of playing in the BCS National Championship Game next January as well.
This game features All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has been one of the most consistent players on an extremely talented Alabama roster. He is not only a very fast linebacker, but he also possesses uncanny physical traits, which help him remain a three-down linebacker in the NFL. Mosley really excels at defending the running game, but he also has the ability cover opposing running backs coming out of the backfield.
The Tide’s defensive unit is up against Nick Marshall and the Tigers high-powered ground game. Auburn is in the midst of a seven-game winning streak in which they are averaging more than 320 yards per game just on the ground.
There is no question that this will be a huge test for the Tigers’ offense, especially if Mosley and the rest of the Crimson Tide defense are able to keep Auburn’s running attack under control. I would expect QB Nick Marshall to have plenty of opportunities to make plays down the field, as Alabama figures load the box and take their chances on the backend.
So far this season, C.J. Mosley has racked up 89 tackles this season and is projected by many to be a Top-15 pick next year. We have Mosley ranked as the No. 6 prospect in our recently updated 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.
Fresno State (#16) vs. San Jose State
David Fales (6’3, 220)
This is one of my favorite matchups of the week, mainly because we will have an opportunity to see two of the best quarterbacks on the west coast go head-to-head.
San Diego State QB David Fales happens to be my favorite quarterbacks in next year’s draft class. While he doesn’t possess tremendous arm strength, he has shown very good accuracy and touch on passes throughout the season and his timing and overall decision-making are both strengths as well. Fales is a very athletic and mobile quarterback who has the ability to avoid the rush due to a very good pocket presence. So far this season, Fales has thrown for 3,642 yards to go only with 27 touchdowns.
The Spartans will face a shockingly good Fresno State defense that over the past seven games has allowed an average of just 5.9 points in the first half of their games. The Bulldogs’ passing defense is without a doubt the strength of their defensive unit, so it will be interesting to see what Fales can do against them on Saturday.
It’s worth noting that San Jose State passing offense ranks No. 9 in the nation with 335 passing yards per game, so expect the Spartans to rely on Fales’ arm right from the get-go.
QB Derek Carr (6’3, 205)
The Fresno State offense ranks No. 5 in the nation in total offense and No. 5 in scoring average with 47 points per game. Their offense is led by Derek Carr, who’s coming off a school record seven passing touchdowns in a win over New Mexico. Carr has led Fresno State to a No. 16 national ranking and are just on the outskirts of a BCS Bowl bid.
Carr is a well-built quarterback who also boasts a very accurate arm, as well as fantastic arm strength that allows him to sling the ball all over the field. The Bulldogs figure to have plenty of opportunities throughout the game as the Spartans’ defense is allowing close to 34 points per game.
You can expect to see Carr look to exploit the Spartans secondary early on. I would be surprised to see solid games from both quarterbacks with so much at stake in this matchup. As of Wednesday, 15 NFL scouts were scheduled to attend this showdown.
We have Derek Carr listed as the No. 45 prospect in our recently updated 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.
UCLA (#22) vs. USC (#23)
Anthony Barr (6’4, 248)
Anthony Barr happens to be my No.1 rated outside linebacker for next year’s NFL Draft. He is an absolute terror for opposing offenses. He’s one of the most physical players in the country who also possesses a great initial burst off the line. On top of that, Barr has great agility and a relentless motor. He can also be relied upon to drop back into coverage if needed, which only adds to an already phenomenal skill set.
Few players are easier to watch than Barr. He appears to be locked into a top-five-pick already, so be sure to keep an eye on Bruins No. 11 this weekend.
UCLA will face a Trojans team that started the season very poorly, but since then have managed to win five games in a row, including a remarkable win against Stanford a couple of weeks ago. The main reason behind USC success has been interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who has done a fantastic job of turning an absolute mess of a season around. Since USC fired Lane Kiffin, Orgeron has led the Trojans to a 6-1 record.
It’s worth nothing that the USC has managed to win eight of their last ten games against UCLA in the Coliseum, but even with that solid stretch for the Trojans I still expect this game to be a close matchup that could be decided by whoever has the last possession.
We have Anthony Barr ranked as the No. 3 prospect in our recently updated 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.
Florida State (#2) vs. Florida
Loucheiz Purifoy (6’0, 190)
It’s been stunning to see the Gators’ struggles this season, even against lesser quality opponents. This is highlighted by their current six-game losing streak that includes a loss to Georgia Southern last weekend.
Florida still features one of the best cornerbacks in the country in Loucheiz Purifoy. The 2014 NFL Draft class looks to have plenty of talent at the cornerback position, so it’s really saying something if you happen to be one of the more notable players in such a deep position group. Purifoy is a senior who offers solid all around ability as an athlete while possessing a prototypical NFL defensive back frame.
Things do not get any easier for the Gators as they go up against freshman sensation Jameis Winston, whose is considered by many to be the front-runner in the Heisman race this year – pending a very serious off-the-field situation. There is no question that Winston is one of the best quarterback prospects in the college and he just happens to be up against a very tough secondary that allowed an average of just 157 passing yards per game.
I expect Purifoy to keep his man in check throughout the game, but it will be fascinating to see if Winston shows any amount of concern for Purifoy’s ability to defend the pass on Saturday. While many people expect Florida State to win by a large margin, I wouldn’t be shocked if this game winds up being closer than expected. Feel free to call me crazy if it’s not.
We have listed Loucheiz Purifoy as the No. 29 prospect in our recently updated 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.
Texas A&M (#21) vs. Missouri (#5)
OT Cedric Ogbuehi (6’5, 300)
Aggies OT Cedric Ogbuehi has been a very pleasant surprise this season, as he has taken his game to whole new level in 2013. He is a well suited to play tackle as has long arms, great quickness and very good balance for an offensive lineman. A good performance against a notable pass-rusher in Missouri DE Michael Sam should be enough for him to prop up his stock before the bowl season and possibly solidify his status as a first-round pick next year.
DE Michael Sam (6’2, 255)
Ogbuehi squares off against one of the best defensive ends in the country in Michael Sam, who has been a constant nightmare for opposing tackles this season. Sam has quickly emerged as a top prospect with outstanding instincts, a great motor and the kind of quickness you would expect from a great edge-rusher. On the season, Sam has totaled an impressive 10 sacks, which leaves him No. 9 among defensive players this season.
It’s always great to see quality pass-rushers go up against some of the tackles. This is really my kind of matchup.
We have Cedric Ogbuehi ranked No. 40 and Michael Sam at No. 48 overall in our recently updated 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.