Ohio State at Northwestern
Venric Mark (5’8, 175)
After missing the last three games because of a leg injury, the Wildcats will have All American RB/KR Venric Mark back in their starting lineup against a very talented Ohio State unit. Mark is an explosive runner, and a real threat to score every time he touches the football. He’s also Northwestern’s best NFL prospect.
The Wildcats will have a tough matchup against a Buckeyes defense that has allowed 17 points per game, and limited a very good Wisconsin running attack to just 104 yards on the ground last week. While senior QB Kain Colter shares the quarterback duties with Trevor Siemian in Northwestern’s two-quarterback system, Colter is still a huge asset in the running game, as he is the team’s second-leading rusher with 237 yards. With that in mind, look for the Wildcats offense to try and establish the run early on in the game.
This will be a tough test for both teams, and could perhaps be the first of two matchup’s for these teams, as we could see a rematch in the Big Ten Championship game.
Washington at Stanford
Keith Price (6’1, 202)
Keith Price is a fifth-year senior quarterback that has matured and really improved since his disastrous 2012 season. Price is a very mobile quarterback that shines in the short passing game, but also also has the ability inflict damage to opposing defenses with his deep throws down field. Part of Price’s success this season is his completion percentage. On the season, Price has competed 72 percent of his passes, compared to a 61 percent last year.
The Huskies offense will face a strong Stanford defense that features a number of talented players. The guy I’m watching from the Cardinal defense is safety Ed Reynolds, who’s rumored to be leaving for the NFL after following the season. Reynolds is a ball-hawk safety who has displayed an outstanding understanding offensive schemes and great awareness during his four-year stint in Palo Alto. It’s worth noting that Reynolds will sit out the first-half of Saturday’s game because of an illegal hit on Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly, so you can expect to see Price attack the Cardinal secondary through air in the first two quarters.
This is an intriguing matchup because even though Washington defeated Stanford last season, Price hasn’t performed well against their defense. The good news for Price is that for the first time in his career he has a very good offensive line that has allowed only three sacks in four games, compared to a staggering 37 sacks allowed in 2012.
Kevin Hogan (6’4, 224)
Kevin Hogan is a redshirt sophomore quarterback that happens to be climbing up draft boards in recent weeks. Hogan has exhibited great mobility and notable arm talent, along with remarkable decision-making. So far this season, Hogan has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and has a over 3-1 touchdown to interception ratio.
Washington’s defense has looked really good through their first four games of the season, but none of the teams they’ve faced have an elite quarterback or strong tight ends. The Stanford offense is well known for their bruising running attack, but expect Hogan’s ability to move the ball in the short-to-intermediate passing game be a decisive factor, as it should force Huskies defense to honor play action passes.
Hogan will carry a 7-0 record as a starter into this game along with Stanford’s 12 game winning streak. Hogan will be under the spotlight and can use this game to pad his draft resume.
Michigan State at Iowa
C.J. Fiedorowicz (6’7, 265)
Senior TE C.J. Fiedorowicz is one of college football’s top tight end prospects for next year’s NFL draft. Fiedorowicz possess great skill set along with solid hands and strong footwork. He’s one of those rare players who are capable of dominating opponents as both a blocker and receiver.
Fiedorowicz could be matched up against the Spartans most prolific cornerback Darqueze Dennard from time-to-time. Throughout his college career, Dennard has displayed great speed and cover skills, and it considered to be one of the top three senior corners in the country.
Even though the Spartans defense know Iowa’s gameplan centers around Fiedorowicz, it will still be very tough to stop a hybrid tight end who can line up all over the field. In fact, various NFL scouts have compared Fiedorowicz to a younger Jimmy Graham, even though that could be an unfair comparison to live up to.
TCU at Oklahoma
Jalen Saunders (5’9, 176)
Senior WR Jalen Saunders is a short, slim receiver with great hands and an impressive burst, which makes him one of the toughest slot receivers to defend in the nation. Saunders is a former Fresno State player who transferred after some issues with Bulldogs head coach Tim DeRuyter.
This TCU defense runs a 4-2-5 scheme that creates spaces for their fastest players, which in turn gives them a better shot at defending the spread offense. The Horned Frogs have allowed 22.5 points per game, which is very similar to their 22.6 points per game they allowed in 2012. TCU appears to continuously be involved in shootouts, but this season their offense has been fairly erratic. This can be attributed to Casey Pachall being sidelined with an arm injury.
Saunders played a pretty important role for the Sooners last week in their victory over Notre Dame, as he hauled in seven passes for 46 yards. After an inspiring 2012 season, Saunders numbers are a bit of a disappointment, but keep in mind that most of the Sooners victories have been blowouts. So far, Saunders has 17 catches and three touchdowns on the season. I’ll still be keeping an eye on him throughout Saturday’s game, as he’s still a breakout player candidate.