Texas Tech (#10) vs. Oklahoma (#17)
TE Jace Amaro (6’5, 260)
The Texas Tech Red Raiders seem to be on the brink of stardom under first year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He has brought back the spark the Red Raiders program was missing from years past.
One of the main reasons the Red Raiders are ranked No. 10 in the AP poll for the first time since 2008 is TE Jace Amaro. He is a talented junior tight end that possess the size scouts covet and the speed to separate from opposing defenders. On the season, Amaro has hauled in 53 receptions for 742 yards and three touchdowns.
S Aaron Colvin (6’0, 192)
Amaro will be seeing a lot from former cornerback turned S Aaron Colvin, who has the size to match up with the athletic tight end. Colvin is a tough defensive back to handle, as he is a very physical defender in any situation who likes to undercut routes in order to force turnovers. However, Colvin’s lack of elite speed and overall aggressiveness has been a bit of a liability at times for Oklahoma this season.
I expect Amaro to have a big game and look to exploit some of aggressive throughout the game. I am sure we will be hearing a lot more regarding Amaro as the rest of the season plays out.
Stanford (#8) vs. Oregon State
WR Brandin Cooks (5’10, 186)
Brandin Cooks takes over as the Beavers top offensive weapon with Markus Wheaton now playing for the Steelers on Sundays. Cooks is one of the most underrated receivers in college football this season. He may not get a lot of publicity outside the Pac-12, but he is certainly worth checking out. Cooks is surprisingly physical for his size and has an uncanny ability to catch the ball with two or more defenders around him.
Currently, Cooks lead the nation with 76 receptions, 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns through eight weeks. I can’t wait to see how this guy does during the draft process this offseason.
QB Sean Mannion (6’5, 220)
The Beavers also feature a big QB in Sean Mannion, who has displayed great and accuracy this season, as well as quality intangibles. Like Cooks, Mannion is having an outstanding season, which includes 2,992 yards passing, 29 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Beavers are the No. 2 passing offense in the nation.
The Oregon State offense will have an interesting match up this weekend, as they’ll face a Stanford defense, which held the high-powered UCLA offense to just 10 points. With the Cardinal offense struggling to move the ball consistently, the team will once again rely on their defensive unit to perform at a high level, and stop the Beavers dynamic duo of Cooks and Mannion.
Vanderbilt vs. Texas A&M (#14)
WR Jordan Matthews (6,3, 206)
Senior WR Jordan Matthews is a player I really enjoy watching as he is one of college football’s best route-runners. He’s a very quick and smooth athlete who can impact a game as both a receiver and as run-blocker. This season, Matthews has racked up 58 receptions for 798 yards which has ignited the Commodores’ offense with plays down the field.
Even though Matthews does not have a top-end speed, he offers great size and body control that allows him to create mismatches against opposing defenses.
Matthews will face a struggling Texas A&M defense that allowed a total of 615 yards against Auburn and 21 points in each of the past two fourth quarters alone. One of the many concerns with the Aggies’ defense is their lack of pass rush. They are ranked No. 114 in the nation with just 7 sacks this season.
Texas A&M has to know that Vanderbilt’s game plan will center on Matthews as QB Patton Robinette getting the start in place of the injured Austyn Carta-Samuels. Even so, it will be very difficult for the Aggies’ defense to hold Matthews for in check for four quarters given their extreme inconsistencies this season.
South Carolina (#20) vs. Missouri (#5)
DE Michael Sam (6’2, 255)
If I would have asked you at the beginning of the season which SEC teams would be unbeaten after eight weeks of the season your most likely response would have been Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia or Texas A&M. Instead, the Missouri Tigers have come out of nowhere to stun both the SEC and as well as the nation with their torrid 7-0 start.
One of the biggest surprises from this team is senior DE Michael Sam, who has been a constant nightmare for opposing offensive lineman. Sam is tied for the most sacks in the country with nine and has contributed four forced fumbles and a very impressive 17 tackles for loss.
LT Corey Robinson (6’7, 341)
Sam does however have a tough match up this Saturday against Gamecocks LT Corey Robinson, who is not only an emerging prospect, but also South Carolina’s best offensive lineman. He possess a huge frame and is a real force running game. Robinson does lack overall agility and balance, so this could end up being an exploitable factor for Sam, who is capable of using both strength and quickness off the line of scrimmage. With Robinson’s tendency to struggle in the pass protection, expect Sam to use his versatility to keep Robinson off balance throughout the day.
This is a game to keep an eye on, as both of these players are rising prospects who could go in the early rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.