The college football world will treat fans with a handful of marquee matchups in Week 10, most notably Alabama at LSU and Oregon at USC.
Let's breakdown the three biggest matchups of the weekend with an eye on the 2013 NFL Draft.
Texas A&M at Mississippi State - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN
The Aggies get another stern SEC test against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs came crashing down to earth last week against Alabama, but should still give A&M an interesting game.
When Mississippi State has the football, running back LaDarius Perkins and quarterback Tyler Russell are two juniors to watch. Both were shut down by Alabama last week, but who haven't the Tide shut down? Perkins is a big time talent in the backfield, showing burst and a surprising ability to shed tackles. Meanwhile, Russell's pocket presence and consistency have earned praise this season. Texas A&M pass rusher Damontre Moore figures to give Russell all he can handle on Saturday. Moore has shown tremendous instincts in his junior year.
For the Aggies' offense, everything starts with the two big offensive tackles, Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. They have passed every test this season with flying colors. Senior defensive tackle Josh Boyd and junior linebacker Cameron Lawrence don't figure to break that pattern. The x-factor for the Bulldogs' defense will be Johnthan Banks, who struggled a bit last week against Bama. He remains the top senior cornerback in the nation and will hope to rebound.
Oregon at USC - 7 p.m. - FOX
Speed will be on full display in Southern California on Saturday night, as the Ducks and Trojans do battle at the Coliseum.
When Oregon is on offense, keep an eye on running back Kenjon Barner. He is quietly make a case to come off the board on the second day of the NFL Draft. He's arguably a better pro prospect that his predecessor, LaMichael James. Defensive ends Wes Horton and Morgan Breslin will create some havoc in the backfield for USC. Both are interesting prospects to keep an eye on.
While the Ducks' offense steals the headlines, it's what they do defensively that should interest NFL Draft enthusiasts. Defensive end Dion Jordan is one of the most dynamic defensive players in college football, showing the ability to put his hand in the dirt and stand up in coverage. There isn't much he can't do as a football player, and his athleticism is scary. USC center Khaled Holmes is a solid NFL Draft prospect and will be tasked with helping to keep Matt Barkley upright. Barkley's stock has slipped some, but he is an accurate thrower with outstanding ball placement. It doesn't hurt that he has two dynamic targets to throw to in junior Robert Woods and sophomore Marqise Lee.
Alabama at LSU - 8 p.m. - CBS
It's the clash of the titans part three. Alabama and LSU meet again, this time in Baton Rouge, La. The Crimson Tide look unbeatable at this point, but LSU is the last team to upend the defending national champs.
When Alabama is on offense, it emposses its will on the defense with a relentless running game led by guards Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack. Both should be first round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, with Warmack emerging as an even better guard prospect than David DeCastro was a season ago. Running back Eddie Lacy is the beneficiary of the tremendous run blocking offensive line, but his power, vision and burst help Bama rip off huge chucks of yardage on the ground.
A.J. McCarron will have a chance to continue to prove himself worthy of respect in NFL Draft circles. He has been consistent this season, but will face the most relentless pass rush he's seen this year on Saturday, as Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo figure to find their way into the Alabama backfield. Meanwhile, safety Eric Reid, who may be the best draft-eligible safety in the 2013 class, will be roaming the secondary for the Tigers.
Offensively, LSU's talent is much more lacking. Quarterback Zack Mettenburg has been inconsistent in his junior season, and injuries up front have limited the Tigers offense as a whole. The Alabama defense should be able to take advantage. Defensive tackle Jessie Williams anchors a talented rotation of defensive linemen, while safety Robert Lester and linebacker C.J. Mosley are the impact players of the Crimson Tide stop unit.