Lets face it, last week's slate of college football games left plenty to be desired. Sure, Devin Gardner looked good against Notre Dame, but most of the other games were snoozers. This week, we're getting the biggest game of the year (to this point), with Alabama at Texas A&M. Matthew Fairburn has a standalone preview of that game right here.
But there are several notable games this week, including a few Big Ten/Pac-12 matchups. Here are your NFL Draft prospects to watch follow today:
UCLA at Nebraska, noon (ET), ABC
In my most recent mock draft, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley came off the board at No. 5 overall. Of the redshirt sophomore quarterbacks – Hundley, Ben Hogan, Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota – Hundley is probably the most NFL ready. Nebraska's group of good but not great defensive backs, including cornerbacks Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Ciante Evans – will test him. So will playing in a game that starts at what is normally 9 a.m. for Hundley.
UCLA has the biggest names in this game by a wide margin. Anthony Barr showed a year ago that outside linebacker was the position for him, not running back. Barr is poised to be one of the top pass rushers in the 2014 draft if he can continue showing the kind of development that's expected. Defensive end Cassius Marsh is a site favorite who had 50 tackles and eight sacks last eason.
NFL scouts in attendance will be getting a look at two of the nation's better interior offensive line prospects in this game. UCLA junior guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is an excellent hand fighter who knows how to keep defenders away from his pads. Nebraska guard Spencer Long is a physical blocker on the right side.
Keep an eye on UCLA running back Jordan James. Johnthan Franklin's replacement ran for 155 yards in UCLA's first game of the year against Nevada.
Tennessee at Oregon, 3:30 p.m. (ET), ABC
Don't tell Alabama or Texas A&M fans, but this game may feature just as many NFL prospects as the weekend's headline contest.
Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson is going to have his hands full in this one. Will he be spying Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, or will he have the unenviable task of keeping tabs on De'Anthony Thomas? It's even possible that Johnson will have to keep tabs on tight end Colt Lyerla.
Coming into this season, a hot comparison was Colin Kaepernick for Mariota, Oregon's talented redshirt quarterback. On the surface it makes sense. Both are athletic quarterbacks with angular frames and a similar throwing style. It's easy to forget about Kaepernick that he wasn't considered by many as a top-level draft prospect, particularly early in his career.
The top matchup in this game could come on the front line when Tennessee has the ball. The Volunteers have arguably the best offensive tackle duo in the nation with Antonio Richardson on the left and JaWuan James on the right. Oregon's defensive line is deceptively good, paced by 6-foot-6, 287-pound end Taylor Hart and 306-pound defensive tackle Wade Keliikipi.
Tennessee, of course, counters with a prospect at defensive tackle of their own in Daniel McCullers. He's had his struggles, but presents a physical mismatch for Tennessee, as long as he can stay in the game. At 351 pounds, it will be interesting to see how much McCullers is on the field against the fast-pace offense. McCullers will be going head on with Oregon center Hroniss Grasu, a junior. At this time next year, look for Grasu to be the nation's top-rated center.
Kent State at LSU, 7 p.m. (ET), ESPNU
This game is notable for a few reasons, many of which center around my budding love of LSU this season. The Tigers might have the best wide receiver duo in the country in juniors Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Yes, I'm full aware of Southern California. Beckham has the speed and hands and Landry can make plenty of tough catches.
This game isn't going to be close. So lets not belabor the other prospects on LSU. Many of them are known at this point – quarterback Zach Mettenberger, defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson, linebacker Lamin Barrow and a few others.
Watch in this one to see if Kent State all-purpose offensive weapon Dri Archer plays. After injuring his ankle in Kent's first game of the year, he needs a showcase game with loads of NFL scouts in attendance. He's expected to play, but who knows how much.
Wisconsin at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. (ET), ESPN
This season, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton has bulked up from 280 to 300-plus pounds. The effectiveness of that bulk will get tested against Wisconsin's NFL-size offensive line. We'll also find out if Sutton was able to retain the quickness that made him such a highly desired NFL prospect. Should Sutton have the quickness and power to beat the offensive line, he'll be chasing down one of the nation's best young running backs in Badgers redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon.
Although Gordon is probably the better prospect, senior James White will get his fair share of carries. The current FBS active leader in career rushing yard with 2,823, White is shiftier and quicker than Wisconsin running backs of years past.
Arizona State running back Marion Grice is the upperclassmen version of Gordon. Grice had just 14 carries for 59 yards last week and should see an increased load. Chasing Grice around will be Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland.
More notables on Saturday:
- Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby was a little shaky last week, his first game of the season after a one-game suspension. California and head coach Sonny Dykes are going to run a fast-pace offense that may test Roby and OSU safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett.
- We've been telling you to keep an eye out for Central Florida's Blake Bortles. He'll get tested against Penn State today. In his first two games, Bortles is completing 69.8 percent of his passes for 528 yards and four touchdowns. But Penn State will be able to get pressure up front with rising defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. Through two games, Jones already has 18 tackles, five tackles for loss and two sacks.
- In the Louisville/Kentucky game, everyone will be talking about the Cardinals offense and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Keep an eye on Kentucky junior defensive end Za'Darius Smith. He's a junior college transfer this season who already has four sacks. Admittedly, I have to do work on him. But at 6-foot-6, 254 pounds, the intrigue is there.