For NFL Draft prospects, November is the make-or-break part of the schedule. Underclassmen in particular can either prove their ready for the next level or show that they need another season in college.
No player epitomizes this as much as UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. He's had poor showings in back-to-back losses and is at a crossroads. The redshirt sophomore should be able to turn things around against Colorado. The Buffaloes are 84 in pass efficiency defense and Hundley tends to play better at home.
Below are more NFL Draft storylines to follow today. Look for a Florida State/Miami preview from Matthew Fairburn on the site a little bit later.
Michigan at Michigan State, 3:30 p.m, ABC
Top prospect to watch: Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan isn't the quickest or most athletic offensive lineman, but he's a smart player who knows the angles. In the past, Lewan has more than held his own against the likes of Jadaveon Clowney. Today he'll get emerging redshirt sophomore Shilique Calhoun. With three touchdowns and three fumble recoveries, Calhoun is one of the more dynamic ends in the nation. While Calhoun has the speed advantage on Lewan to the outside, watch if he tries to work inside. That's where Lewan has had some issues throughout his career.
In need of a big game: Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has been mired in an up and down season. He's gone from being the next Ryan Tannehill to a player who clearly needs more experience at the position. Gardner may have thrown for 500 yards in his last game, but he had less than half that the week before. Gardner needs to be consistent and place his throws better.
Keep an eye on: The top one-on-one matchup in this game is Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon against Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard. In Gallon's last game, against Indiana, he had 14 receptions for 369 yards and two touchdowns. Look for Dennard to be in man coverage on Gallon and try to be physical at the line of scrimmage. Coming into the game, Dennard has seven pass breakups and two interceptions.
More to watch: There isn't a lot Michigan State middle linebacker Max Bullough can't do. He's capable of dropping into coverage on a tight end, can shoot interior gaps on a blitz and handle blockers against the run. On a loaded defense, Bullough is the Spartans' best player. Right behind him is short but not small outside linebacker Denicos Allen, the team leader in tackles with 48 and is tied with Calhoun in tackles for loss with eight. Spartans strong safety Isaiah Lewis will get a look in a training camp. While most of the attention goes to Lewan for Michigan, right tackle Michael Schofield is a solid late-round prospect who will have to show in workouts he can play guard.
Georgia at Florida, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Top prospect to watch: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hasn't had a completion percentage higher than 58.8 since the middle of September. That's partly due to the Bulldogs losing so many talented pieces on offense. Murray is a heady quarterback whose strength is his preparation and execution. Unfortunately for Murray, Florida has arguably the best group of cornerbacks in the nation. Juniors Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson should be Day 2 picks and senior Jaylen Watkins could hear his name called late in the draft.
In need of a big game: Maybe it's because of the injuries on Georgia have forced him into a greater blocking role, but tight end Arthur Lynch hasn't become the receiving threat some thought. Lynch is a big target at 6-foot-5 and 254 pounds, but is often asked to stay inline and block. Blocking tight ends don't get drafted very highly.
Keep an eye on: Linebacker Amarlo Herrera continues to have a solid season for Georgia. He's second on the team in tackles and tied for first in pass breakups. Herrara may spend much of the game figuring out where Florida is lining up Trey Burton, who is coming along after switching from quarterback.
More to watch: Florida guard John Halapio has battled injuries, but 320 pounds, he'll fit well in the NFL as a power run blocker. Georgia cornerback Damian Swann has been inconsistent, but has enough pure talent to get picked early on Day 3 of the draft.
Tennessee at Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN
Top prospect to watch: Arguably the top one-on-one matchup of the day is Missouri left end Michael Sam against Tennessee right tackle Ju'Wuan James. This one will be a contrast in styles. Sam is a speedy edge rusher while James is at his best when he can overpower defenders. James' foot speed will be important for all four quarters.
In need of a big game: Quietly, Missouri running back Henry Josey has had a nice season. He looks completely healthy following a serious knee injury in 2012. Josey is averaging nearly six yards a carry and still has the speed to break a long run. If Josey continues showing his vision and acceleration, he'll go into next season as one of the better running back prospects.
Keep an eye on: Missouri has a good group of wide receivers. One week L'Damian Washington will flash while Marcus Lucas will in another. Washington had a 96-yard reception last week, but it was his only catch of the game. Lucas, meanwhile, leads the team in receptions with 39 and has had at least three catches in every game this season. Tennessee may not have the secondary to keep up.
More to watch: If you listened to the most recent MTD podcast, you'll know that Missouri redshirt sophomore defensive end Shane Ray may have the most potential of any defender on the Tigers. It's unlikely he goes pro, but keep him in mind for 2015. Tennessee defensive tackle Daniel McCullers is playing much better this season. While he may be only a two-down player in the NFL, he showing this season that he can be a difference maker when he's on the field. Tennessee's A.J. Johnson is a solid mid-round linebacker.
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 7 p.m., Fox
Top prospect to watch: If all thre go pro, there is going to be a big debate about whether Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, North Carolina's Eric Ebron or Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the draft's top tight end. Amaro has three-straight games of more than 100 yards receiving and could top that again today. Amaro is a big target at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds and can attack the seam.
In need of a big game: Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert had a bad 2012 season. "He's been very inconsistent until this year," an anonymous scout told NFL Network's Albert Breer. "But he's beginning to show signs of being the player everyone know he's capable of being." Gilbert will get tested against Tech's pass offense, particularly if he lines up against Eric Ward.
Keep an eye on: There are a couple good defensive tackle prospects in this game in Tech's Kerry Hyder and Oklahoma State's Calvin Barnett. Hyder is a gap-shooting 280pouner who has 10 tackles for loss this season. Barnett may not have the stats Hyder does, but he's regarded as the better prospect because he can occupy multiple blockers and still disrupt the pocket. Barnett has five quarterback hurries this season.
More to watch: Texas Tech linebacker Terrance Bullitt has a future as a coverage linebacker and special teams player. Red Raiders left tackle Le'Raven Clark is a name to remember for 2015. Oklahoma State junior wide receiver Josh Stewart doesn't have the biggest size at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, but he's a sharp route runner with some speed.
More prospects to follow:
- Much like James versus Sam, the Virginia/Clemson game features a power blocker in Morgan Moses against a speed rusher in Vic Beasley. If Moses can get his hands on Beasley, he could have a big game. If Beasley can beat Moses to the edge, his athleticism should win.
- Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen has a chance to raise his draft profile against Ohio State. Allen should see time against both Corey Brown and Devin Smith, solid NFL prospects each. Allen may be only 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, but he plays with good instincts.
- Finally back from a knee injury, Virginia Tech's Antone Exum can show why he was so highly regarded entering the season against Alex Amidon, Boston College's big play senior wide receiver.