Prospect Matchup: Week 5
Know the top NFL prospects to watch this weekend in the pivotal matchups on the college football landscape
Wisconsin at Ohio State
Saturday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m.
Columbus, Ohio -- ABC
Arguably the top two programs in the Big Ten, Ohio State and Wisconsin have produced more NFL Draft choices over the past three years (26) than any other two-team combination in the conference. The Buckeyes have won the past two matchups between the two programs by a combined 11 points, including an overtime thriller last season. Ohio State is again favored in this year's contest and although several impact players are gone, they key to this game will again come down to Wisconsin's run game against the Buckeyes defense. Redshirt sophomore RB Melvin Gordon is the best running back in the country who doesn't yet receive the national recognition that he should. But NFL scouts sure are paying attention. Despite the positive play of senior QB Kenny Guiton, this game also marks the return of Ohio State junior QB Braxton Miller, who has missed the past two weeks with a knee sprain.
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon/James White vs. Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier
Over the years, Wisconsin has been known for their mauling offense lines and talented running backs who take advantage of the hogs up front. But redshirt sophomore RB Melvin Gordon (6-1, 207, 4.54) creates a lot of yardage by himself, using his short-area explosion and natural toughness to churn out big runs. He leads the Nation with 624 rushing yards, averaging 156.0 yards on just 13.3 carries per game (11.8 yard per rush average). While Gordon has top-40 draft potential, senior RB James White (5-10, 195, 4.52) has a draftable skill-set himself. Doing his best to limit the Badgers impressive 1-2 combo at running back will be Ohio State stand-out junior OLB Ryan Shazier (6-2, 230, 4.58
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis vs. Ohio State CB Bradley Roby
Yes, the Badgers are best known for their ground game and with inconsistent quarterback play and talent at running back, who could blame them? But don't let that be an excuse to overlook senior WR Jared Abbrederis (6-1, 190, 4.52), who already has 23 catches on the season, which is nearly halfway to his 2012 reception total. He has average size and speed, but does all the little things well and is a very detailed pass catcher. Abbrederis will be tested when lined up against Ohio State junior CB Bradley Roby (5-11, 192, 4.39), who is one of the top players at his position in the country. Roby has slowly been knocking off the rust over the first few games and will need to limit any big pass plays
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller vs. Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Senior QB Kenny Guiton (6-2, 208, 4.67) provided valuable relief the past few weeks, but junior QB Braxton Miller (6-1, 215, 4.46) is cleared to play and expected to start, regaining his job as the Buckeyes No. 1 quarterback. Whether or not Guiton should remain the starter, Miller's athleticism makes him the best option for the Ohio State offense. It won't be an easy first game back as he faces a Wisconsin defense that ranks sixth in the nation, allowing only 243.3 total yards per game. The Badgers are led by senior ILB Chris Borland (5-11, 246, 4.76), who lacks ideal height and speed, but he has outstanding instincts and does a nice job maneuvering between the trash to make the tackle.
Wisconsin TE Jacob Pedersen/Brian Wozniak vs. Ohio State SS Christian Bryant
If the Buckeyes are able to slow down the Badgers' run game and Roby can take away Abbrederis, Wisconsin will need to involve their tight ends in the passing game. Senior TE Jacob Pedersen (6-4, 240, 4.78) is in a similar mold as former Badger tight ends like Garrett Graham and Owen Daniels, but is questionable for this match-up after a sprained left knee last week. If Pedersen is out, look for senior TE Brian Wozniak (6-4, 255, 4.87), who has one catch this season (six-yard reception for a touchdown), to step up. Senior SS Christian Bryant (5-9, 193, 4.54) is second on the Buckeyes with 21 total tackles and is tied for the team lead in interceptions (1).
OTHER WISCONSIN PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LG Ryan Groy, RS senior (6-5, 318, 5.23)
DT Beau Allen, senior (6-3, 328, 5.23)
SS Dezmen Southward, RS senior (6-1, 214, 4.55)
DE Brendan Kelly, RS senior (6-6, 255, 4.87)
DE Pat Muldoon, RS senior (6-3, 258, 4.92)
LB Ethan Armstrong, RS senior (6-2, 218, 4.73)
OTHER OHIO STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LT Jack Mewhort, RS senior (6-6, 308, 5.28)
FS C.J. Barnett, senior (6-0, 203, 4.59)
RB Carlos Hyde, RS senior (6-0, 242, 4.62)
LG Andrew Norwell, senior (6-6, 320, 5.33)
RB Jordan Hall, RS senior (5-8, 198, 4.55)
C Corey Linsley, RS senior (6-3, 298, 5.24)
Other games to watch
Utah State at San Jose State
Friday, Sept. 27, 9 p.m.
San Jose, Calif. -- ESPN
WHEN THE AGGIES HAVE THE BALL...
Utah State came close to upsetting USC last week, but junior QB Chuckie Keeton (6-1, 200, 4.67) and the offense fell just short, finishing 21-for-30 (53.8%) for 178 yards and two touchdowns. It was also the first time in his career he finished with negative rushing yards. Keeton is a tad erratic as a passer, but he has the arm talent and athleticism that has drawn Colin Kaepernick comparisons. San Jose State senior CB Bene Benwikere (5-11, 192, 4.53) had a rough performance last week at Minnesota and needs a strong bounce-back game.
WHEN THE SPARTANS HAVE THE BALL...
Although he didn't play particularly poorly last week, senior QB David Fales (6-2, 220, 4.93) didn't have enough to elevate his offense against a mediocre Minnesota defense. He does a lot of things really well at the quarterback position, but it's tough to ignore his average arm strength and limited athleticism. With senior WR Noel Grigsby (5-10, 175, 4.52) out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury, senior WR Chandler Jones (5-10, 175, 4.52) stepped up last week set career-bests with 197 receiving yards and three scores.
OTHER UTAH STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
C Tyler Larsen, senior (6-4, 312, 5.17)
OG Eric Schultz, senior (6-3, 308, 5.32)
CB Devonta Glover-Wright, senior (6-0, 170, 4.52)
FS Maurice Alexander, senior (6-1, 212, 4.64)
OTHER SAN JOSE STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Vince Buhagiar, senior (6-3, 244, 4.86)
RG Nicholas Kaspar, senior (6-3, 302, 5.26)
TE Travis Lorius, RS senior (6-5, 248, 4.86)
WR Kyle Nunn, senior (6-2, 209, 4.70)
South Carolina at Central Florida
Saturday, Sept. 28, Noon
Orlando, Fla. -- ABC
WHEN THE GAMECOCKS HAVE THE BALL...
South Carolina senior QB Connor Shaw (6-1, 209, 4.64) has shown solid improvement in 2013 and while he is far from a lock to be drafted, he has really helped his chances. When watching the Gamecocks' offense, keep an eye on the blockers up front, specifically junior LT Corey Robinson (6-7, 341, 5.36) and senior RG Roland Patrick (6-2, 315, 5.34). For the Knights on defense, senior DT E.J. Dunston (6-2, 308, 5.18) is in his second year as a full-time starter and has taken on more of a leadership role in 2013.
WHEN THE KNIGHTS HAVE THE BALL...
If you haven't had a chance to check out UCF junior QB Blake Bortles (6-3, 227, 4.89), this game will be your chance as he faces a tough and fast SEC defense. Senior LT Torrian Wilson (6-4, 308, 5.28), who is a PFA-type of prospect, will have the opportunity to prove himself as he faces junior DE Jadeveon Clowney (6-5, 274, 4.56) and senior DE Chaz Sutton (6-4, 263, 4.82), maybe the top two prospects in this match-up. A Miami-transfer, junior RB Storm Johnson (6-0, 218, 4.56) rushed for 117 yards vs. Penn State last week.
OTHER SOUTH CAROLINA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
CB Jimmy Legree, RS senior (5-11, 187, 4.52)
CB Victor Hampton, RS junior (5-10, 202, 4.52)
DT Kelcy Quarles, junior (6-3, 298, 4.86)
RB Brandon Wilds, RS sophomore (6-1, 223, 4.62)
OTHER UCF PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Jeff Godfrey, senior (5-11, 187, 4.56)
RT Chris Martin, RS senior (6-5, 284, 4.98)
RG Justin McCray, senior (6-4, 308, 5.34)
LG Jordan McCray, senior (6-4, 310, 5.34)
Miami at South Florida
Saturday, Sept. 28, Noon
Tampa, Fla. -- ESPNU
WHEN THE HURRICANES HAVE THE BALL...
We've seen the good and bad from senior QB Stephen Morris (6-2, 215, 4.65) this season, but he has been an integral reason for Miami's 3-0 start, their first since 2004. Morris is battling a bone bruise around his right ankle, but is expected to play in this game. For South Florida, the Bulls' defense is giving up an average of 34.0 points over the first three games. Junior DE Aaron Lynch (6-5, 248, 4.76) sat out last season after transferring from Notre Dame and is off to a slow start in 2013 with only six tackles, 0.5 TFL and zero sacks.
WHEN THE BULLS HAVE THE BALL...
The South Florida offense has really struggled so far in 2013 and they'll have a tough time against the quick, talented Miami defense, led by junior WLB Denzel Perryman (6-0, 236, 4.65). He leads the team in tackles and has been impressive so far through three games. Junior DE Anthony Chickillo (6-3, 268, 4.79) leads the team with a pair of sacks, but also keep an eye on senior DE David Gilbert (6-4, 256, 4.76), who transferred to Miami from Wisconsin over the summer after initially retiring due to several injuries to his foot.
OTHER MIAMI PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RT Seantrel Henderson, senior (6-7, 342, 5.06)
RG Brandon Linder, senior (6-6, 320, 5.23)
WR Allen Hurns, senior (6-1, 195, 4.56)
WR Phillip Dorsett, junior (5-9, 187, 4.42)
OTHER SOUTH FLORIDA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
ILB DeDe Lattimore, RS senior (6-0, 236, 4.83)
DE Ryne Giddins, RS senior (6-3, 255, 4.87)
FS Mark Joyce, senior (5-10, 195, 4.59)
DE Tevin Mims, senior (6-4, 246, 4.86)
LSU at Georgia
Saturday, Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m.
Athens, Ga. -- CBS
WHEN THE TIGERS HAVE THE BALL...
Although he got off to a sluggish start last season, senior QB Zach Mettenberger (6-5, 235, 5.18) has gradually improved with each game and has put himself in the discussion to be one of the top seniors drafted at his position. He benefits from possibly the best wide receiver duo in the country: juniors WR Jarvis Landry (6-0, 195, 4.49) and WR Odell Beckham (5-11, 193, 4.49). They have combined for 44 catches and 10 touchdowns through four games. Junior CB Damian Swann (5-11, 178, 4.53) will have his hands full all game.
WHEN THE BULLDOGS HAVE THE BALL...
While Mettenberger edges senior QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 208, 4.84) in the size and arm strength categories, the Georgia quarterback has the superior resume and overall experience. Murray was able to get a big SEC monkey off his back when he led the Bulldogs past South Carolina -- can he do the same with LSU? One of his most reliable targets is senior TE Arthur Lynch (6-5, 254, 4.82), who is also one of the top senior tight ends in the nation, and he'll see a lot of the talented, but inconsistent SS Craig Loston (6-1, 209, 4.56).
OTHER LSU PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DT Anthony Johnson, junior (6-2, 295, 5.29)
LT La'el Collins, junior (6-5, 315, 5.43)
ILB Lamin Barrow, RS senior (6-1, 232, 4.76)
FB J.C. Copeland, senior (6-0, 270, 4.84)
OTHER GEORGIA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RG Chris Burnette, RS senior (6-2, 315, 5.23)
LT Kenarious Gates, senior (6-5, 327, 5.24)
DT Garrison Smith, senior (6-3, 299, 5.02)
LG Dallas Lee, RS senior (6-4, 295, 5.18)
Oklahoma at Notre Dame
Saturday, Sept. 28, 3:30 p.m.
South Bend, Ind. -- NBC
WHEN THE SOONERS HAVE THE BALL...
The Irish defense lost a few impact players from last year, most notably MLB Manti Te'o, but Notre Dame has had their struggles stopping speed on offense. Juniors NT Louis Nix (6-2, 352, 5.17) and DE Stephon Tuitt (6-5, 303, 4.89) are both considered high first round talents, but so far in 2013, they haven't necessarily played like it. Senior WR Jalen Saunders (5-9, 164, 4.49) leads the Sooners in touchdown catches (3) and is a big play waiting to happen. Senior C Gabe Ikard (6-3, 298, 5.17) isn't a well-known prospect, but he should be.
WHEN THE IRISH HAVE THE BALL...
Senior QB Tommy Rees (6-2, 210, 4.96) makes a handful of head-scratching decisions on the field each week, but is a balanced, confident passer and it wouldn't be a shock if he's this year's version of Matt McGloin. Blocking his blindside is senior LT Zack Martin (6-4, 305, 5.22), who does an excellent job squaring his shoulders and staying patience to mirror and anchor against rushers. Senior CB Aaron Colvin (6-0, 182, 4.48) doesn't have elite speed and fluidity, but he's a tough-minded and aggressive corner who attacks the ball.
OTHER OKLAHOMA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
FB Trey Millard, senior (6-2, 253, 4.64)
RB Damien Williams, senior (6-0, 214, 4.53)
OLB Corey Nelson, senior (6-1, 226, 4.72)
RB Roy Finch, senior (5-7, 167, 4.45)
OTHER NOTRE DAME PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Prince Shembo, senior (6-1, 252, 4.76)
CB Bennett Jackson, senior (6-0, 185, 4.52)
LG Chris Watt, RS senior (6-3, 312, 5.24)
WR T.J. Jones, senior (6-0, 195, 4.54)
Southern California at Arizona State
Saturday, Sept. 28, 10 p.m.
Tempe, Ariz. -- ESPN2
WHEN THE TROJANS HAVE THE BALL...
After four years of Matt Barkley, the USC offense is struggling to find a consistent option at quarterback. But regardless of who is under center, junior WR Marqise Lee (6-0, 195, 4.49) is an exciting pass-catcher to watch, but with only one touchdown catch through four games, he needs to be more of a focal point of the offense. One of the top prospects at his position, senior DT Will Sutton (6-0, 305, 4.94) wins with snap burst, agile feet and terrific technique, but through three games, he has only 0.5 TFL and zero sacks.
WHEN THE SUN DEVILS HAVE THE BALL...
In a weak senior class of running backs, senior RB Marion Grice (6-0, 207, 4.54) has helped himself this season, mostly due to his receiving ability out of the backfield. After losing several of their top pass catchers from a year ago, RS sophomore WR Jaelen Strong (6-4, 205, 4.55) has emerged as the Sun Devils' go-to target with his blend of size, speed and focus to finish. Senior DE Morgan Breslin (6-1, 250, 4.67) has some tweener traits, but he is very quick off the edge and closes in a flash, entering this game with 4.0 sacks.
OTHER USC PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
SS Dion Bailey, RS junior (6-0, 210, 4.58)
DT George Uko, RS junior (6-3, 285, 5.02)
RB Silas Redd, senior (5-9, 200, 4.53)
TE Xavier Grimble, RS junior (6-5, 255, 4.72)
OTHER ARIZONA STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Carl Bradford, RS junior (6-1, 243, 4.73)
FB Chris Coyle, RS senior (6-2, 240, 4.67)
SS Alden Darby, senior (5-11, 195, 4.50)
OT Evan Finkenberg, RS senior (6-4, 298, 5.17)
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