Over the past few weeks, college football fans have had a narrow selection of games to watch on Saturday. The pool is starting to expand with the SEC entering conference play this weekend and the Big Ten and Pac-12 now expected to join them in the coming months. For the first time this season, draft aficionados will lay eyes on the cream of the crop within the SEC.
Here are the games to watch this weekend:
No. 5 Florida at Ole Miss
Saturday, Sept. 26 at noon ET on ESPN (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
Quarterback Kyle Trask was an afterthought until Feleipe Franks suffered an injury last season. Trask entered his debut against Kentucky, led them to a comeback victory and never relinquished a grip on the starting role. Although they lost a lot of talent at wide receiver, the Gators are still flush with skill ability. The crown jewel is tight end Kyle Pitts, who projects as a first-round pick. The accolades extend to wide receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney.
It should come as no surprise that Florida has once again built a secondary loaded with potential NFL talents: defensive backs Trey Dean II, Donovan Stiner, Shawn Davis, Brad Stewart and, the most highly regarded, Marco Wilson. It is a group that should capitalize on pressures by edge rusher Jeremian Moon and defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton.
Ole Miss' interior offensive line has been a strength. Despite center Eli Johnson opting out, the Rebels still trot out offensive guards Ben Brown and Royce Newman, who each has the chance to be drafted. Wide receiver Elijah Moore is incredibly fun to watch because he is capable of scoring every time he touches the ball.
No. 23 Kentucky at No. 8 Auburn
Saturday, Sept. 26 at noon ET on SEC Network
Kentucky has some really good looking prospects on both sides of the ball. On offense, running backs A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke will be running behind one of college football's best offensive lines returning four of five starters. Left tackle Landon Young and right guard Luke Fortner certainly have a chance to be drafted while center Drake Jackson and right tackle Darian Kinnard should definitely hear their names called.
There are several draftable players on defense but none are surefire impact players in the NFL. Defensive tackles Quinton Bohanna and Marquan McCall might be the closest. Inside linebacker DeAndre Square is a leader roaming sideline-to-sideline making plays. Edge rushers Jordan Wright, Josh Paschal and Boogie Watson all possess traits that could translate to the next level.
Auburn is dangerous in space. Wide receivers Anthony Schwartz and Eli Stove are incredibly elusive after the catch. The Tigers like to use them on end arounds, slants and quick outs. Wide receiver Seth Williams is a bigger outside target that has made some really acrobatic plays downfield. Schwartz and Williams both look like potential Day 2 draft choices.
No. 13 UCF at East Carolina
Saturday, Sept. 26 at noon ET on ABC (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
Quarterback McKenzie Milton is an undersized playmaker who makes that UCF offense run. They have a lot of versatility and quickness in the skill room. Running back Otis Anderson is diminutive but shifty. Wide receiver Tre Nixon knows what to do when he gets the ball in his hands as well. Wide receiver Marlon Williams might be the best prospect of the group. Offensive guard Parker Boudreaux is a body mover in the run game.
Safety Richie Grant is a potential Day 2 selection in the draft. He has been a ball-hawk for the Knights.
East Carolina is not quite as talented but they do boast a few prospects. Offensive tackle D'Ante Smith is a bit undersized but very talented. It is a deep class of tackle talent but Smith deserves some Day 2 consideration. Kicker Jake Verity was essentially automatic within 40 yards last season and expanded his range to 51 yards.
No. 24 Louisville at No. 21 Pittsburgh
Saturday, Sept. 26 at noon ET on ACC Network
Once the Big Ten and Pac-12 join the fiesta, the prospects to watch feature will not include Louisville and Miami every week, I promise. The games are limited and those two teams have had good competition to open their respective regular season slates.
For the sake of brevity, Louisville's collection of skill talent is up there with the best in the country: quarterback Malik Cunningham, running back Javian Hawkins, wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick and tight end Marshon Ford.
Pittsburgh has one of my personal favorites: safety Paris Ford. The Panthers are still formidable on the defensive front despite defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman opting out. Edge rushers Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver are shouldering the burden of making plays with Twyman absent.
On offense, quarterback Kenny Pickett has been a really productive player. Interior offensive lineman Jimmy Morrissey is another potential draft pick.
Florida State at No. 12 Miami
Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. already has two interceptions this season. He is a rising draft prospect. Nose tackle Marvin Wilson is a hoss up the middle and is regarded as the best at his position. Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen is also in contention for the honor of being best in show and a future first-round choice. The two players that have the best odds of improving their draft stock this fall are edge rushers Janarius Robinson and Joshua Kaindoh. Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry and defensive tackle Cory Durden are two others that could be taken on the first two days of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Since the Hurricanes have been spotlighted a few times already this season, their section will be brief. Tight end Brevin Jordan is a mismatch problem for the opposition. He is averaging over 17 yards per reception and already has two touchdowns, which equals his total from all of last season.
Defensive end Gregory Rousseau could have used another season of tape before entering the NFL in my opinion but he elected to opt out. Fortunately for those supporters in Coral Gables, edge rushers Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche were already preparing to make an impact in 2020.